Monday, February 25, 2019

Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Vehicles

EDIT 3/4/19: I think I got all the references to Cult Creeds taken out. If you were planning on taking my advice from this, give it another look, and make sure that what you plan on doing is legit.

EDIT 2/26/19: It has just been pointed out to me that only Infantry and Bikers gain Creeds. I don't have time to go through and properly fix this right now, so just ignore those parts. Also, GW really needs to start standardizing these things. Ugh.

Here we are with the last, and smallest, section of the GSC Units to look over. Altho primarily an Infantry-based Army, there are some definite uses for some of the Vehicles they have available, particularly the Ridgerunner and the Goliath variants, which get a Cult Keyword and can benefit from some of the Cult-locked effects.

Achilles Ridgerunner: Speaking of the Ridgerunner, it's the first on the list, so let's dive in. There are a lot of potential ways you can set up a Ridgerunner to be used, but some of them are clearly better than others. It's a very light vehicle, with just a couple of extra Wounds separating its defensive Statline from that of a Sentinel, but it's substantially less disposable, coming at potentially over twice the cost of a Sentinel. This will definitely affect how good its various options are.

Other than the potential to explode (3", 1MW), the only unique special Rule it always has is Scout Vehicle. Before the first Turn begins, you can move it up to 9", staying at least 9" away from any Enemy Units. I'm going to have to play around with them for a while to figure out how worthwhile that actually is, because it also has Cult Ambush, allowing it to be held back while you just set up an Ambush Marker instead, but because of the timing of Scout Vehicle, it's mutually exclusive with Cult Ambush. I suspect it will vary case by case, but I feel like it will usually be better to keep it hidden so you can be sure to place it somewhere safe, and use Scout Sentinels if you want something that can move out from your Deployment Zone before the Game begins. Note also that this is a move, not a redeployment, so you'll need to go around any obstacles, potentially take Dangerous Terrain tests, all that sort of thing.

The Ridgerunner has three "main gun" options, plus a pair of Heavy Stubbers. Of the three, the Heavy Mortar is far and away my fave, partly because it's much cheaper than the other two, but mostly because it lets you keep the incredibly fragile Vehicle out of LoS. The Heavy Mining Laser is actually a pretty good buy compared to a regular Lascannon, but on a Ridgerunner, it's just too much of a glass cannon, and too tempting of a target for your Opponent. Similar to Brood Bros HWSs. I'd rather taken them on Rockgrinders. The Missile Launcher is just a Missile Launcher. It will function almost exactly the same as one taken on a Sentinel or in a Brood Bros Infantry Squad, but will be easier for your Opponent to destroy. Also, I must admit, I really don't like the design they went with for the Missile Launcher on this thing. It's too clearly a military weapon that was specifically designed for this Vehicle, rather than being a repurposed mining tool or something more improvised looking like the Mortar is. I'd rather see it done with something more like an Infantry Missile Launcher on a pintle mount, like some of the heavier armed pickups, or Technicals, used by parties that don't have the infrastructure for custom-built military vehicles.

The other three options are for different "support systems". If you do want to use a direct-fire Weapon on it, the Flare Launcher is a very attractive choice. Over the course of the Ridgerunner's 8 Wounds, the 6+++ roll will probably save you one of them, which isn't terrible, but isn't fantastic, either. It can also be used once per Game to basically give a Unit of Atalan Jackals the Turbo-Boost Rule for a Turn, which has some potential for shenanigans. A Spotter, on the other hand, gives you an extra 6" of range, which, especially with the Missile Launcher and Mortar, can help to keep it out of range of return fire. A bit. The third option, the Survey Augur, is the most expensive, but my fave with the Mortar, since it lets the Vehicle ignore the effects of Cover, and those are often going to be used  on stuff that's trying to hide, which often involves both LoS blocking and Cover.

The Ridgerunner does get a Cult Keyword, but most of them aren't too great for it. Hivecult and Pauper Princes both have Stratagems which give it the potential to get +1 to Hit under the right circumstances, which is pretty nice. Ridgerunners can also benefit from being near a Hivecult or Bladed Cog Warlord with the Cult-specific Trait, and they can also benefit from a Jackal Alphus's Priority Target Sighted, the re-roll 1s to Wound against a nearby Primus's chosen target, and the Deny the Witch attempt from a nearby Magus.

Goliath Rockgrinder: I'm going to go out of Codex order here, and cover the GSC-specific Vehicles first, and then the Brood Bros options afterward. The Rockgrinder is as beefy as it gets for specifically GSC Units, with T7 and 10 Wounds, tho it is unfortunately stuck with just a 4+ Save. Rugged Construction gives you a 6+++ that should be good for another Wound or two on average, but isn't to be relied on. There are basically two ways I see to use a Goliath Rockgrinder. Either seems good, but trying to mix them and have it do everything is probably going to be bad.

First, and less fun, it's one of the few things GSC have that can really be a "bunker" type of Unit. It's not great at it, but between being cheaper and being able to get Cult benefits, it's actually probably better at it than a Russ would be here. The Heavy Mining Laser is your main option here, tho the Heavy Seismic Cannon might work. (IDK. I haven't really figured out what either version of the Seismic Cannon wants to be shooting at.) But the Heavy Mining Laser is at its best here. If you want, you can also toss maybe some sort of small counter-Assault Unit like a half-dozen Stealers or Acolytes in there, or even a Patriarch. Keep a Jackal Alphus or something nearby to help boost its accuracy, and you can probably get some real value out of it.

The more fun, and probably more effective, way to use it is as an Assault Vehicle. For this, you want to give it the Clearance Incinerator, and probably a Cache of Demolition Charges. Unlike in most Armies, the main use here isn't transporting an Assault Unit (tho you should probably stick one in anyhow, given how cheap it is to add on some Acolytes, and they let you use the Cache of Demolition Charges), but actually Assaulting people with the Rockgrinder itself. Depending on how damaged it is, it gets between 2d3 and 6+d3 WS4+ Attacks on the Charge, at S9, AP -2, Damage d3.

Keep Stratagems in mind when using the Rockgrinder. This is basically what Devoted Crew was made for, maintaining a Rockgrinder with even a single Wound as a major threat as long as you have CP left. Or if it does go down, and you bought the Cache of Demolition Charges, you can use Rigged to Blow to automatically make it Explode for d3 Mortal Wounds to every Unit within 6".

As with a number of other things in the GSC Dex, the threat of what a Rockgrinder can do is probably more useful than when it actually does it. The potential to just randomly shrug off that last Wound, the ability to act at full power for one more Turn, even what it can do when it does get taken out. You can't rely on any of those, but your Opponent has to keep those possibilities in mind when deciding how to deal with it. And any time you force them to make more decisions, you increase the chances of them making one wrong.

Goliath Truck: Now, if rushing an Assault Unit up in a transport is actually what you're going for, this is the variant you're looking for. It loses most of the Rockgrinder's offensive capability, and a point of toughness, but gains a couple of inches of movement until it's on its last legs, and can carry 10 Models. It does still have Rugged Construction, for that extra little bit of durability. It also has a Heavy Stubber and Twin Autocannon, which, if you'll pardon the digression, I really don't get, fluff-wise. A Heavy Stubber (or even two like on the Ridgerunner) seems perfectly reasonable. Even civilian life in M41 is pretty dangerous, and it's been clearly established that things like Stubbers are fairly common on Vehicles that are going to be traveling through sketchy areas. Almost all the other big guns (except for the Ridgerunner's Missile Launcher, which I have the same issue with) are re-purposed mining tools, which also make perfect sense. I could even see a jury-rigged Autocannon on there. But having twin Autocannon --heavier armament than that carried by AM Chimeras or even some Space Marine Razorbacks!-- as a standard fixture on a civilian vehicle just feels ridiculous. I really think it should start as a completely demilitarized base version, with all the weapons being optional additions. It would also make the thing about 28% cheaper if you just wanted to use it to haul dudes around.

