Counter-Genestealer Cult Tactics: Eversor Assassin

We are just starting to see how competitive the new Genestealer Cult faction is and, from initial impressions and battle reports, it may actually be one of the top tier armies, especially in the hands of a skilled commander. Specifically, the unrivalled mobility provided by the “Cult Ambush” and “Return to the Shadows” rules, coupled with top-notch close combat abilities (i.e. lots of Rending attacks and the ability to Charge when arriving from Reserve/Turn 1), very reasonable unit costs, and highly competitive Psychic Powers all make them a very dangerous army to face.

Based on all this, I think one of the keys to dealing with a Genestealer Cult opponent is the ability to wipe out an entire unit in a turn, before they have a chance to “Return to the Shadows” to reappear somewhere else on the board and also, potentially, replenish their casualties, thanks to the Cult Insurrection rules. Some of this can be done via shooting, especially given the poor armor saves/low toughness of almost the entire army, but if you can beat Genestealer Cults at their own game in close combat, then this is potentially even more effective, since they cannot “Return to the Shadows” if they are within 6″ of an enemy unit (and, thus, cannot do so if they are locked in combat).

As I have thought about ways to effectively deal with Genestealer Cults, the Eversor Assassin stands out to me as a very solid “counter” option for any Imperium armies. Like all Imperial Assassins, the Eversor has the following stats:

WS8 BS8 S4 T4 W3 I7 A4 Ld10 Sv 4++

In terms of wargear, he comes with a Power Sword, MBs, an Executioner Pistol (can shoot with either a Poisoned Shot with no AP or a Bolt Pistol profile and can Overwatch at full BS, thanks to the Eversor’s Sentinel Array), and a Neuro-gauntlet (S: User AP- Fleshbane, Shred). He also has Frenzon, which allows him to charge 3D6″, vice the normal 2D6″, and gives him +3A on the charge, vice the normal +1A.

Finally, in terms of Special Rules, the Eversor has all the standard Assassin Rules (i.e. Fearless, Independent Operative, Infiltrate, Lightning Reflexes, Move through Cover, and No Escape), plus he has Fast Shot (may shoot his Executioner Pistol with 4 shots instead of 1), FNP, Furious Charge, and Bio-meltdown (when he dies, all models within D6″ suffer a S5 AP- hit).

As you can see from all these rules, the Eversor is really geared to be a “one man army” that takes down hordes of enemy light infantry all by himself… which is exactly what most of the Genestealer Cult faction is! 😉 Since almost all Genestealer Cult units have a 5+ save and T3 (the Patriarch is an exception, with T5 and 4+ save), the Eversor can do some amazing damage to almost any squad, if he gets the charge (which his Frenzon drugs help a lot with, giving him an average charge range of 11″).

For example, if an Eversor charges a 10 man squad of Hybrid Metamorphs (with Metamorph Claw upgrades and a Cult Icon), he can shoot 4 times with the Bolt Pistol profile of his Executioner Pistol, getting an average of 3.66 hits (thanks to BS8), 2.44 wounds, and so 2-3 dead Metamorphs from shooting. He then strikes at WS8 and I7 with 8 x S5 AP3 Power Sword attacks, yielding an average of 5.33 hits and 4.44 Unsaved Wounds, so another 4-5 dead Metamorphs, for a total of 6-8 Genestealer Cult models killed total. Assuming 3 Metamorphs survive, they get 9 x S6 AP- attacks back at WS5, yielding 4.5 hits, 3.75 wounds, and 1.25 Unsaved Wounds after the Eversor’s 4++ and FNP. Based on this, the Eversor survives and the Metamorphs lose combat by -7, meaning they have to run unless they roll a double 1… with I7 vs I4, the Eversor is quite likely to win the Sweeping Advance roll, wiping out the remaining Metamorphs if he does so. That is 110 points worth of models destroyed in a single turn by a single Assassin, who himself only costs 135 points… more importantly, the entire unit is wiped out (or at least severely wounded and locked in combat), meaning it cannot Return to the Shadows, replenish its casualties, and pop up somewhere else on the board.

