Unit Review: Grey Knight Librarian  

Posted by Michael Hogan in ,

Xethik here with part 2 of the Grey Knight unit review. This time, the Grey Knight Librarian, master of psychic powers in the Grey Knight army, is up. Again, the goal of this article is to give you an idea when to take a Librarian, how to use him, and how to gear him.
 Librarians offer a Grey Knight army much more than any other unit in the codex, and without costing a massive number of points, either. Starting out as a Level 2 Psyker (2 powers per player turn, that is) with the Hammerhand power, Terminator armour, a Psychic Hood, and only paying 5 points per power, he seems quite good right off the bat, even before looking at each power for his cost. A codex Space Marine player pays 150 points for a Epistolary Librarian, without Terminator armour or the +1 Invulnerable save in close combat due to the Nemesis Force Sword.

However, the real gem is the psychic powers the Librarian has. I'll go through them, in order of personal preference.
  • The Shrouding: A psychic test used in your opponent's shooting phase which gives all units within 6" the Stealth special rule or a 6+ cover save, whichever is better.
  • Might of Titan: At the start of your (and only your) assault phase, you can give one unit within 6" both +1 Strength and roll an additional D6 for armour penetration. Cumulative with Hammerhand.
  • Sanctuary: Used at the start of your opponent's assault phase, this power causes all enemies assaulting Grey Knights within 12" of your Librarian to count as moving through both difficult and dangerous terrain.
  • The Summoning: At the start of your movement phase, you may teleport any non-vehicle unit not locked in combat to a position within 6" of the Librarian, scattering as per the Deep Strike rules.
  • Warp Rift: A template weapon with an AP value of - which causes target unit to take an Initiative test for every model hit, killing one model with no saving throws allowed for each failed test. Vehicles are automatically penetrated (but suffer -1 on damage roll due to AP -).
  • Quicksilver: Used at the start of your movement phase, a unit within 6" counts as Initiative 10 for the rest of the turn.
  • Smite: Same as Codex: Space Marines, an assault 4, Strength 4, AP 2, 12" range weapon.
  • Vortex of Doom:  Same as Codex: Space Marines, a heavy 1, 12" range blast with a Strength of 10 and AP of 1. Failure of the psychic test causes it to be placed on top of your Librarian, instead.
  • Dark Excommunication: Removes Daemonic Gifts from models from a unit in base contact with the Librarian for the rest of the turn, used in the assault phase.
Why do I think these powers are as powerful as they are? Well both the Shrouding and Sanctuary are very strong support powers that are used in your opponents turn, when you normally probably wouldn't be using any other than perhaps Hammerhand and a Force Weapon. And both of these are useful before you get into close combat, too, so their uses are usually somewhat frequent.

Might of Titan is simply a very powerful ability, and if used in conjunction with two Hammerhands (seeing how they stack upon each other, giving a total bonus of +3 Strength), turns any unit into a very threatening close-combat unit capable of destroying tanks with ease. Plus, you can use it on any friendly unit within 6", so perhaps a nearby Strike Squad without a Daemonhammer needs help killing a walker, and there they have it.

The Summoning is simply a nice utility power, especially when combined with Servo-skulls, to move units around to where they are needed, possibly capturing objectives you would otherwise miss out on. Especially nice for armies when you don't plan on having your Librarian move with a Troops choice as he immediately becomes somewhat scoring. Not needed for more shooting based armies, for the most part.

Warp Rift is just powerful. What else is there the say? Just keep in mind it isn't completely amazing at killing vehicles, but good for keeping them locked down.

Quicksilver is good, but not incredible. When you have Halberds, you don't really need this power, but if you take Nemesis Force Swords on a Paladin or Terminator Squad and want them to strike early, this is nice.

Smite and Vortex are just not too exciting. Both have short ranges and while Vortex is devastating, it can easily scatter onto you or end up swallowing your entire unit.

Dark Excommunication requires you to be fighting the forces of Chaos, and even then it isn't terribly exciting. More of a 'fluff' power than an actual one.

So, when should you take a Librarian in your force? Well, there are a lot of times when.
If you want to play a pure Grey Knight force, especially one mostly focused on shooting, and you have a Terminator squad or a Land Raider, Librarians are amazing. You could even put a Librarian on a power armour squad as long as they are foot moving it around. Librarians just add so much utility with his Psychic Hood and support to your army, it's tough not to take one. Taking a Grand Master and a Librarian is tough points wise, and generally I would say a Librarian is a better choice. Grand Strategy barely holds a candle to what a Librarian can do, and even though a Librarian isn't as strong as a close-combat HQ, I feel that's not what most armies need. Just be sure your Librarian isn't walking around by himself, or he'll get shot down early and quickly.

Let's look at some options you have.
Close-combat Weapons
Nemesis Force Halberd: While I love extra initiative, I don't feel like you really need it on a Librarian because I don't want him in the thick of close combat. Plus you lose your +1 Invulnerable save in close-combat, which you'll really need if you want to survive against a good unit.

