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.