Even against more elite combatants, like the Patriarch, the Eversor’s super high combat stats will allow him to hold his own… if the Patriarch is by himself (say you stripped off his Purestrain Genestealer bodyguard via shooting), the Eversor gets 8 x S5 AP3 attacks on the charge at WS8 I7 (so he and the Patriarch strike simultaneously and the Eversor hits on 3+s, while the Patriarch hits on 4+s), resulting in an average of 5.33 hits and 2.66 Unsaved Wounds, which might be enough to kill him in a single phase, if you roll lucky. Striking back simultaneously, the Patriarch gets 4 x S6 AP3 Shred/Rending attacks, resulting in an average of 2 hits, 1.94 wounds, and .64 Unsaved Wounds after FNP and Invul saves for the Eversor. As you can see, the Eversor is clearly set up to win this fight and, even if he doesn’t finish off the Patriarch in the first round, he should be able to finish off the Genestealer Cult HQ eventually with his WS8, 4++, and FNP shrugging off most of the damage from the Patriarch in subsequent Assault phases. Finally, even against Genestealer Cult vehicles, the Eversor has access to his MBs and, in a pinch, 8 x S5 attacks on the charge, which can wreck even Leman Russes (with their AV10 rear armor) with some luck, meaning he is a threat to everything from transports like the Goliath and Chimera to heavy tanks.

The key to all this, of course, is delivering the Eversor safely across the battlefield to charge range of the Genestealer Cult forces. His ability to Infiltrate can help here, as can tricks like borrowing allied transports (he can’t start in them, but can jump in them Turn 1), using fortifications with Escape Hatches to “sling shot” across the battlefield, and even Psychic Support (an allied Space Marine Librarian can drop in right next to a Genestealer Cult target with a Drop Pod, then cast Electrodisplacement to “swap” places with the Eversor on Turn 1, after which the Eversor can immediately charge the enemy that same turn). Alternately, if you have more of a long-range “gun line” army, you can simply have the Genestealer Cult army come to you and, once they are close, use the 3D6″ charge range on the Eversor to counter-assault them. While the Eversor is certainly not an auto-win choice against an enemy Genestealer Cult, his ability “remove” an entire squad (or Patriarch) per turn makes him a very solid, and decently affordable, addition to your army when facing this dangerous faction.

Genestealer Cult and allied Astra Militarum Stormsword

I have taken a little break from Genestealer Cult, but as I take another look at them, it hit me that a very solid ally for their faction would be an Astra Militarum Lord of War, such as one of the Baneblade variants. Specifically, as I reviewed the different kinds available, the Stormsword jumped out to me as one of the most competitive super-heavy tanks and one that would work quite well with the Genestealer Cult units/tactics.

Looking more closely at the Stormsword, we have the following:

-Super-Heavy vehicle — This means that, among other things, it can shoot all its weapons every turn and can fire them each at a different target, if you wish (and it can do all this even after it moves up to 12″). It also means that it Ignores all Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned/Immobilized/Weapons Destroyed results and that Explodes results do not destroy the Stormsword outright, but instead inflict D3 additional lost HPs on it.

-Stats/Upgrades — With BS3, AV14/13/12 and 9HPs, the Stormsword is quite survivable and generally takes massed melta weapons and/or massed dedicated anti-tank attacks to bring down. Needless to say, combined with the Super-Heavy rule, this makes it an ideal “fire magnet” type unit to soak up enemy combat power away from the rest of your army (more on that later, as it relates to Genestealer Cult allies). In terms of upgrades, you can add a H/K Missile, a SB/Heavy Stubber, and up to four Lascannon/TLed Heavy Bolter Sponsons (which are purchased two at a time for 10 MBs each). Given the ability to independently target every one of these weapons, and combined with the stock TLed Heavy Bolter and Stormsword Siege Cannon, if you take every upgrade possible, the Stormsword can shoot at 11! different targets each shooting phase (and 12 targets for one shooting phase, if you use the Hunter-Killer missile).

