Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Stratagems

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Stratagems in the Genestealer Cults codex. For more review and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


Here is the rating systems I will be using in the review:

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • EfficientThis is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combined up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • SituationalThis is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

Obviously, most stratagems are Situational as you need specific things to happen to be able to use them. However, this rating does not refer to that, but rather that you will rarely be using the stratagem, even when the right conditions come up to allow you to use it.

Clandestine Goals (1CP)– If the mission you are playing uses Tactical Objectives, you can keep your objectives secret from your opponent until they are scored.

Competitve. This is similar to the Dark Angels stratagem allowing you to keep the cards drawn a secret. I’m a big fan of maelstrom games and this is a huge boost, keeping your opponent guessing as to what you are trying to achieve each turn. I will probably use this one in many of my games. Obviously of little use when using ITC missions.


Lurk in the Shadows (2CP)– Play at the start of your opponent’s shooting phase on an Infantry unit. Until the end of the phase, enemy units cannot shoot the unit unless they are the closest visible target.

Competitive. A strong stratagem to help keep an infantry safe from enemy firepower. I can see this being of use if you have a unit holding an objective in cover to stop your opponent from shooting them off of it to stop you from scoring points. Also good for a Lascannon Heavy Weapons squad sitting back in cover to help keep your anti-tank firepower safer. A strong stratagem in the right circumstances.


They Came From Below (1CP)– Use before revealing a Cult Ambush marker. Up to 3 units (excluding vehicles) from your army can be removed from the battlefield and set up underground as described in Cult Ambush. Can only be used once.

Competitive. A strong stratagem for putting more of your units in reserve after deployment. This allows you to get selected units in a better position if you have not placed the ambush markers well, or your opponent has gone for a refused flank. Also, would allow you to pull a refused flank, getting enemy units out of position before the game starts. Also great for circumventing the reserve limits, allowing you to put over 50% of your army’s points total in reserves after deployment.


Broodcoven (1CP)– Used if your warlord is a Patriarch. This allows you to select one Magus and one Primus in the army and give them warlord traits (all three must be different).

Competitive. A nice bargain for 1CP, as Genestealer Cults have some useful warlord traits that they can access. For example, you can increase the range on any aura abilites by 3″. This would be useful on the Primus, giving him a 9″ bubble that gives units +1 to hit in the Fight phase. Works very well with the Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor warlord trait, giving you bonus command points and a free re-roll, effectively giving you this stratagem for free.

Devoted Crew (1CP)– Use on a Genestealer Cults vehicle. For that turn, use the top row of the damage table when determining how many wounds the model has left.

Situational. A nice stratagem for boosting the combat effectiveness of a vehicle for a single turn, either allowing the vehicle to move at full rate and/or fire at full effectiveness. Very useful on a damaged Cult Leman Russ, allowing it to fire at full BS when you use the stratagem. Great if your opponent gets the first turn and is able to severely damage it, you can use the stratagem to get one turn of good firepower from the unit. Would be more powerful if the Genestealer Cult vehicles had access to stronger firepower or buffs that the Astra Militarum can access.


Monstrous Vigour (2CP)– Use at the start of the turn. An Aberrant unit from the army adds 1 to Bestial Vigour rolls.

Efficient. This will give the unit a 4+ save against any wounds caused in most situations. This is a nice bonus of the Aberrants, as they already reduced the damage of weapons that wound them by 1. Nice for the Abominant as well to help keep it alive for longer.


Meticulous Uprising (1CP)– Use before you reveal an ambush marker. You can move three ambush markers up to 12″, as long as they stay in your deployment zone and at least 9″ from an enemy model.

Efficient. Along with They Came From Below, this gives you more tricks to play with the Cult Ambush markers. This can give you some serious options to deal with your own deployment options or to react to your opponent’s deployment. I can see this being a useful choice. Remember, the unit can move and shoot as normal after being revealed, so this can potentially give you an extra 12″ move on a unit. It is a bit more limited as you cannot move outside of your deployment zone.


