Recently I was asked "What's wrong with the Doomsday Ark?" after I expressed some distaste for the unit, which resulted in a rather ranty and overlong response for the medium (Facebook isn't suited to these kinds of rants).  Here's the tidied-up, reasonable and hopefully useful response for you to digest, dear reader.  It's still fairly opinionated, but hopefully with enough logic to explain those opinions.

The Doomsday Ark is an expensive (just a few points shy of being our most expensive) Heavy Support choice for the Necron army.  It carries a long-range, high-strength, low-AP, large blast weapon that becomes significantly weaker when the unit is moving.  Its primary role is stand-off fire power, and suffers greatly if it has to move.  In a lot of ways you can think of it like a Devastator Squad without the cover save.


What It's Good At

  • It's a long-ranged area weapon in a codex stuffed to bursting with short-range pinpoint weaponry.
  • It's another AV13 vehicle in a sea of AV13 vehicles.
  • It brings one of our only options to defeat AV14.

Those are the major features of the unit on the "pro" side.  They can be summed up as "it's different to everything else we bring to the table" which can be an advantage, but here I think it's not.

What's Wrong With That?

  • It's only got one gun worth talking about, so a weapon destroyed result is pretty much a wrecked result.  An immobilised result is likely to leave it without any targets as it is a hull-mounted weapon.
  • It's a long-range stand-off weapon in an army that wants to control midfield.  It's massively vulnerable to Deep Strikers or Outflankers and you can't bubblewrap it without sacrificing even more points.
  • It's very easy to deny its line of sight or gain cover from it.  It cannot move if it wants to fire, and it isn't a Barrage or an Ordnance weapon.  The gun is also on the bottom of the model, obstructing its view of the battlefield.
  • It's huge, on a skimmer stand, and can't move to gain cover from incoming fire.
All its problems stem from its inability to move and fire.  You know what makes Vindicators scary?  They get closer (and there's probably three of them) and manoeuvre so you can't hide.  Once they're in midfield they can reach out and touch you almost anywhere.  They also don't cost as much and fire a stronger weapon with a better chance of breaking your armour (ordnance rolls two D6 and takes the highest).  Cover is prevalent in Fifth Edition so when you're firing your big, nasty, one-shot-per-turn gun you better be sure your target isn't negating half of its effectiveness.  The Doomsday Ark cannot prevent that from occurring as a canny opponent will always advance down fire-lines that avoid the Ark's return volley.  You can either sit there and let them have cover saves or attempt to move and fire your much weaker, less accurate and rather underwhelming secondary cannon profile.  With the expense of the unit you're pushing it trying to take two at 1,500 points which limits your ability to pull the opponent into a crossfire.

Yeah, But That's a Scary Cannon
No, it's not.  You might remember Fourth Edition, when high-strength, low-AP, large blast weapons ruled the roost.  They don't any more - they miss important targets, they only fire once a turn and most targets negate the AP with cover saves.  Fifth Edition is the era of the Autocannon, the Meltagun and the Dark Lance.  Let's look at some examples comparing it with two Annihilation Barges which are almost the same number of points.  It's worth remembering that throughout these examples I'm being deliberately generous to the Doomsday Cannon's ability to catch lots of targets under its marker.


Against Terminator-Armoured Targets (TEQ)
5 hits (This is assuming a hit on the scatter dice and poor squad placement).
4.17 wounds.
1.35 unsaved (Don't forget the Storm Shields!  What, you were expecting Storm Bolters?).

Similarly, two Annihilation Barges fire on the same target:
10.6 hits.
8.83 wounds.
1.47 unsaved.

Against Power-Armoured Targets (MEQ)
6 hits (Again we're assuming a poor squad placement and a good shot.  More targets to be hit though).
5 wounds.
5 unsaved / 2.5 unsaved in cover.

Our Barges again fire on the same targets:
10.6 hits.
8.83 wounds.
2.91 unsaved / 2.91 unsaved in cover.

Against Flak-Armoured Targets (GEQ)
8 hits (I'll give you a few more hits to allow for the densely-packed nature of the Guard).
6.66 wounds.
6.66 unsaved / 3.33 unsaved in cover.

Our Barges open fire:
10.6 hits.
8.83 wounds.
5.8278 unsaved / 4.415 unsaved in cover.

What we can see here is that the Doomsday Cannon is pretty lame against infantry in cover and that's assuming some very optimistic numbers for the number of hits.  The Barges are using their straight averages.  A good Marine or Guard player isn't going to be in the open and clumped-up when you're raining down large blasts.  It would be twice as good against Terminators that don't have Storm Shields (scoring 2.7 unsaved wounds), but that's not a major feature of Terminator units in Fifth.

It Busts Tanks!
Let's try it out against some vehicle targets and see if it really does bust tanks.  Remember how single Lascannons are the king of anti-tank weaponry in Fifth?  Nope, of course you don't.  Single shots miss and don't get enough rolls on the damage chart.  We have an AP1 weapon here though, is that enough to make it work?

We're making some serious assumptions to shift the balance in the favour of the Doomsday Cannon - The target is large enough that we can scatter 3" in any direction and still keep the hole over it, that the Annihilation Barges have to move to get into range/arc so can't use their second weapon, that there's no cover between the stationary Ark and its target.  Results are displayed as number of effects per single turn of shooting (a "2.5 Suppress" would be two and a half Shaken or Stunned results per turn of shooting, "0.5 Damage" is half a Weapon Destroyed or Immobilised result per turn of shooting, etc).

Against an AV14 Target
Doomsday Ark: 0.08 Suppress, 0.08 Damage, 0.08 Destroy
Annihilation Barge: The Tesla Destructors cannot hurt AV14.

Against an AV13 Target
Doomsday Ark: 0.1 Suppress, 0.12 Damage, 0.14 Destroy
One Annihilation Barge: 0.74 Suppress, 0.15 Damage

Against an AV12 Target
Doomsday Ark: 0.12 Suppress, 0.16 Damage, 0.18 Destroy
One Annihilation Barge: 1.19 Suppress, 0.45 Damage, 0.15 Destroy

It gets worse for the Doomsday Ark from there.  Those numbers ignore the shorter range of the Barge, but it can move, the Ark cannot, so I think this evens out in the long run.  The numbers are for a single Annihilation Barge, which is roughly half the cost of the Ark.  The only major advantage is the Ark's ability to hurt AV14, but there's another factor in play.

Entropic Strike
The lower the AV of our target the better our Annihilation Barges become.  Also improved are our Eldritch Lances, though not by nearly the same amount.  The Doomsday Ark sees a minor increase in power with each step of lowered AV. An Annihilation Barge sees a big jump in effectiveness with each point of lowered AV (14 to 13 and 13 to 12 being the two big steps).  If you don't have any Entropic in your army then the Doomsday Ark becomes a more viable platform (though I'd argue it still pales next to the Doom Scythe, which is the same cost).  If you've got Entropic, you need to consider that it's being mostly wasted on targets the Ark is firing at.

Conclusion
The Doomsday Ark is bad.

It costs too much, is too limited and is too vulnerable to being rendered even less effective by a good opposing general.  Compared to the cheaper Annihilation Barges it doesn't offer a sufficient increase in fire power and reduces the number of AV13 hulls on the table.  Compared to the equally-priced Doom Scythe it doesn't trade its survivability well enough when the Doom Scythe brings a better weapon, synergises better with the rest of the Codex and has some serious mobility on its side.  If you start to consider the Triarch Stalker as your AV14-breaker, the Doomsday Ark doesn't compare well to that either, but that's another article entirely. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...