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Warhammer 40,000 NEW Codex Necrons Review – 40k 9th Edition

The 9th edition of Warhammer 40,000 kicked off in style with the Indomitus box filled with brand new Space Marine and Necron models! If you are anything like me then you will have been counting down the days until the new 40k 9th edition Necrons Codex is released, and today our wishes have been answered! Today Codex Necrons (Alongside Codex Space Marines, which we take a look at here) is up for pre order. We have been very lucky to get sent an early copy from Games Workshop to review and share with you guys!

If you would like to help support the site then why not order your Necron pre orders from our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too!

If you would rather watch than read this review then you can check out our Necron review video from our YouTube page below!

Codex Necrons Review (2020)

After slumbering for 60 million years we can probably forgive the Necrons the wait for the new Codex since we got the first exciting glimpses of the new range in Indomitus, but it has certainly been worth the wait. Codex Necrons contains not just the new profiles we would expect , but also new Crusade content, updated lore and even a digital version of the content that can be unlocked in the official Warhammer 40,000 app! Games workshop have really upped their game with this book – so grab a fresh brew, sit back and let’s explore the new book together!

Presentation and Layout

Codex Necrons is an absolutely gorgeous book from the stylishly retro cover art to the awe inspiring new pieces of artwork within such as the double page spread of the Silent King addressing a mass gathering on Necrons, the book is a visual treat. It’s not just the new artwork that helps this though, we have great stuff like a stylised Necron map of the galaxy showing which territories each dynasty controls and Necron glyphs and symbology acting as page edgings. We also get some beautiful photographs of the miniatures range including a double page spread of one of the staff Crusade armies – stuff like this is nice to see as a contrast to the ‘Eavy Metal style to give you more ideas of how other hobbyists have painted their armies

Another area where the Codex has improved massively is the layout and organisation of the book. Colour coded side bars separate out the gaming contents to make them really easy to find while flicking through the book. Matched Play and Crusade specific rules are all separated out into their own sections, while general army rules that can be used in any way of playing are contained in another. The rules flow really well by doing this and makes it simple to look up and rules queries. This is improved further by the book having a full glossary of all rules terms in the back with a summary of the rule and a page reference to the full section – this is something I’ve wanted to see in Codexes for ages, and it really is a brilliant addition. What is also a great addition is the “cheat sheet” on the very back page of the book covering all the key rules and abilities you will use for your army – I’ve very often had to print out a sheet of key rules so I don’t forget them during a game, but in the new 9th edition Codexes this is already done for us in the very back of the book!

The next massive improvement is how points values are arranged. I think it’s fair to say that working out points for an army manually in 8th edition was a bit of a painful exercise, but that has been given a great makeover for 9th edition! The points are now split by battlefield role (Heavy, Elite, HQ etc) and within those sections list each unit in alphabetical order each entry then has a page reference for the rules plus the points cost for the unit or each model in the unit, majority of these have the weapon costs folded into them, with any alternate wargear or weapon options simply being listed directly under that entry – no more looking in a different section for the weapon costs! This makes it so much easier to see how much units are without lots of flicking back and forth through the book.

The Lore

The Necron lore has evolved over the years since they first appeared as a whispered about unknown threat beneath the sands in Gorkamorka all the way up to the reveal of the Paraiah Nexus in the Core Rulebook, and this continues in the new Codex. We learn all about Szarekh’s master plan and why exactly he is constructing this network of pylons across the galaxy – let’s just say it isn’t just to get rid of Chaos…

The first 37 pages are jam packed with lore, maps. stories and info on the Necrontyr, the War in heaven, various war zones they are currently battling over and background to all the named characters in the book, If you want to learn about the Necrons then you will want to soak up this info!

In particular we get a great section discussing the Silent King himself and what he has been up to over the last 60 million years – as the big centrepiece of this release it’s good to see the lore advanced regarding him, and I’m interested to see how Games Workshop start weaving the continuing story together with future books and supplements.

The Rules

So on to the really exciting part, the rules! When you construct a Necron detachment, as long as every model has the NECRONS keyword then you get access to some additional rules. Firstly, as usual, your troops are Objective Secured. You also have to follow the strict hierarchy of the Necons, which gives you an order of rank from which to determine who your Warlord is – I like this as it forces the highest ranked Necron to be the leader of your force rather than a random Plasmancer who for some reason is leading the army! You are also limited to a maximum of one C’tan per detachment, as these are rare and powerful units which you wouldnt expect to see multiples of in a force.

