Armies of the Jungle: Yblis’ Centurions

In this series, we showcase armies used by your humble Jungle Guides.  By detailing how the army was collected, how the background and color schemes were developed, and how the army is used on the battlefield, we hope that this series will provide inspiration for those interested in collecting similar armies.

Battle, endless battle, on a thousand, thousand worlds, for a thousand, thousand years.  Millions fought, millions died—were they memories, or dreams?  The general had slept for so long that he no longer knew. 

At this moment, he recalled—imagined?—with exacting detail how he and his soldiers had blasted through the Syryllian’s lines, gunning down the gelatinous amphibians as they ran.  He remembered— dreamed?— how the loathsome, pulsating body of the Syryllian DeoRex had literally evaporated under the repeated blows of his powerstaff.  Even now, so many years later, the general felt a surge of joy and pride in his victory, just one of a thousand, thousand.

Suddenly, the general was roused to consciousness by a rich, sonorous voice, one he knew and loved. “Awaken, sweet slave,” the voice said.

The general looked about.  Light—a burning white light—had come to the sealed chamber where he had stood, immobile and inert, for so long.

“It is good to see you again,” the voice said, as the light dimmed and coalesced into a shadowy, robed figure who sat in a throne atop a dais at the end of the chamber. 

The general raised his powerstaff and took two steps forward.  “Remove yourself from the throne of my master,” he growled, his voice little more than a harsh buzzing. 

“You remember the ancient traditions.  Good.  Indeed, I am your master.”

“Crystalord is my master,” the generalk replied.  “You are not him.”

“But I am,” the figure said.  It stood, and a golden aura flared around it as it transformed into a faceless humanoid made of dazzling, transparent crystal facets.  “This is the form I took when you first swore allegiance to me, and Crystalord was the name I used then.”

“As you command,” the general said, laying down his staff and kowtowing on the stone floor. 

“Rise, my slave,” the figure said. “Many names I have used, and many guises have I worn.  Some call me the Jackal God.  Others call me the Deceiver.  Right here and now, I call myself Yblis.”  The crystal figure morphed into the dim robed figure.  “Now, attend,” it said.

An image appeared in the air nearby.  A Space Marine in tiger-striped armor fought hand-to-hand with a skeletal figure shod in bronze.  “I need a new commander for one of my armies.  Lord Thoth failed me in a crucial battle, and destruction has been his just reward,” Yblis said.  The image vanished.

“Much time has passed since you served me last, yet I have not forgotten your skill or devotion.  I wish you to take Thoth’s place.  You will do that for me, won’t you?”

The general held out his hand above his staff, which still lay on the floor. The staff flickered, vanished, then re-appeared in his grasp.  “Yblis is my master,” he said. 

“Excellent,” the figure replied.  “The name you used when last you served me has been forgotten, even by me,” it chuckled.  “In addition to granting you new powers and new warriors, I shall also grant you a new form and a new name.  Overlord Lucifer I shall call you, the Bearer of Light—my light.” 

Lucifer felt no pain, of course, as Yblis raised his hand and a burst of light sprang from it, temporarily overwhelming his photoreceptors.  When they resumed transmitting images, he was mildly surprised to find himself simultaneously viewing Yblis from two different vantage points, each a few feet from the other. 

He turned and saw himself: one version stood and held his ancient powerstaff; the other wielded a different staff and floated in the air atop the body of a Destroyer.  Lucifer thought to reach out, and both versions moved their arms forward.  He thought to look back at his master and both heads swiveled.  Though he was still of one mind, he now had two bodies to carry out Yblis’ will. 

“There is a new force in the universe,” Yblis said.  “It calls itself ‘Man.’ I want it destroyed.  Exterminated.  You will do that for me, won’t you?” 

“As you command,” both Lucifers replied. 

INTRODUCTION

Long-time Jungle visitors may recall that in 2003, my friend Patrick Eibel built and painted a Necron army, which appeared in a few battle reports.  After using the army for several months, Pat decided that he didn’t care for Necrons, and put it up for sale.

I was never a big Necron fan, but it seemed a shame to see such a nicely-done army go.  So, I bought it from Pat and set to work on making it my own.

Modeling and Painting

Pat built and painted almost all of the figures, spray-painting them black, then drybrushing them in Brazen Brass.  He drybrushed the guns Boltgun Metal.  Because Pat didn’t like how the clear plastic tube pieces for the guns looked, he painted over them with Jade Green.  He based the ‘bots with sand flock, painted in typical “desert” style.

Shortly after I purchased the army from from Pat, I added some miniatures from the VOID wargame (now out of print), painting them with Pat’s scheme.

At first, under a previous version of the Necron codex, I used them as Pariahs, a unit that eventually kind of/sort of morphed into Lychguard.  Though I could count them as such, I prefer to use them as Triarch Praetorians.  Instead of jumping through the air like real Praetorians do, I imagine that they teleport across the field like Eldar Warp Spiders.

