Use Your Brain: Grey Knights Tactics

An article by and    Gaming Kill Team Tactics        0

Grey Knights are the premier daemon hunters in Warhammer 40k, but they’re also comfortable killing aliens, super-soldiers or robots as well. The 666th Chapter is an all-beef army where every model has a bigger gun, bigger sword and bigger brain than your average Astartes, and that shows in Kill Team. If you like small, elite teams that have advantages when fighting up close or you just really want your space wizards, then Grey Knights might be the team for you.

Strengths

  • All of your models can be tough and competent in all phases – Your standard trooper has a psychic attack, a storm bolter and a good melee weapon. This means you can be pretty effective in every aspect of the game, and your models can take on a lot of different challenges as needed.
  • Psychic powers are really good, and you get two – They come out before any other actions so you can kill off the closest enemies before they get a chance to shoot.

Weaknesses

  • “Elite” is a polite way of saying you don’t have a lot of friends – At 100 points you’ll have at most 5 models, and at 125 you’ll have at most 6. If you take paladins or terminators that drops fast. This can make holding objectives difficult, and you’re going to feel every single loss.
  • Psychic Powers target the closest enemies – This means that your opponent has a lot of control over who you can hit, and a good player can exploit this.

 

Competitive Rating

If you’re playing with the rule set used at NOVA and Adepticon, where you mostly gain points by holding objectives, then I’d give them a D. I wrote about this in A Guide To Competitive Kill Team, but Grey Knights start the game in a weak position because of how they’re outnumbered and they often can’t kill enough models to turn the tide in 1-2 turns and win by holding objectives late.

In rule sets that reward killing more like the rules pack introduced at LVO, I’d rate them at a B. They’re lethal enough that the extra points from kills put them ahead of a lot of other teams, and power armored marines don’t go down that easily.

 

Grey Knight Kill Team

A Grey Knight Kill Team. These guys are psychic powerhouses – Credit: Pendulin

Special Rules

Rites of Banishment – All of your models are Psykers that can cast Psybolt, Your Psybolt range is 12″. Against Daemons your Psybolt always does D3 damage.

Brotherhood of Psykers – You may have two models cast psychic powers each turn, and you add 1 to your psychic tests and Deny the Witch tests.

Between these two abilities you have a very powerful psychic phase. The Daemon clause is rarely useful, but multiple psychic powers at +1 to cast makes it very easy to reliably kill things in the psychic phase.

Daemon Hunters – Grey Knights can re-roll failed wound rolls in the fight phase if they’re targeting Daemons. This is nice if you’re fighting Daemons but most factions are not Daemons, so you’ll likely forget it when you should have it.

Transhuman Physiology and And They Shall Know No Fear – Grey Knights are Space Marines, and they get the Marine special rules. They re-roll failed nerve tests and ignore the hit penalties from one flesh wound.

 

Weapons

Ranged Weapons

Storm Bolter – All Grey Knights units come with one of these by default. They’re not amazing weapons with no AP and a single point of damage, but they have double the shots of a normal bolter and they’ll put in work against hordes.

Psilencer – This is more or less an upgraded Storm Bolter. It’s Heavy so you’ll take penalties to hit if you move, but having six shots cancels that out and the D3 damage is a big upgrade. It’s still AP 0 but if you put enough shots out even power armored enemies will fail saves.

Psycannon – At Heavy 4, S7, AP-1 D1 this is usually worse than a Psilencer against anything smaller than terminator armor, and even then it’s worse if you use Psychic Onslaught. In general I’d prefer a Psilencer but against some elite armies a Psycannon can be worthwhile.

Incinerator – A much improved flamer. This hits hard at S6 AP -1 and will do a good job of threatening even elite enemy models.

Grenades – You have Frag, Krak and Psyk-out grenades. The Frag and Psyk-out grenades are both gimmicks that are generally worse than your storm bolter, but the Krak Grenade is a reasonable choice against tougher enemies. I’d use it every time over a storm bolter against Custodies, our example.

