I’ve realised that, despite them being a main part of most of my forces in our recent campaign, I’ve never really discussed why I like Necron Canoptek Wraiths. The Fast Attack slot is arguably one of the most contended in the Codex, yet I’ll usually take at least a small squad of Wraiths. I find them to be a fast and maneuverable unit, in contrast to many of the other slow-moving Necrons, and their close-quarters combat potential is actually pretty effective.
With the Jump Infantry unit type and the ability to phase through any terrain, Wraiths are a pretty mobile unit that can easily flank opponents and get where they want to go regardless of obstructions. This combination of speed and being able to ignore terrain gives them quite the threat range, and I often like to deploy a small unit on the flank to hunt or harass any lone characters, artillery pieces etc.
Wraiths are helped by their competent and versatile melee prowess, where they’re able to take on hordes and elite troops without too much of a disadvantage to either. Each Wraith brings three strength 6 attacks with the Rending special rule, and when you consider how cheap each individual Wraith is, that can often mount up to a lot of attacks. It also makes them extremely versatile, since they can tackle Terminators and tanks effectively due to the Rending ability, and three attacks a model isn’t too shoddy when it comes down to attacking large numbers such as Orks or Tyranids.
Of course, they do suffer from the signature Necron initiative of 2, but there’s a rather nice and inexpensive upgrade – Whip Coils – to help them bypass that. If I’m running my Wraiths in a small squad to hunt down Basilisks, etc, then I don’t tend to bother, but if I intend for the Wraiths to be my linebreaker unit then Whip Coils is an almost essential addition. Talking of upgrades, I don’t really see any use for the Particle Caster (since by the time they’re in the 12″ range I’d expect them to be charging anyway). The Transdimensional Beamer is an interesting one, though, if quite an expensive upgrade. With the previously-mentioned maneuverability Wraiths are pretty good at angling themselves to hit the required target, but I don’t know if it really synergises with the close-quarters design the unit otherwise has. It’s certainly a potent weapon, but one that seems to be quite army-specific (you wouldn’t want to run it against Space Marines, I suppose, or other strength >3 armies). It’s also limited by being a 12″ Heavy 1, meaning that you won’t get that many shots off and can’t even charge after firing. If it was an Assault 1 I think it’d see a lot more use in my lists, but as it is I don’t tend to use it much. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I always love to hear how other people use these units! :)
Finally, despite not having Reanimation Protocols and only running with the base Necron toughness of 4, Wraiths are a surprisingly durable unit with a 3++ save and two wounds apiece. Focus fire is their ‘kryptonite’ in my experience, where my opponents tend to use a volley of Lasgun shots or the like to force me to roll too many saves to pass all of them! I suppose this weakness to massed shots is a vulnerability of most Necron units, but it seems to be moreso with Wraiths given their lack of reanimation and place in the hotly-contested Fast Attack slot!
I’ve already talked about running a small unit of 2-3 Wraiths along the flanks and hunting down units, but another popular approach is running Wraiths as more of a ‘linebreaker’ unit. This actually comes from a friend of mine originally, and is something I tried after seeing how effectively he made it work. By adding a Destroyer Lord with Sempiternal Weave and a Warscythe to a larger unit of Wraiths, say 5 or 6, this adds a greater combat potential as well as helping to negate one of their weaknesses. The Destroyer Lord can keep up with the Wraiths, and with careful positioning depending on the enemy near you, the unit can tank massed fire on the Lord’s more reliable 2+ save, and the Wraith’s 3++ can take the high-AP heavier weapons fire. It’s a fun combination to run, and when I do I tend to send them on a more direct route to the enemy, aiming to hit elite units that I know the unit can power through, allowing them to charge another unit later on rather than being bogged down in a protracted combat.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think and how you like to use Wraiths (if you do at all – after all, there’s Destroyers, Scarabs and Tomb Blades all vying for those fast attack slots!). We’ll also be holding the annual Halloween zombie game at my local wargaming club a bit early this year – tomorrow in fact – so I apologise in advance for the battle report going up before the 31st!