Building a GK List: Unit Composition Tips and Tricks  

Posted by Michael Hogan in , ,

(From Fritz's blog. You can find this same post there!)
Hey all, Xethik from the Grey Knights blog here with some suggestions for everyone out there hoping to start up a Grey Knight army. I will not be going into detailed list building, but I will be touching upon different weapon and squad layouts that have really peaked my interest and even some small tactics here and there.

First off, let's touch upon some HQ's. We'll start with the Grand Master.

He has a great statline, but you're giving up a lot to buy a Psycannon. For Nemesis Weapon choice, I think I would stick with the sword. You will probably want to get as good of an invulnerable save as you can get without putting too many points in, so I think the sword is the winner here of the warding staff. Same concept for ranged weaponry. You are giving up BS6 when picking up the Incinerator, but a Psycannon is just too expensive. Plus, Incinerators are quite expensive on power armour squads and so you will probably be lacking them in general. For miscellaneous wargear, I recommend Rad and Blind grenades. Why? Well, psychotroke are nice (read: incredible) but they are also random. I think that Rad grenades give results that are constant and you can expect and Blind can really put the hurt on the enemy if they attempt to charge you, especially Orks and other horde infantries. There are some other nice upgrades, like Servo-skulls, but you will probably want to consider building your list with these in mind (decreasing Summoning scatter and preventing infiltrators from blocking a long scout move, for example) while I think Mastery level 2 is not needed unless you are really depending on reserves in your army.

A bit of a mention on Grand Strategy, first. I see a lot of people neglecting troops as much as possible because they can make whatever unit they want scoring. This is wrong! Flat out bad. It is bad enough to only have 10 scoring bodies by default, but having those not be in power armour? This game is about getting objectives, and if you roll a D3 on that dice to see what can score, you don't want to look at a 1 or 2 and forfeit. Troops are an integral part of this game. I like to have at least 20 bodies minimum when it comes to power armour, which means you could have a troops of 10 and then a 10 man squad you will always make scoring if it comes down to it, but I think having 30 marine bodies scoring and a couple Terminators if you need it is a really strong number. Plus, if you have enough troops (which are strong in this book) you can give out those Space Marine Scything Talons (re-roll ones to Wound instead of to Hit) or counter-attack and really lay down some powerful hits.
Also, you can take a ten man squad, give it a bonus, and then combat squad it to get that bonus on two small squads, but casting psychic powers will most likely be more difficult. Just keep that in mind, but it is a sound idea. I know I'll be using that every now and then, for sure, so be sure you can twist the game to your advantage before it begins!

Next up is the Librarian. He's a Epistolary Librarian with Terminator Armour for you normal Space Marine players, but has to buy his powers. My top picks? Shrouding, Sanctuary, Might of the Ancients, Summoning, and Warp Rift. I'd only pick 3 of the 4 unless you have a spare 5 points, and one of them is pretty much guaranteed to be Shrouding. Why? I can use it in my opponents turn, so I can get maximum use out of the powers I buy. Plus, it is fantastic. Sanctuary is actually a near-top on my list for that very reason, too. Quickening is great, but it isn't listed because I expect most people to be putting Halberds in their Terminator squad, making Quickening a bit less necessary. It's tough! A lot of options and it really depends on how you build the guys your Librarian would be with. Keep in mind Librarians are squishy and while they really do increase strength of all types of units, perhaps you should try to keep him out of close-combat. For this reason, just in case, keep the sword on him so he has a bit better if that does happen to him. You could even put a Warding Stave on him if you were determined for him to lead a charge. The three powers a turn is a bit overkill as you have some powers for your opponents turn, so I would shy away from it.

Brotherhood Champions I'm going to skip over as they don't have much going for them. You can reroll one failed wound a turn when you already reroll all failed wounds... Right. Nice one, Games Workshop!

Inquisitors are actually fairly strong. I have two builds I like on them, both on Ordo Malleus. One is Terminator armour with a Psycannon while the other is an Inquisitor with Power Armour, Hammerhand, and two Daemonblades. Not sure if the rolls would be unique to each weapon or the wielder (could you have +6 attacks or can you only get that once?), but it seems like a badass conversion. You can give these guys Psychic Communion if you plan on messing with reserves a lot, but I think they are suited to sitting out of the thick of fights and just unlocking Henchmen.

I'm going to skip over Paladins as I haven't had much time to mess with them, sorry! They are just so expensive, I'm not sure what to think. Anything my normal Terminators are going to die to, these guys will just as quickly. Let me know what everyone thinks, I'm very curious what wound shenanigans everyone has come up with.

Purifiers. I love these guys. Really, I do. For four more points, you get cheaper weapons and an additional attack. Plus you pick up Cleansing Flame over Warp Quake. These guys are beasts. I've been making squads of 5-8 with 2 Psycannons, a Master-crafted Daemonhammer, and the rest Halberds. Packs a strong shooting firebase and has close-combat potential. You could swap master-crafted for an additional Daemonhammer, but it is tough to say which is better.
Another option is a squad of 10 with 4 psycannons. You can fill in some Halberds, too, but you are getting a very strong shooting base (like Purgation without the Astral Aim) while still packing a stronger close-combat punch than most units.  You could even combat squad the Psycannons out so that you have a close-combat focused 5 man squad and a shooting powerhouse squad that holds midfield. It's tough to say what is best, but Purifiers being amazing is a no brainer.

Terminators are now Troops and have some pretty big bonuses. For one, they have a 4+ invulnerable save if they keep their swords, but they can also swap for Daemon Hammers and Halberds for free, making them a very versatile close-combat squad. With relentless, you can give them "Assault 4" Psycannons and really ruin your opponents day, but you do pay for it. Incinerators are really good on these guys for that reason; the are dirt cheap. Plus, if you are going to be going for close-combat, you will probably be in range for the Incinerator shot anyway. I'll probably be running either a 5 man squad with an Incinerator, a Master-crafted Daemon Hammer, and 3 Halberds (1 sword for a better invulnerable save) or swapping the Incinerator for a Psycannon.

