It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room (Or the millions of mostly insane sleeping robots buried under your city). Necrons are strong. Necrons are prevalent. You need a plan for dealing with them. So lets talk about that from the perspective of a necrons player. I will go through what I think are extremely uphill battles and tactics for my beloved robots.
Necrons are not the top dog, Super Saiyan 17, S+ Tier army, but they will be in every tournament you go to and they are strong. Like High A tier strong. Necrons also play the game a bit differently than most and have extremely powerful and easy to score secondaries. Many times for an opponent it isn’t enough to kill all the robots, you also have to stop their plans early. This article is aimed at avoiding the dreaded scenario of you killing all the robots and still giving up 100 points and losing.
The Necron Game Plan
Alrighty, to dismantle our evil robot overlords we have to understand our evil robot overlords (I for one accept our evil robot overlords)
When you run into Competitive Necrons you are going to run into basically a skew list. But instead of skewing for shooting, melee, or armor, Necrons are skewing for scenario. Competitive Necrons exclusively (alrighty, 99.999999%) play what is colloquially named the “Obsekh Dynasty” it is a custom dynasty of two traits involving a 6″ pregame move and army wide objective secured that’s extremely bonkers.
Then you have to look at the Necron secondaries. 3 Necron secondary objectives are S tier, and one of them is pretty solid. Most armies would die to have just one of them. Usually players with some experience are going to score 35-45 secondary points, while playing a brutal primary game as well. Cheap chaff units with ObSec that are able to complete the actions the same turn? Sign me up!
Necrons are a counterpunch faction, which is an interesting trait in a faction that wants to overwhelm your army with ObSec bodies. They’re deceptively fast, quite killy, scenario dominant, and have middling shooting. They are going to rush up the board round one with units they don’t care about. Score quite a few points on secondaries. Establish a solid foothold on primary and say “You have to come to me now”. When you do finally engage you are going to get charged by the real meat and potatoes of the list, Skorpekhs, Wraiths, The Silent King, and C’tan Shards. But you have to come to them or they will simply score 100 points and you will be out of options. Plans within plans indeed!
So How Do We Fight Back?
Just take knights.
I kid, but also not really. I think both flavors of knights are extremely uphill for Necrons, and they highlight how most armies could think about defeating our loving Robot Overlords.
First off, Necrons really struggle to kill knights. Knights really don’t struggle to kill Necrons. Armor can be really difficult for Necrons to crack and really tanky armies such as Knights, Nids, Chaos Space Marines, and others are going to present really difficult gameplay scenarios for Necrons. Most of any impactful AP in the Necron army is built around their melee damage. Shooting tends to be extremely swingy due to the prevalence of random rolls for number of shots and damage.
Secondly, Knights are able to play an ObSec game that is extremely difficult for Necrons to deal with. While Necrons will have more bodies on the board that have ObSec they really struggle to shift an Armiger or Wardog off of the zone and eventually they will be ground down and lose the body advantage.
Thirdly, Knights are fast. Necrons are deceptively fast, between relentless march giving everyone +1″ movement, command protocols and the pregame 6″ move many necrons are going to be to the midboard and mid objectives, setup in advantageous terrain round one. Even the humble warrior is going to walk 13″ on round one. Let alone scarabs that are flying almost 20″. Knights are able to match this speed and have the added benefit of bringing extreme lethality with their speed.
I think when thinking about fighting Necrons it is almost a master class in list building and can be a very helpful thought process. You need to bring lethality, tankiness, speed, and ObSec bodies. You also need to look at your opponents list and realize what their gameplan is. Have they gone heavy into chaff bodies? They going to flood zones and score too many points before you are able to really kill enough things. Have they gone heavy in melee damage? They’re going to flood zones and counter punch brutally. Do they have double C’tan? They’re going to flood zones and then have two extremely deadly anvils that the list will pivot around.
What’s the Plan Coach?
Alrighty, I will give you the things that I absolutely hate to see across the table from me. CSM Terminators, Knights, Flamers. But what should you be looking for if you step up to a table and see Necrons? 40K is too big, you can’t build a list that will cover every single angle and faction you will encounter. But there are things you can do on the tabletop game by game even if you are disadvantaged in the list building phase of things.
First, take your time with movement phases. You need to be aware that a 45 point unit of scarabs can just walk up, steal an objective, do an action, complete the action that turn and score points, you just lost 4 primary points and they got a handful of secondary points. It’s brutal, it’s obnoxious, and will absolutely lose people games. Spread your ObSec bodies around the board. Make sure you are aware of how far these robots are moving. Which command protocol do you expect to be active? Pound for pound the odds are your units can probably kill the Necron units, but they won’t out scenario them.
Secondly, there are very obvious threats in a Necron list. It’s the Silent King and the fancy melee murder machines he keeps near him. You will get behind in scenario but don’t let that make you forget step one! A Silent King counterpunch is so powerful. Skorpekh Destroyers and other Necron melee options will blend through quite a few things with his buffs, and you will be fighting last! If you survive the charge, you will have drastically reduced output. Be ready to prioritize your shooting. If you can snipe out a destroyer unit, or kill a menhir or two off the Silent King you are really reducing the counterpunch potential. Heaven forbid Necrons get an attrition advantage because then Scenario will really go off the rails.
Special Sidebar for C’tan shards. Some armies have ways to deal with them easily and some armies don’t. I would say it is a very important skill to learn how to deal with these types of units. Abbadon, C’tan, Gazghul, and others are not only brutal because they deal extreme amounts of murder, they are brutal because they shift how your opponent plays. Do you commit to killing them? What if you whiff? Do you leave them alone and ignore them? Many of these questions depend on your faction. Often times it is the right call to play around these types of units and ignore them. Spread the net as they say. It is one very powerful unit and it cannot be everywhere (Sometimes this applies to other enemies as well! Not just units with a damage gate mechanic)
Thirdly, Don’t forget about the veil of darkness. This is a relic that exists in EVERY Necron list. A character picks up a whole unit and moves them anywhere within 9″ of an enemy. It’s so good. I love it so much. It will also ruin some peoples day. I have used it early to mess up an out of position key unit, or used it late to drop bodies on a zone and swing those last crucial VP into my favor. Many times a Chronomancer will take this relic so the unit that gets teleported will have rerolling charges increasing the reliability of that charge dramatically.
Fourth, Necron tankiness is strange. You will hit and wound a lot. We don’t have transhuman nonsense, we don’t have lots of defensive tech, but we are tanky nonetheless. It will absolutely happen that you spend a whole turn of shooting and kill 5 warriors. You really killed 17 but then 12 stood back up. It is often better to just put a unit all the way in the ground rather than splitting up fire.
Fifth, Practice. Get used to dealing with 9 bases of scarabs tying up your best unit. Learn to play from behind on points and go for that round 4 and 5 swing to win things. Premeasure a bit more than you usually do in your games against Necrons. Get used to their deceptive speed. They’re a common enemy you’ll see across from you on tournament tables and they play a mean game of 40K.
Wrapping it all up
Each faction has their own strengths and weaknesses. Necrons are no exception. I love the lore, look, and playstyle of Necrons. Their range refresh with 9th edition is why I got into 40K! I’ll be the first to admit that Fighting Necrons can be an uphill battle because they’re one of the stronger factions in all of 40K right now and they just score SO MANY points. It’s difficult to battle an army that skews so hard into scenario because games are won by points, not by killing models. But with some careful planning in your list building, and calculated informed decision making during the battle itself, it should even out the playing field. Thankfully the tools discussed in this article to battle Necrons are tools that you want in your lists anyway, this advice should help against any opponent!
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