Necron Codex Review: Part 1

Well its been a couple of weeks now since the new Codex reanimated (see what I did there?) and I must say I'm very impressed with what I have seen so far. With 3 games under my belt using the new Crons in various incarnations I figured it was time for a blow by blow run down. Please keep in mind these are my own opinions based on play testing, theory and mathhammer where appropriate. Results may vary....

Part one will start by giving a run down of the various slots and units contained within them. Part two will concentrate on the Decurion detachment which will be looked at separately along with the various formations and finally the Mephrit Dynasty from Shield of Baal: Exterminatus.


We now have a whopping 11 choices to pick from for our HQ and almost everything got a points reduction across the board with the exception of crypteks who have changed drastically. 

Overlord and Lords

Overlords which used to be the power houses of the old codex have now become a lot more balanced while still appearing to be the pain the ass of our enemies. With increased WS and BS they can still hold their own in a fight, especially with the almost default option of a warscythe. They arguably got easier to kill with only a single relic granting the almighty 2+ save and the invulnerable going to a 4+ but on the other hand Reanimation Protocols (RP) can now be taken against every wound rather than when its actually dead so they pretty much balance out, especially if you can boost the RP or get a re-roll with a res orb when its needed. For a cheaper option you can also take a Lord who is just as good, has the same options but with 1 less attack and wound. This is probably a good choice if you don't plan on having your HQ in the mix of things and want to keep them out of the way or if you are saving points for some more of the juicy stuff. Interestingly both can now take a flamer for 10 points which is always an option if you have the points to spare. The Destroyer lord is pretty much unchanged except for his unit type becoming Jet Pack and his new found ability to figure out how to use the phase shifter for a 4+ invulnerable save. This does mean you have to be a bit more careful in movement if you plan on joining him to other units but it can still be done. Overall any of these are good options and gives you flexibility between points cost, destructive power and survivability to tailor your HQ into what you need it to do on the field.


These have now changed in a massive way and come in at a base 65 points. They have independent character so can join any unit and have the added bonus of improving all RP for him and his unit by +1. Sticking a Cryptek in pretty much any unit with RP will make it more survivable simply by his presence and they could become one of the go-to HQ choices when building up a combined arms detachment. They have also gained a wound and can take a chronometron for 25 points which gives him and his unit a 5+ invulnerable from shooting attacks. Not so great on a 5 lychguard but increasingly potent in a 20 man warrior squad

Special Characters

Nemesor Zahndrekh is an interesting one which can be used for all sorts of combinations and utility. 150 points gets you a 2+, 4++ and a staff of light on top of a standard Overlord profile but where he really shines is the special rules for him. Him and any unit he is with gains Counter-attack, Furious Charge, Hit and Run, Split fire, Stealth and Tank hunter if he is within 24" of an enemy unit that has those rules. Obviously this is dependant on what you face and could put him somewhere between useful and godly as a result. His other interesting ability is that if he is your warlord he starts off with the Zealot trait but can then switch to any Necron codex or rule book warlord trait at the start of each friendly turn after the first. You can't pick the same one first but the ability to suddenly decide which warlord trait you need the most for that turn can be huge. +1 reserves on turn 2, Counter-attack, Re-roll 1's to hit on shooting attacks, stealth in ruins etc etc. He is an all round good choice for the warlord if used correctly.

Vargard Obyron comes stock with WS6, 2+ save and a warscythe. He can auto pass the initiative test needed for glorious intervention and gains additional attacks in a challenge for each enemy attack that missed. Its situational and not great but its a free bonus. He also has a once per game deepstrike from his Ghostwalk Mantle for him and his squad which is good for getting out of sticky situations or rapid redeployment as needed. 

Illuminator Szeras doesn't really give much benefit. He is basically a cryptek that can buff a single unit of warriors or immortals with either T5, BS5 or S5. He also comes with a 3+ save instead of 4+ and an eldritch lance which is unchanged from its previous version except it actually has the lance rule which it previously didn't. The biggest difference with him is that being a cryptek he gains the +1 RP for his unit but it is also extended to a 6" bubble around him for other models as well. Sounds good but since it is actual models within 6" chances are its not going to effect that much.

