For pretty much all of 8th Edition, Necrons have been one of the more lackluster armies. Lore wise, Necrons are an inexorable robotic horde that continues to reanimate and repair itself as it slowly grinds the opposition to dust. Unfortunately, Necrons have struggled to hold up to their lore. The few lists that have performed well with Necrons haven’t typically “felt” like what a Necron army should feel like on the table.
This being said, 9th Edition is around the corner. Based solely on the bits and pieces that Games Workshop has given us so far, there’s already enough evidence to argue that Necrons are going to be in a significantly better position. Today, we’re going to have a light-hearted look at some of the issues that Necrons have in 8th. Plus, how the changes and adjustments made for 9th solve these problems.
Many of the issues with Necrons stem from Reanimation Protocols, so that’s where we will start. Reanimation Protocols are a special check that you can make for most Necron units. It works as long as part of that unit is still on the table. You roll a D6 for every slain model in the unit. Then each 5+ allows you to put a slain model back. On paper, this sounds cool as it’s a sort of delayed “Feel No Pain” that doesn’t care about big damage attacks. However, the issue with Reanimation Protocols is that you don’t get to make the check if the entire unit is slain. From there several issues arise.
At first glance, you would think that you can just take some large units and solve that problem. However, most Necron units don’t go to large sizes aside from regular Necron Warriors. Since Warriors are the biggest unit we can take, we’re going to use them as a basis for our analysis. Warriors only have a 4+ save. This means that they aren’t that hard to remove. It’s almost impossible to hide a 20 man unit on most 8th Edition tables so you will be taking lots of those saves. Couple that with the fact that you suffer morale before you make your Reanimation Protocol checks and there’s a good chance your unit won’t even be there after getting shot to death by your opponent. To add insult to injury, even if you still have the unit left any models that flee from morale don’t get to reanimate!
Luckily, 9th is showing the shorter ranged armies some love, and these changes are going to make foot slogging Necrons significantly scarier. Terrain rules for 9th Edition have been completely reworked and expanded on , making it significantly harder for long range gunlines to sit back and hammer you for free. Specifically, we want to focus on the Obscuring trait.
How about that Obscuring Trait?
Although not every piece of terrain on your board will always have the Obscuring trait, your Ruins will by definition, and that’s huge. Hiding 20 models across a table is extremely difficult. Your opponent only needs to find one model that’s slightly exposed through a crack, window, or elevated surface to blow your unit to pieces. Obscuring terrain provides you with some real options to keep your units safe against at least parts of the opponent’s army. That’s where Reanimation Protocol’s start to shine.
Your opponent can drop some artillery or fast-moving firepower on a unit hiding behind some terrain. But trying to chip apart a Necron unit plays directly into Reanimation Protocols. Baseline, Reanimation Protocols are just on a 5+, which isn’t very good. Toss a Cryptek nearby and it becomes a 4+, a Canoptek Reanimator to make it a 3+. Maybe even a Resurrection Orb to make your Reanimation Protocols on a unit twice. Then you can easily recover almost 100% of the casualties you suffer for a unit. Suddenly, if your opponent leaves even one model standing, you can recover almost the entire squad!
Building A Solid List
The other major issue with Necrons is that building lists for them can be really painful. They don’t have a cheap throwaway unit like Imperial Guardsmen to flesh out their detachments. So they can have cheap Battalions and therefore cheap Command Points. Plus, they can’t ally with anyone to cover that weakness for them either.
Consider someone taking two Battalions with 60 Warriors (two 20 man blobs and four 5 man units), two Overlords, and two Crypteks. Just barebones, that clocks in at around 1000 points, and that’s just your baseline characters, detachment fillers, and two blobs of dudes to try and grind your opponent out. That’s a lot of points to invest for some basic support pieces. Two units that have difficulty threatening anything more than 30” away.
In 9th Edition, list construction is being flipped on its head. Detachments costing you Command Points instead of granting them means that you will be less pressured to take filler units and ally with as many different armies as possible. Instead, you typically want to stay within one detachment. Going with our example from earlier. By adjusting for some guesstimated points increases on the characters and the fact Warriors are going up to 12 points. Taking a Battalion with two 20 man squads, a 5 man squad, one Overlord and one Cryptek will only run you ~750-800 points. You’ll still have your two giant Warrior blobs. The cost of entry for playing with this style has gone down in an edition where points are going up! Combine this with the terrain changes, and Necrons are starting to look pretty decent in 9th!
This last one is extremely important from a player perspective, but the improvements and changes are a bit more subtle. Currently, Necrons feel somewhat shoehorned into being from the Sautekh dynasty for mobility and CP. Or occasionally Novokh if they want to be heavy on melee. The changes to detachments and CP means that there’s less of a need to worry about CP if you’re staying in one detachment. This means you can look at other Dynasties.
On top of this, Necrons are getting some really sweet models in the upcoming Indomitus box set. This means more options when building your lists. For most of 8th, Necrons have had a limited selection of genuinely powerful units. Chapter Approved has slowly but surely solved this. With a fresh edition and fresh points, there’s going to be lots of experimentation and evaluation for what to take. Luckily, a lot of the new Necron stuff looks really sweet. There comes a point where the “Rule of Cool” takes over. When you wrap this together, Necron players should feel significantly more liberated to play with the models or Dynasty that they want to. It really important in a game with as much personality as Warhammer 40K.
Will giant hordes of Necrons be the new tournament meta, dominating top tables at events across the globe? Probably not. The changes to 9th make Reanimation Protocols and Necrons, in general, a much better army than they were in 8th. Now they can actually utilize their unique mechanics on the table. Plus they are no longer punished for lacking access to efficient allies or cheap troop choices. If you have a Necron army laying around, or you’re considering starting one yourself, 9th looks to be the perfect time to do so.
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