OK, rant over. And speaking of hauling dudes around, that's the other upgrade it has over a Rockgrinder: A transport capacity of 10 (a Patriarch counts as 5). Now, that's not exactly optimal for most GSC Assault Units, that generally want to run Units of 15-20, but there's still some potential there. A couple of Goliath Trucks full of Stealers, Acolytes, or Metamorphs, and then maybe a Rockgrinder with a Patriarch and another support Character, or just a handful of support Characters, probably have decent odds of getting something across the board that's worth hitting folks with. Even more so, tho, they seem just about perfect for Aberrants. They have a max Unit Size of 10, and the Abominant doesn't take up any more room than any other, so you can really pack some serious hitting power into a single Truck there. Gotta be careful with it, because that's a lot of Points in one place, but if you end up across the table from someone who's clearly going to blow it away first thing, you do still have the option to just use it as a gun truck, and bring the Aberrants and Abominant in via underground tunnels. Do keep in mind that both variants of the Goliath are Cult-locked in who they can transport, which may be an issue when mixing Cults in a single list, but is more likely to cause issues with Brood Bros.

The other thing to keep in mind about the Goliath Truck is that it has the Open Topped Rule, which can make for some pretty nasty drive-bys with a bunch of Hand Flamers or something in there. And like the Rockgrinder, it has the option for a Cache of Demolition Charges, which both add some extra short-ranged firepower while you've got a Unit embarked, and unlock the Rigged to Blow Stratagem for it. As a final note, the Goliath Truck is probably the best statline to use as the basis for any Cult Limos anyone might have lying around or in progress/planning.

Cult Armoured Sentinels: I've gotta be honest, I really don't see the point of these, in either Astra Militarum or GSC Armies. They're slightly more durable than Scout Sentinels, but a Lascannon or Krak Missile can still one-shot them, and they lose out on the pre-Game Scout Vehicle move. They are one of the two places you can get a Plasma Cannon if you really want to, but they're pretty likely to just blow themselves up with it if you ever overcharge, since they can't benefit from any of the re-roll auras or anything that Cult Units can.

Cult Scout Sentinels: The main use I see here is the Scout Vehicle Move, as described above for the Ridgerunner, if you need a way to push forward before the game begins. That's less of a big deal than it was before the removal of Turn 1 Reserves, but there are some situations where you might want a bit of a buffer, or to get on an Objective right from the start, and with a starting price as low as 35 Points each, these guys are the most efficient way to do that. I probably wouldn't run them with anything but the Multi-Laser, since cheapness is their main virtue. It is unfortunate that they don't benefit from Cult Creeds and such, because the Sentinel Chainsaw upgrade would be mildly hilarious with Twisted Helix.

Cult Leman Russ: Nice and fluffy, but not terribly useful, I think. No Tank Commander option for Orders and better BS, no access to the best variants (Punisher and Executioner), and no Orders or anything to buff their accuracy. They are the only T8 Unit available, but given that we can't take enough of them to achieve Target Saturation, that doesn't actually mean much. Maybe when Allied with Nids using some of their T8 beasties? Probably still better to just take a Brood Bros Spearhead. If you are going to take one, the Battle Cannon is the best option. At first glance, the Eradicator Nova Cannon does have potential against T3 enemies, but for just a few points more, you can take an Augur Array with a Battle Cannon and get something significantly better. The Vanquisher is just plain awful, and the Exterminator is one of the only formerly Twin-Linked weapons that didn't get its shots doubled in 8th, leaving it badly under-gunned for how expensive it is. Heavy Bolters are the only Hull/Sponson weapons worth considering in most circumstances. Heavy Flamers are occasionally really nice, but most often useless, and pretty expensive for a contingency option. Lascannon, again, is just bad here. Plasma Cannon are slightly less terrible than on a Sentinel, because you only half kill yourself with an overheat, but still pretty bad.

Cult Chimera: Pretty much a side-grade from the Goliath Truck. Costs about the same or a bit more, depending on what options you take, has a little less firepower, but the extra point of Toughness and Save are probably worth more than the loss of Rugged Construction. The Lasgun Array more or less compensates for the lack of Open Topped, and pretty much everything else is the same. The first main thing about it is that, while the Chimera can't transport Cult-Keyword Models, it's the only thing that can transport Brood Bros, so if you want to haul them around, this is what you're using. It does still have Cult Ambush, tho, so you can make use of it in all those shenanigans as well. The other big thing is that it has access to a wider range of upgrades. The Dozer Blade is garbage, and the Auger Array isn't worth much here, but the Track Guards, letting you keep going at full speed regardless of how much damage the thing has taken, are potentially very worthwhile, if a bit spendy. An extra Stubber or Storm Bolter seems like a pretty obvious choice given how cheap they are, tho.

Bonus - Tectonic Fragdrill: It's a bonus because I completely forgot about it until just now ;) My gut feeling is that this thing really isn't worth taking in Matched Play. You can get a lot in a GSC list for 75 Points, and it eats up one of your Detachments as well. Maybe if we ever get a Fort slot added to one of the other Detachments or something. If you do take it, I kinda feel like the Drill itself is the least valuable part of it. What seems much more relevant is that it's a 10" tall piece of Terrain that provides Cover, and that you get to place during Deployment. And given how Cult Ambush works, you can actually wait until you've seen a pretty good chunk of your Opponent's Deployment before deciding where to put it. Then, on top of that, you can use it to send one Unit per Turn into the underground tunnels, popping back up wherever you want (usual 9" restriction from enemies applies) at the end of your next Movement Phase. That could be incredibly handy for late game Objective Grabs, effectively letting you bring in Reserves on Turn 4+, especially if you can keep them out of LoS while they're waiting.

I would note, however, that considered purely as a Terrain kit, it's a pretty good one. The drill blocks LoS to most of the middle floor, and if you choose to build it other than as the purchasable Fort, it comes with a couple of the most useful sprues in the Sector Mechanicus line (walkways and stanchions), is US$60 for a four-sprue kit (most of those are US$75), and has a ton of cool options for things to do with the drill, including some ways it can fit together with the Galvanic Servo-Haulers kit. Check out some of them on Ray Dranfield's twitter, and the_kit_basher on Instagram.

And that's all I've got. Sorry for not breaking it up with pics this time, but I've been writing this up because of insomnia, and now I'm finally starting to crash, and I can't deal with finding pics and putting them in. Hopefully I'll have some more finished Models over the next few days before the month runs out, but my hands have been pretty shaky lately, and most of what I need to finish up needs more care and precision than I've been able to manage.  I may try to just slam out some stuff that doesn't need any fine detail work, or I may just go straight to the wrap-up/Army Lists portion of this review. Until next time, y'all have a good one now, y'hear!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Gellerpox Infected: Nightmare Hulks

Once again with the Nurgle warning. These guys include some of the grossest stuff I've ever done, so maybe don't click through to the rest of the post if you're currently eating or something. This will be the last of these for a while, tho.
OK, for those of you still with us, let's get started:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Units

Before I properly dive into this, I'd like to mention one of the fluff bits in the new GSC Dex that I particularly appreciated. Back in Rogue Trader, one of the big things about Genestealers was that they could infect and hybridize with pretty much anything, but when GSC came back in 7th, the only Models made were of hybrids with humans. In that version of the Codex, there was no particular explanation, but in this one, they actually spent a bit of time talking about why humans are the most common hosts for Stealer Cults. Even Genestealer hybridization can't do much to speed up the Aeldari reproduction rate, for instance. T'au, particularly the Ethereals, can to some degree sense Hybrids through the same (as yet unexplained) means that they keep all the Castes working together; they just "feel wrong". Similarly, Orks are linked by a low-level psychic connection that Hybrids don't fit into properly, and so they get shunned by the real Orks. I know it's basically just a means of justifying a more limited Model line, but I still like that they actually put some thought into it, and got a much better explanation than the usual GW handwaving. Anyhow.

Genestealer Cults Squads, Packs, and Broods can be divided up by two functional criteria: Whether or not they are Troops, and thus gain the Insurrectionists (Objective Secured) Rule in Battle-Forged Armies, and whether or not they benefit from Cult Creeds. I'm going to be starting with the two Units that get both.

Acolyte Hybrids: The Close Combat Troops option. Their basic statline, other than being only T3, is pretty similar to that of Ork Boyz, which is certainly not a bad starting point for an Assault Unit in the Troops slot. The compensation for their lack of toughness compared to Boyz is made up by their Rending Claws and greater access to special CC Weapons, rather than them only being available to the Nob. My fave is the Heavy Rock Saw, which is essentially a Chainfist without the penalty to Hit, but the Heavy Rock Drill isn't far behind. They can also all take Hand Flamers, which let them dump out a shocking amount of auto-hitting firepower. It may only be 6" range and S3, but with the various Deployment shenanigans available to GSC and the sheer number they can take, that's more than enough to clear out screens, and will put some hurt on pretty much anything short of T6 and/or a 2+Sv. For those things, in addition to the Saws and Drills, they can take Demolition Charges, which are pretty close to one shot, Grenade d6 versions of Krak Missiles. They've got a Stratagem to let up to five of them chuck one at once, too.

