Ascension Day has come, and my Genestealer Cults army has a brand new codex to ponder over! Or, as is usually the case for me, to be intimidated and confused by! I don’t know why, but I was forever confused by the options available to GSC during 8th edition, to the point where I only played with the army once, and I think I made a bit of a hash of things then, too. With a new book comes a lot of simplification, although there are plenty of other new rules to mull over – so let’s dive in!
I’ve been painting up my guys now for a few months – back in the last edition, I had something like 1200 points of the guys painted up. Well, out of this, I’ve assembled a 1000 point list that I had intended to use for a game this week, but feeling under the weather (not covid!) has put those plans back for the time being!
The core of the battalion is, of course, 30 Neophyte Hybrids and the Broodcoven, along with some of the chosen few in the shape of the Hybrid Metamorphs, then a quartet of the new support characters. In theory, I was thinking this would be a fairly straightforward list with which to try out the new rules, but I guess my first game with it will show! An Incursion Battalion gains me 6CP to start out, and I’m using one of them already on the Leaders of the Cult stratagem, which allows me to choose warlord traits for the three HQs.
My Cult is that of the Bladed Cog – to be honest, I’m sticking with this one for the time being, but I haven’t really checked out any of the others in the new book yet. Bladed Cog is my colour scheme, and has been with me since I started on my Genestealer Cult journey back in 7th edition, so to start out with, I’m staying with it. This gives me an army-wide 6+ invuln save, increases the range of ranged weapons by 3”, and allows each unit to reroll one wound roll when either shooting or fighting. There are so many rerolls in this army now, though, that it’s going to be difficult to keep track…
The Primus has the Mark of the Clawed Omnissiah relic, which allows him to do mortal wounds to nearby units at the start of the fight phase, as well as giving a 4+ invuln. The Magus and the Patriarch each know two psychic powers, and can attempt to cast two powers each turn, which is pretty big. The Magus has Psionic Blast and Psychic Stimulus, while the Patriarch has Might from Beyond and Mental Onslaught. I envisage the Magus with a bodyguard of Neophytes, while the Patriarch will be getting stuck in to the fight, alongside the Primus and Metamorphs.
The new rule for these guys is Crossfire, which most of the army has. A unit with Crossfire, if it either hits with 5 or more attacks, or hits with an attack that deals more than 1 damage, can give its target unit a Crossfire marker. Why? Well, when you target a unit with a Crossfire marker, you get +1 to hit; if the unit is also classed as Exposed, you get +1 to wound, and if the target unit has a marker, is Exposed, and you’re within 12” of it, that unit gets no cover save. What does Exposed mean? If you can draw a line between two of your units that have Crossfire, with said line going over one model from the target unit, it is said to be Exposed. I like it, it feels somewhat thematic, but it doesn’t feel huge or broken, but should come into play during the game. I feel like it might be more beneficial with multiple small units of, say, Neophytes, though equally you need those 5 attacks to hit, so a big unit won’t go amiss. There’s an interesting balance, I think.
However, the Nexos can just give an enemy unit a marker during the Command Phase, which could be quite powerful. If you really want some bonuses there, it could be great to just dump that on there straightaway. Indeed, given the way Command Points have changed since 8th, the Nexos has changed significantly. He also has the ability to extend auras in an interesting way – if you position, say, a Primus within 6” of the Nexos, he can pick any CORE unit on the battlefield to be treated as within range of the Primus’ aura abilities. Nice, huh?
The Clamavus has also gotten quite fancy in the new edition, with effects that buff friendly CORE units within 12” of him (allowing them to shoot and still perform actions, or auto-pass combat attrition tests), and to adversely affect enemy units in the morale phase. He’s also kept his deny bubble of 12”, which I think is quite nice.
Don’t get me wrong, this army – well, this list, at least! – isn’t massively broken. Indeed, I was quite dismayed when I first read through the book at just how much has been taken out from last edition. My cherished ideas for the Metamorph bomb have all been struck out, as there are now very few ways to increase the number of attacks a unit can do. Metamorphs have been simplified so that they simply have “mutations”, there’s no claw/talon/whip distinction. Rather than the glorious 30-odd attacks, or whatever it was I thought I could generate, we’re maxed at 21 when blessed by Might from Beyond. Though I suppose there are so many ways to reroll these attacks, it’s not worth worrying over!
Of course, there will be plenty of ways to build out from this, and I think I’ve got at least another group of Neophytes painted already! I think it would be good to have two big blobs of Neophytes for Crossfire, and I’ve been thinking about 20-man units for a while, so watch this space on how that develops! As regards the bikers, though, I think I need to play with the army before I go any further there!
Overall, though, I think the Codex does look quite good. A lot has been removed from the last book, which made me feel a bit adrift when I first started to look through it. I wouldn’t say I was an expert with the army of course – far from it – but I was beginning to understand some key combos and stuff, and so much of that has just been torn out now. But there seems to have been a lot more added in, a lot of tweaks overall, and I think it’s going to take some time to get used to, but I am excited to see what 9th edition has to offer the Cult. There seems to be a lot of really fluffy, cool things that we can do now, which on paper looks like it should allow for some really nice games!
Interestingly, Brood Brothers units have all been taken out of the Codex. So, no Cult Chimeras, no Cult Leman Russ, the Fragdrill has gone (I think the model has also been discontinued?) and we now have something more like a pure Cults book. Which is good, I think. A lot of Cult armies that I’ve seen have got so much Guard in them, between the Cult stuff from previous Codexes, and then allied detachments, that they have pretty much killed the feel of the Cult. Now, a Genestealer Cult detachment is going to be entirely Genestealer Cult models.
Oh, and Genestealers themselves now get Cult Creeds, so that’s a big one!
This is undoubtedly going to be simply the first blog of many where I get to play with my totally ordinary, totally normal mining guys, so do stay tuned for more!