Goatboy’s 40k: Genestealer Cults Rising


Goatboy here again with some Genestealer Cult thoughts. I’ve had time to test out the codex and it’s a gamechanger.

Locally, my buddy Ben “Bad Touch” Mohile is testing out some builds utilizing the new Cult.  So far the results appear to be promising with the threat of crazy assault phased turns and brutal retaliations on the army if things don’t go right.  This has led me to think of a few interesting things about the book and I want to throw out some thoughts.


We’re purple under these masks – we swear!

Get Used to Counts-as

First – I don’t think you will every see a real Genestealer cult model army.  The way it is working out has me think this army becomes the poster child for counts as – whether it is saving money or just not having much of a like towards the models – it isn’t going to actually be Genestealer cult.  The current ideas for counts as either has you running a “Blood Axe” Ork army or a rad Catachan mash up.  I actually like the models and the army built – it is just the threat of painting 100+ models leaves me not wanting to grab any.  Still this is the army I see getting chosen and then intermixed with some 3rd party models. Getting a 20 man unit of hybrids is just a very expensive option right now – with even the Overkill box only giving you 16.

Codex Chaos Daemons

Move over Daemons

The next thing I noticed is that they have probably the most interesting summons power in the game.  We all know how powerful and annoying Daemon summoning can be.  This is like that – but with the added benefit of giving you the perfect “counter” to whatever you are playing against.  Oh you see some Knights on the table – summing some hybrids with Rock Saws to cut the knight at the knees.  Oh is that objective going to get away from you?  How about you get some Neophytes out there to hold it down.  Oh wait – you need better shooting too?  Hey you can give them all Mining lasers and go to town.  This power is extremely versatile and I can see a lot of games getting won by a random summons and a roll of a 6 on the ambush chart.


Surprise! BOOM BOOM


Speaking about the Ambush chart – there is nothing in the rules saying you reroll any doubles.  Psychics and other abilities tell you to reroll but this one doesn’t.  I think this is a lock on keeping one of the formations from getting really nutty and always fishing for that 6.  Remember this when you play against them that whatever they roll they have to keep and pick from.  So if you see three 1’s they are coming from their table edge.

I hope we get some direct answers on what Servo skulls do to the army.  I personally think they do nothing to stop the Cult Ambush.  The rule stats they set up during the infiltration phase of set up – not that they set up by Infiltrate rules.  You can always see this in how they answered the initial FAQ question based on the Overkill formation.  Of course they could look at this as a simple nerf and let the skulls mess them up.


We got these lasers for FREE!

Cult Units

Any unit upgrades seem to not be worth it.  The basic Hybrid is extremely powerful as they are cheap, have decent stats, useful USR’s, and the added ability to hurt just about anything in the game.  Seeing a unit of 20 charge in, reroll all their hits, come in at strength 5, and start at 80 attacks is a scary thing.  This is what it should be like who hit by a wave of Genestealers.  I think the basic 20 man blob of rending jerk holes is going to be the best thing in the book.  There is no need to add any rock saws, weapons, or other upgrades as you can always summon those weapons for free later if you need too.  180 points for 20 guys is a steal.  What isn’t a steal is 40 bucks for 5 of those said jerks.

This army really feels like a big flip of the finger to the Tyranids.  Their troops are better and a decent cost.  They have access to better weaponry.  Their psychic tree is extremely useful with mostly decent spells.  Their HQ choices are cheap and useful beyond an angry flying MC.  Their rules feel a lot stronger with interactions that are more then just a constant push to get killed with mediocre options.  I don’t know how to fix the Nids with this book in mind but it is something to really think about when we stop getting upset at the injustice doing to the Chaos Space Marines.

