All Necron Infantry and Bike units except for Characters have the Reanimation Protocols ability. So what does it do and how can you make the most of it?
The moment a Necron is laid low, its metal body enacts complex self-repair routines, reattaching severed limbs and fusing together shattered armour plating.
Roll a D6 for each slain model from this unit (unless the whole unit has been completely destroyed) at the beginning of your turn. Do not roll for models that have fled the unit. On a 5+, the model’s reanimation protocols activate and it is returned to this unit with its full complement of wounds, otherwise it remains inactive (although you can roll again at the start of each of your subsequent turns). When a model’s reanimation protocols activate, set it up in unit coherency with any model from this unit that has not returned to the unit as a result of reanimation protocols this turn, and more than 1" from enemy models. If you cannot do this because there is no room to place the model, do not set it up (you can make Reanimation Protocols rolls for this model again in subsequent turns).
So what are some things to notice about this rule so we can exploit the rules as written? The first thing to notice is that it does not happen if the entire unit is dead. The second thing we want to notice is that it happens at the beginning of your turn. The third thing to notice is that you are rolling for each model, so if for some reason wanted to you could roll them one at a time, you could do that, we'll get into why and when you want to that later in this article. Next thing is that we can keep rolling for models which we failed a Reanimation Protocol roll for in a previous turn, as long as some members of its unit remains alive, but you cannot roll for models which fled due to Morale. Last thing to take special note of is that models we set up must be set up within 2" of a model that did not come back in the current turn.
Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive
One of the keys to making the most of Necron Infantry and Bikes is to keep our units alive whenever possible, because dead units do not get to Reanimate. There are four things that will kill the majority of our units, Smite, shooting, melee and Morale. The first part to staying alive is to take bigger squads, you always want to take squads as big as they come with Necrons if you want any chance of getting value out of Reanimation Protocols.
The key to avoiding losing units to smite is to stagger units so you can pull models from the front on the first unit until you no longer feel comfortable losing models from that unit, then you can pull two or three models from the front and the next unit is going to take the remaining damage from smite because it always goes to the closest visible enemy unit. Keep in mind you want to have enough models that your units will not only survive any damage your opponent can do in the Psychic phase, but also any followup damage from shooting, melee and Morale.
Avoiding getting killed by shooting can involve several things, killing the enemy units that are adept at taking out large numbers of your models, staying out of line of sight or being in close combat. The first speaks for itself, but explaining exactly when to target enemy anti-Infantry units and when to target anti-vehicle units falls outside the scope of this article. Staying out of line of sight might seem simple at first, but something to consider is that you only need one model to be left alive to reanimate a third or even more of your dead models. Instead of putting your entire squad out of line of sight or in line of sight, it can sometimes be wisest to hide enough of the squad that you will be unlikely to lose the remaining models to any overkill your opponent gets on the models that are visible to them and any Morale casualties you will suffer. Staying in combat can be very effective for Necrons, a prolonged combat is a good combat for Necrons. One of the ways to ensure your opponent does not sneak away is to take a captive, you can find more indebth articles on how to take captives in 40k with other articles, but it basically boils down to surrounding one or more enemy models in such a way they cannot retreat away from your unit. The most basic way to do this it to have 3 models in base contact with the round base of an enemy model without FLY. This way your opponent will not be able to fit through any of the gabs between your 3 models and will be forced to stay in combat.
Avoiding losing too man models in melee so that we can Reanimate boils down to removing models in smart ways and limiting the amount of models your opponent can attack with. If your opponent charges you with three units and you can manage to remove every model within 4" of one of the units that charged before they get to attack, that unit won't be able to make any attacks. In most cases it is more important to stay alive and Reanimate than it is to do a small amount of extra damage, especially with units like Warriors and Immortals. You can limit the amount of models your opponent can use in melee by staying the maximum distance away from the units you charge (1") and not piling in further than you have to, a model within 1" of a model from its own unit that is in turn within 1" of an enemy model can make just as many attacks as a model that is in base contact with that model. You want to use a soft touch when you engage enemy melee units, don't just push your guys in as far as they go, try to find the one model that is furthest away from the main blob of enemy models and attack from that point to limit casualties.
