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!

The Watch Has Just Begun: Deathwatch Codex Review

Greetings all,

Well, it’s been a while. You can thank life for that. I still have that short story to share with you all, however I have done almost nought in the way of hobbying since my last post, so no story until it has some pictures to go with it (for those that have no interest in amateur fiction).

Enough! On to the review…

Overview

Codex Deathwatch is the latest in cut down army books that give you access to fewer options but just enough that it could be used as a force in its own right, unlike say Militarum Tempestus, which is fine as the Imperium of Mankind functions at its best when disparate elements work together (at least, if you’re willing to carry several Codex’s around to field all of the detachments you could use in a single force).

codex-deathwatch-cover

As always the high standards of GW’s printing press means you have a solid book on your hands, filled with some pretty cool pictures of post humans slaughtering vile aliens in their droves. The artwork does vary in style but overall its top notch, however the section beginning’ Knights of the Long Vigil’ I could happily do without. The basic 2D style of the marines and bland colours seems out of place in an otherwise excellent book. I feel like this section could have been done using the ‘Eavy Metal shots that appear a few pages later. Filler is what I would call the Vigil section. However, let’s not be unkind, some of us may well like this style, as it does present the Astartes in a clean uncluttered way for those that wish to look at the iconography on the Marines in detail.

The Narrative

In brief, the Deathwatch are made up of Space Marines from hundreds of Chapters to specifically fight the threat of aliens (or Xenos as they’re known), within and without the domain of mankind.  These marines are seconded to the Deathwatch for a variable length of time, until they return to their Chapter or more likely die in battle. They are not led by the Inquisition of the Ordo Xenos, though they do have such close goals that they fight/work together and bear the seal of the Inquisition where normally their Chapter symbol would be.

The book covers the lore well and from reading it you gain a good handle on who this force is and why they fight the way they do against the specific threat presented by Xenos races. There is a timeline (esque) section of battles fought, a map showing some of the main Deathwatch fortresses located within the various Segmentums, a breakdown of some of the different Chapters that make up the Deathwatch along with the narrative about the various positions within this faction (like Librarian).

One of my favourite pieces was about the Black Shields, Space Marines who have forsaken any past allegiance to permanently join the Death Watch. This is not a new thing, there are Black Shields in the Heresy that are similar, but this is a specific twist that could definitely be greeted with mixed reactions, here goes:

“Some may be the last of a Chapter all but destroyed in the line of duty. Others may be the last loyal warriors of a Chapter who have turned renegade, or even those legendary few lost in time – those who would be instantly executed were their former allegiance known.”

Now, I believe this is more in direct reference to the Fallen, the traitorous element of the Dark Angels. However, I prefer to think that some cacophonous Emperor’s Children could roll up to a Deathwatch fortress and the Watch Master would be like ‘well… you’re a loose cannon but you get results, switch out that armour with the writhing faces for this sleek black number and you’re in.’

deathwatch-logo

The Rules

Brass tacks now, units wise you have the following:

HQ

Watch Master

Watch Captain (no Captain Artemis, he’s in the Death Masque specific rules)

Chaplain

Librarian

Troops

Veterans

Elites

Terminators

Dreadnought (regular and venerable)

Vanguard Veterans (not a mistake, they are elites)

Fast Attack

Bikers

Rhino

Razorback

Drop Pod

Corvus Blackstar (the new flyer)

Heavy Support

Land Raider (regular, Redeemer and Crusader variants)

One of the main oddities of this force is that as the Deathwatch do not follow the Codex Astartes, the unit size of Vanguard Vets, Terminators and Bikers is one to five. That and the upgrades in the squad state ‘any model may choose one of the following’ for some of their options. So you could have a squad of Terminators consisting of just one Terminator and he could have an Assault Cannon, or feel free to have five Terminators in a squad, all with Cyclone Missile Launchers! Likewise with the Vanguard Veterans any of the squad can switch their weapons out for special weapons as well, including the devastating new Heavy Thunder Hammer.