Orikan the Diviner
Another special cryptek that gives +1 RP with the addition of re-roll saving throws of 1 for him and his unit. That in itself is huge and I have used him in a couple of games shoved in with praetorians and they become almost obscene. His melee weapon is an ap2 weapon that can re-roll all to hit rolls in close combat but the important part is that its strength: user. Why is this important? At the start of the game he has a standard cryptek profile but at the start of each friendly turn you roll a dice and if its less than the current turn number he becomes Empowered to the extend that even Bruce Banner would be impressed. Going up to WS and BS 5, S and T7 with I, W and Attacks all at 4 the ap 2 weapon makes a huge difference. 

Trazyn the Infinite
Possibly the only bad choice for an HQ. Standard overlord stats with his only special rule being that if he actually dies you roll a D6 and on a 2+ he can replace another friendly necron infantry character. The one good thing I can think to say about this that it will deny your opponent slay the warlord but since he can only effectively replace Overlords, Lords and Crypteks its really not worth it. You wouldn't replace a Cryptek because you would lose the +1 RP, you also wouldn't replace an overlord since its the same stat lines but a generic overlord can take upgrades to make them better. The only real option would be a Lord that doesn't have upgrades and is hiding in your back field somewhere. 50 points for a surrogate host seems steep when he doesn't actually do a lot himself.

Anrakyr the Traveller
I've used this guy a lot in the previous codex mainly because I love seeing my opponents shooting their own vehicles. He has taken a bit of a hit in that his mind in the machine now has a 12" range, works on a 4+ and only fires a random weapon rather than all of them on the target. He does however have counter attack and furious charge and can give the same to one friendly unit of immortals which is a nice bonus but is very expensive for the points.

Catacomb Command Barge

Although this did technically get worse it also balanced out slightly. The lord can still take a 2+ armor if you give him a relic, 4+ invuln and RP on top and will still make a mess of vehicles and bully his way through an opponents infantry. The invulnerable going to a 4+ may seem like a bit of hit but when you consider that RP is now taken after every wound the 5+ will negate some of the loss. Its also got the command wave special rule which allows friendly units within 12" to re-roll morale, pinning and fear tests for an added bonus. It wont be taking out wraith knights with ease like its previous version but with WS5 its still a great choice.


Warriors and immortals have stayed exactly the same with the exception of warriors that now have a minimum unit size of 10. This does mean that a Ghost Ark full of warriors cannot have an independent character attached but this is no real detriment. With the improvements made to gauss these can now glance on a 6 as well as wound on a 6 regardless of strength and toughness.Your basic troop load out for most necron armies will now be 5 Immortals in flyers coming in at 205 points or the 10 warriors in ghost arks at 235. Depends if you want to go for rapid deployment via the night scythes or the survivability of the ghost arks. Neither is a bad option and both work very well so its really down to the choice of which you like better.

Dedicated Transports

It makes sense to put these under their own slot as many of the following units can take them as options. The ghost ark is warriors only and has a boost in firepower with the gauss weapons becoming 5/10 salvo it means each battery can now fire the full 10 shots at full range. It also dropped by 10 points and removed the risk of glancing itself when its regenerating warriors. 

Nightscythes actually went up by 30 points but are still a very good choice for most units. They still have the ability to drop of units after moving 24" without effecting their fire power. Despite what people say Tesla is still effective even losing the additional hits when snap shooting.


The elites section did get a well needed boost to many of its units meaning that a lot of the options are now viable and not too expensive. 


They got a much needed points reduction and a squad of 5 will now only got you 125 points and they can be taken up to a squad size of 10. They come as standard with T5, 2A, 3+ save and a Warscythe and can take a night sycthe as a dedicated transport and can make a mess of anything with a unit of 5 putting out 15 strength 7, ap 2, armor bane attacks. You could, for another 5 points a model arm them with a Strength 5, ap 3 sword and give them a 3+ invulnerable but I'm not sure its worth it even if it was a free upgrade. If you wanted to increase their survivability you could shove a cryptek with them for +1 RP or Orikhan for the same with re-roll 1's on saves. The other downside is that they are just infantry so are slow moving. The main use I can see in these is to have them camp an objective and terrify any opponent who gets too close. I'm trying to like these and they are good but there are other choices that are simply better all round (see Praetorians below). Plus the fact that the majority of Lychguard have been converted to make up crypteks with the last edition may mean there are less of these available.


