Genestealer Cults Codex Review: HQ: Patriarch

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the head honcho of the Genestealer Cults army, the Patriarch. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Patriarch is a combat monster in the Genestealer Cults army, able to put out a significant amount of damage in the Fight phase against a range of opponents. He also provides some psychic support for the army, as well as providing some nice buffs for nearby units. However, he does also have some liabilities. Despite being primarily a combat character, the lack of a decent invulnerable save means he will quickly fall to other strong combat characters, such as a Smash Captain or equivalent. If you include a Patriarch in your army, he must be the warlord, so there may be issues with throwing him into the heart of the enemy army, where you will be likely be giving up Slay the Warlord if he is targeted.

I would rate the Patriarch as Competitive. He costs 125 pts base (with the option to add a couple of Familiars) He is one of the toughest melee HQ characters in the army, as well as providing some strong support for the rest of the army. Add in some great psychic powers and buffs from warlord traits, and he is a strong addition to the Genestealer Cults army.


  • Monstrous Rending Claws- S User, -3AP, D3 damage. You can re-roll failed to wound rolls for this weapon. Each time you made a wound roll of 6+, the hit is resolved with AP-6 and Damage 3.
  • May be accompanied by up to 2 Familiars (12 pts each).


  • Cult Ambush
  • Brood Telepathy- Add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made by <Cult> Genestealer units in the Fight Phase while they are within 6″.
  • Living Idol- <Cult> and Brood Brothers units automatically pass morale tests whilst they are within 6″.
  • Lightning Reflexes- 5+ invulnerable save.
  • Swift and Deadly- This unit can charge even if it Advanced during its turn.
  • Familiars- If accompanied by a Familiar, once per game at the end of the player’s psychic phase, you can manifest one additional  psychic power. Use the Patriarch’s toughness when rolling to wound for this unit, the familiar model is ignored for the purposes of morale and they have the Character keyword for the purposes of shooting attacks.
  • Psyker- Can attempt to manifest one psychic power and deny one psychic power. The Patriarch knows Smite and two powers from the Broodmind discipline.
  • Keywords- Tyranids, Genestealer Cults, <Cult>, Infantry, Character, Genestealer, Psyker, Patriarch.


The Patriarch is one of the toughest characters in the Genestealer Cults army. He has move 8″, which along with the ability to advance and charge, makes him fairly mobile on the tabletop, with the Cult Ambush allowing him to get into key position. He has WS2+, BS5+, S6, T5, 6 wounds, 6 attacks, Ld10, a 4+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable save.

Combat Monster

He is pretty much a combat character. With 6 attacks at S6 and his Monstrous Rending Claws, he will chew through most infantry and Bikers with ease. He may struggle a bit against tougher enemy units, but he will be wounding most vehicles and Monsters on a 5+, and the re-rolls to wound from the Monstrous Rending Claws means that you will be doing a fair bit of damage against such units in most cases, as well as having better odds of getting those 6+ to wound that make his attacks go through any armour and have flat 3 damage. He can actually do a surprising amount of damage against most common vehicles, especially if you can boost his strength to 7 or 8 (of which there are various means to do so in the codex).

The only thing that stymies the Patriarch in combat is any good form of invulnerable save. Any enemy unit with a 4+ invulnerable save or better will cause him serious problems. I’ve had the Patriarch bounce off Captains with Storm Shields or vehicles with good invulnerable saves more times than I care to count.

He also has a problem with durability against such targets. With T5 and 6 wounds, he is fairly durable to most small arms fire or melee against from standard infantry. However, with only a 4+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable, he will quickly fall to smash Captains with Thunder Hammers or their equivalents, who only need to wound him twice to take him out. He also benefits from the Unquestioning Loyalty special rule, allowing him to pass on wounds to nearby Genestealer Cult infantry models. Even though he does not specifically have this rule, the wording of Unquestioning Loyalty means that he can benefit from it, you just cannot pass wounds onto the Patriarch, though I have no idea why you would want to do this. Backed up with sufficient infantry, the Patriarch can shrug off a surprising amount of damage. In addition, his morale aura means that those squads he passes wounds on to are immune to the effects of morale.

The Patriarch is a beast in combat, but you have to pick his targets correctly. As mentioned above, he will chew through most units lacking a decent invulnerable save. He also gets +1 to hit on his WS2+, so your opponent will need to have at least -2 to hit on a unit in melee (if this is even possible) before he is inconvenienced in combat.

