The Necrons are being hyped up as the “Big Bad” for 9th Edition, and this Codex certainly seems to push them to being at the forefront of the edition, with pretty much a ground up reworking of their rules whilst still maintaining some recognisable traits from previous editions.
Necrons | Warhammer 40,000 Tactical Guide
- A whole swathe of new and updated models making them one of the larger armies in terms of range and variety.
- Decently tough Infantry backed up by a good range of specialist units gives the army great mainstay units and list building options
- Blistering short range and good melee prowess.
- A surprising amount of speed and maneuverability via inherent rules or special abilities.
- Mostly well priced given their rules, with some very efficient units for their cost.
- Some powerful Characters which can define a match in the C’tan and Silent King.
- Predominantly short to mid range army, with longer range weapons a rarity or unreliable.
- Anti tank can be tricky as many of their weapons are low or swingy damage.
- Some units are exorbitantly costed whilst simultaneously filling niches you might need, leading to frustrating or homogeneous army building.
- Reliance on fairly pricey HQ slots can mean a lot of points will often be there and potentially in other Detachments, costing you CP or risk losing out on some key abilities.
- Fairly unforgiving as need planning and synergies to maximise their effectiveness, especially with regards to their main faction rules, and are feeling the pinch of being an early Codex of an edition in terms of rules and units found elsewhere.
- Lots of “sub-faction” Keywords meaning certain units will be missing out on buffs or auras if you position badly.
Here are some key points to remember when reading this Primer, mainly to save it being typed out every time. Don’t forget that this presumes you have the Codex, so things like Tesla or Gauss, which are explained in there, won’t be repeated here.
Any of the rules discussed below apply only to NECRONS models with the same <Dynasty> Keyword, so no overlapping or crossing of Auras (no NOVOKH Auras or powers affecting SAUTEKH units, for example)
Some common shorthand terms found throughout-
- X++ means an invulnerable save
- X+++, or ‘shrug’, ‘Feel No Pain’ or ‘Ignore Damage roll’ depending on how you’re feeling, means it is a dice roll to ignore each point of damage, which is taken after any failed saves.
- ‘6s explode’ essentially translates to ‘An unmodified 6 to Hit does an additional hit’, so read that as ‘Does 2 Hits instead of 1’. A variant of this is ‘Tesla’ which does 3 hits instead of 1 on an unmodified 6 to Hit. Per the Core Rules, anything that might also happen on a 6 to hit (such as auto-wounding) does not apply to the additional hit, only the original.
- ‘First turn of combat’ means any rules that trigger when you Charge, are Charged, or Heroically Intervene.
If your Detachment is Battle-Forged (which will be most armies) and only has NECRONS in it, that Detachment gains the following rules-
- All your Troops are Objective Secure. You have some of the most resilient Troops in the game by virtue of their special rules and stats, so holding Objectives should prove easier than others.
- All the Necron Models gain Dynastic Codes if they share the same Dynasty, explained further below.
- Royal Court: A strict order of who gets to be your WARLORD, depending on Keywords. In order of rank, and thus who must be chosen – THE SILENT KING > PHAERON > OVERLORD > LORD > ANYONE ELSE
A fluffy rule that you would have likely adhered to anyways should you want the Command Protocols, as you need a NOBLE to unlock them. Note this doesn’t affect Warlord Traits obtained by other means like Stratagems, this is purely for who is the designated Warlord for the army.
- Dynastic Agents and Star Gods: These units don’t prevent the Dynastic Codes even though they can’t have a DYNASTY Keyword, and C’TAN SHARDS are one per Detachment
Every Detachment must be from a Dynasty, which can be either a named one, or a custom one. The six named Dynasties also have an associated Command Protocol, enabling you to use both Directives instead of one, as well as having their own unique Stratagem, Relic and Warlord Trait.
Dynastic Code: Solar Fury
The shooty Dynasty, granting 3” extra range to all your non-Pistol weapons (which only really affects about 2 units and a Relic) as well as a straight bonus AP when you’re in half range. This really helps pile on the pain at the mid range where Necrons already do well, but it also gives you a little boost for the first turn or two where reaching out might be tricky to do. This is a great pick if you’re just looking at a general shooting style Necron list. One thing to bear in mind is the +3″ will generally put your ranges into the odd numbers, meaning half ranges for the extra AP or Rapid Fire need to be measured to the 0.5″…which isn’t infuriating at all.
Command Protocol: Vengeful Stars
Getting both Directives of the shooting Protocol makes sense for a shooty Dynasty. The 1st Directive giving you extra AP on 6s to Wound makes for times when practically no-one gets a save against you, and the 2nd Directive ignoring Light Cover at half range combos nicely with your boosted Range, and ensures not even that can help them.
Warlord Trait: Merciless Tyrant
A combat trait in a shooty army…fine. A flat +1 Str and Attack is great however, boosting your Overlords into that healthy Str 8 range if they’re packing a Warscythe, and letting Skorpekhs hit Str 9 to take on really heavy vehicles. It’s probably ok as a secondary trait somewhere, but certainly not a go to as the first choice.
Relic: Conduit of Stars
A super Relic Gauss Blaster (so for Royal Wardens only), with a mighty 36” (well, 39”) Range, Str 6, AP 2 and Dmg 2, and at Rapid Fire 3, this bad boy can kick out a lot of hurt at a respectable range. Shame the Warden is only BS3, but it’s still not a bad choice for a Relic.
Stratagem: Talent for Annihilation
When a unit shoots, 6s to Wound do a Mortal Wound in addition to normal damage, up to a maximum of 3 per phase. Note this is max 3 via this Stratagem, not 3 per unit attacked, so no getting cheeky and trying to split fire to do a dozen mortal wounds across multiple units, it would just be the first 3 you inflict. Whilst the cap is low, it’s only 1 CP, and remember these Mortal Wounds happen after all other damage is inflicted, meaning it can be useful to finish off a model that passes its saves. Also hilarious on a unit of Deathmarks, as they will inflict 2 Mortal Wounds for the first three 6s they get to wound, meaning most Characters will be dead and gone should you get that triple 6.
Dynastic Code: Translocation Beams
The fast Dynasty, granting all their models a 6++, as well as the option to ‘translocate’ instead of Advancing, sacrificing the ability to Shoot and Charge (regardless of rules or weapons), for an auto 6” move, as well as being able to move through all models and terrain as if they weren’t there. They also move through all units and terran when Falling Back as well, making trapping these guys pointless. Whilst there are some niche uses with this Dynasty, the 6++ is mostly wasted due to your already good saves or built in invulnerables, and sacrificing all Shooting even with Assault weapons is a tough ask. Great for moving around the board and nabbing Objectives, which is of course very important in 9th, but the loss of hitting power will need to be carefully weighed up.
Command Protocol: Sudden Storm
The moving Protocol sort of works with Neprekh, the 1st Directive’s +1” Mv is useful to help further establish board presence (13” Mv Lychguard and Warriors will put a lot of pressure on the opponent even if they can’t shoot or charge), whilst the 2nd Directive letting you do Actions and still Shoot is a lot more niche. Having both does allow you to do a mix rather than focusing on one aspect of the Protocol, but chances are only one or the other was applicable anyways, so not the most useful combination to have.
Warlord Trait: Skin of Living Gold
A flat -1 to Hit the Warlord is a nice defensive trait, and especially potent on an already tough model like a Barge or Skorpekh Lord, especially if you pop Whirling Onslaught to make it -1 to Wound as well.
Relic: Solar Staff
A machine gun Staff of Light, with +6” range and double the shots, that also causes any INFANTRY unit hit by it to be unable to Overwatch or Set to Defend until the end of the turn. Same stats in melee, but that’s not why you have it. It’s a fine little relic, especially if you’re looking to limit an Infantry unit about to be charged, but there’s generally better ones to choose.
Stratagem: Translocation Crypt
Grants a non-MONSTER, non-VEHICLE unit Dimensional Translocation (so Deep Strike). For only 1 CP regardless of the unit chosen this is a great option to have, be it to protect a powerful shooting unit like Destroyers, or use offensively on a unit of Lychguard or Skorpekhs.
Dynastic Code: Awakened by Murder
The choppy Dynasty, granting all your units a +1” to their Charges as well as a bonus -1AP in the first turn of combat. Overall a solid choice that you can either build around with a melee army, or use as a surprise to spring on opponents that thought your lines would be easy pickings. Whilst the AP bonus only lasts for that first turn of combat, it can be enough to swing it in your favour, with units that have no inherent AP suddenly becoming a lot more effective, or those with good AP negating even the best armour saves.
Command Protocol: Hungry Void
Further enhancing the melee capabilities of the army, the main benefit is the +1 Str on the first turn of combat, enabling many units to reach the “magic numbers” they might need, such as Str 5 vs T4, or Str 7 when against T7. The AP on 6s to Wound is a nice benefit for your less melee oriented units, though somewhat wasted on your dedicated units unless fighting things like Terminators with Shields behind Heavy Cover, or you have units already in combat. Either way both are useful in some capacity, and fit the army traits nicely.
Warlord Trait: Blood-fuelled Fury
Each 6 to Wound in Melee does a Mortal Wound in addition. It’s fine, but with generally few attacks on Necron Characters it’s not going to add up to much unless you’re expecting combat for at least 3 turns in which case it might net you maybe 3 Mortal Wounds over the course of a game? An argument could be made for Skorpekh Lord to use with his Flensing Claw to fish for even more, or to sneak through some extra cheeky damage, but it’s certainly not a go to.
Relic: Blood Scythe
A Warscythe that gives you an extra 2 Attacks. It’s simple, but effective, though it’s contesting with other Relics that can provide greater army utility.
Stratagem: Blood Rites
A unit gets +1 Attack, for every model, for the whole fight phase, for 1 CP, regardless of what they are. Awesome. Lychguard? Use it. Wraiths? Go to town. 20 Warriors that have charged in Hungry Void and you use Disruption Fields on them as well? Ohhhh yes. A fantastic Stratagem that should be used at every opportunity. Note you do this when you select the unit in question, so this gives you good flexibility as well, no need to declare at the start of the Phase or anything like that.
Dynastic Code: Aggressively Territorial
The objective holding one, letting you ignore -1 AP when wholly in your Deployment Zone (it’s fine), and giving everyone Objective Secured, with your Troops counting as two models each. Phenomenal. Unfortunately, that second bit, the reason you’re looking at Nihlakh, can be done by a Custom Dynasty, with better options instead of the limited AP negation. Sure you’re losing the stuff below, but they aren’t really amazing enough to warrant the increased potency a customisable second trait grants you.
Command Protocol: Eternal Guardian
Having said that, getting both of these benefits is nice, essentially having a portable barricade for a turn to give you the Light Cover and Set to Defend/Hold Steady options both at once makes shifting the army a lot tougher. The inherent issues with this one though are still there, namely one’s useless if you move, the other useless if you don’t get charged. Whilst having both at once removes any decision paralysis, you’ll generally know which one you’ll need in a given match up, so it’s not a major advantage over the other Dynasties.
Warlord Trait: Precognitive Strike
Your Warlord always strikes first. It’s ok, remember at least one charger will still go before the Warlord, and whilst it’s handy in ongoing combats that’s not an ideal place for most Necron Characters to be. The Skorpekh Lord might like it, but it’s by no means essential.
Relic: Infinity Mantle
+1 to Armour Saves and a 6+++. It’s a nice defensive buff, great on already tough to shift units like the Barge or Skorpekh Lord, and if you’re running Nilakh it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a Character that can tank more than necessary. Remember however that +1 to Armour Saves is all good and well until you fight anything with AP -2 or better, as you’ll just be straight down to your Invulnerable again, so don’t think this makes them invincible against dedicated combat units.
Stratagem: Reclaim a Lost Empire
An INFANTRY unit can still Shoot whilst performing an Action without it failing. Good if you’re focusing on Action based Secondaries and have mistimed the Sudden Storm, but it’s pretty niche, and not applicable in every game.
