Why Doesn’t the Necron Horde work?

Hey everyone, SaltyJohn from TFG Radio here to talk to you today about something I haven’t posted about in a few months. The tactical part of 40k.

If you’ve been reading Frontline Gaming articles for a long time you might remember there was a time in 6th and 7th editions where I was one of the more prolific tactics article writers, particularly for Marine based armies. In 8th edition, I have not written too many of the tactics articles for a few reasons. The first is after Bay Area Open last year I didn’t have much time to game because I was focusing on the beginning of the school year, I am a teacher, and coaching my son’s soccer team. Then it was the run-up to head judging the Las Vegas Open, and after that, I got busy writing the weekly article about the changes in the ITC standings for 40k and running our local 40k league at our FLGS. This has left little time for writing tactics articles, but I have had plenty of time to ruminate on things and I decided to finally put pen to paper, so to speak, and discuss something tactical. Notably, why Necron horde armies using Necron Warriors, don’t seem to work.

If you listen to TFG Radio or you read my article about speed painting armies you might know I recently began playing Necrons. I purchased, built, and began painting a massive Necron Horde list. I have played several games with it, including some at a local RTT, and it just doesn’t seem to work in as effective a manner as the other horde lists we see out there in 40k today. So I sat down with my Necron codex, after yet another humiliating defeat, and I came to a couple of conclusions. Before we discuss that though, let’s talk about what the catalyst for this list is in the first place.

Man, I wish these were still good and cost an appropriate number of points!

When the Necron codex first arrived on the scene there were many people saying the base for every Necron list would be 60 Warriors, Overlord with Orb, and a Cryptek. Build from there. Assuming, of course, it’s ITC format you would, of course, build the beginning of the list as a Battalion with 3 squads of 19 rather than 20. On paper, it sounds pretty decent. Warriors are M5 WS3+ BS3+ S4 T4 W1 A1 Ld10 Sv4+ much as they have been for a few editions now. They have Reanimation Protocols meaning if one dies, from anything other than morale, it can get back up at the start of your turn on a 5+. The Gauss Flayer is the only weapon option for Warriors and it is a 24in range Rapid Fire 1 s4 Ap-1 D1 gun. With most people, at the beginning at least, thinking you take Mephrit as your dynasty those weapons are now Ap-2 which is not shabby. Including a Cryptek with Chronometron for a 5+ Invulnerable save and +1 to Reanimation Protocol rolls made the 57 Warriors even more enticing. Taking an Overlord to grant My Will Be Done, +1 to hit while shooting, and being able to give it to two units via a Stratagem, and the Res Orb giving you an additional chance to Reanimate and it’s sounding better and better! So where’s the problem!?

The problem begins with the movement stat. They only move 5 inches a turn. While there are many horde type armies in the game they all have mechanics to get them to the enemy faster. While the Sautekh might get you there a little faster with their ability to Advance and treat their weapons as Assault weapons are good you’re still just going a d6 further a turn. The army has access to a few movement tricks. Veil of Darkness is a relic that one character can take. It allows you to deep strike that character and 1 Necron infantry unit anywhere on the table outside 9 inches of the enemy. Sounds cool, but with the number of screens still in the meta and most opponents being savvy to deploy and move in such a way as to mitigate your Deepstrike advantages deep striking a unit of 19 Warriors isn’t too feasible, plus most of the time it would be better to take a unit of Immortals or Lychguard instead! You could use the Deceiver to move 1-3 of the 19 man units, but then you might be leaving behind the Cryptek, a much needed support character to them and you still have the same problem with having room to Grand Illusion everyone to an opportune position on the battlefield. Another option would be to deploy them on the Tomb World and use Night Scythes to Invasion Beam them onto the battlefield. That, however, besides being reliant upon your opponent making a fortuitous mistake in movement and deployment still, is reliant on either taking enough Night Scythes to mitigate the turn 1 attrition on them or hoping for the best use of the Emergency Invasion Beam stratagem. Which brings us to the next big problem with the Necron Horde. Cost.

The Battalion mentioned above: Overlord, Cryptek, and 3 squads of 19 Necron Warriors clocks in at a hefty 899 points. That outpaces the cost of all the other horde battalions, some of them by almost 600 points. Alpha Cultists, Astra Conscript and Infantry spam, Gaunt shame, and even Ork Boy/Weird Boy horde all come in under the Necron horde Battalion. This is especially problematic for Necrons because their other good units are so expensive. While they are far less likely to get wiped out by your opponent the Necron Battalion doesn’t have any of the movement benefits/shenanigans of the other good hordes. Astra Militarum wants those bodies as screens and as a CP factory through Kurov’s Aquila and the Grand Strategies Warlord trait, it’s also the cheapest of the horde options and doesn’t need mobility. The Alpha Legion cultists can outflank, Ork Boyz can “da’ jump” and the Nids can crawl across the field and get to you faster than Necrons could ever hope to. When you combine their high price tag with their low mobility the higher resiliency and subsequent lower attrition rates just aren’t paying off.

