Getting somewhere with Genestealer Cults

Hey everybody!
So the Codex has been out for a couple of months now, and I’ve been finding it a bit difficult to work out just how I want to build my Genestealer Cults army. I mean, there’s a lot going on here, with it being a new army with a whole slew of new models to try and get my head around and see how they work with the units that I was somewhat familiar with from leafing through the Index and stuff.

While I’ve been leafing through other codices, it’s usually my game-plan to start with a single model, or a single idea that requires a couple of models, and build out from there. With the Cult, however, I’m still at something of a loss! I think the first problem I encounter is always wanting to include the Broodcoven in my list, simply because of the coolness factor. The three HQ choices of Patriarch, Primus and Magus are something of a holy trinity, though, and I do feel like they should be at the forefront of my list. With that in mind, then, I suppose it’s time to try and build a Cult!

The Patriarch is a melee monster with some real psychic punch, as well. The Psychic Phase is not my natural home – I’m a Necrons & Dark Eldar player, after all! – and I think this could also be part of my downfall with these guys. Knowing when and how to use the best of the Broodmind Discipline is going to be a steep learning curve for me, I feel. The Patriarch knows two psychic powers and can attempt to manifest one per turn, though any familiars he has with him can lend him the power to try for a second. That could be very useful, I feel. He’s also something of a commander for both the Cult at large (allowing friendly models to auto-pass Morale if they’re within 6″) as well as adding one to the hit rolls for friendly Genestealer models within 6″. With 6 attacks of his own, he’s going to be up close and personal with the Genestealers, rather than hanging back with a screen of chaff to protect him (though that chaff will be useful, regardless!)

The Magus has a new model, I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of that by now, but I still love the classic model that came out with the first batch of miniatures for the army. The Magus is actually quite underwhelming as an HQ choice, I feel – he can allow units within 6″ to deny psychic powers as if they were themselves psykers, but if you’re not playing a psychic-heavy enemy, this ability is fairly redundant. He does know two psychic powers however, and can also benefit from familiars allowing him to attempt another one per Psychic Phase, which is quite nice. I’m guessing that’s where his main focus will be, either through buffing friendly units or else denying Overwatch with Mass Hypnosis. There are some more offensive Psychic powers in the Broodmind Discipline, but I think I prefer to keep my Magus further back than they perhaps require him to be…

A lot of Genestealer Cult players have been a bit miffed – and rightly so – that Purestrain Genestealers do not gain a Cult Creed. Indeed, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that the Cult version of Genestealers are strictly worse than their Tyranid counterparts, though I don’t know a great deal about such things. At any rate, I feel like I can’t have a Genestealer Cults army without at least one squad of these little critters, and they do have the unique Stratagem that gives them a random buff that feels like it may go some way to compensating for the lack of a Cult Creed.

Speaking of which, I think I should probably talk about that for a moment, as well. All of my Genestealer Cults units painted so far have been in the colour scheme of The Bladed Cog, which gives an improved invuln save, and negates the penalty for Infantry units moving and firing heavy weapons. Which is alright, but given my thoughts of going heavily into melee, I’m wondering if The Pauper Princes might not be a better choice, giving re-rolls to hit rolls for melee weapons on the charge. For now, I think I’m going to stick with my original plan, because so often with chapter tactics-type rules, I feel that you really need to play them to get a feel for how good they actually are.

I definitely want to include some Aberrants in the list. I’d been keeping away from these models for some reason – I think I had in my mind the idea of a relentless wave of cultists, much like my plans for Chaos. With 2 attacks each, hitting on 3s and the potential to be dishing out some serious damage, they look like a melee powerhouse. Their Bestial Vigour ability allows them to reduce the damage they receive, and also gives them a decent enough chance to shrug off wounds anyway.

It also gives me the reason I needed to buy the Biophagus, which is such a great looking model, but had firmly dropped off my radar because of the fact his only special ability is really to buff the unit.

The Primus is another useful HQ that will give +1 to hit in the Fight phase for units within 6″, as well as providing a useful buff for nearby units when they target a unit he has designated as the quarry. Very thematic, I like it!

When thinking about what to bring as a bodyguard for the Primus, I hear a lot of chatter about people using Acolyte Hybrids for their versatility. I’m not about to get all power-gamer and equip the whole squad with heavy rock cutters, or whatever the current meta has decided is the best weapon of the moment. Indeed, I’ve got a lot of Acolyte Hybrids from Deathwatch: Overkill that are bare-bones with autopistol and cult knife, and as a cheap troops choice, they’re pretty great for that!

Of course, a lot of Cult units are very squishy, with most of the hybrid Infantry being T3. This is perhaps where the mechanised portion of the list will come into play. I’ve had a Goliath Truck half-painted up for years, but I really want to add the Rockgrinder to the list, for that insane drilldozer blade! There are now some fairly good options for the Cult to get around the board, with the new bikes and the Ridgerunner. I’m thinking a lot of these things can be used to soak up Overwatch fire, which is always something of a concern for me with units like this. I do love the idea of mass-infantry, don’t get me wrong, and the thought of unstoppable waves of cultists just coming and coming at the enemy does have some appeal (I feel like I have enough miniatures that I could fairly well-replicate that idea, too!) but there are practical considerations to bear in mind!

Finally, I love the hilarity of the Tectonic Fragdrill, and would love to include it in the list. At 75 points, it should be able to find a home, and if for no other reason than it looks fantastic, I think I do need one in my life. As the centrepiece for the army, it really does look the part:

So I think I’ve been wittering on long enough now – I suppose I should actually share the list ideas that I’ve come up with!

This is something of an evolution of one of many, many attempts to make a Genestealer Cults list that I have been through so far this year! At 1500 points, I didn’t have the room for a Fragdrill, instead opting to go for more customisation on the Neophytes and take a second squad of Atalan Jackals to provide me with an Outrider detachment. While I do have four detachments in this list, I think I’m really only allowed to have three, and so there will be a number of things shifted into the main Battalion detachment, with then the Vanguard and Outrider providing the additional benefits.

While I was particularly excited about pretty much everything prior to the release, I actually ended up with just two of the new character models and a box of Atalan Jackals. These bikers really impressed me with how they can be customised, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to include them in the army from the off. Well, that soon went by the wayside! I’ve grown to love their dirt-bike aesthetic, and I think they’ll be really useful for harassing the enemy with their 14″ movement, as well as potentially tanking Overwatch as mentioned above.

It might just be me, but there’s almost a Wild West vibe that comes off these guys, as well. The name, plus the quadbike Wolfquad they use, as well as the tomahawk-wielding guy in the image above… it puts me in mind of prospectors out in the deserts, which I suppose is what the intention is – the Codex talks of these bikers using the cover of searching out new seams of ore in order to further the infestation of the Cult.

All gaming considerations aside, I think I am really in love with the Genestealer Cults as a faction, for the simple reason of their flavour being some of the strongest we’ve yet seen for any army in 40k. The idea of a band of everyday chumps forming a revolution against the Empire is terrific, and when paired with the idea of the Genestealer Cults preparing the way for the Tyranid invasion, I think it really leads to some of the best storytelling in the game. The new Elites choices that we’ve seen, from the vox-hacking Clamavus to the tactician Nexos, bring to life some of these fantastic elements from the army and it’s in-universe methods. All of the new models fit in seamlessly with the already-established mining aesthetic from the first releases back in the day, giving us one of the best, most fully-fleshed-out forces in the game right now.

I can’t wait to get started painting more of these guys!!

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