Guest Tactica: Grey Knights in a Post FAQ World

Harry brings us a guest tactica about Grey Knights in this new post FAQ world, and the tricks and tips that have worked for him. Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles.

So, with the newest rounds of FAQs many players have declared that grey knights are now unplayable or unusable. I am here today to tell you why that isn’t true and offer some suggestions for how to use Grey Knights in light of all the new beta rule changes.

The biggest source of controversy in this newest FAQ is the beta rules on deep striking and tactical reserves. Under the new tactical reserves beta rule, half of your units and half of your power level must be deployed on the field at the start of the game. This means that many old grey knight lists that started in reserve don’t function anymore.  While this may make list building more difficult it is still possible for most Grey Knight deep-strikers to function as before, if players make a few changes to what units they bring.

The Grey Knight Codex has a few good units that can start on the board to fulfill your PL limit and can operate without deep-striking. In my experience the typical 2000 point Grey Knight list has between 100-120 power level depending on what detachments you take. While allies can still help Grey Knights, the changes to first turn alpha strikes means guard screens are not as necessary as they used to be. So, for Grey Knight players it’s important to think of units that can survive the first turn and meet the rest of the army when it deep-strikes in turn two or three.

One unit that immediately comes to mind is the Purgation Squad. This unit is the Grey Knight version of the “Devastator Squad” and has the option to swap their weapon with one of the three Grey Knight heavy weapons. These include the incinerator (Heavy D6 S6 AP-1 D1) psilencer (Heavy 6 S4 AP0 D d3) and psycannon (Heavy 4 S7 AP-1 D1). In my experience the psilencers are easily the best option. A psilencer only costs two points more than a regular storm bolter meaning that a squad with four of them is relatively cheap. For such a low cost they put out a strong amount of firepower with a squad of five shooting 24 S4 D3 damage shots. This can be further buffed by stratagems like Psychic Onslaught which adds one to the strength and subtracts one from the AP of the weapon. While strength 4 its own isn’t spectacular, the D3 damage means this gun excels at killing medium infantry like Biovores, Primarus Marines, Terminators, or other two wound models.

Purgation Squads also gain access to an excellent physic power through Astral Aim. With this power the purgation squad can ignore line of sight and gains ignore cover. This means that they can hid behind a wall or on the bottom floor of a ruin and threaten multiple units that would otherwise be un-targetable. This power is very easy to cast as well with a value of 5. If you bring these units in a pure grey knight detachment you gain access to Brotherhood of Psykers which gives this unit +1 to their Psychic Test. With this rule the power becomes very reliable and the unit can hid behind line of sight blocking terrain while they shoot. A unit of five of these has a power level of 7 and taking two units will give your list some much needed shooting on a unit that can hold the backfield fairly well.

Another effective unit that has to start on the board are the Grey Knight Fliers. My two favorites are the Stormraven and Stormhawk Interceptor. While many imperial lists first featured Stormravens after the changes to chapter approved you don’t see them as often. They still remain an effective source of firepower and a good unit to start on the board to fulfill the power level requirements. I find keeping them with their default weapon and adding the two hurricane bolters allows them to put out a lot of shots while not being too expensive. A Stormraven can put out 24 bolters shots, 6 heavy bolter shots, 12 assault cannon shots and two stormstrike missiles. This is a great amount of fire power that can easily be buffed by the Psybolt ammunition stratagem to further increase its damage output. I’ve seen a lot of Grey Knight players worry that screens can block their movement after turn 1 and deny their deep strikes later in the game. The Stormraven is a great solution to clear out space to drop and allow more powerful Grey Knight Units to drop in. With a power level of 15 it is very useful to hold down the board until your heavy hitters can arrive.

The Stormraven is not the only useful flyer that Grey Knights can bring. If the high points cost of the Stormraven is too much for your list look instead to the Stormhawk Interceptor. Again, this flyer has a surprising amount of shots and can be kitted out for either anti infantry with a twin assault cannon and two heavy bolters, or anti vehicle with a las-talon and typhoon missile launcher. I prefer the anti-infantry option as I find it is effective at harassing larger units and useful to keeping the cost down. This flyer is also surprising survivable as it is both T7 and the ability to re-rolls saves of 1 through its Infernum Halo Launcher. While it lacks the power of the machine spirt that the storm raven has it gains 1 to hit when targeting models that can fly. There are a surprising number of units with fly in the game and the Stormhawk can prove an effective alternative for generals who don’t like the Stormraven or want some more firepower. With a power level of ten it’s a great unit to start on the board.

While other writers on Frontline like SaltyJohn have already discussed how useful Strike Squads are they remain a powerful option that I believe have gotten better with the newest changes. First with the exception made for their smite, they know retain a powerful ability to put some wounds on units before they charge or shoot. A standard strike squad is 7 PL and if taken in a Grey Knight Battalion they provide three units and 21 PL that can be deployed rather than need to deep-strike. The best way to kit them out in my experience is falchions for the extra attack and a psilencer so that they get some more shooting offense. All around this is a unit that can use physic powers, shoot, and charge pretty well and while they won’t win you a game on their own they are a very effective unit.

Another great place to put units on the board and keep your infantry safe from more shooting is Grey Knight Razorbacks. Each razorback is 5 PL and function well to provide some light shooting for your army while also keeping your troop squads safe. While rhinos could also work, I would not advise taking Grey Knight infantry units in groups larger than six and think the extra dakka makes the razorbacks better. I find that advancing the razorbacks on the first turn to put you in position is a great way to set up a turn two beta strike once your forces get in reserve. With a starting movement of 12 razorbacks really help you put your infantry units where you want them and help protect against strong shooting alpha strikes. A razorback with assault cannons can put out a decent amount of fire power and when backed up by a re-roll aura from Draigo or a Grandmaster can help supplement the rest of your forces.