Army Buffs

The Patriarch provides a 6″ bubble making nearby Cult and Brood Brothers units immune to morale. This is a great buff to have in the army, especially if you are fielding large units in your force. Most Cult units have poor toughness and armour saves, so losses to enemy firepower are likely to be big. Combined with morale losses, your army can quickly evaporate if they don’t have some morale support. Unlike the forces of the Astra Militarum, there are fewer ways to mitigate morale losses in a Genestealer Cults army, so this ability is worth keeping in mind.

He also gives any nearby Genestealer units +1 to hit in combat. This is a big buffs for any Genestealers units, who can put out a ton of attacks and will be hitting on a 2+ with a Patriarch nearby. It does not apply to all Genestealer Cults units, only units of Purestrain Genestealers. A Primus is a better generic buffer of Genestealer Cults units in combat, be he is certainly not as tough as the Patriarch and has nowhere near the potential damage output.

Psychic Abilities

The Patriarch has the ability to cast and deny one power each turn. There are a number of useful powers that the Patriarch can take to help himself or the army as a whole.

Mental Onslaught is one of the best powers that the Patriarch can take. In summary, if cast, you and your opponent roll a D6 and add your Leadership value. If you roll higher than your opponent, the target takes a mortal wound and you roll off again, until the enemy model is slain, your opponent rolls a 6, or you fail to roll higher. With a Ld of 10, the Patriarch is in good position to do a number of mortal wounds against an enemy target with poorer leadership. There is no limit on the number of mortal wounds you can cause, so with some good rolling you can seriously damage or kill any enemy model that you target. This is great for sniping enemy characters or vehicles that the rest of your army may struggle with, though there is a chance your opponent can block the attack if they roll a 6. Add a nearby Clamavus to get +1 Ld to give you better odds of doing mortal wounds.

Mass Hypnosis is another great power for preventing enemy overwatch fire on your charging units. You can use this to shut down the firepower of an enemy unit before you charge in a unit of Genestealers.

Might From Beyond is also very strong on the Patriarch. Casting it on himself takes him up to S7 and 7 attacks, boosting his already impressive combat potential. It is also great on a large unit of Purestrain Genestealers, taking them up to S5 and 5 attacks each (if the unit is over 10 models). This creates a very powerful combat unit that will go through most enemy units with ease, thanks to the additional buffs of the Patriarch.

Taking a Familiar or two to accompany the Patriarch is also a nice bonus if you have the points to spare. Casting additional powers is a good boost, allowing you to use Smite or Psionic Blast to cause additional mortal wounds on an enemy unit. They also serve nicely as ablative wounds for the Patriarch, as well as giving a few extra attacks in combat. The Familiars are not removed from play when you use their ability, so you get to keep them around to give your Patriarch an extra couple of wounds after you have used them up.

Warlord Traits

The Patriarch does not gain the benefit of Cult Creeds unfortunately, but there are a number of warlord traits that can be of use to him.

In order to boost his durability, you can give him Shadow Stalker (-1 to hit) or Born Survivor (-1 damage from attacks on your warlord). Shadow Stalker is a solid trait for the Patriarch, meaning most Smash Captains will be hitting you on a 4+. This can reduce the number of attacks that can hit you and might help you survive a bit longer.

You can also take Alien Majesty to increase the range of your morale bubble to 9″, though I tend to prefer this on the Primus to increase his +1 to hit bubble. There are a number of Warlord Traits that can help buff nearby units, which can be of use to your army and Patriarch.

Biomorph Adaptation adds 1 to your Warlord’s strength and attacks. Paired with Might From Beyond, this takes you up to S8 and 8 attacks, making the Patriarch a strong option for taking on Imperial Knights, especially if they lack an invulnerable save in combat.


There are a number of Relics that are a big boost to the Patriarch as well.

Amulet of the Voidwyrm is a solid choice. Getting a 3+ armour save from enemy firepower is a pretty big boost for the Patriarch. However, the ability to shut down enemy overwatch is a very strong ability for the Patriarch to have. He can stop overwatch fire from an enemy unit if he makes the charge, allowing a unit of Genestealers or Acolyte Hybrids to come in and potentially do more damage in combat. Combined with Mass Hypnosis, you can potentially stop two enemy units from firing overwatch and messing up your assaults.

The Crouchling is also a nice Relic for the Patriarch. This allows you to take an additional power from the Broodmind Discipline and gives you +1 to cast such powers. This makes it useful for getting off key psychic powers each turn, such as Mental Onslaught.

