I’m going to start analysing the Necron units over the next few months and adding the posts to this Necron page in order to help new players out. There are a few good online communities with valuable insight but the organisation of that knowledge leaves a lot to be desired!
This won’t be an exhaustive comparison to other codexes or the metagame and I welcome anyone’s input, whether you feel I’m wrong, right or missing something important.
I’ll start with Crypteks. They are a HQ choice, taken with an Overlord. They can create their own unit or can be added to other specific units. From a design perspective they are one of my favourite aspects of the codex. They offer specialised weapons to other Necron units and are great for building a more flexible army.
A basic Cryptek isn’t all that inspiring, armed with a Staff of Light which provides solid short range marine killing capabilities. One of these guys is probably only ideal for a squad you’ll be transporting into rapid fire range to take out priority targets. Crypteks also only benefit from a 4+ save, meaning they need to be protected.
Upgraded Crypteks are far more interesting. Any Cryptek can be upgraded to a Harbinger, but the specific wargear they can upgrade to may only be taken once per retinue. So you can take five Harbingers of Despair, but only one may take a Nightmare Shroud or Veil of Darkness. This excludes their Harbinger specific weapon ugprades.
I’ve had to borrow some pics to illustrate the various Harbingers as I am still waiting for my order to arrive to convert mine! Sources indicated in image names.
Harbingers of Despair, Despairtek, HoDespair, Veiltek
These guys are quite a nasty choice with their AP1 template weapon. It works against leadership though, so against most targets you should be able to do good damage with smart placement within the squad.
The Veil of Darkness allows the Cryptek to leave the table and deepstrike back into play immediately but only if you aren’t in close combat. Certainly has its uses but deepstriking can be risky.
You’ll probably want a delivery method to get the most out of your template weapon. You drop a reasonably sized squad most probably with Gaus in rapid fire range and try to decimate a squad in a single go. Warriors or Immortals work, you just need to ensure you aren’t left to eat a charge if things go wrong.
Harbingers of Destruction, Destrotek, HoDestru, Pulsetek
Anyway, these guys also have Solar Pulse allowing a turn of night fighting or for night fighting to be removed for a turn. Tactically this can help/hinder you or your opponent, although some armies have natural defences.
Gaze of Flame gives defensive grenades… pretty rubbish really unless you are building a Court deathstar.
These Harbingers are an ideal choice for a scoring unit that will be sitting in the backfield. Without the ability to take heavy weapons normally, the Eldritch Lance provides reach and tank busting, not to mention an ideal weapon for sniping MCs and similar.
Harbingers of Eternity, HoE, Chronotek
One of the favoured choices for many Necron players the HoE can take a Chonometron allowing a single reroll each turn for his unit. Personally I’m not a fan, despite the cost not being totally prohibitive.
The Aeonstave is just bad, even a staff of light is sadly much better.
A Timesplinter cloak provides a 3++, not bad but for the price? Perhaps in a Court deathstar to absorb certain heavy weapon shots, but generally not an ideal choice.
Not really a Harbinger I personally recommend as a standalone, more ideal to fit into a unit with a Overlord or Lord to help them out with that important roll.
Harbingers of Transmogrification, Tremortek, Transmotek
The Harp of Dissonance is a medium strength Entropic Strike ranged weapon with infinite range, providing the ability to strip armour points or armour saves. Not bad, particularly against vehicles like Land Raiders, it would take a consolidated volley to have a huge effect and your regular Gaus does the job anyway. For the price it’s a dubious choice.
The Seismic Crucible lets you lower an opponent’s charge distance against the Cryptek’s unit by D3. Not that crazy now with 2D6 charge ranges.
Tremorstaves in combination with Writhing Worldscape makes all units moving through difficult terrain take dangerous terrain tests… a bit of a gimmick but fun and effective, if unreliable.
Harbingers of the Storm, HoS, Voltek
These are the ‘melta’ of the Necron army when you consider the Voltaic Staff. This is a haywire weapon how it should be. Not that rubbish that Dark Eldar got as an experiment! Expect two to three glances/pens from each Harbinger with a Voltaic Staff.
Ether Crystals provide a form of deepstrike defense, with such a short range however I wouldn’t be even considering this piece of gear. They also don’t stack well…
Lightning Field is similar to Ether Crystals but works when assaulted. Of possible use in a combat orientated squad.
You give up that low AP value in exchange for better range (at full effect) compared to a regular meltagun and I would argue better reliability thanks to a greater weight of fire. These are your tank hunters, add some extra Gaus and you should be destroying vehicles left, right and centre!
Necron Lords and Overlords
Overlords are HQ choices which start relatively cheap but can become very expensive. A Phaeron is an upgraded Overlord who confers relentless to any unit he joins (and benefits himself). This is largely regarded as useless these days due to the changes to rapid fire weapons and Necron’s natural avoidance of combat on shooting squads.
I do feel this upgrade does provide a certain level of utility in a tooled out Immortal squad, joined by an Overlord and perhaps a regular Scythe Lord or two. This is a very specific build however and whether this can work or not is something I plan to test!
