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My sons and I have just started collecting and gaming and are collecting Tau, SM and Eldar. I am aware that Eldar have had a large number of new figures recently and a new codex, I saw the release of Chaos SMs last month and note from White Dwarf online that Space Orks are just about to get a large face lift. One of my sons is considering starting to collect Necrons and I was wondering how frequently GW bring out a new codex & large replacement programme for each army and if poss so that he doesn't start on something which will be obsolete in the near future, his buying power is really low.
generally (imo) i'd say that you'd get a at very least good 6+ months in before a new necron codex is even stated theres still the old dark eldar codex and the probably more popular inqusition not to mention Tau and Imp guard.
Well so far for 4th edition Tyranids, Space Marines, Tau, Black Templars, Dark Angels, Blood Angels (rules update only), Eldar and Chaos Space Marines have been redone.
Next up is Orks in the new year. From what I have heard through various rumour forums after that is Ruinous Powers (non-Space Marine Chaos) and then probably Dark Eldar.
Which means that we are probably looking for Space Wolves, Inquisition, Blood Angels (full release), Necrons and Imperial Guard to be done from 2009.
Games Workshop revamp each army everytime they bring out a new edition of the rules so from my estimates we are probably looking at 5th edition in 2010/11.
Based on this I would say if your son wants to collect Necrons then let him, they won't be redone until next November at the earliest, which is 13 months away. Additionally there isn't much I think they need to do to Necrons, the models are pretty good as they are so I think all Games Workshop will do is create a new unit here and there, tinker with their special rules a little, possible recast some of the more popular metal models (like Immortals and the Lord) so anything he buys now will still be ok in a few years time.
I wouldn't be too concerned about it. Particularly with Necrons, they may one day change some things so you can have more or less of this or that or these or those troops cost more or less points, but Necron Warriors will still be Necron Warriors. There's no rule against using the older models if they update them.
GW do have a habit of redoing armies in an odd time frame, but generally speaking, these changes are developments / improvements and have made a point of making 'old' models obsolete (well about 97% of the time, i'm thinking Guard Tanks or chaos daemons for the moment)
Modelwise, i don't foresee many necrons being replaced, except as slug said, the metal Elites choices because they are quite good sculpts, if not a little repetitive. This is ok in GW's eyes as necrons are most popular with newer gamers (they are easy to collect / paint / play) and powergamer types (they can be quite rude in certain configurations).
To compare, the eldar player demographic is more of the veteran, hobbiest type who spend abit more time on the hobbying / painting and want a bit more of a challenge in a game. many of the older Eldar models / rules were quite clunky compared to the norm which is why GW went to such an effort to improve them, compared to say the TAU update a year or so ago which was little more than an a chapter approved articles worth of changes.
I agree that there really isn't much to worry about. The necron codex is generally accepted to be pretty balanced and there are no gaping holes in the model range. It's also worth noting that very few models have been replaced in the recent re-releases and those that have were often large metal models becoming plastic. The only real exception is the Tomb Spyder (which is NLA, anyway) but it's a small part of the army and wouldn't be too drastic to replace even if you already had a complete army.
I'd say necrons were a particularly safe choice.
No more NG spearmen, thanks! Now I need some pump-wagons!
Thanks everyone, you have all left excellent and informative responses and I will help him on his way.8Y