Start Competing: Necrons Tactics

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Do you want to march an ominous legion of undying robot skeletons across the table? Do you want to unleash monstrous technological beasts backed up by space techno-wizards? Or are you a long term fan who has been desperate to bring the Silver Tide to bear once more? Necrons could be the army for you.

After suffering through the whole of 8th with an extremely underpowered Codex, Necrons were at the front of the queue for a 9th Edition revamp, and the new book (along with an updated model range) didn’t disappoint. Between powerful new options and some classic ones getting substantial upgrades, Necrons are now a real force to be reckoned with and enormously fun to play on the table. They’re still a little shy of the very highest competitive ranking, but the book gives you multiple powerful lines of attack for the skeleton legions, and some strong results have begun to roll in as people get a feel for what they do best.

The book has now been out for long enough, and we’ve got enough games under our belts, that we’re ready to bring the Necron Start Competing up to date for the new edition, so read on to find out how best to purge the galaxy of silly biological usurpers, or what to expect if you see a suspicious amount of drybrushed leadbelcher across the table from you in a tournament game.

This guide was updated in January 2021.

Necron Indomitus force

Necron Indomitus force. Credit: Chris Cowie

Army Strengths

  • Extremely Durable Units: Necron Warriors are back in 9th Edition, taking a tonne of firepower to put down and throwing a decent punch in response thanks to the new gauss reaper. Add in Scarabs, one of the most efficient units for points-per-wound in the game, and you have strong options for putting bricks of wounds where you need to on the table.
  • Great Melee: Melee units were huge winners out of the new book, with newcomers Skorpekh Destroyers being one of the nastier threats in the game when properly buffed and a whole laundry list of classic options getting substantial boosts that gave them a new lease of unlife. All of this is brought together by some powerful subfaction traits that either help you get across the board or hit harder when you arrive.
  • Great Board Control: High wound, relatively fast units like Scarabs can be handed Objective Secured by one of the most powerful subfaction traits in the game, and even without that the ability to pack a quality transport in the Ghost Ark, teleport large warrior blobs with the Veil of Darkness and fill out lists with cheap Cryptothralls gives Necrons lots of angles for this.
  • Strong Buff Characters: Technomancers and Chronomancers are spicy, cost efficient buff units that can be customised to support a wide variety of playstyles.

Army Weaknesses

  • Mediocre Shooting: Necrons aren’t completely without options for engaging at range, but they’re lacking in options that are cost-efficient or broad enough to consistently anchor a game plan on.
  • Expensive: Necron models tend to be quite pricy points-wise (outside of outliers like Scarabs), and while many, many more of them are actually worth their cost in 9th, you still often end up with limited redundancy in lists, meaning every lost unit hurts. Bluntly, a small but notable minority of units also remain outright overcosted.
  • Weak Combat Characters: Even when built for it, Necron characters top out as being “OK” melee combatants at best, and they aren’t cheap.
  • Vulnerable to Blast: Necron Warriors want to roll in 20s, and elite infantry in this army is unusually likely to want to come in squads of more than 5. While you can build around this, some spins on the army end up having an unusually high vulnerability to Blast weapons, Plasma Inceptors in particular (though at least they just caught a minor nerf).

Competitive Rating

Skorpekh Lord. Credit: Wings

Tier 2

Necrons are now a solid competitive choice, but no build has yet emerged that’s performing at the levels you’d need to see to justify pushing them higher than tier 2. For our money, to climb to the top they need a couple of their ranged options (mostly Lokhusts) to get discounted to the point where they’re competitive, and for some sort of nerf bat to come down on Plasma Inceptors – normally being super vulnerable to one specific counter would be survivable, but when it’s one of the best and most widely-used units in the game it’s more of an issue.

Special Rules

Keywords

A bunch of rules in the Necron Codex work based on a set of common keywords that turn up across multiple units. The most important ones are:

  • Core: This indicates units that are meant to be the backbone of an army, and have access to the most buffs. Here, that’s Warriors, Immortals, Tomb Blades, Deathmarks and Lychguard.
  • Canoptek: There are a lot of abilities that work on Canoptek units, giving you a second category of things with access to powerful buff options.
  • Destroyer Cult: …and, in fact, let’s have a third. Another category for buff effects.
  • Noble: This keyword is required to activate certain abilities, and also plays into determining who your Warlord must be. It appears on the Silent King, Overlords (including Named Characters), Lords and Catacomb Command Barges.
  • Dynastic Agent: Units that can be added to any Necron detachment without breaking detachment abilities or protocols.
  • C’tan Shard: Same as Dynastic Agent, and you can also only include one per detachment.

There are a few others, but they’re condensed enough that we’ll just talk about them when they matter.

The Royal Court

Overlord & Royal Warden

Overlord & Royal Warden. Credit: Chris Cowie

Representing the strict operational hierarchy of Necrons being coded into their very beings, you are now restricted in how you choose your warlord. Basically, if your army contains any NOBLES, you have to pick the most senior of them to be your Warlord. Since you will almost always have a NOBLE, this will come up most games. The hierarchy goes:

  • The Silent King. He’s the boss. No arguing.
  • Any Phaeron model. This means Imotekh or a stratagem-upgraded Overlord.
  • Any Overlord.
  • Any Lord.

If you have multiple models at the same tier you can choose between them, and if you have none of these you can pick who you like. If you do this, you lose access to Command Protocols, but because of Crypteks being some of the most efficient characters in the book, some successful lists have chosen to go this route.

Unit Special Rules

Necrons have five special rules shared between a lot of units:

  • Reanimation Protocols: A chance for models to get back up after they die, appearing on all multi-model units.
  • Command Protocols: A set of special rules that activate one-per-turn and grant your characters buff auras if certain conditions are met.
  • Dimensional Translocation: A generic rule for all units that can deep strike in the reinforcement step. It’s the standard 9″ distance.
  • Living Metal: Wounded models with this ability regain 1W in your command phase. All multi-wound units get this, again including Canoptek units like Wraiths and also, importantly, C’tan.
  • Quantum Shielding: This gives two effects, a 5+ Invulnerable Save and only allowing the unit in question to be wounded on an unmodified 4+ (so effectively a permanenent Transhuman Physiology). This is a powerful ability, putting a cap on how effective high-end weaponry is against Necron vehicles with it at a cost of being slightly more vulnerable to some mid-tier weapons (as most of the units with this have T6 where many other factions would expect T7).

Living MetalQuantum Shielding and Dimensional Translocation are largely self-explanatory, but Reanimation and Command Protocols need a more in-depth look.

Reanimation Protocols

Necron Warriors

Necron Warriors. Credit: Pendulin

Reanimation has been the signature move of Necrons for most of their existence, and having been terrible for most of 8th now has some teeth again in 9th, at least on some units. The rule is quite complicated, but helpfully it’s been printed in full on Warhammer Community:

Source: Warhammer Community

That’s a lot of words. Here’s a shorter version involving props:

  • When an enemy unit shoots or fights, if any of your models are destroyed but the unit survived, put a number of reanimation tokens in a pot equal to the total starting wounds of the destroyed models (so if four Lychguard with two starting wounds each die, put eight tokens in the pot).
  • If your unit survives, after the enemy unit finishes all their attacks, roll a d6 for each token in the pot. Keep any tokens where you rolled a 5+, and discard the rest. With our Lychguard, lets say we roll 3 5+s, so we keep three tokens.
  • You can use the tokens left to buy back whole models. Models cost a number of tokens equal to their starting wounds. With our three tokens, we can buy one whole Lychguard, with one token left over.
  • Discard any tokens that can’t buy whole models. In our example, we discard our one remaining token.

So what does this mean? Well, the important takewaways are:

  • This is very good on single wound models, and outperforms an ignore wound effect like Disgustingly Resilient. It doesn’t matter how hard your model gets hit – they still get back up straight away on a 5+.
  • The more wounds you have per model, the worse this gets. Because you have to get enough successes to buy a whole model from a single set of attacks, if your opponent gradually grinds down multi-wound units this won’t do very much. The more of your multi-wound models die at once, the more likely you are to get some of them back.
  • Getting an entire unit wiped in a single volley shuts this down completely, and is something you need to watch out for. In combination with the above, it strongly motivates you to run large units to ensure you have a buffer of bodies – but is also why Plasma Inceptors are the aboslute bane of your existence because of their multi-gun Blast attacks.
  • There are some abilities that mess with this in a positive way, or trigger reanimation later on.

On the last point, you can augment this in the following ways:

  • Resurrection Orbs: These let you, once per game in your command phase, trigger a round of reanimation on a unit where you get to roll for all models that have been destroyed since the start of the game. This can be made even better with the Orb of Eternity relic, which does this with a +1.
  • Canoptek Reanimators: These let you apply a beam to the unit that gives them +1 to their rolls. This is a very strong boost to Reanimation, and with the Reanimator now priced a bit more sensibly, it might actually see some people trying it in the wild.
  • Protocol of the Undying Legions: When a unit benefits from this Protocol, you get to re-roll 1 dice each time you roll for reanimation. This has very significant impacts for 2W units losing a few models at a time in particular.
  • Warriors: Get to re-roll 1s on their rolls. Nice.
  • Technomancers: Can reanimate a dead model from a CORE unit (or d3 Warriors) in your command phase, and do this multiple times via a stratagem, or to other things via the Phylacterine Hive Cryptek Arcana.
  • Ghost Arks: Can reanimate d3 Warriors in your command phase. Everything’s coming up Warrior.

The main tactical upshot of Reanimation is that it makes big Warrior blobs the real deal. Especially if you layer on the buff from a Chronometron as well, you’re essentially rolling saves of 5s into 5s re-rolling 1s against any incoming attacks that don’t outright wipe the squad post the first save, meaning you’ve straight up created better Plaguebearers. Add in Technomancers whacking models on the head with their staff to get them back up, and you’ve got a block that’s extremely difficult to shift unless your opponent is packing one of the limited number of things that can just body the entire unit off through the 5++. Those exist – watch out for Chapter Mastered Plasma Inceptors or lightning claw melee squads in particular – but for any opponent planning to gradually grind your units out of the game, the job is substantially harder.

Things drop off quite a bit for units with more than 1W but not to nothing. When just a single 2W model dies, your chance of reanimating it is only just over 10%, but as soon as two die you get a ~30% chance to get one of them back, and in general when multiple models are dying at once you reliably get some change back. This can either mean that your opponent has to focus fire harder to take out a key unit (especially if you’re holding the threat of a Resurrection Orb over them) or can mean one of your units stays at a more “operational” strength for an extra turn. Skorpekh Destroyers can be a good example of this – if you field a unit of 6 and your opponent shoots out 5/6, if you get a mild high-roll and two get back up, the remaining three are a genuine threat still, whereas one could be ignored.

The more wounds you have, the closer this feels to a nice bonus rather than a core part of the unit’s identity, but something that can still be extremely usful in a pinch and a thing you should always remember to roll – even if getting back up a single 3W model that just died is very unlikely, the 1/27 times where it does just walk it off is going to put your opponent on some heavy tilt!

Command Protocols

Credit: PierreTheMime

Command Protocols are a new ability in 9th, following what seems to be a trend of more factions getting an effect that changes over the game in late 8th/early 9th. In line with the theme of being robot zombies, Command Protocols let you essentially program a set of buffs to trigger over the course of the game for an army that qualifies. The ability appears on the datasheet of all units except the C’tan Shards and the Tesseract Vault, but just having the ability doesn’t unlock the effects by itself.

Activating Command Protocols

In order to use Command Protocols the following has to be true:

  • Every unit in your army that isn’t a C’tan Shard or a Dynastic Agent has to be from the same Dynasty. That means mixed-dynasty lists switch these off, likely making them quite rare. The good news is that although the Silent King is from the Szarekhan Dynasty, he’s a Dynastic Agent as well, so you can include him alongside an army using another Dynasty and still benefit from these.
  • Your warlord has to be a NOBLE.

As long as you meet the first two conditions, then before the game you prepare command protocols. There is a list of six of these, each with two effects, and after deployment but before the first turn roll-off you pick five and order them 1-5, assigning one to each battle round of the game. There are cards for these in the Necron datacard pack, and GW suggest putting them five you’ve picked in a pile face down so you can flip over the top one each turn. This is definitely helpful, and worth either getting the cards for or making some props of your own.

At the start of each battle round, one final condition is checked:

  • At least one NOBLE is on the battlefield. Catacomb Command barges with Enduring Will are your friend here.

If you meet that, you reveal the protocol chosen for that round and choose one of the two effects (or both if your dynasty favours that protocol). Any unit with the Command Protocols ability then benefis from that effect while it is within 6″ of a Necron CHARACTER.

The Protocols

Sounds promising, and it is – this is pure upside. For it to be great, however, the effects need to be good, so let’s take a look.

As mentioned before, each of these has two effects and you can only pick one – unless your detachment is from a Dynasty that favours that specific protocol, in which case you get both when that one activates.

  • Protocol of the Eternal Guardian: EIther be in Light Cover in the open if you haven’t made a Normal Move, Advance or Fall Back in this battle round, OR effectively count as being in defensible terrain. Notably, because the move check is on a battle round basis, the first effect will almost always be “on” if you went second in the game, whenever you chose to activate it. Favoured by the Nihilakh dynasty
  • Protocol of the Sudden Storm: +1″ move OR shoot while performing Actions without failing. Favoured by Nephrekh.
  • Protocol of the Vengeful Stars: Additional -1AP on 6s to wound when shooting OR ignore Light Cover within half range. Favoured by Mephrit, surprising no one who’s familiar with them.
  • Protocol of the Hungry Void: Additional -1AP on 6s to wound when fighting OR +1S in the first round of combat. Favoured by Novokh.
  • Protocol of the Undying Legions: Gain 1 extra wound from Living Metal OR re-roll 1 dice each time reanimation activates. Favoured by the Szarekhan.
  • Protocol of the Conquering Tyrant: Add 3″ to aura abilities and a selection of targeted buffs OR fall back and shoot at -1. Favoured by the Sautekh.

Impact

While very cool, this ability lands firmly in “decent” rather than “outstanding” like Combat Doctrines are. There are some very good options in the pack, some which can situationally be better than a given turn’s Doctrine boost, but that doesn’t offset the fact that they’re way fiddlier to use than similar abilities that other armies have access to. As a consequence, the emerging consensus is that these are not a mandatory thing to build around, and both mixed dynasty lists and lists without NOBLEs are being played in the wild, neither of which benefit.

Access to them does give you some advantages though, and obviously if you do have them unlocked you want to get the most out of them. The fact that they apply to all units and not just CORE also gives you a few angles to access things some units otherwise can’t get. From the set, the following abilities stand out:

  • The 1″ move from Sudden Storm. It seems like a small thing, but both by itself in combination with Relentless March for your CORE stuff it really helps you get out of the gate early on, especially if you aren’t playing a Relentlessly Expansionist Dynasty.
  • Eternal Guardian in general. The Light Cover option can be good if you’re worried about getting alpha struck, but loses a bit of potency because it does nothing if you go first or use Relentlessly Expansionist to move at the start of the battle round. The “defensible in the open” half is better than it looks though, as some armies are going to really struggle to charge into a volley of 5+ overwatch from gauss reapers.
  • +1S from Hungry Void. This is substantially above the curve compared to all the other offensive buffs here, and if you time it right this can be horrific.
  • Fall back and shoot from Conquering Tyrant. One of the downsides of Warriors is that they’re a little vulnerable to getting tarpitted, so being able to pull back and unleash a volley is a nice save.
  • RP re-rolls from Protocol of the Undying Legions. Helps a lot to tilt the probability of this actually working on multi-wound units, particularly 2W models.

The Szarekhan (and the Silent King in whatever army he runs with) get a couple of additional options to mess with the ability as well:

  • Their Triarch’s Will warlord trait lets them only select four protocols, and use one for two battle rounds instead of one.
  • The Sovereign Coronal relic lets Szarekhan units within 9″ of the bearer benefit from Command Protocols (rather than 6″) and if they’re CORE, get both halves of the chosen protocol.
  • The Silent King can choose to swap-in an unselected protocol instead of the pre-programmed one once per game. Because he has to take Triarch’s Will and has to be your warlord, this means you’ll have two options in reserve.

How to Use Them

As you can probably infer from the “shooty” protocol being the least rated, these do the most for you if your plan is to get up the board and into your opponent’s face. When you’re on that game plan, if you time these right they can add a bunch of value, helping you to close to range, hit harder when you arrive and hang on into the late game after that. Timing them right is, of course, key, and that’s something you’ll have to adapt to depending on your exact list, but we can certainly give some examples.

When playing a melee-focused Necron list, the following is a plausible “default” order:

  1. Sudden Storm – an extra 1″ move to get you into battle.
  2. Hungry Void – hit harder once battle is joined.
  3. Conquering Tyrant – gives you the flexibility to fall out of combat if needed, or allows you to extend your auras and buffs to where they need to be.
  4. Eternal Guardian – soak up some mild firepower if you’re static on objectives or only need to charge, or protection against last-ditch enemy charges as needed.
  5. Undying Legions – deny some last minute kills as your opponent tries to clean up secondaries.

That assumes you think the enemy is going to come and engage mid board. If you think they might hang back, or aren’t confidant battle will be joined turn two, you can swap Undying Legions to that position and move 2-4 one slot onward. The re-rolls from Legions are especially good on the kinds of elite unit you’re likely to still have up that early in the game, so if you need to slog across the board a bit longer, it can help. If you’re a bit more shooty you could also choose to put Sudden Storm in 2 and Legions in 1, planning to action while exchanging fire on your second turn as you reach the centre – probably a particularly good plan if you’ve taken Banners or Ancient Machineries as a secondary.

If you have the Silent King around, of course, you don’t have to make such locked-in decisions. For a crunchy melee list, having Hungry Void on both 2 and 3 with Conquering Tyrant in reserve for when it’s needed is obviously great, and the option of two turns of Sudden Storm out the gate to speed up the army’s advance is also relevant if you think your opponent might plan to cower at the back.

Other lists and matchups may change these plans too. Against any sort of deep strike or horde melee army, consider putting Eternal Guardian on 2, because being able to use the Defensible options while in the open can be a severe discouragement to charges the opponent is probably planning. If you go second against any sort of flamers-from-deep-strike spam (e.g. GSC) throwing up cover in the open here helps a bunch too. If you’re running Mephrit the ignore cover bit of Vengeful Stars does actually have some relevance if you’re packing a bunch of Tomb Blades (which if you’re Mephrit you probably are). Facing down masses low-AP firepower probably motivates you to put Eternal Guardian in an early spot in case you lose the roll-off.

As this hopefully illustrates, abilities like this are very hard to write full guides for because of how much the value of the different effects can change depending on very specific circumstances – and that’s also why this ability ends up a bit lacklustre compared to competitors, because you have to deploy a lot of big brain analysis just to get a comparable power boost from it. Hopefully the example above and the reasoning behind it helps you formulate some starting plans for your own lists, and you can then tinker and tune as you practice.

Dynasties

Just like most armies, Necrons have sub-factions each specialising in different aspects of warfare, in this case the Dynasties. Most units have a <DYNASTY> keyword, which you replace with the name of one of your choice when adding them to your army. Choosing to draw a whole detachment from the same Dynasty allows units in that detachment (other than Dynastic Agents and C’tan Shards) to benefit from a Dynastic Code, boosting their capabilities.

The codex contains six named Dynasties, each of which offer you a two-part Dynastic Code plus a bonus to one of the Protocols. Each named Dynasty also gets a unique stratagem, relic and warlord trait. In addition, like many other factions Necrons get custom Dynasties, allowing you to pick one effect from each of two lists to make up your faction traits. These have varied wildly in power between books, and the good news is that these include some of the very strongest we’ve seen. Parts of a lot of the named Dynasty effects turn up on the first list, while the second list has some much more unique choices that include a game-wide standout.

We’ll go through the named dynasties first, then cover the custom options.

Mephrit

  • Dynastic Code – Solar Fury: Increase the range of non-pistol weapons by 3″, and improve the AP by 1 within half range.
  • Favoured Protocol: Vengeful Stars
  • Warlord Trait – Merciless Tyrant: +1S and +1A.
  • Relic – Conduit of Stars: A relic relic gauss blaster. No that’s not a typo. It’s a relic of a relic weapon. Keep up. Anyway, it has an extra 6″ range, extra shot (so two extra in half range because it’s rapid fire) and +1S.
  • Stratagem – Talent for Annihilation – 1CP: Use in your shooting phase when a unit shoots. For each unmodified 6 to wound, inflict a Mortal Wound in addition, to a maximum of 3. Essentially, if you think your volley of shooting is reliably going to rack up 18+ hits, you’re usually paying a CP for 3MWs.

The Mephrit love to shoot stuff, gaining +3″ range to all their guns, and getting +1AP to their shooting within half range. Confusingly, their warlord trait is somewhat at odds with this, giving +1S and +1A, but everything else is on-plan

Necrons have quite a lot of ways to put out large volumes of medium strength firepower that struggles with AP, notably by stacking up particle beamers on either Spyders or Tomb Blades, or packing a whole bunch of Tesla onto things. A point of AP really helps these guns, and they’re mostly S5+ so can reasonably chip through vehicles at that point, and the stratagem can definitely help “encourage” a heftier target to become a rapidly expanding fireball. Although the warlord trait seems out of line with the general shooting theme, powerful counter-charge characters are something that more ranged-focused lists actively want, and these stat tweaks go very nicely with warscythes or the Voidreaper relic to make a really nasty threat. The Mephrit relic is kind of whatever – there’s a decent chance you’ll want a Royal Warden in a Mephrit list, but it’s not enough of a capability game changer to push it ahead of spicier options.

