Necrons in Killteam 2021: The Hierotek Circle

Details of the latest Killteam Box are out in the wild now and Necrons finally have their shot in the big leagues with a bespoke warband of their own. Come join me and enter the Hierotek Circle!


As with all of the newer Killteams, composition is fairly straightforward with the main choice being which type of Cryptek you will take, which will allow you to some extent tailor your playstyle towards whatever mission you are playing. The Killteam itself will consist of one of the three Crypteks, both Plasmacytes and then 5 operatives chosen from the Apprentek, Deathmarks, and Immortals.

I'll go into my choices for Cryptek a little later on but initially you will probably only want a single Deathmark to use forward deployment due to the changes in Implacable Intractable March and the other movement buffs sprinkled throughout the Killteam making your standard Immortals much more desirable. From there you always want to take Immortals with the Despotek due to it being a straight upgrade. The jury is still out on the Apprentek's actual usefulness ingame due to the awkwardness of it's abilities but definitely be sure to have one on your roster for specific matchups.


Living Metal makes a return as a Killteam wide ability being able to heal up to 2 wounds a turn or 1 if it is being used on a Plasmacyte Operative. Reanimation Protocols also make a comeback with the long and short of the ability being that if an operative attempts to reanimate on the first time it is incapacitated during a game (an ability that has a couple of sources), you can place a token under it's base and attempt to reanimate in the Ready Operatives step of later turns. My personal take is that you would aim to get the most out of your reanimation protocols on turn 2, switching to active and aggressively pushing (where if they subsequently die, it doesn't really matter) with the majority of Necrons coming back on turn 3 to give a swing in numbers.

Overall, you will have two to three sources of reanimation that you can use during a turn; the Commence Reanimation tactical ploy, Rites of Reanimation from your Technomancer (if you take it), and Reanimation Beam from your Plasmacyte Reanimator. However, one of these costs a CP to use and the remaining two require the associated operatives to be visible and within red of whatever is die-ing so I don't necessarily think that relying on this to do your heavy lifting is going to be a hugely viable strategy. This is also compounded buy the fact that Reanimation Protocols now takes place after Living Metal so there is no more coming back to life with D3+2 wounds remaining. Unless you are bringing the Technomancer with it's bonus heal ability, your operatives will now be very susceptible to being instantly killed if they don't die in opportune locations or with conceal tokens.


You have three Crypteks to choose from depending on the mission being played and opponent. They all have the same stats, with a respectable 3APL, 3 white movement and fly which allows them to get where they need to in order to use their abilities to the fullest.

All Crypteks get the Command (1AP) action which allows a friendly Deathmark or Immortal within red to make a free Fight, Overwatch, 1AP Pick Up or 1AP mission action. They also all get Magnification Conduit which allows them to shoot using line of sight from a friendly Engaged Apprentek with a reroll of specific values; this works in the same way as the Wyrmblade reroll so as an example; if you rolled to hit with your staff of light on a 1, 2x 2s a 4, 5, and a 6 you could choose to reroll either your single 1, or both of your results of a 2 to try and get more hits. This ability allows for some interesting targeting tricks whereby you can hide your Cryptek behind a wall and still see enemy operatives through the Apprentek. Bear in mind however that it needs to be Engaged so into the dark not withstanding, you will have to be sure that it won't die in the returning fire. Finally, all Crypteks have a list of three actions that they can pick two from when selected for your roster.

There are some obviously better choices out of their lists but generally it would be a good idea to have multiple Crypteks on your roster with different combinations of actions to make sure that you have all bases covered.

I find that the Technomancer is the most simple of the three choices, and unless you want to tailor your team to the matchup and mission, it will probably be the one that you use most of the time whilst getting to grips with the Killteam. It leans more heavily into what the Killteam wants to do already (use reanimation and healing to outlast and grind the enemy down) so it's abilities have good synergy with the rest of the rules.