Dynastic Code: Uncanny Artificers
The flashy ones, with their shiny bodies and reliable weapons. Rerolling a wound roll every time you shoot or fight is a nice bit of reliability that adds up over the course of a game. Whilst Necrons don’t have a huge amount of units that can benefit when it comes to big weapons, those that do will appreciate it, and don’t knock an extra wound here and there to things like Warriors or Wraiths- it all adds up. The 5+++ vs Mortal Wounds is far more niche, however given that Reanimation Protocols explicitly works vs Attacks only, this can protect you vs Psychic Powers, Aircraft Bombs, Stratagems, Explosions and a lot more, so whilst it might not be pertinent every game, there will be times when it makes you even tankier than usual, and if Mortal Wounds continue to be a prevalent part of the game this can afford you vital toughness.
Command Protocol: Undying Legions
Rerolling a Reanimation every time is pure gold, and useful across the board be it from bringing back that extra Immortal, to being the difference between no Skorpekh’s back and one Skorpekh back. The boost to Living Metal on top of that is great for your Characters and multi wound models. Normally you would generally choose which Directive based on what you’re needing at the time, but this just gives you the best of both worlds.
Warlord Trait: The Triarch’s Will
You get to assign four Command Protocols instead of five at the beginning of the game, letting you double up on a variety of options, such as falling back and shooting for two turns, or using Undying Legions twice for frustrating levels of resilience and healing. A good trait to have on a second character if you’re looking to make the Protocols a bit more flexible, as they only need to be in your army to use it, so no worries about them being caught out or not on the battlefield. This is The Silent King’s Trait, what with his will literally being The Triarch’s Will.
Relic: The Sovereign Coronal
Protocols are active within 9” for this Character, and they let those units use both Directives instead of just one. Great flexibility for the Protocols, letting you ensure you always have access to both Directives can lead to some nice bonuses when they activate without needing to decide ahead what will benefit you most.
Stratagem: Empyric Damping
Deny a Psychic Power within 18” on a 4+. A great utility power to help shut down a variety of things, save this for those powers that have a greater impact than Mortal Wounds – you can shrug some Smites, but a Death Hex on a unit of Lychguard? You don’t need that in your life.
Dynastic Code: Relentless Advance
The old school Dynasty, with reroll morales to help your hordes stick around longer and an 18” range for Rapid Fire further enhances your silver tide. That’s about it though, as the amount of Rapid Fire weapons in the army are generally limited to Flayer Warriors and Blaster Immortals, with a few extra Flayers on some Vehicles. The reroll Morale is fine, but generally if you’re in danger of failing Morale on your Ld 10, the unit has already taken a battering to the point where you’d be looking for 1s anyways, so it won’t help out too much. Overall a pretty lacklustre set of abilities, but Sautekh shines in it’s other aspects below.
Command Protocol: Conquering Tyrant
Generally this Protocol is used for the second Directive to Fall Back and Shoot, but having the access to the increased range on Auras and Datasheet Abilities can be quite helpful at times. Whilst not as potent as other Protocols are when it comes to “double dipping”, it’s again handy to know you have it regardless. One thing to note is that Command Protocols themselves are not Auras, so you cannot increase the range of that to 9” to let units further away Fall Back and Shoot.
Warlord Trait: Hyperlogical Strategist
Roll a D6 for each CP you spend on a Stratagem, refunding it on a 5+. The only way to restore CP for Necrons, making this a great Trait, especially as they have lots of good Stratagems, and as this is per CP spent, makes it reliable to get at least 2 or 3 back over the course of the game. Capped at 1 per Battle Round of course, but still well worth it. Imotekh has this as it’s always been his fluff that he outsmarts everyone. Except the Orks. And I guess Szarekh. Didn’t see him coming back, did he?
Relic: The Vanquisher’s Mask
A unit within 3” at the start of the Fight Phase has to attack last. A great defensive Relic that can blunt a charge, be it a lone assassin type attack on the bearer, or the unit they are supporting. Bear in mind the low range however (which cannot be boosted), so the bearer will likely be very much in the thick of it already, so be careful who carries this around.
Stratagem: Methodical Destruction
2CP, but grants your entire army +1 to Hit a unit already targeted that phase. They don’t need to be wounded, they don’t even need to have been hit. Paint a target with something simple like a Staff of Light (light them up, if you will) and let the big guns take it down.
You can create your own Dynasty rules by choosing any one from each of the two categories below. Some of these are basically “half” of the main Codes above, so always compare if you’re looking at those particular Codes to see if the main traits have another part that may be useful to you. Also bear in mind you effectively give up the ability to double up on a specific Command Protocol, as well as whatever specific Dynasty Stratagem, Warlord Trait and Relic may be associated. Often this is not much of a loss, especially if you have a specific plan in mind.
- Eternal Conquerors- The Nihlakh “ObSec on everything” Trait, and yeah, it’s really good. Reealllllllyyyy good. Whether it’s fast cheap chaff like Scarabs now suddenly yanking Objectives away from units, or a single Doomsday Ark holding an objective against a unit of 10 Vanguard Veterans, there is always a use for this. 9th is generally won on the Objectives and having an army wide benefit to scoring the Primary gives you a great advantage. Unfortunately, it’s that good you might not even look at the other custom traits.
- Pitiless Hunters- Your INFANTRY units can fire their Rapid Fire weapons twice if they don’t move, in addition to half range. It’s fine, but similar to the Sautekh one your access to Rapid FIre weapons is actually fairly low. Whilst standing still and firing twice at 30” with Blaster Immortals is an appealing idea, you’re just giving up board control to do so.
- Superior Artisans- The Szarekhan reroll wound trait. Good reliability for all your units, better if you build around it, but either way the effect adds up over time.
- Rad-wreathed- A 1” aura of -1T to non-VEHICLES. A good alternative for Novokh if you’re looking at a more melee based army, helping you fight and wound most things on 3s at the Infantry and similar level, but don’t neglect the fact it is an Aura, so will be affected by the aura increasing Directive of Eternal Conqueror, making it a useful ability to have for Shooting if you can get the stars to align – tough to do, super satisfying to pull off.
- Immovable Phalanx- INFANTRY models get +1 to their Armour Saves against Dmg 1 weapons provided they haven’t made a Normal Move, Advance or Fall Back that turn. Pretty restrictive giving the hoops that have to be jumped through, though interestingly is ok to use on the charge. Necrons are fairly resilient already that this may be unnecessary, especially given the sacrifice of maneuverability.
- Unyielding- The 6++ from Neprekh, same issues as above in that most units either already have a better Invulnerable, can be given one, or aren’t being shot by weapons that would necessitate only a 6++. Safely pass.
- Contemptuous of the Codes- Get a +1 to Hit against CHARACTERS, which is nice if you’re expecting to fight characters a lot, as works in melee and shooting, though it’s pretty niche all told.
- The Unmerciful Horde- The Sautekh reroll morale trait. If you’re looking at a silver tide type list it could work, though as mentioned with Sautekh it’s not usually a major worry, or it’s already too late to really help you.
- Masters of the Martial- Opposite of Superior Artisans, giving you a reroll Hit each time a unit shoots or fights. Again nice and reliable and will add up over the course of the game, so not a bad pick.
- Butchers- Novokh’s +1” to Charges. It’s reliable, and can work nicely with some of the Circumstances below if you’re looking for a melee alternative, but giving up the Novokh Stratagem alone is a big ask.
- Severed- Your Command Protocols are active within 9” of Characters not 6”. Protocols can be good, but you’ll rarely find yourself needing this range boost, and there are just better traits.
- Vassal Kingdom- If you pick this, you can’t use any of the Circumstances, so this must be pretty powerful right? Well, you’re a Custom Dynasty, but use the Codes of the main six…except you don’t get their Warlord Trait, Stratagem or Relic. Soooooooo….why bother with this. Well you technically have to, is the answer, as the rules clearly state if you don’t come from a named Dynasty you must use the custom traits. But much like Space Marines, you’re just gonna ignore little things like that, as 99% of the time no-one actually cares.
Circumstances of Awakening
- The Ancients Stir- CANOPTEK units get +1” to their Mv, as well as Pile Ins and Consolidates. Nice if you’re running a Canoptek style army for the extra speed and shenanigans.
- Arise Against the Interlopers- Melee attacks automatically wound INFANTRY and BIKES on 6s to Hit. It’s handy to pile on some melee damage, though you’re generally not too worried about wounding due to the decent strength of most of your units.
- Healthy Paranoia- The Mephrit extra 3” Range, being a Circumstance rather than a Tradition is odd but fine. Can work nicely if you were looking at Pitiless Hunters or Immovable Phalanx to double down on keeping your distance and holding firm.
- Relentlessly Expansionist- Everyone gets a 6” Move before the first Battle Round. Yeah, this is the good stuff. Offsets a weakness of Necrons being occasionally slow, enables you to get into range quicker, establish board control, generally put pressure on your opponent earlier than normal, or use it defensively to move out of firing lanes, into terrain, out of turn 1 charge threats, or just as a pseudo redeploy to outmanoeuvre your enemy. Almost always outweighs the other Circumstances, and particularly works well with Eternal Conquerors to establish and maintain the board control and objective game before the game even begins.
- Isolationists- Rapid Fire weapons get +1 Str when shooting at a unit within 12”. It’s pretty good, but remember Rapid Fire is pretty much just Flayers and Blasters, and as it’s 12” and not half range, it means you will need to check carefully with Blasters, as they might not always get the bonus just because they’re Rapid Firing.
- Warrior Nobles- NOBLE models get to reroll 1s to Hit and Wound. Would be good if it affected more than the one, maybe two models in your army. Pass.
- Interplanetary Invaders- Your VEHICLES can Fall Back and Shoot with a -1 to Hit, and also shoot into combat without the -1 to Hit from Big Guns Never Tire. Fantastic if you’re going Vehicle heavy, however realistically it’s only useful for a few things, as anything CANOPTEK is a MONSTER, and Triarch Stalkers can’t get Codes. Probably worth passing on.
In 9th there are now sub-categories of Stratagems, essentially giving them a Keyword that has interactions with certain rules. It won’t come up all that often, just something to look out for.
The Necrons have a good amount of Stratagems, with a mix of offensive and defensive ones, albeit a bit more restricted than others due to their internal sub-categories of Keywords
- Dimensional Corridor- A CORE INFANTRY unit gets to redeploy within 3” of a MONOLITH, 9” away from enemy units. It’s a decent ability to get out of dodge or support a beleaguered Monolith. The issue is you need to take a Monolith…
- Techno-oracular Targeting- Automatically Wound with a single Hit in the Shooting Phase. Don’t bother on a Reaper or Blaster, but save it for the Doomsday Cannon, or Gauss Destructor. Remember you can technically slow roll, so if you have say 3 Doomsday Cannon hits, roll them one at a time so you know where you stand, be it to ensure destruction, not waste the CP if you’re not going to do enough damage without enough wounds, or want to risk with the wounds you have. Overall a useful Stratagem to have in the toolbox.
- Extermination Protocols- 2 CP to give reroll Wounds for a LOKHUST DESTROYER or HEAVY DESTROYER unit in the Shooting Phase. A pricey buy but decent on a big enough unit if you have a target that needs to be taken down.
- Storm of Flensing Blades- A unit of FLAYED ONES can fight again at the end of the Fight Phase. It’s fine, though Flayed Ones aren’t really killy enough to warrant the 2 CP. More useful to fight again for extra Pile Ins and Consolidations to establish further board control.
- Fractal Targeting- TOMB BLADES can Advance and shoot without penalties, and turns their Rapid Fire weapons into Assault 2. Makes them very zippy for getting Line of Sight, nabbing objectives, or getting access to parts of the battlefield without sacrificing too much firepower.