Mephrit haven’t really “broken out” competitively yet, but there’s some real power in their Dynastic Code and we fully expect someone to find the right way to smash a large number of Tomb Blades together to make something strong fall out down the line.

Novokh

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

  • Dynastic Code – Awakened by Murder: +1 to charge rolls, +1 to AP on a turn where they charge, get charged or intervene.
  • Favoured Protocol: Hungry Void
  • Warlord Trait – Blood Fueled Fury: Inflict a mortal wound on an unmodified wound roll of 6 in melee.
  • Relic – Blood Scythe: A warscythe that gives you +2A.
  • Stratagem – Blood Rites – 1CP: Use when a unit is chosen to fight. Give them +1A. Incredibly good rate here.

Across the board, this book provides a lot of good options for a melee strategy, and Novokh supports that exceptionally well, making them arguably the strongest named Dynasty. Taking the trait and stratagem together, pretty much any unit in a Novokh army becomes capable of doing some damage in the fight phase, and the units that were already good at it become exceptional. This is especially notable on the humble Necron Warrior, where it turns out that 40 AP-1 attacks is a considerably different ball game than 20 AP0 attacks, allowing large units of them to be active in more phases. They’re far from the only beneficiaries though, with all flavours of Canoptek melee getting a big bump from it, and Skorpekh Destroyers tipping over to being able to one-round most targets when you really need them to.

With plenty of units also wanting to have the option of charging from deep strike, +1 to charge rolls is a huge deal as well, making it much more practical to plan around doing this, and boosting the already considerable power of the Veil of Darkness. Whenever the plastic Flayed Ones finally appear, expect to see them tried in earnest in this Dynasty. Getting both halves of Hungry Void is yet another cool bonus, and again helps volume attackers like strat-boosted Warriors or Flayed Ones get stuff done. Finally, Novokh have excellent synergy with the Silent King, as his melee re-roll aura and ability to double stack the key Command Protocols works well with their game plan.

The Warlord Trait and Relic are both entirely skippable (the relic is fine if not exciting), but it fully doesn’t matter – the strat and Code here are so powerful that you can and should build armies around them.

Szarekhan

  • Dynastic Code – Uncanny Artificers: Ignore mortal wounds on a 5+, and re-roll one wound roll each time a unit shoots or fights.
  • Favoured Protocol: Undying Legions
  • Warlord Trait – The Triarch’s Will: Choose four protocols instead of five, and assign one of those chosen to two battle rounds.
  • Relic – The Sovereign Coronal: Szarekhan units within 9″ of the bearer benefit from Command Protocols (rather than 6″) and if they’re CORE, get both halves of the chosen protocol.
  • Stratagem – Empyric Damping – 1CP: Deny a psychic power that has been manifested within 18″ on a 4+.

The Szarekhan have two things going for them – they’re good at countering psykers, and their wound re-rolls favour a list with a large number of small shooting units. The former is not super relevant right now, with psychic heavy armies at a very low ebb, but that could change on a dime if Craftworlds, Thousand Sons or Grey Knights get a big boost next year. As it is, Szarekh himself in a supreme command gets access to the stratagem (though not the Code as he’s a Dynastic Agent), which gives you some nice incidental protection against what few space wizards there are out there.

That leaves the re-rolls as the big draw here, and there are certainly some units that enjoy them. Canoptek Doomstalkers are the big ones – if you bring a Triarch Stalker to tee up hit re-rolls of 1 and a Technomancer with a Canoptek Control Node to push up their hits they become a real ranged threat, something that’s otherwise quite hard to get lined up in Necrons. It also theoretically works well with Lokhust Heavy Destroyers, and although they’re currently a bit overcosted this has been seen putting in strong work in the wilds in a GT list. It does help the various shooting abilities of Crypteks too, but beyond that you end up a little short on models that really benefit from something that’s strong on paper.

Last up, the Warlord trait is firmly aimed at Szarekh himself and likely to mostly see use in that context, while the relic is a distinct “meh” given the rest of the synergies here lean away from CORE units. The other notable thing worth calling about about choosing to run this dynasty is that it allows a Technomancer with the Canoptek Cloak upgrade to repair Szarekh, which is a genuinely powerful synergy as it makes it very unlikely for him to ever end up in his lowest bracket.

The Szarekhan definitely have some appeal right now, and their stock seems likely to go up over the course of the edition rather than down. A lot of the units you want to combine their trait with are ones that we could see getting point cuts down the line, while if Psykers come back in a big way at some point their defensive ability will become a lot more valuable.

Nephrekh

  • Dynastic Code – Translocation Beams: All models have a 6+ invulnerable save, and when they Advance they can choose to translocate. When they translocate, they automatically move 6″ rather than rolling, but cannot shoot this turn. In addition, when a unit translocates or Falls Back, they can move across models and terrain as if they were not there
  • Favoured Protocol: Sudden Storm
  • Warlord Trait – Skin of Living Gold: -1 to hit the warlord.
  • Relic – Solar Staff: 6-shot staff of light with +6″ range, and when it hits an INFANTRY unit they cannot Set to Defend or Overwatch this turn.
  • Stratagem – Translocation Crypt – 1CP: Give a unit that is not a VEHICLE or MONSTER Dimensional Translocation (i.e. Deep Strike).

Mobility is powerful in 9th Edition, and Nephrekh hand you lots of it, with some extra defences to boot. Being able to get large blobs of Warriors up the field quickly and having at least some kind of save against plasma death even if you haven’t been able to activate a Chronomancer yet is a good deal. Not being able to shoot after translocating, and no longer having an Advance/Charge for Wraiths to synergise with it makes it a bit less exciting than it was in 8th, but mobility in general is more important and the 6++ helps offset it. The rest of the stuff here all ranged from fine to strong, with Translocation Crypt being pretty tasty at only 1CP per unit (another ability that will go up in value a lot if Lokhusts get a price cut down the line).

All basically fine – but currently held back by there being better options if you want to play a board control game. The absurd power of the Eternal Expansionists combo (we’ll get to that) outstrips this dynasty if you want to play a purely objective-focused game, while if you want to go wide with Warriors on a Silver Tide plan you’re likely better running Novokh with Silent King backup so they can do more.

Like most modern faction traits, none of this makes this a bad faction, and you can put together a perfectly reasonable list on either a Canoptek board control or Silver Tide plan that will enjoy access to these abilities – but in a world of pure optimisation they’re a little bit behind some other options.

Nihilakh

Credit: ZuultheCat

  • Dynastic Code – Aggressively Territorial: All units have Objective Secured, or count as two models instead of one if they already have it. In addition, ignore the AP of attacks with AP-1 while wholly within your own deployment zone.
  • Favoured Protocol: Eternal Guardian
  • Warlord Trait – Precognitive Strike: Fight first.
  • Relic – Infinity Mantle: Add 1 to armour saves, and ignore wounds on a 6+.
  • Stratagem – Reclaim a Lost Empire – 1CP: A unit can shoot while performing an Action without failing it.

The Nihilakh don’t want people to touch their stuff, and up-front their Dynastic Code is incredibly eye-catching. Army wide ObSec is a hell of an ability and would normally make the bluest and shiniest of the Necrons a very competitive choice. Unfortunately, just like with Nephrekh they get kneecapped by the silliness of Eternal Expansionists, which lets you create a dynasty with the army-wide ObSec stapled to a powerful mobility tool, creating a more compelling overall option.

Once again, that doesn’t leave Nihilakh outright bad, because they still have the ObSec and there are a few other decent things here. Ignoring AP-1 in your own deployment zone can be quite powerful with units like Deathmarks and Heavy Lokhusts that can combine it with cover, and while neither of those units are top-tier they’ve been seen in the wild in a successful RTT list of this dynasty. The Stratagem is also pretty good, either letting the aforementioned Deathmarks tick off a home Scramblers while still shooting, or a Warrior unit to do the same in the mid-board. The relic is also an OK defensive boost to stick on a character, and can combo with Enduring Will on a Catacomb Command barge to create something super tough to shift.

All in all, you end up with a Dynasty that’s once again in the weird place of having some good stuff they can do, but being outclassed at pulling it off by other options.

Sautekh

  • Dynastic Code – Relentless Advance: Re-roll morale tests, and Rapid Fire weapons always get double shots at 18″ rather than their normal range.
  • Favoured Protocol: Conquering Tyrant
  • Warlord Trait – Hyperlogical Strategiest: Refund CP you spend on a 5+.
  • Relic – The Vanquisher’s Mask: Pick an enemy unit within 3″ at the start of the fight phase, and they are not eligible to fight till every unit in your army has.
  • Stratagem – Methodical Destruction – 2CP: After shooting at a unit with a SAUTEKH unit, give all other SAUTEKH units in your army +1 to hit against it in that phase.

As well as the above, the Sautekh get access to three Named Characters, Imotekh, Obyron and Zandrekh. All of these have at least something to recommend them, which will be covered more in their section.

The Sautekh have a fairly odd mix of abilities. Their Dynastic Code is extremely narrow but powerful on a few units – both Ghost Arks and serried ranks of gauss flayer warriors getting a big boost from it. Immortals and Tomb Blades get a little bump as well, but as they already have 15″ rapid fire range on their guns it’s markedly less of an upgrade. The morale re-roll is also relatively fringe – it helps large warrior blocks a bit more than you’d think because of a 1 being an auto-pass in 9th, but realistically most of the time you lose big chunks out of that kind of unit you’re going to want to auto-pass. It does help if you decide to line up lots of units of 10 Immortals or something (which Imotekh being a free Phaeon helps with), but taken together the two parts leave this as one of the weakest Codes.

The better news is that everything else here is pretty good. As we’ll see shortly, Necrons have a bumper crop of great stratagems, so more CP to use them from the warlord trait is always going to be good, and the relic is an effect that’s always reasonably strong. The Stratagem loses some of its allure compared to 8th as it no longer lets you set up super-detonating Tesla, but it does plasubly give you the option of running Canoptek Doomstalkers without paying for a Canoptek Control Node to boost them, or just getting a bit more value out of Doomsday Arks than anyone else does.

Combining that with the quality of the characters, if you want to play more of a mid-range shooty Necron build there’s probably a combination you can put together where the Sautekh will put in work, something held back only by the fact that the most pushed elements of the roster right now are melee focused.

Custom Dynasties

As is now the fashion for most factions, if you don’t like any of the named Dynasties, or want to do something a bit more unusual, you can build your own known as an Ancient Dynasty, forgoing a trait, stratagem and relic in exchange for being able to forge your own Dynastic Code, which like the main ones comes with two effects.

Unlike Marines, where you just pick two effects freely from a full list, Necrons pick one effect each from two separate lists of abilities. The first of these are the Dynastic Traditions, which provide the more straightforward abilities, and here you see repeats of the less flashy half of several of the named dynasties. The Circumstances of Awakening provide some more unique effects, including several theoretically interesting build-arounds that get massively overshadowed by one of the most powerful faction traits in the game that almost every custom Dynasty will take.

That’s getting ahead of ourselves though, let’s look at what the effects are, then evaluate what combinations are worth looking at.

Dynastic Traditions

  • Eternal Conquerors: Units have Objective Secured, or count double if they already had it. This is starting out well. A+
  • Pitiless Hunters: INFANTRY can Rapid Fire at full range if they Remain Stationary. Cute, but way too narrow to see compared to the broader, more powerful ones. C
  • Superior Artisans: Re-roll one wound roll each time a unit shoots or fights. The better half of the Szarekhan trait and a welcome thing to have on the list. B+
  • Rad-Wreathed: Units have a 1″ aura that gives enemies -1T. Seen the odd bit of speculative list building, because the army has a bunch of volume melee options that this really tunes up, plus you can push it out to 4″ on a character via a warlord trait for shenanigans. Hasn’t broken through yet, but not outside the possibility that there’s something here. If you’re willing to forgo Protocols, it’s also plausibly nasty run on a detachment alongside a larger Novokh main force. B
  • Immovable Phalanx: Gain +1 to your armour saves against D1 attacks on INFANTRY units that have not yet made a Normal Move, Advance or Fall Back this battle round. An odd one which changes in value a lot depending on who goes first – it’s actually staggeringly powerful when you do second with a Silver Tide list as it’s always going to be on during your opponent’s shooting phase, and makes your skeleton hordes really tough to shift. Unfortunately, 9th is a game about movement, and if you go first (which you’re often incentivised to do) this suddenly flips to do almost nothing, even before you hit the fact that it only affects your INFANTRY. Essentially, this is a trait that makes you work hard for a moderately powerful effect, which doesn’t cut it on a list where the very first entry gives you an absurdly powerful effect all the time without any questions asked. C
  • Unyielding: 6+ Invulnerable Save on all units. if you mostly want to spam Warriors and Scarabs this isn’t bad, and the odd clutch save on something better is always going to annoy the opponent. Held back by so many of the vehicles having an invuln baked in. C+
  • Contemptuous of the Codes: +1 to hit against enemy CHARACTERS. Hilarious, but not on nearly often enough to be worth it most of the time, though I guess if all-CHARACTER Knights make an improbable return later in 9th, look it up. Weaker options at least being fun is always nice though. D+
  • The Unmerciful Horde: Re-roll morale tests. Everything else in Sautekh has to to heavy lifting to make up for this being a weak effect, so do not take it on purpose. D
  • Masters of the Martial: Re-roll one hit roll each time a unit shoots or fights. There are more other ways to mess with hit rolls than wound rolls, so it feels like most of the time this flat loses out to Superior Artisans. Something spamming Crypteks or Tesla weapons might be the exception, as the former have low enough shot counts that they might just not get to use wound re-rolls, while on the latter re-rolling a failed hit adds more value because of the chance of explosion. Still probably weaker overall. B
  • Butchers: +1 to charges. While OK in a vacuum, you won’t, realistically, ever take this, because nothing on the other list combos with this well enough to make up for not getting the other half of the Novokh code and their Stratagem. C
  • Severed: Benefit from command protocols within 9″ rather than 6″. Nice in theory, but as discussed these effects are marginal enough that some armies forgo them entirely, making spending half your trait on marginally boosting them not likely to get there. D+
  • Vassal Kingdom: Pick one of the named Dynastic Codes (including the favoured Protocol), and you don’t pick a Circumstance of Awakening. For competitive play, this is never correct (Necrons don’t even have any weirdo forge world Dynasties to make it worth it, so it’s strictly for narrative/casual use. N/A

Circumstances of Awakening

  • The Ancients Stir: Add 1″ to the move of CANOPTEK models, and they can pile in and consolidate 4″. Scarabs, Wraiths and Spyders are all really, really good (and one of the Forge World options is very cheap too), and if you want to run a pure melee monster mash you can do worse than comboing this with Rad-Wreathed. B
  • Arise Against the Interlopers: Melee hit rolls of 6 automatically wound INFANTRY and BIKER enemies. Nah – if you want to push melee, there are much better ways to do it, and this is a non-combo with Rad Wreathed. D+
  • Healthy Paranoia: +3″ to the range of non-pistol ranged weapons. Falls in a similar bucket to Butchers where in theory being able to choose other stuff to combo this with is good, but in practice the kind of lists this makes you want to run are probably better off as down-the-line Mephrit. C
  • Relentlessly Expansionist: At the start of the first battle round, your units can make a Normal Move of up to 6″. I completely lost my mind when I first hit this in our review and readers, I was right to. A+
  • Isolationists: Rapid Fire weapons get +1S within 12″. Given how many effects there are that synergise with Rapid Fire guns it’s weird how few units actually wield them, but this goes very nicely on Ghost Arks in particular and it seems like you could make it do some work at least. C+
  • Warrior Nobles: NOBLE units re-roll melee hit rolls and wound rolls of 1. Necron characters aren’t anywhere near the kind of melee killers needed to make this worthwhile, and the subset that actually benefit is tiny. Give it a miss. D
  • Interplanetary Invaders: VEHICLES can fall back and shoot at -1, or shoot into melee without taking the Heavy penalty. Cute with Arks, but the only other really plausible user is Annihilation Barges, and if you’re running them you’re definitely going Mephrit for the extra AP. Not working on Triarch Stalkers is sad too, but there’s plausibly fringe ways you could make this work for you. C+

Uses

It will not have escaped the notice of careful readers that both lists here have an A+ on them, and perhaps unsurprisingly these, put together as the Eternal Expansionists combo, are by far the most used from these lists. They’re so good, in fact, that a substantial proportion of Necron lists being used in competitive settings are choosing to eschew the named dynasties (despite there being several great options up there) in favour of the incredible board control power this gives you.

Winning in 9th is about controlling the board and hitting your secondaries, and starting the game with 5″ or 6″ of extra movement and attaching ObSec to cost-efficient units like Wraiths and Scarabs gives you trememdous control over primary scoring, and can easily body an opponent out of scoring any points at all for the first few turns, which is often enough to secure a win however the game goes from there. Army-wide mini phantasm also gives you a tonne of flexibility to repsond to your opponent’s plans, potentially scooting you out of carefully drawn firelines or out of range of an aggressively deployed Advance/Charge unit. Some of Necrons own units also benefit from getting some extra distance to line up their shots, with Canoptek Doomstalkers and Doomsday Arks being more likely to be able to shoot on high power turn 1. It even enables one of the funnier gimmick builds out of the book, which is running three Monoliths in a full Super Heavy detachment, challenging your opponent to see if they can remove three ObSec bricks that eat people fast enough to get to play the game. This combination ensures you almost always start the game off on the right foot and gives you the edge in scoring all game against almost anyone, and fully deserves its reputation as one of the more powerful subfaction traits you can build in the game.

So good are these first two that they kind of warp the rest of the list – even outside the combo, both effects are so good that you need an extremely good plan to justify not taking them. The options from Dynastic Traditions generally fare a bit better because there are several that combo well with the 6″ move. If you want to run a bunch of giant guns, you can certainly do worse than taking Relentlessly Expansionist with Superior Artisans or Masters of the Martial, while if you jsut want to march 100 Warriors up the table you could decide that you already have enough ObSec, and take Unyielding instead. If you decide you’re willing to go for a multi-dynasty list there’s a few angles you can try too – Rad Wreathed Scarabs are a nice tool to slam into the side of enemy units as you line up charges from something else, dragging their toughness down so they can be messily killed by other melee units.

Realistically though, while there’s some cool stuff here Eternal Expansionists are the main game in town, and if you’re starting out competitively with the faction, you should likely either use that or one of the named Dynasties.

Stratagems

In 9th Edition, Necrons have both an exciting array of Stratagems and access to the CP to use them, and they really help push some units in particular over the top.

