40K: The ORIGINAL Necrons are NUTS!


The Necron race has come a LOOOONG way since it’s first appearance right around 2000. Take a look at how it all began.

All the newcomers see the mighty Necron race as the ancient deathless armies of the various tomb World Dynasties – come to reclaim thier lost empire. Fewer still remember their early codex and the secrets within of their long war alongside the C’Tan against the Old Ones. But fewer still can go back to the Nerons original introduction to the game as a very minor faction.

It was 2003 and the Necrons had a mysterious past with little to no details, and only a handful of models.

This ancient armylist was included in 2003’s 2nd Book of the Astronomicon.

Original Necron Armylist

First we will tackle thier armylist. Back then the army had only 5 units:

  • Necron Lords
  • Necron Immortals
  • Necron Warriors
  • Necron Scarabs
  • Necron Destroyers

The army had their original hallmark army rule: Phase Out, which would automatically end a game with a Necorn loss if they suffered 75% model casualties. Their fluff was vague and only referenced scattered attacks by the Necrons across the galaxy and that the race was ancient, predating the Eldar.  They possessed We’ll Be Back, granting a 4+ ability to get back up the turn after they had been killed, and the early origins of Gauss Weapons were included.  It isn’t much, but proved to be a viable seed to grow an entire faction from.



The Pretorians find a nasty surprise in the desert. 


Oh people hated the self-destructing Scarabs! Note the replacement of a repaired Destroyer with a Necron Warrior. Early days indeed.

Original Necron Miniatures

Now let’s take a look at these miniatures in detail:

The  Necron Lord has always carried a Staff of Light, a nasty weapon even in its early incarnation. The Immortals were large and hulking with bulky Gauss weapons. Necron Warriors came in a variety of poses from triumphant to skulking and the Destroyers were just downright odd – more of a jetbike-sled from The Terminator with a midget Warrior at the controls on the side.



If you look sharp, you can still find these on eBay occasionally.

~My how the Necrons have grown over the intervening years!

  • Andreas Noche

    Wasn´t the first Necronlist around the last days of the 2nd edition? The also had very different rules, back then

    • Paul Sr.

      Surprise! More articles from this network with wrong or no content.
      This wasn’t even their 2nd time having datasheets.

    • Ross Allan

      Indeed. And they were horrifically hard. Scarabs ate your tanks, and lowered the BS of units nearby.

      • Insert_nickname_here

        And were toughness 8, if I remember correctly.

        • Charax

          And Necrons stopped Power Weapons from working

    • Seb

      Yup, have a couple of these early warrior models from then. The heavier units only arrived much later.

    • Ben_S


      IIRC Warriors were something like 44 or 45 points each, in a world where Space Marines were 30 points.

    • Heinz Fiction

      Yes, the first Necron rules I remember were for 2nd edition. I think they were published in a White Dwarf issue. Even before that the design was used in Star Quest / Space Crusade.

    • ghettohamburglar

      yes it was

    • Yup. I was still stationed in Germany back then, so it had to be around 97/98 when the came out. It was in a white dwarf article. They were really nasty back then too

      • Andreas Noche

        I remember when I said (3rd edition was my start) “What´s the faction with the most powerful tech?” and everyone were like “Eldar! Dark Eldar” until one Red Shirt smiled “That would be Necrons then”. Hooked since that day.

    • ellobouk

      Yep, for a while the line was just a single box of warriors with a couple of scarabs included.
      And there was a free METAL warrior on the cover of white dwarf on the month of release, crazy days.

  • Ghaniman

    The original Codex: Necrons (as in the one with C’tan) was published in 2002. And the Chapter Approved: Second Book of the Astronomican was published in 2001.

    The Necrons themselves were years before then, after all the are massively hinted at in the GorkaMorka’s Da Uvver book published in 1997, and sadly that’s as far back as I can personally go with printed material, but even I know they came before then.

    So yeah, fact check thanks.

    • Paul Sr.

      LOL fact check things around here?

      • Bredkooler

        Thats what the comments section is for isnt it?

        • Paul Sr.

          No that’s what proof reading your article is for.

  • carlisimo

    The first rules appeared in… well, it may vary by country, but in Spain it was the January 1998 White Dwarf (the one that launched the Eldar Falcon model). It only had Necron Warriors and Scarabs and they both had 2+ armor saves on 1d6 and dead ones stood back up on a 6 (stayed down on a 2-5). Oh, and vehicles or Dreadnoughts within 6″ suffered a bunch of penalties.