So does this leave Necrons out in the cold? No, of course not. It does mean that the idea of Legions of Necron Warriors rising from their tomb worlds and stalking across the battlefields of the 41st millennium in innumerable and implacable numbers will have to remain a part of the fluff only. That’s just the thing with the Necron codex, the units you want to take to compliment those undying hordes are priced out pointwise by the over costed Warriors. You want Canoptek Wraiths, Destroyers, and perhaps Scarabs, in Outrider detachments and you’d love for that Outrider to be accompanied by a nice horde of Warriors in a Battalion but it doesn’t work. Destroyers and Wraiths are the real stand out units in the new Necron Codex, and you can support them with a Battalion of Tesla Immortals, but it just isn’t as survivable as the 57 Warriors. C’tan, Tesseract Vaults, and Doomsday Arks are also all solid choices in the codex but they too are priced out of a Warrior Horde list by the over costed Warriors.

All that said, does this mean Necron Warriors have no place in competitive or even competent Necron lists in 8th edition? Absolutely not. There’s still a role for a unit of 19 Warriors and a Cryptek sitting on backfield objectives not dying all game or marching up and taking the midfield objective and then, not dying. If you want to run a big block of Warriors it is still plausible to do so in a Necron list, the point here is that the initial idea of the Necron horde has proven untenable at this point in 8th. Perhaps a point reduction to Warriors in the next big FAQ or with the next Chapter Approved could breathe some life into that idea, we’ll have to wait and see!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

26 Responses to “Why Doesn’t the Necron Horde work?”

  1. Avatar
    Xenos Player June 18, 2018 4:14 am #

    Did you try Nephrekh to get them up the board quicker. I am interested to see what can be done with Necrons. I took Tyranids to the LGT but I have a competition in November and world like to take my Necrons. I’ve taken them three times in the last two weeks. I’ve won all the games, with three blobs of warriors, destroyers and wraiths and so far so good. I know that mine is not a strong meta however. I like to be able to hide the destroyers with the nephrekh strategem but it seems like bringing squads of 5 immortals to get the CP is just giving away kill points.

  2. Avatar
    Davis Centis June 18, 2018 5:17 am #

    Not 100% sure I agree. My friend has been playing Necrons all of 8th edition, and recently attended an ITC event where he went 4-1. He used Mephrit and a horde of Necrons as his core. The main thing was that he was playing the Necrons for the long game, using them to zone out medium-to-close range threats to his big stuff, and abused line of sight blocking so that it was very difficult to wipe a squad out. He would save his Veil of Time artifact for closer to the end of the game, once the opponent’s forces and boxed out areas were smaller, rather than using it early.

    I think the difference now with Necron hordes is that they require a much different approach to being a horde than other horde armies. The concepts and ideas that work for other Horde armies don’t exactly apply to the Necrons.

  3. Reecius
    Reecius June 18, 2018 7:43 am #

    I have to agree with you gents. I play a Necron Horde style army (or phalanx or whatever you want to call it) and it works quite well. Novokh is where it’s at, IMO. The bonuses to melee + Anrakyr make them quite scary.

    • Avatar
      adam Fasoldt June 18, 2018 12:45 pm #

      I literally have 160 Necron Warriors. I was actually wondering if Novokh might be the way to go with my army. I’ll have a go at it.

      • Reecius
        Reecius June 18, 2018 1:39 pm #

        Yeah, the Fearless warlord trait, and support characters (Anrakyr is mission critical) and you have Warriors hitting on 2’s with 2 attacks a pop in addition to their strong shooting, too.

        I take a Ghost Ark to keep them coming back with 75% efficiency and it works very well.

        Now, I don’t ONLY take Warriors though, I also have a unit of Destroyers and Wraiths who rock in this edition. That gives me deadly shooting and solid melee/tar-pit and so far it has worked very well for me.

        • SaltyJohn
          SaltyJohn June 20, 2018 4:33 pm #

          I am definitely going to try that out Reece. The Warriors hitting on 2s with 2 attacks apiece would be nice in combat.

  4. Avatar
    Brakhal June 18, 2018 9:11 am #

    The only dinasty I can see fielding a warrior horde decently is Nihilakh, cause it is the only one with a resource that makes them durable enough for their cost (reclaim a lost empire). It can also be combined effectively with Anrakyr, a chronometron, inmortal pride and the various (and usually redundant) protocol rerolls.

    IMO, reanimation protocols is not a good model recovery rule. It requires at least for a model in the unit to survive (and the first tactic everyone learns is to erradicate targets to the last model), and it can be null with CC placement. Is not useless, but it requires sinergies for durability enhancement that necrons are lacking. No psychic powers and no stratagems (besides the nihilakh one) in that department.

  5. Avatar
    Kevin Bates June 18, 2018 10:32 am #

    I’m not familiar with Necrons, what’s the justification for 19 over 20?

