Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Should I be scared of Grey Knights? Well, maybe...

Another day, another MEQ army (okay, can't really complain since I jumped on the Greek Orthodox Easter Eggs Blood Angels bandwagon). There's been a trend for the last one and a half years. New codices released for power armour clad supermen that push them into shooty MSU lists for competitiveness. It's a kind of oxymoron. Aren't Space Wolves, Blood Angels and now Grey Knights supposed to be close combat monsters (at least fluff wise but then again I'd be the first to admit I don't know much about Space Marines)? Shouldn't they be brandishing chainsword and cutting down all the foes of mankind in brutal hand to hand combat?  Watching these musclebound behemoths running around inside their little metal boxes and firing their weapons from hatches can be a bit disheartening. What lists  for competitive play are we talking about though?

After checking for info at the usual suspect blogs (3++, BoV) and army list ideas. I realised there is a recurring theme emerging. Coteaz (please people, stop calling him Corteaz, that's a different guy) for HQ (to unlock Henchmen as troops), Purifiers, Psyrifledreads and Warrior Acolytes. Not sure if that is an optimised list but we might be looking at something like this:

Inquisitor Coteaz
3 x 7 Purifier Squad, 2 Psycannon, 4 Halbeard, 1 Hammer,Psybolt Ammunition, Rhino
2 x 5 Warrior Acolyte, 3 Meltagun, Razorback (AssC, PA)
2 x 4 Warrior Acolyte, 3 Meltagun, Razorback (PA)
3 x Dreadnought, 2 TL Autocannon, Psybolt Ammunition

One thing is for sure. There is going to be a plethora of vehicles and a lot of Psycannons. But how does it play differently to other MEQ MSU (let me know when it starts getting too ridiculous with the acronyms) and more importantly what are the advantages/disadvantages against the Guard. I want to examine the pros first:

Psybolt Ammunition: Against spammy AV12 IG lists like mine this can make a lot of difference. Checking the list above we can see that it packs a lot of S7 shots (32 to be precise, if the Purifiers remain stationary) as well as a lot of S8 shots from the Dreads. This is ideal for de-meching pretty much every army out there as well.

Fortitude: Thus making GK vehicles practically unstunnable/unshakable. Usually I stop shooting at a "shooty" vehicle (Predators, Ravagers etc.) after I've stunned it but I can no longer enjoy this luxury with those pesky silver Razorbacks. Having to pour more shots until you destroy the vehicle/weapons will limit the potential of your shooting.

However it's not all that bad. Keep in mind that (time for another cliche) GK still die like any other MEQ army. Obviously, they are more expensive than other Marines so you will come across less models on the board. If we are looking at around 40-50 Power Armoured guys for a Space Wolves/Blood Angels army then we will probably get 30-35 for Grey Knights. Still easy to remove with pie plates and low AP weapons and they have even less bodies to spare.

Furthermore all these extra close combat abilities and equipment they have (Hammerhand, Nemesis Force Weapons) don't really scare us. Why? Because it doesn't really matter if 10 Veterans get charged by 10 Tactical Marines or 10 Purifiers. The result will be the same. They will get beaten badly and break (and probably cut down). So, all these extra points they spend for close combat upgrades would be basically useless against Guard armies. Sure, S5 can hurt in close combat but I hope no one ever has to come to this.

I believe GK should be dealt the same way as any other  mech MEQ army out there. De-mech them as soon as possible and then kill the infantry guys at your leisure. I know that my list can deal with that pretty easily (since I pack a lot of AT and ordnance at the same time) and so should everyone else's. However, the main difference is that if you are going second you would want to put everything in reserve. Especially if your opponent's list looks anything like the one above. There are so many S7 and S8 shots that could blow your important vehicles to smithereens just in the first round of shooting. I would recommend some form of reserves manipulation (i.e. an Astropath or two) just in case.

Having said all that, I think GK are not a big deal for IG. On the other hand, the orks are totally gimped! Just think about it. As above, the S7 and S8 weapons would totally ruin the orky ram-shackled vehicles (except from Battle Wagons but some side armour shots would do) but they can also double up very well for infantry removal. Even if the orks somehow manage to reach for assault, after all that hail of rending bullets, they don't stand a chance against Purifiers. Cleansing Flame really hurts and if the unit has an IC and can pull off Hammerhand as well then the fight would be lost before it even began. The future looks bleak for the Greenskins and of course Chaos Daemons (and possibly Nids as well).


  1. Actually, Psybolt ammo only makes a difference vs. AV12 with autocannons really. Assault Cannons and Psycannons both need to roll 6's to penetrate. The upgrade for asscans to psycannons only really helps vs AV13 and AV14. Well, those and AV10 and 11 too. AV12 is the sweet spot for saying you don't care about someone's special ammo.

  2. Putting your army in reserves if you go second is not necessary! psycannons are range 24" so they are going to be out of range in 1st turn with a smart deployment! The only thing you have to worry is about the dreads but with a few cover saves you will be fine!

  3. @Νικηφόρος: I am afraid I wasn't too clear on that one, sorry. I meant that now a Psycannon (4 shots) or PA Assault Cannon (non-TL) has 63% chance of at least glancing an AV12 vehicle. Of course the chance to penetrate still remains the same (38%) but now the S7 rending weapons have almost double the chance of making a "shooty" AV12 vehicle useless for 1 turn. I think that's a big deal but maybe I am over reacting. And I also included Psycannon as being upgraded with Psybolt Ammunition (being +1 S since the last codex).
    What do you think of the rest of my predictions Mr. Νικηφόρος? You think IG would be okay against GK?

    @Πρόεδρος: u quoque, Brute, fili mi :P
    Of course, with a little careful deployment you can avoid the Assault Cannons. I am mostly worried about Psycannon and S8 Autocannons that I think there are going to be found in abundance in new GK lists. You think keeping everything in reserves is a bit too much?

  4. Aren't psycannnons range 24" too?Keeping reserves in my opinion is always a really bad Decision! When a shooty army faces a shooty army the winning side is determined by whom makes the better deployment decisions and not who goes first!

  5. My initial thoughts is thanks to Fortitude, your Hydras may be less effective since they can't "shake, suppress, and move on" like they can against normal mech lists. You may want to bring an in some heavier weapons in one of your HS slots since str7 won't be as effective against GK.

  6. Heh, focusing on youre "how 40k should be" aspect of the post, i jst want to point out the following:
    -If you read Grand Master Draigos description, he single handedly cuts down the forest of nurgle, destroyed the city of tzeentch, raped all of slaneeshs daemonetes and bested khornes barracks....

    - Another character (was is mordrak?) beats mortarion, the death guard primarch in combat and carves his name on his heart

    -At some point the grey knights butchered an order of sororitas and bathed in their blood so they wdnt be corrupted by daemon innfluence...

    Now explain to me what the hell the codex author was thinking when he wrote it? "how can i rape 20 years of fluff?"