- Judgement of the Triarch- Get +1 to Hit in a Phase for a TRIARCH unit, be it Praetorians or Stalkers. Useful for both Ranged and Melee, and cheap to use to enhance the killing power of either unit.
- Eternal Protectors- If a unit of LYCHGUARD are within 3” of a NOBLE, they get +1 Attack. Whilst it has a few restrictions, it’s a potent buff, and can stack to hilarious levels with Novokh Lychguard if you’re so inclined.
- Resurrection Protocols- An INFANTRY NOBLE or CRYPTEK model can come back to life at the end of a phase it’s destroyed, on a 4+ with D3 Wounds remaining. Sadly can’t be used on a Barge or Skorpekh Lord, but useful on Crypteks or Overlords, and handy to make things like Assassinate tougher to get. Can only be used once per game per Character, but any more would be obnoxious.
- Strange Echoes- Replace one of the Powers a C’TAN SHARD knows with another power. Useful if your powers aren’t suited to the match up, or to change to something like Cosmic Fire when you are about to get deep into the enemy lines. For some reason this needed an FAQ to say that you can’t gain one of the Named C’tan powers, because reading is hard for some people.
- The Deathless Arise- Use the Rites of Reanimation ability from a TECHNOMANCER twice. Great if you have multiple units of Warriors to revive, or want to bring back a Lychguard and an Immortal. However most opponents will focus fire on Necrons units, so you may not always find yourself in a position to use this.
- Dimensional Destabilization- A C’TAN SHARD uses a random power immediately after one of their powers. Random, but you could luck out and double tap a useful power, or get a power that’s needed at that moment. Costs 2 CP for the Vault, as it’s powers are better.
- Entropic Strike- A hefty 2 CP, but lets your C’TAN SHARD ignore Invulnerablein melee for a turn. Useless for a Nightbringer’s big attack, or a Vault, but great otherwise, almost ensuring no saves against your Star Pet’s attack.
- Hand of the Phaeron- Provided there is no PHAERON in your army, upgrade a non-named OVERLORD to a PHAERON and they can use My Will Be Done twice per turn. A great upgrade if you’re looking to use MWBD a lot, it’s a relatively big cost for 2CP, but will pay for itself over the course of the game.
- Dynastic Heirlooms- Your standard “buy extra Relics” Stratagem. You’ll probably use this at least once (cos Veil), but it’s unlikely you’ll use it more than that.
- Rarefied Nobility- The usual “give another Character a Warlord Trait”. Unfortunately, most of the Necron Warlord Traits are kind of meh, and there’s no real set or combo of traits that are a must take. There’s certainly little downside to taking them, outside of the CP cost, but it’s far away from being an essential part of your army building unless you have a specific plan in mind for your Characters.
- Enslaved Protectors- A CANOPTEK unit can Heroically Intervene. Whilst only the usual 3” Intervention, it can be useful if you have a unit of Wraiths able to move in to support your gunline, or some Scarabs that can move to block off units and buy time for other units to breathe. Also handy if they’re parked on an Objective and someone wants to try and steal it, you can at least make it more difficult for them.
- Stellar Alignment Protocol- A VEHICLE acts on their top profile, costing 2 CP for a TITANIC unit. A good Stratagem to have available, and useful to surprise or punish a unit that left a tank alive. Can be used on the The Silent King for only 1 CP, but note it won’t give him his buddies back, as it specifically says you count as full wounds for its Characteristics, which those extra weapons and auras are not. The same applies for the Tessaract Vault and how many C’tan Powers it can do- these aren’t part of it’s Characteristics so if you’ve 1 wound left even with this Strat you’ll only be allowed to do 1 Power.
- Reanimation Prioritisation- When a unit is shot at, you can move a nearby CANOPTEK REANIMATORS beam to that unit. It’s easy enough to circumnavigate the Reanimator as it is, and whilst this helps offset it slightly, a good opponent just adjust their shooting to other units. And at 2 CP, it’s a big ask on an already mediocre unit.
- Burrowing Nightmares- OPHYDIAN DESTROYERS go back into deep strike, to arrive back next turn. It’s a good utility Stratagem to have, it won’t need to be used or indeed may be necessary to use every game, but useful to get out of a dangerous combat, or put pressure onto another part of the battlefield.
- Self-Destruction- A SCARAB model kills itself after Piling In, but does D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+, or flat 3 on a 6. Hilarious of course, but often useful, be it to finish off a weakened unit, pile on damage, or soften a unit for other units it’s in combat with.
- Prismatic Dimensional Breach- A CORE unit in Strategic Reserves appears within 3” of a NIGHT SCYTHE or MONOLITH. Can’t appear within Engagement Range, nor in the first Battle Round, but otherwise the only limitations are the Keywords and the unit being in Strategic Reserves. Can add up in CP cost, but can be useful when combined with a Deceiver, and if you can ensure the portal unit can survive until turn 2 (yes you can put them in Reserves too), this can drop a big problem in your opponents lines.
- Shadows of Drazak- A unit of FLAYED ONES gets -1 to Hit when targeted. Useful against Shooting or Melee, and cheap enough if you have a blob of Flayed Ones you want to protect.
- Aetheric Interception- A HYPERSPACE HUNTER unit can shoot at a unit that arrives from Reinforcements, or if they are in Reinforcements, they immediately arrive over 9” but within 18” of the enemy unit that arrived and get to Shoot them. Useful regardless of where the unit is, and can make for a nasty surprise for the opponent. Don’t neglect to use this as a charge blocker as well, as this can scupper the plans of a unit that is wanting to charge via deep strike.
- Relentless Onslaught- A CORE INFANTRY unit gets mini Tesla for their Rapid Fire weapons, getting 2 hits instead of 1 on 6s. Great if you have a big blob of Warriors with Flayers, or a squad of Blaster Immortals. Obviously better returns if you’re in half range, but still handy if you need to put on a little bit of extra hurt on at range.
- Curse of the Phaeron- A VEHICLE automatically explodes. A useful tool to have if an opponent has sent melee to deal with your tanks, or to take the last wound off a Character with your Barge. Costs 3 CP on TITANIC units due to their larger, more powerful explosions. But you know who also has a 2D6” range, D6 Mortal Wound Explosion? The Silent King. And he’s not TITANIC. So woe betide anyone that kills him in combat.
- Atavistic Instigation- After shooting with a DOOM SCYTHE, the unit targeted by their Death Ray, or a unit within 3” of them, can either take D3 Mortal Wounds, or takes -1 Attack and can’t Overwatch or Set to Defend until the end of the turn. Either is a decent option, but it is the opponent’s choice, so don’t bank on the one that you might want or need at the time. Useless vs VEHICLES or MONSTERS as neither ability affects them, so don’t waste the CP.
- Revenge of the Doomstalker- 2CP, and needs a CHARACTER to die, but at the end of the Phase a DOOMSTALKER model gets +1 to Hit that unit for the rest of the game, and provided they were an eligible target, immediately shoots them. A great, if costly Stratagem, that can punish a unit that kills a unit and is in danger range of a Doomstalker. Can lead to hilarious instances where a Character dies, the Doomstalker kills the unit, then the Character stands back up.
- Disruption Fields- A CORE unit gets +1 Str. Nice and simple, but can push your units into nice brackets, like Str 5 for your Infantry, or Str 7 or 8 for Lychguard or Skorpekhs.
- Disintegration Capacitors- A units’ Gauss weapons automatically wound on a 6 to Hit. Useful on any unit with Gauss, to reduce wound rolls and increase reliability, or help to overcome higher toughness.
- Malevolent Arcing- When an enemy unit is targeted by a Tesla weapon, you can use this to roll a D6 for every other unit within 6”, inflicting a Mortal Wound on a 4+. Won’t affect the original target, and can hit your own, but can pass some significant damage around, especially if used on a large model, or a screening unit spread out across a large distance. Doesn’t even need to hit, so feel free to fire a single Tesla weapon into a central unit to spread some wounds around.
- Whirling Onslaught- A SKORPEKH unit (including Lords) gets -1 to Wound when targeted for an attack. Amazing defensive Stratagem for only 1 CP, be it against Shooting or Melee, making them tougher than they already are. Should be used at every opportunity.
- Quantum Deflection- A QUANTUM SHIELDING unit gets a 4++ for a phase. Another good defensive ability, making your Barge even tougher, or your Arks more frustrating to deal with.
- Solar Pulse- An enemy unit loses all cover for the Shooting Phase. Army wide offensive booster, ignoring Dense and Light Cover makes this a fantastic Stratagem to use as often as possible.
- Reconstitution Protocols- When you heal a unit of WARRIORS with a GHOST ARK, bring back D6 instead of D3. For when you want to make a silver tide even harder to shift. Dare your opponent to leave 1 alive and rue their mistake.
Warlord Traits Back to Contents
- Enduring Will- Reduce all Damage taken by 1, to a minimum of 1. A solid defensive trait, though watch out for weapons with Dmg 3+ as whilst it will still reduce the damage, too many attacks getting through can still finish you off pretty quickly. Szeras and Trazyn have this, what with one being huge and augmented, and the other being literally called the Infinite.
- Eternal Madness- Reroll wounds in melee. Decent enough, and makes them reliable if you’re gearing for melee. Remember a Skorpekh Lord already rerolls 1s and hits hard anyways so may not need it, despite being the archetypal unit to put it on. Zahndrekh has this, despite being rubbish in melee. He is mad though.
- Immortal Pride- A 5+++ vs Mortal Wounds and a 6” aura of ignoring Combat Attrition Modifiers for CORE units. Offsets one of the main weaknesses of the Necrons, giving the Warlord an extra layer of defense that their inherent toughness and saves can’t otherwise handle, as well as supporting their troops against Attrition modifiers. You’re still probably going to lose a few, but can help avoid those clutch moments of failing an Attrition on a 2 and wiping the unit. Orikan has this, what with that whole arrogant schtick of his.
- Thrall of the Silent King- Increases the unit’s auras by 3”, up to 9”, and My Will Be Done, The Lord’s Will or Adaptive Strategy abilities increase to 12”. A decent trait, giving your units a bit more freedom to move about. Not so useful on the Crypteks due to the second part having no impact and the first part only affecting auras of which there aren’t many. Certainly not a bad choice for a second trait on a Warden or Lord.
- Implacable Conqueror- CORE units within 6” get to reroll charges. A solid buff for melee focused armies, or as a secondary trait to enable a combat contingent be more reliable. Anrakyr has this cos the whole unstoppable wave of conquering worlds is his thing.
- Honourable Combatant- The Warlord can choose to get +2 Attacks, but can then only attack a single enemy CHARACTER that phase. It’s ok, but generally your units will be able to deal with Characters, and whilst Necron Characters can throw down with most, they don’t really need to. Can be fun on a Skorpekh to make an assassin missile, but it’s all told pretty limited. This is Obyron’s trait, though it’s probably more to keep his boss happy.
Crypteks have a lot of cool and interesting wargear that do a variety of things, and the Arkana are the peak of their technological mastery. Paid upgrades which give the Cryptek in question a new ability, they run the gamut of useful to cute. Some can certainly see use, and there are a few which whilst certainly not an auto-take, are definitely worth considering to include. Also the names are ludicrous, cos that’s how Crypteks roll.
- Atavindicator- A non-VEHICLE enemy unit within 18” of a PSYCHOMANCER takes D3 Mortal Wounds if you roll equal or greater than their Leadership on 3D6. Can target Characters so could be useful for that, but there’s a fair bit of randomness, and for 25pts on top of an already meh unit, it’s not a great choice.
- Cryptogeometric Adjuster- An enemy unit within 12” of the bearer at the start of their Shooting Phase can be chosen to take a -1 to Hit for the phase. A good debuff for only 15pts and flexible to be taken by any CRYPTEK, only really offset by it’s short range.