Of quick note; Captain Artemis can be used in place of a Watch Captain however his rules are not in the Codex, they are in the Death Masque rules for what’s in the box. Shame but it’s done now. He is a fairly standard Watch Captain, however one of his best rules is that he carries a one use Stasis Bomb, if you hit it’s strength D. Bonus points if you have a stasis fight with Lukas the Trickster from the feral marines.

artemis

Now in heroic 28mm scale for your 40K Xenos killing pleasure!

The Deathwatch also have a unique way of forming the army, this is by the way of Kill Teams (be the formations or part of the detachment to gain further army wide rules), interestingly you can have mixed squads working as one unit and you are pretty much covered however you want that unit to be made up. A perfect for instance:

Aquila Kill Team

  • 1 unit of Veterans
  • One or more choices in any combination from the following list:
  • Librarian
  • Terminators
  • Vanguard Veterans
  • Bikers

The above would form one unit (of no more than ten models excluding transports), they must stay as one unit (Librarian cannot leave, cannot combat squad) but they also benefit from the Aquilla doctrine ‘Non-vehicle models from this formation can re-roll any to wound rolls and armour penetration rolls of 1’. This is your base Kill Team that you can really customise to form specific battlefield functions.

You could…

Take one unit of vets with four Deathwatch Frag Canons, two terminators with Cyclone Missile Launchers and one Librarian with Divination (so that you get Prescience, re-roll to hit in combat and shooting). Then load said squad up in a Drop Pod, watch as first turn you can land next to a target and potentially dish out 8 strength 9 armour piercing 2 shots (if within 12”) from the Frag Canons and four strength 8 AP 3 missiles from the Cyclones; probably with a bucket load of re-rolls thanks to the Librarian and Aquilla Kill Team tactics. Keep the Terminators and Librarian in the middle of the squad so that the marines are the first to fall and you might even make combat with a couple of Power Fists and a Force Weapon. Sure it’s a few points but the damage output and flexibility of this squad is obscene, if used correctly with a bit of luck, and that’s just one squad!

The formation rules rack up pretty quickly, every type of Kill Team has their own variation and focus for what they are better at. The Malleus team has to have a couple of Thunder Hammers but you flat out get to re-roll to wound or armour penetration against your enemies’ heavy support (note that is still in combat or with your shooting as well).

Every Kill Team, barring the HQ and vehicle choices, must have a unit of Veterans as its minimum compulsory element. So if you are planning on playing the force using the detachment tree you would not be able to take a separate unit of Terminators on its own. However, you could take a regular army and still take most of the Kill Teams as their rules are included as standalone formations. It’s a minor point but it’s worth keeping in mind as effectively the detachment way of assembling a force means you will be taking a lot more Veteran Marines than you otherwise might.

I highly recommend having clear ways of telling your squads apart as it could be pretty easy to forget which team is which and this is an army where all your special rules can make a massive difference.

The army wide rule is Mission Tactics, which is basically more re-rolls in combat and shooting for your army. You pick it at the start of your first turn and can change it once in the battle (this can be increased), so really you should always be getting some kind of re-rolls for your units, making them damned accurate and devastating  at times.

Better get this out there quick though, no smash monster HQ for you, unless you get Endurance from Biomancy. There are no items of wargear or relics that give you Eternal Warrior, which I think is a good thing, for all this army has to offer it is not over powered. You pay the points and you get a highly flexible army were composition really matters. Every unit needs to over achieve and to do so you need to hit hard early on. Drop Pods and transports should be your go too.

Speaking of, the new flyer, the Corvus Blackstar:

Standard marine BS.

Armour value Front and Side 12, with 11 on the back (small arms mean squat to this bad boy), plus it has armoured ceramite. On top of that there’s an upgrade that lets you re-roll jink cover saves!

I don’t use Death from the skies but it has Pursuit 3, Agility 2 and is an Attack Flyer.

