Necromunday: Houses, er, Cults of the Underhive: Genestealer Cults

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Welcome back to another week’s Necromunday, scummers! This week we’re delving into the secretive and insidious Genestealer Cults! So let that extra arm breathe and grab some pilfered mining equipment, because it’s time to rise up!

These guys look trustworthy. Credit: http://castigatorschaos.blogspot.com/

Genestealer Cults are an enduringly popular gang in Necromunda, probably because every GSC player already has a gang hidden somewhere in their 40k army! But besides that, they’re effective, unique, and can evolve and change dramatically over the course of a campaign, where House gangs really only stick to one playstyle. Add to that mix psychic leaders, huge mutant alien gangers, and the fact that you can have someone shoot 3 pistols at the same time and Genestealer Cultists really are a recipe for fun.

 

Strengths

Alien Adaptations: Genestealer cults have access to a lot that makes them unique amongst Necromunda gangs. They can take hulking murder machines called Aberrants to give them a buff up close, and just about everyone can buy a Third Arm, giving them access to more combat attacks, the potential for the Cult Alpha to fire three pistols at once, and to move and fire Unwieldy weaponry.

Fantastic Skills: The Adept gets access to Wyrd powers, which is awesome, the Alpa gets Shooting and Combat, for a choose-your-own-adventure of excellence, and the Hybrid Acolytes get the brutally good combination of Ferocity and Cunning. Everywhere you look in this gang, good skill choices abound.

Huge Model Range: There’s no actual box for this gang, but instead an entire 40k miniatures range. Hard to complain about that! You won’t need Goliath Rockgrinders (Editor’s Note: Though these make excellent terrain in a Necromunda game), or Jackal dirtbike snipers, but a GSC player is definitely spoiled for choice when it comes to models!

Multiple Playstyles: The Cults of the Four-Armed Emperor can do it all! They’ve got great potential for combat mayhem, excellent skills, and a few good guns to use them with, so they can’t really be pigeonholed into one playstyle. They’re easily one of the most surprising gangs out there!

Weaknesses

1-Wound Champions: Hybrid Acolytes, the GSC version of a gang champion, only start with one wound and Toughness 3, meaning they’re just about as easy to take out as any other ganger. GSC players will have to be very careful with their acolytes, especially early on in a campaign.

Campaign Quirks: There are a few rules that make GSC gangs stand out in campaigns, and most of them impact the GSC gang in a negative way:

  • Genestealer Cultists can’t sell captured enemies to the guilders.
  • GSC fighters are worth more when being sold to the guilders.
  • Visiting the Doc via a medical escort costs 3d6x10 rather than 2d6x10 because they have to pay off the Doc to stay silent.
  • The threshold to add a second Hanger-On is 10 Reputation rather than 5 like it is for every other gang.
  • In a Dominion campaign, a Cult counts as Orlocks for the purposes of Territories, and, since they don’t have Juves, get Neophytes (The Cult’s version of gangers) from Territories instead (this isn’t a negative GSC quirk, but we wanted to mention it anyways).

Handy Dave means business! Credit: Beanith

Wyrd Powers

Cult Adepts are Psykers, able to learn Genestealer Wyrd Powers in lieu of picking a normal skill, even at creation.The Adept is purpose-built to sling around all manner of psychic tricks, though some tend to be a bit more powerful than others!

Wyrd powers are all Actions that can be performed after a successful Willpower check is made. The Adept comes with an excellent Willpower of 5+ (remember, Willpower is rolled on 2 dice!), so expect a lot of successful casts!

Hypnosis: Short range, but the ability to steal an enemy fighter’s turn is very powerful. Target leaders, champs, and brutes and the Adept will pay dividends in no time! Rating: B+

Unbreakable Will: With this power, the Adept can sub in their stats for Willpower and Nerve checks for friendlies, which is something that you’ll almost certainly never do. Rating: D

Zealot: This power is a combat buff that allows hit rolls of 1 to be re-rolled. Not too shabby if you’re going full beatstick. Rating: C+

Mind Control: This one’s the best one. A successful cast will cause one of the enemy fighters to perform a Shoot (basic) action against their own gang! Maybe not as effective against Corpse Grinders, but still extremely effective! Rating: A+