It's three Cryptek Actions are Canoptek Repair; which acts like other medic abilities to regain lost wounds on friendly operatives, Nanoscarab Repair Swarm; with stops all friendly operatives being injured and boosts living metal and the wounds regenerated on a successful reanimation, and Rites of Reanimation; which allows a friendly operative within red to put the reanimation token down when they die for an opportunity to come back later in the game (though its worth noting that you need to use the ability first to allow the actual effects to be used later in the turn). You will notice that the most useful of these abilities (Repair Swarm and Rites of Reanimation) want to be used early in the turn to get the most out of them with the bulk of Nanoscarab's effects happening on the turn your operatives Reanimate. Therefore you will most likely be using them on turning points 2 and 3 to ready yourself for the big reanimation play on the following turns with your operatives coming back with more wounds overall and ignoring the injured penalties of being on low health. Of the three abilities, I would be looking to take Nanoscarabs and Rites most of the time.

I feel that the Chronomancer has two things going for it (whether these are worth it over the Technomancer's utility remain to be seen); namely the strong Entropic Lance and the Chronometron Ability. Whilst the Lance's stats speak for themselves, the Chronometron shores up some of the Killteam's main weaknesses; speed, the need to be engaged with most of the abilities and actually surviving on engaged to use them. An extra blue movement and ignoring damage on a 5+ for an operative goes a long way to helping them get to and capture objectives, and gives in effect 9-4 extra wounds on whatever you use it on. Plasmacytes and the Chronomancer itself becomes very fast with their existing 3 white move and fly.

As for the second ability, I would be tempted to go for Timesplinter to give an operative a strong invulnerable save over the movement debuff because Nanomines involve getting very close to opponents without necessarily having a strong melee threat.

There is a nice play with the Chronometron, Plasmacyte Accelerator and Intractable March, or just the Chronometron, and March if you want to charge (see below) to sling shot an Immortal 12" across the board still able to shoot with the +1 APL from the Plasmacyte or 11" without if you want to charge and throw a boltgun-powered punch. Throw Undying Androids and Timesplinter into the mix for a 3+ invulnerable save, automatically retaining a dice every time it is shot and the 5+ feel no pain to make a surprisingly tanky missile unit.

The Psychomancer is your meta pick specifically for two reasons; against Veteran Guard and other numerous teams, the Abyssal Lance can do alot of bouncing damage with its Blast and Splash 1, and against elite teams like the various Space Marines, Conjure Trauma and Harbinger of Despair can grind them down to a halt and massively reduce the amount of actions they can perform at and around objectives respectively. Given that the main advantage they have over other teams is APL3, any actions that can mess with the number of actions that they put out is very strong. As I've mentioned before, I think overall you would most likely be using the Technomancer for the majority of the time with the Psychomancer coming in a close second if the mission and opponents are right.


In our playgroup, inclusion of the Apprentek has been a contentious topic. On one hand, it is comparable to an immortal in defence with the 3+ save and 10 wounds but with 3 white movement which helps push the average speed of the killteam up. Offensively, it only hits on a 4+ and has less damage overall then an immortal but still has the AP1 which can offset the worse stats. The real reason you are taking the Apprentek however is for its abilities; It has the same Magnification Conduit power as the Crypteks allowing it to shoot with line of sight from a friendly Cryptek with the same reroll, though they do both have to be engaged with runs the risk of either the Apprentek or the Cryptek being shot before they get to act, and in addition it has Apprentek Assistance. For 1AP it can use an action that has been chosen by your Cryptek with the caveat that it can't be used again by your Cryptek that turning point. This allows for the Apprentek to operate whilst your Cryptek is in relative saftey or allows you to split your forces with each being baby-sat by either the Apprentek or Cryptek respectively.

The jury is still out on whether you want an Apprentek or just another Immortal (I am leaning more towards the Immortal personally) but there is no denying that if the Apprentek gets to use his abilities without falling over in the meanwhile, it has the potential to be relatively strong.


Both Plasmacytes have a number of things in common; A 3 white move with fly and scuttler which gives them super conceal and reduced AP cost of fall back actions. This makes them defensively better then their poor wounds, save and defence stats might otherwise indicate and unlike most other operatives of their type (drones), they can still perform mission actions with no penalties. There are two different types of Plasmacyte; A reanimation effect within red (similar to the Technomancer), and a +1 APL boost for an Immortal or Deathmark within blue. Both are compulsory in your killteam and both of their abilities are useful but it is worth mentioning that with their maneuverability it is looking more likely that vantage point could be a fairly easy to score secondary.