Additional upgrades include:
Warscythe: Practically an automatic choice. Ignores armour saves (literally – not power weapon style) adds two strength and doesn’t affect your already terrible initiative, meaning you hit before power fists and hammers, but generally after everything else in the game. Also great versus vehicles.
Other wargear: The Staff of Light is arguably the next best weapon in say, a shooting squad, the rest aren’t very noteworthy.
Sempiternal Weave: Gives you a 2+ save.
Phase shifter: 3++ (invulnerable save). Expensive.
Resurrection Orb: 4+ Reanimation protocols for the bearer and unit.
Mind Shackle Scarabs (MSS): Gives you a chance of (before combat) taking control of an opponent’s model and turn them against themselves or their unit at their initiative step. I won’t go into details but this is a very good choice.
Phylactery: One use, your first reanimation protocol gives D3 wounds back. It is quite the gamble with your normal 33% chance to get back up, although with an orb the odds are slightly better. Then you still have a 33% chance of getting your usual one wound, 33% chance of two and 33% of three.
So 22% chance of actually benefiting. Or 33% with an orb…
Tachyon Arrow: A single shot, strength 10 AP1 shot with infinite range. Arguably overpriced unless you could use it to punk a really worthwhile target without giving them a cover save. Possible, deadly but unreliable.
Tesseract Labyrinth: Used instead of CC attacks, against an IC or MC, removing them on a D6 roll that isn’t under their current wounds. No saves.
Catacomb Command Barge: The Catacomb Command Barge is quite a vehicle, equipped with a Tesla Cannon and Quantum Shielding. It provides a 2+ save to the character embarked and they count as being on a chariot. The chariot must be targeted by shooting attacks, creates a larger base footprint, provides sweep attacks as well as D6 HoW (Hammer of Wrath) attacks at S6.
Sadly sweep attacks cannot target zooming flyers anymore, thanks to a FAQ.
These are the heavy lifter combat HQ’s, with high base toughness and share many of the OLord upgrades, such as the MSS, Weave and Orb. They come standard with a Warscythe, have preferred enemy (Everything) which provides rerolls of one to hit (necessary with their low WS) and to wound. With such low WS to start with this isn’t amazing and the low number of attacks won’t help either. Of course DLords are jump infantry and really buff a squad they join. You just need to make sure that squad has an effective role to make the cost worthwhile. You’ll rely upon MSS and probably weave if you are using a DLord as a lynchpin of your army. That way they can absorb fire and really benefit a squad in combat.
DLords most ideally synergies with Canoptek Wraiths although some people use them with destroyers to maximise the effectiveness of their shooting. Theoretically you could add them to any unit that needs shooting or combat buffs (or both for maximum effectiveness).
Necron Warriors, the scourge of an earlier age. These guys are not what they once were, receiving a bit of a downgrade with the new codex into the ‘mindless servant warriors’ as compared to the more intelligent and skilful Immortals who took over their previous role.
Still in the Warrior’s favour is their Gaus weapons, which can still flay the flesh from the living and destroy vehicles with ease. Of course their weakness remains combat, with just a 4+ save and the more reliable, but less powerful resurrection protocols of this codex. Rapid fire is also improved for 6th, making their Gaus a little more powerful on the move.
Warriors are now the ‘Horde’ unit, which can be taken in larger squads, possibly with Res Orb Lords/O-Lords and Ghost Arks to be resilient, dangerous units.
Where Warriors are now the soft option for Necron troops, the Immortals have taken up the traditional role – these guys are tough, they are mean and they pack a punch.
They come in two varieties. Gaus – with upgraded gaus weapons, still rapid fire but which benefit from an extra point of strength and one lower armour penetration, or Tesla – a single shot assault weapon also benefiting from the extra strength but not without the armour penetration bonus. Tesla gives an additional two automatic hits for each six rolled to hit! Not bad at all.
Gaus are generally considered the winner in most cases, with the extra weight of fire at 12”
and closer, not to mention the extra AP which can really help versus non MEQ. Gaus’s other advantage is that it meshes really well with many Cryptek weapons – Staves of Light, Voltaic Staves and Abyssal Staves are all designed for rapid fire double shot range.
Tesla though has a few advantages, it is fully effective up to 24” which with the increased (less reliable) charge range is a boon. It also is good for overwatch, those sixes are turned into additional successful hits. I think these guys would be more effective at kiting targets, particularly with a little help from some Crypteks – like perhaps Tremorteks. Being assault weapon armed these guys also have the option of taking a Lord or HQ choice to assault after unleashing hell, without the need for the Phaeron upgrade. Another option for the Tesla Immortals is the Lanceteks, as you can make use of the Lance’s extra range, and assault capabilities. The problem is it is expensive for a few shots a game!
What is notable is the Ghost Ark, which is the dedicated Warrior transport, and provides repairs on the run, bringing damaged (dead) Warriors back to life. This can’t exceed the original squad numbers, but is useful for keeping the fragile units alive, while also providing additional firepower thanks to Gaus Flayer arrays. Sadly this model can only carry 10 Warriors which is a bit sad, but a larger squad can still buy one and have it float along behind them, reanimating the dead and providing extra firepower.
