Genestealer Cult as “Counts As” Catachan Jungle Fighters

This is a bit out of the box, but I think the new Genestealer Cult rules are quite fascinating and I would be interested to find a way to try them out as an Imperium player… then it hit me, I think Codex: Genestealer Cult would be an excellent surrogate codex to represent a Catachan Jungle Fighters army:

-Neophytes — Catachan Guardsman squad

-Acolytes — Catachan Sapper squad

-Metamorphs — Catachan Devils squad

-Aberrants — Catachan Ogryn squad

-Goliath Truck/Rockcrusher — Catachan “Brawler” Jungle Assault Vehicle

-Patriarch — Colonel Ironhand Straken

-Primus — Catachan Officer

-Magus — Catachan Primaris Psyker

-Iconward — Catachan Regimental Standard Bearer

-Chimera/Leman Russ variants/Sentinel types — Same as they currently are

As for the Cult Ambush and Return to the Shadows rules, you could just rename them with Catachan specific names and they would perfectly reflect the Catachan “Regimental Doctrine” if you will. Finally, you could represent the unusual weapons as follows:

*Clearance Flamer — Catachan “Demon Flamer”

*Mining Laser/Heavy Mining Laser — Catachan “Jungle Lascannon/Heavy Jungle Cannon”

*Seismic Cannon/Heavy Seismic Cannon — Catachan “Fury Missile Launcher”

*Webber/Web Pistol — Catachan “Snare Rifle/Snare Pistol”

*Heavy Mining Drill — Catachan “Breacher Drill”

Genestealer Cult: Counter-Eldar Tactics

As I continue to look through the new Genestealer Cult rumors, I think more and more that they will be a very solid, competitive army, especially in the hands of a skilled player who can maximize their special rules, wargear options, and unit choices. Since Craftworld Eldar are generally considered the most “powerful” codex out right now (with Tau right behind them), here are my initial thoughts on how the new Genestealer Cult army can counter the Space Elves:

[1] Webber weapons — These are new (or “rebooted” old, really) weapons that Genestealer Cult units have access to. Web Pistols are S3, Webbers are S4, they are both Assault 1, Small Blast Weapons whose AP is determined by the the strength of their target… if a target is S3, for example, then they are AP3, if it is S4, they they are AP4, etc. Given that the entire Eldar Codex, except for Wraith constructs, Phoenix Lords, and the Avatar of Khaine, are S3 and have 3+ saves or worse, this makes Webber weapons very effective against almost all Eldar non-vehicle units. I think they will particularly shine against Eldar Jetbikes and Aspect Warriors, as their S3/$4, AP3, and multiple Small Blasts can really put out the wounds.

[2] Purestrain Genestealers — This guys cost the same as “normal” Genestealers from the Tyranids Codex, but are better in multiple ways, including coming stock with Stealth, 3A base, and a 5++ Invul Save. They also get access to the Cult Ambush and Return to the Shadows rules, which makes them MASSIVELY more dangerous; about the only advantage “normal” Genestealers have is Objective Secured in a CAD from their Troops status. Additionally, Purestrain Genestealers gain Furious Charge if they are joined by a Patriarch. Taken all together, especially with the potential to get VERY close to enemy units (and even possibly assault the turn they arrive, if you are lucky) when arriving from Reserves via Cult Ambush and the ability to go back into Ongoing Reserves and “rinse and repeat” via Return to the Shadows, and you have a truly deadly assault unit (their massed WS6 I6 Rending attacks will even strike faster and better than most Eldar) who can actually catch the mobile Craftworlders and tear them up in combat (i.e. 15 Genestealers with Scything Claws upgrades get 75 attacks on the charge, about 50 hits, 8-9 Rends, and about 6 Unsaved Wounds on a Wraithknight after FNP rolls, all before the Wraithknight even has a chance to strike).

[3] Broodmind Powers — With the ability to nerf Eldar stats (i.e. Mass Hypnosis), hurt them with solid Witchfires (i.e. Psionic Blast or Mental Onslaught), or buff friendly units to be even more dangerous (i.e. Psychic Stimulus and Might from Beyond), especially when charging out of Cult Ambush arrival or a friendly Goliath Truck, this discipline can work very well against Eldar in the hands of a Patriarch and/or Magus. Even better, if you roll up Telepathic Summons you can keep bringing in more free reinforcements (with free upgrades, to boot!), but the best is Mind Control. If you manage to get this ability off on a unit of enemy Wraithguard, Scatbikes, Warp Spiders, Dark Reapers, Fire Dragons, or Dire Avengers (or even an enemy Wraithknight with dual Heavy D Cannons), you can turn the Eldar player’s potent firepower against himself and potentially even change the course of the game in a single Psychic Phase.