    The Lord and Destroyer were added two months later. Since it was 2nd ed., the Destroyer had a datafax or whatever they were called in English. If you hit and killed the pilot, the Destroyer would fly out of control until the pilot came back via the I’ll Be Back rule. Good times.

    I don’t know when the Immortals appeared.

    • Ben_S

      Yes, I also remember the 2nd edition rules – though it’s worth pointing out (for any newbies) that they had save modifiers back then, so 2+ was not quite as tough as it may sound.

    • Skeksis

      I believe that issue also contained a cut-out Imperial chapel, which was used in the battle report. Several squads of Necrons stomped the local Sisters Of Battle, the last survivor of which was nicknamed ”Sister Sledge”. She got the Mars Attacks treatment in the end too.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        Monastery 101!

    • Simon Bates

      I remember the Immortals appeared in the first 3rd edition Necron army list in WD. They were T5 warriors with S5 Ap4 assault 2 guns and they were the only elites choice for the army.

  • Myu

    I remember that book, still have it too somewhere. The 3Rd Ed models were a massive step forward, pitty they butchered everything with the next codex

  • Knotley

    Please say the cavalcade of typos in this is some sort of joke I’m missing.

  • Valegorn

    I have a ton of these early models, sitting in my garage, never get played.

  • Valegorn

    Also, not going to lie, I really miss the old Necron lore. There was something sinister about a mechanical race that predated the Eldar, that said nothing, showed up out of nowhere, hit real hard, and vanished.

    Once they gave the necrons personality (like with special characters) all the mystery was gone.

    • ZeeLobby

      Agreed. There’s a lot of hand holding in the lore these days. Not sure if it’s their attempt to please children or just today’s culture of everything must be explained several times before it happens (see Star Wars Episode VII).

      • jcdent

        Force Awakens can burn in hell for many, many reasons,

        • euansmith

          Was that a stand alone film? I thought it was just a recap of the previous three movies?

    • jcdent

      The worst thing about Newcrons is the stories about RT or DW or whatever campaigns where characters end up cooperating with Necrons.

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      What you don’t like “chatty” necrons? It was far more scary when they were a silent killers of all living things. Unknown and near unstoppable. Now they hang out with Blood Angels and have tea with Inquisitors.

    • Raven Jax

      I have to disagree. If you want to play your Necrons like this, then that is awesome and I fully support that. GW has released some Forgeworld books that allow you to play Dynasties like this. The problem is you just can’t have a mindless faction for 10+ years (a problem Tyranids are having). I’m glad they’ve expanded it, given us some options as far as the fluff goes. And you can paint how you want now, instead of feeling beholden to gunmetal grey. I personally enjoy thinking of royal Egyptian robots plotting and stabbing each other in the back.

      • lorieth

        I thought royal Egyptian robots was covered by Thousand Sons. 😉

        • Raven Jax

          Fair point. The Thousand Sons now sort of have the old Necron lore, don’t they? Faceless, silent, and relentless killing machines.

    • Matt Mo

      Totally agree. I prefer the mindless Michael Myers-esque killing machines about which little is known. That’s when I got into Necrons. Always enjoyed the Pariah models.

    • amaximus167

      You are not the only one! My whole friends group is not fond of the new lore at all.

  • bull.jat

    Ah these beauts were the first models I ever owned…. I believe the Immortals were added a little later than the Lord, Warriors and Destroyers?

  • Necrons first appeared January 1998 (free Necron Warrior mini was given away with White Dwarf 217), with 2nd edition rules included over two issues of White Dwarf. The rules were updated for 3rd ed in White Dwarf 230 a year later.

    Funny sidenote, I was the one who took that photo (featured on the first page) of the Necrons battling Praetorians in the desert.

    • euansmith

      Cool sidenote!

    • ZeeLobby

      That’s awesome!

  • euansmith

    I really liked the old Necron with their tiny selection of units and their simple, and yet mysterious background. Their total lack of personality gave them a bit of an eldritch flavour, that rather evaporated once their started to gain personalities and emotions.

    Having said that, I like the way that GW have tied the changes in the faction in to their continued awakening. Who knows what mechanical monstrosities will emerge from the depths of the Tomb Worlds’ next?


    Maybe it is time for a Tomb World to be found orbiting a Warp Star?