- Photonic Transubjector- Once per turn, the first failed Save is reduced to 0 Damage. It’s not a bad choice for 20pts, but only really handy against big hits, doesn’t help them against more than a few. Better on a Chronomancer due to their built in Invulnerable, less so on the others.
- Dimensional Sanctum- 15pts to give the unit Dimensional Translocation isn’t too bad, though remember some of their abilities work in the Command Phase, so arriving afterwards means you’ve essentially lost two turns worth of their rules. Generally pass.
- Cortical Subjagator Scarabs- A once per game ability to give Heroic Intervention to a unit within 6”. A decent upgrade, especially if they’re near a unit of Lychguard, and pretty cheap at 15pts.
- Countertemporal Mines- One of the two expensive options at 30pts, granting a CHRONOMANCER the ability to target an enemy unit within 18” in your Shooting Phase, halving their Advance and Charge rolls until your next turn. A powerful ability to shut down a unit approaching, but be wary it doesn’t impact the base Mv, so if they’re 18” away but have a higher base move they might still be able to make it. Useful to prevent units moving to objectives as well, so don’t sleep on that. Expensive on the most expensive Cryptek, but certainly worth a look.
- Fail-safe Overcharger- The second of the 30 pointers, giving a TECHNOMANCER a targettable ability to give a CANOPTEK unit within 9” +1 Attack for the round, or +D3 for MONSTERS/VEHICLES. Can really beef up a unit of Spyders, but still useful on a unit of Wraiths or Scarabs.
- Hypermaterial Ablator- A costly 25pts, but gives a CORE or CANOPTEK unit within 9” Light Cover, provided the attack comes from more than 12”. It might not come up past turn 2, but useful to buff up a key unit that’s holding an Objective or approaching the enemy.
- Quantum Orb- 20pts to give a PLASMANCER a once per game Mortal Wound bomb, done by placing a marker in the Command Phase within 24”, and then it explodes the next turn, inflicting D3 Mortal Wounds on a 4+, or flat 3 on a 6, to all units within 6”. It does hit your units however and gives your opponent the ability to get away, so it’s mostly a choice for fun, though it can be useful to zone out a lone survivor who wants to try their luck on a mad dash to an Objective.
- Metalodermal Tesla Weave- An enemy unit within 6” takes D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+ after finishing their Charge. Only affects the one enemy unit, and only after they charge so it won’t do consistent damage, but it can stack on the damage or soften something up. It’s only 20pts, but it might not be the go to choice.
- Phylacterine Hive- Let’s a TECHNOMANCER use their Rites of Reanimation on a CANOPTEK, DESTROYER, or TRIARCH PRAETORIAN unit, once per game. Functionally useless since the CORE update, unless used on a SPYDER unit, which might make it worth it’s 20pts.
- Prismatic Obfuscatron- 20pts makes the bearer unable to be shot at unless they’re the closest unit. A good upgrade to keep the Cryptek alive if they want to hang back to do various things like holding Objectives, or find themselves in a situation where they only have 1 or 2 models nearby to protect them.
The general rules for Relics boil down to you need be led by the appropriate WARLORD to get access to them, and you also can’t give them to C’TAN SHARDS.
- Orb of Eternity- A Resurrection Orb that grants a +1 to the rolls when used. A potent upgrade for the already good Orb, this can bring a huge swathe of a unit back from the brink, definitely a worthy upgrade.
- Nanoscarab Casket- Living Metal heals a further +1 Wound. Decent enough, though better to just not take the damage in the first place. Can be useful, but there’s better relics.
- Gauntlet of the Conflagrator- A Pistol that auto hits a unit and rolls a D6 for every model in the unit, doing a Mortal Wound for each 6. Potent on hordes, and can help tack on some wounds to bigger squads of tougher units, but being short range and a Pistol means it’s quite restricted. Fun on a Hexmark for even more gunslinger-y death.
- Veil of Darkness- The classic, letting the bearer and a CORE unit within 3” redeploy elsewhere on the battlefield. An almost auto take as it has so many uses, to get out of combat, put pressure on a different segment of the battlefield, get up field and threaten a charge, or nab an objective.
- Voltaic Staff- A souped up Staff of Light, getting +1 Str and +1 Dmg for both melee and shooting, as well as getting an extra shot and Tesla. A solid choice, especially great on a Barge due to Big Guns letting them never lose out on the shooting aspect.
- Voidreaper- Nightbringer’s Scythe Jr, with +1 Dmg over a normal Warscythe as well as ignoring shrugs to boot. A potent melee upgrade, making them reliable at punching out characters and big elites. Replaces a Voidscythe or Warscythe, but don’t pay points for the Voidscythe to then replace it with this, that’s silly.
- Sempiternal Weave- An INFANTRY NOBLE (so literally Overlords or Lords, booooooo) gets +1 T and +1 W. A decent defensive upgrade, but limited on who can take it so it’s probably a not a go to choice.
- The Arrow of Infinity- A Tachyon Arrow with Str 16 and Dmg 6. Honestly what a Tachyon Arrow should be anyways, but as a one shot weapon that uses a Relic slot and can only just bracket a Rhino? Hard pass.
All Powers are done at the end of the Movement Phase, but not if you Advanced or Fell Back. Each power has its niche, but all are generally useful to help stack on damage. The Tessaract Vaults get boosted versions of the powers, and each of the Named C’tan also get their own unique power they can use in addition to one of the main ones.
- Antimatter Meteor- The nearest visible enemy unit within 24” takes 3 Mortal Wounds on a 3+, or 3+D3 Mortal Wounds on a 6+, with Vaults adding 1 to the roll. A decent general purpose power with good range and solid damage. If you aren’t sure what power to go for, it’s a decent pick as it will generally always be useful.
- Time’s Arrow- A model in a visible enemy unit within 18” is just outright destroyed if you roll equal or above their Wounds characteristics, with Vaults adding 1 to the roll. Whilst the opponent gets to choose the model that dies, if there’s only one in the unit, like say a Character, well… Generally not a go to pick as many Characters will have 4+ wounds, and against any units with 3 W or less would be better off being hit by the Meteor due to chance of damage overspill, but could be a useful secondary power to consider for the Stratagems.
- Sky of Falling Stars- Three units within 24” take D3 Mortal Wounds if you roll under the number of models in their unit (6s always fail), with Vaults doing a flat 3. Great for dealing with multiple units and can spread a great amount of mortal wounds in the early stages of the game, though obviously not so great against smaller units or individual models. Doesn’t need line of sight, so no-one can hide, use to chip away at units that are hiding and holding objectives.
- Cosmic Fire- Roll for each enemy unit within 9”, doing D3 Mortal Wounds on a 4+, or flat 3 if from a Vault. Can really pile on the damage when the C’tan gets into the thick of things, and again this power doesn’t need line of sight so don’t forget about those cowards behind the wall. For a C’tan that wants to rush into combat, such as the Nightbringer, almost definitely worth the pick.
- Seismic Assault- Roll a D6 for each enemy model in a visible unit within 18”, with a +1 if used by a Vault. Does a Mortal Wound for each 6+, though it’s capped at 10 wounds. Can inflict a heavy toll on a unit, though probably not one you’d go for given the vast amount of anti infantry Necrons can pump out already.
- Transdimensional Thunderbolt- A visible unit within 24” (though you can’t pick CHARACTERS with less than 10 Wounds if they are within 3” of an enemy unit, unless they’re the closest) takes D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+. Then roll a D6 for each other enemy unit within 3” (or 6” if used by a Vault), each one taking a Mortal Wound on a 4+. A solid generalist power that whilst not having as high potential as Meteor, can cascade wounds onto other units, and the advantages of being a targetable p
- The Deceiver: Cosmic Insanity- Pick a visible enemy unit within 12” and roll off. Add the Deceiver’s and target units Leadership to the roll, and the enemy unit takes a Mortal Wound for each point they lose by. Whilst the Deceiver does have Ld 10, you’ll still need to roll high to inflict significant damage against Characters or elite units. With its short range and low potential, it’s the weakest of the unique powers, but given that you can do two anyways it’s not a major issue. You can also use Strange Echoes to swap it out if you have a match up where it’s unlikely to do much for you.
- The Nightbringer: Gaze of Death- Roll 3D6 for a single enemy unit within 9”, inflicting D3 Mortal Wounds for each 4+. Could do nothing, could one shot Bobby G. More likely, should result in around 2-3 Mortal Wounds, enough to soften up a unit if not outright kill them when combined with another power.
- The Void Dragon: Voltaic Storm- A visible unit within 18” takes D3 Mortal Wounds on a 2+ (with the same CHARACTER targeting restrictions as Thunderbolt above). However, if they’re a VEHICLE they take D6 Mortal Wounds, and they also count as having half wounds remaining for their characteristics, making this devastating to many Vehicles. Still a reliable enough power otherwise, though as with the Deceiver consider swapping it out for another if you’ve eaten all the tanks.
The following are available if you have a Necrons Warlord when playing Matched Play or Grand Tournament Mission, with the usual restrictions (namely no using two from the same category), and you can only take one Necrons Secondary per game regardless of its category.
No Mercy, No Respite - Code of Combat
Score 3 VP for each unit destroyed by a NOBLE. A decent pick if you have multiple NOBLES, specifically Barges, though really shines with The Silent King due to his good shooting and melee. Soften up units first before using the NOBLE to finish them off and score the points. Great with the King, decent otherwise, might not be maxed out with only one NOBLE, more likely to score 3-6 unless you’re very cagey.
Battlefield Supremacy - The Treasures of Aeons
After Deployment, you opponent picks 3 Objective Markers on the Battlefield, and if you are controlling any at the end of your turn, you score 2, 3 or 5 VP, for controlling 1, 2 or all 3 respectively. Mission and army dependant- obviously if your opponent has hordes of ObSec units, or your army is on the slower side, this might not be the best choice, and virtually every mission has 1 or 2 Objectives in or near your opponent’s Deployment Zone which they will likely pick to limit you ease of scoring. However this can lead to good scoring on certain missions, ideally those with at least 2 or 3 Objectives in the mid-board and only 1 (or even 0) in the opponent’s Deployment Zone, enabling you to easily grab at least 1 or 2 in the early stages. With many Objective based Secondaries, this one needs to be played out for turns 4 and 5 – if you can dominate the board enough to score 15 VP on this by turn 3, you’ve probably already got the game in the bag, so don’t be disheartened if you’ve only netted 2-3 pts by Turn 3.
Battlefield Supremacy - Purge the Vermin
A sort of anti-Engage On All Fronts, scoring 2 VP for each Quarter that has no enemy units wholly within them. Can’t be scored in the First Battle Round, and will often be quite low scoring in the early stages, but you have to look at this as a slow gain Secondary that ramps up throughout the game as units are destroyed, quite capable of netting you 4-6 VP each turn in 4 and 5. Given units have to be wholly within your opponent needs to carefully consider positioning, either giving you VP or going out of position. Great against slow armies, but has its uses in many games, often able to net 8-10 VP with relative ease.
Shadow Operations - Ancient Machineries
After Deployment, you alternate with your Opponent (starting with them) to pick 3 Objective Markers that are not within either player’s Deployment Zone (if there is less than 3, tough). Any CORE or CANOPTEK unit can perform an Action on these selected Objectives at the end of the Movement Phase, provided no enemies are within range of it as well. At the end of your next Command Phase, the Action is completed and each one nets you 3 VP. Not the easiest of Secondaries as most missions generally mean you’ll need to fight over and clear the mid board Objectives- something you’ll want to do anyways, but given the requirements this often means you’ll be doing this Objective later in the game. Will usually net a reasonable 6 VP, but it’s not mega reliable. If you aren’t looking at either Purge or Treasures above, this isn’t a bad pick depending on the mission and armies.
These are rules that will be commonly found across multiple, if not all, units in the Necrons Codex.
Your standard “arrive from Reserves just over 9″ away” ability.
