Genestealer Cults Codex Review: HQ: Primus

Hi everyone, Michael here with a review of one of the great buffing characters in the Genestealer Cults army, the Primus. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Overview:

The Primus is a key buffing character for the Genestealer Cults army, able to improve their combat prowess significantly. He has some decent melee capabilities thanks to his wargear, but that is not his primary role in the army. He costs 75 pts (including wargear).

I would rate the Primus as Competitive. He provides some very strong buffs for the Cult army, and at least one Primus in your army is definitely worth the addition.

Wargear:

  • Needle Pistol- Range 12″, Pistol 1, S1 AP0 D3 damage. Wounds on a 2+ unless targeting a Vehicle or Titanic unit.
  • Bonesword- S User, AP-2, 1 damage.
  • Toxin Injector Claw- S User, AP-1, 1 damage. Wounds on a 2+ unless targeting a Vehicle or Titanic unit. Each time you roll a 6+ to wound, the hit is resolved with AP-4.
  • Blasting Charge- Frag Grenade.

Abilities:

  • Cult Ambush
  • Unquestioning Loyalty
  • Cult Demagogue- Add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made by <Cult> units in the Fight phase while within 6″ of the Primus.
  • Meticulous Planner- The first time the model is set up on the battlefield, select one enemy unit on the battlefield. You can re-roll wound rolls of 1 for attacks made by units that have the Cult Ambush rule against the chosen target while they are within 6″ of a Primus.
  • Keywords- Tyranids, Genestealer Cults, <Cult>, Infantry, Character, Primus.

Tactics:

The Primus is a buffing character for the Genestealer Cults armies, able to boost to combat ability of nearby units to a high degree. He has some reasonable firepower and combat abilities, but he cannot go toe to toe with tough enemy units and hope to survive for long.

The Primus is a mid level character with stats and combat ability to match. He is WS2+ and BS3+, attacking at S4 with four attacks. In terms of durability, he is only T3 with 5 wounds, a 5+ armour save and no invulnerable save, so is not the toughest of characters to take out with either shooting or combat attacks. However, he does have access to the Unquestioning Loyalty ability, allowing him to potentially pass on wounds to nearby Cult units to save him from harm.

He has a Needle Pistol for his shooting attacks. This always wounds on a 2+ (except against vehicles and titanic units) and does D3 damage, so can be pretty useful for plinking a couple of wounds off of units with poor armour saves.

In terms of combat ability, he has a couple of options. The Bonesword is AP-2 and user strength. This is where he falls down, with only S4, he is going to struggle against high toughness units and will only wound T4 units on a 4+. The Toxin Injector Claw can come in to solve this issue. Although it is only AP-1, it always wounds on a 2+ (unless a vehicle or titanic unit), so can deal damage to a wide variety of enemy units.

Even though his combat ability is not his greatest strength, there are ways to boost this. Giving him the Twisted Helix Cult Creed takes him up to S5, allowing him to wound most enemy infantry units on a 3+.

Another option is to give him the Sword of the Void’s Eye Relic. This is a Bonesword that is +2S, AP-3 and D3 damage that allows you to re-roll to hit and to wound rolls (not just failed ones). This seriously boosts his combat ability, giving you good odds of landing a hit with all four of his attacks and giving you a 3+ re-roll to wound againt units that are T5 or less. You could alternatively give him the Sword of the Four Armed Emperor, giving him 8 attacks in combat at S4 and AP-3. This makes him great for going through low to moderate toughness infantry models, as his sheer volume of attacks will come in useful. I tend to prefer the Void Eye sword, as the higher strength and D3 damage is more useful against a range of opponents, as well as the re-rolls it confers.

As mentioned above, the main strength of the Primus is not his inherent combat ability, but the buffs he adds to the rest of the army.

The best of these is the Cult Demagogue ability. This provides all <Cult> units within 6″ +1 to hit in the Fight phase. For a combat-centric army such as the Genestealer Cults, this is a huge boost that makes the most of their great combat units. This is a big bonus for units such as Acolyte Hybrids and Aberrants.

Allowing the Acolyte Hybrids to hit on a 2+ (in most cases) is a big benefit for the unit. Given the volume of attacks that they can muster, this will give you the ability to do a lot of damage to enemy units. With the addition of the Cult Icon, giving you the ability to re-roll 1’s to hit in the Fight phase, you can achieve around a 97% success rate with your attacks.

This bonus is also great for the Heavy Rock Weapons that the Acolytes can wield in combat. Getting to hit on a 2+ with the Heavy Rock Drill and Heavy Rock Saw is a big boost for their effectiveness. It is also useful for the Heavy Rock Cutter, negating the -1 to hit inherent in this weapon.

