7 Jul 2013

Necrons Tactica - Army Special Rules

Hey guys, its Learn2Eel here with the Necrons Tactica, updated with 6th Edition in mind! Obviously, the soulless machines have undergone a host of changes that have made them one of the strongest, most balanced armies in 6th Edition Warhammer 40000. If you are interested in how to use each of their units, or are looking for some weaknesses to exploit, I am confident that this Tactica will be a nice, comprehensive guide to the Necrons, their many special rules and units. I hope you enjoy this series!


Where others see the light of hope or love with their first sight, the hollow Necrons view but an empty darkness; a wall touched neither by emotion or by life. It is fitting then that these hyper logical beings, bereft of emotional links to their past, are truly peerless in the hands of a masterful tactician. Though definitely one of the easier armies to play owing to their high durability and immense medium range firepower, they are difficult to master and the more unusual or cloaked tactics are often those that share the most success. Understanding what each unit is capable of can take dozens of games worth of experience, and truly there are few aspects more integral to the effective use of the undead legion than the army-wide special rules. The inborn resilience and aversion to melee natural to most Necron units is exemplified by their Reanimation Protocols, while their vehicles would be over-priced death traps if not for Quantum Shielding and Living Metal. No enemy is safe from the mandibles of Scarab Swarms, their Entropic Strikes stripping the armour and flesh from any foolish enough to stand before them. The army as a whole is defined by many of these special rules, serving to give their units an otherwise unforeseen edge over the forces employed by opposing generals. If one seeks mastery over the undead legions, I would definitely recommend taking the time to cross reference the special rules with each individual unit they affect to see just how important a contribution it makes to their effectiveness. Ultimately, which units you decide to employ will really come down to personal taste; Necrons benefit from one of the most well balanced codices currently available, with an incredible range of nasty tricks and viable builds to employ.

Army Wide Special Rules

Reanimation Protocols - Arguably the defining trait of the Necron army and their largest claim to infamy, this effectively doubles as army-wide Feel No Pain with a few very important differences to consider. That almost every non-vehicle model in the army possesses this special rule serves to give even their most basic infantry units a noticeable edge in survivability over the equivalents of other codices. When Necrons with this special rule suffer casualties, provided there are still models left in the unit, those fallen warriors can be 'restored' on a D6 roll of a 5+ and are placed within three inches of 'living' models in the unit. The rule clarifies that such models can only be positioned within three inches of a model that wasn't reanimated in that phase, so you can't attempt to pull off a conga line if you were feeling particularly smug. Put simply, Reanimation Protocols forces enemies to focus fire all of their shooting on one unit at a time; if but one Immortal out of ten is left standing, the chances are strong that at least three of them will be replenished and still sitting on either an objective or a similarly advantageous position. Though the general tactic of focus fire is key to any successful strategy, no other army quite emphasises this principle as much as Necrons do; they can and will punish a player that doesn't focus on wiping out single units at a time. That nearly any unit in the force is incredibly threatening at range or in melee only serves to heighten your chances of success as a Necron player, particularly when most of your units are both incredibly cost effective and cheap to boot. Where Reanimation Protocols starts to really differ from Feel No Pain is that, obviously, it does not 'save' wounds as they are caused; they are done at the end of each phase in which casualties are suffered, meaning they can't be used to deny combat resolution. In an army with universally high Leadership but terrible Initiative, a lost combat can be absolutely critical and, as you may expect, will leave the unit very vulnerable to total annihilation at the hands of a Sweeping Advance. For many armies, dealing with Necrons involves making it into a melee as soon as possible for this very reason; though the balanced stat-line and strong melee potential of the assorted characters and dedicated assault units in the codex does help, it won't save them from tooled up Greater Daemons or masses of Flesh Hounds.

