Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

New Year, New Army... Necrons!

It's the time of the year when all of the various gaming companies are hoping you'll pick up something new rather than moving on to another hobby or company. Games Workshop is, of course, no exception with their New Year, New Army story where many of the employees from their studio highlight what their plans and projects are for the new year. In my own New Year's post, I indicated that one of my projects for the this year would be necrons, but honestly it is an army I've had a love/hate relationship with for years. In this first "new army" article, I'll go through the army's history, why I haven't done an army until now, my first mostly completed warrior, and where I'm hoping to go from here.

First painted Indomitus Necron - we'll call him "Bob"

While Necrons have been in Warhammer 40K for a while, I still think of them as one of the "newer" playable forces in the game. Originally published in White Dwarf 216 as Necron Raiders during 40K's second edition, only the warrior and scarab units received rules initially. These would be followed by the Lord and Destroyers in White Dwarf 218. The miniatures were all metal and lacked variety in poses, so building a large force at the time was an exercise in monotony, and fairly expensive. That being said, necrons were fairly potent on the table with their gauss weaponry chewing through space marine armor like it was tissue paper. The army gained solid niche popularity, as it was pretty much an excellent anti-space marine force.

The original necron warrior

In August 2002 Codex: Necrons was released as part of Warhammer 40K's third edition. This release saw the coming of the multi-pose necron plastic miniatures which have served as the army's core until the release of the Indomitus boxed set for 9th Edition. It also saw the introduction of what I thought (and still think) was perhaps the second cheesiest gimmick I'd ever seen in Warhammer 40K miniatures - the clear, green, plastic rods used in all of the gauss weapons. I'm not a professional quality painter, but I do aspire to paint to a high standard, and the inclusion of the clear green plastic rods seemed more than a little juvenile - especially when you look at the pro-painted one below and see how jarringly wrong the clear, green plastic looks in relationship to the rest of the miniature.

Check out them high quality green plastic rods

As unimpressed as I was with the green plastic rods on the rank and file, there were some ways around them. Unfortunately, the ones that looked the best visually always involved a lot of extra free-hand work or shading that added precious time to paint what should be an army's most numerous miniatures. That was already steering me away from the necrons, but then I saw what I consider the cheesiest gimmick I've ever seen on a Games Workshop miniature - the monolith with clear, green plastic rods, warp door, and ring pop! Looking at the well-painted, studio monolith below, the clear green crystal just looked laughably out of place. 

Fear the Ring Pop of Doom

For any doubters out there, below is a photo of a watermelon ring pop. The minute I saw the monolith, that is what came to mind, and I was never able to get past it. I could never take the miniatures or the army seriously - at least not seriously enough to spend the time to paint them to a standard I'd be happy with. Which is sort of sad, because I really liked the lore behind the army. The necrons always seemed to be part 40K Tomb Kings part H. P. Lovecraft story. A truly old and ancient race reminiscent of the "First Ones" in the Babylon 5 universe, though certainly not benevolent by any stretch of the imagination.

Over the years, Games Workshop began to transition away from the clear, green plastic rods in the gauss weaponry of the necrons. With the release of 9th edition, the necrons became one of the two starter forces in the game with many new miniatures including new plastic warriors and a new monolith - neither of which have any clear, green plastic in them! Granted, there are a few last holdouts, the destroyers being at the top of that unfortunate fraternity, but the new miniatures looked so good, I couldn't resist.

Last bastion of the clear, green plastic rod!

Another aspect of the new necron line that caught my eye was the amazing paint jobs for the Szarekhan Dynasty. A range of new paints were released specifically to paint the necrons from this particular faction. Unless I'm dealing with historical miniatures, I generally try to develop my own paint schemes for my miniature armies, but this is the one time that I'm actually pretty much going with the "codex" paint scheme for a force - though all of my paints aren't Citadel a surprising number of them are (well, surprising for me at least!).

I tend to use a fair amount of Lahmian Medium as well, especially with the Cryptek Armourshade and the Typus Corrosion because it is very easy to overdo both of those. Overall I'm pretty happy with how my first warrior came out, and this paint scheme should work well as the basis of pretty much all of the forces armed with conventional gauss style weaponry with metal blades (as opposed to energy blades). On a side note, as I was painting up this first warrior I was amused, though not terribly surprised given the force's slightly campy history, to discover that this particular necron warrior figure has a small scarab on his butt. I didn't notice it until I done the drybrush on the first steel coat, but once he was seen, he could not be unseen, so I had to spruce him up with some Canoptek alloy and Tesseract Glow as well.

Hey Bob, don't look now, but there's a scarab on your butt...

Of course, while this technique and palette is going to work well for the rank and file, there is a class of miniature in the new force that is going to represent a huge challenge for me personally - namely anything with any energy blade. I've done drybrushing, washes (oil and otherwise), modulation painting, oil streaking, pin washing, filters, you name it, but there are two techniques I haven't used in the past - at least not extensively: glaze washes and edge highlighting. Guess what two techniques I need to somewhat master to execute the amazing energy blades you see on many of the necron miniatures. Yeah, those two. 

So that's the next challenge - to start learning how to do those glazes and edge highlighting well enough to generate some decent energy blades. I'm starting with the vanilla Overlord from the Indomitus set, and will then move on to the Skorpekh Lord and Skorpekh Destroyers. Provided I'm not crying in a corner in the fetal position after that, I should have the basic paint schemes down for the whole force. Wish me luck!

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