Wednesday 5 October 2016

Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Part 3- Troops and Elites

Part three of the Genestealer Cults Codex Review will look at the Troops and Elites options available to the army. These feature a number of Genestealer Hybrids and other mutated units. For me, the models for these units look great and they have some pretty decent rules to match.

The troops section of Genestealer Cults consists of two options; Acolyte Hybrids and Neophyte Hybrids.

Acolyte Hybrids
These are the veteran troopers of the Genestealer Cult that are built for combat. They come with an Astra Militarum Guardsman's profile, but with an additional point of weapon skill, strength, initiative and Leadership and an extra attack for a couple of points more. The squad size is between 5-20 models. They are armed with assault grenades, a pistol and combat weapon and Rending Claws. This gives them 4 attacks each on the charge at AP5 with Rending. That is a pretty decent damage output for a relatively cheap unit.

A unit of 10 will have 40 rending attacks on the charge, which I think is really good for less than 100 points. The only issue is the low armour save, meaning they may have a tough time getting to combat. Fortunately, they can purchase the new Goliath Truck as a dedicated transport to help them get into combat faster.

Any model may take a Hand Flamer for the cost of meltabombs, meaning you could actually get a lot of template weapons in the unit. Two in every five models may be upgraded to carry a Demolition Charge or one of the three Heavy Rock weapons. These weapons are essentially two-handed power fists with additional special rules such as armourbane or a single S10 AP1 attack. This means you can take up to 4 "power fists" in a unit of 10 models for a pretty reasonable cost.

They can be upgraded to take a leader who can take a Bonesword or Bonesword and Lashwhip, making him more potent in combat. The unit can also take a Cult Icon, which brings the unit up to WS5, making them pretty potent in combat.

I like the Acolyte Hybrids. They are a unit designed for combat and as such, you probably want them getting to the enemy as fast as possible. Fortunately, they can purchase an open-topped transport to do this or can set up using the Cult Ambush rules.

I would be inclined to run a unit of 10 with two of the Heavy Rock weapons in a Goliath Trukk. This should give a pretty decent combat unit against most standard infantry in the game. My only issue is that the Acolyte Hybrids are not the cheapest of standard infantry. A unit of 10 Acolyte Hybrids in a Goliath Trukk will set you back around £85 for a unit with a base cost of 130 points and you probably want at least 2 or 3 units of these in your army.

Neophyte Hybrids
This unit is the equivalent to the Astra Militarum Infantry Squad. The minimum squad size is 10, but can go up to 20 models. They have a Guard statline, but with +1 initiative and leadership. They come armed with Auroguns and grenades as standard, but also have Autopistols, meaning they can still shoot and then assault, unlike a Guard Infantry Platoon.

Up to two squad members can take one of the Heavy Mining Weapons- Heavy Stubber, Mining Laser or Seismic Cannon. This is actually pretty good as you can give the squad two short-ranged Lascannon shots. Alternatively, you can form a weapons team and take one of the standard Guard Heavy Weapons. Two members of the squad can also take special weapons, but you are limited to a Flamer, Grenade Launcher or Webber, so no dual Meltaguns or Plasma Guns in your squad.

The squad can also upgrade to include a Leader and cult icon, but these are probably not worth it. They may also take a Chimera or Goliath Truck as a transport vehicle.

This squad will most likely be your source of heavy weapons for the army. The Mining Laser and Seismic Cannon are actually pretty decent choices, assuming you can get close enough to use them to full effect. What I like about this unit is that they have the Genestealer Cult special rules (Cult Ambush and Return to the Shadows) giving them greater options to re-deploy during the game if they find themselves out of range or likely to be wiped out. In addition, the Broodmind psychic powers can grant Relentless to a unit, with the potential to allow this unit to move and fire to full effect.

The Elites section of the codex adds even greater combat punch to the army, with three fantastic units designed to kill your opponent up close.

Hybrid Metamorphs
This is another unit built for combat. They come with the same statline as the Acolyte Hybrids, but come armed with an Autopistol, Rending Claws and Metamorph talons. This gives them either 3 attacks with Rending or three attacks at WS5.

The squad can replace the Rending Claws with another set of Metamorph talons to give them WS6 attacks, or replace the Metamorph Talons with a Metamorph claw or whip to give them S6 attacks or I7 attacks, respectively. As noted in the comments below, the model just has the be equipped with the metamorph weapon to get the bonus, so you can still use your Rending attacks with the bonuses listed above, making for a pretty potent assault unit.

They also have a number of other options including taking Hand Flamers, a Leader with a Bonesword, a Cult Icon and a Goliath as a transport vehicle.

This is a pretty good combat unit that can be built in a variety of ways depending on your opponent. You can either go for high WS attacks, high S attacks or high initiative attacks by choosing which metamorph weapons you use. The fact that this unit can be further boosted by the HQ buffs and psychic powers makes them a very useful combat unit in the army for a very cheap price.

Purestrain Genestealers
The Genestealer Cult Genestealers have gotten a bit of an upgrade over their Codex Tyranid counterparts. The unit gains an extra attack, a 5+ invulnerable and Stealth over the Tyranid equivalents. This is a nice boost on what should be a potent combat unit.

