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Decurion Detachments for All – Good or Bad?

Decurion Stone Picture by Carole Raddato on Flickr

Decurion Stone Picture by Carole Raddato on Flickr

While I don’t buy into all the rumor mill that is a constant buzz online, Faeit 212 has a post rumoring about all future codex will have decurion like formations forcing people to buy “tax” models. It may never come to pass, but it got me thinking, is this a bad thing?

A Decurion?

Necron Army by achrntatrps

Necron Army by achrntatrps on Flickr

A quick catch-up for those who did not buy the Necron Codex, the Decurion Detachment is a super FOC in the sense you need one ‘core’ choice and at least one to ten ‘Auxiliary’ choices. There is also a single ‘Command’ choice that can be added. For most of these choices it is actually a formation or units that have their own formation rules and when built into a Decurion Detachment gain an additional bonus.


In the Necron case, the Core is the Reclamation Legion made up of an Overlord, Warriors, Immortals, and at least one unit of Tomb Blades. Lychguard and Monoliths can be thrown in as well, but it is ‘tax’ of the Tomb Blades that seem to get people up in arms on the apparent problem with the Detachment. The rest of the units from the codex fall into ten different formations. When you have a legal Decurion Detachment all your Necron robots have a better chance of passing their Ever-living save – a crazy good bonus.

Ok, so let us take a look at why this may good or bad idea for other armies from some different vantage points.

The Business View

To start with, no I am not a GW employee nor have I ever worked with any affiliate company of GW – just to get the haters out of the way.

By Bud Caddell on Flickr

By Bud Caddell on Flickr

So pretty much anytime GW changes something from revising a codex or releasing a new dataslate, a piss-storm of people on the interwebs lash out at GW for being a money bags. But let’s get real, Games Workshop is a company, much like the ones we all go to work for and allow us to pay for food, shelter, and afford a luxury hobby like Warhammer. So, yes, everything GW does needs to make business sense or their staff would need other jobs and all those cool kits we’ve been waiting for ever to see, won’t come to pass – that doesn’t mean though that they don’t care about the hobbyest and gamers, just check out the sections below on those points.

Now, why would the business side of GW like the idea of Decurion-style formations in future Codex releases? Well, as the Faeit 212 article pointed out, it can squeeze in a few ‘tax’ units that may not normally get a lot of sales such as the tomb blades. You may also need to buy a few more units to fill in the ranks, such as the two Warrior units and a unit of Immortals.

The other thing it does, is incentivise customers to fill in a few gaps from their existing collection to create a few of the other formations. Much like the formations of Apocalypse, these formations have specific unit requirements that provide a benefit to the whole. If you only have one Doom Scythe for example, you would need to buy a second to complete the Deathbringer Flight formation. This is nothing different than other stores telling you if you just buy one more, you will save on all the items.

The story view

Now we come to the fluff standpoint, or that of the hobbyist, the collector, and the reader/writer. The Decurion Detachment gave the Necron army its own look and feel for how it would operate. Sure, the core is still built around a simple FOC HQ, three troops, and a fast attack, but from their you can have extreme customization on where it goes.


This flexibility designed for the Necron army gives it a character of its own, separate from Space Marine Chapters, or Imperial Guard formations. This has great potential for other armies that act much differently than the traditional FOC. In the past GW attempted to do this buy giving HQ characters the ability to make certain units ‘troop choices.’ While this solved the problem it was a bit forced and felt wonky – bikers are fast attack, but also troops?

Mentor Legion Army

Lets take the hypothetical Mentor Legion supplement (anyone at GW reading this, please make this a possibility!). Their original background is breaking apart squads and  ‘loaning’ them to other chapters. More recent background has them instead leading and working with Imperial Guard units (from the Cadre short story). So its core formation may include a Tactical Unit, Capitan, and an Imperial Guard squad with the special rule that the tactical squad could be broken up to lead the IG squads.

Think about your favorite army, its background, and how well that is represented in the FOC organization. Now what if GW created a Decurion-style formation that fit it better. Sure you may have to buy a unit or two that you wouldn’t have before – but most likely it was because it didn’t fit the FOC setup and clogged one of the vital slots like fast attack.

The gamer view

Now lets take it from the gamer’s viewpoint. I must admit this is probably my weakest viewpoint as I have only played a few games in the last few years and have never been a competitive gamer. I can, however, appreciate the new options laid out in the in the detachment.

For the power gamer, you could take the formations you think will just crush your opponent and spam them. There is no restriction on the number of each formation, only that you have one core and upto ten of the auxiliary. For example, if you think the Doomsday Ark is badass, you could take four or five of the Annihilation Nexus formations, each with two Annihilation Barges and blow the other army off the board – that’s 12 to 15 heavy support choices, normally reserved for an unbound list.

Decurion-style Conclusion

So first the cons:

  • You have to pay to play. It is true that if you want to take advantage of the Formation, you need to buy the models.
  • Harder to build up. You can’t really just add one or two units, most formations require a few specific units.
  • Not as flexible in the classic sense that you can pick only the models you like. Again, each formation needs a couple of different units to make it happen.

Now the pros:

  • Creates a unique army style that fits the story background without feeling forced.
  • More flexibility in the sense you aren’t limited to 3 FOC slots
  • Special rules, the Ever-living could be game changing
  • A chance/excuse to buy/play with units that you may have passed up before

The biggest thing to remember about the Decurion Detachment, is that it doesn’t replace the Battle Forged FOC Detachment, or even prevent unbound Necron armies. If you don’t like the detachment, don’t use it. With that in mind I think that the specialized detachments for all armies going forward is a fantastic idea. It will add more flexibility, opportunity, and background perspective to the hobby.

Games Workshop has finally broken free of the standard HQ, Troops, etc. and allowing each faction to play and feel how they created them. I look forward to actual Tau Hunter Cadres, Iron Warriors Grand Companies, and Ork Dreadmobs all having their own full on detachments.