Very much a Unit that dishes it out better than they can take it, but not quite to the point where I think I'd really call them a "glass cannon" Unit. Available in Units from 5 to 20 strong, with 2 Specials per 5 Models, but they need some sort of Morale support if you're taking larger Units. A Cult Icon, to let them re-roll 1s to Hit in Close Combat, seems like an excellent choice for larger Units as well. Four-Armed Emperor and Rusted Claw seem the like the Cults they'll get the most from, but Pauper Princes lets them get more effectiveness from smaller Units and makes their Special CC Weapons more reliable, while going up to S5 from Twisted Helix makes them even scarier, too. Seems like it's hard to go wrong with taking these guys regardless of Cult, but I don't think I'd want to rely on them as my only Troops.

Neophyte Hybrids: Weaker (S3), but cheaper and shootier than Acolytes, Neophytes are good backfield/midfield Objective holders, screens, and close-mid range fire support. They can get some heavier Weapons, but you're going to want to be sparing with those, since cheapness is one of the prime virtues here, and those can run up the price of a Squad surprisingly quickly. I'd generally keep it to Heavy Stubbers and Grenade Launchers for Units that are going to be hanging back a bit, and Flamers, or possibly Web Guns, for Units that you know are getting up close. The signature special Rule for Web Guns is rarely going to matter (they use the lesser of the Target's Strength or Toughness to Wound against), but they have a 16" range for their d3 auto-Hits, which means you can use them immediately with Units Deploying from Underground, and they're the cheapest Special Weapon option.

10-20 per Squad, but there's no real benefit to running them in larger than minimum Squads most of the time, and they'll need help with Morale at that point, while minimum Units are unlikely to lose more than you can afford to let run. The extra durability against basic Attacks from Rusted Claw seems like the most useful Creed for Neophytes to me, but Hivecult and Bladed Cog have their attractions as well, and going up to S4 with Twisted Helix brings them much closer to being solid all-rounders.

Brood Brothers Infantry Squad: The very cheapest Troops Unit available. Basically a standard Astra Militarum Squad, but with fewer options and less support. They can bring proper Heavy Weapons, but without Orders, Doctrines, or Creeds, I don't see any but the high RoF Weapons like Mortars or Heavy Bolters being very useful. Even more so than Neophytes, these guys are really just here to screen and hold Objectives. They probably will show up fairly regularly, because they do bring something unique to the table, and are really cheap, but they'll likely be the least common of the three Troops Units because the lack of a Cult Keyword cuts them off from the vast majority of the bonuses that GSC can hand out.

Hybrid Metamorphs: Basically Acolytes+1. Not sure how I feel about these from a competitive point of view. On the one hand, they're certainly better than Acolytes on a per-Model basis, but on the other hand, they also cost something like 30-60% more, depending on how you equip them, they die just as easily, and they don't get ObSec. On yet another hand (these are Stealer Hybrids we're talking about here), GSC have some great tools for getting a glass cannon combat Unit into action without getting shot up too much. I think I'm going to have to get some actual play experience to know how they really work. From a Narrative/Modeling point of view, however, they're absolutely and unquestionably fantastic. So many cool gribbly options.

For the most part, I think I like them basic, with either a Metamorph Talon and Rending Claw or two Metamorph Talons, just go for mass of Attacks. Maybe the occasional Metamorph Claw for some harder hitting Attacks, especially in Twisted Helix, where it hits S7 (or even 8 if you add in the Icon of the Cult Ascendant as well), and a Bonesword for the Leader is probably worth taking. Hand Flamers seem better suited to regular Acolytes, and the Metamorph Whip, while it's free, keeps the bearer from taking any of the other Weapons that would make the Attacks that grants when they die worthwhile. A Cult Icon is probably worth taking, since you're going to want as many of those Attacks you're paying so many Points for to land as possible. Four-Armed Emperor is probably my favourite Cult for them, but Pauper Princes, Rusted Claw, and Twisted Helix all seem good, too. Probably best to pile as much support on them as you can, for as long as they last. Character Auras, Psychic Powers, the works.

Aberrants: These are what I would probably take instead of Metamorphs if going for a competitive choice. T4, 2 Wounds, a 5+ "FNP" roll, and reducing the damage of incoming hits by 1 makes them pretty damn hard to drop. On a per-Model basis, they're the toughest Squad in the Codex, and they're close to it on a per-Point basis, despite how expensive they are. They also hit like a ton of bricks, with even their basic loadout making 4 S5 Attacks, variously at AP-1, -2, and -4. I don't really care for the Heavy Power Hammer (basically a Thunder Hammer) unless you've got some pretty good buffs on them to overcome the to-Hit penalty, but Hypermorphs with Heavy Improvised Weapons (i.e. the dude with the street sign) look really good, dishing out 6 S10(!) Attacks, plus an extra at S5, just because. The Cult of the Twisted Helix is made for these guys (well, fluff-wise it's the other way around, but anyhow), with not just a useful Creed but also a Stratagem just for them. All of the others except Hivecult have something for them, tho, with Four-Armed Emperor and Pauper Princes probably being next best. If you're taking a big Unit, and/or multiple Units, some dedicated support from at least a Biophagus seems like a no-brainer, and probably also an Abominant, some Psychic support, and other Character Auras. Don't forget Monstrous Vigour if you suspect they're going to get hit a bunch over the next Turn. It's 2CP, but taking their "FNP" up to a 4+ is pretty awesome.

Purestrain Genestealers: Where it all started. While they might not be the unholy terrors in 40K that they were in Space Hulk, there is still very little that a big Brood of Purestrains can't shred, especially when properly supported. A Patriarch along with them is ideal, for the +1 to Hit, immunity to Morale (because you want a big Brood to get the +1A), and Psychic support like Mass Hypnosis and/or Might from Beyond. Give them a Strength buff from the Icon of the Cult Ascendant or Might from Beyond, and they're Wounding even Knights on 5+, with half of those being AP-4. Or run them alongside a Bladed Cog Warlord for full re-rolls to Wound against one chosen Unit. They don't benefit from the Cult Creed, but the Warlord Trait can still buff them. They also have a Stratagem just for them, The First Curse, but it feels kind of risky to me. Yeah, there are two good results, but losing the ability to Advance and Charge on the third result is pretty bad, and 4+ Armour does not make up for it.

Atalan Jackals: I've seen a bunch of people talking these guys down, but I just don't see it myself. Yeah, they're not terribly impressive on a per-Model basis, but they're also dirt cheap. They're the same price per Wound as Neophytes, but they also get an extra point of Toughness and a -1 to Hit penalty on anyone shooting at them. Against D1 shooting, they're very nearly as durable as Aberrants on a per-Model basis, and less than half the price. I haven't run the numbers for every Unit, but I'm fairly certain that, on a per-Point basis, they're the most durable non-Character, non-Vehicle Unit in the Codex, unless you go way overboard loading them up with Power Weapons and Demolition Charges and such. I figure if you stick mostly with Shotguns and Cultist Knives, with a Stubber or maybe an Incinerator on the Wolfquad(s), they should do fine for your investment.

Rusted Claw is the obvious Creed for Jackals. It's a significant buff to their durability, makes the Mining Laser viable on Wolfquads, gives them extra threat range with Shotguns and Grenade Launchers, and has an absolutely fantastic Stratagem that lets them Move twice (but not Charge), and gives them a buff to their Grenades for the Turn. It's a ton of CP, so I'll probably never actually do it, but I love the idea of them showing up right in someone's face with Lying in Wait, unloading a ton of Grenades on them with Extra Explosives and Drive-By Demolitions, and then using the extra Move from Drive-By to get the hell out of dodge before the enemy gets a chance to hit back.

