Friday, February 16, 2018

Warhammer 40,000: Genestealer Cult Index Review - Troops and Dedicated Transports

You can see my first article in this series here. I covered HQ selections, overall traits for the Genestealer Cult, relics, psychic powers, etc.

In 8th Edition troops have become fairly important not only for holding objectives, but for filling out detachments. The Cult has access to only two troop selections: neophytes and acolytes, and two dedicated transports: the chimera and goliath truck.

Neophyte Hybrids

Neophyte hybrids are the basic infantry of a genestealer cult. They're very similar to guardsmen, in that they have the same stats except for they have a bonus leadership to represent their cultish fanaticism. They can take up to 20 models, although I imagine most people will stick to ten or fewer due to transport limitations and morale with diminishing returns. 

They can take autoguns, lasguns, and even shotguns. Shotguns are +1 strength at half range. Two neophytes can have special weapons - flamers, grenade launchers, or webbers. Webbers don't seem to really do anything in 8th Edition, so I recommend grenade launchers, mostly because it is just a lot of extra shots on the D6, and you don't really want these dudes within flamer range.

I've seen people say you could have all ten use shotguns and pop out of a truck and shoot their Assault 2 strength 4 guns - it sounds like a neat idea. I have made ten guys just to try it. I don't know if it would do a ton, especially with no AP. 

Two neophytes can take heavy weapons - a heavy stubber, mining laser, or seismic cannon, or two neophytes can make a team and haul an autocannon, heavy bolter, lascannon, mortar, or missile launcher. Lately I haven't used these heavy weapons so much just because they take a 5 point model and make them 30 points while they're still only BS 4+ and die to a swift breeze. It would be interesting to have a bunch of neophytes on the board holding objectives with mortars and grenade launchers just to throw as many dice as possible. Mortars are so cheap.

Neophytes have Cult Ambush and Unquestioning Loyalty. I don't often Cult Ambush them simply because I need something on the board to start the game and they can do that. They also hold objectives and shoot at 24" range. they are good targets for Unquestioning Loyalty - often having a magus near them lets him pawn off wounds on them.

They can have a Cult Icon but I don't know if I'd ever use it. They only have one attack each and no AP on their melee weapons. It would take a lot for them to become melee monsters that would benefit from an Icon. They do come with an autopistol as well as whatever gun you give them, so they can shoot in the shooting phase while engaged in melee - don't forget!

The Neophyte Leader is important because he has Leadership 8. He can take a chainsword, power maul or power pick. I usually give him a power maul just because it looks cool. He has killed marines and things in the past while the rest of his neophytes die, so its not a terrible idea.

Overall, I think neophytes, especially at 5 points per model, are just fine. I don't see them going down to the cost of a guardsman because they have that extra point of leadership. Obvious special rules like cult ambush and orders come into play but I think they're fine at 5 points. Right now I've been taking one squad of them but I could see taking two to try to fill out a brigade detachment. 

They're squishy but mostly I attempt to get them in cover or out of LOS and just hold objectives. They can even return to the shadows late game and cult ambush onto an objective. They can actually shoot out of a goliath truck, so perhaps even having them with a mortar inside lobbing rounds out could be a good idea. 

Acolyte Hybrids

As a troop squad, acolyte hyrbids are great at doing heavy lifting, even while being numerous and squishy. In the 'fluff' they are constantly mentioned as being everywhere - you are clearly supposed to bring a ton of them. The models, like the rest of the range, are amazing.

They have a better statline than neophytes, gaining one better WS at 3+, one better Strength at 4, and one better attack. They still have a 5+ save. They can go up to a squad size of 20 just like neophytes. They come stock with an autopistol, cultist knife, rending claw, and blasting charges (frag grenade).

Again, they have Cult Ambush and Unquestioning Loyalty. Cult Ambush will absolutely be used for these guys. You want them popping out of ambush, destroying armor with their anti-tank weapons, then hopefully engaging another target nearby or getting into cover. 

The equipment they have access to really makes them special. For every five guys you can take two heavy weapons: a heavy rock cutter, heavy rock drill, heavy rock saw, or demolition charges. The saw is cheapest and hits like a power fist with a -1 to hit; pile on a Primus nearby, add a cult icon, and hit them with Might From Beyond for 3 attacks, hitting on 3+ and re-rolling 1s, at strength 10, -4 AP damage 2. The saw is less than half the points of the drill and nine fewer than the cutter. Both the cutter (it looks like giant scissors) and the drill have ways of inflicting a ton of extra wounds, though.