Battle Tactics

  • Dimensional Corridor – 1CP: At the start of your movement phase, remove a DYNASTY CORE INFANTRY unit from the battlefield. In the Reinforcements step, set them up wholly within 3″ of a DYNASTY MONOLITH, and more than 9″ from the enemy. Of the two stratagems that let you play around with the Monolith’s teleportation, this is the weaker of the two, and not really enough to justify putting one in your list, especially as for some units meeting the setup criteria can be hard. If you’ve brought one it’s still handy to have though, and you can potentially use it to redeploy a unit from one flank to another, and you can actually use it on the turn you’re bringing a Monolith in from reserves, as nothing about the timing or requirements prevents you from activating it while the Monolith is still in reserves, then bringing the unit back once you’ve deployed it (though remember to leave space if you want them 9″ from the enemy). I guess you can also just slam this button to vaporise a unit if you don’t have a Monolith at all? There aren’t many situations in 9th where that feels worth it but, you know, you could. C+
  • Techno-Oracular Targeting – 1CP: Use before making a wound roll in your shooting phase. The attack automatically wounds. This stratagem is good to have access to, but use it in moderation – this kind of ability is easy to over use and waste your CP, so save it for when the shot really matters. It’s especially good with the Entropic Lance of the Chronomancer, which can straight up vaporise an enemy character or take a huge chunk out of a tank. Also, if you’re firing multi-shot weapons make sure you think ahead as to whether you might use this in any circumstance, and slow roll the attacks if you do. B
  • Extermination Protocols – 2CP: A Lokhust Destroyer or Lokhust Heavy Destroyer unit can re-roll wounds when it shoots. Look how they massacred our boy. Realistically, if you’re running Lokhusts in your army you do want to use this a lot of the time when you fire them, but the triple threat of this being nerfed compared to 8th, costing more and Lokhusts being a bit too expensive keeps them out of most competitive lists. A begrudging B
  • Storm of Flensing Blades – 2CP: A unit of Flayed Ones can fight again at the end of the Fight Phase. Flayed ones are a bit of a wild card right now because no one is going to buy the finecast ones with plastics on the horizon, but the appear to be priced to move in two different uses, as a giant hammer in Novokh and as a small objective/secondary grabbing deep strike squad in many lists. In both setups this is helpful – hammer units obviously want to fight more, while smaller squads can use it to punch out something a bit crunchier that’s in the way of an objective. B+
  • Fractal Targeting – 1CP: Tomb Blades can ignore the Advance/Shoot penalty on Assault, and turn their Gauss weapons into Assault weapons for a phase. This is fine – you will often choose to activate it when it comes up, but it’s also not massively changing the evaluation of the unit. B
  • Judgement of the Triarch – 1CP: A Triarch unit gets +1 to hit when it shoots or fights. Both Triarch Stalkers and Triarch Praetorians are actively good in this book, and this helps make up for them being hard to buff otherwise. B+
  • Eternal Protectors – 1CP: A Lychguard Unit within 3″ of a Noble gets +1A. Not a must-use or anything but certainly helpful, in particular allowing sword/shield ones to get to the height of attacks needed to do some real damage if a Noble is nearby. Because of that condition, it’s a bit less potent that the Triarch strat. B

Epic Deed

  • Resurrection Protocols – 1CP: When an INFANTRY NOBLE or INFANTRY CRYPTEK dies for the first time, you can activate this. At the end of the phase, they get back up on d3 wounds on a 4+. Dialed back a bit from the 8th Edition version because you can no longer re-roll the dice or use it on Destroyers/Catacomb Command Barges, but this is still an extremely nifty thing to have in your pocket to chance a roll on when it really matters. You are, effectively, trusting to fate at the point you’re relying on it, and sometimes you have to be hard-nosed about either saving the CP for something better, or spending the CP earlier rather than saving it, but in 9th’s shorter games getting an extra turn out of a character in a pinch can be incredible. B+
  • Strange Echoes – 1CP: In your command phase, swap a known power on one of your C’tan. If you’re running a C’tan it can be nice to start with one of the longer ranged powers like Transdimensional Thunderbolt and swap to Cosmic Fire around turn three when battle really joins, and this is nice for that. If you’re running multiple C’tan, it also lets you stack up two of the same power, which can be strong with the splash damage ones. Definitely don’t overuse this though – ideally you should be popping it once per game per C’tan at mostB
  • The Deathless Arise – 1CP: A Technomancer can use their Rites of Reanimation an additional time (though not on the same unit, as each unit can only be affected once). Essentially you’re spending 1CP for somewhere between 13 and 39pts of models depending on the target and how lucky you are, and whether that’s worth it will depend on the situation on the ground. This is another one that I think it would be easy to over use it, and it’s also frequently going to be tricky to set up. Sometimes this will still be right to use, but my guess is that’s actually less often that you might think. C+
  • Dimensional Destabilisation – 1/2CP: A C’tan shard rolls for and uses one of the powers of the C’tan at random (costs 2CP for TITANIC). A hugely swingy effect because situations where all of the powers are good are quite rare – Seismic Assault is a dud a bunch of the time, and several others can be weak. If you’re right in the middle of the enemy on a key turn and need stuff to just die it can be worth taking a spin on, but I try to keep to a fairly high standard for this – I want 4/6 results to be actively good (not just OK) before I’ll pop it. C+
  • Entropic Strike – 2CP: A C’tan shard ignores invulns for the fight phase. Overcosted at 2CP and the Nightbringer gets it anyway, but if you’re packing the void dragon and have gotten into something juicy it’s sometimes going to be worth going for. C+

Requisitions

  • Hand of the Phaeron – 2CP: Upgrade an OVERLORD to a PHAERON, getting to use My Will Be Done twice. Not cheap, and the band of lists that want this that aren’t already planning to take the Silent King is pretty narrow. I could imagine this doing work in a Mephrit list going hard on Tomb Blades, but I’ve not seen it do real work anywhere yet. C+
  • Dynastic Heirlooms – 1CP: Extra relics, usable once in Incursion, twice in Strike Force and three times in Onslaught. Yes please. A
  • Rarefied Nobility – 1CP: Extra warlord traits, usable once in Incursion, twice in Strike Force and three times in Onslaught. Yes please. A

Strategic Ploy

  • Enslaved Protectors – 1CP: A CANOPTEK unit can heroically intervene. Nasty on Wraiths or Spyders, intensely annoying on Eternal Expansionist Scarabs, so very handy all round. B+
  • Stellar Alignment Protocols – 1/2CP: Use in your command phase to let a VEHICLE act on full until your next command phase. 2CP for TITANIC. Very handy on Triarch Stalkers, and can be clutch to let a wounded Ark make a full 12″ move in emergencies, and knowing that it exists helps if you decide to take a Monolith. Also, hilariously, works on the Silent King for a mere 1CP, which is obviously excellent if it comes up! B+
  • Reanimation Prioritisation – 2CP: Lets a Canoptek Reanimator switch their beam to point at one of your units when they get shot, even if it wasn’t already active. At their fancy new 80pts price tag, this might now be enough to get the Reanimator over the line and into some lists. While this probably should only cost 1CP, the fact that it allows you to activate THE BEAM before you get to your first Command Phase is big, as it ensures that when you do lose the roll-off, you still get to use your ability. If Reanimators do now show up, this will be a big part of why. B
  • Burrowing Nightmares – 1CP: Lets you take a unit of Ophydian Destroyers off the board, then deep strike with them next turn. Ophydians are brittle enough that the situations where this comes up are going to be relatively few, but it’s OK as a back-pocket trick when you are running them. C+
  • Self-Destruction – 1CP: When you fight with Scarabs, you can pick a model and sacrifice it after piling in, then roll a dice and dealing d3MWs on a 2-5 or 3MWs on a 6 to a target in range of that model. This can really help a squad of Scarabs clear out some enemy harrassment units or threaten a character, and it also lets you do some fight phase movement jank, which is especially relevant if you’re running ObSec Scarabs. If you need the move from a charge to get onto an objective, you can charge with the squad, only put one model within engagement range of the enemy, then blow them up with this. The enemy will not, then, be within engagement range of you, so won’t get to fight (and if they were a CHARACTER, were prevented from making a heroic intervention because they were engaged at the end of the charge). The rest of your bases will even get to consolidate for a few inches of extra ice skating (just remember not to put them within 1″). B+
  • Prismatic DImensional Breach – 1CP: Use in your Reinforcements step, not in the first Battle Round. You can bring set up one DYNASTY CORE unit from Stratageic Reserves wholly within 3″ of a Monolith or Night Scythe (not within Engagement Range of enemy units). This is the spicier “mess with a Monolith” strat because it doesn’t stop you bringing units in within 9″ of the enemy, and can also be used immediately after bringing a Monolith in from deep strike. This does let you bring something tasty like Lychguard right in the enemy’s face, near guaranteeing a charge, and is almost a temptation to try a solo Monolith. The main thing holding it back is that setting that up costs you 6CP minimum (including the price of this), which is a hefty price tag when there are much easier things you can do. This does also work with a Night Scythe, and if you’re confident in one not getting shot down on your first turn, you can zoom it up on turn two and drop something straight from reserves right into the midst of it. This is a potentially extremely powerful stratagem, and while there’s not currently any build leveraging it, it’s a major part of why you’d consider either of the units that work with it, and gets a B on potential.
  • Shadows of Drazkh – 1CP: Use when a unit of Flayed Ones is targeted in any phase. Attacks against them that phase -1 to hit. GW really wants people to use Flayed Ones but also really doesn’t want to release the plastics. Confounding. Anyway, just like the fight twice, this is good for both plausible ways you might use Flayed Ones, and priced to move – it’s good. B+
  • Aetheric Interception – 1CP: This one’s complicated. Essentially what it lets you do is intercept shoot at an enemy reinforcements unit with either a Deathmark or Hexmark Destroyer unit, and in addition if you have one held in deep strike or Strategic Reserves, you can set them up between 9″-18″ away from the enemy unit first. Currently this suffers from one of the users of this, the Hexmark, being terrible at its current price. Boost the Hexmark and this becomes pretty appealing because it lets you mess with your opponent’s Secondary plans in a relatively unique way, and potentially even meddle with which objective’s you’re on during your opponent’s turn. Deathmarks are in a better place and seeing some use, and with them just the simple fact of putting a unit in place during your opponent’s turn that can then move and do stuff in your turn is pretty strong. This is priced cheaply, and does help to make Deathmarks borderline competitive, so while it doesn’t let the Hexmark get there, it’s still a reasonable add to the list. B
  • Relentless Onslaught – 1CP: Use in your shooting phase when a CORE INFANTRY unit shoots with Rapid Fire weaponry. For each unmodified 6, they score an extra hit. The INFANTRY rider is a blow here, because it means you can’t use this with Gauss Tomb Blades, but if you’ve gone in on Sautekh and are packing 20-model Warrior squads with the Flayers this is an OK thing to pop, giving you just under 7 extra hits on average if you get to blast with the full unit, If 7 extra hits is worth it at a given moment, then go off! Elsewhere, you could use this with Gauss Immortals too, but only having 20 shots max puts a pretty harsh cap on how much of a bonus you get from this. C+
  • Curse of the Phaeron – 1/3CP: Auto-explode a VEHICLE (costs 3 for TITANIC). Do you want to ram your opponent’s shitty castle with a Ghost Ark then blow it up? Hell yeah you do! B+
  • Atavistic Instigation – 1CP: When you shoot a Doom Scythe’s Heavy Death Ray at a target, you can pick an enemy unit within 3″ of it (which can be the target). If that unit is not a MONSTER or VEHICLE, they have to choose to either take d3 MWs or lose 1 attack and be unable to Overwatch or Set to Defend this turn. Extremely cool but also extremely bad – giving your opponent choices in this way is just not great, and situations where both choices are terrible for them are going to be pretty rare. D
  • Revenge of the Doomstalker – 2CP: Easily the best strategem name in the book. When a DYNASTY CHARACTER is destroyed by an enemy unit, one DYNASTY CANOPTEK DOOMSTALKER from your army can immediately shoot at the unit that destroyed them, and gets +1 to hit against them for the rest of the game. Extremely funny and potentially quite good even! 9th Edition armies tend to want one reasonably durable shooting unit to squat on home objectives, and while I marginally prefer the Triarch Stalker in that slot for reasons I’ll cover later, this helps make the Doomstalker no slouch in that role, giving you a shot at some big swings if stuff lines up, especially if you have CP left for it in the late game. It’s also obviously fine if you’re bringing Doomstalkers anyway, and there are lists running three that are at least decent. The only quirk, on re-reading it closely, is that you probably can’t trigger both this and Resurrection Protocols when a character dies, as that one prohibits using any other rules that trigger on the model’s death, so watch out for that. B
  • Disruption Fields – 1CP: When a NECRONS CORE unit is chosn to fight, you can give them +1S. While the list of targets is reasonably limited, as CORE is not widely spread in this book, it’s good on most things that can use it. It’s one of the suite of things that makes Novokh Warriors genuinely scary, and helps get Lychguard to important breakpoints (S7 for swords lets them really threaten many tanks, and they can even hit S8 if you combine it with Hungry Void). Even Immortals are no slouches here now they get two attacks base. Like quite a few of the things on this list, don’t overuse it, but keep it in mind when you’re going in to critical targets. B
  • Disintegration Capacitors – 1CP: When a NECRONS unit fires a Gauss weapon, unmodified 6s to hit automatically wound. Thanks to being usable on a broader range of stuff, this is potentially more interesting that the similar Relentless Onslaughtthough you need to be careful to do the maths to make sure it’s actually helping you in any given situation. This increases the average output of your volley by the number of unmodified 6s you expect to roll multiplied by 1 minus your probability of wounding, or less mathematically, any wound rolls you would normally fail on your sixes to hit become wounds instead. Assuming 36 shots (because it’s an easy number to work with for these purposes, and in the range of things you’ll roll with it), that means this gives you an average of two extra wounds if you need 3s to wound normally, three extra if you needed 4s, four if you needed 5s and five if you needed 6s, and this number goes up if you can get hit re-rolls or re-rolls of 1 to hit from somewhere. That illustrates the main principle at play here – this does more for you the harder it would be to wound normally. If you’re firing off full blocks of Warriors or Tomb Blades at vehicles this can be pretty juicy, as 4-5 extra wounds (often at AP-2) is a real boost to your chance of taking something down, and represents in the region of a 50% bump to the damage you deal once you math it all the way out. Where it’s less good is if you’re scything through squishy enemy infantry, where it often won’t pile on that much extra pressure, and in terms of percentage increase see massively less benefit. Don’t, therefore, waste your CP on it when it’s not right, but if something crunchy needs to die, get after it. B
  • Malevolent Arcing – 1CP: After shooting a Tesla weapon at an enemy unit, roll a d6 for each other unit (friend and foe) within 6″ of the target. They suffer a mortal wound on a 4+. Situational, but with the proliferation of multi-wound models it can be worth going for if multiple models are lingering on the edge of death in close proximity. I also desperately want to try an all-in splash damage army with this, Imotekh and multiple C’tan, because I once melted Shadowsun with a similar setup in 8th and it was very, very funny. Another strat, however, that’s easy to over-use, so it gets a C+ to encourage you to save it for when it really matters.
  • Whirling Onslaught – 1CP: Use when a unit of Skorpekh Destroyers or a Skorpekh Lord is chosen as the target of an attack. Attacks against them that phase get -1 to wound. Yes, this. T5 is the absolute perfect baseline to apply this on, as it means small arms are wounding you on 6s and most high-quality shots are still limited to 4s. Unlike many of the other things on the list that are easy to over-use, this one is something to slam pretty much whenever meaningful attacks are inbound to a full or 5-model squad of Skorpekh, and only passed up on if some truly spectacular overkill is coming in (and even then it’s sometimes worth chancing because if you get to reanimate, life is good). It’s a bit less phenomenal on the Lord but still good, and sending one with Enduring Will amongst some Bladeguard with this up is pretty exciting. A
  • Quantum Deflection – 1CP: Use when a Quantum Shielding model is attacked. Improve their invulnerable save to a 4+. Hey, I used to refer to the old version of this as “rotate quantum shields” and now it’s literally that. Good, too. A
  • Solar Pulse – 1CP: Use in the shooting phase and select an enemy unit. They do not gain the benefits of cover against attacks that phase. Note that that’s all benefits of cover, so this ignores Dense as well. This would be a fine tool in your arsenal even if it just ignored saving throws, but the fact it works for Dense too pushes this to be seriously good, because in some situations it will essentially be “your army gets +1 to hit against a target”. That is extremely worth 1CP, and pushes this up to an A.
  • Reconstitution Protocols – 1CP: When a Ghost Ark repairs Warriors, it repairs d6 instead of d3. You couldn’t have made this 2d3? Really? Like, look, the high roll potential is real here, and on turn 1 with an Ark sitting next to a Warrior blob down 6+ models you probably do gamble on it because of how great it is when it works, but I don’t have to like that, you hear? C+

What’s striking about the stratagems here is that the power curve is mostly pretty flat – and to be clear, that’s a very good thing! With the vast majority sitting in the C+ to B+ range, getting the most out of these is going to be about choosing the right options for the game at hand. A few shine above the pack, notably the strong defensive options for Skorpekh and Quantum vehicles, but overall you’ve got a bunch of valid uses for your CP, but nothing that makes the rest look terrible by comparison either.

Warlord Traits

Szarekh, The Silent King. Credit: Rockfish

Szarekh, The Silent King. Credit: Rockfish

As well as the Dynasty Warlord Traits, Necrons get the standard quota of six generic ones to pick from.

  • Enduring Will: Reduce the damage characteristic of attacks against the warlord by 1, to a minimum of 1. Starting off strong here, this is extremely good on Catacomb Command Barges or either flavour of Destroyer Lord, and is enough of a defensive bonus to be fine on any character you want to keep alive. A
  • Eternal Madness: Your warlord can re-roll wound rolls in melee. Necron Characters suffer from generally being one attack short of true melee effectiveness, and this doesn’t really do enough to push them up from that. OK in combination with The Blood Scythe out of Novokh, but give it a miss elsewhere. C+
  • Immortal Pride: Gain a 5+++ against Mortal Wounds and allow DYNASTY CORE units within 6″ to ignore combat attrition modifiers. This got shafted on the way across from 8th, and is pretty mediocre as it stands. You absolutely do not want to be rolling combat attrition on big warrior blocks at all, and there’s nothing else that really draws you to the effect, while the 5+++ is a marginal effect at best. C
  • Thrall of the Silent King: Boost the radius of auras by 3″, and extend the range of My Will Be DoneAdaptive Strategy (Royal Warden) and The Lord’s Will (Lord) by the same amount. There aren’t a tonne of auras in Necrons but one of the few relevant ones (Canoptek Control Node) is exceptionally good in real lists and desperately wants this, making it an A.
  • Implacable Conqueror: Re-roll charges for DYNASTY CORE units within 6″. Sort of OK if you want to combine it with the Veil of Darkness, but the CORE rider really sucks here, and if you’re only using it on one unit, just use a CP. C
  • Honourable Combatant: When your warlord is chosen to fight,  you can choose an enemy CHARACTER. Your Warlord can only attack that unit this phase, but gets +2A. Since “not enough attacks” is your key problem this is kind of OK, especially as you can combine it with relic weapons. Also, as a fringe jank thing, you aren’t obliged to choose a CHARACTER that’s in engagement range of you, so if you ever want to just not attack with the character that has this, they can fold their arms and demand to be escorted to an honourable duel with that wiseguy over there. Chop chop mortals. Well, not chop chop. That’s the whole thing. Anyway. B

These are, honestly, a little underwhelming. Enduring Will is generically fine and actively great on Command Barges, and Thrall of the Silent King is good in some lists, and between them, the Dynasty ones and Honourable Combatant you can generally throw together a couple you want, but it’s one of the less exciting sections in the book.

Relics

Moving on to the next regularly scheduled section, we have the generic relics, providing options for the discerning Phaeron to extract from their treasure vault as needed.

None of these can be taken on C’tan, but unlike some armies you can still take them on VEHICLES, so Catacomb Command Barges can (and will) play with the fun toys.

  • Orb of Eternity: Relic Resurrection Orb. Works in the same way they do, but with +1 to the reanimation rolls. This is pretty legit, because if you use it on a crippled unit you’re getting around half the dead models back, and more if they’re warriors or you time it with Undying Legions. Not an auto-take by any means, but often worth slotting in if you have an Orb, and makes the idea of taking an Orb at all more attractive. B+
  • Nanoscarab Casket: Repair 2W rather than 1W from Living Metal. The window for this to do something is pretty narrow, and while you could take it on a Command Barge, you probably have better things to do with your CP. C
  • Gauntlet of the Conflagrator: Gives you a free pistol you can fire at a unit within 12″. When you do, you roll d6 for each model in the unit, and deal a mortal on a 6. Vastly improved from the old version which had a once per game rider on this is…still kind of mediocre, because you really need to be shooting it at a horde to get the proper value, and you also can’t fire it alongside any other weapons, and most Necron characters have at least decent ranged output. That mostly restricts this to something you’d stick on a Scythe-only Overlord, and it’s a long way down the queue for that. The only fringe thing you could consider with it is putting it on a Hexmark Destroyer, because the rest of their guns are pistols, and if an army like GSC came back in a big way I guess getting to intercept shoot with this as well would be pretty cool? Definite fringe stuff there though, especially at the current price for that model! C
  • Veil of Darkness: Old faithful. Once per game in your movement phase, you can pick up the bearer and up to one DYNASTY CORE unit within 3″ and set them up anywhere on the battlefield that’s more than 9″ from the enemy. If you bring passengers, they have to set up wholly within 6″ of the bearer. This has always been great, and it still is – adding the CORE rider slightly narrows the target options, but Warriors being good again opens a whole new angle for this, and means your opponent has to play very cautiously as long as you have the use still pending. The fact it happens “in your movement phase” rather than at a specific time is good too – if you need to change your plans in a hurry, you can move the bearer and the unit closer to one another to set this up, then activate it. It can also be used to fall a unit out of combat and still shoot and take a punt at a charge. In 9th, even just firing a lone character onto an objective or into a quarter at a key moment can be great. This relic continues excellent, and you should take it a lot. A+
  • Voltaic Staff: A relic staff of light, that’s just spectacularly better across the board. It gets an extra shot, S6 and D2, and is also a Tesla weapon, so explodes with two extra hits on an unmodified 6. It would probably see use just for that, but it’s also S+1 and D2 in melee as well. This is just a fantastic option, going on top of a free piece of equipment and allowing the bearer to be active in two phases, something you can struggle with otherwise. This is best on a mobile killer like a Catacomb Command Barge or a Lokhust Lord, but it’s powerful enough even on just the ranged profile that people are packing it on Technomancers, so the criteria is basically “whoever your best wielder is, take it”. A
  • Voidreaper: A Warscythe with damage three that ignores effects that ignore wounds. Hrmm. The D3 is nice, and can potentially be profitably combined with Honourable Combatant or Merciless Tyrant, but there aren’t that many effects that provide big feel no pains on units that don’t also have good invulns, and it also doesn’t work against damage reduction effects like the new version of Disgustingly Resilient. Chopping a Chief Apothecary in half would be very satisfying though, and access to a D3 weapon is a helpful thing to have in the list. B
  • Semipiternal Weave: INFANTRY NOBLE only. Gain +1W and +1T. The NOBLE rider sucks, because Crypteks is where you used to use this in 8th – as it is, Lords want to be nowhere near combat even with this, and if you’re giving an Overlord a relic it’s more likely to be something to boost their offence. C
  • The Arrow of Infinity: Replaces a Tachyon Arrow with one that’s S16 and flat D6(!). Obviously extremely funny and honestly not totally worthless just because it can so effectively be used to take out a CHARACTER who has wondered away from their protection or something. Spending a relic slot on a one-shot weapon is still pretty far down your priority list, but the siren lure of pointing at a target and just having it go away is real. C+

