Rise Together: Genestealer Cult Codex Review

Greetings all,

A little later than I thought it would be, nothing new there, but here’s a review of the recent Genestealer Cult Codex.

Overview

Right on the armoured heels of Deathwatch we have the insidious Xenos menace of the Genestealer Cult. The Codex is pretty gorgeous it must be said and is filled with some great artwork, as usual the book is well bound and feels sturdy; which is a good thing, as I can see this Codex being damn popular.

For those who are shady on the details, the Genestealer Cult has been in the narrative of the Warhammer 40’000 universe for some time, they’ve just never received this sort of attention before, making them a stand-alone fully playable race with dedicated plastic models. The age we live in. The Cult is an offshoot of the Xenos race known as the Tyranids, which we shall look into a bit further below.

genestealer-overkill

The Narrative

The Tyranids are an alien race in the purest sense; able to traverse the void in huge bio-form ships and bound by a hive mind consciousness.  The Tyranids purpose is to consume all matter in the universe and currently the various hives seem driven toward the Sol System (where Terra and the Carrion God reside).

The vanguard of the Tyranid Hive Fleets are often made up of the Genestealers, they are ferocious predators in their own right but individually they present a small threat, one even an Imperial Guard platoon could take care of, probably with the words ‘first line fire’, thrown in for good measure. However the Genestealer can infect a human (or any biological race technically) with its DNA, this process serves a dual purpose; first to taint the host and second to instil loyalty to the Xenos.  The first Genestealer to perform this vile intrusion on a planet will begin to evolve in to a Patriarch, the alpha of its kind, and will be venerated by those infected with its DNA. When the infected procreate the progeny that follow will be hybrids of the host race and the Tyranids.  At this point I should mention that the Codex has a great two page spread that illustrates the generation cycle from the first of those infected, their mutated offspring to the fourth generation that look almost identical to the host race and how the cycle begins anew with the fifth generation being pure strain Genestealers.

So that’s the rough overview of what the Genestealer Cult is, a hybridised sub race of the Tyranids formed from a parasitic-like bond with a host race. The reason for this is so that a Cult can infiltrate a planet and eventually destabilise it, making it easy prey for the real threat, the Tyranid Hive Fleet. What happens to the Cult once they have achieved their purpose, when the old regime has been toppled, the Imperial Eagle smashed upon the ground and in its place flies the banner of the Wyrm devouring itself. The adulation of the baying hybrid’s roars ascend in to the sky, even as more bio-organic spores descend on to the planet. Well, now the Tyranids turn upon their temporary allies and devour them, their purpose is done and so generations of hybrids that worshipped the Tyranids are consumed, nothing more than biomass for the Xenos creatures. Quite tragic really, what’s worse are the brief tales the Codex gives us of the people that voluntarily venerate the many limbed Star Gods, how could they possibly know that though the Cult preach salvation will be had once the Star Gods arrive, that they in fact know nothing of the Tyranids true purpose to consume all life.

neophytes-2

The Rules

Units wise you have the following:

HQ

Patriarch – Fast and hard hitting, this thing will tear through Astartes.

Magus – He’ll get torn apart in combat but the Broodmind psychic powers are excellent.

Primus – Half decent in combat and provides Hatred to his unit.

Acolyte Iconward – Similar to the Primus, adds to the FNP of units within 12”.

Troops

Acolyte Hybrids – First and second generation hybrids, rending in combat with 4 attacks each on the charge, dirt cheap as well!

Neophyte Hybrids – The mainstay of the army, plenty of small arms weaponry. They can have a nice mixture of short to medium range gear and some interesting heavy weapon choices.

Elites

Hybrid Metamorphs – Like the Acolytes but even nastier in combat for barely any extra points.

Purestrain Genestealers – Say hello to a five plus invulnerable save and the army wide rule can be pretty nice for getting these chaps in close to the enemy.

Aberrants – An odd unit, in theory they should dish out some punishment. However they only have a 5+ save; even with 2 wounds and FNP they’re not all that resilient.