Rapid fire sniper rifles are never a bad thing. They also got a reduction of 5 points and a slight change to their rules. Now they wound any target on a 2+ regardless of toughness but only on the turn that they arrive by deep strike. The interception also got better and now has the potential to be useful. When an enemy unit deepstrikes you can immediately deep strike your own deathmark squad. At the end of that enemy's movement phase you can also fire at the target that arrived from reserve that turn but cannot fire its weapons in the following turn. It sounds a bit convoluted but essentially if you are playing against an opponent who deep strikes a drop pod full of melta totting marines you can deep strike near them and then shoot them at the end of the movement phase. This could be great but its very situational.

Flayed Ones

Yes they still suck, just not as bad as they previously did. Can be taken in squads of 5-20 and cost the same as warriors, stat line is pretty much the same as warriors as well but they have 3 attack base instead of a gun. They can deep strike, infiltrate and come with 2 ap 5 close combat weapons giving them an extra attack and shred. A unit of 20 of them will get people excited with their 100 attacks on the charge and re-rolling to wound but the reality of it is they are still only strength 4, and are not fearless. In every game I've tried to use these (at one point I tried using 60) they have charged into combat, lost by 2-3 and then been run down and destroyed. Its true that putting a cryptek in the unit and the changes to reanimation makes this a very survivable unit but for me they are only really any good at bullying small units and they are slow moving after the initial deployment. For the same points cost you could take warriors and shoot stuff instead.

Triarch Praetorians

These seem to be the hidden gem in the codex for me. Strength and toughness 5 with a 3+ armour save + RP makes them very durable. They also have 2 attacks at strength 5, ap2 and a 12" assault 1 strength 5, ap2 rod of covenant means they can dish out the punishment. They are also Fearless jump infantry that can take a night scythe as a dedicated transport for rapid deployment. I've used them in 3 games and a squad of 5 with a cryptek have taken on Death Company and 2 wraith knights while only losing a couple themselves due to 3+ saves and RP boosted by crypteks. You can also equip them with voidblades and particle casters for no extra cost giving them a strength 6 pistol, an extra attack at ap4 with entropic strike (think gauss sword) and rending.

Triarch Stalker

These actually got cheaper and is an armor 13/13/11 walker with a 2 shot melta gun. It dropped in points and the main benefit of using this is that every unit within 6" gains +1 BS and they can now be taken in units of 3. I've used one of these plus the destroyer cult to great effect and having that many shots hitting on 2+ can be devastating but the problem I found was that by only using 1 of them it was a giant target and the lynch pin to my army. Using these in multiples will also allow you more freedom of movement as you can spread out and still get the bonus.

C'Tan shards

I'm going to gloss over these slightly as in my opinion they are simply too expensive for what they do. The deceiver and the Nightbringer both come in at 240 points for a T7 monstrous creature with 4 wounds and a 4+ invulnerable save. Both of them have situational special rules which can be flavourful but the issue for me is their shooting attacks. You basically have 6 types which you roll for or use the cards to decide which one will be fired. These usually range from Strength 6 large blast ignores cover, Strength D assault 1 and anything in between. The main issue for me is that you have to select a target before seeing what the power actually is. You want to shoot that Revenant Titan and roll a strength 6 small blast. Shooting those 50 guardsmen behind the Aegis defence line you might get 2 D weapon shots. While there isn't really a bad shooting attack as the minimum strength for it is 6 the randomness makes it less effective for me.

Fast Attack

Lumped into the fast attack slot we also have the ghost ark and Night Scythe which have been outlined above under the dedicated transports.