Cryptek Arcana

Necron Plasmancer

Necron Plasmancer. Credit: Pendulin

Last out of the character toys, the four fancy flavours of Cryptek have a list of 12 special wargear options that you can buy them with points. These explicitly aren’t relics, but have some of the same limits – each character can only take one, Named Characters can’t have them and each option can only be included in an army once. However, you can take both an Arcana and a Relic, which is very helpful for lists that solely use Crypteks and the Silent King as their Characters (which very much exist). The options are as follows:

  • Atavindicator (25pts): Psychomancer only. At the end of your movement phase, you pick a non-VEHICLE enemy unit within 18″, and roll 3d6. If you equal or beat the unit’s Leadership, they take d3 MWs. This is fine, and in an army where the ways of dealing mortal wounds are restricted to a few very pricy units, adding some is helpful. Psychomancers are kind of vying for the weakest Cryptek option, but if you take one this should be on the list of considerations. B
  • Cryptogeometric Adjuster (15pts): At the start of the enemy shooting phase, pick an enemy unit within 12″. That unit gets -1 to hit. This one’s interesting – the range is short, but the effect is good and the timing works in your favour – if your opponent is sending in some close range high-output weapons to go after your big warrior blob, reducing the impact is pretty good, and it’s OK against the nefarious Plasmaceptors that love killing your stuff. The range here is short enough that this can’t be your main plan, but it’s also cheap enough that throwing it in when you’ve got some spare points is fine. C+
  • Photonic Transubjector (20pts): The first time you fail a saving throw for the model with this each turn, change the damage of that attack to 0. Not sold on this one – the effect is OK, but Crypteks are squishy enough to get mown down by small arms fire and any capable combatant will spectacularly overkill them, so you ideally don’t want them getting attacked at all. Since the Prismatic Obfuscatron is substantially better for achieving that at the same price, you should largely give this one a miss. C
  • Dimensional Sanctum (15pts): The Cryptek gains Dimensional Translocation. For Technomancers and Chronomancers (which are, if we’re honest, the good Crypteks) you don’t want this, as they’re units you want on the board from the get-go, throwing out buffs. With all their buffs happening in the command phase, by using this you guarantee no use of them for 2/5ths of the game, which is a horrible plan. Plasmancers are maybe closer to a unit that wants this, but for them you can just chuck them into Strategic Reserves and they’ll probably achieve the same thing, especially as you can put two in for 1CP. The one that might want this is the Psychomancer, mostly because their key special effect (messing with enemy Actions) happens in your morale phase and has 12″ range. While 85pts is quite a bit to pay for a one and done effect, and something that’s hard to fit into lists, this is actually a neat combo. B on Psychomancers, on all the others.
  • Cortical Subjugator Scarabs (15pts): Once per game in the Heroic Interventions step of the opponent’s Charge Phase, you can choose a DYNASTY unit within 6″, and they can Heroically Intervene as if they were a CHARACTER. This is probably the best of the 15pts options to chuck on a Technomancer or Chronomancer who has a slot left, because it’s the kind of effect that is backbreaking when it’s relevant, especially in Novokh. It won’t come up every game, and opponents can play around it, but for 15pts it’s probably worth it if it forces your opponent to make even one awkward decision, so why not. B+
  • Countertemporal Nanomines (30pts): Chronomancer only. In your shooting phase, choose an enemy unit within 18″. Half their Advance and Charge rolls until your nnext turn. What’s that opponent, want to Charge stuff? NANOMINES SON. Anyway, this is a very strong effect – while 18″ is a little closer to a melee threat than you want your Chronomancer to be, but once you halve your opponent’s charges, it’s a lot more comfortable, and when applied from full range makes it outright impossible for most infantry units to reach you for a charge, and even against faster targets it at least heavily restricts their options. It’s also horrendous when applied on a target that’s in difficult terrain, slowing them to a crawl and maybe taking them out of the game for a turn. This isn’t cheap, but it’s powerful enough to still be very worth it, and is seeing lots of successful competitive use. Do make sure to remember to use it mind – as a non-shooting effect in the shooting phase, it’s easy to forget. A
  • Fail-Safe Overcharger (30pts): Technomancer only. In your commant phase, pick a CANOPTEK unit within 9″ of the model. Give them +1A till your next command phase, or +d3A if the unit is a MONSTER or VEHICLE. This is another choice that’s very expensive, but also extremely worth it – lists that are heavy on Wraiths and Scarabs are performing strongly, and using this to charge up a unit per turn to fire them at the opponent is great. These lists also tend to run a single full unit of Spyders to hang around with a Canoptek Control Node Technomancer, and the presence of this makes going anywhere near that blob extremely spooky. Another choice that’s being used extremely effectively in competitive lists, and is absolutely worth the price of admission. A
  • Hypermaterial Ablator (25pts): In your command phase, pick a DYNASTY CORE or DYNASTY CANOPTEK unit within 9″. They get light cover against ranged attacks made from >12″ away until your next command phase. This is another effect that’s been used effectively in real lists, but it’s quite swingy in impact. When applied to either a Necron Warrior blob (because of how many models they have) or a shield Lychguard unit (for that juicy 1+ effective save) it’s extremely potent, but not being able to put it up until your first Command Phase is a real downside, as in the matchups where this is good you really want it up against their alpha strike. Once battle is joined, you’re often going to be too close to benefit from this against a lot of enemy shooting, and it’s definitely less good on Warriors there, though Lychguard are the kind of thing that the opponent might still be blasting from a distance. While it’s OK and has been used enough to get a B, I feel like this could probably bear to cost 20pts.
  • Quantum Orb (20pts): Plasmancer only. Once per game, you can activate this in your command phase and pick a point within 24″ of the bearer. At the start of your next command phase, roll d6 for each unit (friend and foe) within 6″ of that point, subtracting one for CHARACTERS. Those units take d3 MWs on a 4-5, or 3 MWs on a 6. Essentially the way Necrons get access to an orbital strike, this isn’t amazing but isn’t horrible either, and I’m honestly slightly surprised we haven’t seen more people at least trying it out. While it is turn delayed, the blast here is huge, and if an opponent wants to completely avoid it they’re going to have to make some significant moves. With 9th’s focus on primary play, dropping this on or around the location of key objective is probably going to rack up a reasonable toll of wounds, and if you’re stacking up other things like C’tan powers they can add up. Ultimately, Necrons have a lot of things they want to spend points on and it’s a little tricky to find 90pts for a comedy explosion, but this isn’t a terrible effect and probably fun to use. C+
  • Metalodermal Tesla Weave (20pts): At the end of the opponent’s charge phase, pick an enemy unit that finished a charge within 6″ of the model, and deal them d3 MWs on a 2+. This is a surprisingly plausible pick for a list that’s going to move aggressively into the mid-board. The range isn’t massive but it’s big enough that if lots of charges are going off in a turn it’s going to be hard for your opponent to completely avoid it, and against plenty of relevant units this can make its points back the first time it fires, and can also save a Cryptek from being killed by things like Company Veterans. On a Cryptek that’s planning to float around with your warrior blobs, this is worth a try. B+
  • Phylacterine Hive (20pts): Technomancer only. Once per game, when you use Rites of Reanimation, you can pick a CANOPTEK, DESTROYER CULT or TRIARCH PRAETORIAN unit to reanimate a model from rather than a CORE unit. This sounds cute until you actually think hard about it, and then you realise that it’s horrible. The dream of reanimating a Spyder is there, and maybe once in a blue moon you pull it off, but this is usually going to be horrific. For it to work at all your opponent has to swing and miss at one of your “big” units while the Cryptek is within 6″ so they can use this in your upcoming Command Phase, and then when you actually get to use it, it’s only “profitable” if you repair a model that pays back the 20pts and the cost of what you could have reanimated normally, which will often be 20+ points of models. Now obviously, you aren’t always thinking in terms of pure profit, and getting a model back in your best unit could be worth more to you than the points at that moment in time, but it really hammers home that this should not cost 20pts, especially in a world where Chief Apothecaries are reviving a 55pt Inceptor for free every turn after buying a 15pt upgrade. This should either work for your first use every turn at the current price, or cost maybe 10pts as an upgrade. C
  • Prismatic Obfuscatron (20pts): Unless the bearer is the closest eligible target, they cannot be chosen as the target of ranged attacks. For me, this is the sleeper hit of the bunch – I’ve been getting a lot of value out of sticking this on a Chronomancer or a Canoptek Cloak Technomancer, as it means that if whatever unit they’re babysitting gets blown off the board, they can switch to a role of holding home objectives within relative impunity. Necrons aren’t cheap, and once things start dying you can end up short on things to manage space in your deployment zone with, and having a backup plan for that has been performing very strongly for me. B+

Much like the stratagems, the balance here is pretty healthy – none of these are game breaking, with the two best ones having the correspondingly highest price tags, and while some of the lower-end ones probably should be a bit cheaper, they at least have plausible uses on the table. None of these are mandatory picks, and don’t get trapped into thinking you have to buy one for every Cryptek in your army (they’re fine on rate), but the Overcharger is a great build-around, the Nanomines is a powerful effect you can choose to pull into your list, and a bunch of the 15-20pts ones are decent ways to use up some remaining points.

C’tan Powers

Credit: Wings

While Necrons don’t get access to psychic powers, if you make the decision to pack an imprisoned star god in your army you get access to a different angle to throw around some cosmic firepower. Each C’tan knows a number of powers, and at the end of your movement phase they can activate one or more of them as long as they didn’t Advance or Fall Back. These provide you with a number of different ways to throw mortal wounds out at the enemy, and as befits some expensive models, these are fairly potent.

There are nine C’tan powers in total – six that are available to all C’tan and Tesseract Vaults, and three that provide a unique choice for each of the named C’tan shards. You pick these on your army list, and when selecting them you cannot pick duplicates from the main list until you’ve picked each choice at least once. However while a single model cannot use the same power more than once, unlike psychic powers multiple models can manifest the same power in the same phase. This means that you can double stack powers by using the Strange Echoes stratagem to swap a choice in your Command Phase, and when used with some of them that can be a strong plan. If you’re going for multiple C’tan, you also have the option of picking powers for them until you run out of ones you actively want, then choosing to roll randomly for the rest – best case you roll into the ones you needed and save CP, worst cast you still just swap.

While all the powers focus on killing stuff, what each one is good at killing varies quite a bit, and for that reason we’re not going to give these ratings, instead letting you know what situations to use them in. For the six generic powers, they also have boosted effects when the Tesseract Vault activates them.

  • Antimatter Meteor: Roll a d6, with +1 if used by a Tesseract Vault. On a 3+, the closest visible enemy unit within 24″ takes 3 MWs, or d3+3 MWs on a 6+. This is a fine generic damage dealing option, and gives you some high-roll potential to take a real chunk out of a target. For my money, this falls slightly behind Transdimensional Thunderbolt as the best “default” choice, but for any C’tan that has multiple powers off this list and wants to have broadly effective choices to use at range, it’s the second best.
  • Times Arrow: Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″ and roll a d6, with +1 if used by a Tesseract Vault. If you equal or exceed the lowest wound characteristic of the targeted unit, your opponent chooses one of the models to be removed. Getting effectively +1 on the roll compared to 8th is fantastic (you used to have to beat the target number) and offsets the fact that you can no longer re-roll this with a CP. Picking off whole Marines on a 2+ is pretty strong, and you can reasonably take pot shots at 4W characters for the real high roll. It obviously gets even better on a Tesseract Vault, which starts being very scary to be visible to.
  • Sky of Falling Stars: Pick three enemy units within 24″ of the C’tan shard, and roll a d6 for each. For each, if the result is 1-5 and less than the number of models in the unit, deal d3 MWs, or 3 MWs if used by a Tesseract Vault. 9th has pushed the value of this up quite a bit, as far more players of elite armies are packing units bigger than MSUs, and even against go-wide MSU armies like Sisters the output rate here is one of the best on the list – pick three 5 model units and you’re averaging 4 MWsIt’s also notable that this one doesn’t need the targets to be visible, meaning you can hide behind a wall and drop stars on the enemy to your heart’s content. The flipside with this one, of course, is that against some armies it’s terrible, and you can’t use it to hurt tanks at all. For that reason, you should rarely start it on your roster, but it can be one of the most powerful to swap to when it’s on.
  • Cosmic Fire: Roll a d6 for each enemy unit within 9″ and deal d3 MWs on a 4+, or 3 MWs if used by a Tesseract Vault. This one is great, and in a substantial proportion of games where you’re using C’tan your goal for the mid-late game is to be blowing this up in the middle of your opponent’s army. The radius is massive, and as soon as you’re tagging 3+ units this starts being one of the most efficient on the list. The main debate with this one is whether you start it on your C’tan and plan to get them up the board behind Obscuring terrain, or whether you start with another and plan to swap to it. Either is defensible. This is also great if you’re running multiple C’tan and cast it twice, as that’s going to start doing horrific stuff to enemy castles.
  • Seismic Assault: Pick a visible enemy units within 18″. Roll a d6 for each model in the target unit, adding one if the user is a Tesseract Vault, and deal a MW for each 6. One of the most polarised powers, and usually the one you groan if you roll it up for Dimensional Destabilisation. If you’re opponent is packing 30 model hordes then sure, this is fine, but in that situation you can usually get the same average output from Sky of Falling Stars, and the worst thing about this is that it gets rapidly less good as you hurt the opponent. Can be worth it in very specific situations, but mostly skip it.
  • Transdimensional Thunderbolt: Pick a visible enemy unit within 24″. You can only pick a CHARACTER with <=9W if they’re the closest target, or not within 3″ of another enemy unit. Roll a d6, and deal d3 MWs on a 2+, then roll a d6 for each other enemy unit within 3″ of the target unit and deal a MW on a 4+. The Tesseract Vault splashes 6″ instead of 3″. Because this can be targeted freely and has the main effect go off on 2+, this is probably the best “default” pick if you aren’t planning to start on Cosmic Fire. Stacking up multiple use of this is also quite good, especially if you bring other similar effects, as it starts to inflict quite a bit of attrition over time. A good, serviceable default choice.

Transcendant C’tan and Tesseract Vaults make all their picks from the above list. The three named Shards start with one from the above, and their specific one below. Note that you can choose to use Strange Echoes to swap back and forth between the generic powers and the specific one for a given shard, so if your choice below isn’t doing anything for you, you can trade it out for something better.

  • Nightbringer – Gaze of Death: Pick a visible enemy unit within 9″ and roll 3d6. Inflict d3 MWs for each 4+. That’s some serious wow factor going on there – this deals a healthy chunk of damage on average, and can one-shot characters if you get a high roll. It’s good, and you’re generally going to perfectly happy blasting away with it once you’re up close. The only drawback is the short range, but that generally just encourages the Nightbringer towards the plan of trying to stay hidden till battle is properly joined, as you don’t want to spend 2CP swapping away from this then back to it later on.
  • Deceiver – Cosmic Insanity: Pick a visible enemy unit within 12″. You and your opponent both roll d6 and add your chosen unit’s leadership characteristic. If you roll higher, you inflict one MW per point of difference. Like all such abilities this is enormously swingy, sometimes doing nothing and sometimes blasting something straight off the board. The fact that your model is starting with Ld 10 does, of course, help, meaning you’ll average 2-3MWs against many common targets, but there are some things that it’s extremely unreliable against, and notably doesn’t do much if you’re up against a Marine army with a Chaplain (i.e. a Marine army). The combination of high variance and short range means that this is probably the named power you’re most likely to swap out, but it’s not terrible and goes up in value a lot against some opponents.
  • Void Dragon – Voltaic Storm: Pick a visible enemy unit within 18″. You can’t pick a CHARACTER with <=9W unless they’re the closest target or not within 3″ of another enemy unit. Roll a d6 and inflict d3 MWs on a 2+. If the target is a VEHICLE, it deals d6 MWs instead and halves the number of wounds the target has remaining for determining their degrading profile until the start of your next turn. This is fine – it’s a targetable Smite most of the time, and actively extremely good against Vehicle targets. Works especially well if you take Transdimensional Thunderbolt as your other power, as being able to drop two MW effects on a single target in quick succession lets you achieve a pretty substantial impact against many targets. You are unlikely to want to swap this out unless you have nothing better to do with your CP, or are in one of the matchups where Sky of Falling Stars is great.

Secondary Objectives

Necron Cryptothralls

Necron Cryptothralls. Credit: Chris Cowie

New for 9th of course, the final thing we need to take a look at before we move on to units are Secondary Objectives. Like Space Marines, when selecting objectives for a mission that uses secondaries you can pick one objective from this set rather than those in the main mission pack. These still have categories, and you can still only pick one objective from each category overall.

There are four objectives to choose from, and the good news for Necron players is that they probably have the highest average power level of any of the sets of faction Secondaries published so far. While no single one is as good as Oaths of Moment, all four can be plausibly used to good effect, and in our most recent pass on scoring data all of them were in the upper echelons of the average score table. Really the only problem with these is that you’d like to be able to take multiple of them!

The Secondaries are as follows:

  • Code of Combat (No Mercy, No Respite): Score 3VP each time an enemy unit is destroyed by a NOBLE unit. Of the ones here this is the narrowest, as while NOBLEs aren’t terrible killers, you’re often going to only have one or two, and if they get punked early on, you’re out of luck for scoring this. Where that calculus obviously changes massively is if you’re running the Silent King, who is a terrifying multi-phase killing machine more than capable of putting in a respectable score on this all by himself. You still have to be careful about picking it against opponents who can blow him up at range, but he really pushes this choice. Outside of that, if you’ve gone for a killy Catacomb Command Barge with the gauss cannon and Voltaic Staff, you could maybe consider this if you came up against an opponent heavy on small units like Tau.
  • Purge the Vermin (Battlefield Supremacy): At the end of each of your turns after the first, score 2VP for each table quarter that there are no enemy units wholly within (excluding AIRCRAFT). This secondary is very potent, as the timing and requirements both favour you substantially. The fact that only an enemy unit being wholly within a table quarter switches it off for you means that your opponent will have to make quite deliberate moves to keep this suppressed, and also makes it more likely that they’ll have to put their units in harms way to do so, giving you a chance to pop them and keep the scoring going. You’ve always got your turn to deal with whatever feelers your opponent has sent out, and this can be scored unusually quickly late game if you really cripple their army. The only real downside is that if you make a bad call and pick it in an unsuitable matchup or mission you might find yourself pushed to a position where it’s extremely hard to get points from it. Generally, it’s easiest to keep things under control on missions using Hammer and Anvil (short edge) deployments, OK on Dawn of War (long edge) and quite a bit harder on Search and Destroy (quarters) ones. In the latter, your opponent has much more scope to fan out in two directions at once, making it hard to keep them contained, and thus you should probably be a bit more skeptical about picking this on those maps. You should also make sure you have a plan for taking out any deep strikers the opponent sends in, as they’re another tool they have to frustrate you. Do also make sure you only pick it against armies with lots of infiltrating units if you’re confident you can wipe them out sharpish. Overall, this does end up as a very good secondary, but you have to be somewhat judicious about when you pick it.
  • The Treasures of the Aeons (Battlefield Supremacy): After both sides are deployed, your opponent picks three objectives. At the end of your turn, you score 2VP for holding one of them, 3VP for two of 5VP for all three. The hits keep on coming here, and in our last data update, this was the highest scoring option. While your opponent can (obviously) pick the objectives closest to them, on many missions that’s still going to mean picking ones in no-man’s land, at which point if you’re playing an aggressive list it’s extremely easy to make a move on them straight away (especially on Battle Lines). Even on maps where you’re going to be aiming a bit further afield, this is still great if you’re running an Eternal Expansionist list, as with the plethora of fast, ObSec units you have at your disposal. You need to be playing an aggressive build for this to be good, but aggressive board control is one of the things Necrons do best, and this definitely deserves a place on your list of considerations when playing such a build. The fact that you can “catch up” on it by grabbing all three objectives late game is just gravy.
  • Ancient Machineries (Shadow Operations): After both sides have deployed, starting with your opponent, you alternate picking up to three objectives that aren’t in deployment zones. One or more CANOPTEK and CORE units can start an action if they’re each within 3″ of a different one of these markers at the end of your movement phase, and no enemy units are within 3″. It is completed at the end of your next Command Phase if that unit is still in position, and each time the action completes you gain 3VP. Another objective that continues the general trend of these being able to be “rushed” in the mid game, and another decent choice. Because you get to pick one of the objectives, you’ll often be able to select at least one that’s in a relatively defensible position. If you can do that, and are confident of getting a unit to it out of the gate, this can be a very reliable route to 9-12VP with an option on a higher score if the game goes well – a very respectable setup. The fact that you can do this with CANOPTEK units is also extremely helpful – Wraiths and Scarabs can rush to pick up some points on this early, while Cryptothralls love nothing better than sitting on an objective racking up points. Obviously as a Shadow Operations objective this is competing with Deploy Scramblers for the pick, which is also a pretty reliable route to 10VP. Where this choice can outperform Scramblers is when you’ve got a “safe” objective nearby, and you’re worried about your opponent being able to fully screen you out of their deployment zone prior to the end of Turn 3. In that case, this can end up as an easier pick, forcing your opponent to engage with you to prevent your scoring rather than just screening you out. It also tends to be great on quarter deployments, as on those you often have a pretty safe objective to go for, and have the best chance of being able to get two completions out of the gate against slower opponents.

Units

OK, cool robot time. We’re going to go through each battlefield role and look at the units within it, and how to get the most out of them.

HQ

Between the various flavours of royalty and Cryptek and a decent range of Named Characters, Necrons have an absolute shedload of HQ choices. Since most of the Named Characters are “special” versions of one of the generic options, we’ll cover them straight after the kind of character for which they substitute.