Fast Attack

Chimera – One of the most glorious transports, basically identical to the Imperial Guard variant.

Armoured Sentinel – Cheap armoured support, only BS 3 so perhaps go for broke and take Plasma Cannons on them for heavy infantry liquidation.

Scout Sentinel – Cheaper than their armoured cousins but a strong gust of wind can take these lads down, only take these if you’re including a lot of them and even then expect early losses.

Goliath Truck – A gloriously cheap open top transport (so an assault vehicle), however it explicitly states no Genestealer Purestrains or a Patriarch can ride in it (though they could hop in the Chimera, not a lot of point in that but they could).

Heavy Support

Goliath Rockgrinder  – A sturdier version of the truck, this one’s a tank with some fairly good ramming capability. Lower transport capacity (6 as opposed to 10) with fairly ‘meh’ ranged weaponry (though mildly better than the truck).

Leman Russ Squadron – The armour of choice, although less variants in this list: no Demolisher, Punisher or Plasma spewing variant. Still, a solid choice for firepower in a very close ranged army.

goliath

The army wide rule is what really sets this force apart; these are Cult Ambush and Return to the Shadows. These rules apply to all of your infantry, including the characters. Cult Ambush allows your unit to arrive from reserve (or if they have infiltrate) using the Ambush table. To do this you roll a D6 and consult the chart for each unit arriving in this way:

1 – Enjoy coming on from your own table edge (not so bad thanks to Return to the Shadows and could be useful anyway).

2 – Basically Outlank, which is a good thing.

3 – Set up the unit anywhere up to 9” away from an enemy unit, or up to 6” if no enemy unit can see them.

4 – Set up the unit anywhere up to 6” away, regardless of if the enemy can see them.

5 – Same as 4 except you get to make a bonus shooting attack with the unit, as if it were the shooting phase and you can still shoot in the shooting phase!

6 – Set up anywhere up to 3” away from an enemy unit and you can charge that turn!

As you can see this table is pretty phenomenal for allowing you to dominate the table strategically. It should be noted that these units will need to dish out the hurt because this is an army of 5+ saves, even Ork firepower could see them off in swift order.

This brings me on to Return to the Shadows, in the movement phase, as long as said infantry unit did not arrive from reserve that turn and is not within 6” of an enemy they can be taken off the board and placed in to Ongoing Reserve. They could then arrive next turn using the Cult Ambush table if you wished (which let’s face it, is probably a solid option).

I have to say I really like how this army can play and the first thing that my best mate said was ‘wow, they’d be perfect for an Alpha Legion counts as’, which I definitely agree with. Stick an Astartes with cut down power armour in as your Patriarch, have your Hybrids as mutants and your Neophytes as cultists, job done. This army really works for general rebellious themes as well, not to detract from the awesomeness of the Genestealer Cult, but you could have a Fallen leading them or an Imperial uprising led by a Primus (modelled as a disgruntled General, Governor, etc). A Tzeentchian Cult would be an interesting take as well, grab those Tzangors from Silver Tower as your Hybrids, the Ogroid would make a cracking Patriarch, with the Gaunt Summoner as your Magus. Such possibilities…

However, back to the true Cult, this is not an army for beginners. The flexibility of the Cult Ambush rule is counter balanced by poor armour saves across the board and moderate armoured support. This list would definitely function better if taken as hordes of infantry with some armour; otherwise it may as well be an Imperial Guard list. That said, Tyranids are not your only Allies of Convenience, you can ally with Imperial Guard as AofC as well; this opens up your list building options a lot if you like to take allies.