Genestealer Cult: Leman Russes and Goliath Transports

As I continue to look at the leaked rumors about Codex: Genestealer Cults, here are some things that jump out to me from a competitive gameplay perspective:

[1] Leman Russ variants — Now that Genestealer Cults are confirmed as having access to Leman Russ Battle Tanks (well, all variants except Demolishers, Punishers, and Executioners, it seems), this opens up a whole range of possibilities for them and, especially, for Tyranid allies. Whether armed with the traditional Battle Cannon (S8 AP3 Large Blast), Vanquisher Battle Cannon (S8 AP2 Armourbane), Eradicator Nova Cannon (S6 AP4, Large Blast, Ignore Cover), or Exterminator Autocannon (S7 AP4 Heavy 4, Twin-Linked), plus the options for Lascannon, Heavy Bolter, Heavy Flamer, Multi-melta, and/or Plasma Cannon Hull and Sponson weapons, these Leman Russes add amazing long-range versatility and “heavy firebase” capacity to otherwise close-ranged focuses armies like Tyranids and Genestealer Cults. Imagine having 2-4 Leman Russ variants, screened from enemy assault and melta weapons by swarms of cheap Gaunts and Neophytes, and backed up by powerful close combatant units like Hive Tyrants, Patriarchs, Purestrain Genestealers, and Carnifex broods… the Leman Russes can provide the shooting and even form an “armored shield” for the other units to shelter behind as they advance, then the swarms and “big-hitters” can jump out from behind the tanks and charge the enemy line once they get close enough for assault. Overall, I am quite excited about the possibilities of combining Tyranid swarming/close combat abilities with “Imperial Guard-like” armored firepower like this!

[2] Goliath Truck — While this cannot be used by the Patriarch, Purestrain Genestealers, or allied Tyranids units (based on the assumption that they will be Allies of Convenience), the Goliath provides the Genestealer Cults with a very versatile transport that has some supporting firepower of its own (Autocannon and Heavy Stubber), can hold up to 10 passengers, and, most importantly, is Open-Topped. This means that all 10 passengers can shoot their weapons and/or assault after they disembark. Combine this with the Neophyte Hybrid, Acolyte Hybrid, Metamorphs, and Aberrant infantry types available to Genestealer Cults, plus the new shooting weapons (like the man-portable, 24″ S9 AP2 Heavy 1, Mining Laser) and close combat weapons (like the Heavy Rock Drill, Heavy Rock Saw, and Heavy Rock Cutters, all of which are basically PFs with additional bonus rules), and you have very flexible, tactically capable options for the Genestealer Cult and their Tyranid allies, especially when deployed via the Goliath Truck for additional protection, mobility, and supporting firepower.

[3] Goliath Rockgrinder — The “heavy” variant of the Goliath Truck, this vehicle can only carry 6 passengers (they can still all shoot, though) and loses the Open-Topped rule, but gains better front armor, the special Drilldozer Blade wargear (ignore Dangerous Terrain and significantly enhanced Ram and Tank Shock abilities), and several useful weapons options. It starts with a Heavy Mining Laser (36″ S9 AP2 Heavy 1) in place of the TLed Autocannon on the regular Goliath, but can choose to upgrade this to a Clearance Incinerator (Template S5 AP4 Torrent… so basically a Heavy Flamer with the Torrent rule, which is very good) or the Heavy Seismic Cannon (at 0-12″ S8 AP3 Heavy 3, at 12-24″ S5 AP4 Heavy 6; both profiles count any to Wound/to Penetrate roll of 6 as AP1, so quite versatile overall). Additionally, the Goliath Rockgrinder can take the “Cache of Demo Charges” upgrade, which gives it a 6″ S8 AP2 Large Blast that can be used every turn, unlike normal Demo Charges, which are One Use Only. Finally, since Goliath Rockgrinders can be taken in squadrons of 1-3, you can put all of this firepower together and “triple” it if you want in a single FOC slot, making for some very potent damage output (imagine hitting an enemy unit with 3 x Clearance Incinerator templates followed by 3 x Demo Charges at close range, or hunting tanks/MCs with 3 x Heavy Mining Lasers plus additional models shooting “regular” Mining Lasers (same as the heavy variant, but with 24″ range vice 36″ range) while embarked inside the Goliath Rockgrinders? As you can see, there are lots of possibilities for this very flexible vehicle, especially combined with the Genestealer Cult infantry options and other vehicles like Leman Russes, Chimeras, Sentinels, and “vanilla” Goliath transports.