Core units

Some units in the book have the new “Core” keyword, and a lot of aura abilities will only affect those units that have the matching keyword – this adds an element of management to which units you want to be supported by characters, so for example you won’t be able to use My Will Be Done on a Doomstalker as it does not have the correct keyword. You’ll want to keep this in mind when building lists to maximise the synergies of units

Reanimation Protocols

The way reanimation protocols have been reworked in this edition of the Codex – no longer are you rolling for these in the Command Phase, instead every time an enemy unit attacks and kills models from your unit you will immediately roll for reanimation once they have completed their attacks if the Necron unit has not been completely destroyed. You gather a number of dice equal to the combined wounds of models that have been destroyed by those attacks, and put each result of 5+ into a pool. You then spend this pool to return models with each wound on their profile costing a dice from the pool. So for example if 4 Necron warriors get killed, but you rolled 2 5+’s then two Necrons would return, but if a Skorpekh Destroyer was killed and only 2 or your 3 dice had results of 5+ then you would not be able to return any models.

This does make it tougher to return multi wound models, however lots of units have had Reanimation Protocols added to their profiles meaning a lot more of your army is rolling to come back!

There are also still ways of returning models in the Command Phase – The Technomancer and Illuminor Szeras have the Rites of Reanimation rule which allows them to return a model to a CORE unit each turn, and if the unit is Necron warriors then they return D3 models! This feels similar to the way undead armies work in Age of Sigmar

Ghost Arks also have the Repair Barge rule that has a similar ability to bring back D3 Necron Warriors a turn.

Both of these abilties can be improved further to bring back more models through stratagems and Canoptek upgrades exist that can make the rites of reanimation able to be used on Destroyer and Canoptek units too!

Living Metal also still exists as a way of returning lost wounds in the command phase, and these now seem to be on most multi wound models making your forces a lot more survivable

Command Protocols

A new mechanic in the Necron Codex are Command Protocols. These work in a similar way to the doctrines of the Space Marine, but are more customisable in the way that you select which of the 6 are active in each Battle Round – Now, you do have to try and see the future a little as the other is picked at the start of the game and you cannot usually repeat any (Outside of some special rules that do allow this)

Each protocol has a choice of 2 directives that are active that battleround for units that are within 6″ of any chatacter units. This makes positioning and planning ahead crucial in a Necron army in order to maximise the benefits of these abilities.

Each Dynasty also has a protocol that they favour, when this one is active units get the benefit of both of the directives

I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with these and if any clear cut winners arise in the order that you want to play them.

Dynastic Codes

Each unit (except for those with the Dynastic Agent and C’tan shards) also gain a Dynastic Code which is based on their Dynasty – think Space Marine Chapters for an Imperium comparison! These add some flavourful rules that effect how the army plays on the battlefield and a Protocol (again think a Necron flavour of combat doctrines!) that they favour. These can make armies of different dynasties operate in quite a different way to each other from Mephrit extending the range of their weapons to Szarekhan getting the ability to shrug morrtal wounds and reroll a single wound a turn per unit. This is expanded further by the ability to create your own dynasty!

Dynasties are created by picking one of 12 different traditions and one of 7 circumstances of awakening to make your own pick-and-mix dynasty. There’s some really cool stuff in here such as giving units +1 to hit against characters or letting your entire army move 6″ before the first turn. You will miss out on some of the Dynasty specific rules, but it does give you the freedom to craft your own combo of abiltiies.

Stratagems

New to the 9th edition Codexes are categories of stratagems – essentially, each stratagem falls under a header of one of 5 categories: Battle Tactics, Epic Deeds, Requisition, Strategic Play, Wargear. This gatherers together the strats that work in similar ways and colour codes them in the book to make them easy to find. Across the two new books we have seen some rules that interact with a specific category of strat, and I imagine this is something we will see expanded in future books and supplements.

There’s some really cool stuff in here, will a list a few of my favourites below:

Techno-Oracular Targetting – Ever wanted to be absolutely, positively sure that you are going to kill a unit? Well this strat makes a hit into a wound without having to roll a dice!

The Deathless Arise – Want to make the most of a Technomancers ability to bring back models in the Command Phase? This will let them do their Rites of Reanimation an additional time!

Aetheric Interception – Fed up of pesky units deep striking into the battlefield? Use this stratagem and you can bring down one of your own Hyperspace Hunter units from reserve within 18″ of them and shoot with them!