Brood Brothers Heavy Weapons Squads: Honestly, I'm not even a huge fan of most options for Heavy Weapons Squads in an actual Astra Militarum Army, and without Orders, they're significantly worse here. The one option I actually like is Mortar Squads. 39 Points to sit on a backfield Objective out of LoS and kick out 3d6 shots per Turn is a pretty great deal. Paying more than that to put the same 6 T3 Wounds out in LoS of the enemy is just throwing Points away in my experience. Theoretically you could use Lurk in the Shadows to protect one, but that's a lot of CP to devote to less than 100 Points of your Army that isn't going to be a game-changer on its own anyhow. Like the Brood Bros Infantry Squad, the choice of Cult is entirely irrelevant here.

Overall, we've got 8 different Squads, 6 of which are pretty damn good in at least one build, and only one of which looks like it might be particularly bad to me. Further, they're distributed nicely across the FOC, and many of them are quite cheap, making a Brigade a pretty viable option for all those tasty, tasty CP. I'm still processing the last of the pics and finishing the write-up for the Nightmare Hulks, but that should be up in a couple of days. Then there's one last group of Units to review (Vehicles), and maybe an overall wrap-up post. Not sure what comes after that. Until then, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Squaduary Week 3 and Necromunda Accessories

Squaduary is rolling along well here. All that really needs to be done still is touching up all the black (which is, admittedly, the most fiddly and obnoxious part of the whole process), doing the washes and glazes, and a bit more on the bases with some Skrag Brown and then going back over them with some metal drybrushing. I'm hoping to make it over to Seattle at some point in the next couple of days to pick up a couple of nicer brushes, which should make the black a bit less of a slog.
We actually had good natural light today, so I experimented with using it in addition to my light box. Mixed results.
I also got around to painting up the Priority Token and Monster's Lair marker from Necromunda. Pretty simple work on the Token, but I'm happy with how it came out. The shine off the BftBG in the left eye is more pronounced and gem-like in person, but when it is viewed in person, it's pretty much exactly like I envisioned it at the start. The natural light really worked out nicely here, helped make it look absolutely fabulous.

The Sewer Monster is somewhere in-between in terms of how the natural light worked out. The blending on the underside is much more stark here than it usually looks, but otherwise, it's about right. I'm not sure it's done, I might want to run some gloss green ink over some or all of it to make it slimier. It does look good as it is, tho, so I'm just going to leave it for now.

I'm almost done with the penultimate installment of my GSC Codex Review, that should be up in another day or two, and then I'm working on the last post for the Gellerpox Infected which I'll hopefully have up sometime this weekend. Until next time, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ryza Pattern Ruins: Detail Shots

So, apparently, back when I made the post with my Ryza Pattern Ruins, I took a whole bunch more pics that I then completely forgot about, and just found a little while ago while processing pics for another post. There's not really a whole lot to talk about that I didn't say in the previous post, but you can see better what I was talking about in that post, in terms of the colour contrast, the weathering/corrosion, and the sloppiness, so I'm just going to jump right to the pics:

So, not a whole lot there, but hopefully at least some of it looks cool enough that it was worth your time. I've got a couple more posts in the works that are taking longer to write up, the next part of the  Genestealer Cult Codex Review and the last post about the Gellerpox Infected. Until I get one of those finished, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Gellerpox Infected: Vox-Shamblers

OK, again with the Nurgle warning here. These guys aren't as bad as the Nightmare Hulks, but they're still pretty gross.
I like the metal masks inherently, but not so much here, so I did some head swaps. I also decided to do some variation in skin tones, like some of them were flushed and feverish from the infection, while others were pallid and drained. You'll see that continue when I get to the Nightmare Hulks. Other than that, it was mostly just tons of Typhus Corrosion and various browns for rust, and then Nurgle's Rot, Blood for the Blood God, and various off-coloured washes for the injuries and signs of infection. I tried actually using Ryza Rust for drybrushing rather than blobbing it on as a base, which worked a bit better, but I'm still not a huge fan of it, and some of the rust really doesn't feel right to me. The washes and other fluids on the infections, on the other hand, I'm really happy with how they came out. Anyhow, here they are, you have been warned:

Friday, February 15, 2019

Genestealer Cults Codex Review: Characters

I've decided to break this up a bit differently than the usual split by FOC slots. I will be pointing out the situations where the Battlefield Role does matter (Troops and HQs), but I'm going to do just three posts: Characters, Squads, and Vehicles. As I said before, these are, as much as anything, just me working my way through the Codex for my own purposes. Thinking out loud, more or less. If you still want to know about the GSC, but don't want to deal with this wall of text, there are more wieldy reviews elsewhere.

The first thing to note about GSC Characters is the Gene Sects Rule. In Matched Play, you cannot include more than one of any given Character in a single Detachment. This doesn't really seem like a huge issue to me, since a number of them are quite good, but none of them really scream out to be spammed. But it's worth keeping in mind.

The next thing to keep in mind as you go through these is the Unquestioning Loyalty Rule that most GSC Units have. As long as you keep a Squad within 3", you can pawn off roughly half of your failed Saves and Mortal Wounds onto a nearby Unit instead of taking them on the Character. It's not something to rely on, and you have to be even more careful than usual to not let them get separated from their supporting Units, but it does make them significantly more durable, especially against sniper fire and such. It can also often buy you the extra bit of time you need to buy back a couple of Wounds with Hyper-Metabolism.

Finally, before we get into the Characters themselves, note that basically all of the Aura and other buff abilities only affect other Units of the same Cult Creed. I'm just going to mention it once, rather than typing it out for every single one of these.

HQ Characters:

- Patriarch: First off, there are two more Rules that are technically Army Rules, but mostly affect Patriarchs. The Broodfather Rule means that, in Matched Play, if you have one or more Patriarchs, no other GSC or Brood Brothers Character can be your Warlord. It's either a Patriarch, or an allied Tyranid Character if you have one of those. The main impact here is that I'm going to be considering Warlord Traits much more with regard to the Patriarch than most other Characters. However, if a Patriarch is your Warlord, you can use the Broodcoven stratagem to give a Warlord Trait to one Magus and/or Primus as well. The other isn't a full Rule on its own, but an exception in the Cult Creeds Rule: Because he has the Genestealer Keyword, a Patriarch will not benefit from his Cult's Creed. Unfortunate, because some of them would be awesome, but we'll deal, and at least he still has access to things like the Cult Warlord Traits and Relics.

Now, then. While the Patriarch is the best all-around beatstick Model in the Army, but I don't think that's actually its best role. Certainly, it is not a solo beatstick Character like a Smash Captain or something. The biggest value, to me, is in its Auras and other abilities. The broadest of these is Living Idol, which makes Cult and Brood Brothers Units within 6" automatically pass Morale. GSC do generally have decent Ld values, but they also have a number of Units that want to be pretty large, so being able to completely ignore Morale is excellent. He's also a Psyker, who knows two Powers from the Broodmind Discipline and can cast one of them each Turn. Ld10 makes Mental Onslaught a natural choice for him, and then pretty much any of the others, depending on how you're planning to use him. A Familiar is a pretty worthwhile upgrade, letting him cast two Powers in one Turn, once per Game, and effectively being a free Wound after that, and/or opening up The Crouchling as a Relic option.

If he's primarily going to be a Support Character and counter-Assault Unit, then something like Might from beyond or Psychic Stimulus is probably best. Or Psionic Blast can let him double down on the ability to snipe Models out with Psychic Powers. In this role, Alien Majesty is pretty much the go-to Warlord Trait, adding 3" to the range of his Auras, altho Shadow Stalker for some extra defence, and Inscrutable Cunning and Beloved Grandsire are worth considering if running the appropriate Creeds. If you want to use a Relic here, The Amulet of the Voidwyrm or The Crouchling are probably best.

As a combat Character, you're going to want to take advantage of his other Aura. Brood Telepathy gives Genestealer Units within 6" +1 to Hit, making them effectively WS2+, which is pretty awesome. I said earlier that the Patriarch isn't a solo beatstick. But with a big Brood of Purestrain Genestealers alongside, there ain't a whole lot that bunch can't handle together. Note that Brood Telepathy will also affect the Patriarch himself, as he has the relevant keyword. This will almost never matter, but if you end up with a penalty to Hit for whatever reason, it can be clutch.