Every model with this rule regains a wound in each of your Command Phases. Might not sound like much but it can rack up over time, and literally everything with more than 1W has this rule, and it can make the difference between a Vehicle being bracketed (going from the middle line to the top), a Wraith now able to survive a further Dmg2 attack by healing back to his 3 wounds, or a Character stick around that little bit longer.
The core rule of the army, everything that isn’t a CHARACTER, VEHICLE or 1 model MONSTER unit has this.
Each time a model is destroyed by an enemy attack (that’s only Shooting or Fighting, so not against Stratagems, Psychic Powers etc), you put a dice equal to its Wound characteristic in a pool, and once that unit has finished all of its attacks, you roll the pool. For each 5+, you set them aside as wounds to essentially heal each dead model, with each fully healed model able to come back to life.
So it’s pretty easy on a 1W model, only needing a single 5+, all the way up to basically impossible for a 4 or 6W model. However this will add up over time, and each model slain in a single round of attacks increases the chances of some Reanimating, so it’s a compounding effect. Now if the unit is wiped they can’t come back, but vice versa a model that dies then Reanimates can do so again against another unit’s attacks. This can be used to slowly creep forward onto objectives, away from enemy chargers, move to block other units, get into aura ranges and more. There’s a lot of utility in your placement of revived models, though bear in mind restrictions (Coherency must be followed when you place them, you can’t reanimate from overwatch closer or start tagging units in combat).
There will be times it won’t feel like it does much, and times when it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but overall it averages out as a decent survivability mechanic that offers a lot more nuance and strategic application than a simple shrug.
If every model in the army is from the same Dynasty (so no mixing Dynasties, though DYNASTIC AGENTS, C’TAN SHARD and UNALIGNED are all fine), and your Warlord is a NOBLE, you get access to Command Protocols.
After Deploying (but frustratingly before determining First Turn), you secretly note the order of Protocols to activate at the start of each Battle Round. When each one activates, you then pick 1 of 2 Directives, and all NECRON units with the Command Protocols rule that are within 6” of any non-C’TAN Characters benefits from that chosen Directive. The named Dynasties get both Directives of their associated Protocol, outlined in their section above.
- Units get Light Cover provided they’ve not made a Normal Move, Advanced or Fell Back that turn. A big gamble given the roll off for first turn is no longer a choice. If you pick this first then win the roll off, you basically have to decide to move or lose the benefits, but if you lose the roll off it’s a solid defensive buff. It’s situational past turn 1 however as that’s when you’ll be wanting to move onto Objectives or into position for shooting or charging.
- Units not in Engagement Range can Hold Steady (Overwatch on 5+) or Set to Defend (+1 to hit for that Fight Phase). A decent buff, though remember you’ll still need to pay for Overwatch, but the Set to Defend provides a handy extra bit of punch for combat, but you need to carefully gauge when this will be most useful (this is a running theme of Command Protocols). If you can time this right it can help punish chargers more than they might be expecting, though it is not as applicable vs some armies than others.
- +1” to your Move Characteristic. A small but useful buff, letting you move a bit faster to nab objectives, pip into suitable ranges or just getting closer for charges. A minor boost but generally always useful and applicable for most armies and against most armies.
- Units can perform Actions and still Shoot. A much more niche ability but potentially game changing if you get the stars to align, letting you wrack up Objectives whilst still adding their firepower to the battle. Obviously useless without any Objectives related to Actions, but fantastic in the scenarios when you do. Scanning an Objective with a big unit of Warriors that have just been Veiled and now they can gun down the unit near them. Lovely.
- Unmodified 6s to Wound with Ranged attacks get an additional AP. A great bonus for your shooting units, given your already decent AP this can push your guns into 6+ or even no saves at all vs many units. Will generally always be useful, provided you have a decent spread of shooting units to benefit from it.
- Models shooting at an enemy unit within half range ignore saving throw bonuses from cover (read Ignore Light Cover). Not as applicable as the above, though more widely effective provided you are firing at those in cover. Remember this is a model by model basis so measure carefully, and you’ll need to position carefully to get the benefit.
- Unmodified 6s to Wound with Melee attacks get an additional AP. Another good and widely useful bonus that can catch people off guard, either making your basic units a bit punchier, or your melee units hit even harder.
- +1 Str in the first turn of combat. Another great buff, putting your melee units into the “magic numbers” of Str 5, Str 7 or Str 8. Whilst only applicable to the first round, it can often be enough to turn the tide of combat. Obviously amazing for combat units due to their higher Attacks/AP/Damage over non-combat units, but don’t neglect the use it can have on your base units. Consider when you might need this over Directive 1 however, vs T3 units with a middling Save for example, consider 1 instead.
- Living Metal heals an additional Wound. Useful if you have lots of damage spread out over multiple high wound units or Vehicles, but otherwise can be passed. Fortunately you’ll know if this will be needed or not before choosing (ie, probably don’t pick this if you’re going second as you don’t know, but if you have lots of spread damage and you go first, it could be worth doing).
- Reroll one Reanimation Protocol each time you use it. A great ability that is useful in most turns, enabling your Reanimation to be a tad more reliable and helpful, keeping your units around a little longer.
- Auras, and the Lord’s Will, My Will Be Done and Rites of Reanimation abilities, all increase by +3” (to a max of 12”). Extraordinary niche and limited (especially on the ability side of things) as realistically this is only applying to a few Characters. This can have some niche uses to let you ensure your aura’s affect units otherwise slightly out of range, but if that’s the case your units are already spread thin. Can usually be passed.
- Units can Fall Back and Shoot, with a -1 to Hit. A fantastic ability for your gunline to have access to, but if you mistime this it’s going to hurt significantly. If you have a heavy gunline component and are anticipating them being clogged up, it’s a worthy choice.
Overall the Command Protocols are a tricky rule to both use and justify. Whilst you have a semblance of control over the effects of the Directives, there is zero way to manipulate them outside of The Silent King, and even he is limited in the control he can exert. As you have to choose the order before determining first turn, some of the abilities are difficult to judge when to place them, or even if to place them at all. Then it comes down to what is in your army and what is in your opponents. Generally you need to know both armies very well and how the flow of the game will go to determine when to use certain Protocols. As such, it does boil down to if you’re going to be mixing detachments. As you can tailor units in certain Detachments to be better suited to their Codes, it can often be better to do that and sacrifice Command Protocols. If however you’re going single Dynasty, or want to save your CP and so won’t be running multiple Detachments, they’re a nice little bonus, but maybe not something to build around.
If you can anticipate when one of the Protocols will be most useful, great, otherwise don’t stress over it. The lone exceptions are Undying Legions and Sudden Storm, both of which are useful on any turn for their Movement and Reanimation boost respectively. As a general rule of thumb, against most opponents Undying Legions (2) or Sudden Storm (1) are a good pick for turn 1, with either Vengeful Stars or Hungry Void (Directive 1 being the most widely useful here, with 2 being a bit more niche) on Turn 2, depending on what the bulk of your army is. After that it’s kind of up in the air, as it’s really down to the armies. Conquering Tyrant (2) can be useful Turn 3 for example as a lot of combat tends to happen here, whilst Hungry Void (1 or 2) could be used here just as well to allow you to be more offensive in melee. The best advice is to play around with them, and if you’re finding them too awkward or annoying to use, or not as impactful as you’d like, try the different Detachment style, or just enjoy them as a little bonus when they happen.
The only things in the Codex that don’t have Command Protocols are C’TAN SHARDS.
If it’s a DESTROYER CULT unit, it has this, giving them reroll 1s to Hit. Works in Shooting and Melee, so this gives them a nice bit of reliability without relying on Character support.
For most of your VEHICLES, though not any of the FLYERS or LORDS OF WAR. Gives you a 5++ which is great given the amount of high AP out there, as well as making you never wounded on better than a 4+, which is a fantastic defensive boost which belies the generally low Toughness on Necron Vehicles, effectively making them T8 or 9 against your usual anti-tank suspects.
Your basic NOBLE HQ, though you’ll likely only be using him if you’re tight on points or at low points levels. With a decently robust profile, they can do combat fairly well, though don’t throw them away carelessly (T5 and a 4++ is nice but 5W and 4A only go so far), and realistically you’ll only be considering the Warscythe as a weapon option for the most part so much of their wargear is dead weight. Having said that, they aren’t meant to be frontline beatsticks, but actually leaders. Coming with Relentless March to grant CORE units +1″ Mv and My Will Be Done to give a CORE unit within 9″a tasty +1 to Hit (both shooting and melee), they should be buffers for your battleline first and foremost. Only get them involved when a weakened threat can be dealt with. The Resurrection Orb is mutually exclusive with the Tachyon Arrow (which incidentally is rubbish and has to come with a pretty mediocre weapon option so no major loss), and is a whopping 30pts, but it can make its points back and then some if you go from 2 Lychguard to 5 (the average, not accounting for any RP buffs), it’s worth serious consideration.
Catacomb Command Barge
For the pricey sum of +60pts you can put your Overlord on a personal boat, granting him +6″ Mv, +1T, +4W, FLY, becoming a VEHICLE, an extra gun, and trading his 4++ for Quantum Shielding. It’s a big cost but with some big upsides, and the Barge is generally one of the best HQ slots Necrons have. The stats are the obvious ones but other things to consider include his much bigger footprint which is useful for his abilities or using an Orb, being a VEHICLE (which has both downsides and upsides) and his greater impact in more phases due to having decent ranged options. Generally it’s a flexible option, able to utilise speed to act as a beatstick or support element far more effectively than the basic Overlord, whilst still benefiting from Character protection. The only real advantages the base footslogging Overlord has is being INFANTRY (unlocking access to a few Stratagems and rules interactions), but these are rarely worth it over being a Barge.
Your lower level Lord for cheaper, but boy does it show. Worse WS, BS, W, and A, as well as granting reroll 1s to hit instead of +1 to Hit (which whilst nice is not nearly as strong, and still only applies to one CORE unit). Can be loaded with an Orb so could be useful as a backup caddy, but he just doesn’t really bring much to the table, and can be safely passed over.
A strategic advisor of sorts who lugs around a big Gauss Blaster with an extra shot and extra Dmg (though annoyingly only BS3). Has the Overlord’s Relentless March and his own unique ability to pick a CORE unit within 9” in the Command Phase and let them Fall Back Shoot and Charge, a powerful ability for a wide variety of uses, from simply allowing your block of Warriors to continue firing with impunity after being consolidated into, to letting your Lychguard pick a better target for combat that turn. He’s a decent pick, it’s just a shame he’s in an extremely competitive slot.
King Murder Crab, packing a beefy defensive statline and bunch of weapons. The gun is cute but can help whittle away at lighter units, and the claw can be useful if you find yourself bogged down by basic infantry, though really you want him throwing down with bigger targets and his Harvester. Whilst hitting on 3s with it is a pain, his built in rerolls help alleviate it somewhat. He’s quite pricey, but if used well he can cause major damage to a bunch of targets.
The floaty version of the above, trading raw power for a little more versatility. With the same reroll auras for DESTROYER CULT units he can support them just as well, alongside being able to bring things like a Resurrection Orb or having a wider access to Relics, but with lower offensive stats, he’s more of a support Lord compared to his tri legged counterpart.
Crypteks (General Info)
All four of the Crypteks are support characters with pretty much identical Statlines, FLY (except the non-Cloak TECHNOMANCER), and the Dynastic Advisors rule that lets 2 CRYPTEKS take up one slot provided there is a NOBLE in the same Detachment. They are pretty flimsy (T4 4W 4+) so be careful with them lest they die to a stiff breeze.