Armed with a Twin-Linked Assault Canon, Blackstar Cluster Launcher (Bomb 1 with either S4 AP6 Large Blast or Bomb 1 S5 AP 4 Blast, Ignores Cover) which you can switch for a Black star Rocket Launcher for 15 points (S6 AP4 Heavy D6 with Skyfire or S4 AP5 Heavy 1, Large Blast, Ignores Cover) and four Storm Strike Missiles.

Lastly, the Corvus has a transport capacity of twelve, can carry bikes and jump infantry is an assault vehicle and has multiple access points.

This flyer is obscene, base cost is 180 but it’s a solid all-rounder that should not go down quickly and it could be a really great way of getting your Vanguard Veterans in to combat if you play an assault heavy list. Alternatively the Corvus Blackstar is 70 points cheaper than a Land Raider Crusader, a Terminator squad with attached character/s could fit in it; or perhaps a Kill Team consisting of a Veteran squad, a couple Terminators and a character or two.

As I mentioned if army composition is an element of the game you enjoy, then this Codex really caters for you. It’s at its best when allied with regular Inquisiton (cheap versatile acolytes and access to the Chimera for medium strength ranged weapons) or the Imperial Guard, again for cheap infantry and more varied tanks. Of course you could use the Deathwatch on their own and there is plenty of scope for some mean lists.

A few last bits, as mentioned Vets can have several special or heavy weapons in one squad, this includes the new combi Heavy Bolter/Heavy Flamer (not one shot) and the awesome new Shotgun with three firing modes, crowd control at its finest! The Shotgun can be S4 AP- Assault 2 Shred, S4 AP 4 Assault 2, both ranged 16” or it can be S3 AP6 Assault 1… Template!

The Stalker Pattern Boltgun is a Heavy 2 AP5 SX Sniper weapon and you have special ammunition for almost all Bolt weaponry (excluding the Infernus Heavy Bolter) used by infantry.  I shan’t write them all down but you have your regular with some ignores cover, your poisoned 2+, an AP4 variant and even an AP3 variant that can get hot.

Ace new Xenophase Power Sword that’s AP3 and successful invulnerable saves against it must be re-rolled. Heavy Thunder Hammer that is strength 10! And to wound rolls of 6 have Instant Death!! They’re two handed and only Veterans and Vanguard Veterans can use them.

There are some cool relics, one stand out being the Beacon Angelis, basically at the start of the movement phase you may remove one friendly Deathwatch unit, then deep strike them next to the bearer once per game (bearing in mind you won’t scatter as you place the unit within 6” of the bearer).  This is an ace way of bringing a slow moving unit close to the enemy or providing fire support in overwhelming force. Probably best used on a character that has a decent bodyguard, Biomancy Librarian in a Terminator or Vanguard unit with Storm Shields, I am most definitely looking at you.

Right, that should do it for now. As you can tell I think this Codex is great, could there have been more in it, well yes but what it does it does nicely. We have ace new models (though bizarrely they are scaled up ever so slightly but noticeably when compared to regular Marines or Heresy Marines). The story of the Deathwatch is pretty cool and it is great to be able to field them as a viable force or ally on the table top. I know I will definitely have a force and this might spur me on to finish a few more of my true-scale Deathwatch as well; what with the Codex and ally system being so versatile I could easily have one of the Kill Teams in an Inquisition themed army. Decisions, decisions…

Have an ace one all.

Ed

P.S.

Genestealer Cult! Complete with multi-part Neophyte Cultists bedecked in Imperial mining gear, oh ho yes, I have plans for you my friends.

codex-genestealer-cult

I’ll more than likely be picking a copy up, so expect a review soon.

genestealer-neophytes

I have some -erherm- radical plans for these chaps. It’ll be great to see the community have at ’em.

Inquisitor, Stuff and a Deathwatch True-Scale Marine WIP

Evening all,

Things have been a bit mental recently, so the hobby has once more taken a back seat. As such, this is just a quick update on some work in progress. The Inquisitor warband is still a main priority, the whispers of Chaos are never far and I’ve been convinced (it didn’t take much) to do a Heresy Night Lords army.

