Thursday, March 1, 2018

Warhammer 40,000: Genestealer Cult Index Review - Elite Choices

You can see my first article in this series here. I covered HQ selections, overall traits for the Genestealer Cult, relics, psychic powers, etc. The second in the series is about troops and dedicated transports and can be found here.

The Elites slot for any army is really where you want some good mobile or heavy infantry that is going to take the fight to the enemy. The GSC elite choices shine in some ways and really fall down in others. 

Hybrid Metamorphs

The first selection in the book is one of the most-maligned. For 18 points (13 + 5 for a metamorph talon) you get a pretty normal elite statline with 3 attacks and a 5+ save with toughness 3.

They are not really very much different from acolytes, even coming from the same kit. They come with an additional attack (the acolytes have 2 + 1 from a cultist knife) that they can use their rending claws for, so that's pretty nice. They can have some specialist weapons in the talon, whip, and claw.

The talon is almost useless - it gives you +1 to hit, but you can definitely have a primus nearby and a cult icon to give you a similar benefit. The whip makes it so they can fight even if they die before they get the chance. That's nice, but I hate equipping my guys for death. It does mean they don't actually have to use the whip, they can still use their rending claws.

The Metamorph claw gives you +2S, which you can combine with Might From Beyond and the Iconward banner to have S8, which is cool. It has no AP, though =/ It would be great if this had an AP or the 'rending' effect, especially when you're paying 19 points for a model equipped with it.

Metamorphs do have an autopistol and can take a hand flamer, but again they're extremely costly for what they do.

Overall, these guys are very overpriced, points-wise, for what they do. I'd rather not see a points decrease, I'd rather see an effectiveness increase, mostly because I don't want to buy and paint even more models.

What would I do? These dudes have the survivability of a guardsman. I'd make them toughness 4 and give them a 4+ armor save at least. I know GW takes a lot of it very 'literally' in terms of what the models have on them physically. They are wearing robes and not heavy armor or anything - but perhaps they could change the story of these dudes to say they have a harder exoskeleton?

Perhaps make their cult ambush roll +1 or +2 since they're the cult's elite fighters. Change whips to make it so enemies can't fall back. Maybe make them a brotherhood of psykers. There are a ton of options to make these dudes usable and I hope GW really gets creative.


One of the coolest models they released with a really cool background, aberrants are a neat option for list-building in that they give you a heavy hitting 'power hammer' type unit. At either 27 or 33 points they're not cheap, but they are toughness 4 with two wounds and they knock down all damage against them by one (to a minimum of one).

They hit on 3+, which is pretty standard for elite infantry. They don't have a gun, but they do have strength 5 to make their melee better. Along with that they only have two attacks.

Their two options for melee weapons are a power pick and a power hammer. The pick has them hitting at S5 AP -2, D3 damage, which is alright for killing infantry. The hammer seems like the real reason you'll take these guys - strength x2 at AP -3, damage 3 - you're going to use these to bash down vehicles. Unfortunately these are -1 to hit like a thunder hammer or power fist. You can offset that by having a primus near them.

They do have some interesting synergies - Might From Beyond makes them have 3 attacks at S12 with power hammers. Getting to S14 is a magic number, as then you're wounding T7 tanks on 2+ - so if you have the Iconward nearby with the relic banner they're S14. It requires a few different things to just get that 2+, but it's pretty nice. You're still not going to wound T8 tanks on 2+.

The thing I've found with these guys is that they are just not survivable. I can unload them out of a truck and charge a land raider, do a decent amount of damage, but the next turn the land raider retreats and these dudes just melt to bolter fire. If I fail the charge then they melt. I wish they were maybe T5, or had a 3+ armor save, or had a 4+ FNP, or something. Maybe make them have 3 wounds and be really unique - it reflects their devotion to the patriarch.

They also have a low number of attacks and with the -1 for power hammers you're just not going to do enough. I suppose you could lower the points on them overall and make up for that with bodies, but again you're purchasing and painting more stuff.

I've been using a group of four of them in a rockgrinder and I think I'll up that to the full six that can fit in there and see how it goes.

Purestrain Genestealers

Purestrain genestealers are a little different from regular Tyranid genestealers. They come in groups of five and have the same statline. If you bring over 10 dudes you get 4 attacks instead of 3, which is pretty great. I am not sure yet how to balance bringing a ton of dudes vs morale losses - that is to say, if I bring 20 guys, am I just wasting some of them on rolling a bad morale check vs just having them destroyed by bolter fire?

The main difference between these genestealers and Tyranid genestealers is that these guys can cult ambush.  They also receive +1 to hit and don't take morale checks with a patriarch, so I consider him auto-include. 

20 purestrains plus a patriarch comes in at 450 points, which is a ton, but if you can get them all into combat with a good cult ambush roll + 8" move you'll get 80 attacks, hitting on 2+ and rending AP -4 on a 6 to wound. Take the purestrain talons for free to use against stuff with an invulnerable save like Harlequins etc. With 20 guys you're gonna make it out of combat and weather shooting better, especially with a patriarch nearby to ignore morale. Add on something nice like Might From Beyond for +1A and +1S and these dudes are really mulching all infantry they touch.

Not much else has to be said about Purestrains - they're great and I bring them about 50% of the time. People have done the mathhammer and say acolytes are better, but I just have a gut feeling regarding the 5+ invulnerable save that purestrains have. They're 15 points vs 11 points for an acolyte, so perhaps just more bodies for acolytes is better. Purestrains definitely have a 'shock' factor for opponents, so perhaps one unit of purestrains and a patriarch to take down harder targets as cover for your acolytes.

Stay tuned for my next article - all about Fast Attack and the mighty sentinels!

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