What's not to like? These were great in the last edition and have gotten better and stayed the same price, less if you count in the whip coils which you will be doing anyway. They went up to T5, still 2 wounds, 3+ invulnerable save, fearless and still S6 rending. They did change to Beasts which gives them fleet and moves through cover, however which I'm not sure of the relevance since they have wraithflight meaning that they treat difficult terrain as open ground. The whip coils have been reduced to 3 points each and instead of reducing your opponents initiative they now make the wraiths I5. Pretty much an auto include if you plan on using them. They can also take a pistol or Transdimentional beamer which is an interesting choice. The beamer is essentially Gauss on crack, its ap2 that will always wound on 6's, causes instant death on 6 and cause a penetrating hit on 6's


These went up in points and can be taken in 3-9 unit size. These pretty much stayed the same but entropic strikes changed to gauss. Any 6's will wound regardless of toughness and glance regardless of armour value. They are still only toughness 3 and take double wounds from blasts.

Tomb Blades

These are an oddity for me in that most units can be given a dedicated role but the tomb blades can be custom built. They are very very versatile depending on how you make up a unit and what you want them to do. They come standard at 18 points a model, can be taken in units of 3-10 and most of the upgrades are 1 or 2 points each. They also have 4+ save (2 points each to make it 3+) and T5 with RP means they are fairly durable and with them being jetbikes they are also very quick. The versatility comes when you can either give them +1 cover save and have them stay out of the way and jump on objectives or give them ignores cover to all their shooting attacks. None of the weapon options have particularly good ap values but you can give them twin linked S5 gauss with rapid fire, twin linked S5 tesla or a S6 small blast means you can customise them to any roll you want them to play. Keep them at a distance and arm them with tesla, use them as a threat to small units with rapid fire gauss and relentless since they are jet bikes or clearing out ruins with multiple small blasts really gives you any option you want. On top of this they are unusual because the options are taken per model rather than the whole unit meaning you can mix and match as needed.


These come in units of 1-6 with the option to upgrade one to a heavy destroyer. At T5 with a S5, gauss, rapid fire at ap3 with preferred enemy means they can be devastating in the right scenario. They also have been given 2 wounds each, 3+ armor save and RP means they are also very durable. The change to Jet pack makes them slightly harder to use but does give you a 2d6 assault move to either get position for next turn or hide them as needed. They are also good for turn 5 objective stealing with their additional movements. The heavy destroyer upgrade i'm not really sold on as its 10 points for a 36" range las cannon but these can be taken as a heavy support unit by themselves so not sure what the use in putting them both in the same unit would be.

Heavy Support

The heavy support has been reshuffled and the annihilation barge which was an auto take from the last edition of the codex has been re-pointed so you now may have to think about it rather than including 3 of them by default.

Heavy Destroyers

Pretty much as the destroyers above in the fast attack slot. Can be taken in 1-3 and have all the bonuses of the destroyers but with a single las cannon instead. At 50 points each these are a little expensive for my liking but a solid choice for back field high strength shooting.

Canoptek Spyders

No change from the previous edition, for 50 points you get a T6, 3 wounds monstrous creature that can be taken in units of 1-3 and can crap out scarabs. The only difference now when spawning scarabs is that you can do it at any point in the movement phase meaning they can move 6" and then spawn allowing you to conga line the scarabs for additional charge range as needed. They can still take the fabricator claw for repairing vehicles and the gloom prism giving all units in 6" adamantium will for a little anti psychic defence. To be honest through I've always found more gauss weapons to be an equally effective psychic defence. 

Doom Scythe

This also got cheaper and the rules changed for the deathray. Its now simply a strength 10, ap1 blast rather than the line of death it used to be. Its not a bad choice but a single blast for 160 points is still a little expensive for my liking on an armour 11 flyer. 


Still really no reason to dust off these mobile line of sight blocking terrain pieces unfortunately. Stayed pretty much the same with its S8, large blast ap 3 ordnance and its gauss flux arcs but also took a little hit on its eternity gate. It no longer as the exile ray and now only works on infantry and jump infantry. I used to use this for dragging destroyers, wraiths and even a Transcendent C'tan through the portal and yelling SURPRISE! at enemy units but it seems to have even lost this amusement factor now.

Annihilation Barge

Still a great unit if used correctly. They lost the additional hits from snap shooting but placing them in cover gets around the having to jink issue and its still 4 twin linked strength 7 shots. The one downside is that it also went up to 120 points each meaning its now not the auto include it used to be.