Strike Squads are your primary power armour troops. They get Warp Quake, which keeps suicide melta and drop pods away from your force, and can also take a bunch of weapons. Sadly, the only things worth looking at, in my opinion, are the Psycannons and the Daemon Hammer. Psybolt ammo is great and all, I just don't think it is worth the 20 pts., even on a squad of 10. If you have extra points, by all means take it, but it isn't necessary if you ask me. How would I kit these guys? Either a squad of 5 with a Psycannon or a squad of 10 with two Psycannons and a Daemon Hammer (possibly Master-crafted). Again, you can combat squad, but unless you plan on going into a Razorback, I think you are better off sticking as one big squad for the higher Leadership value.

The last power armour variant is the Interceptor squad. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about these guys, but they are definitely a viable choice. Incinerators are good, but expensive. I'm not sure if it is worth it, but a squad of 5 with nothing but an Incinerator jumping or shunting (30" move) towards an enemy squad which you just happened to tank shot into a line and laying down a template just seems too good to give up. (Kudos to Stelek for convincing me that this is worth it). You can also put on some Psycannons for the same price as a power armour squad and hit side armour of vehicles a bit easier than other Strike Squad variants. A squad of 10 with two Psycannons and a squad of 5 with an Incinerator (squad of 10 combat squad-ed so that you can benefit from Grand Strategy in both parts. Otherwise, go two squads of 5) seem like the only options worth taking. Throw a Daemon Hammer if you want to keep Dreadnoughts/Monstrous Creatures off, but I think your speed will do that just fine.

Before I touch upon vehicles, I want to mention the Techmarine. He is a bit of a unloved guy in the Elites section that has access to great wargear like Conversion Beamer and Orbital Strike Relay, both of which require you to stand still for nearly the entire game. Stick him with a bunch of Henchmen with long range weaponry and I think he can perform pretty well. He also has access to Rad and Blind grenades, in case you want to make a mini-deathstar without taking up your HQ slots or squeezing the squad into a Rhino. This guy can also fix vehicles if he has the chance, but he is a bit pricey nonetheless. I'll have to do some experimenting with this guy before I give a final word, but definitely a fun unit to toy with.

Dreadnoughts are at their best in this codex. By taking two twin-linked Autocannons with Psybolt ammunition, you are pretty cheap and have Fortitude to keep you shooting.  Plus, you can hide this guy behind Rhinos and Razorbacks pretty easily, getting a 4+ cover save (or a 3+ if a Librarian with Shrouding is near by!). Best of all, Autocannons have a 48" range, giving you almost double the effective range of a Terminator with a Psycannon (including movement, it is 54" vs 30"). This is important for keeping your opponent stunned while you advance to midfield or into their line, and the shear number of slots nearly guarantees that. I recommend at least two of these guys if you have the points. Perhaps my favorite thing in the codex.

Lastly, we have Razorbacks. There are three options which are worth considering, in my mind. The first is a Razorback (Heavy Bolter) with Psybolt ammunition. This gives them S6, able to glance many vehicles effectively and wound most infantry on a 2+. Throw a Storm Bolter on for more high strength shooting, and you have one cheap shooting transport. The next option is a Twin-linked Assault Cannon Razorback with Psybolt ammunition (AKA Twin-linked Psycannon). I love Psycannons, a lot. But I have one problem with this setup. You aren't adding anything to your army. Psycannons have a 24" range, you aren't making that better by putting it on more of your units. A couple of these vehicles are fine, but spamming them as hard as possible seems a bit silly. You really need the range to get to midfield (where 24" matters) alive, and these guys just help lay down fire once you already get to your strong zone. Lastly, Lascannon and Plasma gun Razorbacks. Grey Knights don't get anything special here other than Fortitude, but these vehicles shouldn't be scoffed at. Not too much to say about these, I'm sure Jawaballs and every Space Wolf player can give you a run down on why they are great. Joking aside, Lascannons are always nice to have. Not only does it help kill vehicles from a range, but you can also cause instant death to T4 models, unlike Psycannons.

Well, that's it for this post. A bit lengthty, but I had a lot of things on my mind I wanted to spill out. And thus, it isn't very organized. I hope no one hates me for that. I don't want this to be an article to refer to copy and paste units out of, but one to look at and think about how you can take your own spin on things.

I hope you readers out there get a lot of from this, and I do plan on doing unit by unit breakdowns in a much more formal manner in the following weeks as I scour through and test out the new codex.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 1, 2011 at Friday, April 01, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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April 3, 2011 at 8:56 PM

A few ideas I've been mulling over for grand strategy and unit specifics.
1) Is a Nemesis Dead Knight with a personal teleporter worth it? Perhaps in conjunction with an Interceptor squad, or perhaps solo to tie up the enemy so the rest of the GK army can get in medium/close range.
2) Castellan Crowe armies with Purifiers as troops - as stated Purifiers are way better than Strike squads and for a minimal point sink. Should the idea be to go pure Purifiers, or perhaps Purifiers as some special role then fill out you objective claimers with normal Strike squads. For example, a 10 man Purifier squad in LR with 2-4 incinerators some halberds etc... for crazy close range fire and assault, and some (cheaper) Strike squads on foot or in razor backs to claim less heavily contested objectives... keeping in mind that the Purifiers are also claiming objectives.
3) Mech GKs or foot slogging, are GKs too expensive to go mechanized or are the vehicles worth it?

April 3, 2011 at 9:03 PM

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