A Combat Broodlord is likely to end up places where he might actually be able to Mind Control something, and Mass Hypnosis/Might from Beyond are great before Charging something nasty. Shadow Stalker can, again, be a good choice for Warlord Trait, but I would tend to lean toward Biomorph Adaptation here. Entropic Touch, Beloved Grandsire, or Bio-Alchemist are all solid options if you're running the appropriate Creed as well. The Amulet of the Voidwyrm and The Crouchling are again prime Relic options, but Vockor's Talisman or The Prime Elixir are also very worth consideration if running the right Cult.

- Magus: As you might guess from the title, a Magus is primarily notable for being a Psyker. Even her Aura plays into that, letting Units within 6" Deny the Witch when they are targeted by a Psychic Power. The only available upgrade option is a Familiar or two, at least one of which seems very worthwhile. Of her available Psychic Power choices, the Patriarch is a better user for Mental Onslaught, and the Magus is kind of fragile to be getting close enough to use Mind Control. Psionic Blast, Mass Hypnosis, and Might from beyond are probably the best options. I'd generally go for whichever the Patriarch doesn't have. The tendency for a Magus to hang back from the action also makes them the most likely Model to use as the "focus" for the Telepathic Summons Stratagem.

If using the Broodcoven Stratagem, or not running a Patriarch, defensive or utility Warlord Traits are probably best. Her Aura, while good, doesn't really seem worth using Alien Majesty to extend. I'd probably go with Focus of Adoration or Shadow Stalker from the general list, and all of the Cult choices except for Entropic Touch and Bio-Alchemist are worth considering. As with the Patriarch, The Crouchling and The Amulet of the Voidwyrm are both good general-purpose Relic options. If you do want to get your Magus stuck into combat, the Dagger of Swift Sacrifice or (if Rusted Claw) The Metallophagic Stave will help make her a bit less terrible. The Biomorph Adaptation Warlord Trait and Might from Beyond are probably also good choices in that case.
No, not that Primus

- Primus: The Primus is a Combat Support Character, most useful for his Auras, but capable of holding his own in a fight if necessary. He grants +1 to Hit in the Fight Phase for Units within 6", and (in any Phase) also lets those Units re-roll 1s to Wound against a single Enemy Unit chosen when he is first set up on the table. Four Attacks at WS2+, and with a couple of good Weapons available means he adds some significant punch to any Combat he's helping out with, but as with other GSC Characters, he should not get into fights without support from other Units. Alien Majesty, Shadow Stalker, or Biomorph Adaptation are again standout Warlord Trait options if using Broodcoven,  along with any of the Cult Traits other than Single-Minded Obsession. For a Relic, there are two Relic Boneswords, one generic, one for the Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor, and they're both good enough that I don't think I'd consider any Relic other than one of those for a Primus.

- Acolyte Iconward: Even more so than the Magus, the Iconward is here as a Support Character, not to get into Combats. His banner provides a 6+ "Feel no Pain" roll to all Units within 6" (other than Aberrants, who get to re-roll 1s for their similar rule instead), and lets those Units re-roll failed Morale Tests as well. I find it unlikely that an Iconward will have a Warlord Trait often, but if he does, Alien Majesty is the obvious choice. Relic choice is similarly straightforward, since the Icon of the Cult Ascendant, which adds +1S to his other Aura effects, isn't available to anyone else.

- Abominant: As the Patriarch is to Purestrain Stealers, so the Abominant is to Aberrants. The hardest hitting CC Character in the list, but with only 3 Attacks at WS4+, fairly unreliable. By statline, it's a bit less durable than a Patriarch, but between its 5+ "FNP" roll and regaining d3 Wounds at the start of each friendly Turn, it probably comes out a bit more durable on average. It also has two Aura effects, one that gives Enemy Psykers (other than Tyranids) within 12" -1 to cast, and one that gives nearby friendly Aberrants (including itself) double hits on natural 6s. An Abominant absolutely needs some kind of support, at minimum a nearby Primus, so that it will somewhat reliably connect with its few, but exceedingly powerful, Attacks. Might from Beyond would be handy, too, if you can spare it. I don't find them particularly impressive except in Twisted Helix Armies, where the Elixir of the Prime Specimen Relic can turn it into a real monster. It's probably too fragile a basket to put that many eggs in, but in that situation, I'd also be very tempted to make it my Warlord and give it Biomorph Adaptation as well. The Abominant is one of the few Units that I can see making it worthwhile to mix Cult Creeds in an Army. It might be worth looking into a Twisted Helix Vanguard Detachment with an Abominant, a Primus, at least one Brood of Aberrants, and then fill it out with a Biophagus, and maybe some Metamorphs or one or more of the Elite Characters that work alright on their own, like a Sanctus or a Nexos, as something worth taking alongside a main force of a different Cult.

- Jackal Alphus: The completely new option, the Alphus has several useful abilities, but is pretty clearly intended to work alongside other Atalan Jackals, and isn't necessarily a great choice for all Armies. She's one of those extreme rarities, a shooty HQ, with a souped up Sniper Rifle, along with some impressive mobility thanks to her Bike, and some nice bonus defence with an inherent -1 to Hit her in the Shooting Phase. As with all other GSC HQs, tho, she also has a support Aura. In her case, she gets to pick any one Unit visible to her and within 36" at the start of each of your Shooting Phases, and all Units within 6" (or Bikers out to 12") get +1 to Hit against it until the end of the Phase. GSC aren't really a shooty Army, but they do have some significant firepower available, and this is one of the few buffs we have for that firepower. This combos well with a Primus that picked the same Unit when it was set up, to re-roll 1s to Wound.

With the inherent -1 to Hit, the Alphus actually makes a reasonable candidate for Warlord if not running a Patriarch. You can double down on the defence with Shadow Stalker, if avoiding giving up Slay the Warlord is a principle concern, or the Hivelord and Single-Minded Obsession Traits provide some extra shooting buffs with the right Creed. The Alphus also has a Relic Sniper Rifle available, The Gift from Beyond, that's actually pretty good, letting her Wound most Infantry on 2+. The Alphus isn't quite as limited in Creed as the Abominant, but Rusted Claw really does stand out for her, buffing her Save and letting her shoot on the move without penalty. Like the Abominant, I can see her leading a side Detachment, in this case a Rusted Claw Outrider along with some Jackals and Ridgerunners.

Elite Characters: For many older Armies, 8th Ed saw Models that had previously been specialists in certain Unit split off to become Characters in the Elites section. GSC didn't have any of those, so these are all brand new. Theoretically, you could make them your Warlord and/or give them Relics, but there's pretty much no reason to do so, except for the Sanctus.

- Clamavus: I must admit, I find the name kind of stupid, but the in-game effects are pretty handy. The Clamavus is some sort of propaganda and information warfare specialist, supporting friendly Units and hampering enemies. Friendly Units within 6" get a boost to their Ld, as well as their Advance and Charge rolls, which is particularly great for an Army that's likely to have a fair number of Assault Units coming in 9" away from their targets. An 8" Charge is 50% more likely than a 9" Charge, and there are other possibilities to enhance that still further. The Clamavus also adds further pushback on enemy Reserves, prohibiting them from being set up within 12" of her, and any enemy Units within 6" or her at the start of your Shooting Phase will take a Mortal Wound on the roll of a 6. Nice little package of abilities for less than 60 Points.
The swords over the back make me want to paint him like Deadpool

- Locus: A Bodyguard Character, in the fluff specifically for a Magus, but the Rules work for any GSC Character. GW's attempts at Bodyguard-style Units have historically been pretty hit or miss, but the Locus is a decent one. It comes in at about half the Points per Wound of the Models it's supposed to be protecting, and has some decent, but not amazing capabilities in other regards. It's a good fighter for a GEq, but don't expect it to take on even a mid-tier SM Character or anything. It's got a couple of Rules with overly-complicated wording that basically let it bodyguard, and then a -1Ld debuff Aura out to 6", which is nifty. Not a bad buy to effectively pick up a few extra Wounds for your more significant Characters, maybe add a couple of extra Wounds in an Assault if circumstances merit, and/or cheaply fill an Elites slot for a Brigade or something.

