Genestealer Cults in 9th Edition

Hi everyone, Michael here to give you a few thoughts on how I think my Genestealer Cults army may function in 9th edition. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

The new rules releases and previews are causing many people to re-evaluate how their army will function in 9th edition 40k. I decided to have a look at my Genestealer Cults army and try and guess what the new game will have in store for them. Obviously, we don’t know what FAQ changes with come with the release of the game, but the basic ruleset has been released, allowing us to see how the basic game will funtion. This is not an exhaustive list of potential changes, just some thoughts that have come up when reading the rules.

Building the army

The changes to how the army detachments are constructed gives me some pause for my army. A Genestealer Cults army will commonly employed multiple Cult Creeds in the force, in order to gain the advantage of special rules and stratagems to boost the force.

Doing this in 9th edition will now force you to spend CP in order to have more than one detachment with different Cult Creeds. In addition, you will probably be starting with fewer CP in 9th edition, as it was pretty easy to build a double or triple Battalion army in 8th edition, even a Brigade and Battalion detachment.

Genestealer Cults have several key stratagems that are pretty much essential for the army to function well and win, so you may have less opportunity to use these stratagems as the game progresses. However, as you gain CP each turn, it will allow you to be able to utilise stratagems such as Cult Reinforcements and Return to the Shadows, even in the late stages of the game. The Cult also has the ability to start with more CP thanks to Inscrutable Cunning, as well as a cheap way to regenerate CP thanks to the Nexos.

Another big change is that you will be forced to spend CP in order to take more than one of each character. Gene-Sect limits you to one of each Genestealer Cults character per detachment. This means you cannot take multiples of key characters, such as the Magus, Primus or Clamavus without expending CP on another detachment. I would like to see this rule changed or removed from the army in 9th edition, thanks to the way that army composition rules have now changed.

Cult Ambush

Assuming there are no changes to Cult Ambush, this will remain a powerful ability for the army. Not only do you save on CP by putting units into reserve, they can also deploy almost anywhere on the board from turn 2, giving them more deployment options than most enemy armies.

Also, the changes to unit coherency will serve to reduce “conga-lining” of models, which should make it harder to screen against your forces arriving from reserve. If there are enemy units in the way, you can still make use of the Perfect Amush/Lying in Wait/Hand Flamer strategy to clear out any enemy screens and allow your forces to deploy to your advantage. However, with most likely fewer CP to work with, this will be an expensive investment.

The smaller board size should also give you greater chance of getting units close to enemy forces for combat. In addition, the blip counter system will still allow you to screen out parts of the board and objectives if enemy units still cannot move within 9″ of them at the start of the game.

Heavy Weapons

Non-infantry units will no longer suffer the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons. This should add value to the Goliath Truck, Rockgrinder and the Ridgerunner.

Being able to move and fire these weapons at BS4+ in most cases will allow you to be mobile on the tabletop, while also contributing to the firepower of the army. They will also become more effective when getting +1 to hit from a nearby Jackal Alphus, giving you a big boost to your firepower on the move, especially if you are loaded up with Heavy Mining Lasers.

Speaking of which, the Jackal Alphus will be able to move and fire to good effect with other Cult Creeds than Rusted Claw, so will have much more utility to support firepower units on the move.

If you are running an infantry-heavy army, you can still use Cult of the Bladed Cog to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty, making much of your army immune to this penalty.

Close Combat

There are a number of changes that makes combat appealing for Genestealer Cults. The change of overwatch to a stratagem is great for the fragile Cult units, meaning you should take fewer casualties when charging in to combat. If you really need to shut down the enemy overwatch, you can shut it down with a Plan Generations in the making, or use Mass Hypnosis to shut down enemy overwatch.

I can see a change to MSU close combat being favourable for Genestealer Cults. The changes to unit coherency, as well as making it harder to lock units in combat means that most units will want to charge and do maximum damage in one turn, then will have to suffer from enemy firepower in the following turn.

