Playing with your Patriarch

In last week’s article about picking secondaries while playing Genestealer Cults I mentioned all GSC lists are going to include a certain model. The Patriarch is the leader of the Cults both in the lore and, since they are required to be your Warlord, on the tabletop. Taking a quick glance over the datasheet for the Patriarch a player can understand that this model is a strong melee character much like a Daemon Prince. While this may be true, the Patriarch is not just some strong melee element in your army (actually if you are throwing your Patriarch into the things you need a strong melee character to handle you are most likely playing him wrong), but he is the lynchpin of many GSC strategies on the tabletop.

First, and most importantly, the Patriarch gives a 6 inch ignore morale bubble to all friendly Cult units. This is huge for an army that can take Neophyte and Acolyte squads of 20 models. Generally, a good place for a Patriarch to live on the table is right inside your main force of obsec troops that are spread out on multiple objectives. With the 6 inch aura it is easy to spread out onto multiple objectives while keeping your Patriarch within aura range to ignore morale. During 8th Edition I found myself taking Alien Majesty on my Patriarch to increase this aura to 9 inches, but with the smaller table size, and placement of objectives more close together, I have found this is rarely needed. This frees up the Patriarch to take other Warlord Traits and is an excellent new benefit of the 9th Edition missions and table size.

Since this giant Genestealer will be your Warlord this article wouldn’t be complete without going over some of the more popular Warlord Trait choices for the Patriarch. A tried and true choice is Biomorph Adaptation giving the Patriarch +1 attack and strength brining him up to 7 for both. This is usually my personal choice now that Warlord Traits are selected before the game since it will be useful no matter what my opponent brings to the table. When I decide to commit my Patriarch to combat that little extra push helps a lot.

As far as the defensive Warlord Traits, Shadow Stalker and Born Survivor, I find that if my opponent is really trying to murder the idol of my Cult they are going to do it even if the Patriarch has -1 to hit or -1 damage. For extra defense look to the Bladed Cog specific relic to give a Patriarch a 4++. While the Patriarch cannot benefit from the Cult Creed he still has a Cult keyword making this relic a solid way to up the defenses on your Cult leader. Don’t forget that your Patriarch also has built in defenses in the form of Unquestioning Loyalty, and since he will be living inside your main lines surrounded by Neophytes or Acolytes he should always have bodies to pass wounds off to.

Other then the Bladed Cog specific relic, I usually find myself running a Patriarch with one other relic option instead. The Crouching does cost 15pts and a Relic slot, but for +1 to cast, knowing an additional psychic power AND the ability to allow your Patriarch to cast 2 powers once per game this little side kick is a bargain. Broodmind powers are generally casting on a 6 or 7, and that’s by no means a guarantee when rolling a psychic test. The other trick of the Crouching is understanding when to drop the once per game second power. Sometimes it could be as simple as Smiting a unit your Patriarch is about to make a charge into (remember no casting after advancing even though your Patriarch can advance and charge), but usually I save this second cast to drop a crucial Mass Hypnosis to make a unit fight last.

Ok, this isn’t actually a Familiar model but this is what I use as The Crouchling!

Speaking of The Crouching, the Patriarch also comes with access to the excellent Broodmind Discipline of psychic powers. Now that powers need to be chosen at list construction it is extremely important to understand the role your Patriarch will play during a game. While Might from Beyond is arguably the best power for GSC I rarely place this on my Patriarch. Might from Beyond is best placed on a big squad of Acolytes which generally come in from reserve far from the GSC main lines. For this reason a Magus who is more expendable is a better choice for this power. Since the Patriarch is generally casting only one power per turn my preference is for powers that are slightly easier to cast and can be a benefit to the main line of Neophytes or Acolytes that were stuck on the board as cannon fodder for the enemy. The Bladed Cog (my favorite Cult if you couldn’t tell) power, Undying Vigor, gives a unit a 5+ feel no pain save and casts on a 6+. This is a power that will be beneficial every turn, and it can be cast on anything in your army (assuming it has the Bladed Cog keyword), making it a very flexible psychic power choice.

For the Patriarch’s one or two other powers Mass Hypnosis and Mental Onslaught are both excellent choices. Mass Hypnosis’ ability to turn off Overwatch is no longer the power house it was in 8th Edition, but the other two effects of this power keep it as an excellent choice. Making an opponent fight last along with giving them a -1 to hit can be the difference in getting to swing with a unit of Acolytes or watching those same Acolytes die to Imperial Guardsmen attacks. During your player turn your opponent picks the first unit to fight (unless your unit charged), but after your Patriarch casts Mass Hypnosis on that squad surrounded by Rock Saws, your Acolytes will be doing what they do best in close combat.

Mental Onslaught is another power that has the ability to turn the tide of a game. Getting random wounds on important buff characters is something that this army does extremely well with units like the Sanctus and the Kelermorph, so when you add an additional means to snipe out enemy characters it can be extremely effective. This power can also do absolutely nothing if you roll like I do, so prepare yourself for the let down before casting this power. Mental resiliency in this game is important!

While your Patriarch shouldn’t be thrown away into fighting your opponent’s strongest models, it is still a serious close combat threat. With a base 6 attacks at strength 6 the monstrous rending claws on the Patriarch can do some serious damage. Re-rolling wounds and 6’s to wound causing flat 3 damage at AP one million (-6, but that’s basically one million). This offensive profile, along with some seriously powerful psychic powers, make the Patriarch an effective scalpel that can hide within your main GSC lines.

If we are patient the Star Children will save us!

As a parting thought, just think about the lore of the GSC army while trying to succeed on the tabletop and you will be much more effective in your use of the Patriarch. The Cult wouldn’t throw away the living embodiment of their 4 armed saviors, and neither should you!

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About Eric Shifflett

If my wife ever makes good on her threat to do an inventory of the models in my garage I'd have a real problem on my hands. Until then, I enjoy playing GSC (along with some other armies located in the garage) at local tournaments and hope one day to prove my gaming group wrong about how terrible I am at this game I love.

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