Posted by: Turkadactyl | October 12, 2016

Codex: Genestealer Cults Review

Good day.  Wow, it sure has been a while since I have posted last.  My promotion of a few months back bears some responsibility.  My work duties have increased and my manager went on vacation so I had to fill his shoes for a couple of weeks.  Throw in a bike trip, some Spartan races and feverishly working on my Sylvaneth for Armies on Parade and the door to the roost gets locked.

Did you hear that Games Workshop released a new codex?  While I haven’t been working or painting I’ve had my nose stuck in Codex: Genestealer Cults and this book looks like a lot of fun.



The back story is minimal compared to other books.  What I liked about the back story is GW said what had to be said.  The Genestealer Cult is a Shakespearean tragedy.  All it takes is one Genestealer to infect the populace.  Genetically they have no choice to prepare the Tyranids for their arrival.  They become genetic freaks in the process and their will is not their own.  Can you imagine that your whole life is consumed with the preparation for the Star Emperor only to realize that at the last second you serve one purpose- you’re an item on the menu.

Out of all the backstories this is the one I have enjoyed the most.  It’s short and I felt sorry for these people.  I’ve never been as emotionally involved with the other codex’s.  Space Marines punch you in the face.  Guard die in overwhelming numbers but win the day because they have more bodies.  Tyranids land and eat.  The back stories all involve our heroes facing insurmountable odds and overcoming.

Genestealer Cult rise up only to be double crossed.  That is their purpose but they don;t know it.  As a reader I know what will happen but am powerless to change it.  It’s a nice change.  William Shakespeare would be proud.


There is a lot of good art in this book.  Most of the time the art doesn’t grab my fancy too much.  There is usually a lot of recycled  pictures that have been in circulation a long time.  There are a few that grab the emotion and dread of being overwhelmed by the situation.




There is a fantastic collection of pictures of the models in action.  I’d have to say this is one of my favourite components of any codex.  I enjoy seeing the models in epic battles and Genestealer Cults is no different.  There are plenty of pictures of them spilling our of every dark recess and ambushing their unsuspecting foe.

If you don’t know what colour you want to paint your new army look no further than the codex.  There are six cults of mention, complete with backstory, to help you decide.  The orange on these models look sharp.  I am wavering on what colours to paint mine and that orange keeps enticing me.


Thank you technology.  The sculpts are fantastic and GW has hit another model line out of the park.  These models look like genetic freaks that have been hiding in the dark for far too long.  The models look sinister.  I love them.  I’ll be adding my Space Hulk Genestealers to this army.  The Goliath/Rockgrinder have a Total Recall/Aliens-esque look to them.  I am a big fan of this range.  The GW Imperialis Sector bases are a perfect match for this army.


This army is similar to Harlequins, Skitarri and Cult Mechanicus.  It is a specialty army with very few selections.  I am quite fine with that.  I’m a collector at heart.  A smaller codex means less models to collect.  I have 2000 points planned with all these armies and it is easy to limit myself to 2000 points.

I am sure you have already heard about the Genestealer Cult special rules.  If you haven’t they are fluff driven and are potentially a big game changer.  The Genestealer Cult come with two new rules to the game- Return to the Shadows and Cult Ambush.

For Return to the Shadows if the unit is more than six inches away from an enemy unit they can go into ongoing reserves and enter with the Cult Ambush special rule next turn.  Cult Ambush is a determined by a random D6 roll that ranges from entering the table from your own table edge to being able to set up within three inches of an enemy unit and being able to charge the same turn.  Wow!  You are at the mercy of a random roll that in its extreme can favour you or your opponent.  This is an army that is intended to move around the table fast and can give your opponent lots of fits.  I love these rules for the fluff aspect.  I should add that units with the Infiltrate rule can also set-up with the Cult Ambush table.