The Ghost Ark itself has good armour value thanks to Quantum Shielding, can carry Warriors and allow them to shoot from relative safety, and of course has the living metal rule.
This is without a doubt one of my favourite units in the Necron codex. You have a transport which can move 24” as a flyer and let passengers disembark normally! It has pretty reasonable firepower for taking out light vehicles/flyers and harassing ground forces.
It looks cool, is a nice kit, is easy to paint and is reasonably priced. What more could you want?!?
The main drawbacks are units capable of taking flyers out. The armour on your Night Scythe is pretty poor, and they rely upon the sixes to hit rule to really survive. With each new army introducing their own air or anti air-choices the price of this transport becomes more and more balanced.
Some people will tell you that they are totally OP/underpriced, but realistically once everyone has skyfire and flyers they won’t be so crash hot.
With more anti flyer choices we have also seen people saying it is the end of the AirCron lists.
I don’t think this is true. Most armies still have limited anti-air choices, so if anything really spamming flyers is more viable – you would rather have 9-12 flyers and lose a few each round but still have some on the table, than take two in a balanced list and have them gone, totally hamstringing your mobility.
Necron Canoptek Spyders – (Heavy Support)
The Necron Spyder was quite a sensation when first introduced, following in the footsteps of the Tyranid Tergivon in spawning models.
It is basically a monstrous creature with a reasonable stat-line for its reasonable cost. You also have the option of several upgrades, The Frabricator Claw is relatively techmarine-ish – repairing vehicles, while the Gloom Prism provides psychic defense but needs very very short range to be effective.he Necron Spyder was quite a sensation when first introduced, following in the footsteps of the Tyranid Tergivon in spawning models.
The twin linked Particle Beamer is probably the most effective upgrade, despite its cost – providing a nice strength six blast. A bit of ranged reach never hurts.
One restriction is that you can spawn Scarabs, but they must join a nearby already existing unit, so you’ll need to invest in a few bases to start with. Of course if each Spyder spawns three during the game they repay their cost, making them an attractive choice. The downside is they lose a wound on failed attempts to spawn Scarabs.
You can also have your Spyders continue to reinforce a squad of Scarabs stuck in combat, as long as the Spyders themselves aren’t also in combat. You might want them wading in for extra firepower or protection from shooting though.
Canoptek Scarab Swarms – (Fast Attack)
The true poster boy of the Necron codex in 5th, these little guys inflicted much fear, which I could understand but which was also often caused by people not understanding the little critters or using them incorrectly.
Swarms makes them reasonable resilient, although in 6th there are a few nerfs to them, they still take double wounds versus templates, don’t have stealth anymore, but are not slowed by difficult (not dangerous) terrain and are beasts. Not too shabby.
Sadly they are only WS2, which versus vehicles is less of a concern now, BUT against normal models is definitely not great. It will only strip an armour save after a failed save, which means a multi-wound creature. On the other hand a 4+ AFTER each successful hit strips an armour point. I saw people thinking it was simply on a 4+ to hit last edition, which obviously was far more powerful than it actually was.
These are an ideal choice for a speed bump unit in my opinion. They move fast, have a large threat range and can really keep an opponent on their toes. Whether it is vehicles or infantry these provide a solution to your own infantry being assaulted, and while Necrons don’t have a plethora of combat choices a unit of Wraiths will happily mop up anything these guys are snacking on.
Canoptek Wraiths – (Fast Attack)
Just when you thought you were safe… The Necron Wraiths are a real nasty unit, which have been implemented in a refreshing fashion.
While not the toughness to shrug off instant death from your general strength eight weapons, these critters have a reasonable invulnerable save, which is explained in the fluff as stemming from their ability to phase through walls and such in order to fulfil their tomb world role.
Regardless of how it works, or the awesome conversions people have done to represent this they are capable of taking a fair bit of damage.
They also ignore terrain, have the typical Necron initiative and have RENDING attacks. Not heaps, just a reasonable amount. Add fearless and you have a great close combat unit capable of laying down the hurt against most targets. Especially for their reasonable price.
They can also take Whip Coils, which according to the codex reduce enemy models to initiative one when in base contact. No ifs, buts or maybes – base contact means initiative ONE. In a recent FAQ some idiot at GWS who can’t read decided to change this fact. Not sure why, not even sure who would have asked the question when the answer is there in black and white, but some people are now following the FAQ to play it wrongly. They also took the opportunity to nerf Tyranids at the same time… Hmmm some Marine fanboi damaging Xenos codexes in a FAQ – nothing new.
While not on the receiving end of amazing weapon skill values, this unit is best accompanied by a Destroyer Lord. He provides Preferred Enemy, effectively bumping their WS value a tier up as well as providing the wound reroll on ones. It’s worth noting this ability scales to a models skill, as the higher your base stats the better your chance of making the reroll is.
With this special rule these models are almost guaranteed to wound and your rends should be taking out a few models or wounds. Of course if like me you always seem to whiff your rend rolls you may not be so lucky!
Your D-Lord can also help absorb wounds, particularly of the lightweight variety with his ability to purchase a better save, not to mention with a Warscythe for additional killing power, possibly even Mind Shackle Scarabs.