When the 5th Edition-era Book of the ‘Bots dropped in 2011, I added some Crypteks with eldritch lances for some much needed anti-tank capability.  Rather than dish out $15 each (at the time) for the five Crypteks I wanted, I spent $33 to buy a box of Immortals/Deathmarks, and made my own using bits from each type.

To make each Cryptek’s lance, I used most of a tesla carbine with the barrel of a synaptic disintegrator.  With the latest codex, I’ve had a change of heart, and now use these figures as Deathmarks.

That codex also introduced Night Scythes, but Games Workshop didn’t release models for them when the book was published.  Rather than wait for GW, I drew on the inspiration for my army’s background (see below) and found some 1978 Cylon Raider toys on eBay.

Why use these toys?  First, I’ve always liked the looks of the Raiders from the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.  Two, they were relatively inexpensive: one cost me $10, the other $20; even with shipping and handling, my “Scythes” were a lot cheaper than what GW would want. Three, there were quite a few to be found, even after almost 35 years since they had been manufactured.

Some gamers might sneer at turning “toys” into 40K units, as if none of them are playing a game of “toy” soldiers.  But hey, that’s all right by me: they can keep paying more–much more, in most cases–and putting in more effort.  Me, I have better uses for my money and time.

I peeled off the stickers that came on the Raiders, glued their wings shut (they popped open to fire “missiles”), and primed them black.  To have them coordinate with the rest of my army, I painted most of each in Dwarf Bronze, with some parts Brazen Brass.  The Jade Green that Pat had used for accents years before was no longer available, but a found a comparable shade–Emerald–from Vallejo.

By happy accident, each Raider has a screw right in the exact middle of the toy’s underside; I took out the screw and was pleased to find that the toy didn’t fall apart, which makes me wonder what the screw was for in the first place.

The spindle of a standard GW flying base, like one would use for Land Speeders, fits perfectly in the hole for the screw, and the toy balances fine on top of the flying stand.  However, the standard GW flying base isn’t nearly tall enough (as you can see from the photos above) to allow Necrons to embark and disembark from the access point underneath the model, so I got some taller flying stands.

Shortly after I had found the Raider toys on eBay, I visited my a hobby train shop near my home and found well over a dozen Battlestar Galactica models.  Included in the treasure horde were Raiders from the old and new shows, at $25 each, as compared with the $45 that GW then wanted for Night Scythes.  I scooped up several kits.

The Raider models are at least twice as big as the toy versions, and for a while, I was going to count the toys as Triarch Stalkers and have the model versions be Night Scythes.  But then I came to my senses and realized that Flyers are the bomb (especially in the 6th and 7th Editions), so now I have five Night Scythes.  Yeah.  Seriously.

I also have two Doom Scythes, using Raider models from the newer TV series (the one you younger gamers are probably more familiar with).

Long-time Jungle visitors might remember that this army used to have Flayed Ones and a Monolith.  I was never a big fan of either unit, and eventually I traded both for a 5 Guys gift card.  Because yes, I would much rather have bacon double cheeseburgers.

I also had a model I used as The Deceiver (which would now be considered a C’Tan Shard), but I stopped using it in favor of the Scythes.

Background 

In writing up some background material (or “fluff”) for my Necrons, I took most of my inspiration from the 1970’s TV show Battlestar Galactica, which I had watched as a kid.

BG concerned itself with a group of space-faring humans searching to find planet Earth.  They were pursued by a race of robots, the Cylons, who spoke in buzzing voices, were lousy shots (of course), and wore bulky armor, but they always had the advantage in numbers and were relentlessly bent on “the annihilation of the life form known as Man.”

(Shortly after I decided to use Galactica, I learned about the new, darker series: while I sorta liked the episodes I saw, I really didn’t get into it, and thus, didn’t borrow anything from that version)

For quite a while, I was also influenced by the 1980’s video game Berzerk, which featured evil robots that tried to hunt down and shoot a “humanoid” (controlled by the player) trapped in a maze.  The robots in Berzerk could speak, yelling “Get the humanoid!” when attacking, and “Chicken! Fight like a robot!” whenever the player-figure ran away.

The robots were pretty dumb and were no better shots than the Cylons, but they were led by a spherical, smiley-faced being called Evil Otto, who could pass through walls, couldn’t be killed, and would annihilate whatever it touched.

So for several years, I used “Bzrkx” in the army’s name, and I used The Deceiver to replicate Evil Otto.  After all, being invulnerable and able to move through walls sounded like something a C’Tan could do, and I was sure that The Deceiver would be able to change its form.  For the model, I used a transparent smiley-face ball with electronic doodads inside it that I had found at a party store: it cost about a dollar.  I drilled a hole in the bottom and glued a standard flying stand under it.