The Medic Cryptek, here to heal and revive. Comes with a Staff of Light, revives either a single model for one CORE unit within 6” in the Command Phase, or D3 WARRIORS. Can also be given one of two mutually exclusive bits of wargear, either a 6” Aura for +1 to Hit for all CANOPTEK units, or a 10” FLY move as well as the ability to heal D3 wounds to a friendly unit within 3” at the end of your Movement. Will pay for himself after reviving 2 Destroyer or Wraith models. The Cloak is a steal at only 5pts, and lets him support multi-wound models and move into position for things like Protocols or any Auras he might have from Warlord Traits. The Node is great if supporting some Doomstalkers, but the lack of speed and healing ability is a big blow, especially as keeping up with the fast CANOPTEK units to give them the +1 to Hit is a struggle with his base walking speed.
The Spooky Cryptek, who debuffs the enemy. His Abyssal Staff is a weaker Staff of Light with better AP, he has a 6” aura of -1 Ld and Combat Attrition to enemy units, and a 12” targetable ability done in your Morale Phase, that can either turn off Actions, remove ObSec, halves Advances and Charges, or denies Overwatch, Set to Defend and makes them strike last. All of those effects are powerful, though it requires you to roll over the enemy unit’s Leadership on 3D6 so is not guaranteed, and with a low range it’s easy enough to play around. Given his short ranges and purely debuffing role, he needs to be in the thick of fighting, which is a dangerous place for Crypteks to be. If the stars align he can turn the tide of a fight or even game, but he’s not easy to use.
The Buffing Cryptek, here to make your units better. Faster at 8”, packing a 4++, some MechaChronotendrils for a few tickle attacks in melee, they’re somewhat tankier and more competent in combat than the others (but don’t), as well as having two staffs to choose from, the anti tank Entropic Lance or the random shot but Invulnerable ignoring Aeonstave. Most importantly though they use their Chronometron in your Command Phase, giving one friendly unit within 9” a 5++ and reroll charges. Both of these are powerful benefits, able to make a blob of WARRIORS very tough to shift, a unit of SCARABS one of the most obnoxious units in the game, or a bunch of SKORPEKHS more likely to survive and make their charge. Whilst you’ll want to maximise both benefits, don’t neglect using it on a unit that will only benefit from one aspect if it’s the most useful at the time (reroll charges on a unit of WRAITHS that are going off to deal with something, or a unit you don’t want in combat this turn but is going to be taking heavy firepower). Overall the best of the Crypteks, albeit the most expensive, but the Chronometron is completely worth it, and you should seriously consider at least 1 in your army.
The Zappy One, here to inflict damage on your foe. A pure damage dealer, she comes with a decent anti-Marine Plasmic Lance and some rules to inflict Mortal Wounds. The first does 1 Mortal Wound to each enemy unit within 6” of her in the Fight Phase on a 4+, and the other targets the closest visible unit within 24”, rolling 3D6 and doing a Mortal Wound for each 4+. Both are nice to add some stacking damage, though they aren’t the most reliable and a good opponent can screen out or just avoid the short range. As with the Psychomancer she wants to be relatively up close and personal to make the most of their abilities, which isn’t the best place for your squishy technowizard. She’s cheap enough, but given she only does damage, one of the more support-oriented Crypteks is a generally more useful use of the points and the slot.
Imotekh the Stormlord
An Overlord with +1W and a 2+ Sv and a Staff of Light with +1 Str, AP and Dmg. He also packs an Assault Heavy Flamer, grants +2 CP, is a Phaeron so can use My Will Be Done twice a turn, and also can zap an enemy unit once per game for 3 Mortal Wounds on a 4+, and each other unit with 6” for D3 Mortal Wounds on a further 4+ for them. He’s a pricey upgrade at 50pts on a normal Overlord, but he hits almost as hard as a Warscythe Overlord, is harder to kill, better at shooting, essentially grants you 4 CP (+2 for his rule and not needing to spend CP for Hand of the Phaeron), and has a potent ability to spread a decent amount of damage across a good chunk of the enemy. One of the primary reasons you’re considering Sautekh, and frankly if you aren’t using him, Sautekh is a bit of a waste.
40pts over an Overlord who gets +1W and a 2+ Sv, and a few quirky rules. The first is a once per game ability that just says “No” to a Stratagem, preventing it from being used that Battle Round, and the other enhances a CORE unit within 9” with +1A, +1 BS or reroll charges, with the twist that you can only pick the ability if you roll under his Ld on 3D6 (so on average it’ll be random). He’s ok, but he’s a costly increase for an admittedly powerful albeit once per game ability, and a generally random ability that whilst has a good spread of rules is only on one unit and only for a single turn. Also given he only has a Staff of Light he’s not the most potent in a fight, so you almost have to have Obyron to throw down on his behalf, making him more pricey than he already is.
25pts over a Warscythe toting Lord who gets +1WS, +2W, +1A, a 2+ Sv, Dimensional Translocation, Fights on death (even if he’s already fought), and a bunch of stuff revolving around Zahndrekh (Bodyguard to him and able to teleport to him, even into combat). Overall he’s a great upgrade over a normal Lord for his points, even if you aren’t running Zahdrekh, though if you are he’s certainly a fun and fluffy addition. Whilst he isn’t packing an Invulnerable, he can still be a big threat to other melee characters thanks to his decent base stats and the threat of Counterblow.
Orikan the Diviner
A Chronomancer that gets +1W and A, and sacrifices his shooting attacks for a stronger melee attack. He always strikes first, and can turn into a combat beatstick if you roll under the turn number in your Command Phase. He’s a fun choice and useful in a mixed Dynasty army as his Chronometron isn’t Dynasty locked, but he’s not generally worth 30pts over a normal Chronomancer for a few mediocre attacks and a slim chance of becoming better in combat, which you have better units for that aren’t dependant on a D6 roll each turn.
Anrakyr the Traveller
40pts over an Overlord nets you +1W and Str (making him that crucial Str 8), as well as a Tachyon Arrow, a +1A aura for CORE units in 6”, and an ability to let you control a single gun of an enemy VEHICLE within 12” if you can at least equal their Leadership on a 3D6 roll (or 2D6 if TITANIC). He’s great if you have a horde of CORE units that you want in melee (Novokh in particular), though his unique ability is fairly lacklustre given it’s low range, no guarantee of working and only being a single weapon, and a Tachyon Arrow is…well, a Tachyon Arrow. Depending on how melee based your army is, he’s a worthy upgrade, otherwise those points could be better spent elsewhere.
A mega Technomancer who gets +2” Mv, +2 Str, +2 T, +3W +3A, a 3+ Sv, can do his Rites of Reanimation twice, packs a Staff that hits like a baby Warscythe in combat and essentially a D3 shot Lascannon. He also causes Psykers within 12” to Perils on any double (though it is still cast if it meets the Warp Charge and they live), he can enhance a CORE unit in your Movement Phase with a random table granting +1 Str, +1 T or +1 BS, annnnnd he if kills a single model in combat he can use the same buffing ability at the end of the phase. Phew. Also he’s an eyewatering 160pts. But he is a weapon, capable at supporting your units, shooting stuff, chopping stuff and being a general nuisance, and reviving multiple expensive models a turn with his Rites takes the sting out of his cost significantly. No invulnerable save however so don’t throw him away or into dangerous situations.
Trazyn the Infinite
An Overlord that for a measly 5pts gets +1W, grants the first use of Dynastic Heirlooms for free, and can kill and replace a friendly Infantry Character on a 2+ to come back to life with 3W remaining. He also gets a weird Hyperphase Glaive that goes to AP -1 but causes enemy CHARACTERS to explode in a 6” radius of D3 Mortal Wounds if he kills them. He’s trolly (of course), and cheap enough to make him a consideration.
They’re dead Jim
The base rank and file, and more than a match for other army’s Troops in the ranged and toughness stake. CORE with a solid statline, and though their 4+ Sv leaves a bit to be desired, they have access to many buffs and enhancements, and their inherent reroll 1s on Reanimation gives them a layer of survivability that isn’t always readily apparent. How you run Warriors basically boils down to two choices- to support or leave unsupported, and Flayers or Reapers. The first thing to consider is investment- they will often want (or in some cases require) a fair chunk of resources, whether that’s Stratagems or HQ abilities. As such whilst they can be buffed up to scary levels, often it will only be one at a time, so consider carefully before you start wanting to roll around with 60 of them. Supported they can wreak havoc, but without their buffs they aren’ quite as potent, though still decent. As for weapons, the Flayer has lower Strength and AP, but does boast a better range, however the minute you get within 12” the Reaper outshines it drastically, and given the Reaper is an Assault weapon it does offer a bit more flexibility in the movement stakes. Given the nature of 9th Edition, the Reaper is a better “workhorse” choice, as you’ll often be fighting in the midboard, usually in the early turns, and you have better units if you do want to backline to hold home Objectives.
A more “independent” Troop unit, though by no means should you neglect giving them buffs if you can. With a smaller min and max squad size they are a more traditional CORE Infantry unit, but pack a tasty T5 and 3+ Sv, as well as 2A for a little bit of extra combat punch. Weaponry wise, the Gauss Blaster is generally the best option with their good statline, whilst the Tesla Carbine is sadly a pretty bad choice given you pay extra points for it. Whilst slightly more effective at the 24”-16” bracket, the Blaster outshines at both the longer ranges and once within 15” for Rapid Fire. Tesla is a potent ability but with AP 0, the Blaster is statistically more likely to make the hits and wounds you do actually stick against most targets. Tesla does have a place vs horde type units with low armour or Invulnerable Saves, and can be pretty good with Mephrit due to their ranged boosts, but if you are looking at an all-comers choice the Gauss generally wins out. Overall the Immortals can be used in a variety of ways, as cheap Battalion fillers or mainstay units, to hold the backline, press the attack, or be used for various Objectives.
Ok fine. For such an awesome model it’s very disappointing. Whilst a reasonably cheap 80pts and an attractive boost to Reanimation Protocols, it’s far too easy to mitigate. A short 6” range, needing to remain there and be in line of sight is the first of the problems, as often you will want to hide him, because the minute it’s targeted it’s likely dead. Secondly as it only affects 1 unit, your opponent can just target something else. Sure you can spend a ludicrous 2 CP to move the boost, but then your opponent…just shoots the original target. If the stars align and you can get it to work on a key unit whilst keeping the Reanimator alive, it can be a massive force multiplier, but realistically it is a fairly easy kill for your opponent without bringing much outside of an admittedly strong but limited buff. Also has CORE, cos it needs something I guess.
An odd unit that doesn’t really do anything you can’t already do well elsewhere outside of extremely specific circumstances. With 6 Pistols that hit very accurately and can generate more shots when they kill something, he’s a decent horde clearer (and it combos nicely with the Gauntlet of the Conflagrator vs hordes, that extremely specific circumstance mentioned), but that’s it. Can’t shoot Characters, despite being a Deathmark, only AP 1 and Dmg 1 means they’re only really suited for light infantry, which can be done elsewhere, and no buffs or army supporting abilities outside of being a Character for Command Protocols. Cheap enough at 75pts, and comes with Dimensional Translocation which can be useful to get Command Protocols where you need them, but you can safely pass without missing him too much.
The beefiest CORE unit, rocking a healthy statline, the ability to protect INFANTRY NOBLES from shooting (no Barges sadly) and great wargear options, these are a solid combat unit for a reasonable price. Depending on what you want they can be made a tough anvil unit with their Swords and Shields, or trade the defensive abilities for a Warscythe. Either loadout makes a good bully unit to take Objectives or defend your lines, though remember Reanimation only goes so far, and a 2+/4++ is a big defensive trade off for +1 Str, AP and Dmg- if you’re dead it doesn’t matter how killy you are, so if going for Scythes a Chronomancer is practically a must for their 5++. However whilst they are tough and have Reanimation, they are far from invincible so don’t throw them away, and make sure you don’t bite off more than they can chew.
