Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Elites: Sanctus

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Genestealer Cults’ premier Assassin, the Sanctus. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.


The Sanctus is a support character for the Genestealer Cults army. He can either operate as a long-ranged Sniper or as a melee specialist, going after weak enemy units or characters. I prefer to use him at range, as he can be quite effective with the right relic, and can help take on enemy psykers.

I would rate the Sanctus as Competitive. He provides a cheap way of dealing with enemy support characters with his sniper rifle, particularly against enemy psykers who could cause problems for the army. The Sanctus costs 55 points with the Sanctus Bio-dagger or 60 pts with the Silencer Sniper Rifle.


  • Silencer Sniper Rifle- Range 36”, S4, AP-1, D3 damage. May target enemy Characters even if they are not the closest model. If you roll a wound roll of 6+ for this weapon, it inflicts 1 mortal wound in addition to its normal damage. If a Psyker unit loses any wounds as a result of this attack, it suffers a Perils of the Warp after the attack has been resolved.
  • Santus Bio-Dagger- Melee, S1, AP-2, 2 damage. May make one additional attack each time it attack with this weapon. Always wounds on a 2+, unless targeting a Vehicle or Titanic unit.
  • Familiar Claws- S4, AP0, 1 damage. Makes two additional attacks with this weapon each time the model fights.


  • Cult Ambush
  • Unquestioning Loyalty
  • Cult Assassin- This model cannot have a warlord trait. In addition, the “A Perfect Ambush” stratagem costs zero command points if it is being used to affect this model.
  • Camo Cloak- Add 2 to saving throws made for this model when it receives the benefit of cover.
  • Soulsight Familiar- Units do not receive the benefits of cover when targeted by this model.


The Sanctus has a decent profile for a mid-level Genestealer Cult character. It has WS 2+ and BS 2+, so is quite proficient in both shooting and melee. It is only strength and toughness of 3, with four wounds and a 5+ save, so it is not the most durable of units and will fall quite easily to enemy firepower or melee attacks in the open. It has four attacks and a Ld of 8.

The role of the Sanctus depends on how you arm him, as he can be equipped with either the Silencer Sniper Rifle or the Sanctus Bio-dagger.


I prefer the Silencer Sniper Rifle for long-ranged firepower. If you are taking the Sanctus, I would recommend taking the Gift From Beyond Relic. This adds 2 to the wound rolls for attacks that do not target a Vehicle or Titanic unit. You are probably going to be taking this Relic for either a Sanctus or Jackal Alphus, so which model gets the relic will depend on your opponent.

With the relic, your Sanctus will be doing a mortal wound on a roll of a 4+, and will be wounding T4 infantry on a 2+. This is a big boost to its damage output and is great for targeting support characters, especially psykers. On a 4+ to wound, you will be doing D3+1 mortal wounds to any enemy psykers, unless they have an ability to mitigate Perils of the Warp attacks. This makes the Sanctus a great weapon for taking on any enemy psyker units.

The additional damage from your Sniper Rifle with the normal shot is only going to be a bonus in most cases. At S4, you will be wounding most infantry on a 3+ or 4+ (without the Relic) and at AP-1, you are going to have trouble dealing with heavily-armoured characters. However, the potential to do 7 wounds on an enemy psyker in a single shooting phase means that even tough enemy psykers have something to fear from the Sanctus.

“A Perfect Ambush” also costs no command points and is a great boost for the sniper Sanctus. You can use this stratagem on your first turn with the Sanctus to fire your Silence Sniper Rifle in either your own movement phase (if you go first) or your opponent’s movement phase (if you go second), giving you the opportunity to harm or even kill an enemy character/model. The Sanctus does not count as moving when deployed from Cult Ambush on turn 1, so you will still be hitting on a 2+, giving you some very accurate sniper fire.

If you do not have to declare extra relics on your army list, I would recommend taking the Gift From Beyond Relic as an additional relic. This means you can choose whether to give it to your Sniper Sanctus or Jackal Alphus in response to your opponent’s list. If they have a number of Pskyers or Psyer units, the Sanctus is your best bet, as you can do additional mortal wounds from the Perils attacks. Otherwise, the additional AP of the Alphus’ rifle will probably give you a better chance of doing wounds to enemy characters.

