Tuesday, 15 November 2016

List building - Genestealer Cult: The Kindred of Malebolgia


Greetings all - the mighty father Malebolgia welcomes you to our family. Let me introduce you to your new brothers and sisters...

Today's post is all about writing my Genestealer Cult list. Yesterday I went into detail on the background of the cult so today I figured it would be a good idea to list out my plans for a table-top collection.

I'll warn you now, I got a bit carried away, so it's pretty big, and could easily get much bigger when you then add in elements of guard that can be allied in and potentially also tyranids (resist, don't start another army!).

Fundamental Principles:

  1. My Genestealer Cult list is intended to be 'narrative style' rather than maxing out on tabletop competitive units. 
  2. The whole army is to be built using formations (see point 1), rather than the Combined Arms Detachment. ObSec be damned, I want special rules!
Core

Well as I like using the faction specific detachments, I needed a core formation, which leaves me with taking either the Brood Cycle or the Neophyte Cavalcade. The brood cycle is exactly what it sounds like, and basically involves taking some multiples of all the different types of units in the book (well not quite, but almost). It has some pretty nice bonuses, but quite frankly, it's also pretty big for a core formation, requiring a minimum of 7 squads and a character, and most of those squads appear in many of the other formations so whilst the bonuses are pretty good (WS/Ld boosts, FNP boosts within an extended distance of the iconward and Furious Charge) you are either taking lots of these units, or you're forgoing them elsewhere in order to take them here. For that reason (in part) I decided to go with a Neophyte Cavalcade instead as my Core choice.

The Neophyte Cavalcade is essentially a formation ripped from the forces of the pdf or guard by the cult, and requires a pair of neophyte squads in chimeras, alongside 1-2 units of sentinels and a leman russ squadron.

Wow, I honestly couldn't have asked for a formation that sits better within the elements I wanted to use from the Guard codex - I have plans for a guard army, and these guys would justify me beginning that army too (with the judicious use of magnets of course). This would be a great core force, with the bonus that all the vehicles in the formation are allowed to outflank, and the thought of all this stuff outflanking and causing havoc amongst an enemy's careful deployment made the malevolent part of my brain dispense some endorphins.

So, the Core Formation around which my army will be built is the following.

  • Neophyte Hybrid Squad Alpha
    • 1 Hybrid Leader with Autopistol and Close Combat Weapon
    • 9 Hybrids with Autoguns
    • 2 Hybrids with Flamers
    • Chimera with Heavy Flamer, Heavy Stubber
  • Neophyte Hybrid Squad Beta
    • 1 Hybrid Leader with Autopistol and Close Combat Weapon
    • 9 Hybrids with Autoguns
    • 2 Hybrids with Flamers
    • Chimera with Heavy Flamer, Heavy Stubber
  • Armoured Sentinel Squadron
    • 3 Armoured Sentinels with autocannons
  • Scout Sentinel Squadron
    • 3 Scout Sentinels with Multi Lasers
  • Leman Russ Squadron
    • 2 Leman Russ Exterminators with Exterminator Autocannons and Heavy Bolters
The basic principles behind which this formation operates are simple. The Neophyte Hybrid squads are simply there to take out infantry squads, doubling up on flamers to maximise hits and the heavy flamers of the Chimeras to back them up. In any army you need units that are able to put plenty of damage on enemy units, even if it's low quality damage. Ideally these will therefore either be deployed onto the field, probably quite far forward in my deployment zone to allow them to get to grips with the enemy at the earliest opportunity, or held back in reserve to arrive via outflank.

The Scout Sentinels get the Cult Ambush rule, and so can be placed later based on their deployment roll, and their multi lasers are nasty enough that they can cause a headache, particularly if they can get shot on enemy rear armour.

The Armoured Sentinels will also be kept back for outflanking purposes to put those autocannon shots where they're going to hurt the most (remember that the cult detachment allows me to add +1 to reserve rolls) whilst the Leman Russ Exterminators are more likely to be deployed on the table as the rock of my deployment. The only situation when that won't be the case is if there are a lot of enemy flyers, or melta in some way able to deep strike. In that case they'll outflank, in the first scenario so that any hits they do score on flyers will be in their rear armour, and in the second case to protect their vulnerable rear armour from close range melta hits as long as possible.

