Tuesday, 26 February 2019

8th Edition Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Part 6- Elites

This part of my 8th Edition Genestealer Cults codex review will take a look at the Elites section. The Cult got a lot of new support characters, who mostly reside here, along with the classic units. 

Hybrid Metamorphs
I never tended to run these guys in the Index. They seemed to be very expensive for what they could do. 

They Hybrid Metamorphs have a pretty strong profile. They are similar to Acolyte Metamorphs, but get 3 attacks base, one more than the Acolytes (though with their Cultist Knives, it adds up to the same, but without the weapons bonuses). 

Where the squad gets their difference is in the metamorph upgrades they can take. They come with a Rending Claw and Metamorph Talon as standard, for 10 points per model. This gives them three attacks with the Rending Claw and one with the Talon (at S4 and AP0). This gives the squad four attacks as standard, which is pretty good for the unit, though I'm not sure the extra attack is worth 3 pts per model over the Acolyte Hybrids. The Talon also gives +1 to hit, which is a nice bonus, but you lose the AP. 

They can also take a Metamorph Claw, taking them up to S6 and AP-1. This is pricey, taking them up to 13 pts per model. S6 is pretty good on the squad, with 3 attacks each at AP-1, they should do a lot of damage to a number of units. Again, I'm not sure this is worth it over the Heavy Mining Combat weapons the Acolyte Hybrids can take. 

The can also replace their rending claw with a Metamorph talon. this takes them up to 11 pts each, but each Hybrid Metamorph then gets 5 attacks in combat (though at no AP). This is actually a pretty strong option against horde armies with poor armour saves, such as Orks or Guardsmen (or other Genestealer Cults armies!). All the attacks also get +1 to hit, allowing them to hit on a 2+ in most cases. 

They can also take Metamorph whips, allowing them to strike again if they are slain. 

I think the double Talons is a good option. A squad of 10 will get 50 attacks that hit on a 2+ at S4 for only 110 pts. That is pretty strong for going through horde units and weakly armoured enemy units. Throw on Might From Beyond to take them to S5 and 6 attacks each, and even vehicles may be threatened by this unit. 

I think the Metamorphs have improved a bit over the index from getting cheaper. They can easily put out a lot of low AP attacks and should be able to do a lot of damage against selected enemy units. They still suffer from the poor durability of the Genestealer Cults units though, so will be easy to take out with enemy firepower. 

The Aberrants got some nice points reductions and extra rules over the Index versions. The Aberrants now come in squads of 5-10 and can include a Hypermorph leader. 

They have a decent profile, with WS3+, S5 and 2 attacks. They are only T4, 2 wounds and a 5+ save, but they do reduce damage they take by 1 (to a minimum of 1) and get a 5+ save against wounds. This gives them a bit more durability, but they will still not take much effort to wipe out. 

They are very strong in combat with their armaments. They can have a power pick, which gives them 2 attacks at S5, AP-2 and D3 damage. It also allows them to make an extra attack with their Rending Claw. This comes in at 25 pts each. 

They can also take a Power Hammer, giving them 2 attacks at -1 to hit, S10 and 3 damage. This is expensive at 32 pts each, but I think this is the preferred option in most cases. This gives the Genestealer Cults a way to deal with heavy armour and vehicles. The downside is that they only get 2 attacks that hit on a 4+, but there are a number of ways to give them additional attacks or bonuses to hit through psychic powers and support characters. 

The Abominant is also a great support character, allowing them to do an extra hit for every natural 6 to hit rolled. It won't come up too often, but is a nice way to get extra attacks in combat. 

I think the Aberrants are a solid unit. They hit really hard in combat, but can fall pretty easily to enemy firepower. The changes to Cult ambush make a charge a bit less reliable, but there are ways to make a charge better odds with support characters and Cult Creeds, so you should be able to get them into combat. 

Purestrain Genestealers
A solid unit that was one of the best in the Index to take. Purestrain Genestealers hit extremely hard in combat, especially if you have big squads. They were fantastic in Genestealer Cults armies, as you could reliably get them into combat thanks to Cult Ambush, rather than have to slog across the table with their poor armour save and invulnerable save, suffering the enemy firepower. 

They are still a strong unit in the codex, but lose out on a lot of the cool new tricks in the book. They don't benefit from the Cult Creeds, so don't get bonuses to their invulnerable save (which would be amazing!) or bonuses to their charge and advance rolls. 