Immortals are your premium fireteam troop. Generally you will be looking to take at least three of these with Gauss Blasters with one being the Despotek. They are very bulky with the 3+ save, Living Metal and 10 wounds and offensively will be able to consistently put 8-10+ damage on most things they shoot at thanks to the AP1. In my opinion Tesla Carbines got a downgrade between this and their last outing with the damage being reduced from 4/5 to a 3/3 but with one extra attack. The splash remains but previously where there was place for Tesla Immortals in your roster for the specific matchup where you are playing against 5+ invulnerable save troops (mainly Harlequins and Genestealers), the massively reduced base damage counters whatever bonuses you may have had from the splash damage mortal wounds. As you are taking Immortals anyway, there is no reason not to take the Despotek which, aside from being the exact same stats, can at the very least can give a reroll to a friendly Deathmark or Immortal which will probably come in useful.


On paper Deathmarks look strong; The same defensive stats as an Immortal with an arguably better shooting attack. However, I have found that the way killteam boards are setup however (or rather should be setup) with no vantage points in deployment zones, several pieces of cover offering terrain and various heavy terrain to provide obscuring doesn't really lend itself well to what Deathmarks can do. Their weapons have heavy and most likely will have no credible targets turn 1 so they will have to spend it moving to somewhere they might have better lines of fire, though with their move of 4" will have to move/dash up buildings due to the requirement to be able to place the base wherever they move. This only works if they are right next to the climbing points so they will effectively spend 2 turns trying to get somewhere if your opponent goes majority concealed.

It's true that they will generally do between 8-12 damage to whatever they shoot at but regular immortals tend to do the same thing with their damage profile and have the ability to move about and shoot at the same time. The final thing of-course is that if your Deathmarks can shoot, they can get shot at so ultimately there isn't enough difference between 4 shots, 2+ 4/4 AP1, MW1 and 4 shots 3+ 4/5 AP1 to warrant taking them for me.

The big thing that Deathmarks *do* have going for them however is the Dimensional Translocation Tactical Ploy (see below). Because of this, I do think that it is worth taking one of them in order to play around with grabbing various objectives. You can't shoot when you do this however because it counts as having performed a normal move action and it's gun is heavy but maybe it will be useful to get your deathmark places that would otherwise be unreachable.


The new equipment list gives a few existing pieces in the Hyperphase Blade, Tesla Weave and Nanoscarabs though none of these were really chosen before and I don't expect them to be taken now. There don't seem to be all that many obvious picks but I would probably look to take the Phase Shifter or Quantum Reanimytes on my Cryptek or Apprentek and maybe a Hyperphase Blade on a couple of Immortals if I'm planning on doing the slingshot Chronomancer play. Aftershock Projectors look like they could be interesting on Tesla Immortals for a blue splash area instead of white but again, the gun itself is out-classed by gauss in almost every way so I don't know if the extra range on your mortal wound is enough to sway things in their favour.

Strategic and Tactical Ploys

In their previous incarnation, I was a big user of Tactical Reroll and I would expect that it will get just as much use now, especially with your 'free' reroll from the Despotek. Therefore, I am happy that Relentless Onslaught is back to give some more much needed shooting consistency at short range. The developers have also seen fit to fix Implacable Intractable March by doing away with the needless condition that the operative cannot perform mission actions. The Immortal or Deathmark still needs to be engaged to use it so there are still some questions around if it would be used on the first turn because of this but overall it is a good boost of speed for your 3-4 slowest operatives.

Working with Intractable March is Undying Androids which allows all your operatives to retain a dice if they aren't in cover. This actually makes them fairly tanky when combo'd with the Phase Shifter or Timesplinter from the Chronomancer and also goes some way to counter their fragility from being required to be engaged for the majority of their abilities (especially from the Apprentek). Finally Dimensional Concealment makes a return for Deathmarks to change their order. Most likely you will use this in the second turn after Dimensional Translocation (see below) to get your shot off and then pop back into concealed.

On the Tactical Ploy side of things, there are a couple of ploys to boost your Crypteks, with Leech Power and Cortical Subjugation being able to steal an APL from other friendly operatives and push shooting attacks onto other friendly operatives respectively. Commence Reanimation has reversed the buff it received out of the compendium (going back to 1CP from 0) but that being said, given the restrictions on reanimation protocols from the Plasmacyte and Tecnomancer (if you decide to take it), being able to trigger protocols on any operative on the board as per before is definitely more desirable.