Demolition charges sound cool, but you only get to use them once a game, they have a 6" range, and they hit on 4+. I don't know about it. Most of the time you want to be in melee and you can't use them in that. If you blow up your enemy with a demolition charge then perhaps they pick the front models and you don't make your charge. It would be great to soften up a vehicle, however. Or you can throw them in a goliath and they can keep throwing charges as long as it's alive.

They also have an extra cultist knife, which is kinda annoying. You roll all your melee attacks with weapons then do one extra each for the cultist knife. I almost always forget. It is just a basic melee attack. 

The acolyte leader, again very important due to LD8, can take a bonesword, or a bonesword and lash whip. I have mine modeled with them but I'm not sure how important they are. They can already use rending claws which I feel are better. If it has a whip you can have him die and then still fight that phase, but you don't want that dude dying.

Everyone can take a hand flamer, but at 8 points for only 6" range and D3 hits it is pretty well overpriced. I'd really like to see that be much cheaper - I don't have a good feeling of fair, but maybe half that price? You're taking an 11 point model and making it almost doubled by giving it a weaker flamer. 

You definitely want a Cult Icon with these guys - re-rolling 1s and if they have a Primus nearby hitting on 2+ is crazy! They chop through everything. The Primus also allows them to re-roll their cult ambush and roll three dice for it using a stratagem. Seems like a no-brainer.

Right now I am using two squads of 16 acolytes in my list that I'm playing. That includes four heavy weapons which can get pretty pricey, but do a ton of damage. I cult ambush these guys in when it looks like I have a good opportunity to take out some armor. They do a lot of work!

The only beef I have with these guys is how squishy they are. Often times if you get a bad cult ambush, or you kill the enemy completely, you're just left out to dry and you get hammered by bolters and lasguns in one turn. I would really love it if they had some sort of special rule; perhaps they could immediately return to the shadows for 1 CP if they completely wipe out an enemy. 

I am not a fan of the -1 to hit special rules some models have - it is very frustrating and doesn't seem fair. These dudes need something, though. Perhaps an invulnerable save? Or lower their points so you can take more, although that just raises the price for players and takes more time to paint.

Overall, I've really come around on these guys - mostly I was using purestrains to start but I really like these models and as I'm painting them I'm fielding more. They're solid.

Goliath Truck

The really cool, iconic GSC transport vehicle. For about a hundred points you get a vehicle that can move 12" with 10 wounds, toughness 6, and a 4+ save. It also has Rugged Construction that gives it a 6+ ignore wound roll.

It can only take a twin autocannon and heavy stubber as its main armaments. It can add a cache of demolition charges which are pretty great but you have to be 6" away to use it.

It is open-topped, which really differentiates it from a lot of other transports - the guys inside can shoot out while it is driving around. Putting out 14 autogun shots, 1 autopistol shot, 2D6 grenade launcher rounds, 3 heavy stubber shots, and 4 autocannon shots is a lot! Of course you're hitting on 5+ on the stubber and autocannon, but they help.

There isn't much more to say about this vehicle - the rules are pretty cool, the model is amazing, and it fits the theme really well. Don't forget that it can transport 10 GSC infantry models - that includes purestrains and aberrants as well as neophytes or acolytes. The major problem I have with this vehicle is that the weapons are usually hitting on a 5+ since you're moving, so often times it just feels like you're wasting time shooting them. 

Cult Chimera

The Cult Chimera is very similar to the Astra Militarum version. The points seem to match up with a minor difference in the cost of a heavy flamer. The AM version can take really nice equipment like Track Guards, but I doubt the GSC will ever get access to that inside the codex - that is one way to differentiate the two.

The main difference between this vehicle and the Goliath Truck is that it has Toughness 7 and a 3+ armor save, making it more survivable. How much that matters depends on the weapon that is shooting at it, and the truck does have a Rugged Construction save so it may be a wash in many situations.

It comes with a multi-laser that I think a lot of people will switch out for a heavy flamer and save a point. Adding another heavy flamer to the front instead of a heavy bolter gives you a tough delivery vehicle that can hose people with promethium when it gets there. I would probably choose the Goliath Truck most of the time but I do have a heavy flamer / heavy flamer Chimera for some fun.

Please help me out with any notes you have if I've missed anything - next week we'll take a look at Elite choices!

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