The Technomandrite Conclave: A Custom Necron Killteam

As pretty much everybody knows, I am a big Necron player in whatever game system they happen to be in and Killteam is no exception. However, they arent exactly performing all that well in events; in part due to the massive power gap between compendium teams and their newer, bespoke counterparts and also due to how the game is actually played. With 2 APL and only 2 white worth of movement they find it very difficult to get to objectives and perform any mission actions on the same turn that they get there. Add to that the almost stand-still in White Dwarf team updates and I am not all that sure we will see a new Necron killteam offering this side of the new year.

This is where I wanted to try and build what I think an interesting Necron Killteam could look like along with some hopefully playable mechanics. There was also that one player on Reddit who was asking for a custom Necron Killteam so this is for you random guy! Having designed custom factions in the past for other games, I like to go over my goals so that hopefully some of my choices will make sense. I set about establishing a number of principals to guide the design process to make things a little easier (and even then, it wasn't all that easy due to Killteam's rules actually being pretty convoluted when you drill down into them, and having so many moving parts on the board):

  • Follow Games Workshop's established precedents for the Necron statline and abilities (2 white movement, APL2 and living metal).
  • Try to stay faithful to what units and the faction can do in Warhammer 40,000 and the background.
  • Build the list around a theme - in this case Crypteks supported by weaker troops.
  • Try to make the Killteam be able to compete in terms of fulfilling mission objectives and Tac Ops (considering that this is the biggest problem with them at the moment, and also baked into their statline then this would mean some sort of special rules to help them out in that department).

Enter the Technomandrite Conclave:

The Technomandrites of Magistrakh were a shadowy conclave of Necrontyr that still exists amongst the Necron race. They can trace their origin to the time when their species were flesh and blood in the era of the First Wars of Secession. In this time, this group was neutral in the conflicts amongst their race but sold their knowledge of weapons to the highest bidder. Thus, they profited in the bloodshed fought amongst their own kind whilst their power base grew. In time, they were seen as a threat to the Triarch who at the time were seeking an external foe to unite the dynasties.

In game terms this allows for a Killteam made up primarily of  Crypteks with their various Canoptek constructs, looking to reclaim ancient knowledge to sell to the highest bidder.



So first up is the Killteam Composition. I wanted the team to be able to compete with other large-ish killteams in terms of number of activations but no go totally over the top as they are still Necrons at the end of the day and pretty tough and I knew that I wanted to lean into that toughness and have it translate ingame. I think 10 operatives fills that pretty nicely; keeping a good amount of operatives which allow tactical depth whilst also not being so large that it can swamp the board like veteran guard. The restrictions in the building with Scarab Swarms, Cryptothralls and Wraiths are there as a balancing mechanic so you can't just swamp the board with them, and the Wraith (which we will see later) is actually your star fighter (akin to a flying Tyranid Warrior in stats) so I wanted to make sure that there was some restriction in taking that as opposed to just more normal Necrons. Overall, an example Killteam would look like one of each of the Crypteks, probably one Cryptothrall (to act as a emergency bodyguard), leaving 4 slots open for most likely a Wraith and two Scarab Swarms or 4 Warriors.


Now into the meat of the list. How good a killteam's special rule are generally are a good indicator of how well the Killteam itself performs. Living Metal makes a return healing 2 wounds a turn and I've included Necrodermis stopping Necrons from being injured. The main reason for this is that an injured Necron is essentially immobile at 1 white movement so I wanted something to mitigate this slightly whilst they are given enough time to heal back up.

The biggest ruleset is for Command Protocols which makes it's translation over from Warhammer 40,000. The idea is that you note down which protocol you want to use on each turning point and then when it is time to activate that protocol you can choose one of the directives to make active for that turn. They largely follow the pattern from the main book with Eternal Guardian being defensive, Sidden Storm giving movement and APL buffs, Vengeful Stars improving attacking, Undying Legion improving your resilience and Conquering Tyrant acting as a way to double up on your Protocols for later in the game. Which Turning Point you use the protocols will be largely dictated by the mission but in an average game you would probably want to do something like Sudden Storm -> Vengeful Stars/ Eternal Guardian -> Conquering Tyrant/ Undying Legion -> Conquering Tyrant.

