This week’s article is going to focus on one of the areas where the Genestealer Cults still have something to celebrate. The psychic phase can still be a big strength for the Cults. With some of the most impactful powers available to almost any army, GSC is zigging when the rest of 40k is zagging by taking more psykers then before (well, maybe not more, but not less!).
Before we get into the specific powers it needs to be addressed that the GSC codex can’t be a psychic powerhouse by simply throwing a Magus in your army and rolling those casting dice. The average Casting Value for GSC powers is 7, and while this gives you a roughly 50/50 shot to cast a power, it is not something that you should rely on during a game of 40k. Thankfully, the GSC have access to multiple buffs for their psykers that allow these higher then average warp charge powers to be cast at a more manageable casting roll.
As I have mentioned in some of my GSC articles before The Crouchling has been, and remains, one of the best relics in the GSC book. Getting +1 to cast, getting to know an additional power, and casting an additional power once per game is a serious bargain for the relic slot and the 15 points you pay for taking this upgraded Familiar. Bringing down many powers from needing to roll a 7 to needing to roll a 6 makes a huge difference in the reliability of those casting attempts.
The Greater Good Psychic Awakening book gave the GSC yet another way to buff their psychic phase. The Cults Psyche stratagem allows you to pay 1CP during list construction to give a Magus +1 to cast while within 3 inches of another GSC psyker. Since virtually all GSC lists come with an additional psyker, in the form of a Patriarch (some of you messaged and told me you don’t take a Patriarch, you’re Guard players please adjust your ITC rankings accordingly), it’s an easy ask to get at least +1 to cast for your Magus.
Now that we understand the important buffs required to make these awesome Cult powers actually manifest during the game we can take a look at some of the more influential powers available to the GSC.
Mass Hypnosis Warp Charge 7- This power used to be amazing way back in 8th Edition. Remember when every unit you charged could Overwatch? Yea, that sucked for GSC, and this power turned off all those pesky out of turn kills your opponent could get against your squishy almost bugs. Currently, Overwatch isn’t as big a deal for the Cults, but something else in the game has taken its place. The amount of “fights last” or “fights first” rules in the game is only growing with each codex, and the other benefit of Mass Hypnosis is making a unit fight last. Oh, AND your opponent is -1 to hit until your next psychic phase. This power goes in all GSC lists first.
Psychic Stimulus Warp Charge 6- It took me a long time to figure out how awesome this power is. Not only does it let any GSC unit advance and charge reliably, but it also gives them that important “fights first” ability. With the stratagem from The Greater Good, which allows a unit of Acolytes to advance and charge, you can have two bricks of Acolytes moving fast up the board for charges your opponent didn’t see coming. Combining the “fights first” from this power for one unit and casting Mass Hypnosis on the other unit’s charge target can be a game winning combination.
Might from Beyond Warp Charge 7- +1 attack and strength for a unit? In today’s meta of only wound on a 4+ Marines, -1 damage Death Guard, and reanimation Necrons, GSC players need this power to do the damage needed with their charging Acolytes or Abberants (don’t take Abberants). This power can be the difference of clearing an objective for a turn or getting hit back. GSC do NOT want to get hit back.
Mental Onslaught Warp Charge 6- Oh man, remember killing Knights with this power when it was broken? Those were good times. “Come near this Leadership 13 Patriarch with anything and I will end you”. Unfortunately, Games Workshop did not share my joy about this power and it was quickly nerfed. This power is still useful to pick some mortal wounds off a protected Character or by killing some of the tougher units in the game like Deathwing or Blightlord Terminators, but it is seriously unreliable. If this power does anything during a game I am happy, and for this reason it doesn’t make the cut into many of my GSC lists.
Mind Control Warp Charge 7- Can’t even let us get all the attacks from a model we Mind Control in close combat huh GW?! This power will work exactly once on an unwary opponent, and then they will never let another GSC player allow their Shadowsword to fire into their own units again. With the way the power is worded you can fire one weapon from the model being mind controlled, or make ONE single close combat attack with it if it is within engagement range of enemy (friendly?) models. If this allowed a full close combat swing, maybe, but in its current form this is a power best left out of a GSC list.
Psionic Blast Warp Charge 5- Nope, keep reading.
As you can see some of these powers have serious play in the current 40k meta, but we aren’t even done! Below are some of the more useful powers from For the Greater Good book that are locked to specific Cults.
Twisted Helix- Mutagenic Deviation Warp Charge 6- Gives your units +1 to wound in melee against a specific unit. This power is bonkers good. If this power was in a different book it may have an argument for best psychic power in the game. I truly believe there is a decent Twisted Helix list in the GSC codex for 9th Edition, and some of that is because of this power.
Bladed Cog- Undying Vigor Warp Charge 6- Giving units a 5+ ignoring wounds save is super nice for a faction with very little options for resiliency. This is a good power in the best Cult. Generally, I find myself casting this on a unit of Ridgerunners or Acolytes to make killing them much more annoying then my opponent planned for.
Cult of the Four Armed Emperor- Undermine Warp Charge 8- Halving the movement, advance and charge of a unit can be extremely devastating to your opponents plans, but even with the ways the GCS codex can buff a psykers casting roll this power is unreliable. When it works it’ll be awesome. When this power doesn’t work, whatever you threw forward to try this gambit is dead.
If you read this article and thought, “Wow, these powers take a lot of set up and planning to use at their peak efficiency”, you are getting a good grasp on the life of a GSC player! Like everything else in our complicated, fragile, army planning is essential and mistakes will be punished harsher then if a different faction committed the same mistake. I hope this quick primer on the GSC psychic capabilities helps some of you Cult players during these tough times!