Revenge of the Doomstalker – I am a massive fan of Doomstalkers, with their War of the Worlds vibe and death dealing cannons – so what better way to get revenge on a fallen character than to immediately get a Doomstalker to shoot them and get +1 to hit against that target for the rest of the game!

Disintegration Capacitors – Want to try and force some damage on a high toughness target? Use this stratagem and any hit of 6 automatically becomes a wound! Mass shooting from a big block of Necrons should push through some damage they may have otherwise struggled to wound!

We also get a unique stratagem for each Dynasty – these are pretty good and play to the strengths of the dynasty in question from Novokh getting a way to give units +1 attack to Szarekhan getting a way of denying psychic powers on a 4+.

Cryptek Arkana

Another cool addition to the Necron codex is the ability to upgrade your Crypteks with items at a points cost. These do not count as relics, but more like unique wargear upgrades to equip to your units. It seems that Games Workshop are moving away from using Stratagems as a way of giving these kind of upgrades to units, making things easier to balance by giving them a points value, which is a great change in my opinion!

I really like a lot of these upgrades and it’ll be fun to pick what to give to my Crypteks – I imagine a lot of people will be including the Phyancterine Hive. This upgrade enables the Technomancer to use Rites of Reanimation on pretty much any unit in the book, making it really easy to summon back your Destroyers! It is one use only, but can make all the difference to add a crucial model back to a unit of Skorpekh Destroyers for example or perhaps even a 6 wound Canoptek Spider!

Warlord Traits

As usual, we get a choice of Warlord Traits, both generic options and some Dynasty specific ones and there are some good picks in both! We see Enduring Will which reduces damage on your Warlord by 1 making them a little more survivable and ways of increasing attacks on a scary combat character with Honourable Combatant which allows the character to “challenge” an enemy character in exchange for 2 extra attacks, but they can only target that unit this turn.

I feel the dynasty specific ones are a little stronger with traits such as The Triarch’s Will which allows Szarekhan warlords to have a command protocol apply for 2 turns rather than 1.

Relics

Like with the traits we have a good mix of relics, including some old favourites such as the Veil of Darkness which allows you to move the bearer and another unit anywhere on the battlefield more than 9″ away from enemy units, really handy to set up an aggressive first turn charge or lock down an early objective.

There’s a way of ignoring any wound shrug abilities such as Disgustingly Resilient with the Voidreaper, a rather tasty scythe varient.

Each Dynasty also gets a unique relic such as the Sovereign Coronal for Szarekhan that extends the range of Protocols and allows units in range to get the benefit of both directives.

Powers of the C’tan

The C’tan get a list of powers that take a similar role to psychic powers for other races, but as they are just based on a dice roll to see if they go off then they cannot be denied. There’s some great abilities here and the oppotunity to push through a pile of mortal wounds (or even outright destroy models with the Time’s Arrow power!)

Each named C’tan also gets a unique ability such as the rather scary Cosmic Insanity in which you and your opponent roll a D6 and add your leadership (which is 10 for a C’tan) with your target taking the difference between the two! This could outright kill some low leadership characters on a decent roll!

Matched Play

To add to the Secondary Objectives in the core rulebook, we also get some additional Necron Specific ones – if you choose to you can select one of these secondaries to use (this is in addition to the usual restrictions of one per category)

These are really thematic for the army, and seem manageable to achieve for Necrons

Code of Combat – You score 3 victory points for each unit defeated by a Noble, this seems great if you have a blender of a combat character to wade through units.

Purge the Vermin – You gain 2 victory points each turn for each quarter without any enemy units in it

Treasures of Aeons – Your opponent picks three objective markers and you get points based on how many you hold each turn

Ancient Machineries – An action based objective where you perform an action that lasts until your next command phase to gain 3VP from 3 different objectives.

Crusade

One of my favourite parts of Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition is the Crusade system, so it was great to see the amount of brand new Crusade content in this book!

Much like with the Matched Play secondaries, we also get some Necron specific agendas. These again play to the strengths of the Necrons to give you some suitably fitting goals from a narrative point of view to increase the experience earned by your units and grow the developing story of your Crusade force.

We also see some new requisitions including one that unlocks the new Arkana items (You still have to pay the increased power cost however), one that gives a vehicle a weapon improvement and even one to represent your Lord or Overlord falling to he madness of the Destroyer Cult – I’m looking forward to seeing what conversions people do to their miniatures to represent these “upgraded” characters!