The relics are alright, there are some fun ones but from a competitive stance I would always opt for the Crouchling, a unique familiar that gives you the two additional S4 rending attacks in combat but more importantly allows you to generate one additional psychic power.

broodcoven

Speaking of, the Broodmind psychic powers are pretty ace, some highlights are: the Primaris Mass Hypnosis a malediction that reduces a units WS, BS, I and A by 1; Psychic Stimulus WC 1 unit gains Relentless, Fleet and can charge even if it ran; Might from Beyond unit gains +1 S in combat and gains Rage; Mind Control WC 2 where you can target an enemy non-vehicle unit (Focussed Witchfire, so only one model) and have them/it shoot at a different target of your choosing. Oh and there’s one where you can summon more units on to the board, so pretty nasty really. I know the summoning of units is a pretty controversial topic but in casual games you’re unlike to summon more than one or two units successfully.

The Codex contains a few Imperial mining tools that have been repurposed as weaponry which is a really ace touch and I like how the mining gear of the Imperium has been designed to blend in with the Tyranids ridged carapace armour.

There are some good formations however I shan’t go in to detail as I’m almost at the 2000 word mark. There are two of particular note though: Subterranean Uprising, which consists of infantry and a Primus (compulsory Metamorphs and Acolytes, the first and second generation cultists). The benefit is that you may roll two dice and pick the result on the Cult Ambush table and the unit with the Primus may roll three dice and pick the result! Then there’s the Doting Throng, basically a Magus with a bunch of Neophytes and/or Acolytes. Units within 12” of the Magus gain Frenzy and the unit with the Magus in can re-roll to hits in combat every round. Also, Blessing powers from the Magus that target units from this formation can be re-rolled if the test was failed.

Overall this is a great Codex; the art is ace, the narrative very enjoyable and the rules offer a refreshing take that should be fun to play with and an absolute mindbender to fight against!

Have an ace one all.

Ed

Quick disclaimer, the photo’s are from the Games Workshop website and are used solely for illustrative purposes to provide a bit of colour to an otherwise word ridden review!

An Unexpected Update: Black Legion Supplement New Formations

 
Greetings all,

I’ve been busy assembling a whole bunch of Heresy Night Lords. Ruins of Arotha inspired me to have a crack at using magnets, to make the most out of my kits and I have taken to it like a pig in sh&*t. I decided not to bother with WIP shots, as it’s all pretty standard stuff. I’ll post some up when I finally get around to painting them.

The reason for this article is that GW, the cheeky chaps that they are, have updated the Black Legion Codex Supplement. I bought the iPad version the day of release last year (or whenever the hell it was) and I felt pretty disappointed by it, the fiction was alright but the rules were minimal and lacklustre. My main gripe was with the artefacts available to characters, which also consisted of the vast majority of rules from the ‘dex, they seemed over priced for what they had to offer. For instance the Skull of Ker’ngar, at 40 points you get Eternal Warrior and Adamantium Will. Alright Eternal Warrior is boss, but at 40 points lets compare that to the 50 point Shield Eternal. The loyalists nab a 3++, Adamantium Will and Eternal Warrior for just 10 points more than the Skull! 

I shan’t bother ranting like a heretic fanboy but the Chaos Codex is showing its age now, it’s a sixth edition Codex in the world of seventh. Although the heretics have received some cool new toys in the form of dataslates the core issue remained. Chaos Space Marines are the weakest element of the Chaos army. In a nutshell it comes down to the lack of And They Shall Know No Fear (ATSKNF). Whoa, don’t get me wrong, Chaos shouldn’t have that rule. I’m not suggesting that Chaos Marines should have faith in the Emperor (Alpha Legion?). No, simply that for equivalent points, the loyalists all benefit from an incredible rule that has consistent game wide affects. Auto rallying, not being destroyed from a sweeping advance and acting as normal once rallied. Whereas the traitors can pay points to receive +1 leadership (and 5 CSM cost 5 points more base than a 5 man tactical squad). 

So when the Black Legion supplement came out I was disappointed. On an army wide basis this main flaw remained firm and the extras we did get did not compensate to make the CSM list more competitive. I’m not expecting the filth of the 3.5 ‘dex but if loyalists are going to get their own (arguably better) Obliterators in the form of Centurions then I expect more than an AP3 Daemon Sword that gives me +1 Initiative. Seriously, that’s a thing. I might as well take the mark of Slaanesh (for the +1 Init) and literally any other Daemon Weapon, like the Murder Sword (Ap 3 normally with the potential for d6 attacks like a regular daemon weapon, nominate a character at the start of the battle and your sword goes batshit against that character giving you x2 S, AP 1 and Instant Death! Oh and it’s only 5 points more than the spine tingly sword).