Additionally, as Reanimation Protocols are handled at the end of the phase, you have to handle Leadership checks for suffering a quarter of the units' weight in casualties first; though all Necrons are Leadership ten, the chance of failing and thus losing all of those dead models is very real. As well, dead models cannot be replaced within an inch of enemy models; though such occurrences would likely be rare, you nevertheless do not want to be surrounded by swarms of Hormagaunts - under any circumstances! Helpfully though, Necrons can win close combats through attrition against units of similar close combat abilities, as any model reanimated at the end of the phase immediately piles into combat. It is also important to note that any attached character - such as a Cryptek or Necron Lord - does not count to whether the unit can attempt its Reanimation Protocols; if a single Necron Lord is left standing after a volley destroys an Immortal Squad, they cannot attempt their "we will be back!" rolls. For a Necron player, the chance of resurrecting dead models - even if the test can never be re-attempted if the model fails the first time - is a really invaluable tool that actively encourages larger squads; the more bodies you have, the less chance there is of them being completely wiped out. For an opponent, it again reinforces the concept of target priority and focus fire; pot-shots may be helpful against other armies, but potentially far less so against Necrons. Wasted shooting is very much a real issue many players face when fighting against Necrons, so knowing to identify which targets are the most immediate threats and how much firepower to dedicate to their removal is key to victory. It is also pertinent to note that not all non-vehicle Necron units have Reanimation Protocols; some of the deadliest melee units, such as Canoptek Wraiths or Canoptek Scarabs, lack the chance to resurrect and thus you can afford to whittle them down bit by bit if you need to dedicate your strengths elsewhere. All in all though, this special rule serves to give Necron units a strong defensive boost that, while not always guaranteed to be helpful - beware of Heldrakes - makes them even more appealing than they would seem initially. If you feel Necron Warriors, Immortals or any of the other units don't seem that cost effective at first, consider their Reanimation Protocols and then you will see just how exceptionally well balanced they truly are.

"Get up Nimrod. Get up Nimrod. Get up Nimrod."
Ever-Living - Where your squads can reanimate with restrictions provided they haven't been wiped out, the characters in the army have an entirely separate and unique method of resurrection. Given that Necrons lack proper squad leaders, it comes as no surprise that every individual character in the codex has Ever Living; the ability to be restored to the battlefield regardless of the usual blocks placed on other Necrons. They operate on the same D6 roll of a 5+, and models with multiple wounds are returned with one wound - unless they have specific wargear such as Phylactery that can restore them with more - in unit coherency with a unit they previously joined. If they were not attached to a unit, or that unit was wiped out, they are instead placed within three inches of where they died; you place a marker at the exact spot that they fell for such purposes. Regardless of whether a unit they joined was caught in a sweeping advance, wiped out through firepower or melee strikes or otherwise destroyed, you can still make your Ever Living roll. The only exception to this is that if the character in question was attached to a unit that fled off the table during the phase any counters were placed, those counters are removed and no roll is made. When combined with the middling range of most Necron units, this is yet another reason not to hang back on your board edge; the army is mobile and tough enough to sit either in or just beyond the midfield. In any case, this is very handy in an edition where additional victory points are handed out for slaying a warlord; your opponent won't be dancing with glee when your nasty Overlord gets back up to fight on!

Entropic Strike - One of the quirkier traits inherent in a handful of units, and serving to define their role on the battlefield, Entropic Strike is effectively the Necron equivalent of haywire grenades. It mulches vehicles with consummate ease, though it sacrifices the near guaranteed damage provided by haywire to instead be a heavy nuisance against models with multiple wounds. Stripping the armour off of anything they either hit or cause an unsaved wound has a lot of use both solely for the attacks that follow and the firepower provided by the rest of the army. Necron ranged weaponry tends to revolve around high Strength and a lack of AP values, with the theme of overwhelming elite armies by forcing sheer numbers of armour saves. Though this does leave Necrons vulnerable to swarm armies to a degree, they brutalize monstrous creatures and smaller armies particularly well; when Entropic Strike is thrown into the mix, there is little they cannot destroy. When employed against vehicles, for each attack - usually out of many - that hits, you roll a further D6 before attempts to penetrate; each result of a four or higher strips the defences from the vehicles, reducing its armour value by one per result. For a unit of Scarab Swarms that averages something like a dozen plus hits depending on squad size, you are looking at Land Raiders being reduced to Armour eight all around, making them easy prey for your Scarabs who then need a five or higher to glance and penetrate the armour. That these rolls are made before armour penetration attempts is just insane, and serves to make Scarabs one of the games' premier tank hunters; given that Necrons don't have too many answers to vehicles with armour values of fourteen all around, Scarabs can prove a potent hard counter to these units. Even if they fail to destroy their quarry, it leaves those vehicles open to the rest of your force; the basic Strength five gun carried by Immortals will tear through any vehicle affected even mildly by Entropic Strike.

