Warhammer 40k Necrons guide 2023

Meet the Warhammer 40k Necrons faction, terrifying revenants trapped in living metal bodies, with awesome models and powerful tabletop rules.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition guide Warhammer Community artwork showing a Necron tomb complex

Wakey wakey, rise and shine. It’s time to rise from a slumber of over 60 million years. Luckily you won’t need to worry about bed head because, as one of the Necrons, you were forced long ago to give up your flesh (and hair) in the process of biotransference, and become a living metal skeleton, immortal and fearsome.


The Necrons are the Warhammer 40k Xenos equivalent of the Undead in many fantasy settings. Taking inspiration from both the Terminator movies and the Egyptian dynasties of old, these immortal cybernetic beings rise up from long-buried tombs, marching into battle with arcane technologies beyond the ken of mortal men. If that doesn’t sound quite right for you, we have a whole list of other Warhammer 40k factions for you to consider.

Here’s everything you need to know to get started with Warhammer 40k Necrons lore, models, and tactics.

Warhammer 40k 10th edition Necrons

With the launch Warhammer 40k 10th edition, the full Warhammer 40k 10th edition Necrons rules are available to download now from the Warhammer Community website.

Click here to download your free Necrons 10th edition rules datasheets.

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition Necrons rules revealed - Warhammer Community image showing the new Necrons army rule, Reanimation Protocols - simplified from 9th Edition

Reanimation Protocols

The Necrons’ trademark self-resurrecting super-power is Reanimation Protocols. At the beginning of each turn you roll for a D3 for every single unit, and heal wounds or reanimate models up to the die result.

Infantry and Vehicles alike have the Reanimation Protocols rule, as evidenced by the newly revealedthe Monolith datasheet. It’s crucial for opponents to never leave a Necron unit half killed.

Warhammer 40k 10th Edition Necrons rules revealed - Warhammer Community image showing the wording of the new Command Protocols detachment rule

Necron Awakened Dynasty detachment and Command Protocols

The Necrons’ debut detachment, ‘Awakened Dynasty’, provides the Command Protocols rule to the army. This give any unit with a character leading it a blanket plus one on all to-hit rolls, as well as any other buffs that Leader provides. This is a dead simple, and very powerful, buff that incentivizes lots of characters in your lists.

Awakened Dynasty Necron Stratagems

Stratagem CP cost Effect
Protocol of the Eternal Guardian 1 Once per battle, after a Necrons infantry character is destroyed, set them back up with half their starting wounds close to where it was destroyed.
Protocol of the Hungry Void 1 +1 Strength to a unit’s melee weapons for one turn; if they’re lead by a character, their AP improves by one.
Protocol of the Conquering Tyrant 1 A Necron unit can re-roll Wound rolls with shooting attacks targeting a unit within half range, or full range if they’re lead by a character.
Protocol of the undying legions 1 When an enemy destroys one or more models from a Necron unit, that unit reanimates D3 wounds, +1 if lead by a character.
Protocol of the sudden storm 1 In the movement phase, pick a unit; its ranged weapons gain Assault this turn. If lead by a character, you can re-roll Advance rolls for the unit.
Protocol of the vengeful stars 1 After your opponent destroys one or more models in a unit with shooting attacks, that unit can shoot back. If lead by a character its ranged weapons Ignore Cover.

Awakened Dynasty Necron Enhancements

Enhancement Effect
Veil of Darkness Once per Battle, at the end of your opponent’s turn, if the bearer isn’t engaged remove it from the battlefield; it enters from Reinforcements next turn anywhere more than 9″ away from all enemies.
Hypermaterial Ablator While the model is leading a unit, that unit has Stealth. When targeted by ranged attacks from over 12″ away, the unit has the Benefit of Cover.
The Sovereign Coronal Necrons within 6″ of the bearer count as being led by a character.
Sempiternal Weave Feel No Pain 4+

10th edition Necron units

All the 10th Edition Necrons unit datasheets can be downloaded in Index Necrons from the Warhammer Community website.

The classic Monolith vehicle’s ranged weapons – and ability to teleport into the mid-board to disgorge crowds of Warriors into the fray – haven’t changed an awful lot, but it enjoys a massive 75% increase in its Toughness, from 8 to 14, making it one of the most heavily armored vehicles in the game – even heavy bore lascannons will wound it on a 5+. Its wounds actually go down for 10th Edition, however – from 24 to 20.

The foot-slogging Warriors have had their guns made slightly deadlier, with the Lethal Hits weapon ability conferring automatic wounds on rolls of six to hit. As ever, they also get extra benefits from Reanimation Protocols – gaining back D6 wounds rather than D3, or an even tastier D3+3 wounds if they’re on an objective. Warriors are looking like a prime choice for taking and holding ground.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Necron Ghost Ark and Immortals fighting Bullgryn

Necrons lore

Necron lore is a little twisted, as they’ve been retconned more than once. For simplicity’s sake, we’re focusing on the current version of their lore.