The squad can be upgraded to take scything talons, giving them 5 Rending attacks each on the charge. A unit of 20 Genestealers will probably make a mess of almost any unit in the game, and the bonus rules for the Genestealer Cults will help them get into combat quicker than normal.

The Patriarch is the only HQ choice that can join this unit, and this is where you probably want me for maximum effect. The Genestealers will help keep him safe thanks to Unquestioning Loyalty and the invulnerable saves of the unit may soak up a bit more damage than the poor armour saves of the rest of the army. In addition, adding the Patriarch to the unit gives them Furious Charge, so plenty of S5 Rending attacks to go round. This is a unit that is definitely worth taking, especially in the formations that they gain access to.

Another potent combat unit for the Genestealer Cult. This is a fairly durable unit with T4, 2 wounds and Feel no Pain. Add in an Iconward to give them a 4+ feel no pain roll and they will actually take a fair amount of damage. You can have up to 8 in the unit, starting size is 4.

Each model comes with a Power Pick and Rending Claws, giving them four S7 AP3 attacks on the charge (that are Unwieldy). That is a decent number of attacks against a marine unit and the unit will be reasonably tough to kill. All models can replace the Power Pick with a Power Hammer for free. The Hammer is two-handed, but you will be putting out S8 AP2 attacks with each model now, though with only 3 attacks on the charge. I think that is a pretty fair trade off, giving you the chance to instant death T4 models and below, ignoring any armour in the game. As an added bonus, the unit is Stubborn, helping it to stick around for longer in combat.

The unit cannot take a transport vehicle, but with the Cult Ambush rules, this matters less for the army than it would for other forces. This unit will work really well in combination with the Might From Beyond psychic power, giving them +1S and Rage. That could potentially be four S9 AP2 attacks on the charge. Add in the Sacred Cult Banner to make them S10 and there is very little that this unit could not take on in combat.

The more I review this army, the more I like it. The force is obviously designed to be a potent combat army, launching close ranged ambushes on your opponent.

The models look great and have some fantastic rules to use in the game, proving a match for many combat units in other armies. My only issue is the expense of building an army, with even the troops units proving to be really expensive to buy. I think a lot of kit bashing or ebay purchases could make the army cheaper and a viable force to build.

Genestealer Cults Codex Review:


  1. That second Deathwatch Overkill box is looking more and more precious now. I'm totally in agreement about the ebay and kitbashing though, any other way of building the army is expensive but there are definite options to build this on the cheap and with Purestrains so good and selling for buttons on ebay you can really bulk out your army, but with decent choices for not very much.

    1. They maybe selling for buttons now, but how long will that last with this release?

  2. Appreciate the quality and thoroughness of your articles, as always ;).. keep up the great work!

    A few small notes/corrections:
    1) You can take TWO Heavy Rock Drills/Saws/Cutters for every five Acolyte Hybrids, vice the just one per five.

    2) Neophyte squads can take 10-20 models per unit, vice 10-40 models.

    3) If Purestrain Genestealers are joined by a Patriarch, then they all gain Furious charge.. obviously, even more reason to join them with him.

    4) Hybrid Metamorphs' special "metamorph weapon options" actually can be used in conjunction with the Rending Claws... if you look at the wording, they all say "A model equipped with a weapon with this special rule (i.e. Lash/Crush/Scythe) has X bonus during the Fight sub-phase." Put another way, even if they are using their Rending claws, they still get their +1WS, +2 Strength, or +3 Initiative bonuses, depending on what metamorph they are equipped with... this is obviously pretty huge, since it means that they can have 4 x WS4 S6 I4 Rending attacks, or 4 x WS4 S4 I7 Rending attacks, or 4 x WS5 S4 I4 Rending attacks on the charge per model!

    1. Glad you are enjoying the reviews. Thanks for the corrections, I'll fix them in the reviews!

    2. The whole metamorph weapons buffs seems a bit sloppy rules writing. It seems to me that the rules should only apply to the weapon itself and not carry over to other weapons, but that doesn't seem to be how its written.

  3. You can also "mix-and-match" metamorph upgrades, so if you wanted to run a unit of S6 Rending Claws for hunting Knights while having an I7 Bonesword Acolyte able to mulch small squads (or pile on the wounds onto a Wraithknight if you have Strength buffs) for the rest of the team to finish off, that's an option.

    Mining Lasers can be Infiltrated without any special bells and whistles if you're running an Insurrection. Take a good firing position midpoint, start suppressing your opponent's return-fire.

    1. Getting at least one Whip in there can also help with Sweeping Advances, since the buff works for the whole Fight Sub-Phase.

  4. Great review as always, keep up the good work! As someone who is probably not going to buy the codex it is always nice to have someone do a thorough summary for you :)

    The units look pretty amazing thus far - the only real shame being just how much they put the Tyranid in the shade with their close combat prowess. Now more than ever the 'nids proper need a new codex...

  5. Niiiice! Yeah keep it up, you almost have me buying that damn book myself :D We're just starting a P250 campaign, too, but I was going Renegades up unitl now :/

  6. I think the thing that really strikes me about this is the hope for the future (and not the one where the four-armed emperor takes over).

    This book PROVES that GW can write viable combat armies!