The Best of the Worst GSC

GSC is in a tough spot right now. While over the last few weeks I’ve written articles talking up some of the pros to playing GSC in 9th Edition the fact is that our poor faction is (statistically) one of the worst in the game right now. I do not say this to discourage anyone from getting started with this army, I think playing GSC is one of the most rewarding hobby and competitive gaming experiences I have had in my 20 something year run in the hobby of 40k, but the GSC army is not in the same hemisphere as most of the armies in the game (its not in the same galaxy if we are looking at the Death Guard or Dark Angel releases).

This army is going to be FUN to play against…..

Some of the armies in the game, especially the armies with 9th Edition Codices, have multiple Chapters, Dynasties, or Plague Companies that are legitimate contenders when building a competitive 40k list. GSC does not have this luxury. Bladed Cog is the only Cult Creed that provides our under powered faction with the tools needed to even remotely compete in the 9th Edition meta.

The bright side of all this doom and gloom (I don’t want the psychic conditioning of my Cult followers to be affected by all this negativity) for the followers of the Four Armed Emperor is that our codex is coming. It most likely will not be next week, or even next month, but it is coming down the line. With the 9th Edition Codices that have been released so far I am extremely excited what is in store for the GSC, but until then if you want to compete using the current GSC codex (playing pure GSC) you need to go with the best our limited codex has to offer.

The best Cult Creed that I have experienced in 9th Edition is the Bladed Cog. This should come as no surprise to players who played GSC at the end of 8th Edition as this Cult was always at the top of the tier lists for the GSC Codex.

The first big benefit of the Bladed Cog is their Cult Creed giving all of your infantry on the table a 6+ invulnerable save. At first this may not seem like much, but a 6+ save can make a big difference with the amount of bodies a GSC list can bring to the table. Remember, the Iconward can give your Infantry 6++ saves and your Patriarch is making all of those models immune to morale. It can be easy for your opponent to not get through an entire squad of Neophytes or Acolytes to keep the objectives solidly under GSC control.

The second benefit of the Bladed Cog Cult Trait is also a huge benefit if you plan for it during list building. Currently my GSC lists are packed with Mining Laser Neophytes who ignore the penalty to moving and shooting heavy weapons thanks to the Bladed Cog trait.

The Bladed Cog Warlord Trait is the other reason why my lists are packed with Mining Laser Neophytes. Allowing all units within 6 inches of the character with this Warlord Trait to re-roll the wound roll on one of your opponents units is a huge benefit that can not be overlooked. Remember, this is re-roll the wound roll of ALL attacks, so this Trait works in shooting and in close combat. My current favorite list puts this on a Magus who begins the game solidly inside my massed infantry bricks containing Mining Lasers and Vehicles with Heavy Mining Lasers. Ignoring penalties for moving and shooting heavy weapons, +1 to hit (from an Alphus), re-rolling to wound Mining Lasers hit super hard against anything in the game. The limited range of the Mining Lasers is generally the only downside to this early firepower, but your opponent needs to move forward onto those middle objectives so I have rarely found the 24 inch range of a regular Mining Laser to be an issue.

The second phase to the benefits a Bladed Cog player can get from this Warlord Trait is utilizing the stratagem Return to the Shadows. By using this on your Magus with Single Minded Obsession you are giving up a round of shooting buffs, but you gain the benefit of setting up for the next turn when your Acolyte bombs of Hand Flamers or Rock Saws come down onto the table with re-rolls to wound against your opponents toughest unit. In a meta where Death Guard and Dark Angels resiliency is looking to reign supreme, the benefits of this Warlord Trait cannot be overstated.

Always keep in mind that the unit you select to re-roll wounds against is chosen after deployment, so you will always be able to chose a unit your GSC army is in a good position to inflict heavy damage on Turn 1.