The HQ choices are extremely powerful.  The bubble buffs they throw out are all good – with the Magnus being the “worst” of the bunch but since he is attached to a cheap lvl 2 caster he is ok.  The Primus is the key to the first turn table army with the Patriarch keeping everything running smoothly.  The only upgrades I see worth it is when you get your casters to Level 2 and adding a few familiars to spice each leader.  The ability to always pass off a wound is also very frustrating as while they lack an invulnerable save – you will just end up killing all their bros as they keep slashing you down.  Hatred bubble effects is amazing as is the Fearless rule giving by the grand daddy of the Genestealers.


The Great Father says don’t slow-play!

Building Lists & Using the Cults

This army will bring a lot of turn 1 tablings at events.  They will also get beaten on turn 1 as well – when the ambush table doesn’t work out.  If the army runs with the Uprising and gets a few 6’s rolled for the ambush table will end a lot of armies.  I don’t see a Tau player surviving nor an Eldar player.  It is just too many bodies coming in, having assault grenades, and hurting anything they touch.  Though they will have a fit when someone seizes on them, kills everything and just slowly mops up the army.  It is going to be like a Daemon army – give you 4 or 5 really good games but will end up taking a lose due to the weight of the dice.

I think a lot of armies will need to pull in a CAD to get some pinpoint Objective secured troops to steal things from your enemy.  So far the builds are heavily utilizing the Decurion as the formations within really showcase the armies power.  This leads me to another soapbox rant that says if you take the Decurion that should be all you take – no other CADs/Allies/etc – just the options listed in there.  We’ll see how 8th will pan out but this type of army building is here to stay for now.

A big hit against this army is that it will take a long time to play.  You have a ton of rolls, a ton of different set up options, and even extremely long assault phases.  This is probably going to keep this out of a massed rush to the top as while it is a good army – it is not an easy army to play.  You will have to have your set up down and ensure you are giving your opponent and game enough time.  There are so many options in each turn and anything to slow it down will lead players and people giving you a hard time for slow playing it.  Just know this before you start – get a lot of practice with the cult before you start taking over cities for the 4 armed emperor.

~ How impressed are you with 40K’s latest army?

  • Goatboy trying to justify counts-as’ing. Not even surprised.

    • Arthfael

      My thoughts exactly. Mind you, it is not a bad thing when done cleverly, but going as far as stating we won’t be seeing any true Genecult armies tells a lot about how his brain works…

      • euansmith

        It could be a nice way to field some actual ‘nids. Using ‘gaunts in place of Cultists with some conversion work for the special weapons.

      • ZeeLobby

        I agree… But man are they expensive for a horde army.

        • Karru

          It’s depressing to look at my 2007 Northern Europe Catalogue for GW products and see the 30€ 20 model Cadian Infantry Squad box. They really need to make a “expansion” pack for all horde armies that costs like 80-100€ and contains just the basic units. For Guard it could just have like 60 Infantry and 6 Heavy Weapons. Basically something similar to the Tyranid Swarm box. Just a lot of the basic units that you know you need around 100 to have the core of the army.

          • SYSTem050

            There is a rumour regarding the possibility of premium getting started boxed set. Essentially twice the current price for three times the number of models. For imp guard that would be three squads, three tanks for ~£100

          • Karru

            Yeah, but I would prefer if it was just Infantry. Standard Guard army usually includes around 2-4 Leman Russes depending on the amount of other vehicles you want. One of the many reasons why people prefer Veterans over Infantry Platoons. Those things cost so much money to field at full efficiency and GW isn’t doing them any favours with reduced kit sizes and bundles that come with same amount of vehicles as there are Infantry units in it.

          • euansmith

            Prepainted would be nice too 😉

    • benn grimm

      Shouldn’t need justifying really.

  • Karru

    Well, that Catachan count-as army actually sounds pretty interesting. I might have to look into it a bit more.

  • Painjunky

    What’s wrong with counts as?
    As long as you have a pre game talk (which you need to do anyway nowadays) and it’s clear to the opponent what’s what.

