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).
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.