-Stormsword Siege Cannon — Outside of the incredible durability/”tanking” ability (literally 😉 ) of the Stormsword, this is why you are taking this Super-Heavy. This weapon has a range of 36″ (so a threat radius of 48″, with the 12″ move of the vehicle included) and puts out a single S10 AP1 Primary Weapon, Apocalyptic Blast. Ignore Cover shot each shooting phase. Translated into English, that is basically a Railgun Shot with 10″ diameter blast that ignores all saves except Invul Saves, causes ID to anything T5 and below, and Penetrates AV14 armor on roll of 5+ (with re-rolls for failed penetrations, due to being a Primary Weapon). Outside of Destroyer Weapons, this is one of the most powerful shooting attacks in the game and can be used every turn (unlike, say, a Deathstrike Missile).

So, how does all this relate to being an allied force-multiplier for a Genestealer Cult main army? Well, first of all, to access a Stormsword, you have to take an Astra Militarum Combined Arms detachment (for the LOW slot), which means you have to take at least one HQ and two Troops as well. Combine with the nearly 500 points for the Stormsword and you have a lot of points invested before you can even begin making your main Genestealer Cult army… so, this begs the question, why do it? Really two reasons, I think, but they are very solid reasons:

[1] Firepower — On its own, the Genestealer Cult faction has some decent firepower, but it largely short-ranged and there is really nothing that can just devastate entire units in the shooting phase (Genestealer Cults are strong on terms of mobility, Psychic powers, and assault to make up for this). An allied Stormsword changes that whole equation… with such potent firepower built into a 10″ Ignore Cover blast, Genestealer Cult players can use it to deal with enemy Deathstars, hordes, massed vehicles, MEQs in cover, MSU Jetbikes, you name. About the only target that the Stormsword has trouble with is MCs/GMCs with T6 or above (and multiple Lascannon Sponsons can help with that)… with all their Rending close combat attacks and the ability to assault from Reserve with the right rolls, Genestealer Cults are already very well equipped to deal with these opponents, so the Stormsword Siege Cannon becomes to a them a force-multiplier against all other targets.

[2] “Tanking”/Distraction ability — More than anything, this is where I think a Stormsurge brings advantages to a Genestealer Cult army. Both in terms of actual combat power and psychologically, a Super-Heavy vehicle like this, especially one that cannot be ignored because of its amazing firepower, can “pull” focus away from the relatively fragile Genestealer Cult infantry/vehicles and allow them to operate with little to no impedance, thus maximizing their abilities. Put another way, the “anvil” nature of the Stormsword compliments the “glass cannon” nature of the Genestealer Cult and, used properly, both can make the other better and the army more effective as a whole. Now, while it is true that a lot of the firepower that is strong against Genestealer Cult units (such as small arms shooting, flamers, blast weapons, etc.) will not be effective against a Stormsword, and so the Super-Heavy will not be able to “pull” that kind of shooting away from its Genestealer Cult allies, because the Stormsword is such a threat, it will in many cases force your opponent to drastically alter his normal battle-plan against the traditionally light infantry Genestealer Cult army, which can create opening for your forces to exploit.

[3] Synergy Abilities — Finally, there are several ways in which Genestealer Cult and the Stormsword can synergize. The Lord of War can act as a physical shield for Genestealer Cult troops with its massive bulk, protecting them from enemy shooting attacks. Conversely, cheap Acolyte Hybrids and Neophyte Hybrids can make an excellent “bubble wrap” for the Stormsword, protecting from enemy assault and also preventing “meltacide” units from physically getting clos enough to it to destroy it with massed melta shooting. Additionally, Genestealer Cult psychic powers, namely maledictions from the Telepathy and Biomancy disciplines, can enhance the Stormsword (e.g. if you can Enfeeble on a T6 enemy MC, like a Riptide, then hit it with the S10 Stormsword Siege Cannon, if it fails its Invul saves it will be instant-killed). Finally, the Stormsword can use the Thunderblitz table, in conjunction with the hyper-powered tank shock/ramming capacity of the Goliath Rockgrinders, to actually do very significant damage to enemy forces via “melee” attacks, which gives you an alternate option for how to inflict lots of damage (note: the Rockgrinders can use the Super-Heavy for cover as they advance, until they get within Tank Shock range).

