Necrons Review: Decurion Detachment

This time around we’re taking aim at the feature of the Necron codex that revolutionized how lists were built in 7th Edition- the Decurion detachment, variants on which have been a defining feature of all of the codices since it. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.


The Necron codex can, for a lot of purposes, be considered the first “real” 7th Edition book. The codices that preceded it (Orks, DE, GK, SW, BA) were all a bit half-baked in their own ways and relied heavily on copy-pasting the 6E versions of their books while also leaning on a supplement to make them functional. Not so Necrons, who saw major updates and changes from their previous version and did not have a specialized supplement released following on their heels; instead, it saw a much better-balanced set of units included and a new style of combi-formation replacing the previously-used “unique detachments” such as the Company of the Great Wolf, Baal Strike Force, Ork Horde, etc.

The Necron Decurion was different in that it had “slots” that consisted of formations (or, for a handful of choices, a specific combination of one or two units that was not a formation) rather than individual units. Its “troops” were the so-called Core formation and then Auxiliary choices replaced the old FA/HS/EL slots, with Command choices functioning something like non-mandatory HQs. Although a little confusing at a first glance, it’s actually easier than it seems.

The Basics

The Decurion Detachment, like most formations, are relatively strict; however, it also comes with a lot of consequent benefits as well, so we’re well compensated for our troubles. We MUST take at least one of the Core formation (a Reclamation Legion) as well as at least one Auxiliary formations/choices, with the option to take more of either and some Command choices as well. Note that virtually all of the choices within the Decurion have bonuses of their own that apply in addition to the generic Command Benefits that apply to all models contained within a Decurion- we won’t be talking much about those here, but it’s always good to keep in mind for when you’re reading the individual subsections.

The actual bonus for the Decurion are very simple and easy to underestimate- indeed, I myself did so when I first read through it. All models in it that have the Reanimation Protocols rule add +1 to their rolls (which normally brings them to a 4+, the maximum attainable) and any vehicles with the Living Metal rule ignore Crew Stunned in addition to Crew Shaken results.

As I said, this doesn’t seem like much, does it? 5+ to a 4+ is, seemingly, a fairly small change. However, look at it from a different perspective: that meager +1 to your roll means that you will be negating wounds half again as often compared to a model without it. The difference is even more pronounced for Instant Death wounds: rather than passing them on a 6+ (i.e. essentially never) you’re doing so on a 5+ (unreliable, but sometimes comes through.) Just as importantly, it does on an army-wide basis without any need for characters, auras, or anything else; your guys are just tougher, end of story. Without the Decurion, Necrons can get the bonus only on a limited, unit-by-unit basis by purchasing Crypteks and whatnot.

The implication here is enormous: the Decurion is tough to kill. REALLY tough, and since nonvehicle models by far get the better of the two bonuses (as Crew Stunned is a relatively rare result and you’ll still lose the Hull Point regardless), it wants to focus on models that have (or can gain) the Reanimation Protocols rule and make maximum use of it.


Using the Decurion

Okay, but what do you do with that? What can you take in it? Well, due to the fact that is it, in fact, a formation the Decurion’s choices are shaped heavily by the units you can take as part of it (and in which combinations.) We won’t always be able to take exactly the things we want to, and in particular Forge World models are entirely beyond our reach. But let’s take a look at the choices we do have:

  • Reclamation Legion (Core choice): Necron Overlord, Necron Immortals, Necron Warriors, Tomb Blades, optional Lychguard
  • Royal Court (Command choice): Necron Overlord, Crypteks, Necron Lords
  • Judicator Battalion (Auxiliary): Triarch Stalker, Triarch Praetorians
  • Destroyer Cult (Auxiliary): Destroyer Lord, Destroyers, optional Heavy Destroyers
  • Canoptek Harvest (Auxiliary): Canoptek Spyder, Canoptek Scarabs, Canoptek Wraiths
  • Annihilation Nexus (Auxiliary): Doomsday Ark, Annihilation Barges
  • Living Tomb (Auxiliary): Necron Obelisk, optional Monoliths
  • Deathbringer Flight (Auxiliary): Doom Scythes
  • Star-God (Auxiliary, non-formation): Any C’tan or Tesseract Vault
  • Flayed Ones (Auxiliary, non-formation): Flayed Ones
  • Deathmarks (Auxiliary, non-formation): Deathmarks

So, just at a first glance, we can say that the Judicator Battalion, Destroyer Cult, Canoptek Harvest, Flayed Ones, and Deathmarks all have some potential, as they are all predominantly composed of infantry who can benefit from the Decurion’s major bonus. Examining tournament lists quickly bears this result out: the Destroyer Cult and Canoptek Harvest are both extremely common in high-level Necron lists and especially in Decurions.


