Tuesday, 8 August 2017

2000pt Genestealer Cult list - your input requested

Morning all! today's post is something slightly different on the blog. For a while now I've had a desire to put together a genestealer cult force, going to the lengths of picking up some characters and models for it, though I've since sold some of those to a mate who was in search of some additions to his own army. The release of the Primaris Marines saw me take a bit of a side-step for a while, and with commission work and my own dusk knights this army has taken a bit of a back seat.

Now that I'm settled into 8th edition however, I'm looking to expand my army options once more, since at the moment I'm basically stuck with marines, or marines. Don't get me wrong, I'm a staunch Astartes fan at heart, but I also like a bit of variety. First of those on my list is the Genestealer Cult. I'd got all sorts of plans prior to 8th edition hitting, and actually my first list I wrote having seen the indices was for the Cult, but I've learned a lot since then and I would say that list would be appallingly bad now. So here's my 3rd recent (4th overall) attempt at a GSC list, set at 2000pts. What I would like would be for those of you experienced in using the cult and having played some games with/against them in 8th to give me a few pointers before I start committing to buying stuff!

First things first then, what's the overall strategy? This was a learning point for me, as I think my first lists had waaaay too much ranged stuff in there - I was still trying to write a list with a solid firebase with assault elements sprinkled in as my marines use, whereas now I think I need far more to look at that swarm being the key element with long range fire as the icing on the cake - the ranged shooting for the cult seems neither sufficient in quantity nor quality to form the basis of a strategy.

Second point was when I started looking at detachments. My marine lists have all worked off the basic battalion and added in other detachments as available to squeeze in those extra command points. What I then realised is that with the relatively cheap cost of a lot of the cult units, I might be able to fit everything I wanted into a brigade to notch the list up to 12 command points. This would help massively once the new codex arrives when I imagine we'll see many more stratagems added to the army. What that would mean however would be a certain element of MSU build strategy to some of the units.

So, having decided to try and build a brigade, I scribbled out all the choices I'd like/would need. Bear with me here as this will be out of the traditional order you'd see an army listed.

Fast Attack

There's only two fast attack choices in the Index for the Genestealer Cult, and they're the two different types of Sentinels. They are 5pts different in cost, for an extra +1 save on the armoured version. That seemed a reasonable trade off against smaller arms fire to me as they are pretty lightweight - and it would still give me the option of making a save attempt against lascannons, which could easily take down a sentinel in one shot and are proving to be quite a popular weapon so far. Three individual sentinels would give me all the basic requirements of the detachment, the only question was what to arm them with. Initially I was looking at plasma cannons, conscious of the lower BS than I'm used to and wanting to get more shots in, however I saw that when overcharging (to get the damage value up) I'd be removing the whole model if I rolled a 1, instead of taking a mortal wound like some other vehicles do. That put me off, and whilst missile launchers would be good for flexibility, I figured I would be unlikely to need much anti-horde in the list, since that's exactly what I would be. I plumped for the lascannon in the end then, reasoning that if I was only going to be hitting stuff sporadically, I wanted to hurt it when the shots did land.

180pts down then and next up (because it's the next shortest part of the index) would be Heavy Support.

Heavy Support

Again this section of the codex only has two choices available, the Goliath Rockgrinder, and the Leman Russ, so I would need some blend of three of these two options.

So, I went back to my basic strategy for the army - focus on assault with a sprinkling of fire support. That would suggest taking a pair of rockgrinders, which not only can they transport a modest sized unit but are also pretty decent in assault themselves (6+D3 attacks on the charge at full strength, and the drilldozer blade seems pretty nasty, even if it does only hit on 5's). Those went onto my list then, and I took the cache of demolition charges for each to give it an added bit of close ranged punch if I needed it. These two would hopefully transport a couple of my combat units safely up the table, giving me an alternative to deploying everything by cult ambush. As for weapons, in both cases I switched the standard option out, taking a clearance incinerator on one, and a heavy seismic cannon on the other (the heavy mining laser didn't really entice me since these units would be moving and 1 shot hitting on 5+ didn't seem that great).

Next up was the big boy - the Leman Russ. You don't get all the weapon options for this in the genestealer cult list sadly, as I love the plasma variant, but looking at the various gun options and costs, I went with the standard battle cannon. I'd have plenty of command points to re-roll the number of shots if I needed to, and all the other weapon options seemed a bit too niche, too costly or relied too much on rolling a single hit. Where I did plump for that however was in the other supporting weapons on the tank - a lascannon and two multi meltas would give it enough nasty anti tank shots to keep most things away from me, whilst also being fairly certain of some of them hitting even if I moved. I do realise that there's a little hypocrisy there, turning down the vanquisher turret because it's a one-shot weapon to then take precisely that on the sponsons and hull mounting, but I think the battle cannon provides the best balance of quality vs quantity.