- Sanctus: Somewhere between a Death Cult Assassin and an Imperial Assassin, but trending more toward the latter. It can be outfitted either for Close Combat or as a Sniper, but despite GW only ever showing off the CC version, you're going to want to go for the Sniper. The CC version isn't going to get anywhere that matters, and gains no benefit from two of the Special Rules you're paying for (an extra +1 on Saves when in Cover, and Ignores Cover). Plus the Sniper Rifle is pretty cool, causing Perils of the Warp on any Psyker who takes damage from it in addition the the usual Sniper things. The Sanctus is the other Model that can take The Gift from Beyond, and that +2 to Wound non-Vehicle, non-Titanic targets is just as good here as for the Alphus.
Many Judges tried to take him and those men of law were dead

- Kelermorph: The Gunslinger that was the first leaked Model from the new line. Surprisingly, he's actually not terrible at his job. There are a lot of complications in figuring out if he does it efficiently, but the fact that he's likely to do significant damage at all is a welcome change from most other similar Characters in the past. Basically, he just fires a buttload of S4 AP-1 D2 shots at close range, enough of them that he's likely to drop a couple of Primaris Marines, or put ~4 Wounds on a Character with 3+ Armour. He can ignore the Character targeting restrictions, but with only 12" range, that's not terribly likely to be relevant. He's also better off targeting something squishier, because if he kills someone with his shooting, friendly Units within 6" get to re-roll 1s for the rest of the Turn. Have him show up by a screen along with a bunch of Neophytes, and they're likely to tear a pretty good hole in it. That much pistol fire would also be hilarious in a protracted combat. He can take a Relic Pistol, Oppressor's Bane, but it really isn't enough of an improvement to be worth one of your Relic slots. Also, because it only replaces one of his pistols, you then need to split his shots into two groups, which slows things down for very little actual improvement.

- Nexos: Hologram map dude. His job in the fluff is overall strategic command and coordination, which is reflected in his Rules by him not actually doing very much at the tactical level. When you put him on the board, you can reposition one of your Ambush Markers, and during the Game, he can occasionally give you a Command Point whenever anyone uses a Stratagem. There is some cool synergy where he gets +1 on the roll if it was your Stratagem and you have a Clamavus, and the same if it was your opponent's Stratagem and you have a Primus on the table. He's pretty cheap, and probably worthwhile for the CP regen and as a backfield Objective holder, but just kind of boring, especially considering how cool his Model is.

- Biophagus: Mad Scientist dude. He's got a poisoned pokin' stick that can do extra Mortal Wounds to Characters, but his main schtick is buffing Aberrants. At the end of each of your Movement Phases, he can give a nearby Aberrant Unit +1 S, T, or A, determined randomly, and with a small chance of killing one of them. Note that his ability references the Aberrant Keyword rather than the Aberrants Datasheet, so he can use it on an Abominant, too. If you want to risk instakilling your Abominant. It lasts for the rest of the Game, but can only be used once on any given Unit. He can also buy a cute little Familiar, who will let him roll two dice and pick which to use when determining the buff, once per Game. He's only worthwhile if you're running Aberrants, but if you are, he's really quite cheap, and after he's done buffing them, he can go sit on an Objective somewhere and be untargetable, like the Nexos. Probably worth it if you have two or more Units of Aberrants, maybe for just one.

So there you have it. In a pleasant turn of events, all of them look at least reasonably useful, tho some are pretty specific in what kind of list they want to be in. I'll be back soon with some more of my own Models, and until then, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Squaduary: Week 2 Update

Pretty good progress this week. I've got the base colours for the skin/chitin and the hard parts of the environment suits done on everyone, and the orange cloth done on just over half of them. The chitin/Stealer flesh looks hideously garish right now, but it needs to be like that to work right after I ink it.
I also got the set of 10 that I had sitting around from Kill Team put together. Working with that set was kind of annoying, because it's almost the same colour as the older, softer plastic, but it's the newer formulation, and I kept misjudging how much mold line scraping was needed.
The bases here are glued to the textured plasticard I use for these, but hadn't been cut out yet.

They came out pretty nicely in the end, tho. Also, I'm very glad I chose to take this approach of painting Models that I'd already primed, and building new ones that will wait to get primed, instead of trying to push one set through from start to finish. Because I ain't spray painting in this:
As I said at the end of the last post, I'm going to be alternating here, so the next one will be the GSC Characters review, and then another painting post, probably some Gellarpox Infected. Until then, y'all have a good one, y'hear!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Genestealer Cult Codex Review: Universal Rules and Cults

I want to start this off by saying that this will not be an objective review. I'm not going to be looking for the most efficient way to make a tournament-winning GSC List. I'm looking at it from the perspective of trying to make the kind of GSC Army I want to run, largely for Narrative games. Much of the analysis will still be relevant for competitive play, but the final conclusions will likely not.

Universal Rules: These will apply to all GSC Units, tho some only in Battle-Forged Armies.
- Cult Ambush: This is pretty much the defining Special Rule of the Army. Each time you would Deploy a Unit with this Rule before the game, you can instead choose to place an Ambush Marker. Then, at the start of your first Movement Phase or the end of your Opponent's first Movement Phase, whichever comes first, you replace each counter with a Unit of your choice. If the Unit is an Infantry or Bike Unit, instead of placing a Marker, you can choose to put the Unit in Reserves in underground tunnels, to emerge via the usual "Deep Strike" Rules at the end of one of your Movement Phases. Making good use of Cult Ambush is going to be crucial to gain a strategic edge that will offset the general fragility of GSC Units.
- Unquestioning Loyalty: Basically a Look Out Sir! type of rule. If you have a Unit of the same Cult with this Rule within 3" of a Character when they fail a save or take a Mortal Wound, on a 4+, you can sacrifice a Model from the nearby Unit rather than applying the results to the Character. Works in both Shooting and Close Combat, and there are various ways to improve the roll.
- Insurrectionists: The usual "Objective Secured" Rule for Troops.
- Brood Brothers: Brood Brother Units can be included in a GSC Detachment without losing your Cult benefits. They can also sacrifice themselves for Unquestioning Loyalty regardless of the Character's Cult. However, they themselves do not gain Cult benefits.
- Brood Brothers Detachments: For each GSC Detachment in your Army, you can include up to one Astra Militarum Detachment in your Army even tho there are no Faction Keywords in common. They replace their Regiment Keyword with Brood Brothers, gain +1Ld and the Unquestioning Loyalty Rule, and cannot make use of anything Regiment-specific or any Unique Characters. Furthermore, the Command Benefits of any Brood Brothers Detachments are halved, rounding up. Finally, Brood Brothers Characters cannot be given Cult Relics.
- Tyranids: Not strictly a special Rule, but it is worth noting that most GSC Units have the Tyranids Faction Keyword, allowing you to take Tyranid Detachments as part of the same Army.

- Stratagems: I'm going to skip a number of them that are fairly standard, or particularly weak/boring.
-- They Came from Below: 1 CP, remove up to three of your Ambush Markers while revealing Units in the first Turn, and shift that many Units from Ambush to underground tunnels.
-- Meticulous Uprising: 1 CP, move up to 3 of your Ambush Markers up to 12" each. They still have to follow all the usual restrictions.
-- Scanner Decoys: 1 CP, set up an extra three Ambush Markers when Deploying a Unit in Ambush. Once per Game only.
-- A Perfect Ambush: 3 CP, lets you move an Infantry or Biker Unit d6" immediately after setting it up, either from an Ambush Marker or underground tunnels. Explicitly works on Units that arrived from Reserves this Turn Alternately, let the Unit shoot immediately. In either case, it places no restrictions on the Unit's later actions.
-- Lying in Wait: 2 CP, lets you set up a Cult Ambush Unit arriving from Reserves anywhere more than 3"(!) from an Enemy Model. It can't Charge that Turn, but amazing for getting stuff like Flamers in close, and you can use it on Unit while using A Perfect Ambush on another in the same Turn to really put pressure on.
-- Return to the Shadows: 1 CP, lets an Infantry or Biker Unit return to Reserves and "Deep Strike" at the end of your next Movement Phase. A repeat from Chapter Approved, but the changes to Cult Ambush make it effectively a new Stratagem.
*** Collectively, these let you be even more of a jerk with Cult Ambush. So many great ways to screw with your Opponent.
-- Lurk in the Shadows: 2 CP, makes an Infantry Unit un-targetable unless it's the closest Unit to the shooter. Has to be used at the start of the Opponent's Shooting Phase, tho; you can't use it reactively.
-- Clandestine Goals: 1 CP, you get to keep your Tactical Objectives secret in a Maelstrom Mission.
-- Devoted Crew: 1 CP, lets a damaged Vehicle use the top row of its profile for the Turn. Very handy for getting one more good Turn out of a Vehicle before it gets finished off, or bump it back up so it has enough Movement to get to an Objective or something.
-- Broodcoven: 1 CP, usable if a Patriarch is your Warlord. Gives a Magus and a Primus each a Warlord Trait. Very cool, and a great way to get use from some of the Warlord Traits that would be risky to use with your actual Warlord.
-- Hyper-Metabolism: 1 CP, heal d3 Wounds on a Character at the start of your Movement Phase. The inflexible timing is annoying, but given some of the Characters available, this is going to be very useful.
-- Cult Reinforcements: Return up to d6 slain Models to a Troops Unit at the start of your Movement Phase. Allows for even more shenanigans than Hyper-Metabolism, since you can string the Models out to better reach an Objective or something.
-- Rigged to Blow: 1 CP, makes one of your Vehicles automatically Explode when Destroyed. Unfortunately only works on Vehicles with a Cache of Demolition Charges. But still pretty cool. And, frankly, probably a better reason to add a Cache than actually using it shoot is.
-- Detonate Concealed Explosives: 2 CP, pick an Enemy Unit, on a 4+ they take d3 Mortal Wounds. -1 to the roll if targeting a Character, +1 if targeting a Unit with 10 or more Models. On a 7+, goes up to d6 Mortal Wounds. Annoyingly, has to be used at the start of the Shooting Phase, so you can't use it to try to polish off some Unit that you just couldn't quite drop, but still, very handy for picking away at things that are hiding out of LoS, well-screened from Deep Strikers.