Overlord

Let’s start with your bread and butter “leader” character, the Overlord. He’s fine. Not super exciting, but fine.

Overlords sport a fairly standard character profile marginally spiced up by being S/T 5 at base, and having a 4++ save from their Phase Shifter. By default they pack either a staff of light, which gives them three OK shots out to 18″ and -2AP in melee, or a hyperphase glaive (S+2, AP-3 d3 damage) and tachyon arrow (a once per game high-powered ranged shot. If you’re starting from the staff build, you can optionally swap it out for a variety of different melee weapons, including several other D1 choices for free, a S7 AP-4 D2 warscythe for 5pts or a voidscythe for 15pts, which is essentially an AP-4 thunder hammer. Finally, for 30pts you can buy the Overlord a Resurrection Orb.

While an Overlord with either kind of scythe is OK in a fight, the real reason you want one is for the buffs. Overlords bring two buff abilities to the table, My Will Be Done (MWBD), which in your Command Phase lets you give a DYNASTY CORE unit within 9″ +1 to their hit rolls till your next Command Phase, and Relentless March, which gives DYNASTY CORE units that start their movement within 6″ of this model +1″ to their movement till the end of the phase.

These are definitely effects you want in your army, as they make your rank and file faster and deadlier, and an Overlord is an OK way of getting access to them. At their current 95pt base price tag, however, they’re not super aggressively priced, and you should definitely at least be considering your other options for getting access to these abilities first. Where these most commonly see use is in lists that badly want access to multiple uses of MWBD across multiple parts of the battlefield (or when they don’t want to spend for Hand of the Phaeron), as they are your cheapest way of accessing it.

If you want a more splashy Overlord option, however, look no further than…

Catacomb Command Barge

Catacomb Command Barge

Catacomb Command Barge. Credit: Wings

The Catacomb Command Barge is, for all intents and purposes, an Overlord flying around on a heavily shielded space chariot. Hell yeah!

For a 50pt premium over the footslogging Overlord, you get all the same abilities (save for the ability to take a voidscythe or tachyon arrow build) attached to a substantially more durable defensive profile and a 12″ fly speed. Being on a Command Barge gives the Overlord T6, Quantum Shielding and, crucially, 9W, making them way tougher to kill without pushing them over the line of being able to be shot at range. Add the Enduring Will warlord trait and these are a a real challenge to take down for many attackers, especially with so many melee weapons that used to be d3 damage changing to flat 2. You also get a nice big hull to bump into things and extend auras out from, and the barge has a heavy weapon strapped to the bottom, either a tesla cannon or a gauss cannon for 5 extra points (which is usually worth it).

All of this probably sounds pretty good, and it is – what you get from the package is a centrepiece character that can do some damage and play fairly aggressively as well as throwing out buffs. While you still likely want to be cautious-ish with it early game, being able to flip to just flying around doing mischief in the late game is great, and with 9th’s focus on mobility the speed is super helpful. If you’re not planning on taking a named character, we would strongly encourage trying one of these as your first Overlord in many lists. Because of their size and durability, they’re also a great bearer for the Orb of Eternity, as they’re likely to still be alive into the late game when you need it, and can have more units in range for options.

Imotekh the Stormlord

Our first named character may have been demoted from being biggest boss skeleton, but he’s still got lots going on. For 145pts you get a Sautekh Overlord with the following upsides:

  • Extra defences in the form of an extra wound and a 2+ save.
  • Some decent weaponry, including the powerful Staff of the Destroyer, giving him access to both ranged and melee D2 attacks.
  • A built-in Phaeron upgrade.
  • A once-per game super lightning bolt, dealing 3MWs to a target model on a 4+, and d3 mortals to each other unit within 6″ of that model on a 4+ for each.
  • Two extra CP if he’s your warlord.

That’s all good stuff, and if you’re running as Sautekh and packing multiple units that will benefit from My Will Be Done, he’s almost certainly worth trying. The revamp of the big bolt represents a considerable improvement, as what you’re really after is the wide splash damage, and I’m keen to try out a gimmick list with him and multiple C’tan spamming Transdimensional Thunderbolt at some point. They also fixed the ordering on it so that the splash damage now hits before the main bolt, meaning you don’t run the risk of not getting it if you completely remove the target. He’s overall just a pretty good all-rounder, something 9th rewards, and though Sautekh feels like one of the weaker dynasties, he helps offset that.

Nemesor Zahndrekh

The Sautekh get not one but two named Overlords. Zahndrekh rocks in at 135pts and has the same boosted defences as Imotekh, but offensively he’s completely pants, sporting just a vanilla staff of light. That doesn’t mean he’s without value, however, sporting two powerful abilities that make him look interesting. First up, he packs the Tranisent Madness ability, letting him pick one SAUTEKH CORE unit within 9″  in your Command Phase and roll 3d6. If you roll under his leadership you can choose to give that unit one of +1BS, +1A or re-roll charges till your next Command Phase, and if you roll equal to or over it you get one of the three effects at random. This is a boost from the previous incarnation of this effect, and now means that you’ll get the effect you want around 58% of the time (allowing for either getting to pick or rolling it randomly afterwards). +1A is the juicy one here, as 2A warriors are no joke, meaning this can be quite potent.

By itself, however, you wouldn’t take Zahndrekh over Imotekh or a Catacomb Command barge for that. What maybe pushes him into lists sometimes is his other ability, Counter Tactics. Once per game, when your opponent tries to activate a stratagem during a Battle Round you can just say “nope” and your opponent can’t use it for that Battle Round. They don’t lose any CP or anything, but that’s still a heck of a thing – a guaranteed no-sell on a stratagem can throw a massive spanner into your opponent’s plans, and is extremely appealing.  Is it 135pts worth of appealing? Ehhhhh probably not quite. Where some players are floating using Zahndrekh is in a mixed dynasty list, with him and his buddy Obyron in a Patrol with a single 20-model warrior unit packing flayers to benefit from the Sautekh trait. The warriors get all the buffs from the characters stacked on them, and can engage from a pretty decent distance. That’s not a bad plan, and certainly gives you some power, but for my money comes in at a few too many points for its overall impact right now. It’s close though, and I can believe the right version of that shell might be found.

Trazyn the Infinite

Unlike the two Sautekh characters, Trazyn has branched out from his roots as a Nihilakh character and become a Dynastic Agent, letting any list take him. He’s an Overlord (with his My Will be Done working on NECRONS CORE rather than DYNASTY CORE) and comes with a couple of cute extras. First up, his Ancient Collector ability gives you your first extra relic for free – very nice, as most lists will want at least two relics, so this essentially saves you a CP. Secondly, he has his signature Surrogate Hosts ability, which when he dies lets you roll a d6, and on a 2+ destroy one of your other NECRON INFANTRY CHARACTERS instead, setting this model up where they were on 3W remaining. His final difference from a basic overlord is getting a special melee weapon which trades AP for getting to blow up enemy CHARACTERS if he slays them, and one extra wound.

Trazyn doesn’t have any single ability that makes him super exciting but I have actually found myself considering him. He’s only 100pts, which is the same cost as an Overlord with tachyon arrow, and honestly if your list wants multiple Overlords on the table, and is already using its relic slots, there’s some degree of “why not” to taking him – he saves you a CP, is slightly tougher, and once in a blue moon his reanimate ability will utterly confound your opponent.

Anrakyr the Traveller

The final named Overlord (at least in the HQ section) wands a much more specific plan from you – murdering stuff. Anrakyr is another DYNASTIC AGENT and his signature ability is his aura of +1A for CORE units. While not being able to apply to as many things as you’d like is obviously a bit sad, going to 2A makes a huge difference to the effectiveness of Necron Warriors, and in Novokh it opens up the juicy prospect of going as far as 3. It also helps make Lychguard super mean, and since they’re a strong unit that’s pretty appealing. As well as this, Anrakyr has the ability to take over an enemy VEHICLE within 12″ in each shooting phase by beating its Ld on 3D6 (2D6 for TITANIC), and if he does he gets to shoot one of its weapons as if it were part of your army. Currently a bit fringe, as tanks aren’t a huge part of the metagame, but possessing a plasma redemptor and overcharging it into Gravis stuff is very, very funny. Finally, Anrakyr gets the customary bonus wound and also a point of S, which helpfully pushes him to S8 with his warscythe for maximum marine slicing. His only notable downside is that he’s locked into the Implacable Conqueror warlord trait, which is one of the weakest, and will often have to be your warlord.

Still, a powerful package overall and Novokh lists that combine him with blocks of Warriors and Lychguard are definitely on the edge of being good enough. For a footslogging model who has no ranged attacks his 140pt price tag is right on the edge of being competitive, but he’s close enough that you can build good lists around him, and it would really only take Vehicles being common enough for him to reliably have a possession target to get him fully over the line.

Lord

Stepping down the Nobility rung we have the Lord. Lords have a frankly pretty embarassing lack of combat capability, sporting the same statline as a Librarian save for S/T5, and you’re definitely not taking these for their combat capability. What you’re probably looking for is one of the three things they offer you:

  • The Lord’s Will: In your command phase, this lets you pick one DYNASTY CORE unit within 9″ for re-roll hits of 1 until your next command phase.
  • Access to Relentless March, either putting it in multiple places on the board or getting it in an otherwise all-Cryptek HQ list.
  • They’re the cheapest way to get a Resurrection Orb onto the table, coming in at 100pts with one.

You are plausibly in the market for either of those things. The buff combos with MWBD to really turbo-charge a unit’s output for the turn, and if you’re doing something like running Mephrit Tomb Blades or Novokh Warriors (for that two-phase goodness) that can really add up. Having a res-orb around is also handy, as it can frequently force your opponent to make decisions they don’t want to about fully wiping a unit, as the threat of a high roll undoing a lot of work is considerable.

Ultimately, if you think those are effects you want, then go for it, just be confident you’re happy spending the points on a character who is basically only good for that. Technically they’re also the cheapest way to unlock Protocols in a list that mostly wants Crypteks, but at that point you’re probably far enough over the line of making Exciting Decisions that you’re not bothered.

Vargard Obyron

Obyron is a weird outlier. He’s a named Sautekh Lord, but unlike a regular Lord he actually has a real combat profile, effectively sporting a Warscythe Overlord’s statline with an extra wound and a 2+ save (though no Phase Shifter). He also gets to fight on death if he’s killed before attacking via Cleaving Counterblow, and has some special abilities if you include him in an army with Zahndrekh. If you do, you can choose for him not to take up a detachment slot, he stops Zandrekh being shot while he’s within 3″ (which you can play some clever games with by hiding Obyron while Zandrekh sits out on an objective or something) and once per game he can teleport to Zandrekh’s position in your movement phase, appearing anywhere within 3″ (without the normal 9″ deep strike rider, though still respecting engagement range).

He’s pretty cool overall, and if you just wanted a Sautekh Lord you’d probably be tempted to find the points (he comes in at 100) for his non-terrible profile, and if you want a Lord and have Zandrekh you’re definitely here for it. As mentioned in Zandrekh’s section, the theory of running a 495pt Sautekh Patrol with a full Warrior blob and these two seems at least somewhat interesting, and if I don’t mention it then it’s certain that The Honest Wargamer’s Tom Leighton will continue to mercilessly @ me on Twitter.

Royal Warden

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

We now leave the ranks of true royalty and move on to various viziers, monstrous killers and seneschals. The Royal Warden is the latter, and has the vital task of making sure your legions don’t trip, fall, and fail to get up. By that what I actually mean is that they can pick one DYNASTY CORE unit within 9″  in your command phase, and they can fall back and shoot/charge until your next command phase.

This is a genuinely very good effect with Necron Warriors – if you aren’t running one of the tools that lets you ramp up their number of attacks then getting bumped and stuck in combat is a very real problem for them. Them stepping back and unleashing a volley of gauss reaper fire, on the other hand, is a very real problem for almost all opponents, and even in Novokh it’s still a very strong thing to be able to do in a pinch, as a round of shooting then re-charging will substantially up your damage. He’s also decent if you’re planning to go heavy on Tomb Blades, as they really don’t want to get run down in melee, though making sure he’s in position to pull them out is a challenge. Where they especially shine with both these units is as a bearer for the Veil of Darkness, because it removes one of the potential avenues for shutting the unit down after you teleport them.

He also has a decent gun to go with it, and that’s much more what you want from a character who’s going to lurk in your lines all game than the paltry melee of a Lord. It’s Rapid Fire 2, 30″, S5 AP-2 D2, which isn’t lighting the world on fire but is enough to plink off the occasional Space Marine, and given you’re kind of here for the effect, it’s mostly just upside. Overall, strongly worth your consideration in any list running large Warrior blobs or Tomb Blades

Skorpekh Lord

Big skorpy is a mean old killer, packing a hefty statline (notably S/T6), a slightly boosted speed compared to lots of other characters and some good weapons. His enmitic annihilator is a decent gun for picking off a few chaff infantry, while in combat they can swing with either the hyperphase harvester for S8 AP-4 D3 (but at -1 to hit) or his flensing claw, getting to make eight swings at AP-1 D1. Like all DESTROYER CULT units they have built-in re-rolls of 1 to hit, and packs an aura that gives DYNASTY DESTROYER CULT units within 6″ re-roll 1s to wound. Unusually for a buff aura in 9th, they can actually benefit from this themselves, making their attacks just that bit better (and working particularly well with the harvester). Finally, they get a phase shifter, so pack a 4++ on top of their already considerable capabilities.

That adds up to a reasonably decent melee character, though as is a bit of a trend for Necrons it does feel a little bit short of what you really want in a world full of the nightmares you can pull off with the Space Marine supplements. You can improve that a bit with Warlord traits via Rarefied Nobility – the Mephrit Merciless Tyrant trait is good for upping their output, while Enduring Will can make them extremely tough to put down, especially combined with the Whirling Defence stratagem.

They can, also, act as a force multiplier. Both flavours of ranged destroyer are a bit overpriced right now, but the melee ones are much nastier, with Skorpekh in particular being one of the best units in the Codex. Re-rolling 1s to wound is something you’re very much in the market for with these, and you’re certainly happy having the effect in play. However, as we’ll see in a sec you can get that on the table a bit cheaper, and in general while you’re never going to hate having this absolute arachnid unit around, I wish they were just a bit better at killing for their not inconsiderable price.

Lokhust Lord

Much to my surprise the Lokhust Lord has grown on me considerably since the codex came out, and is currently my preferred method for getting re-rolls on the table for my Skorpekh. That’s pretty much entirely because of just how great they are at wielding the Voltaic Staff. The Lokhust sports the same aura and defensive profile as a Skorpekh Lord (including the juicy T6), and have the handy ability to FLY, but without the Staff existing would suffer from only being active in melee and not phenomenal at that, as even with a warscythe they cap at S7. The relic staff changes that completely, however, allowing them to be an effective damage dealer in the shooting phase (where re-roll 1s to hit work well with the exploding 6s) while still maintaining a credible melee profile, which you can optionally enhance with warlord traits. Given this rocks in at 105pts to the Skorpekh Lord’s 130pts, I’ve found this option performing extremely well, especially as it allows them to still rack up damage when you can’t afford to throw them right into the thick of it. I would probably only recommend taking one when you have the Staff still to hand out or if you’re Mephrit and want to make one a Merciless Tyrant with Voidreaper, but with the right setup this is actually a strong and often overlooked unit.

Technomancer

Cryptek

Cryptek. Credit: Wings

The Technomancer is the 9th Edition name for the “classic” plastic Cryptek model, and they look after vital maintenance of skeletons, tanks and Canoptek constructs. All Technomancers have the Rites of Reanimation ability, which lets them revive one DYNASTY CORE model from a unit wiithin 6″ of them in your Command Phase (or d3 models if they’re Warriors). This helps keep your main blocks in the fight and is pretty valuable by itself, especially as you can do it twice in a pinch with The Deathless Arise (though not to the same unit). If you have a Ghost Ark around as well this can make chewing through your Warrior blocks gradually near impossible, and don’t forget that in a turn where you pop a Resurrection Orb you can order your effects so this happens afterwards, maximising the number of dice you can roll.

In addition to these baseline effects, Technomancers also have two wargear options on their datasheet, which they can take one of. For 5pts you can buy a Canoptek Cloak, giving them a 10″ FLY speed and the ability to repair a DYNASTY model for up to d3 wounds at the end of your Movement Phase. Bluntly, you should always buy this upgrade if you’re not planning on taking the other option, as having a model that can move fast to hustle onto an objective in a pinch is extremely good, and once in a blue moon it’ll let you repair one of your other characters while watching the hope die in your opponent’s eyes. Being able to run away at speed is also helpful sometimes, as these are tissue thin defensively (T4, 4W, 4+) and pants in melee.

The other choice, the Canoptek Control Node is much more of a sometimes treat. For 15pts, this gives you an aura of +1 to hit for DYNASTY CANOPTEK units. This is obviously an extremely powerful effect, but you need to be packing enough Canoptek stuff to make it worthwhile. It’s usually seen in either the Eternal Expansionists lists (where it’s usually combined with the Fail-Safe Overcharger and Thrall of the Silent King to go all-in on being a buff machine) or in lists that are running Canoptek Doomstalkers, where a Technomancer sitting with a trio of them represents a formidible shooting threat. Because they have a staff of light they’re also a place where you can drop the Voltaic Staff, and because it’s so powerful and gives you damage dealing from a safe distance, that’s worth doing if you have no other wielders.

Thanks to these options you can either run Technomancers as support for your infantry blocks or as buff engines for Canoptek threats, and they’re priced aggressively enough that they’re pretty good at the first role and edge towards mandatory in the Canoptek heavy lists. Ideally, get both for your collection.

Illuminor Szeras

Illuminor Szeras

Illuminor Szeras. Credit: Rockfish

Illuminor Szeras is a hilariously over the top special Technomancer of the “infantry support” flavour. He’s a Dynastic Agent, so can go in any list and can affect NECRON CORE with his abilities, the first of which is being able to use Rites of Reanimation twice per turn. Just rebuilding your models isn’t good enough for Szeras though – he wants them to be some flavour of faster, stronger or better. Each Command Phase, you can pick a CORE unit within 6″ and give them either +1S, +1BS or +1T (the real winner most of the time) for the rest of the game (each unit can only be buffed once). You can also do this immediately if Szeras ever kills anything in melee, and unlike other Technomancers he actually might, because he sort of has a combat profile. While still only sporting BS/WS3+, he carries the powerful Eldritch Lance, which lets him shoot d3 S8 AP-4 Dd6 shots (pretty good), and hit with 4A at AP-4 D2 in melee (backed up by a few lashing attacks from his claws). add in T6, 7W and Enduring Will being his fixed trait if you upgrade him with Rarefied Nobility and you have a model that isn’t an outstanding combatant, but is perfectly capable of picking up a few Marines or a Character without an invuln, which is decent for a character who adds value in multiple other ways. Not having to immediately scuttle away if an enemy combatant so much as looks at you is nice as well. As a final bonus, if enemy Psykers try to cast powers within 12″ of him they Perils on any roll of a double. – not going to come up very often, but you clearly aren’t paying points for it so whatever.

While Necrons don’t have that many CORE units, they all range from decent to great, and boosting their capabilities is obviously good. It’s best on Warriors, who benefit significantly from all three results, but can be dropped on the other three CORE choices in a pinch (just cross your fingers you don’t roll up BS for Lynhguard). Given he has multiple repairs as well, in a list going wide with multiple Immortal, Warrior or Tomb Blade units there’s clearly a lot to like here, so is he worth it.

Ehhhh it’s close. The big problem with Szeras is his price tag – while he brings a lot to the table, he runs you 160pts, and the elephant in the room is that for that price you get a Chronomancer and a cloak Technomancer, and that’s often just going to be better. While you don’t get the same combat oomph and lose the buff effect, keeping large Warrior blobs Chronometroned is pretty much mandatory in a world where Plasmaceptors and lightning claw VanVets exist, and a Technomancer can still pull double repairs for you via the stratagem if needed. Having two separate characters with decent FLY speeds is also an advantage for late game objective play, whereas Szeras’s gigantic base makes him extremely unwieldy to use on the table. My experience has been (and I desperately hope I get proven wrong given how hateful this model is to paint) that you’d just rather have the Cryptek buddies right now. Szeras is still far from a bad model, and I’ve still got more builds to try him out in, but he’s definitely one of those units where if it feels like he’s consistently not pulling his weight, you need to be ready to pull the plug.

Chronomancer

The Chronomancer can make a plausible claim to be the best unit in the HQ section, and for a buff character that’s quite something. For 80pts, you do start out with slightly more relevant stats than the other options – you get an 8″ FLY speed and Entropic Lance, which lets you shoot a single shot out to 18″ that’s S8 AP-3 Dd3+3(!), and hits for D3 in melee as well with the Cryptek’s single attack. In a fight, the model’s Chronotendrils also come into play adding three additional basic melee attacks that mean you might occasionally win a fight against a guardsman or take an Ork or two with you. Lastly, stat wise, they also get a 4++ from their Timesplinter Mantle, leaving them merely “fragile” rather than “dead to a stiff breeze” like the rest.

