Let’s take a look at how Genestealer Cult may play in 40k and what each unit’s role will be.
Well GW’s done it again folks. That’s right: another nostalgia army! By this of course I mean armies from ye olden days of Rogue Trader and 2nd Edition that haven’t been playable for years. We got Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus, Eldar Harlequins, and Wulfen, but now we’ve got Genestealer Cult on the horizon, and what a release it’s shaping up to be!
Now we have only seen them in the context of the new Deathwatch: Overkill board game, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s minds that they’re going to become the newest army for Warhammer 40,000 as well. With that in mind, let’s take a hypothetical look at how this army will play in 40k and what each unit’s role will be.
The Army List
This bad boy is a step above and beyond the more recent Genestealer Broodlord. Back in 2nd Edition, the Patriarch was a fat, Don Corleone lookin’ genestealer on a throne (there was a running version too….but Don Corleone was too good an image to pass up on). The psychic powers have always been prevalent with the Patriarch, and the newest version seems to be as well. Taking cues from the Space Hulk Broodlord and Spawn of Cryptus, he’s spiny, psychic, and has talons up the wazzoo. In gameplay terms, he’s likely to be the real powerhouse in the army. Expect high stats across the board, at least Mastery Level 2, and maybe even an invulnerable save.
The other classic HQ choice for the Genestealer Cult, the Magus is the face of the cult- the most human-looking among them as a 4th generation hybrid, and a powerful psyker and inspiring leader. Dominating the Psychic Phase may just be the name of the game for the Genestealer Cult in 40k, as the two prominent psychic HQ choices, combined with the possibility of Shadow In The Warp (they ARE Tyranids, after all), could be a potent game-changer. Expect closer to Guardsman-level stats with this guy, save for Mastery Level 2 or 3, probably a Refractor Field or some such to keep him alive, and some leadership abilities so that he acts as a force-multiplier for the Cult’s lesser goons.
Now this is the guy I’m really excited about. An entirely new unit, the Primus is a 1st or 2nd Generation Hybrid who’s been schooled in the arts of war since birth, hidden away from the human populace with a singular goal: to lead the Cult into glorious combat once they reveal themselves as a rebellion. He has the choicest wargear, best weapons, and looks BAMF-tacular to boot. He has a genestealer rending claw, a bonesword, and a needle pistol, so he’s likely to pack a wallop in combat. I imagine he’ll be somewhere between a Space Marine and an Imperial Guard commander in terms of stats, and will likely be the most “customizable” character choice with options for many more weapons, relics, and wargear items.
First and Second Generation Hybrids:
The classic hybrids, more genestealer than human, most have three arms and wield crude knives and autopistols, in addition to their natural rending claws. They look fearsome and are likely to have a high number of attacks, and possibly a decent armor save accounting for their chitinous shells. Hybrids were one of the original troops choices for a Genestealer Cult army- in second edition they had high initiative and strength, were decent fighters but poor shots. I imagine they’ll be fairly similar in their new incarnation as well. In addition to their standard armaments, they also appear able to take Mining Lasers as a heavy weapon.
Third and Fourth Generation Hybrids:
The more human-like of the bunch, these hybrids carry autoguns and wear their old mining pressure suits. These guys tend to be closer to Imperial Guardsmen, usually cheaper in points and better shots than their less humanoid kin, at the cost of weaker armor and less skill at close combat. In addition to their autoguns, some of these hybrids carry grenade launchers for some added punch.
Now these guys are a conundrum. On the one hand, we all know and love Genestealers for what they are (aside from lacking Assault Grenades). On the other….you only get two of them with the Deathwatch: Overkill box…which may indicate Genestealers are getting an overhaul rules-wise. If we assume they’re staying the same, they’re a powerful melee-centric, fast assault unit that can ruin most armies’ day with a well-timed charge.
Last, but definitely not least we have the Genestealer Aberrants. These hulking, malformed creatures appear to be pure close-combat specialists. They carry heavy mining tools- the power hammer or power pick – mentioned as being able to crack open space marine armor. These beasts are sure to be units with high strength and toughness, multiple wounds, and possibly even Feel No Pain.
Play To Your Strengths
So how will the Genestealer Cult play on the tabletop? Warhammer 40,000 armies tend to be either Horde armies (Chaos Daemons, Orks, Imperial Guard, or Tyranids) or Elite armies (Space Marines of all flavors, Eldar, Necrons, Tau)- with variations being model count, skill at close combat or ranged warfare, etc. The older armies tend to have more flexibility overall- you can run a horde Imperial Guard army with a ridiculously high model count, or you can run them as elite troops with veterans, storm troopers, etc.
Genestealer Cult looks to be short ranged, effective in melee, and absolutely dominating in the psychic phase. We may still get a few further units (Brood Brothers/Brethren, Cult Limousine, and a few other potentials are likely for the full release), but with what we see right now we’ll have some ranged support with 3rd and 4th Gen Hybrids, whilst 1st and 2nd Gen Hybrids, the Primus, and Aberrants will likely be melee fighters of varying usefulness. Armor doesn’t seem to be a specialty with the army, nor does ranged combat, but numbers may be, and short-ranged firepower too. So we’re looking at a short-ranged, melee-centric force, which is different than many done before. They won’t have the armor support of Imperial Guard, the all-around toughness of Space Marines, or the randomness of Orks, but nor will they be a defensive shooting force like Tau.
Until we see rules of course, this is speculation, but I imagine positioning will be important with Genestealer Cult armies- firing line with your 3rd and 4th Gen Hybrids and their autoguns, swing into assault with 1st and 2nd Gen Hybrids, and then use Aberrants to break through heavy obstacles like MEQ or TEQ. You’re likely to need your Primus and his special wargear attached to a 1st and 2nd Gen Hybrid squad for maximum effectiveness, while your Magus and Patriarch will likely be acting as psychic support and to shut down your opponent’s psykers- I imagine they will have a large number of psychology-based powers which reflect the Genestealers’ hypnotic abilities.
What are your hopes for how the Genestealer Cult Army will be laid out on the 40K tabletop?