Goatboy here again and with my initial thoughts on the new Genestealer Cult book, with the codex in hand.
I paint the heck out of GSC (Thanks Nick), so this codex does have me thinking about what the heck I need to paint up in the coming months. Ruleswise the book is pretty interesting in that it showcases what I feel is the next level of 8th edition design. It is complicated, an expensive army to purchase, and probably pretty dang good in the right hands.
Let’s start with something that could be a big issue in the book. They left the Brood Brothers rule from the index, and it has some problems in it. The regiment keyword and Tempestus Keyword gets yanked from any AM unit they take in this specialized detachment. They also get only half the CP for taking that detachment on top of not being able to be a Specialized Detachment (i.e., Vigilus Detachments). These are a ton of restrictions already on top of it – but the big issue is that while everyone removes some keywords, this allows a little loophole in the detachment in that the units that couldn’t get orders before – now can get them as they are all Brood Brothers. This means things like Bullgryns and Crusaders get to have extra rules they might not have wanted to have those rules. I don’t know how good it will be – losing CP, losing specialized regimental Strats, and no characters – might leave this CP to the wayside. I expect most armies to be mostly GSC and maybe Nids, but we’ll see.
Welcome to the New 8th?
The reason why I said this book is an excellent example of the new 8th edition mentality is the sheer amount of characters, aura rules, and tiny interactions that live throughout the book. It is the same thing I saw in the Sisters beta codex in that the entire army is designed to work together. This leads me to think that while powerful – this army isn’t something someone can just pick up and crush face with. The sheer amount of interactions and rules layering is only going to be very hard for a new player to pick up. This is not a smash and grab army.
This leads me into putting this book in the same level that I think the Orks are at. They are going to be extremely powerful in the hands of a competent general. Mix this with a large number of models, and you have an army I would probably not advise to someone starting the game out. There is too much to keep track of. Plus this army is quite expensive. I have painted a ton of them, and it is just hard to think of someone trying to get these models without the old Deathwatch starter set and a new somewhat cheaper “Get Started” box set. The army will REALLY need one asap.
Let’s look at the new rule. The Cult Ambush with blips seems exciting and will be a bit of a pain to play against. I think of how you will set up your army, then give your opponent the first turn and watch them have to reset up their army. This is going to take some time. Which again is another issue with this codex if you are not prepared to hustle through your turn. I expect a lot of players to “time” themselves out during and even when trying to plan out their turns and setting up. Still, I like the rule as it seems interesting and will give this army a pseudo null deploy like option. Plus after they come out, you have a ton of other guys coming on turns 2-3 out of deep strike to cause you all kinds of issues. Especially with the Stratagems that are around.
Speaking of Stratagems – there are some doozies here. The ability to pop up a Biker unit that hits on a re-rollable 2+ with a 2+ to wound with Demo Charges at 3 inches and every model can throw them is pretty dang deadly. This army is just pretty dang nuts for a Knight player to try to survive with a Knight dying probably every turn. Just be thankful these guys can’t take a Knight as a friendly GSC unit. There is the normal mix of new age strats – additions to hit, wound, attack again, and of course the Cult Ambush tricks. Overall they are powerful and beneficial. This army is going to want 12+ CP to use and abuse throughout the game. The big Strat everyone is talking about is the new 3CP Vect power. I expect it to get moved to 4 CP at some point, but overall it isn’t nearly as powerful as the old Vect was. This is because this army is wanting to burn through their CP’s while the Eldar/Dark Eldar mashup doesn’t nearly burn through them. Thus the ability to Vect 2-3 times in a game was more abusable where the GSC one might get to do it once. The Strat is attached to an ok Cult where the other ones just seem a better and more bang for your buck. We’ll see – this army never got to abuse the regrow CP mechanic like old Vect and old AM got too. Time will tell, and I don’t expect the March FAQ to answer/change it.
I like all the characters in the book. I am excited to paint up the gunslinger Kellermorph model (will put a cowboy hat on him) and think he is pretty interesting. The assassin seems powerful as well as a quick pop up and murder a helpful character. The Clamavus seems useful with all the cult combos and other options. We know how dominant the Evil Suns are and this guy just builds upon that with his DJ booth. If your characters are important the Locus’s will show up as wound dumps to help out. They seem fine as is and just a powerful option. Heck if Morty could have them this cheaply, he would take them instead of the DeathShroud guys. The Nexos planning guy might be useful if you need chances to get CP back. It depends on how hungry your GSC are for those delicious CP. The Biophagus seems neat little Fabius Bile like model. I expect some Abberant builds to showcase this guy as you boost your crazy mutants up and shove them down your opponent’s throat.
Relics seem fun with a powerful no Overwatch ability mixed with some good weapons. I think the Gunslinger will have his upgraded Pistol mixed in so it again shows you want to have more CP to burn to give extra powerful options around. There is another +1 to cast option as well which will be important with some of the psychic powers. Overall the powers have the initial 3 with a few more interesting ones. The Mind Control power is the same and mixed with Lying in Wait you have something that will easily pop up and steal your Knight. I don’t know how worth it would be – but there could be some devastating turns still. All the good powers boost up units and get them to be extremely powerful when mixed with other Strats, auras, and options.
This army feels like the glass hammer instead of the Glass Cannon. It is going to come in hot, come in powerful, and most likely obliterate whatever it hits. From there if you can survive or have that bubble wrap invested you should be able to kill a lot in return. But then most likely you will have another few waves of this to deal with. That is the power of this army – having enough cheap guys that can all of a sudden strike with the strength of the cult behind them. Thankfully this army is expensive.
Which leads into my last thought – this army should not be done as a counts as/cheap build out. This needs to be as WYSWIG as you can get as it will be confusing and time consuming to play against. I don’t want to see an Ork/Beastmen with a slapped on hormagaunt claw off its back. I know I have been known to Counts-as back in the day – but I always just have Marines be Marines – just head swaps. Weapons, load outs, and characters need to match up. There shouldn’t be an army with a print out of the conversion matchups to give to your opponent.
~All Hail the 4-Armed Emperor!