The big thing you’re here for, however, is the Chronometron. This lets you pick a DYNASTY unit within 9″ (importantly not CORE-only) and give them a 5++ and re-roll charges. This is, obviously, great, and goes well with a number of what have emerged as the key Necron units. Adding a 5++ to Necron Warriors makes them exceptionally hard to chew through with most weaponry, and gives you a vital shot at having a 20-model unit survive to reanimate against the kind of offense that can pick up entire blocks (mostly various flavours of Space Marine bullshit). If you’re intending to teleport a unit with the Veil of Darkness this also helps them get into a fight after. It’s also very good with Skorpekh Destroyers, who are generally going to have your opponent’s best firepower pouring into them, and thus need every bit of help they can get, and even enjoy the charge boost aspect as well. Finally, if you’re planning to saturate your opponent’s objectives with ObSec Scarab bases, why not consider giving them a 5++ first!

There’s not too much complexity here, this model is just fantastic and you should buy several as soon as GW finally put the kit out (I am once again asking etc.). Lists running two or even three of these are common, sometimes following around multiple Warrior blocks, sometimes lots of Skorpekh friends and sometimes a bit of both. They also have access to the Countertemporal Nanomines, a strong incentive to get at least one in if you can find the points, and are just an all-star unit. Hell even if I was planning to try doing something silly with Monoliths these would be right in there, making those metal boxes both tougher and angrier. Oh, I guess technically they have a second weapon option but ha-haaaaa, no. Pick the entropic lance, always.

Orikan The Diviner

Orikan is a Dynastic Agent Chronomancer, and the fact that this status lets him boost NECRONS units with his Chronometron rather than DYNASTY is the source of his main relevant use, which is buffing Triarch Praetorians. That’s pretty good and gives him a fine use case – Triarch look great apart from the fact that they die instantly and messily to many flavours of plasma fire, and Orikan lets you make that problem go away. He does also come with a swankier melee statline than most Crypteks at base, and has a chance to upgrade into a powerful statline if you roll under the current battle round number in your command phase, but at his 110pts price tag there’s only one real reason he’s ever justified, and that’s for the Triarch combo. In lists that want him for that he’s worth a look, but basically nowhere else.

Psychomancer

A particularly spooky skeleton, the Psychomancer is your debuffing character, able to pick one enemy unit within 12″ in your Morale phase and roll 3d6 against their leadership. If you beat them (which is going to start at around a coin flip for Ld10 stuff and go up quickly in probability from there) you can pick one of four effects to last until your next command phase:

  • Disabling actions (including ongoing ones)
  • Disabling ObSec
  • Halving Advance and Charge rolls
  • Disabling Overwatch/Set to Defend

The big, unique options here are the first two, and both are clearly strong abilities. Getting to where your opponent’s Actions are happening isn’t always trivial, but the option of strat reserving one of these along with some Cryptothralls to come on and mess with things, or using a Dimensional Sanctum is at least somewhat intersting. ObSec is an easier thing to deploy, and the timing of the effect works very well for this, as by your morale phase you’ll have perfect information as to whether stripping ObSec from any nearby units matters for the opponent’s upcoming scoring, or if you can speculatively throw it at whatever is getting in your way. Slowing down a key unit is a nice fallback, but 12″ is not really a safe distance to be trying to drop move debuffs from, and these are just as fragile as Technomancers.

To round out this datasheet, the model also has a 6″ aura that reduces oppsing Leadership and gives them a -1 modifiers on Combat Attrition rolls. That’s occasionally going to be absolutely devastating, as failing a morale check with a modifier on can be catastrophic (though obviously, Marines don’t care).

Adding all this up, this model does do some cool things, and is priced very aggressively, but it’s not quite reliably great enough to sneak into lists. Necrons are still quite constrained on points, and you’re usually going to get more reliable mileage out of more Cryptothralls or another Chronomancer than this in pretty similar cost bands. If you do want to use one, I’d suggest either loading up an Atavindicator for some damage output or the Sanctum to give you that option of dropping the effect in a key spot in.

Plasmancer

Last, and if we’re honest in the running for least, of the HQ slots for Necrons is the Plasmancer, who is a laser wizard. That’s it, that’s their job – they float around firing lasers, both in the form of d3 S7 AP-3 D2 shots from their lance, mortals that slam into the closest enemy unit in your shooting phase and additional mortals that erupt onto enemy units that are nearby in the fight phase.

Left unchecked, a Plasmancer will rack up a decent amount of damage over the course of the game, but they’re not blasting whole units apart or anything, and like the Psychomancer that can make them tough to slot into lists over things that either help with objective play or buff your key units. They’re at their best in the Szarekhan dynasty, where the wound re-rolls help increase the amount of damage they’re punching through, but are ultimately extremely skippable.

Troops

Necron Warriors w/ Gauss Reapers. Credit: Rockfish

Necron Warriors w/ Gauss Reapers. Credit: Rockfish

Necrons have a mere two troops choices, but one is proving to be extremely good and the other has uses.

Warriors

After an entire edition of being near worthless, Necron Warriors are finally good again! Rejoice, silver tide fans.

Your Necron Warrior comes in at 13pts, and has a fairly appealing statline – WS/BS 3+ and S/T4 are both very helpful, and mean your attacks will be accurate and you’re not going down to lasguns. M5″ and a 4+ save are a bit more “meh”, but you’ve got some angles to improve that via Relentless March and Chronomancers. They also have two excellent gun options. The gauss flayer is a perfectly fine weapon – rapid fire 1, 24″, S4 AP-1 gives you a slightly better boltgun, with the point of AP meaning they can chip away most things. The real prize here, however, is the new option for 9th edition, the gauss reaper. This has a mere 12″ range, but it’s Assault 2 S5 AP-2. That’s a horrific weapon to put on line infantry, and a Warrior unit in range to fully unleash these is going to hurt pretty much whatever they’re pointed at. These have become the default competitive loadout for these outside some Sautekh shenanigans, as the gun is so good once you get into range that you’re totally happy to sacrifice the single flayer shot you’d otherwise get at 12″-24″. The fact that you can advance and still shoot them also makes that range difference less impactful, and helps these be more mobile around the board in an edition that rewards that.

So, they’re very dangerous if they get into range, is there anything else? Yeah – the fact that you can bring these in 20 model blocks and they get re-roll 1s on Reanimation Protocol rolls makes them the best users of the signature Necron trick, and are a good place to dump all your effects that boost this. Starting from full strength, the number of things that can completely evaporate a unit in a single swing is pretty low (and goes down further once you add a Chronomancer), and that means you’ll very often get to benefit from reanimation. With a Chronomancer up, these get to the point of being Plaguebearer tough, and their guns make them a lot more actively dangerous too. You need to watch out for a small sub-set of threats (lightning claw VanVets, Chapter Mastered, Plasmaceptors, a bunch of stuff Tau can do), but most of the time you have a very tough to shift unit. They’re also easier to bring back than most other models, getting d3 models back when a Technomancer looks after them, and able to get repaired by a Ghost Ark too. They’re not totally indestructible, but they’ll take a while to go down.

20-model blocks backed up by a Chronomancer (and sometimes the Hypermaterial Ablator) are the main way we’re seeing these, but 10 models in a Ghost Ark is pretty strong too, giving you something that can move up to claim objectives early at a speed many Necron units can’t match, and dropping out some decently tough ObSec models when they go down. You generally do want a Chronomancer for every 20-block you have wandering around, so if you’re a bit short of points you can pack 10 in an Ark as your second main unit at 275pts total rather than the full block and Chrono at 340.

A few specific dynasties work especially well with Warriors. Novokh turns them into more of a melee threat (especially if you bring Anrakyr along), making large units even scarier, while Sautekh lures you much more towards trying the flayer option, as the extra six inches of rapid fire range gives you a lot more flexibility over engagements. Nephrekh can use these effectively too, as they can sacrifice their first turn of shooting to get up the board, and they don’t need a Chronomancer in quite the same way as all the other options.

Ultimately, if you’re playing Necrons now there’s a good chance Warriors are part of your plan. Make sure to support big units properly, and they’ll do great work.

Immortals

Having been the staple troop for all of 8th, Immortals have dropped off a lot. They’re not terrible, but the renewed attraction of warriors and reduced need for lots of troops have left these a lot less of a must-have.

These come in at 17pts base for an improved statline over the Warriors, gaining a point of toughness, an attack and going to a 3+. Their default gun is the gauss blaster, which is RF1, 30″ range S5 AP-2. That can be replaced with a tesla carbine for +2pts, which is assault 2, 24″ S5 AP0 and gets two extra hits on each unmodified 6.

These add up to being fine but not spectacular. The Tesla upgrade is currently not worth it – this was the preferred pick in 8th, but between the boost to range on the blaster, the exploding effect only triggering on unmodified 6s, and good AP being more important, stick to the blaster. You won’t hate it if you take a squad of ten with a blaster, but they’re maybe not quite good enough at anything for 170pts, though there are a few notable detractors out there who are advocating spamming these. It’s certainly true that packing a lot of these might tip them over into looking better, as they’re pretty resilient to the anti-infantry solutions a lot of armies use.

Where these more commonly see use is as a third, cheap troop choice to fill out a battalion (in order to unlock HQ slots). 85pts for five of these is fine, and you can chuck them into strategic reserves to pop out and and threaten an objective in the mid game, as they’re tough enough to overcome objective-sitting chaff. Where they struggle, bluntly, is that they’re going to lose head-to-head fights against Space Marines, and they don’t cost that many points fewer than them, so you have to be careful where you use them – if you have this kind of unit, maybe keep them holding a home objective instead in Marine matchups.

Elites

Canoptek Reanimator

Canoptek Reanimator. Credit: Wings

If we’d written this a week earlier this entry could say “trash, don’t take”, but thanks to a 30pt cut in Chapter Approved this is worth a look. The Reanimator is a fairly brittle Canoptek Construct (T5, 6W, 3+) with some fairly light weaponry. Despite it’s fearsome look, what you’re picking it for is the powerful defensive buff it provides, letting you pick a visible DYNASTY unit within 6″ in your command phase to target with the Nanoscarab Reanimation Beam. As long as that unit remains within 6″ of and visible to the Reanimator, they get +1 to reanimation protocol rolls. You can activate this or change the target during your opponent’s shooting phase via the Reanimation Prioritisation stratagem.

+1 to reanimation is a big deal – it starts letting multi-wound models get some real benefits from the effect, while Warriors (with their re-roll 1s) become even more of a nightmare to drop, shrugging off a mighty 58% of deaths. It also combos very effectively with a Resurrection Orb, significantly increasing the impact of this once-per-game effect.

The challenge is that realising these benefits can be hard. If your opponent doesn’t want to chew through your super-reanimating warriors, then if they have ranged firepower they can just shoot this first, and it’s not hard to do. With only 6″ range on the beam and needing the target to be visible, it’s not always going to be possible to hid this, and if your opponent can see it and has really any guns, they can probably just kill it.

Realistically, what you can rely on with this is that you’ll be able to set it up somewhere that it’s hidden and you can activate the beam via the stratagem if you go second, and maybe keep it lined up to beam around the corner after your first move. Depending on where the terrain is on the table, it might also be possible to trail a few models back through a Breachable wall to keep them in sight of this. Beyond that, you might get prolonged benefits against a melee-heavy list, but it may also just die, soaking up a small amount of firepower on the way.

At it’s old 110pts price tag, that definitely didn’t total up to something that was worth it. At the new 80pts, maybe. I’m planning to try these out in my lists (following the plan above to make sure I get at least two turns of benefit) and see how they perform, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned out to be OK. You are still spending a Chronomancer’s worth of points on a vulnerable, sometimes hard to use model, but it’s powerful and unique enough that if you have full Warrior blobs, you can give it a go.

Hexmark Destroyer

This one’s a lot easier, sadly – Hexmark Destroyers cost way too much points for what they do, and you can skip them. They’ve got six pistols, can intercept out of deep strike and they’re at least moderately tough, making them OK at harassing chaff, but unfortunately their damage output is heavily tied to their Multi-Threat Eliminator ability, which lets them take an extra shot after killing a model with their first six shots. At only AP-1 and D1, you have a decent chance of failing to kill a single Space Marine (one dead is your average), making this totally useless at killing power armour. The fancy deep strike shenanigans might still make this interesting despite that, but paradoxically the fact that this is a CHARACTER is a major downside, because it can’t perform key actions like Deploy Scramblers. If it could, I’d probably take one in my action slot – as it is, I’ll spend similar amounts on Immortals or a squad of Flayed Ones.

If you absolutely must take one, consider taking the Gauntlet of the Conflagrator to spice up their capabilities with an extra pistol, because at that point they edge towards being good enough against big hordes (though sadly GW were smart enough to not give you extra shots from kills scored with non-default pistols).

Lychguard

Lychguard. Credit: Wings

Extra thicc bodyguard skeletons, weighing in at 28pts for a S/T5 2W 3+ CORE model packing either a warscythe or a hyperphase sword (+1S AP-3) and dispersion shield (+1 to armour saves and a 4++). While the warscythe is a dangerous weapon, you have to equip the whole unit the same and that makes this a no-contest win for the sword/shield build. With a 2+/4++ (which you can further boost with a Hypermaterial Ablator) these are quite tricky to shift, and they have enough S6 high-AP melee attacks that they’ll still deal a reasonable amount of damage, especially as you have three different ways to boost their attack stat (Blood Rites, Eternal Protectors and Anrakyr). Having one big rock-hard block is pretty good in 9th, and these are performing very strongly, especially in Novokh lists, usually turning up in full squads of 10. March them towards some of your opponents better stuff and get stuck in.

Deathmarks

A sniper variant of the Immortal chassis, packing the same T5 but trading the second attack for BS2+ (and staying CORE). That helps them use their Heavy synaptic disintegrators while moving or teleporting onto the board to attack enemy deep strikers with Aetheric Interception. The guns are one shot each, S5 AP-2 D1 and have the standard sniper rules of ignoring Look Out Sir and getting mortals on a 6 to wound.

You kind of need a full squad of 10 of these in order to really threaten to one-shot an enemy character or do serious damage, but the combination of being able to set up for that, being reasonably tough and having their fancy stratagem means that these actually are seeing some experimental play in successful lists. If you bring 10, you have a genuine chance of dropping them in with Interception and popping the kind of units that come in for Deploy Scramblers straight up. The maths is still against you going after 5 model units, but it’s one of those things where you have a 20-40% chance of pulling it off and pulling a massive blowout, and you have an OK unit left afterwards. You can also just put them in cover and they’ll be hard to kill, and they can still snipe at incoming enemies with Interception if they’re within their firing lanes.

These aren’t mandatory by any means, but they’re maybe a bit better than they look on paper, so if you already have some, maybe give them a go.

Flayed Ones

Bloodthisty killer skeletons from a hell dimension. Other than being incredibly metal, these are a cheap, melee-focused unit that has a number of uses. They cost the same 13pts as Necron Warriors, and have the same statline save that they trade their guns for three base attacks, AP-1 claws and an extra hit on unmodified 6s to hit when not attacking a VEHICLE. They also have a 3″ aura that inflicts -2 Ld, and have Dimensional Translocation.

While these sadly aren’t CORE they’re priced pretty aggressively and can do a reasonable amount of damage without needing too many buffs. Full units of 20 models using the Storm of Flensing Blades stratagem can cut through a lot of stuff, and they’re obviously especially good as Novokh, and just as soon as the plastics are available expect to see them tried out. They’re not a complicated unit, but they can come in, save a CP re-roll for their charge and hopefully start eating stuff, and can use Shadows of Drazkh in combination with the natural resilience provided by Reanimation Protocols to soak up a lot of fire if the opponent actually wants them gone.

That’s not the only use for them, too. As a 65pts minimum squad they’re a great add for Action shenanigans, and have the considerable upside in that role that they’ll win fights against other weak stuff, especially with the Strats in the back pocket. We can only assume that GW hadn’t thought of the “too angry to action” thing they’ve slapped on Death Company and Wulfen when they were making these, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. A five model squad of these is thus going to be a must have for list experimenters, as it’s pretty much the cheapest way to get natural deep striking INFANTRY on the table, and full units are going to be worht a try – but I’m not sure enough about that to recommend buying Finecast.

Cryptothralls

Cryptothralls. Credit: Wings

In a strange twist, the trashcan velociraptors that could are one of the most vital units in the codex because they are the absolute best cheap thing to chuck onto objectives or into Strategic Reserves. At 40pts for a unit of two, you get two models with T5 2W 3+, and in cover (where these are likely to lurk) that’s a profile that needs a real gun pointed at to remove reliably. They have OK combat stats at baseline, with three attacks each and an OK two-shot pistol, but if a CRYPTEK is within 6″ they go hog wild, improving their BS/WS to 3+ and gaining an eye-watering 6A each. That’s genuinely enough that they can charge into enemy units and expect to reap a decent toll, and all it takes is a little bit of a high roll to start threatening an unwary CHARACTER. They can also bodyguard Crypteks, stopping them being shot if they’re within 3″. Finally, they have both the INFANTRY and CANOPTEK keywords, letting them perform most actions including the Ancient Machineries secondary, and also letting them heroic via Enslaved Protectors if they’re engaged in a high-stakes objective tussle.

These are, to put it mildly, great. One of the challenges with Necrons is squeezing in enough units to cover the parts of the board you need, and spending 80pts for a couple of squads of these to sit on home objectives helps massively with that, and I think part of the reason Immortals are on such a low ebb is that spending points on two units of these is often a better bet than 85pts for a minimum squad of those. You can also just take both, and at PL2 you can put two units of these and an Immortal squad into Strategic Reserves all for 1CP, giving you lots of options through the game.

I’m currently assuming that I’m running two units of these in every list I play with an option on three, and if you missed out on Indomitus, find a Space Marine playing friend and beg for theirs. When using them, do keep the fact that they get a lot better when a Cryptek is nearby in mind, and look for an opportunity to fly a Chronomancer or cloak Technomancer into position to buff them up. Underestimating what these can do with the buff up is something most opponents are only going to do once, but hey, if it looks like a given game is your chance to teach an opponent that lesson, get stuck in.

Skorpekh Destroyers

Skorpekh Destroyer w. reap-blade

Skorpekh Destroyer w. reap-blade. Credit: Chris Cowie

Berserk over the top killing machines that are one of the key damage dealing units in the new book. At 35pts each you get either 4 S5 AP-3 D2 attacks on the basic model or 3 S7 AP-4 D3 attacks on the third and six, natural hit re-rolls of 1 and a reasonably defensive profile at T5 3W 3+. With the ability to stick Whirling Defences up or add a Chronomancer, these can be pretty difficult to put down, and just at their baseline stats they’ll happily slice through most of a five model Marine unit. Where these get really good is when you bulk them up to either five or six models (choosing between avoiding vulnerability to Blast or getting the second big weapon) and add a Canoptek Plasmacyte to buff their strength and attacks, at which point they start being able to blender most stuff they charge into, and take a big chunk out of anything else. If you really need stuff dead, the Novokh Blood Rites strat or one of the flavours of Destroyer Lord will amp things up even further.

If you get these into combat they’re phenomenal, but obviously they’re going to be right near the top of your opponent’s target priority list. That isn’t the absolute end of the world – these are INFANTRY, so can burst through Breachable walls when closing in, and they’re tough enough that they’ll soak up a decent amount of fire on the way down. Obviously you do want to slam these into at least one thing, but living rent free in an opponent’s head is a value in and of itself, and there’s basically no question that packing a unit of these is a great plan.

The big remaining debate is between five and six models. I’m currently in the six model camp – especially with damage reduction effects proliferating, getting the second model with the three damage weapon is really worth it, and it helps take out Gravis and Bladeguard as well. Five model units are still totally fine, of course, and you can’t really go too wrong with these – take them and learn to love them.

Canoptek Plasmacyte

A 15pt floaty helper for Destroyers that can inject them with The Good Stuff to buff them up, giving them +1S and +1A at a risk of losing a single model if you roll a 1 on a d6. You can do this either at the start of the charge and fight phases, and with both Skorpekh and Ophydian Destroyers it pushes their damage output up spectacularly, making it worth doing even with the small risk of losing a model. While those are the units this is meant for you can inject Lords if you’re feeling very, very daring, but obviously only do this in the absolute direst of situations. The other thing this can do that helps these units is soak up overwatch – because Fire Overwatch is now strat based most armies can only fire it once per turn, so you can declare a charge with this before a Destroyer squad, and your opponent either has to hope it fails, or waste their overwatch shooting it down first.

Beyond that this has extremely limited capabilities.  You can only take one per Destroyer Cult unit you have, it doesn’t take a detachment slot, it cannot perform actions, and in morale phase it’s destroyed if it isn’t within 6″ of a friendly DYNASTY DESTROYER CULT unit. It also cannot be shot at unless it’s the closest target while within 3″ of a Destroyer Cult unit, so it does very appropriately play like an add-on parasite. With the Morale phase loss, keep it in mind if your opponent has picked the Grind them Down secondary, as it counts as an extra unit for determining kill more, but also remember that even if your Skorpekh/Ophydians have gone down, a nearby Lokhust or Skorpekh Lord will keep this in the game.

The boost these provide is so huge that it’s absolutely worth taking one, especially if you’re using a single large Destroyer unit as a hammer. If you have lots of them these become less required, but they’re still fine, and not too expensive to sneak in.

Triarch Stalker

A big spider robot with a Triarch Praetorian on the back (which does mean it’s a Dynastic Agent rather than DYNASTY). It starts at 135pts and you get to pick one of three guns – a particle shredder for free for 8 S6 AP-1 D2 shots, a heat ray for 5pts that acts as either a multi-melta or a twin heavy flamer and a twin heavy gauss cannon at 15pts, which gives you 6 S7 AP-3 Dd3 shots at a 30″ range, slightly more than the rest get. It can also make three S7 AP-2 D3 attacks in melee, and has a healthy defensive profile for the price, sporting T6, 12W a 3+ and Quantum Shielding. Finally, whenever it hits a target with a ranged attacks, other Necron units get re-roll 1s to hit when shooting it for the rest of the phase.

