Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of the Genestealer Cults Specialist Detachment, the Anointed Throng. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.
The Vigilus Defiant book introduced the concept of Specialist Detachments to give additional special rules to certain units in your army. For the Genestealer Cults, one of the new Specialist Detachments is the Anointed Throng. This provides some new special rules and bonuses for any Aberrants and Aboninants in the Genestealer Cults army, helping to boost their damage output. If you are likely to be taking many of these units in your army, then this is a Competitive choice to further boost their abilities. However, I wouldn’t class it as an essential part of a competitive army, at least not as much as the Devliverance Broodsurge.
If your army is battle-forged, you have access to the Specialist Detachment stratagems. This stratagem assigns the <Specialist Detachment> keyword to certain units in the army. This in turn unlocks Warlord Traits, Relics, new Stratagems and psychic powers that those units can take. Any detachment in the army (excluding Auxiliary support detachments) can be upgraded to a Specialist Detachment. Each Specialist Detachment costs 1CP to upgrade the detachment in this way.
As far as I am aware, you still get your “Chapter Tactics” on the detachment if they are applicable. This provides some very useful bonuses to the Specialist Detachment rules, helping to make them more effective as we will see below.
You can also access the Field Commander stratagem for 1CP. This allows a Character in your detachment that has the relevant <Specialist Detachment> keyword to take the Warlord Trait from the Specialist Detachment. They are only your warlord for the purposes of the warlord trait though.
Let’s take a look at the new rules for the Anointed Throng and go into more details on what it will add to your army.
Anointed Throng (1CP)
Use this stratagem when choosing the army. Pick a Genestealer Cults detachment from your army to be the Anointed Throng specialist detachment. Any Abominants and Aberrants in that detachment gain the Anointed Throng Keyword.
Insidious Mindwyrn (Warlord Trait)– Add 1 to charge rolls for your Warlord and friendly Anointed Throng units that are within 6″ of your warlord when the roll is made.
Blessed Sledgehammer (Relic)– Abominant only. Replaces the bearer’s power sledgehammer. This is a melee weapon that is Sx2, AP-4 and D6 damage (to a minimum of 3).
Devotion Till Death (Stratagem, 2CP)– Use at the start of your fight phase. Pick an Anointed Throng Aberrant unit from the army. Until the end of that phase, when a model from the unit is slain, that model is not removed from the battlefield as normal, but can instead immediately pile in and fight, even if it has already been chosen to fight in that phase. After its attacks have been resolved, it is then removed from the battlefield.
Fight for the Anointed One! (Stratagem, 1CP)– Use at the start of the Fight phase. Pick an Anointed Throng Aberrant unit within 6″ of an Anointed Throng Abominant. Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for attacks made by that unit until the end of the phase.
The Anointed Throng obviously provides some very strong new rules for Abominants and Aberrants, so you are going to want to make the most of these in the detachment and take at least one unit of Aberrants, if not more. However, these are not the cheapest of options for the Genestealer Cults, so you may be limited in how many units you can effectively take for other parts of the army not to suffer.
The Specialist Detachment should be led by an Abominant. He is a pretty solid combat character to have in the army, and provides some nice buffs for nearby Aberrant units, as well as hindering nearby psykers. Similar to the Deliverance Broodsurge, I would recommend using the Field Commander stratagem along with the Anointed Throng stratagem to give the Abominant the Insidious Mindwyrm warlord trait. While the Abominant is fairly tough for a Genestealer Cults character (T5, 5W, 5+ armour save, 5+ FNP and regenerates D3 wounds per turn), it will still not take much for dedicated firepower or a strong combat unit to take him out.
In addition, his real strength is in combat, so you are going to want to be throwing him into combat to the best of his ability, where he is likely to suffer from enemy reprisals and be slain.
The Blessed Sledgehammer is a great Relic to take with the Abominant. This takes him up to S12, AP-4 and D6 damage (to a minimum of 3 per wound). More importantly, it does not suffer the -1 to hit of a regular Power Sledgehammer. As the Abominant is only WS3+, you will be hitting on a 4+ with him in most cases, so the Blessed Sledgehammer is a solid boost to his damage output, particularly if you have a nearby Primus to give him +1 to hit.