So I lied, there was a bit of a rant. I’m a heretic at heart, even bought the t-shirt at Forgeworld to prove it.

New Formations

Bringers of Despair – Abaddon and his closest Terminator friends rock up with +1 WS and BS (not Abby, he’s hardcore as is).

The Chosen of Abaddon – Enjoy 1-4 Lords or Sorceres, each one must take a unit of chosen or termies to stick with for the game but for as long as the Lord/Sorcerer is alive the his squad they’re Fearless, because no f*&ks are given. Screw you ATSKNF, our sorcerers just grew a pair. Oh and all the Lord/Sorcerers in this detachment get a free roll on the Boon table (re-rolling spawn or apotheosis, because Abs hangs around with the cool guys).

The Hounds of Abaddon – Chaos Lord, 1-3 Khorne Berserkers, 1-3 CSM; 1-3 Raptors, Warp Talons or Bikers (in any combination). Once per game you can run and charge with the lot of ‘em and whenever a unit makes a charge roll on 8 or more the unit gets +1 strength (because Khorne likes it when Marines man up and get stuck in).

Daemon Engine Pack – A Warpsmith with his two pet Forgefiends or Maulerfiends (in any combination). This is an odd one, you can nominate a character before the game begins. Your big dogs gain preferred enemy against said character and if you slay the bastard you regain a lost hull point. Also your Warpsmith cares, if he’s within 12” of one of his pets at the start of the shooting and/or assault you can nominate said Fido to use the Warpsmith’s Weapon Skill or Ballistic Skill.

Cyclopia Cabal – I really like this one for numerous reasons. Here we have 3-5 Sorcerers (they don’t have to form a unit, but I’ll get on to that), they gain one special ability/psychic power, Shroud of Deceit. It’s a warp charge 3 psychic power, you nominate one sorcerer to channel it and any Sorcerer including the first generate a free dice for that power only if they are within 12”. It has range 30” from the channeller, you nominate a non vehicle unit. If successfully cast and not denied you get to immediately shoot with the deceived unit as if they were your own squad. So, your enemy rolls on to the board with his graviton canon toting Servitor Destructors, sweet, let’s shoot them at your his own Land Raider. It’s a great psychic power that should be useful in most games but there’s an added bonus (sort of). Let’s combine all of those Sorcerers in to one unit, stick a fearless character in, say a Lord, and attach all said characters to a 20 man cultist squad. Choose Biomancy for all your Sorcerers (and hope to roll Endurance on one). Now you have a twenty-six man unit that can potentially have a 4+ FNP save with Eternal Warrior for your characters. Plus five dudes are rocking around with force weapons and only one of them needs to get the power off to activate it. I recommend sticking a spell familiar on the channeller to make the most use out of the Shroud of Deceit (as effectively the warp charge for it are free, so you might as well pay 15 points for the re-roll to make sure it goes off). This is by no means a death star but that’s not the point, just think of the awesome conversions and havoc you can reek with a unit like this on the board. There’s the crux of it as well, how much Chaos can you cause and what will you cause it with. The traitors should always give you options to mess about with.  

 The Tormented – Daemon Prince with 2-5 units of possessed, pretty sure I heard those groans from here, but hold on. These possessed come with +1WS, +1 I and rending; sure they’re still not Wulfen but at least they’re a bit more viable now. Shame they still don’t know how to hold two close combat weapons. Warning, if the Prince wanders off further than 18” the possessed do become somewhat senile. Like dementia as opposed to slavering killers. 