Genestealer Cult: Psychic Powers

So, it looks like several parts of the incoming Genestealer Cult codex have been reliably leaked so far, including what psychic powers this faction has access to (for this review, I am assuming that they will be Allies of Convenience, not Battle Brothers, with Tyranids, so the Genestealer Cult Blessing-type powers cannot be used on allied Tyranid units).

First of all, Genestealers will have access to both Biomancy and Telepathy, easily two of the best “basic” disciplines in the game. We will see when the exact stats come out, but I expect a Patriarch rocking Biomancy (Endurance, Iron Arm, Warp Speed, Enfeeble, witchfires, you really can’t go wrong here with him) and a Magos with Telepathy (trying hard to get Invisibility and our The Shrouding to cast on other Genestealer Cult units, but if nothing else Psychic Shriek is an excellent anti-MC tool). Some of these powers will even indirectly benefit allied Tyranids, such as the ability to reduce enemy S/T by -1 (imagine a Hive Tyrant using its S6 attacks on T3 Marines, or a charging Carnifex deploying its S10 attacks against a T5 Nemesis Dreadknight or T5 Riptide, for example), and other powers will combine very well with the new “Cult Ambush” rules to make Genestealer Cult infantry into fearsome assault units (imagine Endurance cast on a Brood of 20 Purestrain Genestealers, all of which already have a 5++ and 3A base, according to the new rumors).

Beyond Biomancy and Telepathy, however, the Genestealer Cults get access to the new Broodmind discipline:

P — [Primaris] WC1 — Reduce enemy unit WS/BS/I/A by -1 — Works great against everything from MEQs to high octane assault units, making the Genestealer Cult units (and their Tyranid allies), much more effective in close combat and even more survivable against shooting, thanks to the reduction in enemy BS by this power. Double-tap an enemy unit with this AND Paroxysm and they will likely be shooting and fighting at BS2/WS2 (or worse) and so greatly reduced in their combat effectiveness.

1 — [Psychic Stimulus] WC1 — Friendly unit gains Relentless, Fleet, and can Run/Charge in the same turn —  This is an AMAZING power (especially for only 1 WC) for any assault based army (Blood Angels and Space Wolves would kill to have it) and allows Genestealer Cult models to no only Rapid Fire/shoot Heavy weapons and still charge, but makes their charge range significantly longer and more reliable. Throw in the “Cult Ambush” abilities and you have all kinds of options of getting your army into combat reliably.

2 — [Might from Beyond] WC1 — Friendly unit gains +1S and Rage — Another amazing power, especially when compared to, say, Unleash Rage from the Sanguinary discipline. Again, this follows the theme of turning mediocre assault units (like Neophytes) into respectable combatants and making strong close combat units (like Purestrain Genestealers) into ridiculous blenders on a level comparable to Wulfen, Death Company, TH/SS Terminators, etc.

3 — [Psionic Blast] WC1 — 24″ S5 AP3 Small Blast– A very decent witchfire ability which provides ant-MEQ capacity to a Genestealer Cult army and works well in conjunction with other Witchfires, such as Life Drain or Smite (from Biomancy).

4 — [Mental Onslaught] WC2 — Focused Witchfire that has a roll-off between the caster and target, adding in their Leadership values. If the target wins, nothing happens; if they tie, the target has -3I; if the caster wins, then the target suffers as many wounds as he lost the roll-off by, with no armor or cover saves — A very solid “assassination” ability, which combines especially well with the Tyranid Shadow in the Warp when targeting enemy Psykers (i.e. -3 to their Ld) and which can combine with Psychic Shriek and/or Psychic Scream (from Powers of the Hive Mind) for massive damage, even to MCs/GMCs.

5 — [Mind Control] WC2 — If passed, a single non-vehicle enemy unit (that is not locked in combat) comes under your control and you get to shoot with it immediately during the Psychic Phase — Obviously, for a WC2 power, this is tremendous, allowing you to take a very powerful (non-vehicle, so no Imperial Knights or Baneblades, unfortunately) enemy unit and hit his own force with it. Whether that is SM Grav Cannon Centurions, a Tau Stormsurge, Eldar Scatter Laser Jetbikes, Necron Destroyers, Deathwatch Veterans with Frag Cannons, or even a maxed out unit of Ork Lootas, this can obviously be a game-changing ability for both Genestealer Cults and their Tyranid allies.