They are still solid with the right Cult Ambush and some of the stratagems, but you can't guarantee a charge on the turn they arrive, which was generally a lot easier to do with the old Cult Ambush rules. 

They benefit from a number of psychic powers and boosting characters, thanks to their volume of attacks. Giving them +1 strength or +1 to hit is still a great bonus. 

They are a great unit in the codex, but it is a little annoying that they get excluded from many of the great new special rules and abilities. It's almost like they don't want you to take Genestealers in a Genestealer Cult codex. 

The Clavamus is a great support character for the Genestealer Cults, helping you to make charges from ambush and hindering enemy reserves.

He has a pretty standard character profile; WS and BS 3+, strength and toughness 3, 4 wounds, 3 attacks, Ld 8 and a 5+ save. He is not going to be killing a lot in combat or with his firepower (autopistol only), but his strengths come from his buffs to nearby units.

One of the big boosts is called Proclamator Hailer. This adds +1 Ld, as well as +1 to charge and advance rolls for any units within 6". The Leadership boost is great for helping keep your units safe from morale, but I think the extra inch on charges and advancing is the big boost.

This makes it an 8" charge for most units coming out of Ambush, giving you a nice boost. Added to the Cult of the Four Armed Emperor creed, that means +2 to charge ranges, giving you a 50% chance of making a charge with a unit coming out of Cult ambush.

Another great ability is that enemy units cannot deploy from reserve within 12" of the Clamavus. In addition, at the start of your shooting phase, each enemy unit within 6" suffers a mortal wound on a roll of a 6 on a D6. The ability to seriously hinder enemy reserves is great for the Clamavus. This stops many units from appearing within rapid fire or charge range of your Clamavus.

You will probably want him out in front of the army, in order to block enemy reserves and help your own charging units. Fortunately, he is a character and has Unquestioning Loyalty, so you have better chances of keeping alive for longer.

For only 55 pts, the Clamavus is a bargain and a very strong addition to the army. I can see taking multiple of these in an army to boost the charge ranges of your units and zone out areas for enemy reserves.

The Locus is a bodyguard character in the Genestealer Cult army. He has a similar profile to the Clamavus above, but with WS 2+ and four attacks.

He comes armed for combat, with a Hypermorph Tail and Locus Blades. The Tail gives him an additional attack at his base strength and AP-1. The Blades are AP-3, but cause 2 damage if he charged, was charged or made a heroic intervention in the turn.

He comes with a number of special rules to help him in combat and as a bodyguard.

First off, he gets a special 2+ Unquestioning Loyalty roll, allowing him to take a wound from a friendly character for the loss of one mortal wound to himself.

He can make a heroic intervention up to 6", and can choose to move towards enemy characters instead of the closest model. He also always strikes first in combat (unless your opponent charged or has a similar ability). He benefits from a 5+ invulnerable save too.

He also causes -1 Ld to enemy units within 6".

The Locus is designed to protect your characters and take on enemy characters. However, I don't think he is too well designed at either job.

He gets 4 attacks that hit on a 2+, at S4 and AP-3, doing 2 damage if he charged or heroically intervened. This will not be enough to worry most tough characters with a halfway decent invulnerable save. He might be good at taking out weaker characters like psykers or Company Commanders, but there are a number of combat units that can do this in the codex, so he is not really needed for this.

His protection skills are pretty good, allowing you to block up to 4 wounds on a 2+, so he is pretty good in this regard. However, you could take a squad of Neophyte Hybrids or Brood Brothers Guardsmen and do a similar job (though only on a 4+, it must be said).

He is pretty cheap at 40 pts if you want to take him, but I don't think he is worth taking in most cases.

The Sanctus is another assassin-type character, who I think does a better job than the Locus. He can be armed with a Silencer Sniper Rifle or with a Sanctus Bio-dagger for close range kills.

He has a similar profile to the other elite characters, but with WS and BS 2+.

The Sniper Rifle is 36", Heavy 1, S4, -1AP and D3 damage. It does mortal wounds on a 6+ and can target characters. In addition, if a psyker loses any wounds from the shot, they suffer an immediate Perils from the Warp. Their Soulsight familiar also prevents the enemy unit benefiting from cover.

