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40k List-Tech: Grotscon Genestealer Cult Shocker!

9 Minute Read
Apr 25 2016


On today’s List-Tech, we have a Genestealer Cult list that shook the top tables at Grotscon, and insight from LVO 2015’s winner, Sean Nayden! 

For more great articles check out our Tactics Corner!

The list-tech segment is a series of articles designed to focus on unique, competitive lists crafted by players in the community in order to provide new and experienced players with tactics, tips, and tricks to use in the heat of battle.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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Hello everyone and welcome to another List-Tech article! Today on 40k List-Tech we have one of the top competitors from GrotsCon. Canadian Tyranid enthusiast Matt Evans and his Genestealer Cult list. Matt smashed his way through Eldar, Tau, Space Marines, Renegades and Necrons to nab himself a 5-1 finish! We also have, in my opinion, the best player in the LVO’s top 8 Sean Nayden’s take on his offbeat Eldar list. If you like 40k tactics and theoryhammer it is a great read full of insight and strategy. I also love that his Eldar list is not the normal “Spam broken units to win!” list you see everywhere.

The Questions

  1. Tell us a little bit about your army, why did you go with certain units? Why did you pick this army list in particular? Is there anything special about your army that you want to highlight?
  2. What expectations did you have for the meta? Were there any armies you were worried about? What match-ups did you feel most comfortable with?
  3. Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back on the tournament was there anything you would have changed about your list to better accommodate the meta you experienced?
  4. What are some tips or tricks you have for people who might want to start using your army?



Matt’s Genestealer Cult

Genestealer Cult Formation 


2 purestrain stealers

16 neophytes

12 hybrids

4 aberrants




Hive Vanguard Detatchment

Flyrant with 2 devourers

18 gargoyles with toxin sacs

3 warriors (1 with rending claws cause 5 extra pts)

Tyranid CAD

2x Flyrant with double devourers

2 mucolids as troops

3 1 man lictor squads




I wanted to play tyranids as they have been my primary army for the last 7 years and I was hoping the stealer cult might breathe some life back into their cc game.

The special thing about this army is how well the hive vanguard and genestealer cult work together. I use a infiltrated lictor to deepstrike the gargoyles turn one within 6″ of my opponents deployment zone, then an IC from the cult joins the squad giving them stealth and shrouded. If psychic powers go well they can have FnP and invisibility too making a surprisingly durable unit in your face turn 1, comboing with ghosar and the purestrains assaulting turn 1, as well as 3 flyrants they mess with your opponents target priority with a stealer cult almost guaranteed to be in assault turn 2.

2) This was a standard 2 day itc tournament so I expected to see a lot of eldar and battle companies ruling the scene, especially warp Spiders after the lvo win. I felt very comfortable against warp spider spam as all my units had high initiative and durable cover saves and enough units to eventually pin them in cc. Battle company worried me as I had no obsec in the list and they were the one army I lost to in game 5. I also knew if I faced a hunters pack full of soulgrinders I’d be in trouble as nids don’t have a (viable) answer against armour 13.  Against tau I knew it would be whoever went first would win.

3) The meta I experienced was refreshingly unique. I played 6 entirely different armies: Tau riptide spam, Necron destroyer cult, 3 imperial knights with grav centurions, renegade artillary, drop pod battle company, and finally Iyanden eldar. I noticed with this list going first was huge in at least half of my games so I wish nids had something to help them with that, sadly they don’t and I’m left to pray to the hive mind.

The other big thing is even with 2 and a half hour rounds I didn’t have a single game make it past turn 3. 4 of these were me tabling my opponent in that amount of time but against the renegade and drop pod armies it definitely changed the outcome of the game. In hindsight I’m planning on removing the toxin sacs from the gargoyles, 2 of the lictors and the mawloc and replacing them with a Malanthrope and dimachaeron. The mawloc never did much in my games and the extra 2 lictors were there to help him out, the dimachaeron/Malanthrope combo has won me many a game in the past and I’m hoping they’ll play as a solid mop up crew of whatever the cult can’t finish off. I’m also worried about wolfstar superfriends which the Dima’s multiple instant death attacks at high initiative will certainly help against.

4) Cc nids will always be an uphill battle barring any major updates, and they only continue to get harder as more and more shooty armies gain access to ignores cover. Major tips for someone looking to start the army is to know the rules inside and out, both yours and your opponents as one mistake can result in your army disappearing in a single turn. But chin up and look for those unique combos and push through because you learn the most when you lose, and when you win it is a very rewarding feeling. The TO of the event came up to shake my hand and congratulate me on a great showing with a unique army and that makes all the pain getting there entirely worth it.