The last unit I want to focus on is one you rarely see, the Grey Knight Doomglaive Pattern Dreadnought. This unit is found in the Forgeworld Adeptus Astartes Index and is easy to forget about since its one of three units that Grey Knights have access to. On face value it’s just a standard venerable dreadnought with some different war gear, but there are a few special Grey Knight rules that help it be more competitive. First, it’s ranged weapon is fixed at a heavy psycannon, but that remains a pretty potent weapon. With six shots at a S7 Ap-1 and D2 profile it has the ability to soften up some targets before it charges or after it smites them. Its close combat weapon is also unique as rather than have the standard dreadnaught weapon it has a Nemesis Doomglaive which is S+3 Ap-3 D D6. This gives it a much higher damage output in combat and can catch some opponents off guard who are expecting a more typical dreadnaught damage output. In addition, being a venerable dreadnaught, it has a WS/BS of 2+ and the ability to ignore wounds on a 6. While it suffers from the same problem as all dreadnaughts, mobility, it has access to the gate of infinity power to allow it to redeploy and deep strike. This allows it to join the majority of your forces on turn 2 when they deep strike and avoid having to slowly walk up the board. While not the most powerful unit in the game its better than many other space marine dreadnaught and is a fun fairly efficient unit to add to your list. With a PL of 9 it can also start on the board to allow your bigger units to stay in reserve.

While there are obviously some other units that can start on the board and function very well, Interceptors are another great unit, these units are some good alternatives for the guard units so many Grey Knight Lists have had before.

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4 years ago

It seems criminal, in the wake of the FAQ, to completely ignore Interceptor Squads. For a 20pt tax above what you pay for a basic Strike Squad, Interceptors can not only start on the board (alleviating any potential problems with PL or unit count on the table) but can still essentially “deep strike” turn 1 by use of their Shunt move. Combined with Gate of Infinity to bring another unit forward (an HQ or Paladin blob, in all likelihood) this allows you to push a pretty dangerous turn 1 onto the opponent.

One squad of Purgators to hide out of LOS and use Astral Aim is definitely a reasonable plan (probably with six bodies, as that is a PL14 unit right there and has an extra ablative wound), but GK do best when they are being aggressive and controlling midfield, and a list that is heavy on most of the units talked about in the article really won’t fill that job particularly well.

4 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

Hey abusepuppy thanks for the comment. I totally agree with you that interceptor squads are a real gem thanks to their ability to start on the table and deep strike. I only mentioned them briefly because I feel that its fairly obvious how good they are. It would be easy to dedicate a whole article to them since they have so many options with their shunt move. I like strike squads for unlocking battalions since terminators are kinda over-costed, but interceptor squads are also a great choice.

I feel that after the FAQ you have to take some units that can’t control midfield as well just so you have enough units to allow your heavy hitters to deep-strike. I feel that both flyers can be played pretty aggressively though since they have to move to get the most of their abilities. Also good point on the 6 man purgation squad definitely a good option to get more PL on the table.

Petey Pab
4 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

I agree here, interceptors should be the go-to unit for starting on the board for Grey Knights. Purgation squads don’t have a lot of range, and can easily be focused out and killed. I don’t think they should ever start on the board.

Other than that I agree with what you said in the article. Grey Knights still have a place, and really are still as competitive as they were 3 months ago.

4 years ago
Reply to  Petey Pab

So by as good as they were, you mean not good outside of gmdk and strike squads. The codex is too inefficient, has lackluster stratagems and has bad relics. Screens will still be prevalent and gk don’t have the bodies or units to hold the midfield against anything with indirect or mass fire, especially if you lack terrain. They will still badly suffer to smite, even with the nerf. At best they are a splash codex. They are supposed to be the most elite, best equipped chapter, and yet they have the most limited options. Massed storm bottlers and two or three dread knights will be an up hill battle -at best- against nids, eldar, Dark Eldar, chaos and guard. Getting tiny smite back doesn’t offset how limited their book is.

4 years ago

They should have the best equipment from all chapters according to lore. They even have own forgeworld and yet the psybolt ammunition and psychic onslaught stratagems cost 2 CP. Pathetic. Every squad should use psybolt ammunition only. They should have a infantry wide rule psybolt ammunition for the +1 strenght and -1 AP.

Same with the super weak psy- weapons. Short range, weak AP, overpriced and if this is not enough they are also heavy weapons with no special rule.

4 years ago

Good tips. Interceptors, a dreadknight, and something else gating forward is still definitely a nasty alpha strike. 2 six-man strike squads sitting inside a stormraven is 43 power level on the board with one deployment.

That just highlights the main absurdity with using power level, though. One extra body doubles a squad’s PL.

4 years ago

Yeah, my biggest complaints about them are: strategm costs, relics available, warlord traits, psycannons have 4 shots (should be 6), incinerators are too expensive, and not enough guns receive psybolts (assault cannon and autocannons).

4 years ago
Reply to  Smotejob

The stratagem costs are actually on-par or lower than those of other armies- for example, the GK version of Only In Death Does Duty End is 1CP (rather than the 2CP that other Space Marines pay for it.) Likewise, I think it’s fair to argue that GK get a solid selection of relics- the armor, hammer, and halberd are all good choices and available to a large number of HQs.

Their real problems lie more in unit selection (the codex functionally consists of about five or six units, of which perhaps two or three are usable), pricing on units/upgrades, and lackluster wargear (the Psycannon is garbage, the Incinerator mixes poorly with their playstyle.)

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