This is a pretty potent weapon for taking on psykers. If you use the Relic sniper rifle, you will do a mortal wound on a 4+, giving you a good chance of making an enemy psyker peril and take additional mortal wounds.

The Bio-dagger is S1, AP-2 and 2 damage. It always wounds on a 2+ unless targeting a vehicle or titanic unit, and you get an extra attack (taking him up to 5 attacks). He also gets a combat familiar that gives two extra attacks (at S4, AP0). This gives him a fair number of attacks in combat, good for taking on big units or weaker enemy characters.

The Sanctus gets a camo-cloak, giving him a 3+ save in cover, and gets the Perfect Ambush stratagem for free. This allows him to deploy closer to enemy units or shoot when he arrives from reserve. A nice bonus, but it does prevent another unit from using it if he does.

I think the Sanctus is a good choice with the sniper rifle (at 60 pts). It gives you a way to deal with enemy characters and is really good for taking on enemy psykers. A couple of these units, or combined with the Jackal Alphus, and most enemy characters could be in trouble from that much sniper firepower coming their way.

With the Bio-dagger, he is a bit cheaper (55 pts) and a good combat character. He is not amazing, but will certainly do well against most enemy units.

The Kelermorph is a firepower character that provides some nice buffs to nearby units if he can harm an enemy unit.

He comes armed with three Liberator Autostubs (12", pistol 2, S4, AP-1, 2 damage), which he can fire at the same time. His Gunslinger special rule allows him to target enemy characters. In addition, each time he hits with a Pistol weapon, he can make an additional attack using the same weapon (which cannot generate further hits).

This is a pretty solid ability. With BS 2+, you can probably score 5 or 6 hits with the pistols, giving you another round of hits. This one model has the potential to do 12 hits with his pistols and up to 24 damage in a single round of shooting. He is actually pretty useful at taking on enemy characters with his firepower, the sheer volume of shots and damage 2 with each wound is actually pretty good for taking on all but the toughest armoured units.

In addition, if the Kelermorph kills any enemy models with its ranged weapons, until the end of the phase, you can re-roll to hit rolls of 1 for attacks made by friendly Cult infantry units within 6". This gives you a nice bonus for firepower units that are close to the Kelermorph. This is pretty useful for strong firepower units such as those with Demolition charges firing at nearby enemy units.

You can also give him the Relic pistol. This takes one pistol up to 3 shots, at AP-2, 2 damage and re-rolling failed wounds. This allows you to do up to 14 hits in a single volley.

A couple of Kelermorphs in tandem would be very strong too. The first could fire at an enemy character. If they do any wounds, the second gets to hit on a 2+ re-rollable in most cases.

He also gets a 5+ invulnerable save, helping him to stay alive for a bit longer in some cases.

At only 60 pts, I think this is a solid option and a great way to target enemy characters if you can get close enough.

The Nexos is another useful support character that helps with regaining command points and with your ambush rolls. He has a standard character profile and Autopistol, so is not really doing much for his combat or shooting ability.

He has the Stratagic co-ordinator ability. This allows you to remove one Cult Ambush marker and re-deploy it another in your deployment zone at least 12" from an enemy model. This gives you another useful trick for your deployment.

One of his main uses is the ability to regain command points. He gives you a command point back on a 6+, rolling a D6 each time you or your opponent spends a command point on a stratagem (roll per command point, not stratagem is the way I read it).

In addition, if you have a Primus on the battlefield, you get a command point back on a 5+ (instead of 6+) if you were using the stratagem. If you have a Clamavus on the table, you get a command point back on a 5+ if your opponent was the one using a stratagem.

This gives you very good odds of getting a command point back each turn, as you are likely to want to have at least one Primus and Clamavus in your army.

For only 50 pts, he is a solid investment in the army, helping you to get more command points. He is probably going to want to sit at the back of the deployment zone, out of line of sight or with some protection, as he is only really there to give you command points after deployment.

The Biophagus is a useful support character for any Aberrant units in the army.

He allows you to enhance on Aberrant unit per turn within 1". On a roll of a 1, one model in the unit perishes. He then allows you to either give the unit +1S, +1T or +1A (randomly determined). This is great for boosting an already pretty powerful unit. Combined with some Creeds, this will take your Aberrants up to S7, allowing you to wound most Monsters and Vehicles on a 2+ with their Hammers. Each unit can only be affected once per game, so no super buffing of the Aberrants.