    • euansmith

      I like “Counts As”; but I can see where people get their noses put out of joint. Especially if they have just spent a zillion quid on buying and hours on painting the latest hotness, only to have someone rock up with there normal old army, playing counts as.

      One great thing about “Counts As” is the way that it allows armies with under powered ‘dexes to compete.

      • ZeeLobby

        Which is why I have little issue with proxying, but playing an entire counts as army seems cheap. Like you said it could really just be the amount of money one must spend to play the game though.

        • Karru

          I allow count as armies as long as they make sense. Oh, you play Iron Warriors with SM codex? Cool, do you want to use your dinos as well since those are not available to your book but still fit the theme?

          Someone plays a Tau army with 10€ toy mechs that he bought from the local super market and hasn’t even taken the time to paint/convert them? You can pack your stuff, good sir.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, My line stops at models and base sizes. If they’re models on the correct bases I’m fine. If they want to proxy and print out a picture of it, I’m OK with it. If they continuously play with an aluminum can as a drop pod, then I have issues.

            At the same time, my friend wanted to try out a drop pod list he wrote, but I’m not going to make him go out and buy the 7 droppods for it before he even knows if he likes it. So we just used upside-down solo cups.

          • Karru

            I also let my opponents try out different “stupid” stuff that would require some immense investment of both time and money in order to even test it out. Once there was this one guy who wanted to test a full Drop Pod army and he agreed that to make it easier to both, he said they were not there for the purpose of models, he just used one of his pods as a marker from which he then disembarked and removed it to use for another unit.

            Should he attempt to test this list against me more than 2 times, I would start to have a problem with it.

            As for the Base sizes, I usually allow for people to go for bigger bases than the one provided if they wish, but if they try to use smaller bases then I will have a problem. One of my friends replaced the small base of Ragnar Blackmane with a Terminator base, since basically only his heels would be touching the base on the smaller one.

          • ZeeLobby

            I guess I just play more often. More than 2 times can occur before my friends next paycheck hits, haha.

          • Karru

            I meant is as more of a matter of him not buying those pods even though I am very much aware that it’s just the matter of getting them at that point. Besides, there were many more that he tested it out against.

        • benn grimm

          Having more money doesn’t make an approach any more or less valid. It should be down to the aesthetic, to my mind anyway.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean buying a horde of orks is cheap, buying a horde of GSC is expensive. I would prefer to field actual GSC models at all times, but I’d let my friend field his pre-existing GSC as Orks to let him figure out if he likes the army, or to slowly replace models as he has disposable income.

          • benn grimm

            Orks used to be cheap(ish) not any more so much. Painting/converting a whole horde to look like blood axes, complete with ‘looted’ russes/basilisks etc, is most definitely not cheap, and since they can’t be satisfactorily run as what they really are(imo) GSC seems like a good way to do so.

            Personally I already have a bunch of stealers and a bunch of necromunda gangers/chaos cultists, to me they’re just as valid a GSC army as one featuring all the new, prohibitively expensive hybrid models. Might not be quite as nice to look at for some eyes, may be a pain the rear to carry about, but still as valid.

          • ZeeLobby

            They’re pretty cheap when you factor in eBay though. My friend got his entire army for a 3rd of retail.

          • benn grimm

            For sure, sounds like he got a nice deal there 🙂

      • Craig Mills

        haha there was one guy at my local club a few years ago that used a can of coke ‘counts as’ a riptide.

        its just upsetting he also owns a toy elephant which ‘counted as’ a Mumakil.

        • euansmith

          Why didn’t he use the elephant as a Riptide? The Counts As is weak in this one! A Ripphant! An Eletide!

          In “Counts As” I would expect actual models of some sort rather than just the contents of my opponent’s lunch box.

          • Rhaen

            Everyone knows that the only thing you can leagaly proxy with a soda can is a Killa kan!..

          • SYSTem050

            Or a drop pod

      • benn grimm

        ‘Counts as’ is, for me, a green light to model/convert a whole cool unique looking army. My army. Not just a copy of something from the army book or the website.

