Eric S. bring us another update on 9th ed Genestealer Cults tactics!
Welcome back fellow followers of the Four Armed Emperor! In my last article I went over some general tips that could be used to return the GSC codex back to the days of greatness that was the muscle beach Abberant bombs. For this GSC focused tactics article I will zoom in on a specific strength that the Cults have and explain the ways it can be leveraged on the tabletop for maximum efficiency. Mobility has become increasingly important in the 9th edition mission set where at least a full half of your points revolve around holding primary objectives that are key spots on the battlefield. Combine this with Secondary Objectives like Engage on All Fronts, Linebreaker, or Deploy Scramblers and you can score a ton of points without interacting with a single model of your opponents. Some armies can accomplish these missions by holding specific objectives throughout the majority of the game with durability, while other armies utilize pure offensive output to bully their opponent off the important primary objectives, but GSC’s greatest strength is all about maneuvering on the battlefield in ways other armies simply cannot. These mobility shenanigans give the Cult a huge advantage in a game that is completely focused on holding points on the battlefield or standing in important areas of the battlefield.
The first advantage GSC has over other armies in this area comes into play during deployment. More then any other army the Cult can confuse and manipulate their opponent in ways other armies can’t even dream of. To start, your entire army is going to be deployed as a Blip marker (assuming it deploys as a blip) or will be in reserves with Cult Ambush. Deployment in 9th Edition is even more critical than in 8th because the game is faster, with fewer turns, and the board is smaller . Armies have more of an opportunity to use their fast moving, hard hitting, units to get into your lines early in the game which allows them to control the important areas of the battlefield. GSC can completely take this advantage away during deployment by deploying blip markers in key spots in their deployment zone. No enemy model can come within 9 inches of a blip marker for any reason. With careful Blip placement you will be able to zone out objectives, avenues of approach to important points of the battlefield, and even stop enemy units from entering your deployment zone Turn 1. These tricks are much stronger going second during a game of 40k since it will actively deny your opponent their turn 1 movement, but GSC is totally fine with going second.
Typically a GSC army will not lack for units that deploy as a Blip, but there is always the stratagem Scanner Decoys which, for 1CP, allows you to place 3 EXTRA Blip markers down during deployment. This makes the shell game of figuring out what units are where a nightmare for your opponent, and can lead them to over commit a fast close combat element of their army to move toward an objective held by nothing but empty blip markers (remember you cant score primaries on turn 1 so there is little need to hold those objectives right off the bat). This can allow for some interesting counter charge opportunities from our strong close combat units (Acolytes) as well as lead to situations were your opponent finds themselves holding what they thought was an important objective while you maneuver your GSC forces onto other, lightly held, objectives. By using the blip marker system of the GSC codex to its full potential you can get an advantage on your opponent before the first turn even begins.
GSC’s reputation as a mobile army doesn’t just come from the tricks it can play in the deployment phase, and the Cult’s form of mobility is vastly different then any other army in the game. Drukhari have fast transports, White Scars get their bonuses to advances and charges (GSC can get these too!), but the Cult have the best stratagems in the game in regards to mobility. The first, and strongest, stratagem in the GSC Codex that makes our army a nightmare to screen against is Lying in Wait. The ability to place a unit within 3 inches of enemy units makes zoning out your reserves almost impossible even on the smaller 9th Edition board size. This stratagem was typically used in 8th Edition to drop in the excellent hand flamer Acolyte bomb, and while this tactic can still perform in 9th Edition, Lying in Wait is much better used to score primary or secondary points that your opponent was not expecting you to score. For example, the secondary objective Linebreaker becomes much easier to score with the use of Lying in Wait, and it makes Deploy Scramblers an automatic 10 secondary points for your army with the small investment of 2CP and a cheap throw away infantry squad!
No GSC article would be complete without discussing another mobility stratagem of the GSC codex called A Perfect Ambush. Dropping down with a melee power house unit, in the form of a big squad of Acolytes with Rock Saws (NOT Abberents!), and being able to move D6 inches toward your opponent can really make those charges from deep strike an actual possibility and not a horrible gamble of the dice. Some prior planning is helpful when using this stratagem because the unit you plan to move D6 inches forward will still need to deploy onto the table 9 inches away from enemy models before making their movement. Always keep in mind that this allows armies like Adpetus Mechanicus, Space Marines, and others the ability to use any stratagems which allow them to shoot at a unit being placed on the table from reserves. A clever GSC player will place their melee unit out of LoS of potential enemy fire and then use A Perfect Ambush to get their fragile melee units onto the board without exposing them to enemy fire.
GSC are often considered a glass cannon army, and while this may have been true in 8th Edition, it is no longer the case. The pure offensive output of GSC, through different FAQs and codex releases, has been neutered to a large degree. GSC players can no longer rely on units coming in from reserve and clearing away a good portion of the opponents army. A good GSC player will live or die through their ability to utilize the unparalleled mobility of their units to accomplish primary and secondary scoring that an opponent will have a nightmare of a time planning to defend. By utilizing all of the deployment and mobility tricks of the GSC Codex you will be able to run circles around armies who haven’t accepted the Four Armed Emperor as the one and only true Emperor.