Melee Weapons

Nemesis Force Sword – Don’t use this. If you run the math it’s the worst option against almost any target. It’s not so bad that you should be scared of running that model you’ve already painted for 40k, but you also shouldn’t have any painted for 40k.

Two Nemesis Force Falchions – These are your best weapons for models with a single attack, and against many targets it’s still the best option for models with two attacks. There’s a little ambiguity about the points cost, there was an FAQ saying that a pair of Falchions were 1 point but the points were reprinted in the 2019 book without the errata. Check with your TO about this.

Nemesis Force Halberd – This starts being better than Falchions at 2-3 attacks, and then only against T5 enemies. I have a hard time recommending it on anything less than a Paladin.

Nemesis Warding Stave – +1 Strength and -1 AP over a halberd is a bad trade, but you gain a 5+ invulnerable save in melee or +1 to your invulnerable save if you already have one. It’s still a good melee weapon, especially against T3 or T5/6 targets and the extra save can make it worthwhile. It’s a good weapon if you want some extra defense.

Nemesis Daemon Hammer – S8 and a flat 3 damage make this the best weapon for melee specialists, even with the penalty to hit. If you connect you’ll usually wound, if you wound you’ll usually get through armor and if you get through armor things will tend to die. It’s only worthwhile on models with two or more attacks though, otherwise Falchions are still better.

 

Grey Knights Units

Grey Knights Justicar

Grey Knights Justicar. Credit: Pendulin

Power Armored Grey Knights

These will fill the bulk of your kill team. They’re basic marines with all of the weapon options I described above. They can have either a storm bolted and a melee weapon, or one of the heavier weapons and no melee weapon. There are a few basic load outs that you should consider.

Storm Bolter and a Pair of Falchions – This is your basic line knight. They can cast psychic powers, kill chaff at range and kill more elite models in melee. They don’t excel at anything but nothing can afford to ignore them.

Combat Specialist with Storm Bolter and Daemon Hammer – This is your most cost effective melee monster. The two attacks he has aren’t reliable but if he connects he’ll crush almost anything.

Zealot with Storm Bolter and Pair of Falchions – The Zealot effect gives you three attacks on the charge and the extra point of strength is an important breakpoint in Kill Team. Other melee weapons aren’t worthwhile on a Zealot.

Psilencer or Incinerator – These work well with Heavy or Demolitions specialisms, but they don’t really need the help to be worth it.

Justicar – The Justicar will usually be the leader. They’re almost as good at melee as the Combat specialist and can be given a hammer, but the leader is a resource you protect and will often be given a warding stave. Falchions still make sense against some factions, especially those that are T3 with poor saves.

The upgrades are fine but you start from a pretty good spot with power armor, a psychic power, a 4 shot gun and a good melee weapon and things don’t get too much better. Don’t feel like you need to take a Daemon Hammer or you need to take special weapons, they can give you points of power but 5 Grey Knights with storm bolters and falchions are a solid team.

Grey Knights Credit: Lungboy

Grey Knights Credit: Lungboy

Terminator Grey Knights

The Terminator armor gives a 2+ save, a 5+ invulnerable save, an extra attack, an extra wound, and the ability to deep strike, but in return you’ll pay about twice as much as a normal Grey Knight. Some teams like Kroot simply cannot deal with a model that tough but a lot of armies will kill it as easily as they’ll kill a normal marine. Like with power armored Grey Knights, the Justicar has an extra attack.

Paladins

These are Terminators with an extra attack and wound. Halberds start being very attractive with this many attacks, but they otherwise behave similarly to their cheaper brothers. Take them if you have the extra points, they’re a clear but uninteresting upgrade over regular terminators. You pay more and you get incrementally more.

 

Grey Knights Commanders

Grey Knights Credit: Lungboy

Grey Knights Credit: Lungboy

Grey Knights have three different commander options to work with. Each Commander comes with extra psychic powers – the Brotherhood Champion and Brother-Captain come with the Hammerhand psychic power, and the Librarian gives you a choice of two powers from the Sanctic Discipline. The biggest challenge with adding these guys to your team is going to be that, while you are adding 100 extra points to your game playing Commanders and adding a new powerful psyker to your line-up, the Brotherhood of Psykers rule doesn’t change, so the powers these guys bring to the table will be competing with your ability to cast two Psybolts per turn. Not ideal.