        Cooking up a new concept and trying to realize it utilizing what bits are available and a tonne of green stuff is what holds my interest after all these years. And it often costs equal to or more than buying stock.

        I see far more terrible looking stock model armies than I do counts as, and tbh I get tired of seeing people running the latest hotness badly painted or unpainted. Just because one can afford to buy lots of new, expensive things doesn’t make it more valid approach.

        • euansmith

          Yeah, that is the difference between “Counts As” and “Proxy” in my book.

          • benn grimm

            No one likes playing a guy running a bunch of uniform armless marines and being informed ‘this one is the medic, this is the melta, this is the sarge..’ etc, then being expected to remember, but I really have no issue if you proxy a nicely painted ‘white marine’ army for a black, purple, yellow, red marine army etc.

      • Dave Bacon

        I sometimes use squats as “Counts as” guardsmen. It really annoys one of my opponents because he hates the old squat models. But what am I to do? Replace them all with actual guardsmen? I’ve had the little buggers 20 odd years and I’m not prepared to part ways with them just yet.

        Also, I used them as “Counts as” cultists in my GSC army a couple of weeks ago. And now I have a full 1500 point GSC army with no counts as models. But I can’t see it. Because Goatboy said so.

        Stupid invisible cultists.

        • benn grimm

          I don’t personally like a lot of the official space marine models; should this matter to anyone else? Of course not, your army is your army, stick with the squats and have fun playing them as whatever equivalent suits you best.

        • euansmith

          That’s smashing. Squats popping out of and in to hidden tunnels are a great use of “Counts As GSC” 🙂

    • Nameless

      so long as the counts as is clear (inc. any model by model upgrades, special weapons ect.) then there should be any issue.

      but there are many more dubious gamers who will and have used counts as to their advantage: special weapons moving around the unit as they take casualties, even special weapons changing from one to another when they get used.

      the other issue with counts as is army of the month. where a player will jump onto the newest bandwagon due to perceived advantages. This isn’t inherently wrong, however can lead to more rules mistakes, never mastering any one army and the opponent can be left feel cheated at the end.

  • Craig Mills

    very impressed with the codex overall though it is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into codex, despite been on the receiving end of there ‘return to the shadow and cult ambush abilities’ eliminating key targets or capturing objectives has become much easier, but on it does not always play that.

  • euansmith

    “This army will bring a lot of turn 1 tablings at events. They will also get beaten on turn 1 as well – when the ambush table doesn’t work out.”

    Sigh… Tactical Depth, where art thou?

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s all before the rolling-to-go-first phase. Mind games, lewd comments, shaking the table, etc. In the grim dark future… There is only dice roll-offs!

    • Parthis

      It’s hyperbole though, no one, and I mean NO ONE is getting tabled turn 1 by the Cult forces.

      • ZeeLobby

        But I’ve seen plenty of games getting decided by turn one. It might as well be a tabling at that point. Usually turns 2 and 3 are just fast cleanup. Or watching your opponent move his one remaining unit around trying to grab a couple points before being obliterated.

        At the last competitive event I went to, I’d say it happened in about 1/3 of the games.

        • Parthis

          Decided by turn 1 and tabled by turn 1 aren’t the same thing though. If your game is decided by turn 1, you’ve done something wrong. There are ways of protecting yourself against turn 1 alpha strikes against the Cult (I’m not guessing here, my last three games were against the Cult).

          Treat them like a drop pod army; position accordingly. Hide a flamer or two in big squads, etc etc. Simple stuff we’ve been doing for years is still effective against them.

          • ZeeLobby

            Against cult. Sure. I just meant the game in general. The number of opponents I’ve seen lose decidedly by the bottom of turn one to Eldar, etc. I think he was commenting more on the state of the game rather than just this faction. The less impactful turns in a game, the less tactical depth it has. Considering most armies can be effective on turn one means less tactical depth. If my whole army can shoot you turn one, what’s the point in maneuvering, terrain, etc.