Genestealer Cult: Allied Carnifexes

Just as Leman Russ tanks are not the most competitive choices in other armies, but have a real place in the Genestealer Cult codex because of the unique benefits and synergy they have with the “horde/light infantry” style assault army that defines this force, so I think allied Tyranid Carnifexes have a new lease on life when used in conjunction with a Genestealer Cult base army.

Here are some of my thoughts on this combination:

[1] Massed Grav Weapons — These, more than anything else, are the bane of Carnifexes (and pretty much all MCs in the game right now) and are one of the main reasons, along with their limited mobility, that they struggle so much as a competitive unit right now. Enter the Genestealer Cult, with its unique and amazing “Cult Ambush” rules. With just a few lucky rolls of 6 for the Cult Ambush table (and every non-vehicle unit in the Genestealer Cult army has this rule, so you are going to roll on this table many times), you can have basically a guaranteed first turn charge on enemy units anywhere on the board. Combine this with the ability to take numerous models per squad and basically universal 5+ armor saves (which against Grav Weapons is a great benefit, especially when trying to survive mass Grav overwatch shooting) and you have an exceptional set of tools for neutralizing all those Grav Centurion and Grav Devastator squads by tying them up in assault as soon as the game begins. Even if you do not destroy them in combat right away, your Genestealer Cult units can prevent them from shooting for a significant portion of the game, which is key. This, in turn, buys time for your Carnifexes (and other Tyranid MCs, for that matter) to get safely upfield and into enemy lines, where they belong, and where they can wreak great terror and destruction! 😉 This alone goes a long way toward making Carnifexes much more effective on the battlefield.

[2] T6 Bullet Sponges — While Genestealer Cult units are generally quite solid in combat, thanks to access to massed Rending attacks, they generally are very fragile against both shooting and enemy close combat attacks, being as a rule T3. 1W, and only having a 5+ save (Aberrants are a bit of an exception to this rule). This is where a Carnifex (or an entire Brood of three of them, for less than the points cost of an Imperial Knight) comes into its own. While only moving 6″ + D6″ run each turn, their threat value, with D3 S9 Hammer of Wrath attacks and 5 x S10 AP2 Armourbane attacks on the charge (with the Crushing Claw upgrade), means that enemy forces almost have no choice but to try and bring them down before they can get into close combat. Being T6, with 4W and a 3+ save, this means that outside of Grav/Plasma/Destroyer weapon shooting, your opponent will have to dedicate very serious portions of his firepower in trying to deal with these threats (i.e. it takes an average of 72 x BS4 Bolter shots to kill a single Carnifex)… firepower that is no longer directed at the fragile Genestealer Cult units, allowing them time to dash around the board and get into assault, where they also belong. Put another way, adding one or more “Distraction Carnifexes” (yes, literally, in this instance 😉 ) to your Genestealer Cult army will absorb very significant attention and combat power, making the whole army more survivable and effective as a result. In terms of the Carnifex broods themselves, you can run them on foot in squads of 1-3, or you can take lone Carnifexes (up to 3 in a CAD) and drop them behind enemy lines in Tyrannocyte pods, bringing them into enemy lines on turn 2+ with minimal danger from shooting.

[3] Psychic Power Synergies — Carnifex broods benefit from Hive Mind powers like Onslaught (allowing them to run and shoot in the same turn, if they have Monstrous Bio Cannons) and Catalyst (FNP makes them even tougher to kill), but they also benefit from Brood Mind, Biomancy, and Telepathy powers available to Genestealer Cult Psykers. For example, if you cast Enfeeble (from Biomancy) on an enemy T6 unit (like a Stormsurge, Dreadknight, or Riptide) and then charge it with a Carnifex with the Crushing Claw upgrade, then the S10 attacks by the Tyranid Monster will cause ID to that target unit, killing it outright with one Unsaved Wound (or at least inflicting multiple wounds per blow, in the case of the GMC Stormsurge). Similarly, Maledictions like Hallucination (from Telepathy) and Mass Hypnosis (the Primaris of the Broodmind discipline) make a target unit much weaker against a charging Carnifex Brood, allowing them to deal with even very dangerous opponents like Wulfen, TWC, Wraithknights, Necron Wraiths, etc. Finally, the Broodmind ability “Telepathic Summons” combines very well with the threat of a Carnifex charging, bringing in squads of free Genestealer Cult units via Cult Ambush that can tie up enemy forces, pile in during close combat, or even distract enemy attention from the advancing Tyranid Monstrous Creatures.