The HQ includes great options.  You can lead the charge with the Patriarch, Magus, Primus and/or Iconward.  If limited to two I would go with the Patriarch and Magus to open up access to the psychic powers.  Upgrading both models to a mastery level two is a must.  Each model has the following twelve inch bubble:

  • The Patriarch- fearless
  • Magus- adamantium will
  • Primus- hatred
  • Iconward- feel no pain (6+), those with feel no pain add one to their FNP rolls

The Patriarch comes with a ballistic skill of four so is able to use witchfire powers.  It should have come with a three plus armour save and five plus invulnerable save.  It does not come with assault grenades and so an improved save is a must.  I would have preferred to see an extra wound on the Patriarch and Magus.

This army can push out a lot of cheap troops models.  Acolyte Hybrids are a relative cheap option with two base attacks with a bonus attack for two close combat weapons and a pistol.  They carry assault grenades and have rending.  Neophyte Hybrids will be used like Guardsmen.  Stick in some heavy weapons and camp on some objectives.  they are just as cheap as a Guardsman.  A lot of models can be spammed and units can be brought up to twenty strong.  I like the option of giving them shotguns so they can shoot and charge the same turn.

Hybrid Metamorphs are a cheap elites option.  They are similar in every sense to Acolyte Hybrids with one addition; they have close combat bonuses that to strength, weapon skill and initiative.  Aberrants are the second elite choice that can hit hard but are fragile for the points they cost.  They only have a five plus armour save with feel no pain.  Keep the Iconward close by to boost the Feel No Pain to a four plus.  These are your tank hunters.

Purestrain Genestealers.  This is the version of Genestealer on an energy drink.  They cost the same as their Tyranid cousins but throw in Cult Ambush,  Return to the Shadows and a five plus invulnerable save.  A five plus invulnerable is not game changing it doesn’t give the unit a bit more survivor-ability.  A four plus armour save and assault grenades will be more beneficial.  `Don’t get too excited about this version appearing in the next Tyranid codex.  This book mentions that Purestrain Genestealers differ from those in the Tyranid codex.

The Goliath is the a fast attack or dedicated transport option.  The Rockgrinder is a heavy support. I love the look of these models and will be certainly adding these to the collection.  It should be noted that if you have a unit using these vehicles as a transport you cannot make use of the Return to the Shadows and Cult Ambush rules.  Purestrain Genestealers are not allowed to use these vehicles as a transport.  The Rockgrinder is a cheap heavy weapons platform and expect these vehicles to go up in flames.  With an armour value of 12, 10 and 10 there are plenty of weapons that can punch through its armour.  That being said, I think your opponent will have more to worry about with mobs of Cult members storming out of the shadows.

To round out the codex you also have access to Sentinel’s (Armoured and Scout), Chimera’s and Leman Russ Squadrons.  This represents the Cult infiltrating the local Astra Militarum detachment.  The Cult lack access to heavy weapons and fluff-wise this gives them access to some heavy guns.  I like this move and thumbs up to GW for including these models into the codex.


The Cult Insurrection Detachment is almost a must if you have the models to do it.  The one restriction is you are limited to one Patriarch, one Magus and one Primus in the same detachment.  If the Patriarch is the Warlord you can re-roll the result on Genestealer Cult warlord table.  All models gain infiltrate (models already with infiltrate gain shrouded).  You can add one to your reserve rolls and your opponent must subtract one from their reserve rolls.  The cherry on top of all this goodness is the Numbers Beyond Counting.  when a unit from the detachment returns from ongoing reserves add D6 models to the unit that were slain.

I have an idea of what I want to do with my detachment.  I would use The First Curse formation for my command, which is a Patriarch with 20 Purestrain Genestealers.  This opens up the strange mutations table that grants assault grenades, four plus armour, poisoned, rage, preferred enemy or a choice of any of mentioned.  I’d choose assault grenades or improved armour.

My core choice is the Brood Cycle.  This includes 1 Iconward, 3 units Acolyte Hybrids, 2 units Neophyte Hybrids, 1 Unit Hybrid Metamorphs, 1 unit Purestrain Genestealers,. 0-1 Aberrants and 0-1 units Rockgrinders.  Units gain +1 WS within six inches of another unit from the formation and the Iconwards banner extends to twenty-four inch range.