    • Andrew Thomas

      I imagine GB and Petey bumped into each other while writing, got their notes mixed together, and material slated for an inevitable “Codex: Subterranean Uprising” got blended into what was intended to be a serious tactics article. As for Depth of tactics, read my earliest post in this thread.

  • Simon Chatterley

    Lazy counts as infuriates me tbh.

    “I cba painting a whole new army so I’ll use these Orks instead”

    No thanks.

    Now you go to a lot of effort and make something cool then I have no issues but that is just not cool in my book.

    • euansmith

      An alternative view could be, “I’ve invested a lot of time and money in making my army, but GW have written a terrible codex for them, so, in order to have some fun from my investment, I’m going to field them using a different codex.” Chaos Space Marines Counts As Space Wolves r Squats Counts As Genestealer Cult, for example, seem fine to me. Just so long as your opponent knows what is what.

      • Simon Chatterley

        If it’s conversions and effort I’m all for counts as. If it’s “I’m testing a force before I commit lots of money to buying it” I can live with that.

        Goat was hinting people rocking up with counts as to tournies (since that’s his main stomping ground) and frankly that’s not on in my book unless it’s a cool conversion project. If I’ve gone to the effort of buying the right force, making it wysiwyg and then painting it I expect the same level of commitment from everyone.

        If that’s harsh then it’s harsh but lazy counts as to get the new hotness is pretty criminal in my hobby mind.

  • BigGrim

    Not gonna see any real Gene Cults? Yer frickin’ insane. People have wanted this army to return for decades! The fact it has a nice fluffy AND crunchy Codex is a bonus.

    • denzark

      Concur – although mine may feature RT hybrids…

      • BigGrim

        And I heartily applaud this!

      • Simon Chatterley

        Needs more skulls

    • BartTP

      This. Also – some guys – like me – already HAVE an army made of old rogue trader models and conversions.

      i obviously will field some cawdors and redemptionists from Necromunda AS neophytes (or IG allies), but they totally fit (back in the days cults were more about infected humans than hybrids actually).

      Pic related – some of my models. Obviously I bought an Overkill and few boxes of new hybrids.

  • benn grimm

    Ignoring all the awful murdering of English language and power-talk, I actually kinda agree with the goat, proxying/converting is going to be popular with this army, mostly because of the insane prices they’re charging for it, but also because the army lends itself so well conceptually to it.

    Using imp guardsmen or cultists just works, subbing in converted posessed for stealers or ghouls with guns for hybrids also will work just fine. Scratch building limos, painting up (or dusting off) a whole blood axe army; hobby awesome sauce right there.

    • jeff white

      i quickly gave up on the original,
      then got a lot out of your comment immediately.

      • benn grimm

        Lol, no probs, I tend to skim read his musings, hurts the eyes less 😉

  • Jacob Avelon Lindfors

    And thennnn… there’s me been cracking away at the stack I bought before

  • Jacob Avelon Lindfors
    • BigGrim

      So much beautiful plastic!!

    • Neal Laxman

      Nice one champ… Hope hat doesn’t get monotonous 😉

      • Jacob Avelon Lindfors

        I’ve been having a blast, though I’m sure it will in about a month haha

        • Neal Laxman

          How many boxes through are you?

          • Jacob Avelon Lindfors

            Assembliny wise, 18 of the 23. Painting has begun and is well underway

    • nurglitch

      You, sir, are a Patriarch amongst men-like-things.