This ability also works well with the Aberrants, another strong combat unit in the army. With the Heavy Rock Hammers, you can also negate the -1 to hit for these weapons. With only 2 attacks each, it is important to maximise their effectiveness.

The other ability for the Primus is Meticulous Planner. This allows you to select an enemy unit and get to re-roll 1’s to wound for selected Cult units within 6″ of Primus. This can also help you to maximise damage output against a selected enemy unit, and a big boost for the Heavy Rock weapons detailed above.

Warlord Traits

There are a number of warlord traits that can boost the effectiveness of the Primus. Using the Broodcoven stratagem, you can access a warlord trait for your Primus without making him your warlord, where the lack of an invulnerable save may leave him in trouble.

One of my favourite traits to arm him with is Alien Majesty. This adds 3″ to the range of his abilities. This allows you to give +1 to hit to all Cult units within 9″ of the Primus. This helps to ensure that you can get charging units in range of the Primus from Cult Ambush, without having to charge the Primus in to combat (and risk his death), or having to string models back to keep in range of the Primus, and thus reducing the number of attacks you can level against an enemy unit.

If you are looking to keep him safer for longer, the Pauper Princes warlord trait, Beloved Grandsire, is also useful. This adds 2 to Unquestioning Loyalty wounds, allowing you to pass these off to nearby units on a 2+, greatly boosting your durability.

Check out the Warlord traits review for more tips on alternative traits to use.

Battlefield Roles

The Primus works best when deployed underground in Cult Ambush. This allows him to deploy and accompany any strong combat units that will be launching assaults from turn 2 onwards. My army normally fields at least two Primuses to support multiple combat units during the course of the game, one of which has the Alien Majesty warlord trait. I don’t tend to use Relics for them, as I generally want to keep them out of combat.

Their bonus abilities makes them a great addition to the army, as their buffs really boost the combat effectiveness of most units. On top of that, in conjunction with the Nexos, you have the ability to regain CP during the course of the game.

Having so many support characters in the Cult army does make you susceptible to giving up Headhunters quite easily. This can be somewhat alleviated by the Unquestioning Loyalty, but I think it is worth the risk for the bonuses that such characters can bring to the army.

Counters

When facing the Cult, the Primus is one of the support characters that you may want to target for elimination to reduce the effectiveness of nearby units. Given his low toughness and armour save and only 5 wounds, the Primus is quite susceptible to most shooting and combat attacks. Even standard infantry units will have little trouble taking out the Primus if they can get him on their own.

The only stumbling block for taking out the Primus (other than the character rule) is Unquestioning Loyalty. This allows the Primus to pass on wounds to models within 3″. This can make him surprisingly durable to enemy firepower or combat attacks if your opponent is rolling well for these saves. One thing to look out for is the Primus getting out of Unquestioning Loyalty range thanks to successful charges from reserve. This allows you to target the Primus (if you are able to) without the ability to pass on wounds. Sniper weapons are obviously good for taking out the support characters of the Cult. Most of these are low toughness models with poor armour saves and no form of invulnerable, so are very vulnerable to Sniper units that can target characters.

Another trick to watch out for is the order of deployment for the Cult reserves. If your opponent makes the mistake of deploying the Primus or another support character first, before any supporting unit, they can potentially be targeted by an Auspex Scan-type stratagem to try and take them out. Due to their modest statline, even the firepower of a Tactical Squad has the potential to kill a Primus (or other support character) in a single volley.

Any sort of combat character or unit will have little problem dealing with the Primus in most cases. His real strengths come from buffing nearby combat Cult units. Once these are eliminated, the Primus doesn’t really have much to do, so focusing your firepower on destroying the real threat is a better choice in most cases.

As the Cult is likely to contain a high number of support characters, it makes the army a prime candidate for taking the Headhunter secondary objective. As mentioned above, most of these characters will be pretty easy to kill if you can get them on their own and target them, probably allowing you to get maximum points from this secondary.

Overall

The Primus is a great support character for the Genestealer Cults, pretty much an essential pick to get the most out of your army. My Cult will always take multiple of these support characters, giving you a range of options to maximise the effectiveness of your ambush units on the turn that they arrive from reserve. His ability works on all Cult units, as opposed to the Patriarch whose similar ability only affects using of Genestealers.

Even though his inherent combat abilities are not amazing, the Primus can do some damage in combat, and has one of the few weapons capable of wounding enemies of any toughness in the army. You can boost his damage output even further with the right combination of Relics, warlord traits or Cult Creeds. However, I don’t tend to throw him into combat too often, as he is better shielded from enemy guns and attacks, allowing his buffs to boost others to do his work.

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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.

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