That was a bit of a more expensive section - 469pts. Still, with troops to come I was confident the options in that section were value enough to keep the overall cost down.

Next up for assessment though is the HQ section.


Another pretty simple section to be honest here, I would need 3 HQ choices and there were 4 options. Of all the choices I figured the Patriarch was a must, in both fluff and gameplay terms, as was the Magus. Their weapons are all stock with no options so no problem there, but I gave each a familiar just to increase their psychic potential and to give me a couple of sources of smite each turn. Next up then was the choice between taking the Primus or the Iconward. In the end, it was a pretty easy choice to be honest, the Primus grants a hit bonus aura and allows a poor roll on the cult ambush table to be re-rolled. That ability would be far more useful I felt that the Iconward's aura, so in went the Primus. 323pts for the HQ's, but short of dropping the Patriarch I couldn't really trim that section much.

Now the really big hitters of the genestealer cult list are in the elites section, so this would be another place I'd end up with a big cost, but that would really be unavoidable in an effective list.


First up in the elites section, was the genuine heavy hitters. Elsewhere in the list I have limited anti-vehicle stuff, and the Aberrants provide the perfect solution to this problem (though interestingly they don't seem to appear on the GW website at all now - have I missed something?) as they are S5 and can be armed with a power hammer, which doubles that and does a flat 3 damage. Originally I put 6 of these in my list (to fill one of the Rockgrinders) but that proved a little too costly unfortunately so I trimmed the unit down to 4 and only included 2 hammers - they would still be pretty darned effective up against most vehicles.

Next I skimmed over the hybrid metamorphs (well, I looked at their entry but couldn't really see why I'd take them in preference to the other options) and went straight for two big units of purestrain genestealers. Originally I went for two units of 20, but again due to points trimmed these down to 15 each. Now here's where I could do with people's views! The index states they are equipped with rending claws, but that any model may also take purestrain talons (which the errata confirms now cost 0pts). Now I'm reading that as the purestrain genestealer can then have rending claws and purestrain talons, splitting their attacks between the two options if they wish, and that costs no more than not having the talons at all - is everyone else reading it like this?

That means the elites section of my list comes in at 448pts - not bad, though it is trimmed of pretty much any fat I could find! I kept the genestealer units at 15 to give me a chance of getting their attack bonus for being over 10 when they get into combat.


Lastly then I looked at troops units. This would be where I'd really need to keep myself MSU to sneak under the points limit.

First up was three units of neophytes. These guys would be a combination of fodder (I'm not expecting their S3 weapons to do anything in games) and blocking units. I kept the unit size to 10 to keep the cost low, but I did max out on weapon options. 1 unit would take shotguns, 2 flamers and 2 seismic cannons to put out the maximum number of shots/hits I could, the second units would go with autoguns, 2 webbers and 2 heavy stubbers for mid-range support and the final unit would take lasguns, 2 grenade launchers and two would form a mortar team - these would be painted up using the cadians I already have magnetised to double as neophytes.

Next I threw in three units of acoltyes. Despite having a smaller minimum unit size these guys still cost more than the basic unit of neophytes, but the key thing for me here is the weapon options, as they can take some real nasties against heavier targets.

Each of the three units took a lash whip and bonesword for their leader, and I included 2 heavy rock drills, 2 heavy rock saws and 2 heavy rock cutters. Nominally these would be in separate units but could easily be mixed up together.

Overall that left my troops section at 561pts, giving me a grand total of 1999pts for the overall list.

So - have at it please! As I said at the start I've got no experience of playing with the cult, and whilst I sort of know how I'd like to do things, I'm certainly open to discussion of what elements in the list aren't likely to be effective and where it could be improved (and also, where have all the aberrants gone???)

Patriarch with familiar
Magus with familiar

4 Aberrants with 2 power hammers
15 Genestealers with purestrain talons
15 Genestealers with purestrain talons

10 Neophyte Hybrids with shotguns, 2 flamers and 2 seismic cannons
10 Neophyte Hybrids with autoguns, 2 webbers and 2 heavy stubbers
10 Neophyte Hybrids with lasguns, 2 grenade launchers and 1 mortar
5 Acolyte Hybrids with 2 heavy rock cutters, lash whip and bonesword
5 Acolyte Hybrids with 2 heavy rock drills, lash whip and bonesword
5 Acolyte Hybrids with 2 heavy rock saws, lash whip and bonesword

Fast attack
Armoured Sentinel, lascannon
Armoured Sentinel, lascannon
Armoured Sentinel, lascannon

Heavy Support
Leman Russ with battle cannon, lascannon, 2 multi meltas
Goliath Rockgrinder with demo charges, heavy seismic cannon
Goliath Rockgrinder with demo charges, clearance incinerator

Till next time,

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