|This article relies on references to primary sources. (September 2008)|
In the table-top wargame Warhammer 40,000, the Necrons are a mysterious skeletal robot-like race that have lain dormant and largely unknown by the other races of the universe for sixty-four million years, and are reemerging in the distant future of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Within the game's universe, the Necrons have become known and feared for their ability to absorb physical damage and repair themselves, as well as their enigmatic, yet powerful, Gauss weapons and arcane technology.
Most Warhammer 40,000 armies are inspired by fantasy and popular culture to an extent, however the Necrons are noted for combining ideas from dissimilar sources. The overall feel is an army that is supposed to be soulless, relentless and unstoppable. The Necron Warriors bear resemblance to the Terminators of the Terminator series. The Necrons fill the role of the undead in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and are roughly analogous to the Tomb Kings from Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
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. At the time, only Necron Warriors and Scarabs were given game rules and the warriors were armed with Gauss-Flayer Guns. 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. At the time, the lord was armed with the Staff of Light while the destroyers were armed with Gauss-Cannons. The issue of White Dwarf also had the Necrons' first major appearance in a battle report in the article entitled Massacre at Sanctuary 101, a battle between the Necrons and the Sisters of Battle. This particular altercation soon made its way into the background material as one of the first times the Imperium officially encountered the Necrons. The first Necron miniatures, all metal, were also released during this time. In fact, a free Necron Warrior was included with issue 217 of White Dwarf.
In the release of the third edition of Warhammer 40,000 in 1998, the Necrons had no usable army list. The first, full-fledged Necron army list for the new edition of the game was printed in the March 1999 issue of White Dwarf. This first army list was very restrictive, with the Necrons having mostly one choice per force organization category. The Necron Lord, Necron Immortals and Necron Warriors were the only available HQ, Elites and Troops choices respectively. This early army list had two units for the Fast Attack selections, Necron Destroyers and Scarabs. The latter were different from their current counterparts in that the original Scarabs were controlled individually and were not swarms on a single base as they are today. The Necron Immortal metal miniature was released at the same time as the publication of the army list. In a later issue of White Dwarf, Games Workshop further expanded the Necron army list by providing different equipment choices (wargear) for the Necron Lord. Along with the Gaze of Flame and Scourge of Light upgrades, this was the first time that the Veil of Darkness wargear was added to the Necron Lord's available options.
The Necrons received their first, full sourcebook with the release of Codex: Necrons in August 2002. The book featured a wealth of background information expanding upon the origins of the Necron race and expanded the scope of the Warhammer 40,000 history by several million years more. A full army list was also introduced in the sourcebook, with heavily revamped rules for existing units and the introduction of new ones. New units introduced in the codex were Flayed Ones, Pariahs, Wraiths, Heavy Destroyers, the Necron Monolith and the infamous C'tan. New miniatures were produced and released alongside with the release of the codex. Necrons received their first plastic miniatures kit in the form of the Necron Warriors boxed set, which contained enough parts to make twelve Necron Warriors and three Scarab bases with four Scarabs each. The boxed set was a first for Games Workshop, as it was the first time that transparent, coloured parts were included in a boxed set along with the standard polystyrene parts. The transparent, green rods in this case were meant to be used as part of the Necrons' gauss weaponry. The Necron Destroyer model was also revamped and made into a plastic kit. Whereas the old, metal version was essentially a Necron Warrior riding a flying platform, the new Necron Destroyer plastic kit featured a Necron Immortal torso mounted and merged with a floating platform. The other miniatures released for the army were metal, such as the Flayed Ones, Immortals, Pariahs, Wraiths and the Necron Lord. Two more miniatures soon followed suit - the massive Necron Monolith, the largest miniature kit produced by Games Workshop at the time, and the Necron Destroyer Lord, a Necron Lord mounted on a Destroyer body.
New miniatures and a new codex were released on November 7, 2011. Among the changes the new codex will introduce is a complete reboot of the Necrons' backstory. In the beginning the Necrontyr (as their former living forms were called) started out as scientifically advanced alien race, who were obsessed with extending their very short life spans. Upon meeting the "Old Ones" - an ancient race who enjoyed near immortality - the Necrontyr's jealousy caused them to go to war with them. The Necrontyr were on the verge of defeat when the C'Tan appeared and offered them immortality (opposed to the original story where the Necrontyr coaxed the C'Tan into aiding them). Their ruler, the Silent King, took the offer and later realized that his people had lost their souls in the process - becoming the ever-living Necrons, and after the War in Heaven, the Silent King got revenge on the C'Tan by shattering their forms into hundreds of pieces, shattering and weakening their power. After taking over the galaxy the Silent King ordered the Necrons to sleep, and then set off directionless on his ship in hopes of finding someway to gain atonement for his failure to his people. Finally awakening, the Necrons seek to restore their dynasty to its ancient former glory.
Before their new codex Necrons were an extremely unique army, having the durability of Space Marines, and focusing largely on firepower, but lacked vehicles and only had two melee units, usually sticking to attrition style warfare, relying on their durability to keep them alive while dwindling down the enemy. The Necrons most distinct traits are their ability to return killed models to life, and that every one of their weapons has the potential to damage vehicles. Their new codex included many new units, including vehicles, transports, and melee units, giving them far more diversity, though their true strength still lies in their durability and shooting.
- Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete, McNeill, Graham, and Hoare, Andy (2002). Codex: Necrons (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-190-7.
- "Necron Raiders - Background". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 27–31. February 1998.
- "Necron Rules". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 32–34. February 1998.
- "A Desperate Mission - Scenario: Imperial Guard vs. Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 217: 35–36. February 1998.
- "Necron Onslaught". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 24–27. March 1998.
- "The Valley of Death - Necrons Background". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 73. March 1998.
- "Massacre at Sanctuary 101 - Battle Report: Sisters of Battle vs. Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 28–37. March 1998.
- "New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 218: 122–123. March 1998.
- "New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 230: 114. March 1999.
- "Chapter Approved: Necrons". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) 239: 73–75. December 1999.
- "Index Xenos: Resurgent Evil - The awakening of the Necrontyr". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- "Chapter Approved: Codex: Necrons designers' notes". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- "Necron Awakening: A look at the Warhammer 40,000 Necron miniatures released this month". White Dwarf (UK ed.) (Games Workshop) 271. August 2002.
- "Turn One: New Releases - Necrons". White Dwarf (US) (US ed.) (Games Workshop) 271: 4. August 2002.
- Necrons and C'tan @ the Unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Encyclopedia
- Xenos Imagnifier - Imperial map of the galaxy highlighting Necron encounters.
- Count Necrons Count Necrons Project - To see how many Necron players and models are out in the galaxy
-  bknz: Necron energy