The Beginning Beginning?
Reanimation Protocol rolls are made at the beginning of your turn but Necrons have a lot of other things that happen at the start of the turn as well. Usually the order you want to execute things at the start of your turn is: generate objectives if you are playing a Maelstrom mission, roll Reanimation Protocols, use Zahndrekh's random ability if you have Zahndrekh in your army, use My Will Be Done and Wave of Command. Maelstrom is the most random thing that is going to happen at the start of your turn so you do that first, then addjust the rest of your actions according to the results of your random card draws. If you generate the Endless Legions Objective Card you also want to start making Reanimation rolls after generating it so you can complete it as soon as possible. We use Zahndrekh's ability and My Will Be Done after our Reanimation rolls because we can use those extra 3" (2" for coherency with a model already there and 1" for the size of the base we are bringing back) to reach units which we otherwise could not reach and to determine where our My Will Be Done resources are best spent (that Lychguard squad went from 2 to 9 models while the Immortal squad went from 7 to 8 models).
Counting Grains of Sand
Because we roll Reanimation Protocols for each model at the beginning of our turn you can roll them one by one, this comes in handy when you have a Cryptek within 6" but not within 3", by rolling Reanimation Protocols one by one on 5+ until you succesfully Reanimate a model to within 3" of the Cryptek, then you can do the remaining rolls on 4+.
The Cryptek is a great addition to many Necron armies because they can buff Reanimation Protocol rolls from 5+ to 4+ for <Dynasty> units within 3". But one thing to consider is exactly how many Reanimation Protocol rolls you will make on an average game (or even just note down how many you make during your next couple of games), because if all you have is units of 10 Immortals, then you are unlikely to be making a lot of Reanimation rolls as your opponent will most likely be able to finish off your squads one at a time, fewer Reanimation rolls means fewer 4s, means no reason to take a Cryptek in the first place. Take a Cryptek with a Chronometron if you are bringing Warriors or Lychguard with Warscythes or a Cryptek with a Canoptek Cloak if you are bringing Titanic models or Lychguard with hyperphase shields.
Our two Unique Crypteks are also worthwhile additions to some armies, Orikan the Diviner is great with Warscythe Lychguard or with Warriors if you are also bringing Anrakyr and planning on sending them into melee. Illuminor Szeras is mainly good if you are bringing several different dynasties and/or Triarch Praetorians since he benefits all Necrons rather than just <Dynasty> units.
The Resurrection Orb is too expensive to be good for Warriors and Immortals, but it is okay for Destroyers and Lychguard, definitely not something you need, but if you have the points it is not a terrible addition if you are bringing those Destroyers or Lychguard. If you are bringing Warriors you instead want to bring Ghost Arks, one of these is a must-have if you have a big unit of Warriors, they can also come in handy against snipers if you have characters you want to keep alive.
Usually the biggest problem that prevents the abuse of Reanimation is Morale, there are three ways to curb the damages of Morale, the Immortal Pride Warlord Trait which is a must-have if you are using big squads of Warriors, the next is the Stratagem that allows you to automatically pass a Morale test for 2 CP is amazing and in a pinch a re-roll to avoid casualties from Morale can also be worth it.
The last thing I'll end the article with saying is you do not need to stay in unit coherency when taking casualties, you can have a chain of models leading back to your Cryptek and maybe your Warlord with the Immortal Pride Warlord Trait and then the majority of your models in Melee or forward to Rapid Fire then when you take casualties you remove the chain linking the main force in the front to the last model in the back, you leave that last model around to harvest the benefits of your HQs and keep as many models available at the front as possible. Then when it comes time to Reanimation you place a model at either end of the broken chain and you should be able to reconnect the unit with a 5" move if they are not locked in combat. Keep in mind that if your unit is not in coherency it cannot move unless that move takes it into coherency.