I anticipate Sudden Storm to be quite important given that it helps mitigate the Necron slowness and average APL (and also reduce one of the key weaknesses of Canoptek units which we will see later on).


The Crypteks are where the real power of the list sit. With the range limitations on Command Protocols, the Killteam is designed to be played around the four Crypteks to keep your buffs up who also serve as your specialists. They all have power weapon style melee profile in common so they can fight if they need to but the ten wounds and strong shooting attacks mean that you will generally want to be keeping them safe behind your wall of Warriors and Constructs.

As for the Crypteks themselves:

The Technomancer fills the role as medic with it's pseudo revive and strong heal to augment Necron's already considerable inbuilt abilities.

The Psychomancer, whilst having a ranged attack that lives to crit, fulfills the role of control piece in the Killteam. It's harbinger of despair ability allows you to choose from a variety of effects to take effect on an enemy operative until the end of the turn. It's probably best used in the first couple of turns to disrupt enemy plans when more operatives are concealed after which he can open up with the Abyssal Lance and start fishing for crits.

The Plasmancer is your mortal wound battery. It wants to be up close to enemy operatives to be able to activate both of its abilities so it's probably the only Cryptek that you actually want in combat.

The Chronomancer comes equipped with a powerful Entropic Lance; the Necron equivalent to a Drukhari blaster and also has the Chronometron ability, allowing it to give operatives a point of APL and small movement boost. It's worth noting that similarly with the Novitiate Whip-Sister's boosts, it lasts until the end of that operatives next activation so you can use it on something that has already gone this turn and then on the next turning point use the ability again for a healthy 4 White movement bonus to sling-shot an operative across the board.

Necron Warriors

Coming over from the compendium team, Necron warriors are still very solid despite their apparent slowness. They have 9 wounds as standard which pushes them into the middle bracket of damage absorption along with living metal and a respectable 4+ save along with some good weapon options.

The most common statline for a weapon in the game is 3/4 (boltgun damage). This means that an infantry with 7 wounds can take a hit and a crit before it dies. 9 wound models such as Warriors need an additional hit or crit to go through before they die which becomes far more unlikely from one shooting or combat attack with this statline after saves. Similarly every 2-3 wounds you increase above this threshold requires an additional hit or crit to kill in one shot. Having 9 wounds makes Warriors quite difficult to kill with normal shooting and being able to regenerate wounds every turn with living metal actually makes them quite difficult to shift from objectives.

Canoptek Cryptothrall

Cryptothralls are the first of our Canoptek units. They all come with the mindless special rule, meaning that it costs additional AP to carry out mission and the pick up action but this can be partly mitigated through the use of the Chronomancer's Chronometron ability and also through timely use of Protocol of the Sudden Storm's Directive 2. Like their Warhammer 40,000 counterparts, Cryptothralls act as bodyguards for your Crypteks; soaking up shooting attacks in their stead. You are only allowed two of them in your Killteam however so they can't be everywhere at once

Canoptek Scarab Swarms

Canoptek Scarabs come with GA2; meaning that you are most likely taking them in pairs in order to get the most out of them. Their poor to hit stat with the feeder mandibles is made up for by good rending damage on the crit and the ability to forward deploy and self destruct by means of Tactical ploys so I can see them being a general nuance to opponents, tying up shooters and otherwise getting into places your regular warriors wont be able to.

Canoptek Wraith

The Wraith is your heavy hitter in close combat. Essentially a flying Tyranid Warrior in stats, it comes equipped with a very solid close combat attack and it's wraith form will allow it to get across the board quickly to set up charges. It does have the same mindless ability of the other Canoptek units however and only 2 APL so don't rely on it carrying out objective missions on the other side of the board.


Most of the equipment makes a return from the compendium with a couple of tweaks. Devourer Nanoscarabs have their cost and abilities brought inline with other grenades of it's type, and Hyperphase Blades now work on all close combat attacks and not just bayonets. The new addition here are Whip Coils for the Wraiths which replaces their weapons for a more defensive option like Tyranid Warrior's lash whips.