  • The Brotherhood Champion is a boosted Grey Knight marine (this option doesn’t really have a model, so feel free to kitbash your own) who gets the Hammerhand psychic power and the ability to choose a stance at the start of each Fight phase for a bonus. The Sword Stance gives him +1 to wound rolls while Shield Stance gives him +1 to saves. Also he has the ability to fight once before being removed from the table if he’s killed. As a Commander option, Brotherhood  Champions are the most expensive choice you can pick, but they do give you access to the Leadership Specialism. That said, Brother-Captains seem like a better option, since they can teleport into the battle thanks to Terminator armour, and have the Iron Halo 4+ invulnerable save.
  • Brother-Captains are your Terminator-armoured Commander option, giving you access to a Leadership-enabled Commander that isn’t as strong a fighter as the Brotherhood Champion, but for 8 points less is considerably tougher and more versatile, with 6 Wounds, a 4+ invulnerable save.
  • If you don’t need the Leadership specialism on your Commander (I mean, you do, but I’m assuming in this case that you want to mix things up and trade that off for the extra powers), then your cheapest Commander option is the Librarian. Librarians come with the the benefit of Terminator Armour – the extra wound, ability to teleport, and a 5+ invulnerable save – but the added benefit of two Psychic powers chosen from the Sanctic Discipline. This means that Librarians are your only point of access to the Gate of Infinity and Sanctuary Powers, and those should be your picks if you’re taking this guy. The Librarian can fire off two powers per turn, so you can use him to teleport/protect a model and still Psybolt if you need.

 

Grey Knights Tactics

Grey Knights initially got a bit shafted thanks to not having a box set, but with the Kill Team Annual 2019 publication, they got an updated list helping cover a lot of their holes.