Here are some of the models that I’ve been working on over the past week or so; some are glued, others are white tacked and comments are welcome.


  
  
  
  

  

I plan on picking up Deathwatch next week as the gene cult models look immense. The Deathwatch models are pretty cool, but as I started my true-scale versions ages ago the new plastics will likely be harvested for components. I may do a feature, it really depends on time.

Have an ace week all.

Ed

WIP: Inq28 – Sort Of

Good day all,

The next painted model for the warband will be up next weekend, along with his short story. He’s basically done but I need to give him a bit more work. Until then, I thought I would post a few models that I finished converting a little while back. I’ve altered the way I post WIP pictures. I think the shots I took of the models on the project box looked a bit naff, any thoughts on this are welcome (although I know it’s not the most thrilling of subject matters).

The squad leader of the =][= Alpha Legion Scions.

  
   

Which traitor colour scheme will he have?

  
 

Drummond, head of the household guard for a small Navis Nobilite House.

  
  

I normally stick to GW components however the legs are from Victoria Miniatures, an excellent Australia based company.

  

I sidelined my true-scale Deathwatch project some time ago but here’s the Dark Angel from the squad.

  

Here’s a scale comparison shot of the marine, it’s a lot darker than I intended as the marine is undercoated.

 
Right, well that’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post and had a great weekend.

Cheers all, have an ace one.

Ed

A Deathwatch Excerpt – The Mutant

Ja’kal’s eyes widened, yet his pupils contracted till they were two small dark orbs of hate, in a sea of white calm. His brow furrowed. The corner of his mouth twitched into a snarl.

“Mutant” Ja’kal said. The word had brought with it feelings of intense hatred. He swallowed the bile in his throat.

Barely restraining himself he inclined his helm to look down upon Gorval.

“This is to whom you owe your salvation?” his voice resonated throughout the sparsely furnished chamber.

Gorval kept quiet, not knowing what to say. How could he explain the desperate fight for survival the humans on board this vessel contended with, on a daily basis? The Emperor’s angels were beyond the peak of humanity. Its finest warriors. Gorval, Gorval was just a human, with all the terrifying limitations that entailed.

“My Lord” he quivered “I understand how this must look. Please let”

“Beware the alien, the heretic and the mutant”

“I underst” Ja’kal’s arm thrust toward the man. His hand clenched around his throat, halting Gorval in his blasphemy.

“You seek to claim that your salvation lay in the hands of a mutant, just look at him” Ja’kal’s voice bellowed through his vox grille. He turned to look at the mutated navigator. Gorval had described him as a once noble man of Terran heritage. That the years, had left him less than what he was; yet it was he, this broken man that they turned to in their time of need. His lenses refocused as he studied this, this thing.

The creatures robes had been a pale blue laced with white embroidery. Now they were stained a muddy brown. The once fine stitch work was frayed. The creatures left hand was an unhealthy pale blue lined with purple veins. The nails of his hand were dark and sharp. It rested just above the nape of his right neck. The index finger would trace a light red line across the skin of his throat. His hand would tremble; then the finger once more traced the scarred line. Ja’kals gaze continued upwards. Revulsion swept over him as he focussed on the most abominable part of this creature. Where once there had been one neck, a second had sprouted like a weed from his right collar. The face, gaunt; hard lines extenuated the cheek bones. His nose was off centre and looked like it had been broken, recently. His eyes seemed to sink into his face, darkness rimmed them. They were bloodshot and wide with desperation. The other head, his first, was starkly different, yet mirrored the gaunt aberration that sprouted from his collar; Strong and full of vitality. Its pale skin was taught, lined with purple veins and completely bald. Its eyes were black pools, the pupils completely dilated. They stared; they seemed to take in the Astartes stood before it, in an appraising manner. Above those eyes was a hairless brow that had a metal plate bolted, where the Navigators third eye should have been.