The Subterranean Uprising auxiliary choice is a can’t miss.  It consists of 0-1 Primus, 1-3 Hybrid Metapmorphs, 2-4 Acolyte hybrids and 0-3 Aberrants.  The unit has to set up with Infiltrate and Cult Ambush.  You roll two dice (three if a Primus is in the formation) on the chart and choose the result.

The Doting Throng is another auxiliary choice that requires 0-1 Magus, 3-6 Neophyte Hybrids and Acolyte Hybrids in any combination.  Units have the Zealot special rule while twelve inches from the Magus.  If the Magus targets one of these units with a psychic power, the dice can be re-rolled if the test is failed.

The other formations are so-so.  The Deliverance Requires units to be embarked on Golitah transports.  This means they cannot make use of the Cult Ambush rule.  they can disembark at cruising speed but must take a dangerous terrain test.

Demolitian Crew is themed around demolition charges.  Acolyte Hyrbrids can re-roll the scatter dice when embarked on a Rockgrinder.  There is a chance to replenish the charge on a four plus.

The Neophyte Calvacade is two units of Neophyte Hybrids, 1 Leman Rusee squadron and 1-2 Sentinels.  The hybrids must take a Chimera.  Vehicles all have Outflank and the Sentinels can use the Cult Ambush rules.  Vehicles can ignore crew stunned and shaken results on a four plus.

The Broodcoven has some positives to it.  The Patriarch (fleet), Magus (counter-attack), and Primus (preferred enemy) stay as one unit and can join and leave any unit together.  they grant the special rules you see in brackets to the unit they join.  These are all beneficial but I am not sold on rushing my magus into combat.

Warlord Traits

The Warlord Traits table is a must.  Most of them are average with Stealth (average), Counter-attack (attack), It Will Not Die (average), all models in the detachment use the Warlord’s leadership (average).  There is one really good trait- Move Through Cover and count as having assault grenades (this is a great one to have with the Patriach and Purestrain Genestealers).  It is worth rolling on the table for the Ambush Leader trait- Warlord and joined unit get to choose the result on the Cult Ambush table.  Ummm, yes please.  This trait is exceptional.


The Relics are similar to the others books.  I find with relics two will never be used, two might get used in some games and two relics are a must.  While all have some value I find that the points are better spent elsewhere.  Here is the list

  • The Icon of Cult Ascendant gives a 12″ bubble of Furious Charge, +1 attack and re-roll failed morale, pinning and fear tests.  These are all mighty fine bonuses and I can see myself rolling this out if I have some point to spare.
  • The Dagger of Swift Sacrifice is a poisoned blade on a 2+ and causes instant death.  It’s AP – though so I will probably give this a miss.
  • The Scourge of Distant Stars requires the use to be in a challenge.  The opponent must pass a toughness test.  If the test is failed the model suffers a wound with no armour saves allowed and -1 to initiative and attacks to the end of the phase.  This can be valuable but I see too many toughness tests passed so will probably spend the points elsewhere.
  • The Staff of the Suberran master is an eighteen inch, strength two, AP – ranged weapon that is assault 10, ignores cover with rending.  Again, I’d pass on this.  With probability you’d most likely see one rend go through a turn.  Not worth the points.
  • Sword of the Void’s Eye is bonesword with plus one to strength and an AP 3 value.  It grants Preferred Enemy in combat and to wound rolls of six cause Instant Death.  I like this one.  I’m sold with Preferred Enemy.
  • The Crouchling is the uber Genestealer Familiar.  Familiars grant two additional strength four AP – rending attacks.  The Crouchling also grants the bearer one additional psychic power.  When you see the Cult powers you’ll understand why the Crouchling is worth it.

Broodmind Psychic Discipline

The Patriarch and Magus have access to Biomancy, Telepathy and the new Broodmind.  Biomancy gives the stat line bonuses and Telepathy opens up invisibility.  Invisibility is always a game changer and with super squishy units like the Genestealer Cult, invisiblity goes a long way.

The Broodmind powers are good enough to convince me to not try for invisibility.