Check out more analysis of Matt’s write-up here on the hivemind forums! 


Sean sizing up his prey

Sean Nayden’s Eldar w/Corpsethief Claw



Autarch; Wings, Banshee Mask, Scorpion Chainsword 93

3 Guardian Jetbikes; 3 Scatter Lasers 81

3 Guardian Jetbikes; 3 Scatter Lasers 81

3 Guardian Jetbikes; 3 Scatter Lasers 81

5 Warp Spyders – exarch (Warlord) 105

5 Swooping Hawks 80

Warp Hunter 185

Void Shield Generator; 3 Shields 100

Aspect Host Formation

8 Swooping Hawks – Exarch 138

8 Swooping Hawks – Exarch 138

8 Swooping Hawks – Exarch 138

Corpse-Thief Claw

5 Talos Engines; 3 Ichor injectors 630


Eldar was my first army so Im more than likely to circle back to them from time to time. Ive played them since 2001. I also have a love of the darker side of the kin and especially their previous codex that had a strong and flavorful close combat element. The talos formation corpsethief claw has been something Ive been playing with for almost a year now and really enjoy. Its fun and hokey and still packs a punch that most people dont expect. With enough sprinkles of cool rules and durability it stands up to a lot. Plus a lot of people told me not to take it, feeling its time in the sun had passed and I couldnt possibly win LVO with it… I guess they were right but it was close.

I went with hawks over spyders because they give me some major anti tank and anti super heavy. Also their speed is something to marvel at. Also since spyders are more prevalent in terms of being the top choice it naturally turns me away slightly. They also complement the corpsethief pretty well covering their low anti tank.

Jetbikes are obvious and required troops. Picked a spyder unit as my warlord so I could nibble at edges with him and keep him out of most harm. Void shield was something new for me and I feel like while it helped in a few matches it was necessary and will likely drop it in the future for more punch. Skipped on psychics because I dont like to spend too much time on that phase. Autarch with banshee mask and wings is a totally awesome unit, super fast, deny overwatch, very useful.

I expected lots of marines in the meta… more than I played. I guess there were a lot there based on the exit graphs that have come up but I only played one. I fully expected to play 2-3 gladius, but a side note of that I was fairly certain that there wouldnt be many in the top at the end since I feel that a heavy meta list gets countered by other top players. I expected lots of eldar and there were, I played 3 in 9 games so thats about right. I expected there to be thunderwolf lists and played one and saw another reach the top 8. I expected to have to play some necrons… mainly because I knew Alex was bringing his… and again I was right having to play necrons 3 times, twice being Alex. Tau I expected to be there but ended up playing against mostly allied tau, which was interesting because I originally flew to Vegas with tau allies in my army case, and dropped them the night before.

I would say I was most worried about having to play war convocation lists because I have limited experience with them and would probably feel that I was being cheated due to their preponderance of special rules that change from turn to turn.



Hind sight being 20/20 I changed some things in my list last minute but got lazy with the last few points. The 5 man hawk squad in my list was wasted opportunity. If that had been either the firesabre or falochu’s wing upgrade on my autarch along with a few power weapons for my hawk exarchs than I would have won the final game in my mind. I had considered all that multiple times but lost it in the last minute shuffle of lists at 11pm list changing the night before competition. The tau origionally in my list would also have done some nice things in that final match, but I think overall the changes were good and worked out. Plus if I had made one more save or done a little better with positioning on that last turn I would have won anyway cest le vie. So in hindsight I cant have too many regrets since I was ultimately very close to winning and repeating as LVO champ.

Tips and tricks…. I duno in general my thoughts on 40k is that most things can work as concepts if youre willing to think creatively. And willing to note that the weaker your concept is the harder it will be to implement or the more efficient units you will need to augment it with. A little used concept by lots of players is the physical space the models occupy. I love using units to make it impossible for your models to move. Taking things that move fast like hawks, or things that can deepstrike like spore mines you can direct or funnel many units in the game that cant move over or through them. For example a thunderstar is a big scary death star that can in general get across the board very quickly. However if every turn you line a unit of swooping hawks in front of its advance then instead of charging into your backfield on turn 2 you can prevent it from reaching your lines until turn 3,4,5 depending on the amount of hawk units you have or are capable of sacrificing. This can allow the rest of your eldar firepower to wear down the deathstar. In all the rage of mathhammer and statistics and points efficiency, there are still elements of table top placement that can be used to conquer seemingly difficult problems.

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Did you just win an ITC event? Is your list dominating everyone it crosses? Did you just recently do well with a unique list at a large event? I want to hear about it! Just send it to
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