6 — [Telepathic Summoning] WC2/3 — If using 2 WCs, then summon either 5 Acolytes, 5 Metamorphs, or 10 Neophytes; if using 3 WCs, then you can choose to summon either 10 Acolytes, 10 Metamorphs, 20 Neophytes, 4 Aberrants, or 8 Purestrain Genestealers (can take any upgrades they have access to for FREE) — Like Daemon summoning from the Malefic discipline, but perhaps better, especially with solid reliability and the option to go for either 2 WCs or 3 WCs, based on your in game requirements. Combine with free Termagaunts from Tyranid Tervigons and you really can create in the game the “endless swarm” described in the fluff, while still having plenty of points left in your army for higher-end units as well.

Strategery…Grey Knights and allied Eldar (HQs)

As I have been looking at how to maximize a competitive Grey Knights army (they were my first 40K army, back in 4th edition, and thus my “first love” in Warhammer), more and more I think that in their current iteration they need to take some allies to be competitive, unlike in 5th edition, where they could take on top-tier lists and win with one Nemesis Force Weapon tied behind their backs! 😉

So, there are plenty of options for Grey Knights among the forces of the Imperium, but I think, perhaps a little surprisingly, that one of the best potential allies for the Astartes of the Ordos Malleus is actually the Craftworld Eldar. While they are Allies of Convenience, and so cannot share benefits, Psychic Power Blessings, or have ICs join allied units like Battle Brothers can, a small Allied Detachment of Eldar can bring several things to the fight to substantially enhance a Grey Knights primary force built around a Nemesis Strike Force:

[1] “Commando” Autarch — Give a lone Autarch Swooping Hawk Wings, a Banshee Mask, the Celestial Lance relic (from the Iyanden Supplement), and a Power Axe. Turn 1, move up 18″ (thanks to Swooping Hawk Wings), shoot with the Lance (S8 AP2 Lance at 6″)and then charge another 2D6″ (with re-rolls from Fleet) for a very solid chance of getting into assault. On the charge the enemy cannot Overwatch, thanks to the Banshee Mask (this is great against Tau, especially) and the Autarch hits with 5 x S8 AP2 attacks, all at WS6 (so hitting on 3+s against all but the most elite opponents) and at I6 (so striking first 95%+ of the time). Against many opponents, that is enough to win the combat out-right, even running solo, and even if you do not win/Sweep the enemy squad (good old I6 means you will almost always winning a Sweeping Advance roll-off), you have at least tied up that critical unit for a round (or two or three) of combat, preventing them from shooting (imagine using this against, say, a squad of Grav Cannon Centurions).

So, how does all this help a Grey Knight army? Well, the ability to assault, defeat/tie-up a key enemy unit Turn 1 can be decisive when used in conjunction with a DSing Nemesis Strike Force. For example, say you Deep Strike your Grey Knights in (with the +1 to Reserve Rolls from the Autarch, of course) Turn 1, but your opponent has a Stormsurge just waiting to unload Strength D Destroyer Missiles and other massed shooting on them in the subsequent shooting phase… instead, you get the Autarch “stuck in” with the Stormsurge, preventing it from shooting for a turn, which buys the Grey Knights time to deal with other threats and then to charge the Stormsurge themselves on Turn 2, where their Nemesis Force Weapons can handle it quite easily. Put another way, this Autarch build allows you to potentially “neutralize” a disproportionately powerful part of your opponent’s army for a turn (or two), which thereby allows your GKs both a better chance of surviving and also let’s them get into position to maximize their strengths (i.e. Psychic abilities, close range shooting, close combat hitting power, etc.).

 

[2] Jetbike Farseer with “Spirit Stone of Anath’lan” relic and Doom (Runes of Fate discipline) — While several of the Runes of Fate powers are blessings (and so cannot be used to support Grey Knight allies directly) or witchfires, and so can only indirectly support them by attacking the enemy, if PML(3) Farseer rolls up Doom, this can be a game changer for Grey Knight allies. Since Doom is a Malediction that causes re-rolls to Wound/to Penetrate against an enemy model, no matter the source, this can be a tremendous benefit for a Grey Knight army, which can put out lots of S4 Storm Bolter/Psilencer, S6 Incinerator, and S7 Psycannon shooting, but needs to maximize the damage that this firepower does, given the low model count and lack of longer-range firepower that generally define them. With Doom successfully cast, GK Storm bolters and Psilencers (both types) in essence become S5.5, Incinerators/Heavy Incinerators become basically S7.5, and Psycannons/Heavy Psycannons become S8.5 against all targets, except for purposes of Instant Death and against vehicles that their “base” strength cannot hurt (i.e. S4 Storm bolters will still not be able to damage AV11 vehicles, even with the re-rolls from being Doom cast on them). This also combines very well with Rending Psycannons, making them MUCH more effective against high toughness and/or heavily armored enemies that they would normally depend on Rends to hurt, such TEQs, Monstrous Creatures, enemy Warlords, etc. While normally costing 2WCs to cast, a Farseer with the “Spirit Stone of Anath’lan” can reduce that to only WC1, making it much easier (and safer) to get off, especially when combined with the “Runes of the Farseer” rule  and Ghosthelm Wargear that every Farseer comes with. Finally, a Jetbike Farseer can use his great agility to get around the board rapidly and seize objectives in a pinch, making up for another of the Grey Knight weaknesses.