The Necrons get additions to the Battle Traits, weapon enhancements and battle scar available when units “level up” with a nice mix of abilities that add some flavour over the options in the core book – this keeps Crusade games fresh by mixing up the options available to you. The Battle Scars are similar to those in Beyond the Veil in that they have both and upside and a downside, which may encourage you to actually keep them and not simply burn a requisition point to get rid of it! We also get a couple of new Crusade Relics to supplement the ones in the core book, again with a distinctly Necron flavour to them!

My favourite part of this section is however the Dynastic Epithets – The Necrons are known for having overblown tiles singing praise to their glorious deeds. Every time your warlord wins a battle then they gain a new epithet randomly selected from 2 D66 charts! There’s some really run titles here like “Breaker of the Beings Below” and “Scourge of the Blood Worlds” and I can see a Necron character gaining a completely over the top string of titles over the course of a campaign. There is a benefit to collecting these however, as every third one you pick up gives you access to a new ability such as “Restorer of Empires” which allows you to increase your supply limit after ever win, or Arkane Collector where they gain bonus XP if they kill a character with a relic! I think this is a really nice touch that adds to the narrative element of the game and lets you start to craft continuing stories with your characters.

Datasheets

The remainder of the book is filled with the unit datasheets, and we see quite a lot of changes for most of the old units as well as the profiles for the new stuff – I’m going to mostly focus on the new miniatures here rather than go into detail on every datasheet, but will touch on anything with some bigger changes – so dont panic if I don’t mention a unit, nothing has been removed.

HQ

In the HQ section we see all the named characters return, most with some small tweaks to the way they work – Anrakyr now for example has to roll over the leadership of the target for Mind in the Machine on 3D6 rather than simply rolling a 4+

Illuminor Szeras probably gets the biggest change here – He now has access to the Rites of Reanimation (And can do it 2 times a turn) meaning he can summon back core models in the Command Phase. His shooting profile now has a 36″ range too meaning he can safely stay out of the way while healing his minions! Mechanical Augmentation is much the same but now effects CORE units giving him a couple more targets to augment.

The old Destroyer Lord is now a Lokhust Lord, sadly still has the aging model, but sure a kitbash between the new Destroyer and the Overlord would work!

We get a big change with the Crypteks – they are now split between the Technomancer (the current Cryptek models) who specialise in bringing back models with Rites of Reanimation, the Psychomancer who can select an enemy unit within 12″ and if they beast their leadership on 3D6 can give them a debuff such as making them lose objective secured or shutting down overwatch. The Chronomancer manipulates time to give a chosen unit a 5+ invulnerable save and the ability to reroll charges, and the Plasmancer who has had a little upgrade from Indomitus in that he can now use Harbinger of Destruction when he advances.

In a way to combat the amount of slots you may need for heroes, you can take 2 Cypteks per slot as long as you have a model with the Noble keyword in your force.

Troops

Necron Warriors see a considerable improvement from Indomitus in the fact that Gauss Reapers are now 12″ Assault 2, making them excellent units to jump out of a Ghost Ask or bring on from reserves! Yes, the overall range is shorter, but being able to put out 40 S5 AP-2 shots from a squad of 20 that have just jumped out from the board edge will ruin anyone’s day!

Immortals have had a small nerf in the fact that Tesla now only activates on unmodified 6’s making the blaster potentially the better option. They still only have 1 wound, but as they are core they can be returned using Rites of Reanimation – personally I think point for point the Warriors win here for bet troops choice.

Elites

The Canoptek Reanimator has taken a bit of a hit as the beam only has a 6 inch range and the target needs to be visible to it, meaning you can no longer hide it behind things

The Hexmark Destroyer is a cool new unit that can pop up out of reserves and shoot something with it’s many, many pistols – each time it kills a model it gets to shoot again (But those shots do not generate any more) – he is also always hitting on 2s in Overwatch, so you probably don’t want to charge this guy!

Deathmarks have been massively improved by their new gun being S5 AP-2 (and inflicting mortal wounds on wounds of 6’s) making them a real threat against characters – 10 of them should be able to make short work of any enemy targets handing out aura buffs

Skorpekh Destoryers can be taken in units of 6 and they have the living metal rule making them a little more survivable, the Plasmacyte is now a separate unit stopping any tricks by using him as a spare wound.

The Triarch Stalker has the new Quantum Shielding rule, which is now a 5+ invulnerable save and can only be wounded on a 4+ regardless of Strength.