A unit of 5 Acolyte Hybrids can still take two Heavy Mining Weapons, giving you some powerful close combat attacks, as well as the rending claws from the rest of the units. We may also see units such as Hybrid Metamorphs see a resurgence, as a 5-man unit can have access to a number of useful combat weapons, such as the metamorph whip, talon and claw. The changes to combat order (opponent picks first unit to fight after chargers) means that the ability to strike back after death will be a nice boost for combat units in 9th edition.

Chargers are now allowed to attack units that performed a heroic intervention, making it riskier for characters to attack charging units. Unquestioning Loyalty gives the Cult characters a nice boost in this regard, allowing you to heroically intervene to a combat and hopefully pass off any wounds to nearby Cult units, improving the odds of your character surviving to do damage to the enemy unit.


I’ll be interested to see what rules changes and FAQs will come into effect with the release of 9th edition for the Genestealer Cults. The changes to morale rules will require some changes to Cult Creeds, as well as other rules having impact on cult creeds and stratagems.

I think Genestealer Cults were struggling towards the end of 8th edition, so I am hopeful that 9th can see them improving in their gameplay, with the change to many core rules and the way missions are scored.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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.

9 Responses to “Genestealer Cults in 9th Edition”

  1. Yarium July 8, 2020 7:13 pm #

    I haven’t played a game with Genestealer Cult in over a year that my forces were next-to totally wiped out, even when winning. I’ve played 2 games of 9th so far, and this hasn’t changed. With all Primaries requiring you to actually hold things, I’ve found it impossible to score primary points, which means I lose by the end of the game. Unless the Cult see precisely 0 points increases so that they can take more stuff, I don’t see a way forward.

    • Michael Corr July 8, 2020 11:17 pm #

      Unfortunately I was the same towards the end of 8th edition, can’t remember the last time the Cult was out on the table.

  2. Zweischneid July 8, 2020 10:26 pm #

    I played a few test games with GSC, and unless there’s something amazing happening with points and/or FAQs, they are fethed hard.

    Blast is insane, CP basically halved, charges got exponentially harder, Repulsors & Co. just stick around in combat and blow your guys off the board even if you get in, etc..

    And they were bottom tier, almost Ynnari-level bad towards the end of 8th already.

    • Michael Corr July 8, 2020 11:18 pm #

      From what I have seen so far, they haven’t gotten enough buffs from the 9th edition rules to offset the minuses. I hope they get some strong rules adjustments, as the range looks amazing and I really like playing the army.

      • abusepuppy July 9, 2020 12:50 am #

        Obviously we don’t know points yet, and GW has said they’ll be using the points changes to rebalance a lot of units that were suboptimal (as GSC we well known to be in late 8th edition.) Do you think the various vehicles have a shot at becoming good? Ridgerunners have obviously gotten a lot of attention and many of the changes are a big plus for them, but with the smaller boards and emphasis on MSU I feel like Goliaths might be able to have some uses.

        • Michael Corr July 9, 2020 1:06 am #

          I can see the Goliath Truck getting a bit more usage in 9th edition. As you said in your article, thanks to the change to the CP re-roll, making a charge from reserves is riskier now, even with the bonuses that GSC get to charges.

          Getting in close and in relative safety with the Truck, allowing you to make an easier charge could be a real boost to the Cult. Plus, you have the option of putting the truck into strategic reserves now, to keep it safe from enemy firepower.

          I always found the Rockgrinder to be a bit of a disappointment. It rarely seemed to be able to do much in combat, despite its damage potential. Getting to more and fire weapons with no penalty is good with a range of their weapons, as well as getting to fire the Clearance Incinerator in combat.

          • abusepuppy July 9, 2020 6:30 am

            Yeah, I think all of those things could make a big difference, and the Rockgrinder’s melee profile has potential, it’s just always been too expensive to really take good advantage of. I have some hopes for their vehicles in the new edition, but we’ll have to wait until points come out I suppose.

  3. Visitor July 9, 2020 4:19 am #

    Mechanized GSC is back and it’s pretty strong. Especially Goliaths and Ridgerunners. Of course this might change with pint adjustments…

    • Michael Corr July 9, 2020 6:36 am #

      Yeah, depending on the points costs, they could be a nice boost for the GSC.

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