Giving him the Insidious Mindwyrm warlord trait is a nice boost for getting these powerful units into combat. Combined with a Clamavus for an additional +1 to charges, this means you will need a 7″ charge from underground Ambush, a nice bonus for helping to ensure that these units get into combat. You can even go with the Cult of the Four Armed Emperor Cult Creed for the detachment for a further +1 to your charge when you deploy from Ambush, meaning that you now only need a 6″ charge from Ambush, giving you better than 50% chance of making it in to combat.
Aberrants are a solid combat unit for the Genestealer Cults, able to deal with a range of threats to the Cult thanks to their weapon options. With Heavy Power Hammers, they strike at S10 at AP-3 and 3 damage per wound, making them great for taking on tough enemy units and vehicles. However, with the Heavy Power Hammer, they come in at 32 points each for a model that is only T4 with a 5+ save and 5+ FNP. This makes them pretty squishy and easy to eliminate when targeted.
This is where the new stratagems for the Anointed Throng come in. Devotion Till Death is a great stratagem for going against tough enemy units you are unlikely to kill in a single round of combat that have the potential to seriously harm or wipe out the unit. This allows you to maximise the damage output of the unit, getting to fight again if they are slain in combat. This can give you enough additional attacks to take out any big threats to your army in a single round of combat. This stratagem does require you to be within 6″ of an Abominant, meaning you will either need to string out your unit to get in range from Ambush, or have the Abominant charge into combat as well, which you will probably want to do if facing off against a tough enemy unit.
Alternatively, you can use the A Perfect Ambush stratagem to move the Abominant a further D6″ from Cult Ambush. On a 3+, you can gain sufficient range to use all the buffs of the Abominant on the Aberrants without risking the Abominant in combat.
Fight for the Anointed One! is also a solid stratagem for boosting the damage output of the Abominant and Aberrant units. With the Heavy Power Hammer, you will be wounding most infantry and bike units in the game on a 2+, so re-rolling 1’s to wound is great for maximising their effectiveness. You will also be wounding most vehicles on a 3+, so re-rolling half your failed wounds is a nice boost as well. This works really well for multi-wound models that lack a decent invulnerable save, allowing you to do three damage per unsaved wound, making it great for taking on units such as Bullgryns or Grotesques (though their invulnerable saves may cause you some problems).
Even with the Power Pick, this provides a nice boost to their damage output. At S5, you will be wounding most standard infantry on a 3+, so again will get to re-roll around half your failed wounds. The Power Pick also allows you to make a rending claw attack in addition, giving each Aberrant an extra attack at S5. This is a useful bonus, as with only 2 attacks each, the Aberrants can sometimes struggle to get enough hits to do damage to big units.
Cult Creed Synergy
Many of the Cult Creeds are great for boosting the power of the Anointed Throng detachment.
Twisted Helix is obviously the first one that comes to mind. This will make each Aberrant S6 and the Abominant is now S7. Going up to S7 means that the Abominant will now be wounding vehicles on a 2+ with his Power Sledgehammer or Relic Hammer. With the ability to re-roll 1’s to wound, you can do maximum damage in combat. Strength 6 on the Aberrants won’t make a huge difference to the unit’s wounds rolls in most cases. However, there are various ways to get +1 strength in the Genestealer Cults army, so going up to S7 will be a huge boost when armed with Heavy Power Hammers, allowing them to wound all but the toughest of enemy units on a 2+.
Another big boost from Twisted Helix is the Monstrous Bio-Horrors stratagem. This allows a unit of Aberrants to fight again at the end of the Fight phase. This has the potential to allow a unit of Aberrants to attack three times in a single Fight phase (though each member can only fight up to two times). This will eat through command points, but could be very useful for finishing off a tough enemy unit, or chewing through a larger unit that has the Aberrants tied up in combat to stop them going after juicier targets.
Cult of the Four Armed Emperor is also a solid Cult Creed to add to the detachment. With the bonuses from the specialist warlord trait, you get +2 to any charges (+3 if you use a Clamavus). This is great for ensuring that the Aberrants and Abominant get into combat where they excel.