Against organic models, there is a similar effect, though it is only truly useful against models with multiple wounds; if a model suffers an unsaved wound with the Entropic Strike special rule, the model that suffered the wound loses its armour save completely. See that Dreadknight your local Grey Knight player loves to employ? Strip its armour save with sacrificial Scarab Swarms and laugh at its lack of an armour save through your massed Strength five and seven shooting. This can be invaluable against monstrous creatures and characters to make them that much easier to deal with, but it has little uses elsewhere against organics. Overall, it is a very nasty special rule that serves to define the use of Scarab Swarms in particular, as well as give some flavour to a range of melee and ranged weapons throughout the codex.

"I'm a real boy! Or girl! What am I again?"
Living Metal - Necron vehicles may not appear so tough at first, but the pairing of special rules - the other being Quantum Shielding - on the majority of them make them so much more survivable for their cost than their competitors. Included in the basic cost of all Necron vehicles is the Living Metal special rule, which acts as a chancier but improved form of Extra Armour. Any Crew Shaken result on the damage table is ignored on a D6 roll of a 2+, while Crew Stunned results are instead ignored on a 4+. This natural defence allows Necron vehicles to continue firing at full effect for the most part, and semi-reliably be able to keep moving rather than being locked in place and losing the all too valuable cover save provided by Jink - in the case of the skimmers, anyway. It is a nice addition that mostly serves to improve the reliability of Necron vehicles, making them truly worthy all-rounders with both mobility, easily accessed cover saves and high armour values all balanced by a low cost.

Quantum Shielding - When one considers Necron ground vehicles, they are probably drawn immediately to two things; the first being their armour values of eleven all around, and the second being that they are open-topped. Put simply, the two do not mesh at all well, particularly for the points you pay on these vehicles. This is where, again, looking at the special rules each unit has is key with Necrons; each ground vehicle has the Quantum Shielding special rule, which boosts their armour values on the front and side by two. Given that each vehicle has identical armour values, each of them shares similar and very much welcome survivability; an armour of thirteen to the front and side, with a rear of eleven, is well beyond that offered by most other vehicles in the game. In an edition where long range Strength eight and Strength seven shooting - with the latter also heavily employed in the midfield - armour values of thirteen are both usually rare and incredibly useful. For many armies, massed Strength seven is their primary means of dealing with vehicles both at long and medium ranges; forces such as Necrons and Tau in particular are famous for this. This near immunity to Strength seven shooting does come at a price though, as any penetrating hit the vehicle suffers - regardless of which facing it is resolved against - strips the Quantum Shielding from it permanently. Though a successful cover save will deny this loss, it is nonetheless important to identify any sources of Strength eight or higher shooting in an enemy force during deployment; your vehicles are tough, but they are hardly infallible, particularly when they are reduced to armour eleven. That they are open topped is effectively a double blow whenever a penetrating hit makes it through a vehicles' defences; the bonus to the damage chart can make a significant difference between an immobilized Annihilation Barge and one that is truly silenced. It is key to remember that this benefit is not granted to the rear of the vehicle, and thus making sure not to expose your vulnerable rear armour is crucial to maintaining them.

Did you find this an enjoyable and insightful article? Please let us know in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback! Sorry for the delay guys!


  1. Great to see you covering Necrons mate. Love the models and units and interesting to hear your take on them.

    Been tempted lately to start a small army of them since getting an airbrush

  2. Thank you much. I am new to 40K and now own at least one unit of every Necron item in the game (From original White Dwarf to Forge World). I found this very helpful and I will be back to see what else you have to say. Again, thanks!

  3. Fantastic, I'm going to save his article in my favorites. Truly great to see you writing on the Necrons. I'd love to see some others, perhaps some of the universal rules. :)