- Warlord Traits:
-- Focus of Adoration: Infantry and Biker Units gain the ability to perform Heroic Interventions while within 6" of the Warlord. The Trait from Chapter Approved. Heroic Interventions can be very useful, and being able to make them with a variety of non-Character Units opens up a lot of potential pitfalls for your Opponent. Especially since the Unit doesn't have to be wholly within 6", so you can spread quite a net with it.
-- Shadow Stalker: -1 to Hit for anything targeting your Warlord. Seems hard to go wrong with.
-- Biomorph Adaptation: +1 Strength and Attack. Very handy for a Combat Warlord, and there are a few Relics it combos with particularly nicely.
-- Born Survivor: Reduce damage taken by 1, to a minimum of 1. With the relatively low Wound counts of GSC Characters, this feels pretty weak to me.
-- Alien Majesty: +3" range to Aura abilities. There are some pretty strong Aura abilities on GSC Characters, including on the 3 Broodcoven Characters, so this definitely has potential.
--  Preternatural Speed: Always fights first. Pretty handy, especially given how fragile many GSC Characters are relative to their damage output.
--- Conclusion: A pretty nice spread, with only one real dud that I can see. It's also nice that there don't seem to be any that render one or more of the Cult Warlord Traits pointless. I can see most of these getting used, but in very different Armies.

- Relics:
-- Icon of the Cult Ascendant: The Chapter Approved Relic. 6" +1S Aura for Infantry and Bikers. It affects Units, not Models, so you can spread it out pretty well. Seems usable by Armies focusing on CC, especially since most of the GSC Units are in the S3-4 range, where a +1 buff often makes quite a difference.
-- Sword of the Void's Eye: A vastly improved Bonesword. Extra S, AP, and Damage, re-rolls to Hit and Wound. Basically, if you want to use a Primus as a Combat Character and have a Relic slot available, they should be carrying this.
-- Amulet of the Voidwyrm: +1 to Saves against ranged Attacks, and can't fire Overwatch at the bearer. Both situations that Characters shouldn't be in unless you screw up. Fail.
-- Scourge of Distant Stars: +1 to hit in Melee, and natural 1s targeting this Character in Melee cause a Mortal Wound on the Attacker's Unit after the attacks are resolved. Seems very fun against Hordes, but so many Factions have ways to re-roll 1s, and pretty much everyone you'd want to give it to is already WS2+. Pass.
-- Oppressor's Bane: Basically one of the Kelermorph's guns with +1S and AP. Can also replace an Autopistol. As with pretty much all GW's Relic Guns, it feels like the opportunity cost of not taking some other Relic is too high. Pass.
-- Dagger of Swift Sacrifice: Replaces a Cultist Knife or Sanctus Bio-Dagger. Basically a Bio-Dagger that causes an extra d3 Mortal Wounds on any Character Wounded by it, but not Slain. Similarly to Oppressor's Bane, it's not outright bad, but really doesn't feel worth spending a Relic slot on.
-- The Crouchling: Replaces a Familiar. The Character knows one more Broodmind Power, and gets +1 when trying to use any Broodmind Power (so basically any Power other than Smite). There are a number of good Broodmind Powers, and most of them have Warp Charge values of 6 or 7, so this seems like another very useful option.
-- The Gift from Beyond: Relic Sniper Rifle. +2 to Wound as long as you're not targeting a Vehicle or Titanic Unit. Takes your Wound roll to 2+ against most Support Characters. The GSC Sniper options are going to need at least two shots to drop almost all Support Characters under even the best of circumstances, so if you're planning on relying on one of them, Give 'em this. There should usually be better options, tho.
--- Conclusion:The Crouchling, the Icon Ascendant, and the Sword of the Void's Eye seem like the really usable ones here. A bit disappointing compared to the spread of the Warlord Traits.

- Broodmind Discipline:
-- Mass Hypnosis: WC7, 18" Range, target Unit gets -1 to hit, can't fire Overwatch at all, and fights last, even if it Charges. Pretty sweet, either for setting up a Charge into a fairly nasty Unit or bracing to receive one.
-- Mind Control: WC7, 12" Range, if you beat the target Model's Ld, you can immediately make it shoot another Enemy Unit, or make a single Melee Attack at one. Cool effect, but the Range is a big limitation. Probably not usually worthwhile.
-- Psionic Blast: WC5, 18" Range, if Target passes a Ld Test, it takes a Mortal Wound. If it fails, it takes d3. That can pretty reliably put a Mortal Wound on just about anything, and it doesn't have the targeting restrictions of most Psychic Attacks.
-- Mental Onslaught: WC6, 18" Range, pick a Model, roll off and add your Ld. If you win, they take a Mortal Wound. Keep going until the target Model dies or the Opponent manages to equal or beat your total. Harlequin Players are pissed about this one. They used to have essentially the same power, but it got badly nerfed. The GSC version is easier to cast, and the Patriarch has a better Ld than Shadow Seers do. A good way to pick off buffing Characters while your Patriarch is fighting through the Units they're buffing.
-- Psychic Stimulus: WC6, 18" Range, target Unit can Advance and Charge, and also strikes first until the start of your next Psychic Phase. One you should probably build for to some extent rather than just using it randomly. There are various effects available to GSC that can boost Advance and Charge rolls, and this lets you double up on those.
-- Might from Beyond: WC7, 18" Range, target Infantry or Biker Unit gets +1S and Attacks. Do I really have to say how good this is for an Assault Army?
--- Conclusion: Mass Hypnosis, Psionic Blast, Mental Onslaught, and Might from Beyond all seem pretty generally useful, and even Mind Control and Psychic Stimulus are, at worst, situational.

The Cults: Each of the six sub-Factions of the Genestealer Cults has their own Creed, Stratagem, Warlord Trait, and Relic. Note that Purestrain Genestealers and Patriarchs do not benefit from Cult Creeds.
- Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor:
-- Creed - Subterranean Ambushers: Units with this Creed add one to Advance and Charge rolls during their first turn on the battlefield. Very handy for making Charges with Units emerging from underground tunnels. Also note that Psychic Stimulus will let you "double dip" on this one.
-- Stratagem - A Plan Generations in the Making: 3 CP, cancels out an enemy Stratagem on a 2+. On a 6, they lose the CP spent on it, too. Very powerful, expect this to get nerfed like Agents of Vect was.
-- Warlord Trait - Inscrutable Cunning: Gain d3 CP at the start of the battle, and get one free re-roll on a Hit, Wound, or Saving throw. A fairly common sort of Trait. Not bad at all, since GSC have some very good stratagems, and some of those are quite expensive.
-- Relic - Sword of the Four-Armed Emperor: A Power Sword that grants the user four extra Attacks. Replaces a Bonesword or set of Locus Blades. Not inherently bad, but only available to a couple of squishy S4 Characters. The best use I can see is on a Primus who has been given the Biomorph Adaptation Warlord Trait via the Broodcoven Stratagem, but even then, that's a lot of investment in a very fragile character.
--- Conclusion: For me, the Creed is the real draw here. The Stratagem and Warlord Trait are good for competition, but kind of boring, and the Relic seems pretty underwhelming regardless. This would be my guess for the most common competitive Cult, tho.