Mark of the Clawed Omnissiah is also a great choice for the Patriarch. This gives him a 4+ invulnerable save, further boosting his durability against enemy models in combat. Combined with the Shadow Stalker warlord trait, this makes your Patriarch quite a tough prospect in combat.

Elixir of the Prime Specimen is also a great choice for the Patriarch, taking him up to toughness 6, 7 attacks and 7 wounds base. This gives him some added durability against S6 or S10 weaponry that he may be facing, as well as boosting his combat potential.


As stated above, the Patriarch is a powerful combat character and great for buffing units of Genestealers. However, there are some drawbacks as well. If you include a Patriarch in your army, he must be your Warlord (0r one of them if you are running multiple Patriarchs).

Ideally, you want to be getting the Patriarch into combat where he can do the most damage. He will go through most enemy units with ease, with only models with a good invulnerable save causing him any real problems. You will want to pick your targets carefully with him, so that you don’t give up Warlord too easily. If he is accompanying a unit of Purestrain Genestealers, and uses his psychic powers to full effect, there are very few units that can stand up to him.

However, this also makes him a key unit for enemy reprisals, so careful positioning can be useful to stop enemy firepower from targeting him too easily. A unit of Genestealers is also a key target for enemy firepower. With only a 5+ invulnerable save, they are surprisingly susceptible to enemy small arms fire, so any bodyguard can quickly melt to Bolter fire.

Most of the time you will probably deploy the Patriarch in Cult Ambush. This allows him to get into key position to target enemy threats or keep himself safe from enemy threats for a turn, until he can get into combat. If you get the first turn, you can potentially deploy the Patriarch at the edge of your deployment zone and have the potential to get a first turn charge on some deployment types. The Patriarch can advance and still charge, giving you a nice boost to your movement. With a Clamavus nearby for +1 to advance and charge rolls, your Patriarch can charge around 20″ with average rolls (or up to 28″ if you roll maximum). You can also use A Perfect Ambush to give you an extra D6″ move towards the enemy army on turn 1.

If you don’t get the first turn, you can simply use They Came From Below stratagem to put your Patriarch and two other units underground to save them from enemy firepower or get into key positions for later charges.

Getting the Patriarch into combat is key. The Perfect Ambush stratagem is a great one for helping him to get into combat, allowing you to move an extra D6″ from reserve shortens your charge distance. A nearby Clamavus is also key, giving him +1 to the charge. However, as you can only use A Perfect Ambush once per turn in matched play, it is more likely to be saved for a larger unit of Acolytes, Genestealers or Aberrants, leaving the Patriarch on an 8 or 9″ charge.

Using the Patriarch aggressively is the best use of his points costs and abilities. This doesn’t always mean charging him into combat though. His morale bubble is key for success with the Genestealer Cults, as enemy firepower or combat attacks can melt through their poor toughness and armour saves, causing big problems for larger units. You can use him to keep the main bulk of your forces that ambush from underground safe from morale issues when the enemy targets them in their turn.

The Broodcoven ability is also great to use if you take a Patriarch. Giving another Primus and Magus in your army an additional warlord trait is a nice bonus, allowing you to further boost their abilities. I tend to give the Primus Alien Majesty to further buff nearby units, giving the Magus Inscrutable Cunning for the bonus CP and re-roll.


The Patriarch is a strong HQ unit to take for the Genestealer Cults. However, he must be used with some finesse. Being forced to be warlord if you take one is mostly a disadvantage for him, as you want to use him aggressively, but don’t want to give up warlord points too easily.

He is a strong character in combat, but will quickly fall to any dedicated enemy combat units, especially those with good invulnerable saves. With the right selection of Relics, warlord traits and psychic powers, he can be a potent tool for taking on tough enemy vehicles or even Imperial Knights if you get lucky. The real problem will be getting him into range to charge or use psychic powers if your opponent is using his screening units correctly.

I think he is a solid addition to the Genestealer Cults army, and is well worth taking in a competitive list.

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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: HQ: Patriarch”

  1. Avatar
    CWDub May 24, 2019 5:51 am #

    The Patriarch is a champ but he’s so difficult to keep alive, as the enemy makes it their mission to ace him as soon as he appears. Had a match recently where a Blood Angels Storm Eagle dropped into hover to try and assassinate him after he failed a charge.. Amulet of the Void Worm saved him with hot rolling and he only took 1 dmg from a lascannon shot. Next turn he charged the Storm Eagle and took it from 16W to 2W with Biomorph Adaption (S7, A7 RR’ing to wound does work).

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 26, 2019 2:54 am #

      Yeah, he is a prime target for the enemy to take out in my games as well.

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