 

[3] Warlock Conclave with Jetbikes and Singing Spears — Using Runes of Battle, the Biker Warlock Conclave can “debuff” Grey Knights opponents in many ways, including removing any Stealth/Shrouded (Reveal), -3 to any enemy unit’s leadership (Horrify), -1 to an enemy unit’s WS/I (Drain), -1 to an enemy’s armor save (Jinx), and -1 to a target enemy’s strength characteristic (Enervate). Imagine a Dreadknight charging a Chapter Master with the Burning Blade relic and “Drain” cast on him… not only would they strike simultaneously now, but the Chapter Master would only hit the Dreadknight on a 4+ (vice 3+ before), giving the NDK a much better shot of killing the enemy warlord. Similarly, imagine shooting at a unit of Tau Ghostkeels with Shrouded/Stealth removed by Reveal, in essence leaving them with only their 3+ Armor save for protection? Or imagine Paladins charging an enemy TH/SS Terminator unit (which would normally cause ID to the Paladins with their S8 TH attacks) that has Enervate cast on it (the unit would still wound the Paladins on a 2+ and ignore their Armor saves, but the Paladins would only lose one wound at a time and would still get FNP from their Apothecary). Finally, imagine shooting at a Wraithknight, Stormsurge, Daemon Prince, or Hive Tyrant that has Jinx cast on it with massed Psycannon fire (i.e. those enemy MCs now have a 4+ save, which the Psycannon ignores even without Rending hits) or at enemy Wulfen with Jinx cast one them with massed Storm bolter fire (the Wulfen are reduced to a 5+ save, which the Storm bolters’ AP5 ignores). On top of all this, while a bit expensive, a Jetbike War Conclave is very fast, durable (3+/4++ and a 4++ Jink save, made even better if they cast Protect, for a 2+ armor save, and/or Conceal, for a 2++ cover save), and can seize objectives, shoot decently with their TLed Shuriken catapults (with good old Bladestorm for quasi-Rending) or Singing Spears, and hit solidly in close combat with their Fleshbane Singing Spears (these combine quite well with several of the buffs and debuffs from the Runes of Battle already described, and are particularly strong against vehicles, with S4 + Armourbane capable of hurting even Land Raider and Super Heavies with lucky rolls).

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As you can see, while somewhat subtle, these different Eldar Allied Detachment builds can measurably (and cheaply) enhance a Grey Knight primary detachment, in turn allowing the Knights in Silver to be more effective themselves and giving you a better chance of competing with some of the higher tier opponents out there.

 

 

 

 

“Angels in Black” Blitzkrieg: Death Company plus Ravenwing

As I was thinking about the new Lost Brotherhood Strike Force (from the Angels Blade supplement) some more, it struck me that they would synergize very well with an allied Ravenwing force to make a hard-hitting, very mobile, very flexible army.

Here are some synergies I can think of right out the gate:

[1] Master of the Ravenwing Sammael (as WL) and a DC Chaplain (with Guardian’s Blade Relic) attached to a squad of Death Company (with JPs and a few PFs to taste) from the Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

So, the way this work is the DC Chaplain/Death Company squad get their free 6″ move before the game begins (Sammael doesn’t get this, but you can “conga line” some models back to keep him in coherency with the battle group). Then, turn 1, you move everyone up 12″, putting you 18″ toward the enemy DZ so far. Next, in the Assault Phase, you use Sammael’s Warlord Trait to add +3 to the unit’s charge range, so a total of 3+ 2D6″… that is a minimum of a 5″ charge range, an “average” charge range of 10″, and a maximum charge range of 15″. Based on all this, combined with the 18″ the battle group has already moved, Sammael, the DC Chaplain, and the Death Company themselves should be able to reliably get a first turn charge on any enemy forces deployed on the edge of their DZ. On the charge, the Death Company would be attacking with 5 x S5 AP- attacks at I5 a piece, all with re-rolls to Hot and to Wound. Sammael and the Chaplain add in some AP2 hitting power at I5, all with re-rolls to Hit, and also provide a little “pre-charge” shooting with their Plasma Cannon and Inferno Pistol, respectively. After this combat phase is resolved (if you didn’t pulverize your opponent in a single turn), you can use Sammael’s Hit and Run to jump back out of combat and “rinse and repeat” the charge on your next turn, thereby taking full advantage of all the bonuses for charging (i.e. re-rolls to Hit/to Wound, Furious Charge, Rage, +1I, etc.). You can also use Sammael to “tank” for the unit after they get out of combat, since he has a re-rollable 3+ Jink save (due to Skilled Rider + “Ravenwing” rule) and EW, which is great for absorbing high strength, low AP shots like Krak Missiles, Lascannons, etc. Finally, Skilled Rider from Sammael also allows the whole unit to ignore Dangerous Terrain tests, which a big boon when moving across the tabletop with Jump Infantry.