An Immortal that trades it’s 2A for BS2, comes with Dimensional Translocation, and a decent sniper rifle with Str 5 and AP2. Good for holding the backline, or being used as cheap Objective grabbers via their Translocation, they can also help weaken either Characters or tougher units with their decent weaponry, and although they are Heavy with CORE and BS 2 it’s easy to get them back to extreme accuracy so don’t be afraid to move them around when needed. Cheap enough that a unit of 5 won’t be breaking the bank, but can help in a pinch in a variety of situations.
An Infantry blender unit with a bunch of attacks that explode (unless against VEHICLES) and Leadership modifiers. Not the toughest or swiftest of things, but they do come with Dimensional Translocation and are cheap, making them ideal for objective and secondary capping, and can be turned into real blenders with the right CORE buffs. As they are only really geared for killing light Infantry, don’t think of them in an offensive way, more as a useful utility threat that can nab you points and put pressure on your opponents backfield- its a 9” charge sure, but do they want to risk it happening, or screen you out and limit their movement?
The cheapest Infantry unit in the book, providing the bodyguard “please don’t shoot my boss” rule for CRYPTEKS within 3”, as well as getting some stat boosts when near them as well. Whilst 4W at T5 and 3+ does not make them survivable, being 2 small models does, as hiding them out of Line of Sight is very easy, and still ensures a nearby CRYPTEK cannot be shot at all. Perfect Action caddys or Secondary achievers (things like Engage for example) and for a low cost, they are a useful pair to have, provided you act cagey with them.
The Murder Crabs are your premier shock unit, packing a great statline and potent melee punch. With built in reroll 1s they’re fairly accurate, and can be pushed into the stratosphere with CORE buffs. Whilst they don’t have an Invulnerable outside of the Chronomancer (look just run at least 1, they’re that good), T5 3W and Reanimation does make them a reasonably tricky prospect to shift, and don’t neglect the amazing Whirling Onslaught Stratagem (which realistically should be used every turn with them if they get shot at) to help get them there in one piece. Whilst the ever increasing amount of -1 Dmg rules does make their basic weapons feel a little less good, that just comes with picking the right targets for them. The decision between 6 to get the second Reap-blade, or 5 to minimise the impact of Blast weapons is a tough one, and honestly it’s dependent on your meta and what you’re expecting to face- a few Frag Grenades is probably not worth worrying about. 3 Tank Commanders with Demolishers is a bit more concerning.
An adorable little robo-mosquito that can only be taken if you have DESTROYER CULT units in your army, and scampers back to the Tomb World if it’s more than 6” away from one of them in the Morale Phase. Injects a DESTROYER CULT unit with 100% Grade A Madness, giving them +1 Str and Attack, with a chance of straight up killing one of the unit on a 1. Goes without saying this is practically worthless on your ranged DESTROYER units, and incredibly risky on a lone Character, but can power up Skorpekhs and Ophydians to immense levels, and can be worth doing on a Character if they were likely to die in the following turn anyways, or you would lose anyways unless they killed the one thing that would steal you victory and you couldn’t do it without it (rare sure but it could happen). Whilst they can’t do Actions they do count towards holding Objectives or things like Linebreaker, so don’t neglect that (provided it’s near DESTROYER units of course)
A support spider tank that comes with a good defensive profile, solid if few melee attacks and a choice of decent ranged options. The main draw is their Targeting Relay rule, granting your entire army reroll 1s to Hit in the shooting phase against a particular enemy unit, provided the Stalker hits them first. With a choice of a Multi-melta/Heavy Flamer hybrid for flexibility, a Twin Gauss Cannon for semi decent Anti-tank/Heavy Infantry hunting, or a Particle Shredder for mass shots, the Stalker can fill a variety of different roles, though they are quite short ranged and often a bit counterproductive. Want to give reroll 1s vs that tank but you’re packing the Particle Shredder, the shots might just bounce. Need to ensure that the unit in range of your Warrior blob is extra dead your Multi-melta shot is a bit superfluous. They also have a weird quirk of being a tall legged Vehicle with no base, meaning pinning them is incredibly easy as you just need to wrap around their pointy legs and then they can’t move. They are quite cheaply costed as far as anti-tank options for Necrons go, so they aren’t a bad buy, but there will be times they just don’t pull their weight due to their oddities.
Tough mini-monsters with a good melee statline and access to some decent wargear, from some anti infantry ranged firepower, to Vehicle repairing and Deny the Witch access. Tough vs small arms with their T6 and 6W, they won’t hold up too well against dedicated anti tank fire, but with Living Metal and Chronomancers they can stick around for a good amount of time. When buffed up with various CANOPTEK abilities they can become real terrors, but bare in mind a 6” Mv isn’t the fastest, and the support will often be needed to ensure they survive.
In their own little section as there’s a lot going on with them.
All C’tan share some similarities, chief amongst them being a robust statline, FLY and the following special rules.
C’tan Powers all do Mortal Wounds in some capacity, and were covered at length earlier, but essentially they are all done at the end of the Movement Phase provided the Shard hasn’t Fallen Back or Advanced. Whilst the limitation can be a tad annoying it’s not a deal breaker, and the powers themselves are all fairly robust. All of the named Shards can use two powers per turn, and the Transcendent uses 1 unless he has a particular Personality as discussed below.
Enslaved Star God
They can’t be given Relics, Warlord Traits and never benefit from Look Out Sir despite having 9 Wounds. These are all neither here nor there really, and the Look Out Sir thing is fairly moot given Necrodermis (and would be beyond broken if they could benefit from it.)
Explode on death on a 4+ for a 6” bubble of D3 Mortal Wounds, giving those nearby a nasty surprise a good chunk of the time. Given the likelihood of them going kaboom, it’s worth keeping your distance from them with the bulk of your forces unless they can afford to take the hit.
Grants them a 4++ but more importantly they can only suffer 3 wounds per phase, with any excess damage wasted. Given they have Living Metal to heal a wound in each of your Command Phases, this can mean that a solely shooting or melee army will be extremely hard pressed to kill them, and even other armies will have to pull out things like Stratagems or potentially sacrifice units in melee to try and finish them off.
Despite this spread of pretty powerful abilities they are far from invincible or auto winning, and many armies are more than capable of killing them in 2 turns, if not 1 turn, or can ignore them entirely. Necrodermis is a double-edged sword as once the 3 Wounds are done an opponent can turn their attentions elsewhere, using their anti tank weapons on your heavy infantry or other Vehicles. They’re also pretty susceptible to hordes, lacking the attacks and abilities to carve through them. Despite all this, they can pump out a bunch of Mortal Wounds, are excellent at tackling other big things or hyper elite units, and can act as a potent spearhead given that they really must be dealt with. Keep in mind the limitations of the Necrodermis, and screen appropriately against Psychic Powers or other such abilities that might be able to affect them, and they can cause some significant damage and headaches. As a general rule, expect to lose the C’tan by turn 2 or 3, but so long as he’s taken a pound of flesh and is causing disruption to your opponent it’s a fair trade.
The tricksiest of the C’tan, though the weakest physically, with “only” 5A at Str 6 -3 Dmg3. For that however they do come with Dimensional Translocation (yes you can do your powers after he arrives from Reinforcements), has a built in -1 to hit and can redeploy up to 3 units, or put them into Strategic Reserves for free. A decent choice if you’re looking for a more support oriented C’tan that is a bit harder to nuke down than the others, as well as giving you some deployment flexibility and a modicum of combat punch, though remember you’re paying a premium for those powers and melee attacks so don’t think about keeping them back for too long.
The beatstick of the C’tan, here to chew souls and kick ass. And they’re all out of souls. With a stronger Str7 and 6A profile, built in ability to ignore shrugs, and two weapon profiles for either big things and ignoring invulnerables, or to cleave through lighter hordes, the Nightbringer should be used aggressively, and directed towards the biggest toughest things in the opponent’s army. As you are paying a very high price for very good melee ability, any time wasted out of combat is costing you points. They should in theory kill most things in the game with the big attack, but it is by no means a guarantee (it’s only about an average of 7 wounds vs Mortarion for example, though that is Mortarion so….) so whilst you should absolutely be pushing the attack, don’t throw him away too early or at poor targets.
The Void Dragon
The generalist of the C’tan, with a 3+ Sv to help them vs 0AP attacks that want to try their luck, some random but solid attacks and a low range shooting attack that hits every unit under a line. Where they shine is of course against Vehicles, with their D6 Dmg attacks from the Spear becoming a much healthier 3+D3, their Power being much more effective vs Vehicles, and the ability to heal at the end of any phase they destroy a Vehicle. Against armies with lots of tanks, or squads of lighter vehicles, he can be extremely difficult to deal with if he gets his healing train going, and even without Vehicles he still hits very hard, if at D6 Dmg. Whilst not as supportive as the Deceiver or killy as the Nightbringer, the Dragon can do damage well and can dictate movement of the opponent even more than the others by virtue of his line attack and the desire to keep Vehicles out of his reach lest he powers up throughout the game.
The cheapest and “basic” C’tan, costing a not inconsiderable 80pts less than the others, however they can only use one power natively and have no abilities outside of their Fractured Personality, which you either pick 1 of or roll for randomly (rerolling both dice on duplicates).
- Cosmic Tyrant – Use an additional power. Puts them on par with the named Shards, this is the best general purpose one if you’re choosing, or the one you really want to get if you’re rolling
- Immune to Natural Law – Can never be wounded on better than a 4+. A great survivability trait that can mitigate the usual suspects that target C’tan, namely Str8+ weaponry
- Sentient Necrodermis – Get a 3+ Sv, same as the Void Dragon. Simple and handy vs lots of AP0 weapons, but not the best one to roll up, and likely not one you’d be choosing.
- Transdimensional Displacement- Get Dimensional Translocation, ala the Deceiver. It’s fine, though better for the Deceiver due to his innate deployment abilities and casting 2 powers.
- Untamed Power – Become Str 7 and 6A, like the Nightbringer. Lacking his weapon options and rules however, this is nice but not all that useful
- Writhing Worldscape – Each enemy unit within Engagement Range at the start of your Movement Phase takes a Mortal Wound on a 4+, and the Shard is -2 to be Charged. It’s ok, but short ranged and not massively reliable.
Realistically you’re taking the Transcendent for Cosmic Tyrant so they can output multiple powers, and to save points over the named C’tan. Whilst the saving is significant, they do often lose a lot for that, but if you’re looking for an elite hunting monster on a relative budget he’s a solid choice.
Canoptek Scarab Swarms
One of the most points efficient units in the game in terms of overall effectiveness, and that’s before the force multiplication they can get. With 10” FLY, 4W and tiny visibility they are an excellent harassment unit that can be hard to get a bead on and absorbs a lot of firepower. Sure they only have a 6+ Sv, but that’s why you bring Chronomancers. They won’t kill a huge amount, but are fantastic for screening, tying things up, funneling units, contesting objectives and being a general nuisance.
If the Skorpekhs are the Lychguard of the Destroyer Cults, Ophydians are the Flayed Ones. But we’ll call them Murder Snakes. Not as strong or tough, but faster, with additional attacks, Tunnelling (which is Translocation with another name because reasons) and a -1 to be hit in melee, the Ophydians are definite glass cannons, and quite pricey at that. However they can make mincemeat of most heavy and elite infantry they charge, and the threat of them appearing in the opponents lines can shift their game plans. If however you’re looking for a more robust or mainstay combat unit, Skorpekhs or Lychguard are your better bet.
Warriors on Jetbikes, though given their statline and weaponry the closer comparison would be to Immortals. Shieldvanes are only 3pts for a 3+ Sv and unless you are desperately strapped for points should be a serious consideration on every Tomb Blade. Giving them a Twin Gauss Blaster or Twin Telsa Carbine will make them 33pts, or 1pt less than 2 Immortals with Gauss for the same T, Sv, number of Wounds, same shots, but with 14”, a -1 to be Hit by shooting and FLY BIKER instead of INFANTRY. Both come with their own inherent advantages and disadvantages, and not being Troops and having innate ObSec is one of them of course. You can also look at giving them a 5++ or Ignore Cover but this brings the points cost up higher. All told they are a solid unit, fast enough to harass infantry that might have thought themselves safe behind cover, whilst also being solid enough to take a reasonable hit. Being CORE means they can benefit from many buffs, and they can be useful for Objective capping and be put on Secondary duty.