    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      There was a Kal Jerico comic that had a giant Tomb King that was titan sized. That would be nice to see, if for no other reason than to fight Tau in a mecha battle!

  • Wampasaurus

    Maybe spell check before publishing an article next time? The paragraph directly after the bullet points is just full of spelling and grammatical errors

  • Damistar

    I hate to correct everyone, but the Necrons were 3rd Ed. not 2nd.

    • Paul Quigley

      Really…so I imagined the first battle report Necrons vs Sisters of Battle in UK WD did I…..


      • Damistar

        2nd ed. had an M (movement) stat. All moves became 6″ in 3rd ed.

        • euansmith

          From what it said in the article, the stats shown are from 2003’s 2nd Book of the Astronomicon, rather than their first appearance; which appears to have been a few years earlier in WD articles.

          From Wikipedia, “The Necrons first appeared as usable units for Warhammer 40,000 as Necron Raiders. The rules for these were first published in White Dwarf Issue 216 towards the end of the lifespan of the second edition of Warhammer 40,000.[1] At the time, only Necron Warriors and Scarabs were given game rules and the warriors were armed with Gauss-Flayer Guns.[2][3] This was quickly followed up with an expanded army list in the following month’s issue of the same magazine. The Necron Lord and Necron Destroyer were part of this slightly-expanded army list.”

          • Damistar

            I stand corrected and concede the point. In my defense it was a long time ago and I was going off the article. The pictures show a 3rd ed. stat line and things were chaotic towards the end of second.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            We will forgive you but how dare you be civilized and mature on the interweb! I don’t know what else to say.

          • Paul Quigley

            A gentlemanly doff of the cap to you sir

          • euansmith

            No worries. I just looked stuff up on the internet 😀 My memory is a thing of the past; and I can’t even work up the energy to do any more than slouch corrected at the most these days.

          • Scott Staten

            I remember the basic Necron warrior model first being sold as a “Chaos Android” And used as such in the space Crusade board game.

          • lorieth

            Fact checking, humility, maturity, civil discourse… OK which website am I on now? I must bookmark this.

  • cudgel

    I hated fighting these bastards back in the day……

  • memitchell

    In looks, they were updated Space Crusade Androids with strong Terminator movie influences. Egyptian tomb kings, of course. I thought the GorkaMorka references predated their 40K introduction slightly, adding to the mystery of both games. Playing against them was dull. Warriors lined up in “serried” ranks. Hard to kill, and they got back up. Eventually you might cause them to phase out. Meanwhile, every weapon could hurt a Land Raider. You know how exciting they were? I think I might have had small 2E army. I can’t remember.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Yep Chaos Androids! That is exactly what they started as!

  • TexBlade

    Holy hell Larry. F7 is spellcheck in Word. Take the two seconds to paste your article into Word and run spellcheck because, damn.

    • orionburn

      I hate this feeling of “Oh, we’re just a bunch of gamers so relax. We aren’t writing a science paper.”

      Take some freaking pride in what you write. It really takes away from the point of the article when it’s riddled with mistakes.

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I really like the look of the immortals here. I think the current ones are to similar to warriors with larger guns.

  • Severius_Tolluck

    They even predate the Monastery 101 article for second ed! They were originally Chaos Murder Androids in Space Crusade! Tsk Tsk…. Hell the heroes of the and villains of the emporium box sets had alternate Egyptian style lord with orb before launch of third!

  • Sigmarine

    Exploding scarabs! I miss the days of watching ten of them land on a land raider and get 6 pairs of 12 despite the odds 🙂

  • Grenn Dal

    in the nova open I played against an old school necron list including metal warriors and a destroyer cult of old destroyers. it was cool.

  • elwin charpentier

    I still have my chaos androids from Space Crusade. 🙂 Feel old !

    • Paul Quigley

      me too…halcyon days 🙂

  • TexBlade

    I love how my comment about spelling mistakes got removed, but not all the spelling mistakes in the article got removed.
    “come to reclaim thier lost empire.”

  • ghettohamburglar

    I played necrons from chapter approved in 3rd edition and I don’t think I lost a game. But everyone hated me 🙂

  • Iconoc1ast

    When they were first released i had thought they were a new version of the chaos android. But a quick search online shows i wasnt the only one


  • Bayne MacGregor

    I still have the one that came free with white dwarf, yep free metal miniature!

  • Iconoc1ast

    Were they not in gorkamorka first…??