The final Tactical Ploy is only available to Deathmark operatives. They get a forward deployment for the firefight phase of the first turning point. It has to be more then red away from the enemy drop zone and other enemy operatives but crucially it counts as having performed a normal move on that turn. This means that you can't fire the Synaptic Disintegrator when you turn up and are effectively stuck far away from the rest of your support. The main use would be to get ontop of vantage points or objectives and hope that you are safe enough on conceal to whether the return fire so that you can start to put in work on the next turn.

Tac Ops

The Hierotek Circle has access to the Recon and Security Archetypes so from the offset, it looks like Security might be a good fit with Unyielding Ancients and Unearth Artifice, which both require you to go to a place and stay there until the end of the battle. I think that overall Worthy of Study is far harder to score as it requires a Cryptek or Apprentek to be within red of both a friendly operative and your study token (which is on an enemy operative that you only have limited control over).

If you pick Security as your primary Tac-Op deck, there is some good synergy with Central Control and Sieze Ground and I can see a combination of any of these with the first two Necron Tac-Ops being a solid choice that you can reasonably expect to be able to score during a game. Similarly, out of Recon, there are some good opportunities with forward deploying Deathmarks and Triangulate and Vantage becomes quite achievable with your flying Cryptek and super-concealed Plasmacytes.

Final Thoughts

Overall I am in two minds with how the Necron killteam has turned out. Despite it being fairly uninspired from a miniature standpoint with essentially the entire killteam being able to be made out of stock miniatures, I do think that it could have the tools needed to be able to compete in the middle of the field but I also think that it will mostly involve leaning on the already solid Immortals to do more work then they did out of the compendium; Doubly so considering the reduced consistency of their shooting thanks to the lack of starfire cores, lack of Necron Warriors for a relatively plentyful, easy to reanimate baseline unit, and so much utility being pushed into whichever Technomancer you select.

Due to the way their reanimation works, I anticipate that they will generally have a hard time against teams that heavily outnumber them and/or can knock out multiple operatives per turn. Additionally they don't have any credible combat threat so CC heavy teams will also be very difficult to beat unless you can do some clever baiting with your operatives and catch out your opponent once you have reanimated. I think that they will have trouble especially vs Tau due to their markerlights, Hunter Clade due to their very good combination of ranged units and close combat punch and of course Harlequins.

In addition to this, I would expect that choice of Cryptek and loadout of your 5 Immortal/Deathmark operatives will largely be what makes or breaks them at higher levels of play. Against elite teams you will want to take the Psychomancer in order to mess with their available pool of APL and most probably more Immortals to get the volume of damage required to take down Space Marines reliably. Against numerous teams such as Veteran Guard, you will be looking to take the Chronomancer for it's very good blast/stun weapon and slingshot Immortal plays in order to disrupt their plays and keep them contained probably along with the Apprentek, and finally the Technomancer as your general use Cryptek for most other matchups.

I do think that there were some missed opportunities in the Killteam; The Crypteks themselves only hit on a 4+ and the mandatory inclusion of the two Plasmacytes effectively render the Hierotek Circle as a 6-man elite team but with only 10 wounds across the board (as your Plasmacytes will largely be concealed most of the time and have very poor melee, ranged, and defensive stats). It's also far more CP hungry then the compendium team, especially with Commence Reanimation going back to 1 CP cost and the almost mandatory requirement to use Intractable March for movement and Undying Androids to counter needing to be Engaged for the majority of your abilities. I think that they probably want at least another Immortal choice and Reanimation happening automatically on your operatives to give them the push they would need (as a reminder, compendium Necrons could take 4 Immortals and 5 Warriors for a 9 operative killteam with free reanimation protocols once a turn and rerolls to hit across most of the board but were stifled by their lack of maneuverability).

If you didn't want to go with a wholesale rewrite of the reanimation protocol rules, I would go with something like this;
  1. Roll the Plasmacytes into the 5x Necrons that you can take so you have the option of bringing more Immortals/Deathmarks (making it 7x Necrons which could consist of Plasmacytes, The Apprentek, Immortals, Deathmarks) - realistically you drop the Reanimator for an Immortal in most games.
  2. Reverse the bizzare nerf on reanimation protocols to work after living metal.
  3. Reverse the equally bizzare nerf on commence reanimation to make it 0 CP again as per the compendium errata.

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