[4] Mutual “Shield Walls” — Since Genestealer Cult forces lack any MCs of their own, relatively cheap Carnifex Broods can make an excellent “mobile wall” which their advances infantry and vehicles can advance behind, allowing them to get up field and into combat more efficiently. Alternately, since Tyranids lack vehicles themselves, friendly Genestealer Cult Goliaths, Sentinels, and Leman Russes can actually provide “mobile cover” for the advancing Carnifexes, giving them a cover save to enhance their survivability against AP3/2/1 shooting (this works especially well when combined with a nearby Venomthrope, since the 5+ cover from Genestealer Cult vehicles combined with the Shrouded USR from the Venomthrope to give the Carnifexes a 3+ cover save). Actually, I think a mixed battle line of advancing Leman Russ tanks and Carnifexes is very durable, very serious threat that many armies will have trouble trying to counter, especially since this combination provides threats both at range and in assault.

 

Genestealer Cult: Tactical Battle Groups

I think it is pretty obvious. even without allied support, that GW designed the new Genestealer Cult codex to have multiple synergies within the army, especially when you combine the various abilities of the HQ options, unit upgrades, and formation/detachment rules. Here are a few Genestealer Cult battle groups that stand out to me on initial analysis:

[1] Mechanized Assault Battle Group:

**8 Metamorphs with Metamorph Claws (one also has Cult Icon), Metamorph Leader with Metamorph Whip and Bonesword, attached Primus with Sword of the Voids Eye relic, all in Goliath Truck —

So, this unit is WS5 (Primus is WS6) as long as the Cult Icon bearer is still alive, with 32 x S6 AP- I4 Rending attacks, 5 x S4 AP3 I7 attacks, and 5 x S5 AP3 I4 attacks on the charge (and all the AP3 attacks have Instant Death on rolls of 6+ to Wound). On top of this, the unit gets re-rolls to Hit on the charge (from Hatred USR on the Primus) and can ride their Goliath truck 6″, disembark another 6″, and charge 2D6″ for an average threat charge range of 19″, making for a very strong chance of a Turn 2 charge. As you can see, this is some very potent close combat damage output that can threaten everything from hordes of light infantry to MEQs, TEQs, MCs, and even vehicles, with so many Rending attacks at WS5 (and with re-rolls from Hatred). The biggest threat to a unit like this is powerful Overwatch abilities, like Tau Supporting Fire, Skitarii Cognis Weapons, and Dark Angel Supreme Fire Discipline, since these Genestealer Cult units only have a 5+ armor save.

 

[2] Backline Firebase Battle Group:

**Take “The Doting Throng” formation with a Magus (PML(2)) and 6 squads of Neophytes (all with Lascannons), plus an allied Genestealer CAD with another Magus (PML(2)), an Aegis Defense Line (with Quad Gun), and 2 x 5 man squads of Acolytes (with 2 x Heavy Rock Saws each)  in Goliath Trucks —

The way this works is both Magii roll hard on Telepathy for The Shrouding. All units are deployed behind the Aegis Line for a 4++ Cover save (which becomes a 2++ Cover save if you get The Shrouding off successfully). Based on the formation rules, all Neophytes within 12″ of a friendly Magus (even the CAD one) have Zealot, so they are Fearless. Between that and the strong cover save (without even having to go to ground), the Neophytes should be able to hold the line quite handily and keep shooting. In the event that they do suffer significant casualties, you can use Return to the Shadows to get them out of harms way and reappear via Cult Ambush later on (or somewhere else), where the threat is less dire. Additionally, the Goliath truck mounted Acolytes provide a “counter-charge” capability in case enemy assault units get too close and the two Magii can use their Telepathy abilities to further enhance the friendly Genestealer Cult units (or against the enemy, like using Psychic Shriek against enemy MCs). Finally, the Goliath Trucks provide some additional TLed Autocannon fire support and the Quad Gun, manned by a Magus, provides solid anti-air/anti-skimmer shooting as well. Taken all together, this battle group gives you a very solid, surprisingly durable “fire base” around which you can build the rest of your army (and you can use Cult Ambush/Return to the Shadows if you need to maneuver these forces to a different part of the board later in the game).