Assail: Could be cool, but this power requires a ranged to-hit roll instead of just working, so it will fail half of the time. There are better alien space wizard powers. Rating: D-

Force Blast: This power is the “Oh Shit” button of Wyrd Powers. It will push enemy fighters away from the Adept, but it doesn’t automatically pin or damage them. Potential utility exists if the Adept already has Zealot and needs an out when threatened, but on its own, this one kinda blows (get it?!). Rating: D

Looks like they’re having a spirited discussion. Credit: http://castigatorschaos.blogspot.com/

Extra Arms (Rating: A)

Cult Alphas come with them, and any Adept or Neophyte can pay to take them when you buy the fighter.

The Extra Arm is a mainstay of GSC gangs. It does a number of things:

  • Allows a fighter to fire an Unwieldy Weapon as a Basic action rather than a Double action.
  • The fighter gains +1 attack, and this extra attack has the Rending trait regardless of what weapon is used.
  • The fighter can carry a 4th weapon.
  • The fighter can fire 3 pistols at the same time. (Cult Alpha only)

 

Extra arms mean extra GUNS! Credit: BuffaloChicken

An extra arm is pricey, 45 credits, but let’s compare it to Suspensors. Suspensors cost 60 credits and only allow for firing Unwieldy weapons as Basic actions and nothing else. Other gangs have to pay 33% more to get only one of the benefits of an Extra Arm. Extra Arms are a steal, and allow for a lot of versatility in a GSC gang. Neophytes probably don’t need them, unless you’re making combat Neophytes, but you should almost always grab one for your Acolytes, as they will make great use of them when you pick up a nice Unwieldy weapon.

 

Fighter-Type Analogs

Adept vs Alpha: We’ve mentioned it before, but Genestealer Cult players get to choose between 2 types of leader for their gang. The Adept can take Wyrd Powers but is not that great at shooting or fighting, while the Alpha forgoes psychic abilities for an Extra Arm and enhanced WS and BS. There’s really no wrong choice, here, as both leaders are extremely effective, but the Adept is 25 points cheaper and will probably end up with lower-quality, and therefore lower cost, weapons.

Aberrants vs Neophytes: What we haven’t mentioned yet is that GSC gangs can take two types of gangers! A note, first: a GSC gang has to comprise of at least 50% Neophytes, so while the gang can take 2 different types of gangers, they have to include Neophytes. Neophytes are the basic ganger analog, and they’re excellent because they’re cheap! Aberrants, however, are something a little different. They’re combat monsters that can dish out serious pain and tank heavy damage at the same time. They are absolutely terrifying in combat, but they cannot take any guns. If you’re planning on running a combat-heavy gang, taking a few of these things is quite clearly your best practice. You’ll love them, too, because they make Goliaths look like Van Saar in comparison!

Handsome, ain’t he? Credit: Beanith

 

Stand-Out Skills

Infiltrate (Cunning): Deployment chicanery is always useful, especially in the tight confines of a Zone Mortalis game. Infiltrating a template weapon like a flamer or webber will cause your opponent to experience a lot of template-based anxiety, and that is a very good thing.

Nerves of Steel (Ferocity): Hybrid Acolytes can take Ferocity as a primary, but where this really shines is if you manage to get an Aberrant to turn into a specialist. An Aberrant with Nerves of Steel is absolutely terrifying.

Gunfighter (Shooting): A Cult Alpha can fire 3 pistols at once, so why not make them really good at firing all those pistols? A must-have if you’re going with the Kelermorph strategy.

Overwatch (Cunning): Overwatch is an extremely good skill that allows for out-of-sequence shooting. Pair it with a Blast weapon to eradicate friendships, which is to say it’s super effective.

Mind Control (Cult Wyrd Powers): Hey, Wyrd Powers are treated like skills, ok? So they count for this section! Like we said above, this is really the bee’s knees when it comes to Cult Wyrd Powers, so if you’re taking an Adept, we strongly recommend this power.

 

Weapons and Wargear

Basic Weapons

Autogun: As far as basic weapons go, the Autogun on its own doesn’t inspire much fear or love or anything, but remember that it has a slew of potentially deadly special ammunition at its disposal. Rating: B

Lasgun: Cheap, reliable, and accurate. What more could you need? Grab some hot-shots or focusing crystals down the line to give your lasgunners more punch.Rating: B+

Shotgun (Solid & Scatter Ammo): GSC Basic Weapons don’t get any discounts, and the shotgun really suffers in comparison with the other Basic Weapons because it is twice as expensive. It’s not bad, but the other choices are going to do similar work at half the price. Rating: C+

 

Close Combat Weapons

Fighting Knife: Interestingly enough, the humble Fighting Knife is actually probably the best choice available to Aberrants! Aberrants are already Strength 5, so they don’t need an upgrade there, and knives are cheap and aren’t Unwieldy, meaning that you can get that sweet extra attack for your combat monster. Rating: A for an Aberrant, C for everyone else

Chainsword: The +1 to hit and parry are always useful. Not too expensive, either! Rating: B+

Shock Stave/Whip: Both of these Versatile Shockers are fine weapons. Consider arming your leader with one to protect them from nasty retaliatory attacks. Rating: B+

Power Maul/Pick/Hammer/Sword: All of the power weapons are really good. They’re all similarly priced and effective, so if you’re feeling spendy on a melee character, you won’t be disappointed with a power weapon! Rating: B+

Two-Handed Hammer: -1 to hit. It’s not great. Rating: D

Heavy Rock Drill/Rock Saw/Rock Cutter: These weapons are awesome to behold, but they all share the same unfortunate trait: They’re way too expensive. They will never make up for their huge price tags. Rating: D

 

Pistols

Autopistol: Autopistols are fine. They won’t thrill anyone with their damage output, but they’re only 10 credits, so whatever! Rating: C+

Laspistol: Laspistols are slightly better than Autopistols because they’re slightly more accurate and substantially more reliable. Naturally, they trade the potential for multiple shots, but we think they’re just a touch better. Rating: B

Needle Pistol: This fancy lasgun is a touch too expensive to be worth it. Rating: C-

Hand Flamer: Now we’re talkin’! Genestealer Cults get these bad boys at a 33% discount: only 50 credits! At that price point, they’re actually super good! Especially on a Cult Alpha with Hip Shooting and a couple of nasty combat weapons. If your campaigns (like ours) give the sidearm trait to hand flamers, they become ridiculously good at 50 credits, so load up!  Rating: A

 

Special Weapons

Grenade Launcher (Frag & Krak Ammo): We love Grenade Launchers here at Necromunday, and when combined with a gang that has access to Cunning skills, they’re stupid good. Rating: A

Flamer: Hand Flamers are 33% off, but regular Flamers sure aren’t! Too expensive to be any good. Rating: D

Long Las: The Long Las is actually a really compelling choice for a Special Weapon-toting Neophyte, mainly because it clocks in at 20 credits. Can’t go wrong, here.Rating: B+

Web Gun: While the Flamer is expensive and not worth it, the Web Gun is somehow cheaper and definitely worth it, y’all. This is the top candidate for an infiltrating Hybrid Acolyte. The Web Gun does work. You might lose friends every time it shoots, but who needs friends when you can win a game of Necromunda? Rating: A

 

Heavy Weapons

Mining Laser/Seismic Cannon: Unwieldy heavy weapons usually get a frown from us, but when your acolytes have a third arm to help drag them around, our opinions can and will change. The mining laser is extremely powerful, has good range and when you can move and shoot with it, it is extremely scary. Ditto for the Seismic Cannon. Rating: A with a Third Arm, C without

Heavy Stubber: The venerable heavy stubber unfortunately doesn’t really stack up against the other heavy weapons in this case. They’re just so dang powerful, it makes this thing look a tad weak. Rating: C-

 

Grenades

Blasting Charges: Blasting Charges are really nice, but the Sx2” range makes using them a bit scary. That 5” blast can easily scatter right back to the thrower. The damage is probably worth it, though. And at only 5 credits more than frags, they might indeed be the top choice. Rating: B+

Demolition Charges: Here’s a Hot Necromunda Tip: don’t pay 65 credits for a one-shot grenade. You’re welcome! Rating: F

Frag Grenades: They exist in every list, and they’re always meh. In this case, they’re downgraded to bleh because blasting charges are only 5 cred more. Rating: C-

Incendiary Charges: Maybe a happy middle ground between the range of frags and the effectiveness of blasting charges? Rating: B

 

Selected Wargear

Hazard Suit: Hazard Suits give a 6+, improve the effectiveness of Resirators, and make the fighter immune to Blaze (good) and Rad-Phage (lol). Upgrade to Mesh on anyone you want to keep alive.

Cult Icon: The Cult Icon can supercharge a group activation, and if you go with melee-heavy GSC, it could come in handy big time.

Psychic Familiar: Psychic Familiars are so good they’re almost certainly broken. They allow the fighter who has one to ignore 1 hit per activation on a passed Willpower check (the fighter’s Willpower is used, not the familiar’s). Rules as written, a fighter can take up to three of these things, meaning that they can ignore up to three hits per activation and become functionally immortal. It is an extremely good idea to do 2 things:

  1. Take one of these on your leader and champs, posthaste.
  2. If you’re an Arbitrator, tell your players that they can’t stack the effects of multiple Psychic Familiars because f that noise, y’all.

Look at these little jerks. Credit: Beanith

 

The Trading Post

Smoke Grenades: Genestealers have a really, really, really good House List, so they don’t need too much from the Trading Post to be any good, but smoke grenades are always good, especially for a melee-heavy gang, so go and grab some as soon as you can!

 

Tactics Cards

Genestealer Cults only get one gang-specific Tactics Card, and it’s pretty good! It’s called Cult Ambush and it allows you to expand your deployment zone by 3”. It can’t overlap into your enemy’s deployment zone, but it can get those Aberrants 3” closer. It is also especially effective in the smaller maps and bigger deployment zones (as a function of total area) in a Zone Mortalis game.

 

Hey Wait, There’s No Box

So, normally we would give y’all our 1,000 credit “Out-of-the-box” gang at this point, but GSC don’t actually have a boxed gang, so we can’t! But that’s ok, we’re going to give you a couple of gang ideas anyways!

“Balanced” GSC

Cult Alpha (Hip Shooting) – Hazard Suit, Hand Flamer, Power Hammer, Psychic familiar – 265
Aberrant – 2 fighting knives – 125
Hybrid Acolyte (Overwatch) – Hazard Suit, Grenade Launcher, Third Arm – 185
Hybrid Acolyte (Overwatch) – Hazard Suit, Grenade Launcher, Third Arm – 185
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60

The Cult of Stabbing

Cult Adept (Zealot) – Hazard Suit, Autogun, Cult Icon, Psychic Familiar – 200
Aberrant – 2 fighting knives – 125
Aberrant – 2 fighting knives – 125
Aberrant – 2 fighting knives – 125
Aberrant – 2 fighting knives – 125
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60

Big Gun Alpha

Cult Alpha (Hip Shooting) – Hazard Suit, Mining Laser, Psychic familiar – 295
Hybrid Acolyte (Overwatch) – Hazard Suit, Grenade Launcher, Third Arm – 185
Hybrid Acolyte (Overwatch) – Hazard Suit, Grenade Launcher, Third Arm – 185
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Grenade Launcher – 100
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Lasgun – 60
Neophyte – Hazard Suit, Laspistol – 55

HOSS FIGHT! Credit: http://castigatorschaos.blogspot.com/

Final Thoughts

As we can see, Genestealers Cults are unique, competitive, and if you play GSC in 40k, already in your collection! They straddle the line between extremely effective shooting and extremely deadly melee, and do it better than almost anyone else. So grab that purple paint and turn your gaze to the sky, for the Four-Armed Emperor is coming, and he’s hungry…

 

Next Week: Revisiting Tactics Cards

That’s it for us this week, scummers! If you think we missed anything or we raated your favorite weapon too low, let us know at contact@goonhammer.com or in the comments! We love to interact with you all, so please feel free to drop a comment. Next week we are going to take a third look at Tactics Cards which will include all the new Cards since Dark Uprising! It’s a titanic task, but we think we’re up for it! Join us next week, but until then, adios!

 

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