In terms of the universe, the Necrons are far older than you or I. Far older than humanity, the once rulers of the stars wield technology that would fracture and confound the brightest of mankind’s minds. The Necrons are awakening gradually from their slumber, determined to return to their birthright as the rightful masters of the cosmos. Mankind faces the inevitability that it is not if they can hold off the ancient dynasties of the Necrons, but for how long.
The Necrons are clad in bodies of living metal, with their souls cast away as bargaining chips in their hunt for more power. To some, the cold and uncompromising Necrons are just that ‘other half of the starter set’. Why not give those sprues that came with your Space Marines a second look?
The story of the Necrons is one of ambition wrought with tragedy. Over sixty million years ago, the Necrons conquered the galaxy as the Necrontyr, a single-minded race with goals of galactic exploration. They made a dark bargain with star deities known as the C’tan for immortality and brand new shiny metal bodies to overthrow their enemies. This power would come at the cost of their souls, and the race we know as the Necrons was born. They were blessed with immortality and freedom from disease but cursed with a longing that could never be met and servitude to the C’tan, who grew stronger feasting on their lost souls. After years of war with enemies on all sides, the Necrons constructed Stasis-Tombs to bide their time. Waiting, knowing the time of their enemies would be over before long. As immortal beings, they knew they could resume their grand conquest anew.
Cut to the 41st Millennium, the Necrons are awakening. They rise from the shifting earth, taking their victims by surprise with the realisation that their planet had a Tomb Legion under the surface. They’re back and ready to reclaim their rightful place as rulers of the galaxy. They’ve done it once, so it shouldn’t be so hard to show these kids who’s boss, right? Well, not all of the Necrons have woken up according to plan. Your Necron legion could have been disturbed prematurely by a solar flare, or seismic activity. A once united and gloried race rises fractured and deranged, the bite of time turning many strategists and conquerors into mechanical maniacs.
In 2020, the Necrons saw their most recent reimagining by Games Workshop as the star villains and opponents of the Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 starter set. The new Necrons we saw were damaged and dangerous, with fraying wires, short tempers and fearsome gauss weaponry. From the numberless Warriors to the scheming Necron Lords, as the hierarchy is raised the damage we see becomes more sparing. It’s not easy to deliver meaningful consequences to these ageless creatures.
What drew me to Necrons first and foremost was the painting experience. Necrons have long held the title in the hobby community as ‘the army in a can’ implying that they can be spray painted one colour, shaded and based. This is by no means a downside. Instead, this makes the army perfect for the beginner or the hobbyist who dreams of collecting a grand legion of these indomitable killers.
Furthermore, for the competitive scene in which the meta changes quickly, it means that a new hot unit can be painted up and added to your force faster than you can say ‘Kill all Humans’. As a hobbyist, I’m drawn to an army that I can paint up quickly. I love the snowball effect of finishing a unit, showing it to my friends in the hobby community and moving onto another one. Those who take pleasure in lavishing detail onto each and every miniature will find a myriad of exposed wiring, battle damage and esoteric glowing technology to really sink their teeth into. The Necrons’ new look offers exactly that, an army you can paint however you like.
I chose to imagine my Necron legion as if their tomb had been breached by nature. Their once clean and shiny Necrodermis has dulled with dirt and detritus, achieved by applying the effect paint Typhus Corrosion from Citadel. I decided to contrast their weathered look with the eerie green glow from their gauss weaponry. This is a classic look and harkens back to those plastic green rods Necrons used to lovingly come packaged with in their previous versions. I wanted to capture that glow and carry it onto the miniature, as if their skull-like visages were dimly illuminated in the darkness. Grass tufts were applied to the bases and larger models to thematically show verdant growth that had occured while they were slumbering, and bring some balance to their cold, mechanical nature.
‘I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again’
On the tabletop, the Necrons represent a real threat to your opponent. Their signature mechanic ‘Reanimation Protocols’ means that if a unit of Necrons isn’t fully destroyed during shooting or combat, they have a chance to pick themselves back up and continue their advance. Backed up with their esoteric ancient weaponry, you’ll be delivering pain and domination to those vermin that moved in while you were asleep. Each dynasty has its own code which provides different benefits to your army. Their codex also allows the ability for you to create your own dynasty to provide an identity to your newly arisen Necron legion.
The Other Half
One of the biggest strengths of this army is its accessibility. At the time of writing, Necrons feature in each of the 40k starter sets, which means that they’re a little cheaper than most factions, and easier to collect. Each box contains Necron and Space Marine miniatures, rules, dice and a surface to play on. The miniatures are push-fit, making them excellent choices for newer or younger hobbyists with less modelling experience. This makes it an easy route into both armies, or you have the Marine half to swap at your local game store for more Necrons! The rules for the figures in the starter set are included and perfect for Open and Narrative games of 40k, so you needn’t fork out for anything else until you’re sure you want to grow your legion.
I hope this glance at my interpretation of the Necrons has inspired you to give our new robot overlords a try. Although if not, they’ll just go back to sleep until you change your mind. Thanks for reading, if you want to get in touch and see more hobby content you can find me over on Twitter @PrinceofBielTan.
Editors: Thanks to Josh for the insight into his love for the Necrons! If you really enjoy a specific faction, or game, or tactic, or painting technique, or…anything to do with hobby, and would like to write about it, why not check out our Pitching Guide and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.