He can take a familiar that allows you to roll twice on the table and choose the result you want.

His Injector goad is fairly decent in combat, allowing him to wound on a 2+ (unless targeting vehicles or titanic units). In addition, if a character suffers a wound from the weapon but is not slain, roll a D6. If you roll higher than their wound's characteristic, they suffer D3 mortal wounds. Quite nice for taking on weaker enemy characters, but he is not going to do well against very tough enemy characters, who will slay him with ease.

He is only 35 pts (47 pts with the Familiar), so is not too expensive to take if you want. I think he is only really useful if you are taking a big unit of Aberrants or several units.

The Elites section of the Codex is pretty packed. As well as some very solid units to add to the combat ability of your army, it features a great host of support characters. I can see most of them being useful in most lists to help you take out enemy characters, boost your combat units or give you more command points. They are pretty cheap too, so you can afford to take a number of them or multiples of some without taking too much out of your list.

Genestealer Cults Codex Review
Part 1- Special Rules, Cult Creeds
Part 2- Stratagems
Part 3- Warlord Traits, Relics, Psychic Powers
Part 4- HQ Units
Part 5- Troops
Part 6- Elites
Part 7- Fast Attack
Part 8- Heavy Support and Dedicated Vehicles 


  1. Cheap and cheerful, I love the idea of a couple of Kelamorphs taking down the Smash Captains of the world...

    1. Yeah, they have some really powerful abilities for zoning out enemy units.

  2. Metamorphs: I think mostly double Talons, but with a couple of Claws in there, is probably the way to go. The durability for their price, and whether or not they're even going to make it to Combat, is the real issue.

    Aberrants: Power Picks are better than you think. Contrast their wording with things like Chainswords, Cultist Knives, and the Locus's tail. They get a free Rending Claw Attack for each Attack they make with the Pick, not each time they fight. Drop Might from Beyond on them and they're kicking out 6 Attacks each!

    Clamavus: I prefer to believe that he's actually a DJ, kicking out some funky beats to inspire his homies. The penalties he applies to the enemy are the result of them stopping to complain about kids these days and the music they listen to ;) I am somewhat curious about how he would interact with an opposing Laying in Wait Stratagem in a GSC mirror match, tho.

    The Sanctus is crap as an assassin, but he's only 10 Points per Wound, which is about half of what the Characters you're going to want him protecting come in at. Not to mention being able to tank shots for someone who has a Relic, and can't get redundancy any other way. Also, his Ld debuff works for Mental Onslaught (as does the Clamavus's Ld buff for your dudes).

    I totally missed that those Sniper Rifles do their Mortal Wounds on a modified 6+, rather than an unmodified 6, so the Relic will buff them like that. And I already thought it was one of the better Relics.

    The short range on the Kelermorph is the real limiting factor, I think. There aren't many things that GSC are going to blow away in shooting, and also not many that are going to sit around and have a short-range firefight. Not saying he's bad, just that it's one of those things that's going to take some finesse on the tabletop to get full value from. I do like the idea of running them in pairs, tho. If they do get stuck in a Combat, that way they can keep blasting away at the Unit they're locked with, which should help significantly to clear them out.

    The Nexos kind of amuses me because the Model itself is almost entirely irrelevant. All he has to do for his bonuses is exist. Doesn't matter where he is on the table, whether he has LoS or range to anything, none of that.

    1. Some good points there. I hadn't noticed the wording with the Power Pick, so that does improve them a bit. Only 2 attacks on the Aberrants is a bit of a blow, considering how expensive they are for limited durability.

      I'm totally going to have the Clamavus as a DJ now. Maybe I'll paint him in some bright glowing colours and have my boombox ready to go in all my games.

      The Kelermorph has some great potential, but I think you are right and they will require some nuanced use on the tabletoop.

    2. Nurr. That should have been "The Locus is crap as an assassin..."

  3. Im really dissapointed that Purestrain Genestealers didnt get any buffs with the Genestealer Codex, it would have been nice for them to at least benefit from cult rules.

    1. It is a bit dissapointing, to be honest. I think Genestealers with a 4+ invulnerable might be a bit much, but I don't think the other buffs were too bad for them.