The Genestealer Cult codex was one of the first to include multiple buffing characters who showed up in slots other then Headquarters. In 8th Edition many of my GSC lists had a ton of these small buffing characters that generally were included to give out specific buffs to a single portion of my army, but my 9th Edition army lists have steered clear of these character heavy builds. With the points cost of units generally going up in 9th Edition it can be hard to decide which of these buffing characters make it into your Cult builds. All of them have impressive buffing effects on the tabletop, but 9th Edition (at least maybe until the GSC codex arrives) is a time of hard choices for the GSC. While an entire article could be dedicated to each of these mini-characters on their own, this article will serve as a good starting point to decide which of these Cult leaders make it into your list and which ones stay down in the sewers.
Before we get into looking at which of the buffing characters should come along in the Cult revolt we should pause for a moment to remember Assassinate is still a Secondary Objective in 9th Edition 40k. Assassinate exists AND the GSC are an extremely squishy army where your characters can find themselves outside of protection range from shooting attacks quickly. So, before you go loading your list with all the cool GSC characters think about how easy it is for anything in the game to kill 4 Imperial Guardsmen. That’s how easy it can be to kill some of the GSC characters.
Now to actually look at each character (from outside of the Headquarters slot) to see if they make the new, stricter, cut into a 9th Edition GSC army build. The Kelermorph was an auto include when the GSC codex was first released. This little gunslinger is still close to an auto include, but not as much of a sure-fire pick as he was in the past. At 85 points he is the most expensive non-Headquarters character, but he is generally worth the cost. Many players will try to use Lying in Wait in order to snipe out an enemy character with the Kelermorph early in a game, but this maneuver is extremely risky. Generally, it will end up with your opponent’s character wounded and your Kelermorph in a terrible position. This models power comes from his ability to put out reliable firepower throughout a game, and the best place for that to happen is from behind a line of Neophytes. The longer he survives the better chance he has at witling down those enemy characters.
The Nexos provides some good CP generation for the GSC, and this can be even more important in 9th Edition where the extra Detachments a Cult army is almost always taking will cost precious command points. Unfortunately, even with this upside, finding a spot for a Nexos in an actual GSC list can be tough. The 55 points a Nexos cost can be 5 special weapons for Acolyte Squads, another squad of Neophytes, or even (almost) another Ridgerunner. For a model that will do nothing but generate a command point per turn, and is no longer protected by 8th Edition character targeting rules, your points are better spent elsewhere.
The Locus is an interesting design choice from a list building perspective. If you would ask players if they would pay 45 points to give one of their characters 4 extra wounds I would bet money most would say yes. Basically that is what the Locus does for a friendly Cult character within 3 inches on a 2+. This is interesting because the Locus is the character seen least often in GSC army lists. The Locus is even decent in melee when charging, or being charged, which brings his weapons up to a solid damage 2. BUT, once your Patriarch (or other protected character) is within range of doing damage to an enemy it will always be better to have a plan in place to kill whatever you are fighting then hoping the 45 points spent on a Locus was the right decision. The Locus suffers in the same way the Nexos suffers. 45 points is a lot for something that might not even effect the outcome of the score.
The poor Clamavus, like the Nexos, just isn’t seeing the amount of play he saw in 8th Edition. In the glory days of the Deliverance Brood Surge this little alien DJ was mandatory, but without his favorite Vigilus Detachment the Clamavus is usually wasted points. While a +1 to Advance and Charge aura is a nice ability the lack of additional re-roll charge abilities outside of a Command Re-roll limits the usefulness of this character. If you absolutely need to make a charge with some Rock Saw Acolytes you are better off spending the 3CP for A Perfect Ambush. Maybe one day soon I can tell GSC players about a cool Twisted Helix list that starts on the board and moves super fast up the board by advancing an extra 3 inches, but today is not that day.
I saved my favorite GSC character for last. The Sanctus is a steal at 60 (or 65 if you take the sniper version) points. The sniper version was the way to go in 8th Edition, and is still a viable option, but loses some of its appeal in being restricted to +1 to wound with the relic rifle. This nerf, along with the lack of psykers seen in many army lists, makes the knife wielding assassin character the better choice when going character hunting. 5 attacks hitting on 2s wounding on 2s (for a non-vehicle or titanic target, but you aren’t charging your knife wielding assassin into Knights….right?) with 2 damage is a serious punch for 60 points. You could also go spendy and give him the Dagger of Swift Sacrifice to inflict D3 mortals on a target that was not killed from the original attacks, AND the ability to auto advance 6 with advancing and charging. While I find these extras are too many resources in one basket for a competitive list, it sure is fun to have a 60 point character sprint through a gap in your opponents lines and murder something waaaaaay more important then he was.
Ok, I lied, there is also the Biophagous, but he buffs Abberants and they are terrible. The Biophagous is such a cool model (as are Abberents) I sincerely hope the codex helps my muscle bound brethren.
While this may have been the quickest overview of the plethora of characters available to the Genestealer Cults hopefully it will serve as a quick guide during army list building. When throwing the more specialized members of the Cult in a list it is best to really think about their purpose and seeing if it fits with the overall army goals before slotting them in permanently.