Nemesis: How to Beat the Grey Knights – Blood Angel Style
MBG here with a rather long winded, but hopefully in-depth and helpful post on beating the Grey Knights.
It seems everywhere you go these days it’s Grey Knights all the time. Why? Well lets face it, they have a very broad appeal and in the local environment they seem to be easy to win with.
Casual players may not have adapted to their tricks and tactics yet, and the GK’s can win just on their base stats and average play alone.
I’ve seen it at my store, people that had a hard time consistently winning games, started rolling opponents with their shiny new GK army. Now I mean hey they paid for the minis why not play with them sure, but I can imagine that makes a lot of veteran players out there very unhappy. Not everyone can afford new minis with each release- heck sometimes each edition of the game.
The last time that I can remember an army came out and divided gamer opinion so much was the Zilla Nids back five or six years ago. They also had that broad appeal (big scary monstars, rawr), and were easy to use for both novice and veteran alike.
Fast forward to now, and are Grey Knights jumping the shark? Only time (and 6th Edition?) will truly tell.
So how does one deal with the warriors of Titan? First lets tale a look at what makes them “so good” and develop some strategies to counteract their strengths.
Their current meta seems to revolve around three solid lists, each with variants. There are of course other lists that were stronger before the summer 40k Rulebook and Grey Knight FAQ’s came out, but still very viable against most other armies.
The first list is of course Draigowing, which generally spams out Paladins or regular Terminators with as many Psycannons as possible for shooting. Sometimes you see Mordak in there, or a Librarian, or another Chapter Master for grenades (which they probably don’t need- topic for another day).
So generally lots of high strength power weapons (thanks to hammerhands, etc), and Feel No Pain multi-wound models, that have a threat range starting at 42″ (6″ move plus 36″ for psycannons). At 24″ to 30″ inches they are even deadlier to infantry models with their possible strength 5 stormbolters, and at twelve inches most every unit and the game with die to their assault.
In assault most optimal load outs have weapons that swing at variable initiatives, i.e mixing halberds for I6, splashing a few hammers for anti-armor and I1, and there will yet be a few swords in there (apothecary, etc) at I4. This is good for messing with your opponents wound allocation, forcing him to maybe lose chump models early, and saving the juicier ones to get hammered or just jammed up with to many wounds to save them all later on in the initiative step.
Strengths: High strength power weapons, good mid range shooting with psycannons, and strength five stormbolters. Draigo, and Librarian witchery.
Weaknesses: Mobility, range, and “low” model count/ scoring units.
Another popular list, that seems to be doing well is multiple copies of Dreadnoughts armed with Psybolt Autocannons. They spit hot fire at Strength 8, and have a respectable range. They are even better fielded in three’s or sixes. Mixed with either Cotaez and Henchman, or strike/ purifier squads and the result is a very well rounded adaptable list.
Strengths: Multiple Long Range high strength shots, good scoring unit loadout, adaptable.
Weakness: Coherency, Reliance on line of sight, weaker infantry, no invulnerable save.
One list that I really like is basically Purifier Spam. These guys are the swiss army knife of the book, able to handle both hordes and normal units with relative ease. Mix in the ability to have boosted psycannons and the fact that they are fearless, and you have a serious threat that’s field-able in semi large numbers. The trick is to make them/ get scoring units into the mix.
Strengths: pretty much good at everything
Weaknesses: Scoring units, No Invulnerable save
Those are the popular lists as far as I can tell, and I have a few ideas on how to defeat them with Blood Angels.
Now lets take a look at some anti Grey Knights tactics, and see how I’ve defeated them using Blood Angels.
For a lot of players Blood Angels may not even be a consideration in this current world of Space Wolves, Imperial Guard, and Grey Knights, oh my? However they are still very solid list wise, and their synergy is probably the best in the game right now.
What puts them over the top in my opinion is the fact you can boost their attacks, initiative, and give them feel no pain across the board. That seems (at least to me) to set them apart from every other Astartes chapter- except Grey Knights. To defeat the warriors of Titan, however the Blood Angels will need to enlist some units and tactics that they may not be used to.
Above is my general competitive Blood Angels list. I’m going to be tweeking it a bit to deal with Grey Knights across the board, using some of the tactics I discuss below. Right now I know I need some more scoring units, and perhaps a Furioso or two.
I’d like to do an article in the future on how I play my Blood Angels on the field.