After awhile though, I thought that mixing Berzerk with BG with the undead + Egyptian look of the Necrons was too many motifs thrown together, so I dropped the references to the video game.  Lesson learned: pick one or two elements and run with them; any more than that, and it just gets too confusing and/or too weird.

So, what do I have here to make my army distinct from other Necron armies?

Yblis The Deceiver.  In BG, the Cylons served a shadowy, robed figure they called “Imperious Leader.”  Viewers never got a good look at Imperious Leader, but he didn’t seem to be a robot.  Nor did he sound like one: the British actor Patrick Macnee (most famous for his role in TV’s The Avengers) provided his voice.

In two episodes, Macnee also played Count Iblis, a miracle worker who promised to save the human protagonists from the Cylons if they swore allegiance to him.  One character pointed out that Iblis and Imperious Leader had the same voice, but the connection was never explained.  Iblis was eventually revealed as a demonic entity in human guise.

The characters of Imperious Leader and Count Iblis inspired me, under the 3rd Edition version of the codex, to choose The Deceiver, under one of his many names, as the ultimate leader of my Necrons. “Yblis” is a combination of the two BG villains: a satanic figure bent on destroying humankind through his mechanical minions.  The name “Yblis,” by the way, is pronounced “EE-blee” (the “s” is silent).

In more recent versions of Codex: Necrons, the C’Tan were overthrown by their mechanical minions, who now sometimes uses “shards” of their former masters’ divine essences in battle.  Lucifer believes that he and his minions still serve The Deceiver, meaning that either Lucifer is insane after his 65-million year dormancy (a not-uncommon affliction of Necron Overlords), or that somehow a “shard” of the Jackal God has escaped its confines and managed to trick an army of Necrons into believing that they are still his to command.

Lucifer.   Even when the Necrons first appeared in 40K, the idea of leader with human intellect and characteristics had appealed to me: though the Necrontyr long ago submitted themselves to become machines, it seemed quite reasonable to me that the leaders—presumably the strongest-willed of the Necrons—kept some aspects (even some emotions, perhaps?) from their mortal lives.  Later versions of the codex took that idea and ran with it, with the various Necron special characters having all sorts of personalities.

Lucifer takes his name from a more intelligent, more articulate, more human-appearing Cylon (see above) from the original Battlestar Galactica series.  “Lucifer” is a Latin word meaning “bringer or bearer of light” (and is, like “Iblis,” another name for the Devil).

The name “Lucifer” is hardly in keeping with the established Necron fluff, so, obviously, it is a nom de guerre bestowed on an Overlord who was a former general in the armies of “Crystalord” (The Deceiver in another guise).

I have two HQ units to lead my Necrons, and just for the sake of doing something different, I thought that rather than name two separate characters , I thought it would be more in keeping with the robotic theme to have The Deceiver create two versions of the same Lord and have them share their programming.  Thus, Lucifer appears as Version 1.1 (an Overlord) and as Version 1.2 (a Destroyer Lord).  One mind, one personality, two bodies.

Centurions.  As I mentioned earlier, the rest of the army (from a “story” perspective) is a collection of automatons devoid of personality.  Carrying further my inspirations from Battlestar Galactica, I imagine that my Necrons talk, albeit in buzzing, distorted tones unpleasant to the human ear.

Being unemotional and not innovative thinkers, they would probably speak only to relay information to Lucifer (“The humans are massed on the southern hill”) or to acknowledge orders (“As you command!”).  This is not to say that my Necrons are stupid, just that they don’t stand around reciting soliloquies.

Thus, I haven’t made up other characters or given their vehicles names, or anything like that.  But because I wanted the army as a whole to have an identity (and not just be “my Necrons”), I needed a name for them.

For a while during the 15 years (and counting) that I’ve owned this collection, I called them “Yblis’ Marauders,” borrowing the name of the mutant supervillain group from the “Mutant Massacre” issues of the X-Men, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

The Marauder name introduced an element that didn’t mesh well with the Galactica and Berzerk influences, so down the Memory Hole it went.

In trying to come up with another name, I decided that with “Yblis” and “Lucifer,” the army had enough Galactica references, so I would lean towards the Berzerk game.

I thought of calling the army “Yblis’ Berzerkers,” but I thought that might cause people to think, God forbid, that I own a Khorne army.  Eventually, I settled on the collective name “Bzrkx” (pronounced “biz-URKS”) for the units under Lucifer’s master.  So, “Yblis’ Bzrkx” it was for a long time.

But eventually, as I mentioned, I came to believe that I had too many references and motifs going, and so I dropped the video game homage. In doing so, I’ve changed the army’s name to “Yblis’ Centurions,” using the name of the Cylon foot soldiers from the original series.