The Bladed Cog stratagem is no slouch either. 1CP to get exploding 5s against Imperium armies is extremely powerful right now in a world still filled with Space Marine factions at the tournament tables. Your opponent may pop that Transhuman Physiology, but with exploding 5s to hit, the sheer amount of attacks a big unit of Acolytes bring to bear, and even re-rolling to wound, the toughest units of the followers of the fake two armed Emperor will take a serious beating.

Finally, the Bladed Cog psychic power from The Greater Good Psychic Awakening book is the best new power the GSC received. Picking a unit of 20 Neophytes in the early game who get a 5+ ignoring wounds save will give your opponent fits shooting their army into an ignoring morale unit with 6+ invulnerable save in addition to their ignoring wounds save. (and for just 1CP you can get D6 of these models back during your next turn).

Later in the game this power can be used to increase the resiliency of your deep striking Acolyte squads. I have had great success with this power after my Hand Flamer Acolytes drop onto my opponents backfield objective using Lying in Wait with a Magus who may even allow them to re-roll their wound rolls if they are shooting the unit which was chosen at the beginning of the game.

While other Cult Creeds can increase the offensive output of the GSC, like Hivecult for shooting or Twisted Helix for melee, not other Cult combines the increased resiliency with slightly increased offensive output that the Bladed Cog can offer.

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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.

4 Responses to “The Best of the Worst GSC”

  1. Avatar
    kaixaukyr February 11, 2021 6:33 am #

    all three TGG factions are bottom of the barrel right now! seems like a real failure of a book!

    • Eric Shifflett
      Eric Shifflett February 12, 2021 10:26 am #

      When the book came out it gave Guard and Tau some solid options for sure (not GSC though), but now it is definitely out dated. All three armies need 9th Ed books, but its going to be a long time coming I think.

  2. Avatar
    Yarium February 11, 2021 9:09 am #

    It’s that the book was designed in the throws of 8th edition, and GW was (rightly!) worried about how abusable it could be. Lots of cheap units that can spike a lot of damage in close combat and can all deep strike. It would be EASY to make it totally, grossly, OP. As such, GW went through with a fine toothed comb and killed any combo potential that wasn’t directly approved.

    For example:
    – there are THREE exclusions to Cult Traits; Brood Brothers, Vehicles, Genestealers (THE NAME OF THE FREAK’IN CODEX GETS EXCLUDED!!!)
    – even then the buffs are highly, highly targeted. Only 4 models in the codex benefit from the “move and shoot heavy weapons” of Bladed Cog; Neophytes with heavy weapons, Jackal Alphus’ sniper rifle, Sanctus’ sniper rifle, and Atalan Jackal Wolfquad with a heavy weapon. Only 2 models in the army have a native Inv save that gets improved by the trait; the Locus and the Kelermorph.
    – there are a lot of great abilities locked behind “you must be this cult to benefit”, because GW knew players would mix and match cults to maximize those benefits. That worked in 8th, as pure GSC forces could run 3 cults, and have 20 CP for doing so. Now you can only start with 12, and bringing in other cults like in the way that the army was intended to function cuts that down to 6CP.
    – add to this, the stratagems are extra expensive CP wise because, again, they figured them based on “players are going to spam detachments to get CP”, with tons that are really only worth 1CP being worth 2CP or even 3CP.
    – add to THIS, the stratagems are also extremely targeted to avoid “abuse”. Again, that makes sense in 8th design philosophy, but it’s lethal to the army’s ability in 9th.

    So, the army really was well designed, but it was designed FOR an edition, and until GW does something for them, playing GSC is playing the game on “Insanity” difficulty.

    • Eric Shifflett
      Eric Shifflett February 12, 2021 10:29 am #

      For sure! When GSC first came out they were super strong. Half of it was the army rules, but the other half was people hadn’t figured out how to counter them yet. Now people know what’s coming AND their rules aren’t great :(. Unfortunately, GW has taken the route of updated each codex slowly (compared to other game systems) throughout the Editions, so it just leaves 40k in a state of constant Haves and Have Nots.

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