I remember not too long ago Necrons were often feared and revered as an incredibly powerful army. Even their most simple and readily-available gauss weaponry was capable of bringing down an Ork Stompa with enough shots in a single round of shooting. The inexorable Necron advance into early 8th edition via the Index: Xenos 1, however, was more of a stumble into battle rather than a fierce charge. With the new codex dropping very soon, how kind has the update been to the legions of blood-thirsty automatons?
The big appeal of Necrons, at least, as far as I remember is twofold. Firstly, their gauss weaponry is second-to-none in the battlefield, churning through most armour like butter. Secondly, they are hardy and resilient. Thanks to Reanimation Protocols and Living Metal, these guys were tough to put down and keep down. This was still the case at the launch of the current edition of 40K, but the Necrons felt like they were lacking something. As if something had sent them back to their tomb worlds to slumber and await their brutal and foreboding return into battle. Perhaps the additions and adjustments in this codex is a sign of their reawakening…
I’ll give you a rundown of the major inclusions and changes. First up, let’s look at what’s been newly bestowed upon the Necrons in the codex.
As is apparently standard with any faction codex, Necrons get a list of Warlord Traits. These are fairly comfortable fits for the Necrons themselves, though they feel fairly uninspired. An apt choice is Enduring Will, allowing your Warlord to negate a point of single damage each time he suffers multiple wounds. This is a satisfying nod to the implacable resilience of the Necrons. Thrall of the Silent King is a train that increases the range of your Warlord’s aura abilities which will likely always have its uses. The traits all suit nicely and will all have their purposes for sure, but they just don’t feel particularly exciting and seem somewhat generic. Something more outside-the-box would have been nice.
There’s a little something for the more fluff-focused players though, with each Dynasty getting unique Warlord Traits. For example, Novokh units near their warlord get the chance to make additional attacks, Sautekh warlords can potentially refund spent Command Points. These are a little more enticing for me, but I’ve always been a fan of lore-appropriate elements within the game. It’s good to see that floods of Necron Warriors painted in the heraldry of different dynasties will possibly be able to behave slightly differently, at least.
Some of the artefacts within the book will likely please a great number of Necron fans and many of them will have interesting applications. The Voidreaper is a powerful rendition of the warscythe/voidscythe. The Sempiternal Weave gives an Infantry model increased Toughness and Wounds. My personal favourite is the Veil of Darkness which will sound familiar to you long-time players. Once per battle at the end of the movement phase, the bearer and a nearby infantry unit of the same dynasty effectively get teleported anywhere more than 9″ away from an enemy unit. The thought of mysteriously tanslocating a Cryptek and some Lychguard to the opponents deployment zone would certainly cause a stir! The artefacts have some diversity, but don’t feel like they’d be as impactful as some of the Strategems and their potential. Though the Nanoscarab Casket sounds like it’d work wonders on a Destroyer Lord…
This is where things start to get particularly alluring. There’s a tonne of Stratagems, some relying on specific dynasties to use them, some only applicable on certain units. But there’s a great deal of flexibility and dynamism here that can really help players get creative. For instance, Adaptive Subroutines allow Canoptek units to charge after advancing. Combine this with Self-Destruction and you’ve got Canoptek Scarabs advancing up to 16″, charging up to 12″, piling in and then a swarm model blowing itself up. This could cause up to 3 mortal wounds at the cost of 13pts and a couple of Command Points. Take the aforementioned Sautekh dynasty and you might even get those Command Points back to rinse and repeat!
Another example is Entropic Strike, negating Invulnerable Saves on enemies in the first close combat attack from a chosen character. Give your Novokh Destroyer Lord a Voidreaper from the artefacts, move him 10″, charge in, hitting with a reroll, wounding on a 2+ and you’re doing 3 damage. Then you get the rest of your attacks, though against the Invulnerable Save. I am very keen to see how crafty Necron players get with some of these. There’s definitely room here for players to come up with cunning strategies invoking big risks with potentially enormous rewards.
The Necrons still don’t have psychic powers. I get it, they’re robots and they just want to take back their galaxy. They don’t have time for casting values and the warp and such. However, do they have a substitute. The ever-powerful shards of the C’tan (and the Transcendent) return and this time they have twice the options of powers to play with. These, for the most part, seem to dispense Mortal Wounds to your enemies one way or another if performed successfully at the end of the movement phase.
It’s a sure way to make them seem a powerful and frightening presence on the battlefield. A little more imagination would have been nice with the available powers, though. They have some great abilities on their datasheets by default but it feels as though these powers could have been something more exotic. Dishing out Mortal Wounds via slightly varying methods seemed the easy way to make them scary.
But What’s Changed?
Let’s get into some of the changes to the units. There seems to be nothing obtusely re-hauled or rebuilt from scratch but there’s certainly some gratifying tweaks. Firstly, there’s been point reductions across the board for a tonne of Necron units. Destroyers, Flayed Ones, Deathmarks, Doom Scythes, Doomsday Arks, all cheaper with others to boot! This means you can include more units in your lists which I’m sure Necron players won’t moan about. Tomb Blades got a price drop but have the added bonus of being -1 to hit with shooting attacks. Canoptek Wraiths are now a little more expensive but their Vicious Claws and optional Whip Coils are now more powerful. They can also fall back, shoot and charge in the same turn!
Weapon costs have seen a smaller-scale but healthy spread of cost reductions, as well. Necron gauss weaponry still packs a mean, armour-piercing punch so even the humble Necron Warrior is still not to be underestimated. If your Necrons are under the Mephrit dynasty, the AP of any shooting weapon improves by -1 at half range. Your Necron Immortals hauling Gauss Blasters will be making short work of any Space Marines they come across.
The majority of the datasheets and wargear remain more or less unchanged. Though, one of the more striking changes is regarding the Doomsday Ark. It has come down in price slightly but the Doomsday Cannon has become what sounds like an absolute monster. Both of the firing profiles are Heavy D6 now. Firing the high power profile at Heavy D6 S10, AP-5, D6 damage with 72″ range, I can see these things becoming a must-take. Expect these things to become very, very popular.
Codex: Necrons certainly doesn’t change a great deal of what was in the index. There’s no new models, bar the Cryptek found in the new Forgebane box. The inclusion of more bespoke powers C’tan feels right even if they aren’t near as interesting as some psychic powers in the game. The additions feel right and the amendments to unit costs appear somewhat minimal, but effectively well-placed. The vast point drops across many units means that Necron players will be able to field more of what they want. Factor in the new Stratagems and/or Artefacts and this will help them build the armies and lists that suit their play-style most.
With this codex it certainly seems that they are taking a note from the Necrons themselves. The changes don’t look too shiny or elaborate. Yet the changes brought in could see the Necrons brought back into the spotlight as one of 40K’s most powerful factions. With a lavish allocation of armour-piercing weaponry, unit versatility and durability they are not to be underestimated. The Necrons are finally stirring from their slumber it seems, and those in their way should be extremely wary.