 

[3] Infiltrating “Shock Troop” Battle Group:

**Take the “First Curse” formation (Patriarch with PML(2) and 20 Purestrain Genestealers) as part of the Cult Insurrection detachment, plus an additional Patriarch (also PML(2)) from a friendly Genestealer Cult Allied Detachment —

Use Cult Ambush to set up the two Patriarchs (both of which roll hard on Biomancy, looking especially for Endurance) and the Purestrain Genestealers into terrain as close as possible to enemy forces as you can before the game starts. Between 5+ Cover, Stealth (from the Purestrain Genestealers), and Shrouded (from the First Curse units), the entire Battle Group should have a 2++ cover save turn 1. Add in Fearless, Unquestioning Loyalty (for automatic Look Out Sir on the Patriarchs), and either Endurance (on the whole unit) or Iron Arm (on one or both the Patriarchs), plus the 5++ Invul saves on the Purestrain Genestealers, and you should be able to shrug off A TON of enemy shooting on Turn 1. Turn 2, you can move forward and charge up to three separate units with your two Patriarchs and Purestrain Genestealers (with Fleet for better chances at making the charge successfully). This unit ought to make short work of almost any enemy unit they charge (even MCs/GMCs), due to their massed Rending attacks at very high WS and I. Once they are done, they can move onto other enemy units or, if necessary, go back into Ongoing Reserves (via Return to the Shadows) and reappear elsewhere on the board the following turn (this also gives them the chance to replenish any casualties they have suffered). Finally, you can make them even more effective if you can get a Primus within 12″ of the unit (he cannon join them like the Patriarchs can), since that confers Hatred to the whole unit on the first round of any combat. If you ever do manage to roll a “6” on the Cult Ambush table (either during deployment or later in the game), then you can have the entire unit arrive and charge on the same turn, making it even more effective (Note: if one of the Patriarchs is your WL and he manages to get the “Ambush Leader” trait, he and the whole unit can do this at will, without even having to roll a 6 on the chart).

[4] “Anvil” Close Combat Battle Group:

***CAD with Iconward (with Icon of the Cult Ascendant relic) and Primus (with Sword of the Void’s Eye relic) and unit of 8 Aberrants (all with Power Hammers) riding in a Fast Attack slot Goliath Truck —

The Iconward gives the unit +1 to its FNP (so Aberrants have FNP(4+)), plus his banner gives everyone +1 attack and Furious Charge… this means the Aberrants have 4 x S9 AP2 Unwieldy attacks on the charge. As for the Primus, he has 6 x S6 AP3 attacks (with re-rolls of 1s to Wound and ID on a 6+ to Wound) on the charge. Additionally, the entire unit has Hatred, making them much more accurate with their close combat attacks in the first round. The Goliath can reliably deliver this battle group into assault and the Primus’ Ld10, plus Stubborn from the Aberrants, can ensure they are safe from Ld shenanigans once they get there. Finally, the unit is Majority T4 (thanks to the Aberrants) and has 21 Wounds, which synergizes with the “Unquestioning Loyalty” rule for the ICs and the FNP(4+) on the Aberrants to make it surprisingly difficult to take down with anything that is not S8+ (i.e. its takes, on average, 16 x WS4 S4 Power Sword attacks to kill a single Aberrant). Taken all together, and you have a fast moving, hard-hitting, durable close combat group that can also be deployed via Cult Ambush, if you want to leave the Goliath at home.