  • Mass Hypnosis- a malediction that lowers target’s weapon skill, ballistic skill, initiative and attacks by one for the turn.
  • Psychic Stimulus- a blessing that grants relentless, fleet and the unit can charge even if they ran in the shooting phase.  This power can ensure your unit gets into combat sooner.
  • Psionic Blast- a twenty-four inch range strength five AP 3 blast.  Probably the weakest power of the lot.
  • Might From Beyond- a blessing that boosts the units strength by one and grants rage.
  • Mental Onslaught- a focused witchfire  that targets a single model.  Pysker and target model roll a D6 and add result to their leadership.  If the score is a draw target model is minus three to its initiative until the end of the following turn.  If the psyker’s is greater the target model also suffers a number of wounds equal to the difference with only invulnerable saves allowed.  This one is handy for dispatching characters and has some merit.
  • Mind Control- A focused witchfire that targets a single non-vehicle unit.  The target unit makes a shooting attack as if it is you own and cannot target itself.  Hmm, taking over some grav cannon Centurions would be really handy no wouldn’t it.  I’ve used powers similar to this and it can really mess up your opponents plans.  I like it.
  • Telepathic Summons- This is a conjuration that has a warp charge value of two or three.  This power creates a unit to enter the game and you can give it any upgrades for free.  These units arrive via the Cult Ambush special rule and the number of models that enter play is dependent upon how many warp charge points you decide to roll against.  I’d only try this if I had a lot of warp charge points at my  disposal.  It’s worth a shot though if you need some extra models on the table.

Parting Thoughts

I am a fan of this codex.  The rules seems fluff driven.  The Genestealer Cult has been dominating games at my local store.  I played two games with the White Dward rules released a few months back and suffered massive beat downs.  These models are fragile.  With a five plus armour save they go down really easy.  The goal is to get a lot of models out there and with a few lucky Cult Ambush rolls you can stall your opponents plan.

The models look fantastic and have some fun rules to boot.  This is a solid release.  I look forward to playing some games and reading battle reports on this army.  I have a Cult name picked out for my lot.  My Tyranids are Hive Fleet Kodiak.  When I get around to it my Vostroyans are the Ursons .  Going with the bear theme I have named my Cult the Kodiak’s Claws.

The biggest head scratcher- why is there no Aberrent release apart from Overkill?

I’d love to hear your thought.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Ace review, you’ve really covered the bases on this one (and beaten me to it!). I think this army is a cracking one, balanced in its own way and definitely one that will require some thought to play well. I’ll probably just do 1500 points as opposed to your 2000, definitely hope to see your WIP posts.


    • I may commission this army out. This is a horde army and there will be a lot of models. I want to finish off my Tyranids, Sisters and Grey Knights over the next twelve months. Not to mention the Carcharodons to finish up as well. That army is only half done. I’m starting to develop wrist problems and painting has a role in that. Stupid age catching up to me.


      • I feel liking your comment would appear mean! The danger of toy soldiers. I know how having way too many projects feels, so perhaps commissioning some stuff is a good idea. Damn GW for their plastic crack 😛


      • I don’t mind pushing some projects off. It’s been easy to do that the last few years with all the fantastic sculpts (fist shake at you GW). My wrists are bugging me more and more. It’s a hard decision to make because I really enjoy painting but I have to slow down the painting to see if it improves the health of my wrists. They ache too much.


  2. Excellent review. I’m super excited about this faction (I’m obviously not the only one). Just the fact that Purestrain Genestealers are scary and quite frankly really good is enough for me.

    And the story – oh what tragedy. So good.


    • Really good. I felt sorry for the Cult members.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Longing for the embrace of one’s god is not the same thing as actually being embraced by it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review – I played a game against the Cult last weekend and your review summed up how the game played.

    There were several moments of marines being swarmed by genestealers just like in the codex art, so I think GW really managed to capture the fluff in the rules well on this one.



    • Just finished reading your batrep. It was a fun read. Glad to hear the game played out like the fluff. I’m looking forward to getting some games in.


  4. Awsome Review! Come check out some of ours.


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