 

[2] DA Biker Librarian, Ravenwing Black Knights, a Darkshroud, and the Archangel Orbital Intervention Force (3 squads of Assault Terminators) from the Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

With this one, the Librarian, Black Knights, and Darkshroud all use their Scout ability to get up-field quickly, then move another 12″ + 12″ (Turbo-boost) Turn 1. With the Darkshroud and Skilled Rider giving the RW Black Knights a 2++ cover save (which is re-rollable, thanks to the “Ravenwing” special rule), they are basically invincible to any shooting that does not Ignore Cover, allowing them to survive and then use their Teleporter Homers to bring in the Blood Angel Assault Terminators for a no scatter DS. Once this happens, in the Psychic Phase the Librarian casts Prescience on an Assault Terminator squads for re-rolls to Hit, and then the Archangel OIF Terminators charge that same turn, in all likelihood doing some very serious damage to whatever unit they get stuck in with. The Biker Librarian/Black Knights are also free to charge the same unit or another enemy force, letting you tie up as many as 5 enemy units in a single turn (Librarian charges one, Black Knights another, and each of the three BA Assault Terminator squads each charge a unit). Overall, I think this makes very dangerous and effective close combat battle group combination.

 

[3] Ravenwing Support Squadron (with LS Vengeance and 3 x LS Typhoons) and multiple BA Assault Squads (with JPs, 2 x Meltaguns, plus Combi-Melta and Eviscerator on Veteran Sgt) from Lost Brotherhood Strike Force:

In this combination, the Assault Marines use their “free” 6″ move before the game, plus their normal 12″ move to get upfield quickly and engage vehicles with their Melta weapons (and subsequently assault the vehicle as well, if necessary, with the Veteran Sergeant swinging the Eviscerator for 3 x S9 AP2 Armourbane attacks on the charge) while the RW Support Squadron uses it Strafing Run rule to provide 6 x BS5 Krak or Frag Missiles and 18 x BS5 Heavy Bolter shots, plus a S7 AP2 Large Blast, as fire support for the BA Assault Marines. Basically, this battle group put some cheap but dangerous units in the enemy’s face right away (i.e. the BA Assault Marines) while simultaneously providing very solid long-range fire support in the form of the RW Land Speeders. The RW Support Squadron also has the Interceptor rule, so it can provide the invaluable ability to engage enemy units as they arrive from Reserve (something usually only Tau can do) with lots of potent shooting before those units can even shoot, run, or assault (looking at you here, Skyhammer Annihilation Force! 😉 ). Overall, I think combo works well when you are taking a Lost Brotherhood Strike Force as your primary force.

Secutarii Peltast: “Hidden Gem” Tactica

With all the focus Codex: Deathwatch, the Traitor’s Hate supplement for CSM, and the Angel’s Blade supplement for Blood Angels lately (plus the incoming Genestealer Cult codex) recently, I think one very interesting and competitive new unit has been lost in the shuffle: Forgeworld recently released models and rules for Secutarii Hoplites and Peltasts, both of which can be taken as Elite choices in a Skitarii Maniple:

https://www.forgeworld.co.uk/resources/PDF/Downloads//Secutarii_Titan_Guard_Download.pdf

Of these, I am most intrigued by the possibilities that Secutarii Peltasts bring to the game, especially in conjunction with other Imperium allies. Looking at their profile, they have “standard” Skitarii stats/rules:

WS3 BS4 S3 T3 W1 I3 A1 Ld9 Sv4+ (Peltast Alpha is +1A /Ld, but not +1W like other Skitarii “sergeant” characters)

-Doctrina Imperatives — Buffs to either BS/WS; very good for helping Peltast shooting 3 times a game

-FNP(6+) – Small boost to survivability, but with T3 a lot of weapons will ignore this

-Relentless – Combines well with their Galvanic-Casters, allowing them move and shoot to full capacity

In addition to these rules, Peltasts get the “Blind Barrage” rule, which enables them to forgo their shooting once per game and instead give Shrouding to a friendly unit within 18” until the start of the next player turn (this has several potent tactical uses, which I will discuss later).