The Sniper Sanctus should be sat in cover (for the 3+ armour save) with good line of sight so that he can fire each turn.

The Sanctus can also be outfitted for combat. With the Sanctus Bio-dagger, the Assassin gets 5 attacks that hit on a 2+ and wound most enemy targets on a 2+, with AP-2 and two damage (as well as two additional attacks from the Familiar). This gives the Sanctus the potential to do 12 wounds on an enemy model.

The two damage with each wound makes the Sanctus useful for going after enemy characters with poor armour saves and invulnerable saves. Any model with a 4+ invulnerable save or better, or a 2+ armour save has the potential to shut down the Santcus with ease.

With only T3, four wounds and no invulnerable save, the Sanctus will fall in combat pretty easily to most combat characters, or even most enemy units with a decent number of attacks. This means you should be almost certain that the Sanctus can take out his target in one round of combat, as any attacks back will cause big problems for the Sanctus.

Enemy firepower or counter assaults will also most likely kill the Sanctus with ease, but you can use Unquestioning Loyalty to pass on any wounds to nearby units to help keep him alive for longer. However, at only 55 pts, his loss won’t be key to the army if he can take out a key enemy character before he dies.

He can also use the “A Perfect Ambush” stratagem to move an extra D6” closer to his target when deploying from underground reserves. However, this stratagem can only be used once per turn, so I would tend to save if for a unit of Genestealers, Aberrants or Acolytes to help ensure a charge, rather than wasting it on the Sanctus. However, if you are running low on command points or can wait till turn 3 to use the Sanctus, it is worth bearing in mind.

The Dagger of Swift Sacrifice relic can be taken by the melee Sanctus. This gives you the ability to do an additional D3 mortal wounds on an enemy character if they are wounded, but are not killed.

The Sanctus is good for taking on high toughness Monsters with poor armour saves, as his ability to wound on a 2+ in melee is rare for the Genestealer Cults.

Cult Creeds

The Sanctus cannot get a warlord trait, but he can benefit from a number of Cult Creeds.


For the Sniper Assassin, Rusted Claw is an effective creed to use. This gives him a 2+ armour save in cover against any AP0 and AP-1 weapons (though reduced to a 3+ in the latter). Few other Creeds are of much use to the Sniper Sanctus.

The melee Sanctus can use a number of useful creeds. Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor gives +1 to charge rolls, helping him to get into combat. Pauper Princes is also useful, allowing you to re-roll failed to hit rolls when you charge. This is great, as you want to get the most out of the Sanctus’ charge, as he is unlikely to survive reprisal attacks.

Bladed Cog can be useful for aiding in survivability, especially when combined with the Mark of the Clawed Omnissiah relic, giving the Sanctus a 3+ invulnerable save. This really boosts his durability in combat and can be a nice choice if you don’t have any other characters who need it.


I think the Sanctus is a great, cheap support character for the Genestealer Cults. Armed with the Relic sniper rifle, he is great for taking on enemy psykers, having the potential to do serious mortal wounds to them in the shooting phase, as well as on the turn that he deploys from Cult Ambush.

The melee Sanctus is strong against tough enemy characters with poor armour and invulnerable saves. However, there are several units in the codex that can take out weak enemy characters with ease, or can go after characters with good armour and invulnerable saves through massed attacks or abilities, so the Sanctus is not unique in this role.

For this reason, I prefer the Sanctus with the Silencer Sniper Rifle. If you are not going up against a psychic threat, the chance to potentially harm or kill enemy characters over several turns is a nice reason to take the Sanctus. At only 60 pts, it is not a huge points investment, with the potential to help out your army.

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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: Elites: Sanctus”

  1. Avatar
    CWDub May 28, 2019 7:27 am #

    Great article. I usually look at my opponent’s list and then (if allowed by format) pick either Oppressor’s Bane for the Kelermorph or Gift from Beyond for the Sanctus. Popping a SM librarian Turn 1 with perfect ambush and making him explode from perils is clutch ASF.

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr May 28, 2019 9:58 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it. The Genestealer Cults have some great support characters in the army. The Sanctus is a solid character Assassin.

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