    • Avatar
      Dakkath June 18, 2018 12:18 pm #

      One of the ITC secondary missions gives points based on the model count of the destroyed unit. It increments in 10s, so a 19-model unit gives up the same points as a 10-model unit, but a full 20-model unit will give up extra points to the secondary.

  6. Avatar
    abusepuppy June 18, 2018 4:06 pm #

    I think the problem with the Necron horde is more fundamental than that: Resurrection Protocols only triggers at the beginning if your turn, and only if at least one model from the unit is still on the table. And without RP, Necron Warriors are just overpriced Space Marines. With 8th edition being drastically more lethal than before,virtually all lists should be able to vaporize an entire squad of Warriors in a single turn, or even several squads, and there’s very little that the Necron player can do about this. You certainly can’t hide multiple units of 19 models out of line of sight, and huge blocks of infantry are perfect for assault armies to wrap themselves around and stay locked in combat.

    • Avatar
      WestRider June 18, 2018 6:33 pm #

      This is exactly what I’ve seen happening. RP working like this was fine in 3rd and 4th, because the hitting power wasn’t really available to clear those Units so quickly, but now it’s more or less a standard benchmark to be able to finish off a Unit of 20 Warriors in a single Turn.

      • Avatar
        Vercingatorix June 18, 2018 9:12 pm #

        Its a mechanic that approaches useless in the games necrons need it the most but helps them the most in games they’re winning. It’s not a good mechanic.

    • Avatar
      Anggul June 18, 2018 11:41 pm #

      Did they ever explain why it switched back from being a backup-save type rule?

      • Avatar
        abusepuppy June 19, 2018 2:12 am #

        More thematic, I would assume, and makes Necrons more differentiated from armies like Death Guard that similarly have a universal FNP save across the board.

        I get the reasoning, but mechanically it’s very problematic because of the ability to wipe out whole units. I feel like it’s a rule that could’ve used a little bit more of a kick behind it to really make the army work.

        • Avatar
          Dakkath June 19, 2018 6:47 am #

          Still working on morale losses and a stratagem to make an immediate RP roll when a unit is wiped would do wonders.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy June 19, 2018 6:49 am

            The morale ends up being a bit of a non-issue due to Ld10 on most units (so small squads like Destroyers never need to test) and the warlord trait that lets you ignore it for your big units. I haven’t really seen it come up much.

            But a strat to let you roll RP immediately when the last model was removed would be really, really useful, maybe even too good. I feel like they could use _something_.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn June 20, 2018 4:14 pm #

      I agree, if resurrection protocols worked differently and they were costed more appropriately it would be a different story.

  7. Cyto
    Cyto June 18, 2018 7:33 pm #

    A recently top finishing Necron player likely disagrees! Red Powell

    (current #1 ranked ITC Necron player: https://www.frontlinegaming.org/community/frontline-gamings-independent-tournament-circuit/itc-2015-rankings/)

    brought mass Necron Warriors to supplement his destroyer spam list to a 7th place finish at the Louisville Slugga?

    He clearly found some power behind the Mephrit silver tide when combined with Veil/The Deceiver. He could have brought other “meta” favorites (DDA, Wraiths, tesla immortals) but didn’t!


    His rumored list:

    4W 1L

    Mephrit Outrider:
    Destroyer Lord
    3×6 Destroyers

    Mephrit Batallion
    Cryptek veil, chronometron
    Lord staff, immortal pride(WL)
    15 Necron Warriors warriors
    16 Necron Warriors warriors
    16 Necron Warriors warriors

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy June 19, 2018 6:54 am #

      No offense to Red, but a single GT ranking doesn’t really prove that the list “works,” it mostly just proves that he is a good enough general to rank at a GT. Now, if he brings home a couple of GT victories, going undefeated each time? That’s starting to say something. But all kinds of lists can go 4-1 at a GT and it doesn’t really indicate a whole lot unless you’re seeing it happening repeatedly. Heck, on Chapter Tactics this week we talked about an IG list that was 100% tanks that went 4-1; it really just means that the player was good enough to pilot it and was lucky enough not to run into more than one bad matchup, because I don’t think anyone is gonna argue that a pure tank list doesn’t have some _massive_ issues this edition.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn June 20, 2018 4:13 pm #

      That’s a cool list. I am planning to do something similar, make a semi Necron horde list but with more powerful elements.

  8. Avatar
    Clopfoot June 21, 2018 1:14 pm #

    What do you all think are the best ways to deal with vehicles and imperial knights in particular as Necrons?

    • Avatar
      Pyrothem June 24, 2018 2:49 pm #

      Point for point just destoryers are your ticket with the stratagem. All our “dedicated” Anti tank can not pull its weight. Hell even the 200point Doomsday Ark puts out only 3.3 wounds a round average on a knight.

  9. Avatar
    Jacob February 14, 2019 10:04 am #

    Now that the points have dropped for Warriors to 11/model, does it change anything?

    • Reecius
      Reecius February 14, 2019 10:27 am #

      You get more of them which is nice but if that goes far enough or not is more of a subjective question.

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