Yes I know, “centurion” means a leader of soldiers, not the common infantryman.  Don’t blame me, blame the original show’s writers.

Army Lists 

I prefer fielding 2000-point armies, but my Necron collection is too large to do that and use all the figures.  Rather than shelve or sell some of them, I’ve created two lists I use.

For both, I use the Solar Fury special rule from the Mephrit Dynastic Code (page 109 of Codex: Necrons).  This allows any weapons fired at half range or less by my army to increase their Armor Penetration by 1, so that a gauss flayer (carried by Warriors) becomes AP -2 at 12″ or less, a gauss blaster becomes AP -3, etc.

I chose Solar Fury because it fit the “light” theme that I have going on with the army.  In addition, the Mephrit Dynasty is described (on page 22) as having “proved its talent for extermination time and again,” which also tied in with the fluff (shamelessly stolen from Battlestar Galactica) about seeking to wipe out humankind.  So, then, Yblis Centurions are a splinter of the Mephrit Dynasty, though Lucifer himself does not realize it.

The first list, consisting of a Battalion detachment, uses all my infantry miniatures, and is the more conventional, balanced, and sporting.

Ybis’ Centurions, Army List 1.0 (2000 points)

  • Lucifer 1.1.  Overlord w/ Staff of Light; Orb of the Sun (counts as Veil of Darkness) (94 points); Warlord Trait (Mephrit, page 117): Merciless Tyrant
  • Lucifer 1.2.  Destroyer Lord w/ Voltaic Staff and phylactery (130 points)
  • Unit 2.1.  Ten Immortals w/ tesla carbines (170 points)
  • Unit 2.2.  Fifteen Warriors w/ gauss flayers (180 points)
  • Unit 2.3.  Fifteen Warriors w/ gauss flayers (180 points)
  • Unit 2.4.  Fifteen Warriors w/ gauss flayers (180 points)
  • Unit 2.5.  Fifteen Warriors w/ gauss flayers (180 points)
  • Unit 3.1.  Five Deathmarks w/ synaptic disintegrators (95 points)
  • Unit 3.2.  Nine Triarch Praetorians w/ rods of covenants (288 points)
  • Unit 4.1.  Nine Canoptek Scarab Swarms (117 points)
  • Unit 5.1.  Two Canoptek Spyders, each w/ automation claws, fabricator claw arrays, and two particle beamers (193 points)
  • Unit 5.2.  Doomsday Ark w/ doomsday cannon (193 points)

The second list, consisting of an Outrider detachment and an Air Wing detachment, is my attempt to recreate an infamous “Necron Flying Circus” army from 7th Edition.

As of this writing (May 1, 2018), I haven’t played this list yet, but I suspect, with Flyers being considerably toned down from what they were, that a veteran opponent would be challenged by it, but wouldn’t be out of their depth.  It has a number of weaknesses (low model count, no Troops, etc.) that can be exploited.  However, this isn’t an army I’d use against a newbie.

Ybis’ Centurions, Army List 2.0 (1998 points)

Outrider Detachment:

  • Lucifer 1.2.  Destroyer Lord w/ Voltaic Staff and phylactery (130 points); Warlord Trait (Mephrit, page 117): Merciless Tyrant
  • Unit 2.1.  Four Destroyers + one Heavy Destroyer (257 points)
  • Unit 2.2.  Four Destroyers + one Heavy Destroyer (257 points)
  • Unit 2.3.  Six Tomb Blades w/ particle beamers (144 points)
  • Unit 3.1.  Doom Scythe w/ death ray, tesla destructors (205 points)
  • Unit 3.2.  Doom Scythe w/ death ray, tesla destructors (205 points)

Air Wing Detachment:

  • Unit 4.1.  Night Scythe w/ tesla destructors (160 points)
  • Unit 4.2.  Night Scythe w/ tesla destructors (160 points)
  • Unit 4.3.  Night Scythe w/ tesla destructors (160 points)
  • Unit 4.4.  Night Scythe w/ tesla destructors (160 points)
  • Unit 4.5.  Night Scythe w/ tesla destructors (160 points)

Using the Army

For several years, this army was extremely unimpressive (Pat believed it was cursed–no wonder he sold it to me at such a good price).  The Necron codices that were published in 2011 and 2015 (for the 6th and 7th editions of the game) really gave them a shot in the mechanical arm, and they performed significantly better.  Time will tell how they fare under the new rules.

There are several Necron units I could add, but the army is plenty big already.  I certainly don’t want Wraiths, Lychguard, or more Praetorians: my army is based around shooting, and I don’t want to spend a lot of points on units that don’t shoot.

So there you have it.  My friend Pat assembled what I thought was a solid foundation, and after some extensive stealing—errm, “borrowing”—from an old TV show, I’ve come up with what I think is an interesting army. Hopefully, you agree.

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