Nemesis Daemonhammer and Falchions: Same as the Halberd, really, but suffering a bit more as the extra initiative is better than both of these.

Nemesis Warding Stave: Having a 2+ Invulnerable save in close-combat is amazing on a unit you want to keep around for as long as possible, but I feel it is too expensive to always take it. If you have the points and want that extra protection, I would take it over, say, Servo-skulls and a couple random weapons.

Misc. Upgrades
Psychic Mastery Level 3: Very costly, but if you really want to be a psychic power slinger, this is a great upgrade. I just don't know if you ever really need it, to be honest. I only really see 2 powers per turn necessary, and while 3 is nice it is just expensive.

Psybolt Ammunition: Cheap, but not needed. I would rather have another psychic power.

Digital Weapon: As I wouldn't want this guy in close-combat often, I wouldn't take this.

Empyrean Brain Mines: Same as digital weapons, but it isn't terrible as you can actually stop models from slaughtering you.

Teleport Homer: Nice upgrade for Deep Strike armies, but seeing how it doesn't affect the Summoning, it's not as amazing as it could be.

Servo-Skulls: Same as Grand Master. You can take up to three of these for a low point cost. Good if you have a lot of Conversion Beamers or other blast templates or if you plan on attempting Deep Strikes often. They do offer scout/infiltration defense, too, so a good left-over point spending, but they don't make you more combat effective.

Master-crafted Weapons: Kind of meh on a Librarian. Again, you are taking him for psychic powers, not to shoot and whack things with a sword.
Well, let's look at some possible builds for a Librarian I would consider good.
Sample Builds
Support Librarian - 175
Psychic Powers: Shrouding, Sanctuary, and Might of Titan
Overall a good build. Applicable with almost any army lists, but if you are completely shooting perhaps drop Might of Titan for something else or only take two powers.

Deepstriker's Librarian - 190
Psychic Powers: Shrouding, the Summoning, Might of Titan or Warp Rift
Wargear: 3 x Servo-Skulls
If you are building a list around deep striking (something I haven't really seen) this is very nice. Combine it with an Inquisitor to add in Psychic Communion and I think you're set.

Close-Combat Librarian - 175 (180)
Psychic Powers: Might of Titan, Quickening, Warp Rift
Wargear: Nemesis Force Sword or Halberd
This Librarian is meant to stick with Terminators and charge at the enemy. With both Might of Titan and Quickening, you use both or Might with Hammerhand, depending on if you need the initiative boost or not. Plus, you have Warp Rift to take down groups of enemy units before a charge and kill some vehicles.

So that's it for the Librarian. I hope you enjoyed and found it useful. I'll be back soon with a review of the Brotherhood Champion.

Until then,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at Tuesday, August 02, 2011 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Thanks, I have been having a hard time keeping my librarian under 200pts, and seeing other peoples thoughts help.. Probably because I keep upgrading him to level 3. Lots of fun here.

August 2, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to run a Level 3 Librarian one of these days, but I'm not sure if he is entirely worth the cost yet.

Glad you appreciated the article. Keep in mind that I'm no Warhammer 40,000 God so my opinions shouldn't be taken over anyone elses.

PS: Been loving the Games Day reports/pictures you've put up recently. I appreciate the time you must put into your blog.

August 3, 2011 at 11:42 AM

in my 1500-2000 pts list i run a lvl3 librarian, with a warding stave, quicksilver, warp rift, sanctuary, shrouding, summoning and might. hes in a squad of normal terminators with another warding staff, plus mostly swords. out of all my armies, my favorite cc unit, 4+ invuns, intiative 10, strenght 5 force weapons (if you use all 3 powers in 1 turn) but ive seen it shred through a 10 man squad of blood claws with ragnar blackmane charging them. the warding stave is definately worth the points. its saved my librarian a lot of times

August 14, 2011 at 12:42 AM

The real reason I see to having a lvl 3 Librarian, is to deep strike him him (with mordrak for first turn) and then use The Summoning to pull up to 3 units (like paladins, dreadnoughts, or units in a vehicle) towards you (paladins where you want them turn 1 is nice, and turn 2 assault) bit costly, and the army sorta has to center around that though.

September 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Just saw this comment, I apologize!
While not every group runs by these rules, in a recent FAQ (I wish I could fine it) it says you may only cast a Psychic Power once, success or fail, per turn. So if you do go by these rules, you sadly won't be able to do that. You can always put a Teleporter Homer on the Librarian and Deep Strike, but you can't assault turn 2 with this, sadly.

September 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

I keep coming back to your reviews. By all means I would like to see more. I think I have read most of them a couple times when working out my ideas.

April 23, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Thanks Natfka! I've been a bit busy with too little motivation to the hobby to post, but I think your comment may have fixed that. The fact that I no longer get a chance to play 40k at all at college has kept me down, but hopefully once summer hits and I get back to playing weekly that will change. Right now I'm telling myself I'll start blogging again by this Friday, but we shall see.

April 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM
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June 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM

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