Genestealer Cult: Allied Artillery Company

As I have thought about the new Genestealer Cult codex and how to apply it competitively, one of the things that occurred to me is to try and maximize their access to Astra Militarum as Allies of Convenience. Thinking of this and looking at what the AM have access to, the best ally for a Genestealer Cult army that I can think of is the “Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company” formation, for the following reasons:

[1] Ignore Cover Basilisks — With the ability to give Orders to artillery units in the formation, you can have up to 6 x S9 AP3 Large Blasts with Ignore Cover shooting each turn (and a 7th S9 AP3 Large Blast from the Master of Ordnance, if you take him in the Command Squad). This rectifies one of the weaknesses of the Genestealer Cult force, namely long-range high strength/low AP shooting and also provides them with very solid options against enemy infantry and light-medium vehicles at range. Put another way, Basilisk batteries from this formation provide excellent “fire base” support to an otherwise light-weight, assault focused, guerrilla tactics “horde” army that the Genestealer Cult forces specialize in.

[2] Multi-purpose Command Squad support — While they cannot directly help Genestealer Cult units, being only Allies of Convenience, the mandatory Command Squad from the “Emperor’s Wrath” formation provides multiple indirect aids to a Genestealer Cult army. First, if you take an Officer of the Fleet, he can use his ability to subtract -1 from enemy Reserve Rolls in conjunction with the -1 to enemy Reserve Rolls from the Genestealer Cult “Decurion” to cause enemy Reserves to come in on a 5+, which can be pivotal against opponents that keep a lot of their strength off the table during initial deployment. Second, the Astropath can cheaply add additional Warp Charges to your pool for use by the Patriarch and/or Magus and the Master of Ordnance, as mentioned above, can add a cheap additional S9 AP3 Large Blast to your fire support. Finally, besides issuing orders to the Artillery vehicles, the Command Squad can provide up to 9 x S7 AP2 Ignore Cover Plasma shots a turn to deal with MCs or 4 x S8 AP1 Melta shots a turn against vehicles, both of which capabilities  are general lacking in the Genestealer Cult arsenal.

[3] “Nuclear Option” Deathstrike Missiles — While being a One Use Only weapon and not able to shoot until Turn 2 at the earliest, the Deathstrike Missile provide a S10 AP1 Ignore Cover shot with a 10″ Apocalyptic Blast that combines beautifully with a Genestealer Cult army by putting your opponent on the horns of a dilemma… if they concentrate on shooting at your mobile close combat units like Purestrain Genestealers, Metamorphs, or even Neophytes with supporting characters to buff their assault abilities, then that leaves the Deathstrike free to launch its very powerful attack (i.e. imagine hitting an enemy Thunderwolf Cavalry squad or  Grav Centurion squad with the Deathstrike Missile… the S10 AP1 Ignore Cover doubles out their T5 and ignores everything but Invul saves)…. on the other hand, if your opponent focuses on destroying the Deathstrike to prevent if from firing, then that means their is less combat power to deal with the massed “Cult Ambushing” Genestealer Cult infantry that can then shoot/charge into combat on the following turn.

[4] Manticore, Hydras, and Wyverns — A Manticore provide additional S10 Ordnance pie plates at long range for dealing with both vehicles and infantry at an economical points cost, if you choose to take this instead of the Deathstrike, while Hydras provide air-defense/skimmer defense that Genestealer Cult armies otherwise have very limited capabilities in. Hydra squadrons combine especially well with the Ignore Cover orders in dealing with Skimmer heavy armies like Mech Eldar, Mech Tau, Mech Necrons, Ravenwing armies, or even Chaos Daemon “Flying Circuses” and enemy Tyranid “Monster Mash” lists, since they can put out a high volume of accurate S7 shooting that ignores enemy Jink saves. Finally, Wyverns provide incredible fire support for any force and are a threat to any enemy infantry, even TEQs, due to their accuracy, high volume of shooting with the Shred and Ignore Cover USRs, and cheap points costs (they provide a very strong supplement to Genestealer Cult forces when combined with the Pinning order, since they “suppress” enemy shooting units for a turn, thus buying the Genestealer Cult forces time to survive before getting into assault, where they belong).

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.