The Decurion isn’t without its problems, however- and most notable amongst them is its lack of Objective Secured as a bonus anywhere within its ranks. While its troops may be extremely difficult to kill, it’s not hard for enemies to steal objectives out from under them at the end of the game and leave them flat-footed. This is particularly relevant because of the presence of the Night Scythe, which is a wonderful way to deliver some models to a pinpoint location exactly when you need them- but if getting them there isn’t good enough by itself, then your strategy starts to fall apart.

The Decurion is thus fairly well-balanced against a simple Combined Arms detachment or other options, since it comes with a built-in weakness. For Necron generals that want to play an implacable horde that cannot be stopped, it is an excellent option- but hardly the only one, as the book is full of excellent options that can be used in a variety of ways. Necrons set the tone for the successful books of 7th edition and the Decurion was a big part of why; it showed GW how to make a flavorful and effective army in one and in a way that didn’t require jumping through extensive hoops. It’s little surprise that every single book since has followed in its footsteps.


About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

12 Responses to “Necrons Review: Decurion Detachment”

  1. Deuce11 November 11, 2015 12:41 pm #

    Will this be a series with a re-review of the auxiliary formatioformations?

    • abusepuppy November 11, 2015 4:26 pm #

      Yes. Some of the sections will be written by other people (I know CaptainA has written several, others may as well) but we will be reviewing the entire codex- and eventually other books as well- piece by piece so as to have cohesive reviews of things.

  2. Dbiesto November 11, 2015 6:59 pm #

    I played as a 1500 point chaos army with a nurgle lord, outflanking Slaanesh lord, bikes with FNP and 5 Nurgle spawn with 3 blastmasters and a chaos daemon Prince of Nurgle with feel no pain and it will not die. By turn 5 all I had left was two squads of blastmasters, I only killed one squad that failed a morale check. The 4+/5+ repair protocol in addition to my opponent rolling like fire, each squad had relentless and his lord had zealot. I tried to take out his lord, but now that repair protocols can be used before death, he saved about 4 invulnerables and 8 repair rolls. I had to use my Nurgle lord lightning claws, while his zealot bodyguard of immortals slowly brought down my chaos spawn and my Nurgle Prince.

    Necron Swarm:


    Overlord with 4+ invulnerable and war scythe, zealot trait

    30-40 warriors

    30 immortals

    6 tomblades 3+ saves Str 6 blasts

    I think all of them were relentless too so once they got to midfield I died to overwhelming gauss shots, with immortals rapid firing my outflanking bikes. #OldVoice Back when I played Necrons in 5th they didn’t get repair from power weapons or double strength and they DEFINITELY had to be killed before repairing multi wound models ?

    • abusepuppy November 11, 2015 11:29 pm #

      > they didn’t get repair from power weapons or double strength and they DEFINITELY had to be killed before repairing multi wound models

      Sorry to break it to you, but you’re actually older than you think- that’s the 3rd Edition book where they couldn’t repair from Power Weapons or Instant Death hits, not the 5th Ed book. (Also, since every single Necron Lord took a Resurrection Orb, they actually _could_ still repair from those things even in 3E.)

      The change to Reanimation Protocols happening for each wound rather than an ability that works once you are killed is definitely pretty huge, though. On the one hand, you get to roll it more times for multiwound characters, but on the other hand you’ll never have to kill a Command Barge six times in a row and watch it just stand up and assault another unit every turn.

      • Ibushi November 11, 2015 11:40 pm #

        This is the perfect comment to capture how Necron toughness has changed, and while it is probably tougher, it is now much less annoying (in that way).

        Good stuff AP, keep the brain cogs moving!

  3. Reecius November 12, 2015 7:39 am #

    Good review, AP! I liked it.

  4. Vilicate November 12, 2015 9:21 am #

    The Decurion gets a lot of hate in our meta; it just seems like people should understand that the weakness of the army is assault, and not all problems can be solved by shooting alone.

    • abusepuppy November 12, 2015 9:34 am #

      Yeah, I’ve been shocked to learn that a lot of places consider the Decurion as/more power powerful than Eldar and detest it strongly. While it’s certainly not bad, it has a lot of weaknesses that can easily be taken advantage of.

    • fluger November 12, 2015 12:04 pm #

      Yeah, the few times I’ve played it with my softer Ork lists I can usually do well since I get into melee and grind them down.

    • Rezolut January 6, 2016 11:58 pm #

      Main weakness of decurion are well balanced formations 😀 You can´t combine properly hard hitting melee with dakka. And when playing with 3 cannoptek harvest you definitly need go first especialy againts scatter hell to put on RP or you are dead in turn 3 😀 And decurion (necrons at all) has no real counter on wolfstars and librarian conclave stars 🙁

  5. Dbiesto November 12, 2015 10:03 am #

    The only weakness I have found against them are leadership modifiers, but when the Necron lord has zealot the squad he is with automatically pass tests. Very hard to break them because of this, plus repair buffs. I realized I should have ignored the old and bodyguard and attacked everyone else first, that might have changed my game.

    • Reecius December 9, 2015 4:56 pm #

      Yeah, running them down is the easiest way to take Necrons out.

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