Doomsday Cannon

This got much better and for a 5 point reduction in cost. Still essentially the same but with enough tweeks to make you consider taking them again. It now fires a S10, ap1, Large blast, Primary 1 weapon if it remains stationary so it can roll 2 dice for armour penetration and pick the highest. If it does have to move it still has a highly functional 24" range, blast S8, ap3 which can make a mess of units as needed. Also the boost to its gauss flayer arrays like the ghost arks means you can also fire 10 gauss shots to either side of it. It basically means that you could now potentially shoot at 3 different targets as needed.

Transcendent C'tan

Meh. See the C'tan shards above and this is 10 points more for an extra strength and wound.

Lords of War

Tesseract Vault

Armour 14 all round with 9 hull points is good and it gets upgraded versions of the Ctan powers. By upgraded it basically means double the range and typically up the blast radius by one band (small to large, large to apoc etc) or adding more shots to it. Still suffers from the same issues as the C'tan and costs 550 points though. For me this would be fun to use in a apocalypse game but kinda pointless and expensive for regular 40k.


Another slight dissapointment. Armour 14 all round with 6 hull points for 300 points. Has the added bonus of all enemy flyers, skimmers, jetbikes and flying monstrous creatures within 18" needing to take a dangerous terrain test whenever they move. It can put out 4 lots of assault 5 tesla shots which is fairly impressive but doesn't really do a great deal for its points.

Imotekh the Stormlord

Good old Imotekh is still here and looks like he received a promotion to a Lord of War instead of an HQ choices. For only 190 points he comes with a 2+, 4++ save, RP and It will not die meaning he is very survivable. He also comes with a S4 flamer and an 18", S6, ap 2, assault 3 staff. Any flayed ones included in your army can also re-roll their deep strike. He also has possibly one of the best entrances of any 40k character I have ever seen. Once per game in the opponents shooting phase roll a D6 for every enemy unit within 48" of him. On a 5+ they immediately take D6 strength 6, ap- hits which are randomly allocated.  This has its uses, the main one being to drop him out of a nightscythe with his praetorian guards and yelling "I HAVE ARRIVED BITCHES!" at your opponent which is always fun. Doesn't do a great deal of damage but then again it doesn't really need to. Don't forget to yell when you use his ability, its in the rules.


Still reading? wow you must be really bored. So the basic overview of this is that there isn't really any bad choices to make. There are optimal choices of course but no real bad ones. You can build your list around picking the units you like to fill a particular role and still have enough competitiveness to win games. For me though the obvious choices would be Ghost Arks, Praetorians with associated characters, Wraiths and night scythes. If you are building a combined arms detachment you can't go wrong with any of these. The previous codex almost forced you to take multiples of the same unit to increase the effectiveness of the whole army but that is now a thing of the past. Look at your army and decide what you need to take for it be effective then cherry pick the unit to fill that role. Need anti-tank, take ghost arks. Need ap 2 assault units, wraiths, praetorians or lychguard. Long range fire power, heavy destroyers, doomsday cannon or doom scythes. You really have a lot of choices and to top it all off, every choice is durable. 


  1. Great overview.

    The error I caught is that Destroyers' Gauss Cannon is Heavy 2 not Rapid Fire.

    Personally I think the heavy destroyers, while not excellent, fill a role the rest of the list struggles with which is long range anti-tank, with the majority of Necron weapons being only 24" range, plus when they are in the Destroyer Cult formation (where they get to reroll armour pen) they get very good at that job.


    1. Thanks for the comment Rathstar, they are very much appreciated and nice catch on the rapid fire for Gauss Cannons :)

      I think my main issue with the heavy destroyers is that while they do have better range I tend to play all of Necrons aggressively by pushing into the middle of the board against most opponents so longer range fire power doesn't really come up in most of my games. Hammer and Anvil deployment is a different story of course. I think realistically though my issue tends be that for the cost of a unit of heavy destroyers there are plenty of other options that give you more benefit and it tends to be a trade off between a single heavy destroyer or a unit of 3. On the one hand taking a single one may not achieve much and is easy pickings for a kill point game while the alternative of taking 3 tends to be overkill. They also strike me as being stuck firmly in the "tank killers" category and less versatile than other options in the book.


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