Elite Jump Pack Infantry with the choice of horde clearing Particle Caster and Voidblade, or the more elite busting Rod of the Covenant. The Rod is generally the better choice due to Dmg 2 and you able to get anti Infantry attacks elsewhere. With the same tough profile as Lychguard but with double the movement and FLY, at the cost of being TRIARCH so no Dynastic Codes (or DYNASTY Keyword for important buffs like Chronometrons or My Will Be Done, so be careful), the Praetorians are ideal shock troops for the first wave of combat, and are quite efficient for their cost. However with no access to Invulnerables outside of Orikan, be careful with your advance lest they get gunned down quickly, or end up fighting a unit they can’t quite handle and will hit them back hard.
The fastest CANOPTEK unit, who care not for terrain or models being in the way being able to pass through them, as well as being able to Fal Back and Shoot and Charge. Whilst they can be given guns, don’t as it’s better to keep them cheap, and whilst they do have a solid melee statline with their Claws (the Whip Coils are sadly a waste of time), don’t expect them to kill anything too heavy, unless buffed up via CORE rules. They are however ideal units to tie up stuff whilst almost never being tied up themselves, can go light Character or backfield unit hunting, or provide a threat with multiple charges to gunlines. With T5 3W and 3+/4++ they are fairly robust, but given the nature of their threats they often draw a lot of firepower. Fortunately they are fairly cheap, and this fire magnet nature can work in your favour, absorbing shots against other elements of your army.
An odd Tank that is expensive for what it does, which is lots of Tesla. Whilst it kicks out a lot of firepower at good Strength and all with Tesla, it is with no AP and only 1 Damage, making it best suited for horde clearance duties…which the rest of your army does already. The sheer quantity of shots can make it good for forcing saves on heavier units and chipping away at light tanks, but it’s not the most efficient, and despite Quantum Shielding, 8 wounds only goes so far. If you have need for anti infantry it is by no means a bad choice, but that is one of the areas Necrons tend to struggle least at finding.
Sigh. Random McGee here, with his D6 Shots at D6 Damage that it can only use if it never moves, coming in at a pretty hefty 170pts. Urgh. Whilst its a pretty robust platform with Quantum Shielding and a massive 14W, as well as practically packing a full 10 man squad of Warriors as it’s secondary weapons, the big gun boat is just so lacklustre. Whilst long enough range to hit the entire board and AP to punch through anything shy of Invulnerables, the random shots and damage, whilst generally wounding vehicles on 3s means, on average, it’s doing a total of 5 Wounds against your standard Vehicle profile (T7 3+). And that’s not accounting for things like Dense Cover, Invulnerables etc. So it just about brackets a Rhino. With a weapon described as threatening super-heavies. So yeah. Urgh. Let’s not even talk about when it moves (doing an average of TWO WOUNDS). It can be good, like one shot a Knight good, and with it’s large size and decent secondary guns can be useful for blocking stuff, but you’re paying so many points for the big gun (which if it gets tagged it won’t be using unless you’ve lined up Protocols) it’s wasting it’s…”potential”.
The shooty members of the Destroyer Family, these guys each pack a decent enough gun but are quite expensive and a bit all over the place that it makes them a hard sell. They’re a bit too slow and short ranged to be fire support, which often puts them into dangerous positions or firing lanes, the strength just isn’t enough to make them efficient tank hunters, and the pesky D3 damage makes them unreliable elite hunters. Whilst they have the decent statline of most Destroyers, and they are of course effective sooner due to being ranged, they become a primary target and each one lost is a heavy blow, whilst only just breaking even themselves. With support however, they become much more effective, being buffed via CORE abilities for offense and defense. They can require a fair bit of investment to make work, but when they do they do pack a decent punch.
Lokhust Heavy Destroyers
Even chunkier floating gun bots, these are actually fairly reliable anti tank platforms with their Gauss Destructors, or potent horde clearers with their Enmitic Exterminators. As with other units in the army, light infantry killers are found very easily, so as good as the Exterminators are, the Destructor is more likely what you’d be looking at, and at Str 10 AP -4 and a very nice 3D3 Damage (yay for reliable anti tank at last!) they can do some serious damage. Only one shot each however, so each one will not take out a tank by themselves, and given the low rate of fire and need to wound, you’d still realistically need 3 of them to kill a tank, and even then it’s only just (average of 10 wounds presuming no invulnerables etc). Which at 180pts for 3 fairly easy to kill models again makes this a pretty tough sell. There are worse anti tank units in the army, but you’ll need to screen and hide these guys lest they be taken out first thing.
A sort of cross between the Canoptek Reanimator (oh no) and the Doomsday Ark (OHNO) which is actually…decent (oh?). Cheaper with the same gun as the Ark albeit slightly shorter ranged, and although it comes with less Gauss Flayers and is not quite as tough due to 2 less Wounds and no Quantum Shielding, it does have an innate 4++ as well as CANOPTEK (so can benefit from certain buffs related to that), can Overwatch for itself and any friendly units within 6” for free (anyone that says you need to pay the CP for it can’t read the rules), and whilst only BS 4 it doesn’t degrade so it will remain a ranged threat until it is brought down. Whilst it shines supporting your battlelines and ideally with a Technomancer nearby for the +1 to Hit, you must still be wary as with no melee output and a Blast weapon it is a prime target for tagging, so position carefully. As with the Doomsday Ark, if it moves it has to use the worse profile (there’s only so much my eyes can roll backwards), so ideally set them up in a solid position first, or to be able to get to one and set up firing lanes for later turns.
A Transport that is actually more useful for the Troops not inside it, it packs a Warrior squad amount of firepower, the sheer mass of the Doomsday Ark, and the healing ability of the Technomancer though only for Warriors. Can also weirdly carry Characters as well as Warriors, despite these being retrofitted vehicles from the War in Heaven that carried the commoners to be biotransfered so the nobility would be seen nowhere near them, Warriors coming in squads of 10 meaning a Character would be going around solo, and despite having no space for him a SKORPEKH LORD can commandeer one. Which is as hilarious as it is stupid. Being large and fairly resilient Ghost Arks make solid battering rams, as whilst they won’t be killing much in combat they can tie up stuff whilst still supporting your silver tide nearby and lending firepower en route. Not the cheapest at 145pts, but given its combination of rules its not an awful buy.
The Doom Scythe packs a pretty big punch with it’s Twin Tesla Destructors and the Death Ray provides some good anti tank firepower. However they will die to a stiff breeze (comparatively to other units in the army, as no Quantum Shielding or innate Invulnerable makes them very expensive for their flimsiness), so it my be worth considering putting them in Strategic Reserves. This will cost a chunk of CP however so it may be worthwhile putting other units alongside with them. Can work well with the Deceiver as they can start on the board then be scurried away to safety should you not get the roll off in your favour.
As with the Doom Scythe these Flyers are by no means tough so you should be careful, but with a whopping 20 Transport Capacity they have to be dealt with turn 1 lest you suddenly drop off a huge threat deep in your opponent’s lines turn 2. Cheap enough and with Twin Tesla Destructors they can add some firepower to the fight, but again that flimsiness will hurt in certain matchups. Yes you can fill it with like 18 Skorpekhs for the lols, but that is a pretty big one trick pony, and you best hope it doesn’t die whilst surrounded…
It exists so we best talk about it. It’s beefy TITANIC floating rock with just some weird rules, getting 24 Str 8 Dmg 2 shots Tesla Shots…at AP0…and only if it stays still…at 24” range. Otherwise it’s basically got 1 and a half Twin Tesla Destructors. You can arrive from reinforcements with it, which is gloriously counterproductive with it’s shooting rules. Oh it also slows down one FLY unit a turn if they’re in 24”, doing an average of 1 Mortal Wound to them if they’re also an AIRCRAFT. All for the bargain cost of 370pts. Are you playing a wacky 8000pts game with friends? Then take it why not. Otherwise let it rot on the shelf. Wow it sucks.
For 25% of your army you get a C’tan in a box, rocking up with a ludicrous 30 wounds and a 2+/4++ (only T7 mind so beware the melta), packs the same guns as the Obelisk but without the silly stay-still-and-get-better-guns rule that GW seemed to love to give to Necrons and no one else, and can do between 3-1 C’tan powers a turn, which being a Vault makes them super charged. Incredibly expensive of course, and despite the shackled C’tan probably giving off more eldritch energy flares than the SUN, it has no melee prowess and Falling Back will only allow you to shoot (cos TITANIC doesn’t interact with C’tan Powers). As such, use it as a heavy mortal wound artillery piece until it starts to get heavily damaged, than float it into your opponents lines and hope it explodes.
The iconic Pyramid of Doom itself is now, frustratingly, a Lord of War, meaning unless you take 3 of the darn things they won’t get any Dynastic Codes, which is a shame as they’d really love some of them. At least a lone one only costs 1 CP now. Regardless, with T8 24W and a 2+, they are pretty tough, though AP 4 will cause them headaches due to no invulnerable save (and guess what most common anti tank weaponry is nowadays…). They pack a large array of good guns, with the Particle Whip being a solid all round weapon, and able to go for either a bunch of Gauss Blaster esque shots or some short ranged but hard hitting anti tank Death Rays. They can also arrive from Reinforcements if you’re so inclined, and can teleport other units to them if they stay still (though only from Strategic Reserves), and extremely close to the enemy to boot, so they have some support elements. Even trying to hit them in combat is a danger due to their Portal auto hitting at a scary Str 8 -3 Dmg 3, as well as being TITANIC and thus eligible to fall back and shoot. There’s nothing wrong with the Monolith, but that lack of Invulnerable will be sorely felt and often, the lack of Dynastic Code means it loses out on some nice buffs in certain armies, and there are some other missed opportunities here and there (like the model literally having parts made of Blackstone yet doing nothing to interact with Psychic Powers).
The Silent King
The shiniest boy of them all, Szarekh has an entire page of rules. Without repeating them all, he has the usual Overlord abilities, is a Phareon, grants CORE and TRIARCH PRAETORIANS reroll hits for Shooting and wounds for melee, causes units fighting him to fight last, can deny Psychic Powers, can change up Command Protocols, grants you 3 extra CP, has a plethora of weaponry for pretty much all targets, brings his two new best mates along cos he’s a cool guy, has pet rocks, and floats into battle on a chair powered by a C’tan. He’s not the toughest of things with T7 and a 3+/4++, but his 16 wounds are closer to 26 thanks to the Menhirs, whilst also enabling him to benefit from Dense and Obscuring so don’t neglect that. He’s quite slow, and degrades very harshly however, losing speed, attacks, auras and weaponry, but he’s a terror if left alone and a massive force multiplier whilst healthy. Also note that as a DYNASTIC AGENT he won’t get the Szarekh Dynastic Code, so no 5+++ vs Mortals or rerolling a wound roll. Which would be awesome, as well as making sense what with them being his Dynasty, but fine. At least he gives you the Stratagem. He’s expensive, but can more than make his points back in buffs and combat prowess. Keep him guarded by terrain where you can to limit the damage he suffers by shooting, and don’t throw him into really tough units without support lest he get overwhelmed by powerful melee units.
Convergence of Dominion
Cheap-ish set of terrain that looks incredible and acts as a good battlefield buffer, granting Leadership bonuses and Command Protocols for units within 6”, and can be moved around the battlefield by CRYPTEKS via an action. Unfortunately they are targettable and not all that tough, and don’t provide anything offensive past 12”. They’re certainly cool, but by no means an essential take.