These are good – the Heat Ray build is basically just fine at its price tag, and there are a couple of good rolls it can play. If you’re going in on Doomstalkers or Arks of any flavour you want one of these around to tee up re-roll 1s for them, and the fact it can set that up from your front ranks while they hang back is a big upside. The other role I’ve found one of these performing in is the opposite – in a Novokh list, I’m running one with the heavy gauss build as a back-line unit. 9th rewards having one tough model that can sit at home holding an objective and adding value, and by being able to set up re-roll 1s for by big flayer units up front, this does a good job at that, and its fairly massive size helps screen out space.

In either of these roles these are basically just a firm B+ unit, and having one (preferably magnetised to swap guns) is a helpful part of a collection.

Canoptek Spyders

Having been a joke for all of 8th, Spyders hit the gym between editions and are pretty mean now. They run you 60pts each at baseline for a nasty melee combatant with a decent reservoir of wounds, and you can stick a couple of particle beamers on for 10pts total (and you probably should because that isn’t many points for how many shots it adds). They come in units of up to three, and you can add a Gloom Prism to a model for 5pts, which lets the unit Deny the Witch as long as they have one.

These are currently a fixture in many lists that are on the Eternal Expansionists plan, usually following a Canoptek Control Node/Fail-Safe Overcharger Technomancer around to act as a muscular second wave/hammer blow. With the control node in place the shooting from three of these actually does real damage, pushing 5 wounds through against T5 power armour, and their melee is vicious, with a bunch of S8 AP-3 D2 attacks. They will go down to heavy firepower, but not trivially and given they’re pretty cheap, not too tragically either. They even get to add models back into nearby Scarab units for free in your Command Phase!

This unit is fantastic in Eternal Expansionists, and is going to perform strongly in Novokh or (thanks to the huge number of shots they lay down) Mephrit. Most people seem to favour one unit of three of them, and because they’re relatively slot that’s probably the right call rather than going deeper, but that first unit is very strong and worth having.

C’tan

You are only permitted one C’tan per detachment, but do remember if you want multiple that the Auxiliary Support Detachment exists, and these don’t lose anything by being in one, so if you’re happy just spending CP to add more to your list you can.

All C’tan share most of their defensive profile. While they’re CHARACTERS they don’t get Look Out Sir (because, you know, Incarnate Star God), but they all have the Necrodermis rule to mitigate that, meaning they can lose a maximum of 3W per phase (starting with 9W total). Given they still heal with Living Metal in your command phase, this makes taking them down with shooting alone extremely hard, and your general goal is to chuck them amongst the enemy with their full health remaining, letting them act as a wrecking ball for a couple turns before your opponent gets enough phases to put them down – just watch out for enemy Psykers. They have T7 and a 4++ on top of this, but given your opponent is going to pull out all the stops to kill them when they arrive, Necrodermis is their main relevant protection, especially as other than the Void Dragon they don’t have a base save better than 4+ to stop bolters chipping them down. They also all blow up on a 4+, giving you a good shot at throwing out some mortals on the way down if they’re amongst the enemy. They also all share WS/BS2+ and M8″ with FLY, and can all manifest Powers of the C’tan at the end of a movement phase where they don’t Advance or Fall Back. The named ones can manifest two, the Transcendant one.

Beyond that, they vary in the special capabilities they pack over and above their unique C’tan power.

C’tan Shard of the Deceiver

The first of our C’tan shards is a trickster, with three effects to show this off. The simple ones are that they can deep strike with Dimensional Translocation, and all incoming attacks against them are at -1. Deep striking models with Necrodermis-style effects is pretty good, and dropping this in close to the action can be OK. The -1 doesn’t matter most of the time, but will occasionally save you losing the full 3W in a phase, which can be big.

The big one though is Grand Illusion. At the start of the first battle round, this lets you redeploy up to three units or move them into Strategic Reserves for free. This is obviously hugely powerful – many Necron units trend towards being a bit slower, and using this to ensure your units are at least starting in the right place can be great. It also lets you pull stuff into Strategic Reserves once you know who’s going first, and to potentially pull super expensive units without paying the CP.

The tradeoff for that is that the Deceiver has a pretty anemic offensive profile compared to the rest, and that’s currently killing them. They get 5 S6 AP-3 D3 attacks which is fine but isn’t the kind of wrecking ball profile you need to take advantage of Necrodermis. Where I’d expect to try the Deceiver, maybe, is in gimick mortal wound spam lists, helping to make sure you can line things up early on and adding some themselves, or to set up some sort of very silly Monolith-based combo, but right now despite how outrageously good Grand Illusion is, you can’t quite justify spending 350pts here.

C’tan Shard of the Nightbringer

Nightbringer. Credit: Wings

The Nightbringer is the opposite of anemic, being one of the nastiest melee killers in the game. They sport either 6 S14 AP-4 Dd6 attacks that ignore invulnerable saves (!) or 12 S7 AP-3 scythe blows for going through hordes. For both of these profiles, opponents cannot use any abilities that ignore wounds to protect against damage from them, meaning that basically the only things that slow this monstrosity down are effects that reduce the damage characteristic of incoming attacks, which do still work, or units that get to an effective 1+ base save like Terminators and Custodes with Storm Shields.

Combined with the unique power being strong, this makes the Nightbringer a much more feasible wrecking ball to chuck at the opponents lines, and they’ve been seen in successful lists alongside other melee threats like multiple Skorpekh squads, saturating the opponent with stuff that will cut them down. Unfortunately, GW have noticed that this model is quite a bit nastier than the other two C’tan and hiked their cost slightly rather than cutting the others (boo) but the uniquely terrifying profile you get here still makes this a cool model to throw onto the board (and still isn’t going to get you to take the Deceiver instead).

C’tan Shard of the Void Dragon

A more plausible beneficiary of the Nightbringer’s point cut, especially in concert with Vehicles being more attractive, because the Void Dragon’s speciality is fucking with them. This shard can attack with their spear either at range (where it travels in a line to your target and hits every unit it crosses over) or in melee, and in both cases it hits at S9 AP-4 Dd6, which while not as supremely exciting as the Nightbringer is much more respectable than what the Deceiver is packing, and spooky to go up against because of Entropic Strike existing. Against vehicles is where things go off the chart, however, with the damage changing to d3+3 instead of d6, which is going to trash stuff quick, especially with Voltaic Storm blasting away too. Killing a vehicle also lets this model regain wounds, which can be a big old problem for things like Mortifiers and War Walkers, where it can just keep swinging through them and healing as fast as they can hit the wound break points. Finally, the Void Dragon gets some boosts against hordes trying to bring it down, getting d6 extra attacks at S6 AP-2 from a slicing tail, and having a base 3+ save that makes them that much tougher to plink down with small arms.

The Void Dragon has been growing on me since the launch of the book because of being active in the shooting phase as well as combat – in a messy brawl you can rack up some very appreciable damage from the thrown spear in addition to powers, which offsets them being less outright terrifying in melee than the Nightbringer. Flexibility is good, the base 3+ save is a nice upside, and if Vehicles do come back big, at 350pts I can see the Void Dragon ending up competing with the Nightbringer for list slots now.

Transcendant C’tan

If you want a cheaper option, you can spend 270pts on a “generic” C’tan. You keep the defensive profile, but only get five S6 AP-4 Dd6 attacks, one power per turn and lose out on most of the special snackies. To make up for that, however, you get either one or two special effects off the Fractured Personality list. You can either select one effect on your army list or roll randomly for two, re-rolling if you get a duplicate.

On paper taking the random effects sounds cool, but in practice it isn’t great. One effect on this list, Cosmic Tyrant which lets you use two powers per turn like the big boy C’tan, is far and away better than the rest, and there’s too much of a risk of getting multiple duds to go for the random choice. That leaves these, largely, as something to take if you want to spam lots of C’tan powers, as picking Cosmic Tyrant makes these the cheapest way to achieve that, and lists built around that basic plan are emerging, if not yet blowing up in the big leagues. In general right now, however, for a single C’tan you want to just go for the Void Dragon or Nightbringer.

Fast Attack

Canoptek Scarab Swarms

Scarabs are extremely efficient, relatively fast bundles of wounds, costing only 15pts per base for a 4W profile. The rest of their defences are paper thin (though Swarms are easier to put in cover in 9th which helps), but being able to chuck down 36 wounds that can move around the table at 10″ FLY speect for only 135pts is good, and becomes great if you make them ObSec with Eternal Conquerors. They’re also not totally unthreatening in melee, because while they’re only S3 they get 4A per base and automatically wound on 6s to hit, meaning they will chip some wounds off targets, which they can supplement by Self-Destruction. Novokh also amps their output considerably, and they’re worth a look in that context.

If you’re running Eternal Expansionists you definitely want lots of these, three units of five bases or more being common, and you can certainly consider them in Novokh as a mobile harrassment unit. Their old use as backline objective holders has largely dropped off now Cryptothralls exist and are way better at it, but these are still OK for that. Combined, this gives you plenty of ways to use these and they’re a good thing to have plenty of.

Ophydian Destroyers

Ophydian Destroyers. Credit: Rockfish

Ophydian Destroyers. Credit: Rockfish

An alternative flavour of melee Destroyer, Ophydians trade durability for increased mobility and a higher volume of attacks. They’re wielding the same weapons as Skorpekh, though start at one point lower S, meaning that out of the gate they’re notably less good at going through T4 and T8 stuff in particular. However, they have the upside of getting two additional claw attacks each, and their models wielding the big blades having two, which gives them extra hits on 6s. Because they can still benefit from a Plasmacyte, the end result is that when these hit right, they can sometimes end up hitting a bit harder, especially if you roll well on the reap blades They also have M10″ rather than M8″, naturally deep strike, and can do a delayed redeploy with Burrowing Nightmares if the situation calls for it.

So, faster and potentially nastier (certainly better at anti-horde) for the same price, so what’s the drawback. Durability – these are absurd glass cannons that makes using them a very high-risk high-reward activity. While they have 3W apiece, they’re only T4 and 4+ with no invuln, meaning that they’ll go down to hails of bolter fire and get blown to bits by anything sturdier. They do get built in -1 to hit against them in melee, but that’s nowhere near enough. One of the advantages of Skorpekh is that if your opponent does get to shoot them, they at least have to pile in the firepower to mow them down, whereas these just evaporate. Given a full unit costs 210pts, it’s currently difficult to justify these over Skorpekh for full units, just because while they’ll sometimes be a bit better, they risk being a lot worse in other situations.

Where these can have a use is if you have a few extra points left to spend on a deep strike Scramblers unit. These are still INFANTRY, and a 105pt minimum squad can pop up behind terrain, Scramble, then do some damage to something on your next turn if not dealt with – you can do worse. That still leaves these a reasonable way down the priority list of units to pick up, but having access to one squad is no bad thing.

Tomb Blades

Tomb Blades w/ Gauss Blasters. Credit: Rockfish

Tomb Blades w/ Gauss Blasters. Credit: Rockfish

Skeleton jetbikes, yeah! These are a potent, mobile shooting unit, packing either a particle beamer at 25pts or two gauss blasters or tesla carbines at 30. With the beamer going to 6 shots in this book (albeit at close range) there’s use cases for all three options, and these are especially strong in Mephrit where, where they can rack up a bunch of damage, and are going to be OK anywhere thanks to being CORE and thus eligble for MWBD. Their defensive profile starts out moderate, with T5 2W 4+ and -1 to hit against shooting, and you can supplement that by buying shieldvanes for +1 armour save (3pts, usually worth it) or a shadowloom for a 5++ (5pts, generally you only want one). You can also buy a Nebuloscope for 3pts to ignore cover, but here you’re probably better off just saving Solar Pulse for whatever you want to blast.

The range of options here means that you have a lot of scope to slide the cost and impact up and down. In Mephrit, there’s definitely space for big units packing lots of Tesla, and these have been seen out in the wild in Eternal Expansionist lists packing the particle beamers, acting as another cheap source of ObSec wounds. I think there’s probably a use case all the way down to a vanilla squad of five with particle beamers, as 125pts isn’t much to spend on a mobile unit that still has enough shots to rack up a bit of damage. I should even paint mine at some point!

Triarch Praetorians

The Silent King’s personal envoys (and another Dynastic Agent), these got pretty good in 9th. They’re 25pts apiece for T5 2W 3+, and are handily mobile, hovering along at a 10″ FLY speed. The big reason they’re in consideration now is that their staff weapon option packs D2, and given they swing 3 times each at S5 AP-3 (and can buff their hit rolls with Will of the Triarch) that’s pretty hefty for the cost, and they even get one shot each out to 12″ at the same profile too. When used with the Silent King they can also benefit from his auras and MWBD uses, letting them perform strongly there. The staff is the right weapon pretty much 100% of the time, with the other loadout being flat not worth it.

These are strong, and in contention for use in units of 10 even without the Silent King around, but have one key weakness which is Blast plasma weapons. With no invulns and 2W, plasma goes through these like a hot knife in a way that is pretty problematic for a 250pt unit, and up till recently Plasmaceptors have been keeping these out of many lists (though not all, indicating how strong they potentially are). With their main predator catching a nerf, these could show up more widely, and I think there’s also probably a case for running a five model unit that you chuck in strat reserves – 125pts isn’t too pricy, they’re still a threatening unit at that size and they’re fast and good at independent operations. Currently Lychguard are the priority unit out of the box these come in, but these are still worth having, and their stock might be on the rise.

Canoptek Wraiths

Canoptek Wraiths are fantastic, and are one of the pillars that’s making the Eternal Expansionist lists so good. They’re 35pts each and have a great statline – 12″ move that can go straight through terrain and enemy models, 4 S6 AP-2 D2 attacks each, and healthy defences at T5 3W 3+/4++. Finally, they can Fall Back and charge, letting them leap from target to target in a very menacing way.

Technically there’s a bunch of upgrades you can buy these but I would suggest not bothering – on their base build and rate they’re super strong, being good as a roving assassin/menace unit in most lists and great in Eternal Expansionist lists or those packing a souped up buff Technomancer. Your basic play for these is to spend turn one either taking out enemy infiltrators or moving to some mid-board Obscuring terrrain, then striking out at wherever your opponent is weak from there to do some damage. Not much more to say – strong unit, get at least five models, and for some builds get a lot more.

Heavy Support

Annihilation Barge

A deeply “meh” light skimmer packing an extra large tesla cannon. The change to Bring it Down means that Mephit lists could maybe sort of consider one of these, but at their price point (120pts) there are so many better things you can do right now that it’s tough to justify even there. The other place this sort of has game is in Eternal Conquerors builds, just because it’s the cheapest thing you can park on an objective with a hull and Quantum.

Even if the metagame switched to being super horde focused, I’d still ask myself why I’d want this rather than, say, two Spyders with guns to follow a Cryptek round. Tesla guns in general seem to have hit a bit of an overcorrection in 9th, and for now that keeps this out of contention – build the kit as the extremely good Catacomb Command Barge instead.

Doomsday Ark

The terror of 8th Edition has been priced up to the point where it’s basically just OK. This is a tank with a massive main gun that you can only fire on full power if you Remain Stationary, backed up by a surprising number of anti-infantry shots from the gauss flayer arrays packed onto the sides. It sports good defences at T6 14W 3+ with Quantum Shielding, and won’t actively disappoint you in army lists, it just isn’t quite aligned with the kind of thing you want to spend 190pts on in 9th.

Certainly I wouldn’t want to pack three, as used to be the fashion, but I can still see one of them putting in decent work in the “big home objective holder” role. While my current taste is to take the Triarch Stalker in that slot to save on points and get the relay, the big gun on this is quite psychologically imposing and will occasionally do something dramatic on a high roll, while having some anti-horde firepower to sweep up anyone who comes to try and take your objective is good. If you do pack one in your lists, don’t get too hung up on trying to stay still all the time against armies without especially juicy main gun targets, as the flayers are a decent part of the value in that matchup.

Fundamentally, you can put one of these in a list to hold the backfield and expect it to be fine, but if you want to spam big shots you’re probably better going with the cheaper but squisher Doomstalker.

Lokhust Destroyers

Destroyers

Destroyers. Credit: Wings

The classic destroyers have not, sadly, aged gracefully. They’ve got the standard 3W and T5/3+, and pack a gauss cannon for 3 shots each at S6 Ap-3 Dd3. Using Extermination Protocols they can do some real damage with these if you bring 4-5, but they’ve only got 24″ range and are desperately fragile at their 55pts price tag. They need Extermination Protocols to go after big targets (which hurts at 2CP), you need a decent number of models to get the most out of that, and packing the number of models needed puts a lot of eggs into one basket.

You have the option to add a single Lokhust Heavy Destroyer to the squad, and I’d recommend doing so if you’re serious about these because of how they impact wound and reanimation maths. Specifically, the absolute bane of these is being hit by D3 weaponry, but with a 4W profile the Heavy eats two unsaved wounds of this calibre, and then if they die alongside a second model, the extra wound in the reanimation pool makes it that much more likely you’ll get one back up.

Four with a heavy is probably the optimal thing to aim for if you are going to run these, but it’s difficult to pretend that they’re a slam dunk when that unit runs you 290pts and will die pretty easily to any serious firepower. Sometimes your opponent won’t have an answer and they’ll feel fantastic, but the fail cases tend to arrive more commonly than the wins.

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers. Credit: Rockfish

Lokhust Heavy Destroyers. Credit: Rockfish

Extra thicc Destroyers with massive guns. Seriously, just look at that absolute unit.

Anyway, as well as adding one of these to regular units, you can take up to three in a squad as their own thing. Unfortunately, they have a lot of the same issues with being very fragile for their cost (70pts each), but at least have some fun guns to compensate. You get either the gauss destructor, a single S10 shot for 3d3 damage or the enmitic exterminator, a horde clearing weapon at 3d3 shots with blast for S7 AP-1.

Bluntly, Necrons do not struggle for horde clearance options, so outside of maybe having a place in Mephrit (where using Extermination Protocols would combine with AP-2 to let the enmitic go after a lot of stuff) the gauss is the big sell here. It’s cool, and although I’ll die on the hill of these being overpriced right now, the gauss option has seen play in real lists, and I might begrudgingly try some out when Death Guard land because of how otherwise dependent on D2 weapons the army is to deal big damage. When you’re using these, you must deploy them hidden somewhere and ideally want to move them on top of a ruin or something to blast away – they are INFANTRY despite not looking the slightest bit like it, and with their save at 2+ they at least need real guns to kill, and can pop off vehicles or heavier forces at a pleasing rate.

Canoptek Doomstalker

Currently the winner for Phaerons who want to stack up big guns, the Doomstalker packs a sawn-off version of the Doomsday Ark main gun, going down in range a bit but still having 48″ on the full power blast and an OK 24″ on the low while keeping all the killing power. They don’t pack the gauss arrays, having a twin flayer instead, and have somewhat sidegraded defences (12W and lose Quantum but have a natural 4++), but importantly rock in at a much cheaper 140pts each. Even if you spring for a Technomancer to get their BS up to 3+, fielding the full trio and buff guy comes in 60pts cheaper than three Arks, making them an attractive proposition. They also have a powerful defensive ability for a gunline unit, which is that they can always fire overwatch with their main gun when a friendly DYNASTY or DYNASTIC AGENT unit within 6″ is charged (which includes themselves) and do so with their high power profile. For individual characters or tanks coming on a bully charge run, that makes going after a nest of these pretty dicey, as you’re going to probably take some hits and really regret them.

A few dynasties work especially well with these. They’re quite good when Relentlessly Expansionist, as it allows them to take up a firing position pre-game, enjoy the Szarekhan dynastic code for wound re-rolls, and benefit strongly from the Sautekh stratagem, as it lets you keep them cheap by forgoing the Technomancer for the +1 to hit. They also have strong synergy with Triarch Stalkers, as re-roll 1s to hit is good for them. They do need something helping them over and above the base rate to be great, but there are lots of things that can provide that, and this is a welcome addition to the Necron arsenal.

Dedicated Transport

Ghost Ark

Necrons have but a single entry in this section but it’s a good one – the Ghost Ark carries 10 warriors around, repairs nearby Warrior squads in your command phase and has a healthy number of anti-horde shots thanks to packing two flayer arrays. As discussed in the Necron Warrior entry, these are good enough to see competitive play ferrying them around, and help you take the initiative early on by moving onto objectives. They can also use their massive bulk to physically block stuff off or bully charge very effectively in some situations. They’re also particularly good users of Curse of the Phaeron – who doesn’t love blowing up right in the middle of the opponent’s army after they surroud this? Well, I mean, the opponent, but who cares about what they want.

Flyer

Night Scythe. Credit: Rockfish

Night Scythe. Credit: Rockfish

Doom Scythe

Shooty fliers appear to be on the design team’s naughty list for this edition after what they did last time, and at 200pts the Doom Scythe is a complete joke of a unit that you should under no circumstances put in your army. Sorry. The main gun is pretty cool, but 200pts for something that can’t contribute to objective play and is squishier than most of your other targets thanks to lacking Quantum is just not getting there.