The combined weaponry of this formation also addresses as much of the potential targets I could face as a single formation really can, without putting lascannons on the sentinels at least! I can deal with hordes through the high rate of fire of every single weapon I've got, light and medium armour can be dealt with by my autocannons and multi lasers, whilst the leman russ give me as much of a chance against flyers as it's possible to get in this codex.

Command

Next up are the command elements of the force - I don't like going into battle without an obvious warlord and quite frankly the Genestealer Cult ones are too good to leave behind anyway.

There are two options once again in this category, the first of which being you can take any one of the four HQ units on their own with no special rules. See the second fundamental principle above for my take on that idea.

The second choice is The First Curse. This is a unit of Genestealers with a Patriarch. These aren't your normal run of the mill, spewed out of a Tyranid hive fleet Genestealers though, oh no. These are special.

They come with stealth, and a 5++ save as well as their normal 5+ armour (I'll come to why they get both in a minute) and 3 rending attacks each, but where the formation really shines is when they're combined with the Patriarch.

The combined unit gets a free upgrade, consisting of either an increased 4+ armour save (now do you see?), the poisoned rule in combat, the rage special rule, or preferred enemy. Combined with the furious charge rule from being joined by the Patriarch and this unit is capable of a truly scary number of serious attacks. If you upgrade the unit (and you probably should if you have the points) then the genestealers alone will kick out up to 120 attacks on the charge, which to illustrate just how dangerous this unit can be, is enough to take out an Imperial Knight on full HP before it gets to hit you back in combat, and that doesn't even include the Patriarch's attacks or those of his familiars.

As for extra special rules? Plenty. The Patriarch in the unit automatically passes look out sir rolls, even in a challenge so effectively this guy has 23 wounds, 20 of which don't forget come with an invulnerable save. Add to that he causes fear and is fearless, whilst also making friendly units within 12" of him fearless, and his own claws are not only rending but have the shred rule. at WS and I 7 this guy is no mug in combat, more so when you equip him with a pair of familiars for some extra attacks. Oh yes, and he's a psyker too, level 2 please for some tasty powers from either the cult's own discipline (which is pretty good), telepathy (oh yes, invisible genestealers) or biomancy (one of my favourite disciplines, and I think giving this unit FNP would be pretty bloody amazing!


So, those are my two key formations, and that brings my list up to 1215pts. That's quite substantial so The First Curse may not always see the light of day. What I then looked at however was which of the other formation I'd like to use on the table (the rule of cool - this whole army is built on what I want to use remember).

Auxiliary

Conveniently sized to fit right in with those two formations, my next stop on the list was a Demolition Claw.

This formation comes with three special rules. Tank Hunters (yay!), Extra explosives and Demolition Specialists. The first of those you should know the effect of, whilst the second allows me to ignore the one use only part of a demolition charge's (S8 AP2) rules on a 4+ when within 6" of a Rockgrinder from the formation. The third allows the scatter dice to be re-rolled. It's unclear at this point if it only applies when aboard a rockgrinder, but to be honest that's where my guys are most likely to be anyway.

The rule of cool applies to this formation far more than any other in my proposed army, the image of the three rockgrinders careering around the table with acolytes lobbing demolition charges from the back of it before screeching to a halt and pouring out to take a rock-saw to the armoured hatches of enemy.

I've gone for three units of Acolytes and three Rockgrinders. Each of the Acolyte units has demolition charges and two brings rock saws and the third has a rock drill (rule of cool!). The rock saws bring armourbane to the party for cracking any particularly stubborn vehicles/buildings whilst the rock drill instead makes a single S10 AP1 attack.

The Rockgrinders come equipped with their own weapons too, and I've gone for a pair of Heavy Seismic Cannons and a single Clearance Incinerator. The cannons act at short range as a three shot krak missile launcher, or a pair of heavy bolters at longer range, though any '6's to wound or penetrate armour are resolved at AP1! The incinerator is just a standard heavy flamer profile, but comes with the torrent special rule to conveniently allow a much greater effective range, and can therefore use that range to 'reach out and touch' any open topped vehicles who may have passengers that aren't quite so keen on fire.

Add into this the potential for the Rockgrinder themselves to ram other vehicles to destruction thanks to an extra D6 on the Strength of the hit, plus an extra notch on the damage table, and you have a unit that is very capable all around in terms of damaging enemy vehicles.


Now as you probably know I'm a model man as well as a fluff bunny, and the Genestealer Cult Primus is a model that gets those particular juices flowing. Now yes you can take them on their own but the Subterranean Uprising  formation allows a Primus to be included, and his bonus is exceedingly awesome!