Black Legion Warband – Last up is the Black Legion Warband, here we have one Lord, 0-1 Sorcerer, 2-6 CSM, 1-3 Termies or Possessed (any combo), 1-3 raptors, talons or bikers (any combo) and 1-3 Havocs or Helbrutes (any combo). When your characters take down a character thanks to the Champion of Chaos special rule (in a challenge) you roll twice on the boon table and can pick either one or both results. This detachment also has the Thirst For Glory rule, this one is nice. In a phase if one Black Legion unit wipes out an enemy unit all remaining Black Legion units may re-roll failed to hit and to wound rolls of 1. This is damn good. So if you blow up a rhino in your shooting phase your whole warband gets a (pseudo) universal preferred enemy rule for the phase. This also applies to the combat phase (I think your enemies, as well as your own). 

 

Overall I’m really pleased with the above detachments, I think they add some needed depth to the CSM army and they make a vanilla list a bit more flexible. It might not be the new ‘dex that we’d like but it’s a decent start. What’s more as a digital user this update was free. Sadly this doesn’t help those that bought the hardcopy; however I’d recommend checking online for the full rules once it’s been released in earnest, as lets face it, it’s pretty harsh to buy effectively the same thing again for what is just an update. Oh and there are tactical objectives for the Black Legion (can’t remember if they were in the old version, if not, they are now). There might be other updated information but the artefacts look basically the same (I think the Nova artefact was tweaked). 

It looks like the Crimson Slaughter ‘dex should be receiving the same treatment, although I didn’t buy that one, might now. Not sure. So, we should have some more formations to play with soon. 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop me a line, if not, I hope the article’s been of some use.

As always, have an ace one all.

Ed

Image Sources: Black Legion Codex Supplement. Used for the sole purpose of entertainment, reporting news and reviewing the updated Codex for non-commercial use. All rights reserved by Games Workshop. 

Inquisitor WIP: A Legacy of Terror

Evening all,

Well, my plans to present the model that goes with chapter two of my Inquisition warband has gone quite awry. I’m in the final stages of painting him up, but he won’t be ready until next weekend now.

Instead, I thought I’d post an old model that I’ve taken a renewed interest in. 

 

The red right hand of the sergeant.

  
    
 
When the Tempestus Scions were released I was initially disappointed. I’d been really hoping that the Stormtroopers would get released in plastic. However, it didn’t take long for me to warm to the Scions. Once I had, I started to see the sheer amount of kit bash opportunity that they presented. I’ve no idea if I’m the first to combine the Space Marine Scout torso with the Scion legs, but I really like how they work together. The bulk of the torso seems to fit the athletic pose of the legs. The head is from the Imperial Guard command sprue and I think the Boltgun arm is from the Scout Storm set. I’ve deliberately mixed up the shoulder pads of the squad to give them less of a uniform look.

I originaly painted his armour in a charcoal grey, then I realised it bored the hell out of me. The Night Lords have always been my favourite legion, so I thought I’d have this chap wearing midnight clad. He’s actually part of a squad, but they’re at my mates house, so I’ll post them up at a later date.

The narrative is probably going to be that a radical Inquisitor, with an Istavaanian philosophical view, believes that the ways of the enemy had merit. Requisitioning a small number of Red Hunters, Exorcists or other Astartes tied to the Inquisition, he begins to train them in the image of the traitors. This squad will be based on the Night Lords. You may have noticed the red right hand of the scout. I like the idea that records of the Night Lords/Nostraman customs are difficult (to say the least) to come by. As such, the Inquisitor mistakes a reference to ‘red hands’, thinking that these were brutal individuals picked out to support the sergeants, commanders, etc. As opposed to it actually being man marked for death at his commanders leisure; perhaps while the commander is swirling a brandy round in his glass, while lounging comfortably in a throne.

I’ve also painted up one of my Scion models, with a Skitarii vanguard head, in GW Alpha Legion colours. I doubt I’ll do loyalist variants of all the traitors, but I think it could be a nice radical side project.

We are legion.

Anyway, hope you’ve enjoyed.

Have an ace one all.

Ed