Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monolith vs. Heavy Destroyers (long)

The main question I have been asked about my Necron list is why I use Monoliths. With Necrons you basically have two options for ranged anti-tank: Heavy Destroyers and Monoliths. I am going to explain why the Monolith is better. I'll be using the example of 3 Heavy Destroyers for 195 points against one Monolith for 235 points. It's a 40 point difference which is big but it doesn't make up for the immense difference in usefulness between the two units.

Offensive Efficiency

The three destroyers will of course hit their target on average two shots out of three. Personal experience and some quick math tells me the Monolith will hit an average sized vehicle about two thirds of the time. A lot of people are hung up on the fact that you have to roll to scatter, but it's really not that bad at all.

Now, penetrating the vehicle. We will assume that the target is AV12-14, because FA Destroyers can handle anything below that. Both units have Str9 weapons, but the Particle Whip is Str9 Ordnance which is better than Str10 against anything aside from AV14. So here's the math per hit (rounded to the nearest percent):

G=glance, P=penetration
    AV                     Heavy Destroyers                 Monolith
     12                        P50%, G17%                  P75%, G9%
     13                        P33%, G17%                  P55%, G11%
     14                        P17%, G17%                  P31%, G14%

The relative strength of the Monolith goes up the higher the AV of your target, which is important because they are generally the most dangerous and therefore need to be gotten rid of the quickest.

Now, the most important thing which is overlooked by many because it cannot be expressed by math: cover saves. It's very easy for your opponents to get cover from the Heavy Destroyers, which negates half their shots. On the other hand, it's pretty much impossible to get cover from the 'Lith's shots without smoke or disruption pods because the guns are mounted so high up. Remember, the roof of a vehicle is still part of the front/side/rear arc.

Then there is AP1. We all know how awesome that is, so I won't go into it any further. When you consider all of these factors in together, it becomes obvious that the Monolith is more efficient at destroying AV12-14 vehicles.


So now that we've taken a look at offense, we have to consider the other side of the coin. Survivability helps out your offense in the end because the longer a unit stays alive, the more it'll get to shoot and therefore it'll kill more. It also increases the chances of the unit helping out in the end game contesting objectives and such.

When it comes to survivability, the comparison isn't even remotely close. 6 Heavy Destroyers (the correct amount if you've decided to take them) will not last through the first shooting phase against anyone who knows what they're doing. Then once they've done that, you have no anti-tank. The Monolith being destroyed by shooting is very rare, and it's only weakness is Str10 (and that's not even a weakness; it's the same as other vehicles against it). Against Str10, it's still much better off than the HDs.


Heavy Destroyers have very little purpose outside of vehicle and MC killing. Admittedly, these are very common in the current metagame. The monolith, however, is at home killing hordes of infantry, MEQs, any multi-wound T4 squads, bunched up MCs and of course vehicles. It is in fact a very good example of duality in 40k.

Here's one tactic I love to use against disembarked troops. I first learned this trick using Tau Hammerhead submunitions but it works even better with the Monolith. So let's say some veterans just hopped out of their Chimera to plasma some destroyers. First off, this is a bad idea on the IG players part. First rule of 5th edition is Never Disembark. Obviously there are exceptions, but I'm rambling. Let's say it was some Fire Dragons because the decision to disembark is more reasonable (still a bad one though). So what I'll do is place the centre of the blast template on the vehicle such that it also covers all of the recently disembarked infantry. Then if I can potentially take out two units in one shot. While it may seem obvious, the amount of players who haven't considered this tactic is astounding.

Other In-Game Uses

The most important reason why I use the Monolith is the synergistic effect it has with the rest of my army. I am going to go into this in detail in my further Necron tactica posts, but I will summarize it here. The Monolith can block assaults and LOS. Against shooty armies, keeping the Golden Boy alive is critical and the only way to do this is to plop the monoliths down in between him and the Lascannons while they advance into the midfield. If I didn't have the assault-blocking capabilities the Monoliths provide, you can bet I would Phase Out a lot more.

The Monolith's portal is critical to keeping your Necrons alive and safe. I generally don't use the portal unless they're stuck in combat or I have like 8 warriors in WBB position. Sometimes I portal them onto an objective late in the game. There are more uses which I will go into in later posts.

Heavy Destroyers can perform none of the above roles. They bring very little to the army aside from killing power. They can run away from things faster than Monoliths, but Monoliths don't need to run away from anything. They have longer range, but pretty much everything is going to be in range of a Monolith on first turn anyway. They can constest objectives, but not as well as a Monolith due to tank shocking.

All in all, the Heavy Destroyer can be a fun choice in a Destroyer Wing army, but if you want to play competitively the Monolith is your only option.


  1. Destroyers have a potential threat range of 60", which is double that of the Monolith. They are also Necrons so contribute to your Phase Out number as well as being able to come back up. They are jetbikes too, so they can get side armor shots much easier. They can also turbo-boost to contest late game should you need it.

    I just prefer Heavy Ds.

  2. But what's stopping you from just shooting all 6 HDs off the board on turn 1? ANY decent list has more than enough firepower. Remember, they are basically marine bikes with lascannons. They can only get side armor if they are alive on turn 3+, which they shouldn't be. And even if they are alive at the end of the game, they can't tank shock infantry off the objective if the troops surround it.

    If I'm playing against someone who is stupid enough to let my HDs live past turn 1, I am going to win no matter what Heavy Support I took because they're a terrible player.

  3. how many wounds or HP is the monolith able to take before it is destroyed