Strategic and Tactical Ploys

Much like the equipment list, some Strategic and Tactical ploys return with some new ones thrown into the mix. Relentless Onslaught returns to give some accuracy to short range shooting and Implackable March has it's issues addressed just giving a straight 2 white boost to movement for Engaged operatives as opposed to also limiting the actions that it can perform. The two new Strategic Ploys are Burrowing Nightmares, which is straight out of Warhammer 40,000; allowing your Scarabs or Wraith to forward deploy which adds a little more early game pressure, and The Deathless Arise which is essentially a second Reanimation Protocol use per turn, but only on the first operative death so you can't choose when to use it and that is also telegraphed to your opponent due to when you need to use the ploy. 

On the Tactical Ploy side of things we have the same Reanimation Protocols from the compendium with the updated cost and two new Ploys; Self Destruction and Reconstitution Protocols. Self Destruction gives an alternative way to use your Scarab Swarms (read: as a grenade) having them explode in combat to do Mortal Wounds depending on how much damage they have taken - you can either wait and risk them not doing much damage or throw an unwounded swarm into a fight to have it cause 4 MWs on all enemy operatives within white which is potentially a good chunk of splash damage. Reconsitiution Protocols bolsters your Living Metal rule by giving extra healing which serves to further push the durability of the team and buy more time to score your objectives later in the game.

Tac Ops

The Necron Tac Op list is your standard fare at this point for updated teams with a action to collect scientific data for the reversal of biotransferrence; though it's only achievable by a Cryptek and he has to survive to the end of the battle to achieve both VPs, a Tac Op to go and capture a specific objective marker and one that rewards you for reanimating your Necrons near objectives themselves. Tac-Ops 2 and 3 are probably the easiest to achieve but 1 is also possible using the Plasmancer who wants to be in your opponent's face generating mortal wounds.

How They Should Play

You will notice that outside of the Crypteks, there is alot of 6" range weaponry in the killteam. This is intentional as I want them to be primarily short ranged; Fighting in and around objectives where their resilience and area of effect buffs from Command Protocols can enable relatively weaker members of the Killteam to pull their weight. The Killteam would probably do best being split into a number of groups, each centered around one ot two of the Crypteks with some additional support units to act as a buffer for opposing shooting and charges.

As I mentioned before, your ideal Killteam core would always look something like one each of the Crypteks, backed up by a Cryptothrall (who as a reminder do take up some of your Canoptek allowance). This leaves you open for 3 more Canoptek operatives out of your 4 remaining slots without taking any Warriors. From here I would probably look at a Wraith and two Scarab Swarms with a Warrior to round out the team. For the choice of forward deployment I'd probably pick the Swarms over the Wraith as it's better movement and dash lend it better to charging from range.

The Scarabs or Wraith should be forward deployed with Burrowing Nightmares where they can either sit tight for a turn or use their forward movement to try and get in place to capture objectives. It's worth noting that they will be far from your Crypteks at this point so there will be a little setup required to try and get off some choice charges on Turning Point 2 or to move into position to take advantage of Protocol of the Sudden Storm. As always with Necrons, they can sustain a good amount of punishment due to reanimation protocols but be wary of Killteams that can kill multiple operatives in one turn; there is a limit to how far that resilience goes and despite not being injured when they come back, will be very easy to kill outside some choice healing from the Technomancer.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I am pretty happy with how the Killteam turned out. It's worth noting that I did show the list to a few guys in my playgroup to get their opinions on it; the first version was VERY strong in the Command Protocol and Scarab departments specifically but you can see from the changelog what things were changed and when. Having designed a couple of custom things now for various games, that seems to be the normal pattern of design; you throw alot of ideas down onto the page and invariably more of them need toning down then being brought up. It's not an easy task, designing a whole new faction for this game from scratch, and it's even harder to try and balance what  you have designed as you are so close to the project, so I don't envy the designers for their actual job of putting out content. I guess the best thing to do is set some very tight constraints at the beginning and have an overall idea of how you want the killteam to play so that you can design to that.

Many thanks to John over at CanYouRollACrit and Charles for proofreading and throwing a couple of ideas my way.

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