- The Pauper Princes:
-- Creed - Devoted Zealots: Re-roll failed Hits when Charging, Charged, or Heroically Intervening. A "win-more" Rule that only really helps things that don't need it. Not enough to turn Shooting Units into Assault Units, and likely to result in Assault Units overkilling their targets and getting left in the open.
-- Stratagem - Vengeance for the Martyred: 1 CP, Used when a Character is killed, get +1 to Hit on the Unit that killed them. GSC have a lot of cheap Characters, so this could actually end up being pretty useful.
-- Warlord Trait - Beloved Grandsire: +2 to Unquestioning Loyalty rolls for the Warlord. Not bad, especially for Scenarios where killing the Warlord is worth extra VPs.
-- Relic - Reliquary of St. Tenndarc: Units within 6" Auto-pass Morale. Models within 6" can shoot or fight when slain on a 4+. Similar to the Space Marine Ancients. The Morale effect makes larger Units more viable, but hitting back is less valuable than it is with Space Marines, since individual Models are less powerful.
--- Conclusion: Pretty good. The Relic making big Units viable is nice, as is the Stratagem, and the Warlord Trait is good for Narratives. I just don't like the Creed or the other half of the Relic's benefit.

- The Hivecult:
-- Creed - Disciplined Militants: Halve the number of Models that flee from failed Morale tests. Can also Fall Back and still shoot at -1 to Hit. Helps make larger Units more viable, without being tied to a specific Character's Aura. The Fall Back and shoot is less impressive at BS4+ than for Ultramarines, tho.
-- Stratagem - Chilling Efficiency: 2 CP, used after you've inflicted damage on an enemy Unit in the Shooting Phase to give +1 to Hit for any of your Units that target this one later in that Phase. Situational. Crap against most MSU, and even with this bonus, Stealer Cult aren't really good at taking out hard targets like Knights or something in shooting. Good against Hordes, tho, which is handy these days.
-- Warlord Trait - Hivelord: 6" Aura of re-roll 1s to Hit with ranged weapons. GSC don't have a whole lot of ways to get re-rolls when shooting, so this is worth noting. On the flipside, most of their shooting isn't very good, so it's not worth a whole lot more than that.
-- Relic - Vockor's Talisman: Re-roll Hit rolls for the bearer when fighting Enemy Characters. Also adds a Mortal Wound on Wound rolls of 6+ for the bearer's melee attacks. Maybe usable for a Patriarch, but I don't like things that trigger on 6s, and Character duels aren't actually that common in my experience.
--- Conclusion: The Hivecult are trying to make GSC into a full-on shooting Army. Boosting an Army's strengths is usually a better option than shoring up their weaknesses, and it's not really a direction I want to go with GSC, so I'm calling this one a hard pass for me.

- The Bladed Cog:
-- Creed - Cyborgised Hybrids: 6+ Invul, or +1 to Invul for Models that already have one. Infantry can Move and fire Heavy Weapons without penalty. The 6+ Invul is pretty meh, since GSC don't have much worth shooting with weapons that will take their Save down that far. And half the things that already have an Invul are unaffected by Cult Creeds, so that part is basically just Kelermorphs and Loci. But being able to Move and fire with Mining Lasers and Seismic Cannon is honestly pretty sweet.
-- Stratagem - Overthrow the Oppressors: 1 CP, one Unit gets extra Attacks on unmodified 6s to Hit. Improves to a 5+ against Imperium, and a 4+ against Admech. Can't be used on Genestealers or Patriarchs. Things like Abberants with Power Picks, Metamorphs, or even just Acolytes can kick out a ton of Attacks, which gives this lots of chances to trigger. I don't think I'd pick Bladed Cog specifically for the Stratagem, but it's a good one to keep in mind if for anyone who does use this Creed. Especially when up against AdMech.
-- Warlord Trait - Single-Minded Obsession: Pick an Enemy Unit after Deployment. Units within 6" of the Warlord can re-roll Wound rolls against the target Unit. Probably not a go-to, but maybe worth taking against some Opponents (Possibly via Broodcoven). Works nicely with the Move and fire part of the Creed.
-- Relic - Mark of the Clawed Omnissiah: 4+ Invul (which the Creed will buff to 3+), and after a successful Charge, inflict a Mortal Wound on a Unit within 1" on a 2+. Good for some of the squishier Combat Characters, but still probably better to just leave that sort of thing to Patriarchs.
--- Conclusion: The main draw here to me is the Move and fire Heavy Weapons part of the Creed. The rest ranges from decent to unimpressive.

- The Rusted Claw:
-- Creed - Nomadic Survivalists: +1 to Saves against Attacks with an AP of 0 or -1. Bikers can Move and fire Heavy Weapons, or Advance and fire Assault Weapons, without penalty. This gets most of your dudes up to a 3+ Save against small arms fire while in Cover, which is pretty awesome. The buff to Bikers is mostly just a nice little extra, but is very nice for Jackal Alphas, letting them fire that Sniper Rifle while moving up to 14" without penalty.
-- Stratagem - Drive-By Demolitions: 1 CP to add 1 to Hit and Wound with a Biker Unit's Grenades. The Unit then gets to make a free Move, but can't Charge that Turn. When going for the Grenade benefit, this is effectively a 2 CP Stratagem, because it's virtually always going to be used alongside Extra Explosives to allow multiple Models to throw Grenades. Even without that, tho, 1 CP for a free Move with Bikers ain't bad at all for jumping on an Objective or getting up in someone's face to block movement or something.
-- Warlord Trait - Entropic Touch: 6" Aura granting an extra point of AP on Wound Rolls of 6+ in Close Combat. As with Overthrow the Oppressors, there are Units that can toss out enough Attacks to get some real benefit out of this. Very usable.
-- Relic - Metallophagic Stave: Magus only, unfortunately, but it buffs their Force Stave to AP-5, and gives it "Haywire", causing a Mortal Wound on Vehicles in addition to normal damage on a Wound roll of 4+, and d3 Mortal Wounds on 6+. Even just on a Magus, that's pretty good, especially if buffed with the Biomorph Adaptation Warlord Trait.
--- Conclusion: This one really appeals to me. I tend to be a "counter-puncher", so I like durability boosts, and it buffs the Atalan Jackals, who I like anyhow. Some pretty usable options for offensive boosts, too.

- The Twisted Helix:
-- Creed - Experimental Subjects: +1S and +2 to Advance rolls. Clearly pushing for a CC approach here
-- Stratagem - Monstrous Bio-Horrors: 3 CP, lets an Abberant Unit fight again at the end of the Fight Phase. Also -1Ld until the end of the Turn for Enemy Units within 6" of that Unit. Fight Again Stratagems are always good, and even tho this one is pretty restrictive, it's restricted to options that are going to make good use of it.
-- Warlord Trait - Bio-Alchemist: Increase the Damage of the Warlord's Weapons by 1. Doesn't apply to Relics or Weapons modified by Relics. It does apply to all other Weapons, tho, shooting or melee, which is pretty cool. I could see a Sanctus or Jackal Alpha getting a lot of mileage from this one, on top of the usual suspects like a Patriarch or Abominant.
-- Relic - Elixir of the Prime Specimen: +1 Attack, Toughness, and Wounds. Hard to argue with that, especially on something like a Patriarch or Abominant, and even more so with the Biomorph Adaptation Warlord Trait.
--- Conclusion: Arguably the most Assault-focused of the Cults. A definite focus on Abberants and Abominants, too. One I would probably go for if I were looking for a "horror movie" type of narrative.

Well, if you made it through that wall of text, congratulations! I hope you found something of interest in there. To me, this is mostly for thinking my way through how I want to develop my own GSC Army, so if anyone else benefits from it, that's kind of a bonus. I'm going to be alternating with Modeling/Painting posts so as to not overload anyone with this. Until next time, y'all have a good one, y'hear!