Competing with Genestealer Cults in 9th – An Interview with Bilbo Göransson

An article by    Competitive Play Gaming Warhammer 40k        0

Having been one of the game’s top armies for an extended period in 8th, it’s no secret that Genestealer Cults have found themselves facing something of an uphill struggle in 9th Edition’s competitive scene, and are a rare sight on the top tables. Not everyone is ready to give up on them, however, and last weekend Bilbo Göransson stepped up to the plate and locked in the first big top four finish for the faction, taking third place at the Fantasia Fanatic. We sat down with him to talk through his list, and how he thinks you can get the most out of the Cults in a tournament setting.

Bilbo was playing the following:

Army List - Click to Expand

++ Outrider Detachment -3CP (Tyranids – Genestealer Cults) [65 PL, -3CP, 1,295pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Cult Creed: None (Mixed Detachment)

Detachment CP [-3CP]

+ HQ +

Jackal Alphus [4 PL, 75pts]: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Jackal Sniper Rifle – Hivecult

Primus [4 PL, 85pts]: Blasting Charges, Bonesword, Broodcoven Primus, Needle Pistol, Toxin Injector Claw, Warlord Trait: Hivelord – Hivecult

+ Elites +

Kelermorph [3 PL, 80pts]: Cultist Knife, 3x Liberator Autostub, Oppressor’s Bane – Rusted Claw

Nexos [3 PL, 55pts]: Autopistol – 4AE

+ Fast Attack +

Achilles Ridgerunners [12 PL, 210pts] – Hivecult
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber

Achilles Ridgerunners [12 PL, 210pts] – Hivecult
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber
. Achilles Ridgerunner: Flare Launcher, Heavy Mining Laser, 2x Heavy Stubber

Atalan Jackals [9 PL, 240pts] – Rusted Claw
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Leader: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun

Atalan Jackals [6 PL, 120pts] – Rusted Claw
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Jackal: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun
. Atalan Leader: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Shotgun

+ Heavy Support +

Goliath Rockgrinder [6 PL, 110pts]: Drilldozer Blade, Heavy Seismic Cannon, Heavy Stubber – Hivecult

Goliath Rockgrinder [6 PL, 110pts]: Drilldozer Blade, Heavy Seismic Cannon, Heavy Stubber – Hivecult

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Tyranids – Genestealer Cults) [36 PL, 10CP, 705pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Battle Size [12CP]: 3. Strike Force (101-200 Total PL / 1001-2000 Points)

Cult Creed: Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor

Detachment CP

+ Stratagems +

Broodcoven [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Magus [4 PL, -1CP, 85pts]: Autopistol, Broodcoven Magus, Cultist Knife, Force stave, Power: Mass Hypnosis, Power: Might From Beyond, Stratagem: The Cult’s Psyche, Warlord Trait: Inscrutable Cunning

Patriarch [8 PL, 150pts]: Familiar, Monstrous Rending Claws, Power: Mind Control, Power: Undermine, Warlord, Warlord Trait: Shadow Stalker

+ Troops +

Acolyte Hybrids [9 PL, 180pts]: Cult Icon
. 12x Acolyte Hybrid (Hand Flamer): 12x Blasting Charges, 12x Cultist Knife, 12x Hand Flamer, 12x Rending Claw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Hand Flamer
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Blasting Charges, Demolition Charge, Hand Flamer
. Acolyte Leader: Blasting Charges, Cultist Knife, Hand Flamer, Rending Claw

Acolyte Hybrids [9 PL, 190pts]: Cult Icon
. 8x Acolyte Hybrid: 8x Autopistol, 8x Blasting Charges, 8x Cultist Knife, 8x Rending Claw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Hybrid (Heavy Weapon): Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Heavy Rock Saw
. Acolyte Leader: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Cultist Knife, Rending Claw

Acolyte Hybrids [3 PL, 40pts] . 4x Acolyte Hybrid: 4x Autopistol, 4x Blasting Charges, 4x Cultist Knife, 4x Rending Claw
. Acolyte Leader: Autopistol, Blasting Charges, Cultist Knife, Rending Claw

+ Elites +

Clamavus [3 PL, 60pts]: Autopistol

++ Total: [101 PL, 7CP, 2,000pts] ++

Credit: Bilbo Göransson

Thanks for talking to us Bilbo, and congratulations on a great finish with one of the game’s most challenging factions. Let’s start by talking through your army list – how does it all fit together?

The pleasure is all mine. The main idea I had was that genestealer cults are the complete opposite of Space Marines. Astartes have reliable saves, high volumes of shots from far away, many of their best units get objective secured and they have easy access to reroll auras from their buff characters. Since the Genestealer Cults are defensively weak, have short range shooting, rely on risky charges, are expensive for what they do and need to spread out over a big area well outside of aura range, I can’t play like a space marine. I need to play on the key elements of what makes Genestealer Cults fun and interesting. That is why there is very little aura synergy between the units. My Acolyte rocksaw bomb is primarily there to scare my opponent away from me – I can’t rely on both getting Might from Beyond and Mass Hypnosis in the same turn as deep striking and making a charge roll. I need a more reliable plan than just rolling lucky for dealing damage. The two key stratagems I used were Lying in Wait to be able to deep strike within demo charge and hand flamer range, and Perfect Ambush to be able to lob 10d6 demo charges in a single turn from the large bike unit.

By relying on units that can achieve their mission without buffs from characters it didn’t really matter what units my opponents killed each turn. As long as I didnt lose more than two or three units each turn I could both keep up and also keep scoring my primaries and secondaries without too much problem.

Adapting to 9th for me means using what we have that no other army can match. That one thing is our concealed, belated and tablewide deployment spread out over turn 1-3, and even later than that if we want to. It is not to be laughed at.

Rock Grinders are an iconic unit, but rarely seen on the table. How did they perform?

Credit: BuffaloChicken

They are such a cool model! They might be a bit overpriced for what they do but they are quite sturdy compared to the rest of the codex, and draw fire away from my Ridgerunners. They can also be used as objective holders in the back field, speed bumps or screens. I like to run an army that can perform in all phases. I think they fit in quite nicely in that strategy and they contribute to my overall plan, since they move, shoot, fight, can do mortal wounds on the charge and can stand on objectives quite well. They also don’t need buff characters to be useful, and that is quite handy.

What are the key tricks this army can do on the table?

The stratagems that let me both deep strike 3″ away and also fire in the movement phase gave me a lot of mobility and forced my opponent to play very defensively. I could use that against them to aggressively score primaries since I often controlled more objectives than my opponent. Focusing my fire on their most mobile units can also mitigate them scoring their primaries and secondaries at the same rate.

What Secondaries did you pick most often with this army? Any matchups where that would change significantly?

Nexos

Nexos. Credit: Soggy

I think that the two secondaries that made it into most games were Teleport Homer and Linebreaker. I think Teleport Homer is better than Deploy Scramblers since I can score more than 10 points quite easily, and if I only get it off two times I still get 8 points and not 0. The Linebreaker secondary is my absolute favorite, since I can max it out and don’t need to think about scoring it in the first turn like Engage on All Fronts. That way I don’t have to throw away any units in turn one for secondaries. I want to deep strike in enemy deployment each turn and if I can ensure 12-15 points in every match for doing that, so much the better.

Bring it Down was a good one in most games but not all of them. I think that the mission specific secondaries are really good for GSC since they can often be scored by just standing somewhere. I try to keep away from secondaries that require Actions but I am quick to adapt if a certain matchup makes it easy for me.

I also want to say a thing about the primary objectives. There are two categories of missions: Hold one missions (Take and Hold) and hold two missions (Domination). While most people focus on the hold one missions being easier to score, I think the hold two missions are better for us for a whole different reason: It is easier to deny the enemy from scoring primaries. In those missions I simply try to make sure in every turn to stand on at least two or three objectives, and then focus everything on bullying my enemy from all but one objective. That way I grant him 0 points in primary, but also force him to take back objectives, spreading out thinly and thus making it easier for me to repeat the process in my next turn. We don’t need to score all the points, we just need to make sure that we score more than the opponent. Since we have so much deep strike, we can choose what objectives to fight over – preferably, the ones that are weakly defended by the opponent. It takes some practice, and a lot of losses to learn to love those missions instead of fearing them.

Talk us through your games. You picked up several huge wins, so how did you pull it off?

Genestealer Cults Clamavus

Genestealer Cults Clamavus. Credits: That Gobbo

I realised that I had four objectives that I needed to do in each match. I had to 1.) see what held the opponents army together and 2.) remove it early. I also had to 3.) keep my opponents occupied with my threatening units while 4.) my chaff scored my primaries and secondaries each turn. Raven Guard for instance, my first matchup, is very mobile so I prepared a countercharge with some units while keeping the rest of my army back or in ambush turn one. By hitting hard on one side of the board I maximised the damage output while mitigating most of the hurt he would put on me each turn while still making sure to score more points each turn on primaries than him. The same goes for Blood Angels, my last match.

My second matchup against Tau was the complete opposite. Since I knew that Tau with three Riptides are often short on ObSec units I focused on playing the objective, killing the soft things while keeping my stuff in ambush for as long as possible so that the Riptides wouldn’t have any good targets to shoot at. The Mind Control power also came in handy.

Harlequins were a tough matchup, as they were so fast. However, I was able to exploit a hole in my opponent’s screen, and used two strats on my Kelermorph to make him turn up 3” away and blast his Spiritseer and Troupe Master off the table.In addition, since he didn’t know where I was going to end up, he couldn’t use his mobility to the same degree as he would have against other armies.

What do you think the best and worst matchups for the army as it stands are?

Blood Angels Intercessors

Blood Angels Intercessors. Credit: Jack Hunter

The worst I think is another GSC army or something similar that has a high mobility, hefty shooting and plays the objective game really well. The last match against Blood Angels was a close one and could have gone either way since they are so mobile, durable and pack a huge punch.

Genestealer Cults are in a tough spot right now. Space Marines and Necrons in the upcoming weeks will be really interesting. They have a lot of new tricks to fight each other but I have yet to play against them to see if they are also stronger than before against Genestealer Cults. This is truly an interesting time to play a horde army since most opponents I have met have really strong lists against elite armies like Space Marines but don’t really have the tools to deal with a flurry of small, deadly units that can turn up just about anywhere.

I think that an opponent with lots of tanks, transports and screens can be really tough for me. I learned a lot about that in my match against Adeptus Mechanicus. Kim is a great tactician and he beat me to a pulp in that game. I had a blast since he is such a gentleman though. I tried to play the objective and gave it my best shot. I look forward to meeting both him and Ad Mech again. I think that it is impossible to win without making a hundred mistakes and losing a hundred battles, but then learning from them and adapting.

My next game against Adeptus Mechanicus will probably go better, but a good general can probably win against me with just about any army. That is what is so great about 9th edition. GW have leveled the field between armies and it comes down to who can use the rules, deployment and primary/secondary objectives to their advantage the most. It’s still a dice game, but strategic and tactical skill is back in a big way in Warhammer 40 000 and that is very, very fun.

This week’s FAQs have made a few changes to some of the options for the army, notably buffing Hand Flamers. Will you be making any updates?

Acolyte Leader

Acolyte Leader
Credit: Pendulin

Yes, I think a second unit of hand flamers definitely could come in handy in the next tournament. And I might extend it to 20 acolytes instead of 15. Being able to deep strike 9″ away and flame something instead of having to use a stratagem is much more reliable and it spares me some cps I would otherwise have to spend on Lying in Wait. I might even change some Rock Grinders for hand flamer units, who knows.

Anything else you’d like to see changed about the army for 9th?

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Everyone wants their models to get a points reduction. I try to look at what can be done with the tools we have instead of looking at what could have been good. However, I would like genestealers to get Cult Creeds, or perhaps a 1cp strat to gain objective secured for a turn. I would love a new Genestealers kit when the new codex drops. Rusted claw bikes would also be really cool with some way to be taken as troops.

I also really like the abominant model, but he never performs well on the tabletop. He should really gain another attack and lose the -1 to hit from his sledgehammer to be viable, even in friendly games I think.

The number one change I would prefer is the possibility to take the Broodcoven as one single HQ choice. Right now it’s tough to fit all the characters I need in a single detachment. Being able to field a Patriarch, a Primus, a Magus, an Iconward and an Alphus in one single Battalion would really make my day. That or something similar to what the Drukhari can do, getting several patrols for free. It is a planetary uprising, after all! Cults from all over are getting together to overthrow the oppressors and that should be encouraged.

I wouldn’t mind being able to mix cults in the same detachment without losing creeds, either. I really look forward to whatever the future holds for the cult.

Finally – any shout outs or plugs you’d like to do?

I think the people that helped me out the most before this match was David Bredenberg, Hugo Witting and Johan Nicolaisen. Without them absolutely wrecking me in game after game, week after week I would not have learned what didn’t work in my list and strategy. They are good mates and outstanding tacticians. I owe everything I know from picking secondaries, piling in on objectives and sportsmanship to those Stockholm gentlemen pounding my army to dust for the last couple of months.

Huge thanks once again to Bilbo for talking to us, and for all you GSC players out there we hope that was enlightening. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, give us a shout at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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