Eric S. is back with another Genestealer Cults tactics article for 9th ed 40k!
Welcome back loyal followers of the Four Armed Emperor! This past year has not been a particularly exciting one for a lot of people, with so many events being unable to take place, and in some cases, people not being able to enjoy their hobby even by playing simple pick up games at the local gaming store. Hopefully the 2021 season will see the hobby and tournament scene return to some normalcy, but until then at least we have this nice new FAQ to keep our 40k brains busy. Usually during this time 40k is gifted with some form of Chapter Approved or Big FAQ, but as we all know 2020 has slowed down the great GW’s production lines. Some players may not be happy with the smaller, and more sudden, FAQ that 2020 provided us, but it is still awesome to see GW tracking their game and doing their best to keep it balanced at the competitive level even through a down year. GW apologist’s aside, the new FAQ does look very promising for xenos of the four armed variety, and while we may not be able to play as many games as we want we can always do what wargamers do best, find the best new rules for our favorite army! The implications of some of the changes in the most recent GW FAQ are going to take some time to understand fully with so little events being played, but there are some obvious benefits for the downtrodden members of the Cults within the new rules and points changes.
Mostly GSC units did not increase in price which is good since GSC aren’t exactly top tier right now. Brood Brothers did go up a point making them cost the same as their Neophyte brethren, so now there is really no debate on which cheap troop option GSC should go with. With Brood Brothers not getting the benefit of Cult Traits, costing the same as a Neophyte, and not benefiting from some of the armies buffing mechanics its time to make the full switch to Neophyte squads. Another option, if you have the salary of a professional athlete, is to pivot from Brood Brother Squads to smaller squads of Acolytes which still come in at 40 points for a unit of 5. Acolyte spam lists are seeing their day in the sun, but the actual monetary investment of getting 120 of these suckers is staggering. Still, 60 Acolytes, packed full of Rock Saws, in a list is looking like GSCs best option even more now with the points increase to Brood Brothers.
As far as our other units getting points reductions many GSC players felt it was time for the Abberents to be let out of their points inflation cages, but these muscle bound aliens went down by just 2 points per model. This makes a unit of 10 with just Power Picks 300 points or 340 when adding in two Abberent Hypermorphs with Heavy Improvised Weapons. I wish I could tell you there is some cool new play for Abberents at this lower cost, but they are still laughably bad. A unit of 10 shield and sword Lychguard comes in at 280pts for a 2+ 4++ save, higher toughness, Reanimation Protocols, the ability to dish out 50 S8 attacks (1 damage attacks to be fair), and the benefit of the Veil of Darkness to get around their slow speed. Abberents can still hit like a truck filled with bricks, but they better kill something important when they come down because they are not going to last long on the table to make good use of the 300-340 points spent on them.
The best points change is the Goliath Rock Grinder going down 15 points, now with the weapons options coming included in its base price. For 95 points this little murder truck gets D3 Heavy Mining Laser shots during the shooting phase (which can be buffed with the Jackal Alphus or by taking the Hive Cult Cult Trait), gets 10 T7 wounds with a 6+ ignoring wounds save, and can transport small units of 6 models. While these stats may make it sound like a worse Chimera this little truck shines when it gets into close combat. 6+D3 S9 AP2 D3 damage attacks on the turn that a Goliath Rock Grinder charges is no joke. With the changes to the Bring it Down Secondary giving your opponent only 1 point for destroying one of these I believe there is a light vehicle spamming list can be a real option for GSC now. Also, don’t sleep on their ability to transport small units of Acolytes who can jump around to hold objectives using their objective secured rule.
By far the biggest, and best, change in the recent FAQ for GSC players is the change to the GT Mission Pack’s primary scoring. Now the player going second scores their primary points at the end of the last Battle Round instead of during their Command Phase. This is HUGE for GSC. During 8th Edition, when the most popular tournament missions were the ITC Mission Pack, GSC players favored going second because it gave them the biggest advantage with blip deployment before the game began, and it allowed them to utilize their army’s mobility during that last turn to score more points then a static army would be able to.
With this change to the GT Mission Primary scoring a GSC army will have a real benefit from going second again. By going second the GSC Blip mechanic is at its strongest by zoning out your deployment zone (along with anything 9 inches from a Blip), being able to trick your opponent into committing to an area of the table where the GSC have an advantage, and being able to make your opponents first turn less efficient then they had originally planned. Combine the Blip mechanic with the GCS ability to place a unit in reserve at the end of any movement phase and have that unit come back on the board with Cult Ambush in the following turn will allow for late game objective grabs during a time when your opponent may not have the resources to protect all of the objectives they would normally want to. As a bonus, don’t forget our Patriarch’s make Cult units around them fearless, so if your opponent wants to stop you from walking onto those objectives during the last turn of the game they need to kill your units to a man (alien?).
These FAQ changes certainly have me excited to try out some games with my GSC. Let me know what you plan to test out based on the updated points values or how some of your games went going second!