Hammer of Math: Resurrecting Necrons for Fun and Profit

This week’s Hammer of Math decides that death is optional and looks at the mechanics behind the Necrons in 10th Edition.

Every faction has their defining characteristic. Space Marines are the default and get the best toys in the beginning of the edition before gently collapsing into mediocrity, Genestealer Cults are weird, Space Elves are bullshit, and Necrons come back from the dead. Depending on the complexity and nuance of the defining characteristic the implementation can change drastically. 10th Edition 40k sees GW trending towards reducing the complexity of rules, and a perfect example of this is in how they handle Reanimation Protocols. Instead of merging multiple concepts like Living Metal or Phase Out, Reanimation Protocols simply states that at the end of your Command Phase you return D3 wounds back to the unit. This is first accomplished by returning wounds to any wounded models, and then once wounds are full if the unit is below Starting Strength an additional model with 1 wound is added. Seems simple enough, at least until you add in the various synergistic effects from different units, wargear, and abilities.

  • After a unit has taken casualties, Protocols of the Undying Legion can be activated for 1 CP to activate Reanimation Protocols with an additional bonus wound returned if the unit is lead by a CHARACTER.
  • Lords, Overlords, and the Catacomb Command Barge have Resurrection Orb wargear which enables a unit to activate Reanimation Protocols at the end of the opponent’s Command Phase instead of just your own.
  • Necron Warriors are particularly resilient, and replace the D3 with a D6 when using Reanimation Protocols. If the unit is within range of an Objective then the D3 is replaced with D3+3 instead.
  • Canoptek Reanimators return an additional D3 wounds to friendly units within 12″ when that unit’s Reanimation Protocols activate.
  • Ghost Arks allow a Necron Warriors unit within 3″ of  the model to use their Reanimation Protocols ability immediately after an enemy unit has attacked and removed at least one wound from the unit. This ability can only be used once per phase per model, and the same Necron Warriors unit cannot be selected for the ability more than once per phase.
  • The Convergence of Dominion allows Necron units within 6″ to re-roll the dice each time a unit’s Reactivation Protocols activate. This would be pretty cool if the unit didn’t cost 255 points.

This means that a given activation of Reanimation Protocols can range from D3 all the way up to 2D3+4 wounds healed, and depending on the combination of synergistic effects a unit can easily see 2 or 3 activations just from the support of leaders and nearby units. To show the distribution of wounds, we can look at a variety of circumstances that would result in different outcomes. The following scenarios will be looked at.

  • An unsupported unit rolling D3 wounds.
  • A unit supported by a Canoptek Reanimator rolling an extra D3 wounds.
  • Necron Warriors both near and away an objective marker, with and without Canoptek Reanimator support.

The difference between Necron Warriors and other units is significant, especially in the presence of an objective marker, and the ability of the Canoptek Reanimator to double the wounds returned is pretty significant. On average a unit in the presence of a Reanimator will return four wounds, making them a priority target to eliminate as quickly as possible.

Pendulin's Necron 2021 Year in Review
Credit: Pendulin

Where things get really interesting is when you consider that units have the possibility to apply multiple activations of Reanimation Protocols in between subsequent rounds. At the very least a unit with a nearby Catacomb Command Barge or embedded Lord / Overlord with a Resurrection Orb is going to activate their protocols twice (once at the end of each Command phase). The presence of a nearby Ghost Ark can add a third activation to a Necron Warriors unit, and of course there’s the Protocols of the Undying Legion Stratagem.

This chart really shows the synergistic effect of combining units with multiple activations. The addition of a 65 point Lord with a Resurrection Orb to a unit of Necron Warriors averages between 8 and 15 wounds returned depending on the proximity of an objective marker and Canoptek Reanimator, and even a unit with 19 models destroyed has a 90% chance of being fully restored if it’s in the right location with three activations.

Necron Skorpekh Destroyers. Credit: Colin Ward

They’ll Probably Be Back

Necrons can pose a challenging threat, particularly when an army designed to destroy heavy tanks has to wipe out 120 shambling space undead. In terms of prioritizing targets, the Canoptek Reanimators should definitely be taken out first given their aura effect. From there the priority should be to eliminate a target unit before moving on to others. Even with no Reanimator support, on average Necron Warriors near an objective marker will resurrect 16 wounds if given three activations.

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