Pauper Princes is also a solid choice for the unit. With only 2 attacks each, you want to maximise the number of hits you get from a unit of Aberrants. Getting to re-roll failed to hit rolls on the turn you charge is a big boost for the unit, allowing you to do more damage in combat, thereby not wasting the efforts of the stratagems with a poor round of to hit rolls.
There are a number of support characters that can boost the effectiveness of the Anointed Throng even further.
As mentioned above, a Clamavus is great for helping to ensure that the Throng make it into combat, giving you +1 to your charge range, as well as +1 to your Leadership to help with any morale test.
A Primus is also a great support character for the Aberrants. His +1 to hit aura gives you the ability to hit on a 2+ with the Power Picks, or negates the -1 to hit from the Heavy Power Hammer, allowing them to hit on a 3+. Not only that, but his Meticulous Planner ability allows you to re-roll wound rolls of a 1 against a selected enemy unit. This stops you from using a CP on the stratagem or allows you to gain the same effect if the Abominant is slain.
A Magus also makes a great support character for the Throng. Might From Beyond is a great power for boosting the effectiveness of the Aberrants. Taking each Aberrant to 3 attacks is a big boost, especially if they are only hitting on a 4+. In addition, when combined with Twisted Helix, each Aberrant goes up to S7, allowing the Heavy Power Hammers to do serious work against most vehicles and monsters. Mass Hypnosis is also a nice power to take, preventing the enemy from firing overwatch, potentially harming the Aberrants on the charge. It also makes a unit -1 to hit, helping to reduce the effect of attacks coming back on the Aberrants.
An Acolyte Iconward is also a great support character for the Throng. Armed with the Icon of the Cult Ascendant, you get +1 strength, which is great when combined with Twisted Helix as mentioned above. In addition, you get to re-roll 1’s on your Bestial Vigour tests, giving you good odds of blocking wounds against the unit, especially when combined with the Monstrous Vigour stratagem.
A Biophagus is also a great support character for the Throng. His ability allows you to make the Aberrant unit either +1S, +1T or +1A. This boosts the abilities of the unit even further. With the right combination of buffs, you can potentially take a unit of Aberrants up to S8, making them great for taking on just about any threat.
You will probably want to keep the Anointed Throng held in reserve till turn 2. This will keep you safe from enemy firepower until you are ready to place them and go after any enemy threats.
You will need to watch out for any interceptor-type stratagems such as Auspex Scan. The Aberrants and Abominants are not the toughest of units to take out, so a decent round of shooting from an enemy unit before they can charge could seriously harm them, especially when the firing unit has sufficient re-rolls of their own. If possible, deploy out of line of sight of any of these units, which also negates the effect of overwatch. Alternatively, if you are Cult of the Four Armed Emperor (or have a detachment with it), you can use A Plan Generations in the Making to negate any such stratagem and keep your unit free from harm.
Once deployed, the Aberrants and Abominants are a hammer, able to go after the biggest threats in the enemy army. With Heavy Power Hammers and the appropriate buffs, there is little that will stand up to the Aberrants, unless they have a great invulnerable save in combat. This makes the Aberrants great for going after objectives such as Big Game Hunter, an area where the Cult can suffer, outside of the fight phase.
After seeing how much damage the Aberrants can do, they are likely to be targeted for elimination by enemy firepower or combat ability. This means you only get one or two good turns with the Aberrants and Throng, which can be enough to turn the tide of the battle in most cases.
If you want to keep the Throng alive for longer, you can use support characters and stratagems to help keep them alive for longer, such as Monstrous Vigour or Lurk in the Shadows. However, it can quickly cost you a lot of CP to try and keep the unit safe from harm.
If you enjoy running Aberrants or have a Knight-heavy meta, the Anointed Throng is a great specialist detachment to run in your Genestealer Cults army. With enough buffing units nearby, you can turn the Aberrants into a powerhouse, capable of taking on just about any threat in the enemy army. However, even on their own, a unit of Aberrants and Abominant are a solid combat option for a nasty shock from reserve. They are definitely a unit that will need to be dealt with, forcing your opponent to devote firepower or combat units to deal with them.
This allows you to use many of the other elements in the army to do their jobs, while the Aberrants go after tough enemy units or armour.
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