At the dawn of time, the Necrontyr were a proud, star-striding race, cursed with brief lifespans due to incurable genetic illnesses that left them wracked with cancer. Their obsession with venerating death was the only thing that matched their penchant for internal politicking, and internecine conflicts were causing the empire to slowly fragment.

To unify them, Szarekh, one of the many Silent Kings of the Necrontyr empire, thrust them into conflict with The Old Ones, the technologically advanced race responsible for the creation of the Webway, the network of tunnels through the Warp.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community artwork showing Skorpekh destroyers fighting Tau

This war was fought over the key to immortality itself, and was all-consuming. Faced with defeat, Szarekh chose to ally with the C’tan, duplicitous star-eating beings, who subsequently gifted the Necrontyr immortality via the horrors of biotransference, for a price: their souls.

Records of the War In Heaven are largely apocryphal and fragmented, but regardless of the outcome, the Necrons hunted down the remaining C’tan, and either enslaved or destroyed them. Szarekh, now in complete control of the legions of Necron before him, devised a great plan, and ordered his subordinates to create tomb worlds, in which they were to slumber for 60 million years, before jetting off into the void of space beyond the Galactic rim, with unknown purpose.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition artwork showing a necron tomb complex

Millennia later, in the late 41st millennium (or early 42nd, depending who you agree with) the has returned (though no-one knows precisely why). Chief amongst assumptions is that he witnessed the true vastness of the Tyranid fleets, floating dormant towards the galactic core, and returned to save his civilization from being devoured.

Necron forces have now begun mobilising across the galaxy, under the controls of the many mad Triarchs who control the great Dynasties. While they are technically all under the reign of Szarekh, the Silent King, every dynasty believes itself far better than the next. Still, they present a threat to the forces of the Imperium, and their ability to make use of the material Blackstone even makes them a threat against the insidious forces of Chaos.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Szarekh The Silent King and Ctan shard of the Void Dragon models

Necrons characters in 9th edition

During their long slumber, many Necron characters went mad – their neural circuits corrupted by the long sleep, entropy slowly ruining them. As such, a wide cast of characters exist within their ranks, from obsessives to strategic geniuses. All of them are mighty warriors, with critical flaws – for a tragic streak runs through the Necrons, and finds itself most prominent in its roster of flavourful characters.

Szarekh, The Silent King

Szarekh the Silent King is the most advanced and dangerous Necron of them all. An android so complex in creation, he is beyond the reckoning of most other life forms. His exceptional new model in 9th Edition sees him float into battle with his Triarch, on a throne sustained by an enslaved C’tan – brutal in combat, a powerful tactical centrepiece, he’s a great character to build towards.

Illuminor Szeras

Illuminor Szeras is the Necron master of all things biotransference: a mad doctor, if you will, obsessed with tinkering with living metal, he takes inspiration from othering life forms (by studying them as he atomizes them) to improve the necrodermis of the dynastic forces.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Necrons troops, Plasmancer and Doom Scythe flyers

Trazyn the Infinite

Perhaps the most well known of all the Necron characters, Trazyn the Infinite is a kleptomaniac (sorry, ‘archivist’), who creates grand ahistorical dioramas in his giant museum palace. In battle, he transfers his intellect to different constructs when defeated, cackling as his foes try in vain to kill him.

Imotekh the Stormlord

A walking supercomputer, Imotekh the Stormlord is perhaps the Necrons’ greatest tactical mind. Woken by a lesser Necron to fight in a petty conflict in the Sautekh Dynasty, Imotekh became the Phaeron of that Dynasty in short order, thanks to his tactical acumen.

Orikan the Diviner

A Chronomancer of most prodigious skill, Orikan the Diviner is a prophet who has not forgiven Szarekh for submitting to the will of the C’tan. A grand manipulator, he alters the flow of battle and time itself with his skills, steering the galaxy to some unknown temporal destination.

Anrakyr The Traveller

Anrakyr The Traveller is considered perhaps the mightiest of all Necrons by some, and a brigand by others. Awoken in fine health (for a Necron), Anrakyr tasked himself with unifying the remaining Necron forces. Travelling from one tomb world to another, he wakes Necrons from their stasis, demanding a tithe of warriors before he moves on. This makes him a little contentious.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Necrons Canoptek Wraiths models

Nemesor Zahndrekh

Nemesor Zahndrekh lost his mind upon reanimation; unable to see the universe as it currently is, he sees his foes as honourable Necrontyr, his consciousness unable to conceive of the cruel reality inflicted on his race. Despite this, he is a keen tactical mind, one of the greatest the Necrons have ever seen.

Vargard Obyron

Zandrekh is protected by his loyal Vargard Obyron, who shields him from other Necrons who find Zahndrekh’s madness a liability, and enemies who see him as a prime target.

Warhammer 40k books starring Necrons

There aren’t many Warhammer 40k books starring Necrons, but the ones that do exist are fantastic.