  • aspsnake

    While the codex is certainly very strong and stuff, it’s important not to overevaluate things. Firstly, the servo-skulls: it’s not like Eldar and Tau players didn’t bring a 34pts xenos insquisitor along to tournaments before, and it’s not like its popularity is gonna drop. 3 servo-skulls set up on the 4’x6′ table basically almost disallow 1st turn charges, if you deploy your army well. Second thing is the turn: you play vs Tau, roll lots of 6s for cult ambush table, but… lose the turn roll. Should I tell you or you already guessed that the genestealer player is screwed, with fire warriors and broadsides rapid firing at the 6+ guys and making it not possible to charge turn 1, and therefore probably never ever again. should 1 model in a crucial unit survive, they can jet move within 6″ move and not let them go into shadows.

    • EnTyme

      There is still a lot of legitimate discussion about whether or not Servo Skull affect Cult Ambush. Cult Ambush isn’t explicitly referred to as a form of Infiltrate, just that it can be done instead of Infiltrating. I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, though, I don’t think they do.
      By the “turn roll” I assume you’re referring to the roll to see who deploys first/has first turn. If so, that roll occurs before deployment, so the GSC player will know whether or not to risk a 3″ deployment with his 6s. If not, he can deploy them pretty much anywhere else on the board out of LoS and Return to the Shadows on his turn. If you were referring to the Seize the Initiative roll, that’s only a 1/6 chance, which is, in my opinion, worth the risk considering the GSC player could potentially tie up a good portion of the Tau player’s shooting starting turn 1.

      • aspsnake

        Don’t know about servo-skulls, need to check exact phrasing. Deploying so many models (150+) out of line of sight from Tau – I would look at it 🙂 but you’re right in the way that I didn’t think through – you can indeed deploy some crucial units in the back, go into shadows and try rolling 6s every two turns. What’s also fun is intercept – seems like this can ruin the whole day of genestealers :p

        • EnTyme

          Tau definitely have a lot of tools to deal with the GSC, but keep in mind that the Genestealers can also be one of the most effective MSU armies, so we’re talking dozens of units coming on per turn, also summoned units come on during the Psychic phase, and interceptor is limited to units coming on during the movement phase if I’m not mistaken. That Tau are one of the tougher armies for the Genestealers to face, but I’ve seen multiple Bat Reps where GSC beat tournament-quality Tau and Eldar lists. They are definitely in the same tier.

          • Andrew Thomas

            If you have more units coming in than they have units capable of Interceptor Fire, then you can exploit one of the faction’s biggest strengths, attrition warfare, and eventually blunt his Interceptor game by locking out enough of his models that they never fire again.

  • MelonNeko

    I love this codex! I think the first curse might be too powerful so I’m not sure I will use it, but it otherwise looks great. I have already bought 2 acolyte boxes and overkill, i need 2 or 3 more for my army and then 2 or 3 boxes of neophytes. My 2k army write up has 102 models. I like the goliaths but I’m not going to use them at first, since the ambush is my favorite part.
    I do think counts as armies with the codex will be great, mostly for chaos cultists, with genestealers counting as bloodletters or daemonetts or so unaligned daemon. The patriach as a demon prince.
    I have several counts as armies. When I make a counts as army I generally try not to use 40k models so there is less confusion. My exodites use dark elf, wood elf, high elf and eldar for conversion pieces. My nurgle daemon swamp army uses Sylvaneth models and I have pieces of an undead 40k army using OG and undead pieces for conversion…

  • Andrew Thomas

    I take issue with people characterizing this Faction as a mono-build army. Sure, Uprising is polarizing Formation, that will either win you the game or leave you riddled with holes, but it’s not the only thing in the book. Cavalcade gives Sentinels value that Talon Co. couldn’t touch, Broodsurge takes your already rugged transports and makes them faster and tougher, and your cannon-fodder, easier to get into position, Demo Claw…*pause for maniacal laughter*, and then you have a perfect Deathstar PB ‘n’ C scenario of the Doting Throng + Broodcoven (Semantics, yay!), add CAD Iconwards as needed. To sum up, there’s more than enough variety in the codex to reward differing play styles.

  • Countdiscount

    In a mirror match, this army is going to be a crazy and loooooong chess game.