This formation is made up of a selection of the various combat units that make up the Genestealer Cult roster. 1-3 Hybrid Metamorphs, 2-4 Acolyte Hybrids and 0-3 Aberrants. They all gain infiltrate (which means in the main detachment they get shrouded on the first turn). If they deploy by cult ambush, then they get to roll 2 dice and pick the result they want, whilst the Primus being attached to a unit increases that to 3 dice for that unit!

Now obviously that means that your chances of rolling the favoured result for these units goes from 1 in 6 to potentially 1 in 2 if the Primus accompanies them, which makes a huge difference in their effectiveness early on. The size variance of this formation is incredible too, from around 350pts for a decent equipped set of squads right through to 1700+ on its own. It would therefore be perfectly within the realm of possibility to field this formation as your entire army if you chose to, and it could certainly be equipped to deal with most targets if you did.

I've tried to hit the middle ground with it, conscious that I'd want to field it as an auxiliary formation alongside the Neophyte Cavalcade, Given how much I love the model and also its effect in this formation, I would certainly take the Primus, and I've equipped him with the Sword of the Void's Eye too to make him an even more effective performer. This gives him extra strength, and re-rolls of ones to hit and to wound in combat, and causing instant death on a 6. Oh yeah, and it's AP3 too, so anything short of a Terminator Squad equivalent (hellooo, what is your first curse formation for?) he should be able to handle, particularly when accompanied by one of the other formation units.

I went for two units of hybrid metamorphs therefore, identical in every way (if one of something is good, then two is better after all!) with a leader and cult icon to give them a boost to their weapon skill, then 5 metamorph claws and 5 metamorph talons. That should let them deal with most things, high initiative attacks to strip out some of the return hits, with the claws to do the brunt of the heavy lifting, wounding marine equivalents on 2's.

Added to that, I went with a pair of Acolyte Hybrid units, again with an identical layout including a leader, icon, and posh weapons for the leader to strike first. These guys would be my catch-all units, they have some shooting in case I need to thin units out a little first, but are cheaper than the metamorphs whilst still being effective assault troops (thank you rending!).

To round out the formation, and to give me some real heavy hitting, I included a unit of Aberrants, toting four of the heavy power hammers. That should let me deal with most things and if I can get hold of the right biomancy power then they become on of the toughest units in the codex.

Right, onto the last formation I wanted to build then, the Doting Throng. Don't snigger, it says Throng, not thong.

This is the home of the Magus, and boy what a home they've made for him, there's literally nothing they wouldn't do for this guy!

Technically you don't actually need a Magus in the formation, but if you are going to take one it makes sense to put him here. The formation benefits give the units zealot if they're within 12" of the Magus, and his unit get to reroll to hit in every round of combat. The final benefit is to allow a reroll of the psychic test if any blessings targeting its units fail to be cast.

Naturally I included a Magus in my formation, and boosted him up to level 2, then granted him The Crouchling to grant him an extra power (and give me choice in the psychic phase!)

This formation I wanted to be highly mobile, so with the exception of two units they all took dedicated Goliath transports. Of the two units that didn't, one took a missile launcher with flakk missiles (I love the missile launcher team kit) and 2 grenade launchers, whilst the second took a pair of mining lasers and 2 webbers. A bit of a quirky combo, but it's certainly a unit that could be a spanner in the works, particularly when combined with the right psychic power (the webber has an AP value equal to the target's strength).

On to the more mobile elements and I went for a pair of neophyte units with shotguns (RoC), a leader and a goliath, with a cult icon just in case they get caught in combat.

Finally then, two medium sized units of Acolyte Hybrids, 1 small enough to get the Magus onto their transport with them, whilst the other unit had an extra man. I didn't go with any quirky weapons on these units.

This would be a take all comers style formation, resulting when combined with the Neophyte Cavalcade in an army able to bring a large number of guns to bear, whilst being effective in combat when needed to go there. The Goliaths would also bring a formidable amount of firepower when joined together with the squads on board, who would be protected (partially) by the vehicle.

So there you have it. I do realise that adding that all up comes to a huge amount of points, and well done to anyone who read this far. I'm really looking forward to building up this army and will be starting with the neophyte cavalcade, mainly so that it can double up as the beginnings of my Imperial Guard army too.

Till next time,
TBE