First off beating Paladins in hand to hand is one of the most difficult tasks in the game. Fortunately you can probably dictate that battle on your terms with Blood Angels because of their mobility (vs the 6″ a turn the Paladins/ Termies can move). However you will need more than that to beat a 10 man squad of Paladins.
For objective missions I like to block off the objective with Rhinos, and keep my assault troop with jump packs lurking behind them for counter assault. I call it “directing traffic”, and while the enemy can assault the tanks, most of the time it buys enough time for the game to end or for me to get my heavy hitters into place to deal with that threat.
Now to deal with Paladins you’ll need more that just Rhinos and an assault squad w/ jump packs, you will need EVERYONE. You have to hit that unit with pretty much everything, and even then well it may still be close (much like assaulting ‘crusherstars). The trick I’ve found to beating them is use the assault troops to attack any special characters, and use all the power weapons (Sanguinor, Mephiston/ Librarian, Priests, etc) on the squad itself. Whittle down the base models, and then deal with Draigo, or Mordrak or whatever big baddie is left.
I also use thunder hammers with my assault sergeants, so any wounds that get though on the squad make Paladins (because they are unique, multi-wound models) Initiative 1 next round, which can be huge. Sometimes I throw the hammer on some Independent Character that can be doubled out easily, too. It really just depends on what’s going on at the time.
The big risk is getting counter assaulted by another Paladin squad or just some regular Grey Knights, etc. So I try to use the Rhinos to block assault paths as much as I can to minimize this risk (or even double tank shocking a squad to make it move out of the way just enough to delay an assault).
Thus far it’s only taken two full assaults to deal with a squad this way at least for me. Sure, I’ve taken heavy losses, but generally have enough left to still carry the day.
Some key to winning the assault are softening up the squad with shooting (flamers are good for this too because generally you get 5-6 hits), and getting the assault bonuses from Sanguinor and Sanguinary Priest’s Grails. Volume of fire pre-assault is what you are looking for, just one melta shot or two isn’t going to do it (because they will just take it on Draigo).
Also being in good position to launch assault, because of the Blood Angels mobility, will hopefully set the tone for a good round of combat (regardless of GK causalities removed). Of course, if the squad is all armed with halberds the assault will be even closer, and may require even more shooting/ maneuvering/ number of units involved.
There are also other dangers to them when they assault as well, but I can’t get into everything right now. Just know that where you place every Independent Character is critical in an assault like this- not all of the ones I have mentioned will survive a combat like this.
This is where the army needs some new units to help win the battle, most notably the Furioso Dreadnought with Blood Talons. There is one thing that the Grey Knights lack, and that is reliable melta weaponry. Sure you can give them to henchmen, but they would probably be better served hiding on some objective, than taking a pot shot at some armor and then dying (just my two cents).
A melta-less environment is where Mr. Furioso excels. With the type of army I run, he is perfect to arrive by Drop Pod, and pop smoke. The next turn usually sees him munching on Power Armor Grey Knights, or even squads of Dreadnoughts. On the charge a Furioso has almost as many attacks as a squad of three Psybolt dreadnoughts, and he’s strength 7 if there is a grail nearby. Plus he can shoot with his melta before charging as well. It’s all situational mind you but even one Furioso is a threat to both types of units.
Sure there are a bunch of strength 8 weapons around, but if you protect the side armor from fire (and take extra armor), he’s probably going to assault something important regardless. Psycannons, and Psybolted Autocannons are good, but with no AP1 like Meltas, the Furioso’s armor 13 seems to provide reliable protection.
The rest of the army is there still too! I just move to the center of the board initially (with the 18″ rhinos and assault pack/ run moves), and then deal with anything else a Psynought list may have.
Vs. Cleansing Flame (Purifiers List)
This match-up seems to go much like the Psynought one above, except it is a lot more imperative that the Furiosoes get in on the Purifiers. It will take a ton of work on the rest of the Blood Angels part to kill a big squad of them without the Furiosoes helping, because of the Initiative 6 Halberds.
It is however do-able with massed power weapons, on low model count squads. If I have to I will wait to assault until the numbers favor the Blood Angels, no sense just running in to die before they can attack lol.
Again this isn’t much in the way of heavy fire power that a Purifier army can muster, but they can play the same traffic tricks with rhinos that I talked about earlier to befuddle assaulting Furiosoes. Watch for that, and the rest should be favorable for the sons of Sanguinius.