Robert Rath’s The Infinite and the Divine features a ten-thousand year war between Trazyn the Infinite and Orikan the Diviner over a priceless relic. Trazyn thinks it belongs in a museum (his museum), Orikan thinks it holds the key to unlimited power, and they’re both wrong… It is both epic and hilarious.

Nate Crowley’s duology Twice Dead King: Ruin and Twice Dead King: Reign is essential Necrons reading. The outcast Necron prince Oltyx must return to his throne world to warn his father of a devastating Imperial crusade – but something is deeply rotten at the heart of the Empire. By turns chilling, melancholy, hilarious, and epic, this brings the horror of Necron existence into crystal focus.


Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Necron Ghost ark and Monolith models

How to Play Necrons

Necrons are a formidable force on the tabletop, incredibly durable thanks to all-round good saves, and the faction’s unique Re-animation Protocol rules. They benefit from largely good shooting – if only at shorter ranges compared with other shooty armies – but also surprisingly good melee, in the form of the new Skorpekh Destroyers, plus a number of decent buff characters, such as the Technomancer and Chronomancer.

They can also field a number of interesting tactics, including a few that are potentially game-changing such as the Expansionist battle traits that buff movement, and improve the Objective Secure rules for the troops with it.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition Warhammer Community photo showing Necrons models fighting Adeptus Mechanicus

Owing to their reliance on close- and mid-range weaponry, Necrons like to take advantage of the new, smaller table sizes – sitting on objectives and whittling away at foes as they weather the storm of return fire and melee.

The main unique special rule for Necrons is Reanimation Protocols. This is a powerful rule that triggers in melee and shooting phases, allowing for exceptional durability. Despite the majority of their forces being unkillable damage sponges, with little in the way of return fire compared to more damage focussed armies, they do have their damage spikes: the C’tan Shard of the Nightbringer is one of the strongest melee units in the entire game right now, and the Void Dragon is no slouch, either.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition photo of the Necrons Ctan Shard of the Void Dragon model painted by the author, Luke Shaw

Armies tend to be built with a focus towards overwhelming tides of troops of various forms, or towards a handful of standouts, such as C’tan Shards, Canoptek Doomstalkers, and Doomsday Arks. As previously mentioned, Skorpekh Destroyers are the hot pick: tough to kill, strong in melee. Take them in a unit of six, and these feisty, many-legged blenders are almost a must-have unit for any Necron force.

The bottom line is simple enough: although Necrons are fairly technical, they are forgiving due to their durability, and the brute force of their weaponry.

Warhammer 40K Necrons 9th edition guide - Warhammer Community photo showing models in the Necrons Combat Patrol box

Necrons Combat Patrol Box

Games Workshop’s new Combat Patrol box are the ideal starting point for new Warhammer 40k players, or those looking to move into a new army. The Necrons Combat Patrol box can be used as it is for standalone games in the Combat Patrol format, or as the basis of a bigger army.

The kits in the box can be built more than one way, but if you plan to use your Necrons in games of Combat Patrol their loadout needs to match what’s displayed on the box art. That said, as long as you agree with your opponent it’s fine to use proxies.

A good next move for expanding your army would be picking up the old ninth edition Recruit starter set, which comes with a Royal Warden, a unit of Necron Warriors, and some Scarabs.

From here, you’re free to throw in some units of choice. If you want to go melee, Skorpekh Destroyers. Long ranged murder? Take a Canoptek Doomstalker walker – one of the coolest looking models in the range. The galaxy is yours for the taking. There are no truly bad choices in Necron armies, so, with a strong core, you can simply build out however you want.

Warhammer 40K necrons 9th edition photo of a small necrons army painted by the author, Luke Shaw

Necrons Hobby tips

As with most armies, Games Workshop shows off a variety of paint schemes for the various Dynasties in the Codex, and via the Warhammer YouTube. As of their introduction as part of the 9th Edition starter, Necrons have been designed to be fairly easy to paint – more so, even, than their older models.

They take a heavy wash and a drybrush over metallics really well, especially if you chuck a spot colour like a bright green, orange or blue on their weapons. If you want to go a different way, my top tip is to separate the armour panels and the innards – for my necrons I focussed on dark panels and brassy metal innards, with white heads as a nice eye-catcher.

I also dusted up my forces with some weathering powder, liberally applying it with a soft brush and spray-varnishing it in place, in order to convey the feeling of them having been buried in the sands of a dead world for millennia. Alternatively, you can go bright and bold;there really is no limit with these hulking monstrosities.

There you have it. A quick start guide to the immortal Necron dynasties! There is so much to investigate, should you buy the codex – strategies, dynasties, custom dynasties, a whole range of troops – I didn’t even touch on the awesome Monolith (mainly because it’s something you likely won’t get to for months or years!)

Thanks to a Ninth Edition refresh, Necrons remain a fairly competitive army, with a wonderful wide range! Have fun, and remember, The Silent King’s Will Be Done.