Hyper-Metabolism (1CP)– Use at the start of the movement phase, a Character heals D3 wounds.

Competitive. A very nice stratagem for keeping your characters alive. Along with the Character rules and the Unquestioning Loyalty ability, this should help keep your characters alive for even longer.


Rigged to Blow (1CP)– Use when a Genestealer Cults vehicle is destroyed that is equipped with Demolition charges. The vehicle automatically explodes.

Situational. The Demolition charges are a 10 pts upgrade for a vehicle, so not a big cost. They also give some close ranged firepower for a unit inside the vehicle, but I don’t find I get to use them all that often as the vehicle is either destroyed early or I want to get the unit out to charge the turn I am close enough to use the Charges. Automatic explosion is nice for damaging nearby enemy units, allowing you to do D3 mortal wounds. Useful when it comes off, but not going to happen too often.

The First Curse (1CP)– Use before the battle on a Purestrain Genestealer unit. Roll a D6. On a 1-2, each roll of a 6+ to wound in the fight phase causes an additional point of damage. On a 3-4, add 1 to advance and charge rolls. On a 5-6, the unit gains a 4+ armour save, but loses the Swift and Deadly rule (allowing them to advance and still charge). Can only be used once per battle.

Situational. I don’t actually think this one is all that impressive. I think the roll of 5 or 6 is the worst result, as you lose the ability to advance and still charge. Getting +1 to charge and advance is nice to give you a good bonus from getting into combat, and the volume of attacks makes the 6+ to wound result potentially damaging. Not sure I would use this all too often though.


Cult Reinforcements (1CP)– Use at the start of the movement phase. Select a Genestealer Cults unit from the army that is Troops. You can return up to D6 slain models from the unit, set up in coherency, at least 1″ from an enemy model.

Competitive. This is awesome, allowing you to bring more models back to reinforce a unit that is in combat or has suffered from enemy shooting. It only works on Troops, which does limit its effectiveness a bit, but Acolyte Hybrids are still pretty strong in combat, so a nice bonus. Also doesn’t cost you an reinforcement points.


Detonate Concealed Explosives (2CP)– Use at the start of the Shooting phase if there are any Genestealer Cults units on the battlefield. Select an enemy unit and roll a D6. Add 1 if the unit contains 10 or more models, subtract 1 if the unit is a character. On a roll of a 4+, the unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. On a 7+, it suffers D6 mortal wounds.

Situational. This is a nice stratagem to potentially do mortal wounds on an enemy unit. You still need to roll a 4+ to have an effect, so may need another CP to re-roll the result. Could be useful for sniping at enemy characters who only have a few wounds left if you can roll the 5+. There are no restrictions against the enemy unit being in combat or out of line of sight, so useful for also targeting these units.


Scanner Decoys (1CP)– Use when you set up a unit from Cult Ambush at the start of the game. You can place four ambush markers instead of one. When you have deployed all your units, these extra markers are removed with no effect. You can only use this once per game.

Competitive. A great stratagem for more deployment games. Getting an extra three markers to play with in Cult Ambush is great, giving you more deployment options for your army or more mind games to play with your opponent to keep them guessing where you are going to deploy. I can see this being a very useful stratagem to use in games.

A Perfect Ambush (3CP)– Use in the movement phase immediately after setting up an Infantry or Biker unit from the army with Cult Ambush. That unit can either move D6″ or shoot with all its ranged weapons as if it were the shooting phase.

Competitive. This used to be the result of a 5 on the Cult Ambush table. It is pretty expensive at 3CP, but could be worth it in most situations when bringing a powerful unit on from reserve. If you roll well on the D6, this could give you a pretty easy charge to make from reserve, especially when combined with the Creed giving you +1 to charges. It also allows you to shoot in your opponent’s turn, as you must reveal your Cult Ambush units at the end of your opponent’s movement phase. This could allow you to have a Lascannon Heavy Weapons Team target an enemy unit before they can fire, or can put up any psychic defences. I think this is a powerful stratagem, but the expensive cost will limit it being used too often.


