For those who didn't see the leaked pictures of this unit, everyone should now be in the know for the newest Necron and Forge World release. While I wasn't particularly fond of the look of these things, reminiscent of an old time-waster, the look is growing on me. That may be in-part to do with the fact that this unit is severely undercosted, allowing me to wear my cheese-colored glasses. Which brings me to the whole point of this article; the rules. This is what it really boils down to. Aside from those of us that purchase items of astronomical amounts of money just because of how they look, a majority of the 40k community will only purchase an item on Forge World if they can find a use for it on the tabletop. So, is this unit cost effective? Does it have a role in the Necron codex? Let's get to it.
First, let's define this thing. The things that stick out from the statline are 3 wounds, toughness of 5 and 2 attacks per model. Other than that, it's standard Necron stats with an armour save of 3+. Now, this unit lacks an invulnerable save, but is given Stealth. It is, of course, Fearless just like its other Canoptek counterparts. This unit counts as Jump Infantry, come in groups of 3-9 as a Fast Attack choice and bares a Voidblade and Cutting Beam. All of this for the cost of 45 points (no upgrades/downgrades available.)
If you're like the average Necron player, you read over the wargear rules for the Voidblade, quickly forgot about its existence 2.67 seconds later and moved on, so let's review as this is a very key point of the Acanthrite. The Voidblade is a close combat weapon with the Rending and Entropic Strike properties. If you've played against/with a Scarab unit you all know what Entropic Strike does, but with the change from 5th to 6th Edition know that Rending still gives the +D3 S against AV on rolls of 6 to pen/glance, but now also gives AP2 which will give you a +1 boost on the vehicle damage chart. The Cutting Beam, however, is a new flavor of weapon for the Necrons. Essentially it's a S6 meltagun and nothing more.
The average skimmer (quick-reader, not a flying vehicle,) will run over this unit's rules and do exactly what I did; point out what this unit doesn't have. It's easy to see these little annoyances; no invuln save and a poor man's meltagun. In the way of comparisons they also lack the ability to ignore terrain during movement like their similar-looking counterpart; the Canoptek Wraith. Let's be fair, though. Comparing this unit to anything in the 40k universe is going to be a pointless endeavor as its qualities are too unique. So let's just break the unit down as a singularity.
First off, what role can this thing fill? With Rending, Entropic Strike and melta, Forge World would suggest their sole purpose is to kill vehicles. While the Necrons of 6th Edition excel at killing vehicles without even trying and with powerful choices already filling up the Fast Attack slots, how can this unit compete?
The role for a unit like this is Jack Of All Trades as I see it. There's very little this unit can't do on a modest scale (aside from killing Paladins, but why are you wasting time trying to kill Paladins anyway?) As a counter-attack unit, they can lie in wait for incoming melee or deep striking units in area terrain (4+ cover) or ruins (3+ cover) and get the jump on anything that's dangerous to your other units. As a melee unit, they can run behind a unit of Wraiths giving them a 4+ cover and jumping on a unit the Wraiths would rather not deal with. As a tank/transport-killing unit they can deep strike in and melta or fly up the board and pop open that Chimera before assaulting the chewy nougat center. When it comes to Necrons, anything that can handle melee is something to cherish, especially when it can do more than just survive close combat.
In the end, though, it's all about the toughness of 5 and the 3 wounds. In 5th Edition, this unit would be laughable with how wound allocation worked. In 6th Edition, however, things get more interesting for multi-wound models. Having a front runner in the shooting phase taking the hits and shifting to the back to let the next model take the damage is a theme we're all coming to grips with and this unit is no different. While the lack of an invuln (unless you count the 6+ cover at all times) isn't appealing, it's this unit's ability to not bow to instant death from missiles and lascannons via their toughness of 5 that turn them into a great unit. It's also important to look at the size of the model and notice they're almost half the size of a Wraith meaning cover saves will come easier:
As for assaults, wound allocation becomes a lot more fun with the more wounds you have. Characters in melee will typically have a different weapon and initiative than the rest of their unit and when striking at an enemy unit will have to allocate wounds to the model closest to them. With the Acanthrite's moderate weapon skill and above average toughness, a single model can take the 1-2 wounds an enemy can dish out before moving on to other initiative steps where wounds are forced to be allocated elsewhere. Any Paladin or Nob Biker player will tell you these new close combat rules benefit the multi-wound unit greatly. Toss in the fact that they're Fearless and at the very least you have an efficient tar-pit unit.
Yes, a S6 meltagun isn't great. Yes, no invulnerable save on a model over 20pts isn't fun. Yes, they don't get Wraithflight and are still stuck with the Initiative 2. Roughly pointcosted out, this unit would be undercosted even without a pseudo-meltagun and they certainly have a place in the Necron codex. Of course, all of this is speculation, and until I can get some games in with this unit everything above is merely educated guesses. So I'll leave you with something my fellow Necron players will enjoy (Unless I'm out of the loop and this has already been confirmed, in which case you all can go to hell.) Confirmation from Forge World that Necrons will finally be included in the next Imperial Armour: