Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doom and Gloom

If you're involved at all with the various tyranid blogs and forums, you've noticed some bad vibes on how people think the new grey knights will roll us.  I've been proxy testing to get the feel of how to handle them and figured I'd write down a few first impressions and points worthy of discussing regarding our future as they may change it.  I tried to organize my thoughts, but failed epically, so pardon the random tangents.

#1 - Monstrous Creatures.  Ours are on the way out I fear.  If you have any desire to throw a MC into combat with GK's, make it a trygon prime with adrenal glands.  IDK who would run 250pt trygons, but at least they would strike at i5 and come with SiTW.  Either that or be phenomenal in placing lash whips in b2b.  Tyrant deathstars with whips on every model will do well.  Just hope your SiTW is enough to shut down the psy powers.  I'm pretty sure the initiative power will override whips also.  Venomstars (2/3 venoms + 2 primes) all with whips could do some damage too, but would probably need an assist from a multi-assault to do killing damage before the force weapons strike.  A few good dice rolls from a few GK can end a ravener/warrior brood or MC in the blink of an eye.

#2 - CC Swarms.  You know I'm an advocate of big genestealer units and the GK codex only reinforces this.  If you can manage to keep them in cover with FnP, you won't have to worry about stormbolter and most psycannon spam.  Hormagaunts may see a rise in use, but I don't like the way they play out so probably not for me.  Gargoyles will be very good if used properly.  You get 3-4 gargoyles fully upgraded per grey knight and will get to strike before everything except halberds (until you assault through sanctuary).  Even supergants with brood progenitor, spore could, and preferred enemy will fare better against GK in combat than MC's.

#3 - Psy Defense.  They have a decent amount of it and our is important against them.  Consider a resilient front-line SiTW purveyor like the tyrant deathstar, foot zoans, or implanted prime.  Remember every time they perils, one of their GK's dies.  That's a 20-60pt model depending on what equipment they were carrying when they died.  SiTW gives them another dice to roll and another chance at perils.  Remember most GK units without IC's attached are ldr9 and can only use one power per player turn.  Aura of Despair will be useful from broodlords.  It lasts though your opponent's turn, reduced ldr by -1, and stacks with multiple broodlords.  Not worth building a list around, but useful if you pack broodlords in your "all-comer's" lists.

#4 Psy Powers.  Know yours and theirs well.  If you use paroxysm on them, you're probably down -1 ldr from aegis.  Catalyst is easier to get off as it doesn't target GK's, just watch their hood range.  Like I said above, remember the bare units can only use one power per player turn.  This makes combat actually a lot less scary for us if you use swarms.  They will be forced to choose between +1str or saving for force weapon activation.  Purifiers will burn you, but that's about it.  Sanctuary makes us take dangerous terrain casualties and strike last, so don't make any assaults unless you fully commit.  Watch out for warp rift as it's like a JoTWW flamer.  Most of the other stuff has minimal effect on us.

#5 Decisions.  GK are a small, elite army.  There are some out there trying to break them down into a MSU format, but at the end of the day, they are still marines.  Force your opponent to make decisions and whatever decision they make, turn it into the wrong one.  Every dude carrying a psycannon doesn't have a force weapon, making them less effective in combat.  Purifiers will usually have 2/4 psycannons and that many less force weapons.  If they want to flame you, now they can't activate the force weapons they do have.  If they pop warp quake to stop your deep strikes, same thing, no ID's that turn.  Keep in mind this all changes when an IC psyker joins a unit.  They create a huge force multiplier, now allowing units to be str5 and cause ID.  GK's are good at causing damage in combat.  The more they build towards shooting, the less assaulty they become.  Use that decision against them; shoot their assaulty units and assault their shooty units.

#6 GK Shooting.  It hurts both with quantity and quality.  Come with your own cover and catalyst and don't expect to last long without it.  Cover and FnP will be key to surviving stormbolters and psybolt shots.  Think of it this way:  20 Genestealers in the open getting shot by 10 psybolters will suffer about 9 casualties.  The same unit in cover with FnP will suffer about 2 casualties.  That makes them about 75% more survivable.  Everyone's hyped up on psyriflemen, but they're less dangerous to us in most respects than long fangs.  They're still only ap4, so your MC's and primes get their 3+ and FnP.  Pure GK lists will have fewer shooting weapons that deny FnP than their SW/BA counterparts.  Rends will sneak through, but str7 won't ID warriors or raveners. 

#7 Conclusion.  They will hurt you on par with space wolves if you let them.  Expect a lot of casualties via str5 shooting and str5 power weapons.  Focus your superior numbers on wiping them out one squad at a time.   Force enough armor saves and they will fall over just like vanilla marines.  Force enough leadership tests and their units will eventually fail.  Play smart and you can beat them.  It's a solid codex with no glaring weaknesses which gives them a solid foundation, but they can still be out-played.


  1. Do you think Genestealer swarms will be able to claim cover consistently? It seems that Servo Skulls can be obtained pretty easily and have the potential to prevent infiltrators from getting ideal positions. It won't stop a big swarm, but might allow them the opportunity to claim those 9 shooting kills. On the other hand, Ymgarl Genestealers might have some real utility with their extra armor and ability to appear within cover.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Warp Quake? That one ability seems to have the potential to just decimate reserve heavy lists (like the one I run) and I can't think of any decent counters short of hoping my opponent only takes a unit or two with that power.

  2. Good post. One of the most productive I've seen since the GK codex release.

  3. Agree with most of this article, pretty much my thoughts the last couple of weeks. I've yet to have a game against GK's but theoryhammering and following battle reports seems to confound the direction I'm going with my lists lately, with less MC's and more big broods of Genestealers and Gargoyles.
    Still I don't see AG Trygons as a waste against GKs, seeing how they still get their 3+ save against Psynoughts. They die in the first 3 turns in most games anyway. Most of a well built Tyranid list should be expendable but still require a lot of focusing if your opponent want to get rid of it.

    Can't wait to get a game in to prove the doomsayers wrong.

  4. @ BlueEquis ~ With 25% table coverage, you should be able to find cover for 10 genestealers. GK have less blast/template weapons than other MEQ armies so just know your opponent's capabilities.

    Servo skulls are annoying for deployment, but remember they die as soon as you move within 6". You can still deploy stealers normally in your dz or outflank.

    Tyranids do reserve lists worse than MEQ and daemons as they get half of their deep strikers first turn and potentially before warp quake goes off. Outflankers can be avoided and only ymgarls can assault the turn they arrive, so I feel nid reserve lists aren't competitive.

    N.I.B. ~ Good points. I've already written off trygons so I'm not concerned with making them work again.

  5. For the most part agree though I think mentioning that Psyflemen are the 'perfect' counter to Ravs/Warriors is important. They are highly likely to be in many GK lists due to their raw efficiency and they will do a lot of damage against those unit types. If there aren't any they are certainly worse than Fangs with only AP4 but they add to the weight of fire getting thrown at your MCs.

    In the end it's the shooting that GK armies are built around. It's a kick in the nads for Nid armies that their old center-pieces (MCs) are gambling assaulting large GK squads but for the most part, their shooting far out weighs their combat ability.

    I do unfortunately see a move away from 5-6 MC lists and see T-Fexes being the guys to be dropped.

  6. Why would you see T-Fexes drop out? They're actually a strong counter to all the psy dreads running around. And sure, they do suffer vs elite foot armies, but that's nothing new, and many GK armies will be mech as well. IMO, if any units lost out, I'd say 1. Tyrants 2. Tervigons 3. Zoanthropes. All 3 units don't like the kind of shooting GKs can pump out...especially if they take an inq retinue with a psyocculum.

  7. My current list is down to 2 MC's, one tfex and one tervigon. It took some adjustment as I think I was too reliant on multiple tervigons. I still like the tfex so I can cause damage turn 1 when hive guard are generally out of range. Genestealers and gants are doing the heavy lifting in combat with some assistance from other units.

    I'll elaborate when my ATC adventures become declassified.

  8. Aye I'd be loathe to drop the T-Fexes but in terms of what they do against the GK, they are the weakest. The Tyrant can at least apply Lash Whips, I5/6 and SitW.

    @Nick; the T-fex is really a multi-purpose MC. Against GK he doesn't really provide good combat benefits as he doesn't have SitW so if the rest of your SitW goes poof, he is much more likely to go poof. Not much beats the 3+ armor of the MCs so you don't need him for cover as much as against say IG/SW and whilst he does bring ranged anti-tank, he's much better at suppression than actual tank hunting due to no AP1 and for 265 points, we pay for that overall use. Against GK you don't get the maximum use out of him.

    It then becomes can you run balanced lists overall without a T-Fex or do you gimp yourself against other lists?