Telepathic Summons (2CP)– Use at the start of the psychic phase. A Cult Psyker model cannot attempt to manifest any powers. Instead, roll 3D6. You can add a new Cult Infantry or Biker unit to your army if they have the Cult Ambush rule and the power level of the unit is equal to or less than the roll. Immediately set up the unit on the battlefield more than 9″ from enemy models.

Efficient. This is a pretty awesome ability to have, allowing you to take an additional unit. For reference, a unit of 5 Aberratns is 7 power, a unit of 10 Purestrain Genestealers is 8 power, a unit of 10  Acolyte Hybrids is 6 power. The only downside is needing spare reinforcement points in your list to make use of the stratagem. As a result of this, I see it of limited use in a competitive list.


Return to the Shadows (1CP)– Use at the end of the movement phase. One Infantry or Biker unit that has the Cult Ambush rule and is at least 3″ from an enemy unit can be removed from the battlefield (can’t be one that just arrived from reserves). They can deploy at the end of your next movement phase using the normal reserve rules.

Competitive. This can be useful if a powerful unit finds itself out of position, so you can re-deploy them to a more favourable position. It is also a nice way to keep a unit safe from your opponent’s army for the turn. For example, if your warlord was threatened by enemy shooting or combat, you could fall back and remove them from the battlefield, coming back in a more shielded position in the following turn.


Lying in Wait (2CP)– Use this stratagem when a unit is set up from Cult Ambush as reinforcements. The unit can be set up anywhere on the battlefield at least 3″ from an enemy unit, but cannot make a charge move this turn.

Competitive. This is a very powerful stratagem for getting in close to an enemy unit and maximise your short-ranged firepower output. For example, you could equip a unit with Hand Flamers and fire on an enemy unit, or launch some demolition charges at an enemy unit when used in combination with the stratagem below.

Extra Explosives (1CP)– Use when a Genestealer Cults unit shoots or fires overwatch. Up to 10 models may throw a grenade instead of only one model (only 5 of these may fire demolition charges).

Competitive. A very powerful stratagem when used in conjunction with Lying in Wait. An Acolyte Hybrid squad armed with Demolition charges could fire 5D6, S8, AP-3, D3 damage shots for a single turn. This could be a very strong combination for taking on an enemy vehicle or powerful unit in the shooting phase you arrive from reserve. There are also a number of ways to get bonuses to hit on an enemy unit, so this could be used in good combination with this, allowing you to hit on a 3+ or even on a 2+.


Grandsire’s Gifts (1CP/3CP)– This is the standard take 1 extra relic for 1CP or two extra relics for 3CP.

Competitive. The Genestealer Cults have access to some very strong relics (as you will see in a future review), so this could be useful to use every so often. I’d probably only go for the extra relic rather than 2, just to save command points.


A Plan Generations in the Making (3CP)– Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor only. Use this stratagem after your opponent has spent CPs to play a stratagem and roll a D6. On the roll of a 1, your opponent’s stratagem goes off as normal. On a 2-5, your opponent cannot use the stratagem, but get the CP back, on a roll of a 6, they cannot use the stratagem and lose the CP. Cannot be used to effect stratagems used before the battle or during deployment and can only be used if there are Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor models on the board. Can only be used once per game.

Competitive. Genestealer Cults get their own version of Agents of Vect to use. This is an incredibly powerful stratagem and has the potential to seriously disrupt your opponent’s plans. I’ve had Agents of Vect used against me many times to good effect, so am looking forward to being able to pull off those tricks myself. We also get it for the slightly cheaper cost of 3CP, although it can only be used once per game. I think this stratagem is one of the reasons that the Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor will be one of the more popular Creeds to be used, simply off the power of this stratagem.

Chilling Efficiency (2CP)
– Hivecult units only. Use after a Hivecult unit has attacked an enemy unit in the shooting phase and the attack resulted in the enemy unit losing one or more wounds. Add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made by other friendly Hivecult units that target the same enemy unit in this phase.