Night Scythe

Conversely, Night Scythes have been changed up in a way that makes them at least interesting, if probably still not going to get there right now. These have always had the role of beaming Necron units into battle, which previously they did via convoluted rules that ended up super bad, but now just act as a 20-model transport that also acts as a location for Prismatic Dimensional Breach. Anything you can set up with this is still pretty high-risk, and being a Flyer means it loses some of the inherant value of transports in 9th, which is moving onto objectives to hold them early, but being able to move so many models round so fast is genuinely unique and I could imagine someone finding some hilarious way to make this do something. If you are planning to use it, a 20 model pinata is going to be a huge tempatation to the opponent, so I’d recommend starting your units you want to ferry on the table near it, then mounting up before it moves turn one.

Lord of War

Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish

Monolith with Death Rays. Credit: Rockfish

All three of the big box Lords of War sport 2+ base saves, which is pretty nice – just mentioning that up front rather than covering it for each of them.

Obelisk

A big box that hates planes. Notoriously voted the worst unit in the game by the community in 8th, this has been kept pretty cheap and given some upgrades to its capabilities, blasting away with four tesla orbs that become S8 D2 if it stays still, and being able to hit one enemy FLY unit a turn with a Gravity Pulse, slowing them and damaging them if they’re aircraft. It’s certainly considerably improved from where more seasoned players might remember it, but unfortunately climbs from “literally the worst” to “bad” – even in their boosted mode the guns have no AP, and while you’ll rack up some chip damage, even firing on it’s “good” mode this 370pt lord of war can’t chew through 10 Intercessors in a round of fire. Hard pass.

Tesseract Vault

A very, very big box containing an angry star god. Unfortunately, the first problem with this is that it’s too big – on maps using 10″ Dawn of War-style deployment zones you can’t fully fit it, so have to use the terrible rule where you skip getting to do anything on your first turn. This isn’t quite as bad for this model as some others, as the main thing this does is blast with C’tan powers, and because the deployment rule explicitly lists all the things you can’t do, C’tan powers get a pass, meaning that if your opponent obligingly wanders into range, you get to roast them. You can also hack that a bit – the deployment rule requires you to touch your battlefield edge, but there’s no requirement to be “as within your deployment zone as possible”. For most units like this you’d still want to be, but here you may as well deploy diagonally with one of your corners touching the home edge (as this measures to hull now), protruding into no-man’s land as much as possible to get range on powers. That does, of course, only affect some of the missions, and on others this is free to set up and do stuff normally.

The stuff it does is pretty cool. This thing is tough to put down, sporting T7 30W 2+/4++, and the boosted C’tan powers (especially Cosmic Fire) can rack up a pretty considerable damage count over the game. It’s a nightmare to work with on the board, with the implications of it being measure to hull creating a whole bunch of weird effects, but it’s hilarious and also lives rent-free in the mind of any player who was active in That One Bit of competitive 8th, potentially giving you a signifcant psychological advantage.

Is it competitive? Not really – it’s one of those units that someone might perform with once in a blue moon, but that is held back by a few key weaknesses and a massive price tag (500pts). The deployment thing sucks even with it getting to still do some things, and it being so massive puts you at risk of one fatal thing – like all C’tan it explodes on a 4+, only here that’s a Lord of War tier d6 mortals explosion that can comfortably encompass your entire army on a bad roll. In a world full of mean Retributors waiting to punk it straight off the board, that’s a liability too far.

Monolith

Arghhhh this is soooo close, why did it have to go in the terrible Lord of War slot? The Monolith runs you 360pts (or 380 with death rays, but I wouldn’t usually bother with the upgrade) and sports 24W and T8 to go with its 2+ save – not the greatest defensive profile against some things but very credible against armies like AdMech who rely on mid-AP fire, and at least good enough to require real attention from armies that have better tools. Its guns are pretty decent – it sports a particle whip as the main weapon, which is a powerful d6 shot Blast D3 weapon, and four gauss flux arcs, which are RF3 each S5 AP-2. That’s healthy – the gauss shots will add up and the big blasts are potent (and if you’re in a meta with a bunch of tanks, the big shots from swapping the gauss to death rays probably does look appealing). What sets it aside from the other big boxes offensively is that it’s legitimately terrifying in melee – at its top profile it has six S8 AP-3 D3 attacks that automatically hit. Literally just eating space marines for lunch, what a legend.

It also has a couple special tricks, being able to deep strike (handy if your opponent has a bunch of melta weapons lined up to open with) and can bring DYNASTY CORE units on from strategic reserves within 3″ of it if it Remains Stationary. That’s a cool implementation of the effect, because unlike how it worked last edition you no longer gamble on losing the units you stash entirely if it dies, they just come on from strat reserves as normal.

What holds the Monolith agonisingly out of reach of greatness is the Lord of War slot. Either the Novokh faction trait (for charging out of Deep Strike) or Eternal Expansionists probably push this over the line to where it would be worth real testing, but you don’t get detachment abilities in a super heavy auxiliary, and the 3CP price tag on top of that stings bad. One absolute hero has actually taken a triple monolith out to RTT success, running as Eternal Expansionists in a full super heavy so that, right from the start of the game, the mid-board is packed with angry, hungry boxes. That does feel like it’s a legit 4-1 fringe list, but elsewhere the limitations of the Super Heavy Aux probably just about keep this down. It is potent enough that you can take it for a spin and have some fun – being able to deep strike is good, and I’d probably go all-in on playing with the Prismatic Dimensional Breach trick in that situation. Why couldn’t it just stay Heavy Support. Whyyyyy.

The Silent King

Last, but extravagantly not least, the Silent King. He has one of the most extensive set of abilities in the game but the tldr is:

  • He starts with two Menhirs that have to take wounds first. Each of these has a prepostorous flat damage 6 doom beam on them as long as they’re up.
  • Szarekh himself has a degrading profile, and as well as changing stats, as he loses wounds he loses some abilities that represent the auras and weapons of the two other members of the Triarch with him.
  • Szarekh can hit decently hard both at range and in melee with a bunch of D2 attacks, while one of the Triarch is dedicated to anti-horde shooting and the other piles on a bunch of nasty flat damage three melee attacks.
  • He’s got all the buffs and auras you’d expect of a Phaeron Overlord, but all of these effect NECRON CORE and TRIARCH PRAETORIANS.
  • He has shooting hit re-roll and melee wound re-roll auras for CORE and TRIARCH PRAETORIANS, which switch off as he loses Triarch members.
  • None of the models in his unit are >=18W – so he benefits from Dense and Obscuring terrain.
  • He’s a Dynastic Agent, so doesn’t break Protocols when you take him, but actually does have the Szarekhan Keyword. As a Dynastic Agent he doesn’t gain the code, but it means his Supreme Command does unlock the Szarekhan stratagem.
  • He gives a few other tasty bonuses like forcing enemies to fight last, granting extra CP and having a deny.

The Silent King looked great on paper and has proven, in fact, to be great. He can broadly be used in one of two ways. FIrst, he’s an excellent force multiplier for lists going heavy on Necron Warriors (and optionally Triarch Praetorians), especially with Novokh, letting volleys of accurate gauss fire cut things down and melee attacks with full re-rolls scythe through the enemy. Second, he’s just a super powerful hammer unit, with attacks that can engage with most kinds of targets and being risky to deal with via melee because of his fights last effect. He can, obviously, switch to this role when he’s starting out as a force multiplier, but he’s great enough at it that he’s showing up in lists packing a bunch of other melee threats that don’t really benefit from the buffs, just acting as a centrepiece killer to overwhelm the enemy.

You do need to be a little careful against some of the melta heavy loadouts that are currently popular – at T7 he’s pretty vulnerable to that kind of attack, and when shot at within half range there’s a real risk of losing a menhir per shot. Make sure to exploit his compatibility with terrain when deploying and (ideally) moving up, then burst out into the open when you’re ready to cut people down with his prodogious array of firepower and melee.

Szarekh is great, and easily the best Lord of War the Necrons have available. You are rewarded in a bunch of ways just for taking him, and he makes an ideal centrepiece for any collection.

Fortification

Convergence of Dominion

Another swing and a miss in a long litany of attempts to make Fortifications worth it. The concept is sort of creditable here – the idea is that these have decent guns and can relay command protocols, and though they have to start in your deployment zone you can teleport them around with a Cryptek. However, the process is extremely cumbersome – you can only teleport one per turn, and they don’t reappear till your next Reinforcements step, still having to obey the standard 9″ deep strike range despite not being able to charge because they are rocks. The amount of effort and work to get these to do anything is huge, and with Command Protocols being a “nice to have” rather than a blowout, you are never getting back the 120pts you spend on these. Honestly, the saddest thing about this datasheet is that it existing makes using the models as cool Dense Obstacles harder to justify.

Forge World Corner

Seraptek Construct

Seraptek Construct. Credit: Kamichi

This is already an absolute beast of a guide, so we’re not going to cover every Forge World unit in detail. Most just need quick notes:

  • Canoptek Acanthrites: Weird and squishy and there are so many better units in this weight class.
  • Night Shroud: Cool bomb, still a 190pt Flyer.
  • Gauss Pylon: This can be sort of funny if your opponent is stupid enough to let you teleport it bodily on to a mid-board objective on turn two, but they absoultely should not ever be letting you do that, and otherwise the kind of capability it offers isn’t really needed in 9th.
  • Sentry Pylons: Not a million, million miles away from being worth it, as they can teleport in and open up a heft volley from their Gauss Exterminators. Still overpriced for static models that can’t hold objectives in 9th.

Canoptek Tombstalker (Elites)

The Tombstalker is notable for being absurdly cheap – it runs you only 90pts for a T7 W9 3+ model, can deep strike and can chew through enemy chaff at range and inflict semi-decent damage in melee. It’s so wildly cheap that there have got to be uses for it – I could see including one as a harrassment threat if I had spare points after buying an action unit, and popping up three mid-board turn two with Novokh and a Control Node Technomancer feels like it could be real. It isn’t actually more efficient than buying Spyders point for point, but being able to operate more independently when needed is nice, and if you have three of these held back your opponent is going to have to consider their every move pretty carefully.

Canoptek Tomb Sentinel (Elites)

A shooty alternative to the Tombstalker, with fewer melee attakcs but a much spicier gun, shooting d6 S10 AP-4 D3 shots with Blast. This weighs in at a higher price tag than the Stalker, and I think you’re much more constrained to exactly one plan with it (popping up several around a Control Node), but it represents a hefty whack of damage out of Deep Strike on a body that’s still decent for the cost.

Tesseract Ark (Heavy Support)

An alternative, shorter Ark with a flexible main gun tuned for multiple different engagement ranges, and T7 and a 4++ in exchange for four fewer wounds. This used to be super popular, and it’s still OK – the notable thing here is that if you choose to take the particle beamer side guns, it’s only 170pts to the Doomsday’s 190, and is comparably potent while on the move. The low wound count is a bit nerve racking, and my general feeling is that spamming Arks is probably still out) but if you really want Arks marauding around the board I think there’s a plausible case that this is as good a choice as the Doomsday.

Seraptek Construct (Lord of War)

Sadly, I have to close by mentioning this not as a competitive unit, but one that got done dirty. This was so over the top in 8th that you saw occasional instances of moderate success with it – generally not the very top tables, but acceptable performances. Unfortunately, the new book has weakened it across the board with no point cut, and not even the decency to give it the CANOPTEK keyword for fun and games. It is very much not a competitive choice. It’s still quite fun, rampaging around causing mischief in multiple phases, but with its better ranged loadout taking a huge nerf on the secondary weapons and the sweep attack getting brutally hamstrung, the dream of finding a build where it’s truly great is dead.

Playing Necrons

With all the rules out the way, how does the army come together? Appropriately, succeeding with conventional with Necrons is about careful, methodical calculation. You have units that are strong and units that can take a punch from conventional firepower, but they aren’t the fastest in the world, and often have some specific weaknesses that can cause them to vanish quick.

Your goal, therefore, is to force the opponent to engage you on your terms, soaking their initial impact onto the units that can afford to take it, then counterattacking with your specialist killers like Skorpekh Destroyers to wipe them off the board.

The basic starting battleplan to achieve this is a two-pronged attack into the mid table. I tend to find myself separating my army into roughly two main contingents, and sending these forward to take each of the closest two mid-table objectives. At the tip of the spear on each push I generally want to have either a full Necron Warrior block shielded by a Chronomancer, a unit of Lychguard or a Ghost Ark. All of these can soak up punishment from a wide range of attackers, and all of them are durable enough that the opponent will need to send real forces after them.

When they do, that’s when the second wave hits. While the front ranks are shambling onto objectives, I’m aiming to stage my Wraiths, Destroyers, C’tan, Silent King or Triarch Praetorians behind terrain somewhere, ready to pop out and put the pain on whatever has made the foolish error of challenging your legions. Hopefully, they’re still in the process of chewing through the initial anvil units when that happens, and taking a massive blow at this point will let me build up an advantage and snowball the game from there. Alternatively, if you favour ranged options like Doomstalkers for dealing damage, these can be blasting away while your opponent deals with your initial assault, taking out their best targets and leaving them unable to contest the field.

This plan will need to be adapted depending on the table and exactly what you’re facing. Sometimes, if there’s enough mid board terrain, you can leave handling one flank to some of your hammer units alone, as if they can stage somewhere that your opponent can’t see, they’re still putting themselves into peril by going near that flank at all. Sometimes your opponent will be packing units that are especially good at taking out one of your tip-of-the-spear units, and you need to make sure they’re either leading the other flank or kept in the second wave – the nice thing about gauss reaper warriors is that they’re perfectly capable damage dealers as well!

Through all this, be mindful that your units are a finite resource. Your stuff is tough, but you usually have fewer units than your opponent, and need to ration them out carefully. I’ve found fairly consistently that in games I’m winning I have less stuff than the opponent left at the end of the game, but with 9th’s objective focus if you can keep them on the ropes all the way through to that, you’ll still end up with the higher score. The most important things here are to make sure you aren’t overcommitting hammer units, and to avoid letting your opponent slam full force into multiple of your anvil units at once on the same flank.

Necrons do, of course, have one competitive build that completely turns this on it’s head, which is Eternal Expansionists. Generally packing a bunch of high-wound ObSec melee threats that start up the board, the goal here is just to overwhelm your opponent’s ability to score primary points by getting onto objectives fast and keeping there all game. You do still need to be careful here about rationing your units, as you need to be confident that you’re going to have models to grab those positions all through the game, and should be prioritising sending your damage dealers into the things that threaten to chew through your hordes the most quickly.

Necrons are a great army with the new book, but definitely aren’t the most forgiving, and the concept of rationing your units out through the game is the most important one to master in my opinion. Take what we’ve talked about, and start practicing on the table!

Army Lists

Wings’ Novokh

We’ll start out with the list that I’m refining and tuning for competitive play right now, both because I’ve found it performing well and because it’s a reasonably easy starting point to build to, as it uses a nice mix of units.

Novokh Battalion
HQ
Catacomb Command Barge, Gauss Cannon, Warscythe, Resurrection Orb, Warlord, Enduring Will, Blood Scythe 185
Lokhust Lord, Staff of Light, Treasures of the Aeons – Voltaic Staff, Rarefied Nobility – Honourable Combatant 105
Chronomancer, Prismatic Obfuscatron, Entropic Lance 100
Technomancer, Canoptek Cloak, Treasures of the Aeons – Veil of Darkness 80

Troops
20 Necron Warriors, Gauss Reaper 260
10 Necron Warriors, Gauss Reaper 130
5 Immortals, Gauss Blaster 85

No Slot

Cryptothralls 40
Cryptothralls 40
Canoptek Plasmacyte 15

Elites
10 Lychguard, Hyperphase Swords, Dispersion Shields 280
6 Skorpekh Destroyers 210
Triarch Stalker, Twin Heavy Gauss Cannon 150

Fast Attack
5 Wraiths 175

Dedicated Transport
Ghost Ark 145

2000pts, 9CP

In terms of how to play this list, look no further than the strategy above – I’ve been tinkering with it as I’ve gotten my reps in with that game plan, and found it works very effectively. You’ve got Necron Warriors on foot and in a Ghost Ark as your initial push units, Skorpekh, Characters and Wraiths as your hard hitters, and the Lychguard as a flexible unit that can do either as the situation demands. Backing these up you have all the relevant buffs and a Technomancer to repair things, and you fill out with a Triarch Stalker, Cryptothralls and Immortals to control the table. The Immortals usually go into strategic reserves, planning to pop out and make a Novokh-boosted charge to try and ObSec an objective away from my opponent or cut down some stragglers, while the thralls and Stalker sit in home objectives or scuttle to sit on mid-table ones behind terrain. The Stalker is also there to set up re-roll 1s against a key target for the big warrior blob if they shoot.

I’m still trying out various tweaks to this, things like mixing up the Cryptek Arcana, swapping in Szeras, experimenting with different deep strikers etc. and there’s certainly a few ways you can go with it. What it definitely provides is a very capable core you can stick together from a diverse mix of Necron kits if you’ve been gradually building a collection.

Lachlan Rigg’s Eternal Expansionists

This list shows off the key specialist strategy now available to the Necrons. This list pre-dated the cost increase on the Nightbringer, but you can easily recover the points by cutting the gloom prism and a Scarab base.

NECRONS – 2000 Points – 108 Power – Command Points 6

Vanguard (-3CP, Dynasty Code: Eternal Conquerors, Relentlessly Expansionist)

HQ: Chronomancer: w/ Entropic lance (80) [4] HQ: Chronomancer: w/ Entropic lance (80) [4]

Elite (Bound Creation): 2 Cryptothralls (40) [2]

Elite: 5 Skorpekh Destroyers (175) [10]

Elite: 5 Skorpekh Destroyers (175) [10]

Elite: 5 Skorpekh Destroyers (175) [10]

Elite: 3 Canoptek Spyders: w/6 Particle Beamers, 1 Gloom prism (215) [12]

Elite: Nightbringer (350) [18]:
· C’tan Powers: Cosmic Fire, Gaze of Death

Outrider (-3CP, Dynasty Code: Eternal Conquerors, Relentlessly Expansionist)

HQ: Technomancer (75), WARLORD: w/Control Node (15) (120) [4]:
· Warlord trait: Thrall of the Silent King
· Relic: Voltaic Staff
· Arkana: Fail-safe Overcharger {30}

Fast Attack: 5 Canotepk Wraiths (175) [10]

Fast Attack: 5 Canotepk Wraiths (175) [10]

Fast Attack: 8 Canotepk Scarabs (120) [6]

Fast Attack: 8 Canotepk Scarabs (120) [6] [/expand]

The Standout Features

  • Tonnes of wounds, tonnes of attacks and ObSec and mobility all over the place.
  • Cryptek-only character slots suggest some serious starscreaming is going on.
  • The Nightbringer provides the ultimate counter to anything that can out-melee the rest of the list.

Why it’s Interesting in 9th

The unique and extremely power Eternal Expansionists combo continues to drive a whole bunch of experimentation out of the book even a few months down the line, and this build (and, spoilers, the next) showcases an especially extreme version that seems to be on the rise in the Australian metagame in particular.

The core plan of the list is pretty similar to other builds that we’ve seen using this Dynastic Code – put a huge number of ObSec wounds onto objectives and into the opponent’s face right out of the gate, and demand that they deal with it. On a base level that’s just a very strong plan – something we saw when we dug deep into turn-by-turn scoring stats is that if you can achieve a 15-0 shutout in battle round two’s primary you’re on a very strong trajectory to win the game, and having a tonne of fast, ObSec melee means this army is way better set up to pull that off than most, while being almost impossible to do it to.

So far, so good, but where the Aussie builds have diverged a bit from other variants on this list is that they’re not running the Silent King and have focused on giving the army a bit more bite elsewhere. The Silent King is a very strong unit, but does open up a very obvious target for your opponent’s biggest guns, and running out the Nightbringer instead gives you a model that’s way easier to hide behind terrain and doesn’t care how many multi-meltas get pointed at them. Without the King you do obviously need some other sources of damage, and here that manifests in the form of taking the full three units of Skorpekh Destroyers, two of which have a Chronomancer floating around behind them handing off an invuln with the Chronometron. With mutliple units of Wraiths and some Spyders kicking around as well, the battlefield becomes a very scary place for two-wound space Marines, as at any moment a whole cascade of D2 attacks could land on them, and taking back objectives gets even harder when many of the units can heroic via Enslaved Protectors. Packing a lot of melee pressure definitely makes the Nightbringer stronger as well – they generally work better as something that applies that last bit of pressure to push a sitaution to breaking point rather than trying to control a situation by themselves, as they can just be outmaneuvred or slowed down with things like Transhuman Physiology.

The final thing worth noting about this list is how it only runs Crypteks for characters. While Command Protocols are a nice thing to have, it’s very clear that they’re not mandatory for success, and sadly most Noble units other than the Command Barge have come out of the Codex looking just a tiny bit overpriced. Crypteks are a whole different story, and Chronomancers and Technomancers are very much the character engines that have been driving the success of a lot of the lists we’ve seen – both bare bones and with Arcana/upgrades, they just do a whole bunch of great stuff. Here the standout is Thrall of the Silent King on a Control Node Technomancer, making it much more likely that their powerful aura will be able to reach the place its needed, but Chronomancers are also just absurdly good for their cost generally.

Wrap Up

9th has brought a fantastic change to an army that has long languished in the doldrums, and I hope whether you’re an experienced player or newcomer lured in by Indomitus, you now feel ready to conquer the galaxy. Any questions hit us up at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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