C’tan are scary, very scary – the Nightbringer in particular seems to be the standout choice for me as now rightly reflects his godlike abilities! This guy is hitting on S14 at Ap-4 doing D6 damage per wound and ignoring all Invulnerable saves and any abilities that ignore wounds! The Nightbringer will be eating Custodes, Characters and Death Guard for Breakfast as most will get a 6+ save at best with no other way of saving wounds! The new Void Dragon is a really cool anti-armour unit who should make short work of vehicles and infantry alike! They are a lot more expensive than they used to be, but the C’tan are very good now!

Fast Attack

The new Ophydian Destroyers are basically a faster Skorpekh with lower Strength. They have an ability that makes then -1 to hit and can deploy outside of 9″ on enemies making them a great quick and aggressive unit. Gives you a few more slots in the detachment if you want to create a destroyer heavy force.

Triarch Praetorians seem very good now, 2 damage on the Rod makes them excellent Space Marine hunters and they have keywords that key off some of the Silent Kings abilities too which makes up for the lack of Core keyword. Living Metal also means that if you don’t kill one outright then it is healing up again next turn.

Heavy

The new Lokhust Heavy Destroyers have a choice of two weapon options, a decent looking Heavy 3D3 S7 anti infantry gun with Blast and a single shot high strength high damage gun – You can also take up to 3 in a unit freeing up some precious Heavy slots! At T5 and 4 wounds with living metal they are pretty durable and have the reanimation protocols rule too!

The Canoptek Doomstalker has a really cool rule where it gets a free overwatch shot every time a friendly unit within 6″, meaning that potentially it could do this multiple times during a turn! And as it doesn’t use the “Overwatch” stratagem to do this, you can still overwatch with the original target too if you want! Dialing this up to 11, if you have multiple Doomstalkers near a valuable unit them they can ALL fire overwatch every time that unit is charged! I’ll be taking as many of these as I can fit in my list! Did I mention it can potentially do 36 damage too? Yeah, these are really good!

Transport

Ghost Arks seem a good choice to bring along just for their ability to heal up Warrior units, stick 10 with Reapers in one – fly it up the battlefield and happily sit on an objective while bringing back dead warriors each turn!

Night Scythes are now just a standard transport that caries 20 models too, which all the pluses and minus that entails! Sadly you can’t put any destroyers in them however! (though they are probably quick enough on foot!)

Lord of War

The Monolith has moved here, had more wounds added to it and been given the option of Death Rays instead of the Gauss arcs – surprisingly it’s also very good in close combat as it auto hits with 6 S8 AP -3 3 damage attacks! You can still teleport things out of it using the Eternity Gate, and the models that hop out don’t need to be 9″ away from enemy models – sadly again you cant use this to being in Destroyers however, as it can only be used on Core units.

The Silent King is a phenomenal model and the rules do it justice too! He has a massive list of buffs that he can hand out to Core and Triacrch Praetorian units allowing a commination of hits and wounds to be rerolled depending on if the units are shooting or in close combat and can use My Will be Done twice a turn, while also increasing the movement of nearby units to keep up with him. He also has a total of 13 attacks across 3 different close combat abilities making him a bit of a combat beast! He also gets two “Bodyguard” Menhirs that shoot S12 annihilator beams and have to take damage before him – as they have 5 wounds each you are going to have to do a total of 26 wounds to slay Szaerkh! This guy is expensive in points, but seems well worth taking!

Fortification

The Convergence of Dominion is the Necron Building piece that essentially becomes a network of nodes that both extend the range of Protocols while also having a pretty good shooting attack – Crypteks can do an action to redeploy them too! I’m not sure they are worth the points, but a decent way of giving protocol coverage on the board – plus they look really cool!

Conclusion

So what do I think of the Necron Codex? I think this is a great start to 9th edition with some really fun abilities and mechanics! Reanimation protocols have undergone a massive change, but there’s enough cool abilities in the book to bring models back in the command phase that keeps Necron units in the fight for a long time! Fans of Destroyers may not been as much of a fan of these changes, but the fact that pretty much every unit gains Living Metal also means these units will be tough to shift! I can’t wait to try out some new battles using the new units in the book and seeing how they perform on the table!

The presentation and usability of the book is a massive improvement over previous Codexes and sets a great precedent for the future of this edition. Making army lists is infinitely easier with the new way points are arranged, and the reference material and “cheat sheets” in the back of the book makes this the most “user friendly” book we have seen from Games Workshop for a long time!

Codex Necrons is now available to order.

Please check out our Codex Space Marines review too for more 9th edition content!

Games Workshop provided Sprues and Brews with a copy of Codex Necrons for review purposes

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