Efficient. A nice bonus stratagem for when you want to maximise the firepower damage against a single enemy unit. Useful when used in combination with Demolition charges and the Extra Explosives stratagem. However, I still don’t think Genestealer Cults are the strongest of firepower armies, so you may not get a lot of return for this stratagem. The biggest problem will be getting that first wound against the toughest enemy targets to be able to use the stratagem.


Overthrow the Oppressors (1CP)– Bladed Cog units only. Use when a Bladed Cog unit (excluding Genestealers) fights in the Fight phase. Until the end of the phase, each time an unmodified roll of a 6 to hit is made, the model can immediately make an additional attack with the same weapon (these hits cannot generate further attacks). These extra attacks can be made on a roll of a 5 or a 6 against Imperium units or on a roll of 4-6 against Adeptus Mechanicus units.

Situational, Efficient (against Imperium armies), Competitive (against Adeptus Mechanicus). This is an incredibly strong stratagem when facing an Imperial or Adeptus Mechanicus army. It’s a shame it is on an unmodified roll of a 6, as a Primus still gives +1 to hit in the Fight phase. With an army that can be as close combat powerful as the Genestealer Cults, this is insane against the Adeptus Mechanicus. Once more, the Purestrain Genestealers seem to have been unnecessarily left out. It’s almost like they don’t want you to take Genestealers in a Genestealer Cult army.

Drive-by Demolitions (1CP)– Use before a Rusted Claw Biker unit shoots in the shooting phase. Until the end of the phase, add 1 to the hit and wound rolls made for attacks with that unit’s grenade weapons. After this unit has resolved all of its shooting attacks, it can immediately made a move as if it were your movement phase, but cannot charge this turn.

Competitive. A useful stratagem for some hit and run antics with a unit armed with Demolition charges, or for some more accurate and wounding firepower. Also gives you a nice way to perform a double move to grab an objective or threaten an enemy position, moving the unit at least 28″ in a single turn. However, it cannot be used to move a Biker unit if you deployed from Cult Ambush that turn.


Vengeance for the Martyred (1CP)– Use when an enemy unit destroys a Pauper Princes character. For the remainder of the battle, add 1 to hit rolls made by friendly Pauper Princes models when targeting the enemy unit that destroyed the character.

Situational. A nice bonus to the rest of your army when one of your characters is killed. This works for hit rolls in the shooting and fight phase, so lots of opportunities to take advantage in your army.


Monstrous Bio-Horrors (3CP)– Use at the end of the fight phase. Select a Twisted Helix Aberrant unit from your army. They unit can immediately fight again. In addition, until the end of the turn, subtract 1 from the Leadership of enemy models when within 6″ of the unit.

Efficient. Aberrants can hit pretty hard in combat, more so with the +1S from the Twisted Helix creed. This is a powerful stratagem for them. It’s just a shame that it applies only to Aberrants from a single creed. I would have liked to see a generic 3CP fight again stratagem that most armies tend to get these days.


As you can see, the Genesteaeler Cults have access to a number of useful and powerful stratagems. They have several that can be used to manipulate the Cult Ambush, which should lead to some interesting tactical options that I am looking forward to trying out.


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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.

2 Responses to “Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Stratagems”

  1. Avatar
    Michael Hall May 3, 2019 2:06 am #

    That’s alot of good strats right there, really make me wish they would revisit the ones in the older books as many of them are useless and uninteresting by comparison.

    The strats that give extra models warlord traits could be interesting but when they combine it with a WL trait that just flat gives CP back it becomes a bit of a brainless autotake option. I believe the Drukarii have a very similar setup.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 3, 2019 7:29 am #

      The stratagem that gives CP is only one Cult Creed, but fortunately it is one of the better ones.
      Yeah, taking Broodcoven and the additional CP warlord trait is a bit of a no brainer. You essentially get an extra re-roll and warlord trait for free, as well as the chance of getting up to two more CP.

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