In terms of Wargear, Peltasts have Secutarii War Plate (basically Carapace Armor for a 4+ save), plus the following:

I — Kyropatris Field Generator – If a squad has at least 5 models with this War Gear, then ALL models in the unit can re-roll failed Armor Saves of 1; additionally, if the squad has 10 models with this piece of equipment, then all shooting attacks against the unit have their strength reduced by -1. While the Kyropatris Field Generator makes the Peltasts themselves bit more survivable, they are pretty fragile already with T3 and a 4+ save, so I think the real value of this piece of Wargear is its ability to help protect attached Independent Characters. For example, if you attach an allied Space Marine Biker Chapter Master with AA and a Storm Shield to this unit, then not only does the Chapter Master basically have EW against shooting as long as there is at least 10 Peltasts alive (i.e. S10 shooting against the unit is reduced to S9, meaning that his T5 cannot be “doubled out” and he is therefore immune to Instant Death except against Force Weapons or weapons with the ID rule specifically), but he also gets to re-roll 1s for any failed Artificer Armor saves against non AP2/1 shooting, giving him a 97% chance to successfully save against those attacks for the unit. This makes both the Chapter Master himself more survivable and also improves the durability of the squad’s as long as he is positioned correctly to “tank” the shooting for them.

II — Galvanic-Caster – This is basically turns Peltasts into the Skitarii version of Sternguard, with three different shooting/ammo profiles to choose from each turn:

[1] Flachette Burster — 24″ S3 AP– Salvo 2/4, Shred

*This is the “go to” ammo type against almost any non-vehicle unit, since it allows 4 x S3 Shred shots per Peltast at an effective 30” range (24” + 6” move, thanks to Relentless). Given that you can take up to 20 Peltasts in a single squad and you can improve their shooting up to BS5 (or better) with Doctrina Imperatives, this makes for up to 80 x BS5(+) shots a turn with a threat range of 30” and Shred for re-rolls to wound. Doing the Mathhammer, that can easily take down pretty much any MEQ unit or worse in the game and can even torrent down Terminators with sheer volume of highly accurate shots. If you can combine this with the Misfortune power from the Divination Discipline, then a squad of 20 Peltasts can bring down Wraithknights, Stormsurges, and even the mighty KX139 Ta’unar Lord of War with pure volume of Rending shots.

[2] Ignis Blaze — 18″ S3 AP5 Heavy 1, Blind, Parabolic Shot, Ignores Cover, Small Blast

*This is your ideal weapon for taking out cover-camping GEQs like AM Guardsmen, Gretchin, Gaunts/Termagaunts, CSM Cultists, Necron Scarabs, Tau Pathfinders, Eldar Guardians, DE Warriors/ Wyches, etc. (“Parabolic Shot” allows the Peltasts to even hit units out of LOS, as long as they are not in a completely enclosed space, like inside a building). Having between 10-20 x S3 AP5 Small Blasts that Ignore Cover can absolutely tear up any light infantry in cover and can even force enough massed wounds against large, tightly packed mobs (say Ork Boyz or Necron Phalanxes) to deal significant damage to these “heavier” infantry types. Finally, the ability to force Blind checks is exceptionally handy against low Initiative enemy forces that rely heavily on shooting/gun lines, such as Tau, Astra Militarum, and Necron armies.

[3] Kinetic Hammershot — 30″ S4 AP3 Heavy 1, Rending

*Probably the least useful ammo type (in almost every case, it is better to use the “Flachette Burster” ammo instead of this, even against MEQs, because of their high rate of fire), the Kinetic Hammershot still has a role for long-range shooting (threat radius of 36”), for use against light/medium vehicles (Rending allows Peltasts to threaten up to AV13 targets), and for dealing with T7 and above opponents that the other two types of ammo cannot hurt (unless you have Misfortune cast, of course 😉 ).

So, based on all this, I think the Peltasts are not only a very competitive addition to a Skitarii army, with their versatility in shooting and “force-multiplication” for survivability they offer, but I also think they make a great unit to add to an allied list for other Imperium forces. Here are some example battle group combinations using Peltasts that I think would be competitive on the table-top:

[1] 20 Peltasts with attached White Scars Librarian (TDA, SS, PML(2), and Hunter’s Eye Relic) – The White Scar Librarian provides Ld 10/ATSKNF, Hit and Run, Psychic Defense, re-rolls to hit via Prescience (combines with Doctrina Imperatives for hyper-accurate shooting), Ignore Cover via the Hunter’s Eye relic, and strong “tanking” power with his 2+/3++ saves (with re-rolls of 1s for the Armor Saves, as long as at least 10 Peltasts are still alive).

If the Librarian rolls up Misfortune, then he can make the Peltasts’ shooting even more deadly and, in a pinch, he also provides some close combat punch of the unit gets charged (80 shots of overwatch, backed up with re-rolls from Prescience, makes it pretty darn dangerous to charge this unit). Finally, the Peltasts themselves provide the powerful, flexible shooting and also numbers for staying power to complement the Librarian, making for an overall very versatile, dangerous battle group.

[2] Minimum sized squad of Peltasts, Deathwatch Aquila Kill Team with 5 Heavy Thunder Hammer Veterans, 3 Power Maul/SS Vanguard, 1 Librarian, a Corvus Blackstar with Infernum Halo-Launcher, and Skyshield Landing Pad – The tactic here is to get the Heavy TH Deathwatch Veterans into combat “at any costs,” so to speak. Have the Aquila Kill Team start the game in the Corvus Blackstar, which itself is on the Skyshield (Peltasts can also be positioned on the Skyshield to benefit from improved LOS and 4++ save). Turn 1, move the Blackstar up 12”, then cast Blind Barrage on it during the shooting phase with the Peltasts, then move it Flat Out another 18” (thanks to being a Fast Skimmer while in Hover mode).

This results in Blackstar having a 2+ cover save when it Jinks (Jink + Shrouded), which can be re-rolled thanks to the Infernum Halo-Launcher… in other words, unless your opponent has Ignore Cover weapons, the Blackstar will basically be invulnerable to any shooting for the next turn. On turn 2, move the Blackstar another 6”, disembark the Kill Team 6”, then have them charge their designated target 2D6” (with re-rolls thanks to Heroic Intervention). With the Librarian casting Prescience, that is 15 x S10 AP2 Heavy Thunder Hammer attacks, all with re-rolls to Hit, re-rolls of 1s to Wound/to Penetrate (thanks to Aquila Doctrine), and Instant Death on any rolls of 6+ to Wound… basically, there is almost no unit in the game that will survive this charge… as long as the Vanguard Vets can absorb enemy attacks with their Storm shields, then the Heavy Thunder Hammer Vets will survive long enough to bring down their target 😉

[3] Three squads of Peltasts and allied Lias Issodon (as WL) – Issodon uses his WL Trait to Infiltrate the three Peltast squads within 18” of key enemy shooting units, ideally things like Tau Stormsurges, Necron Destroyers, AM Blob Squads, etc. which have low Initiative and lots of shooting potential. Turn 1, engage multiple enemy targets with the “Ignis Blaze” ammo, forcing Blind tests and hopefully shutting down several key elements of enemy firepower (or at least forcing it to fire as BS1 only).

An alternate way to employ Issodon/Peltasts is to use his WL trait to infiltrate a squad of 20 Peltasts and two attached Wolf Lords (Runic Armor, SS, TH, TWC mounts on each) right up toward enemy lines. The two TWC Lords tank any enemy shooting on turn 1, relying on their 2+/3++, 4W, and T5 in conjunction with re-rolls of 1s for their Armor saves and enemy shooting reduced by -1S (thanks to the Kyropatris Field Generators) while the whole unit advances 6” and the Peltasts engage their enemy with their Galvanic-Casters. Turn 2, the Wolf Lord can split off and charge up to two different enemy units, while the Peltasts continue advancing, grabbing objectives, and/or providing fire support.

[4] Max size squad of Peltasts, Draigo, PML(3) GK Librarian, and two Dreadknights with PTs and Heavy Incinerators/Psycannons — In this battle group, Draigo and the GK Librarian attach to the Peltasts and force multiply their shooting, durability, and mobility with Divination powers (the Librarian can give squad Overwatch at full BS, a 4++ save, Ignore Cover shooting, Rending for all its attacks on a specific target, and/or re-rolls to Hit, based on what powers he rolls up) and Gates of Infinity/Hammerhand (from Draigo). At the same time, the Dreadknights “shunt” forward with the Peltasts, providing a “screening” element against enemy close combat threats, additional firepower via Heavy Incinerators and Heavy Psycannons. The Peltasts make Draigo and the Librarian more survivable with their Kyropatris Field Generators and provide powerful shooting support as well. Taken all together, this battle group provides mobility, the ability to absorb lots of damage, dangerous close combat capability, and lots of shooting, making it very capable on the table top, I think.

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Overall, as you can see, I think Secutarii Peltasts are a very strong unit, especially for their points costs and combat power (they are only 12 points a model), and can make a great addition to any Skitarii army or allied Imperium force.