General Tactics

  • Teleport Strike (1 CP) – Used at the end of the Movement phase to set up to 3 TERMINATOR models from reserves onto the table more than 5″ away from enemy models. You aren’t so likely to use it on a full three models, but it’s a powerful effect when used, and can really wreck someone’s day if they aren’t prepared for it. B
  • Psychic Channeling (2 CP) – Used when taking a Psychic test for a model on your team. Roll 3 dice instead of 2 and use the two highest results. For 2 CP it’s a lot to spend on casting Psybolt, which already has a pretty high chance of going off, but it can be really helpful if you’re worried about a Deny the Witch attempt. It also has more utility in Commander games, where it can be used to power out the Gate of Infinity psychic power. B
  • Heed the Prognosticars (2 CP) – Use at the start of the battle round to pick a model from your Kill Team. That model gets +1 to its saving throws until the end of the battle round. A powerful way to ensure that whatever single model you need to hold an objective (or not die if you’re trying to prevent kill / kill more points) will absolutely survive. Best on multi-wound models like Terminators and Commanders. B+
  • Psybolt Ammunition (1 CP) – Used in the shooting phase when you shoot a mode’s storm bolter. Improve the weapon’s Strength to 5 and its AP to -1 for the rest of the phase. This is a hefty upgrade that’s perfect for punching through marines. It combines well with Teleport Strike, allowing your terminator to get in close where it can pop off four shots with an improved profile. B
  • Honour the Chapter (2 CP) – Used at the end of the Fight phase to let a model in your kill team fight an additional time. This is always going to be incredibly useful, especially if you somehow failed to close out a combat earlier and need to finish off a tough opponent. A
  • Leave No Witnesses (1CP) – When a model fights, if there’s only one enemy within 6” you can re-roll failed wound rolls. This is relatively easy to trigger, especially against elite teams, is reasonably priced and has a powerful effect. A
  • Mental Fortitude (3 CP)Add 6” to the range of psybolt for a model. This can only be used once per battle. This is too expensive for what you get, but it’s a unique and powerful effect so there might be games where it wins you the battle. I don’t think it will see a lot of play but you will want to keep it in the back of your mind. D
  • Psychic Onslaught (2 CP) Give a Psycannon or Psilencer +1 S and an additional point of AP. This turns Psilencers into a pretty monstrous weapon at S5, AP-1, D3 damage and basically infinite shots. That’s an elite model murdering profile, and you’ll be using it often. A
  • Psychic Communion (2 CP)Use before a psychic test. Add +1 to the test for each friendly model in 3” of the caster (including the caster). This is great if you want to try to trigger the improved Psybolt profile or if you’re working around a deny. A
  • Rite of Exorcism (2 CP)Use before a deny. If the deny is successful, deal 1 mortal wound to the caster. It’s a chance for some free extra damage, but very conditional. C
  • Ceaseless Vigil (2 CP)Use at the beginning of the shooting phase. All models in your team get +1 to hit models that can in from reserves. The condition is something you don’t have control over but it effectively cancels out an attempt to deep strike a model into cover. C
  • Canticles Of Warding (1 CP)Ignore mortal wounds on a 5+. These sorts of abilities are very conditional and you already have deny to protect you against Psykers, but if you’re in a situation where it helps then it can be worth the CP. C
  • Stillness of Spirit (1 CP)Add 1 to the commander’s invulnerable saves until the end of the turn. This will give Brother-Captains and Champions a 3++ or Librarians a 4++. B
  • Vengeful Strike (2 CP)When a Brotherhood Champion is taken out of action the get to fight against before being removed. They already have this ability on their datasheet, so they can potentially fight 3 times that turn. B
  • The Six Chants of Denial (3 CP)A librarian can automatically deny a psychic power. The cost is high but there’s no randomness to this. If there’s a critical power that you absolutely must turn off this is your get out of jail free card. C
  • Clarity of Vision (1 CP) – Add 1 to hit rolls for a Brother-Captain. Brother-Captains can take a selection of powerful ranged weapons like Psycannons or Psilencers, and if you do this can help you hit on a 2+ or 3+ even at long range and obscured targets. A strong ability to have in games of Commander for turning your Brother-Captain into a murder machine from any hiding spot you choose. B

Commander Tactics

  • Psychic Locus (1 CP) – For the Brother-Captain. This aura tactic ups the range on Psybolts manifested within 6″ of this model to 36″ and removes the visibility restriction, basically giving you the entire table. They still have to hit the closest target, but your opponent can’t hide out of sight any more. This is devastatingly powerful as an aura ability, and worth looking at when you’re getting ready to throw mortal wounds everywhere. A
  • Vengeful Strike (2 CP) – Used when a Brotherhood Champion is take out of action in the Fight phase. Keep the model on the table, then it can fight again at the end of the turn, then it’s removed from the table.
  • Clarity of Vision (1 CP) – Use when a Watch captain makes a shooting attack. It gets +1 to hit rolls for shooting attacks made by that model.

 

Grey Knight Gunner

A Grey Knight Gunner armed with Psilencer – Credit: Pendulin

Grey Knights Psychic Powers

all Grey Knights know Psybolt, but your Commanders – for those the play the format – have more options, gaining access to the Sanctic Disipline, which gives them three options for powers. 

  • Gate of Infinity (WC 6) – Pick a friendly model within 8″ of the Psyker. Remove that model from the battlefield and then immediately set it up again anywhere that is more than 5″ from any enemy models. The model is not considered to have charged or been charged in the next Fight phase. A mid-battle teleport adjustment that’s great for rescuing a key model from combat, sling-shotting onto an objective, or just dropping in behind your opponent’s Leader and blasting it to pieces. If you’re taking a Grey Knights Commander, this should be your first pick. A
  • Hammerhand (WC 5) – Pick a friendly model within 12″. Add 1 to wound rolls you make for that model’s Melee weapons until the start of the next psychic phase. This is a little less interesting. It’s a cute buff for Grey Knights melee, where you’ll often be wounding T4 models on a 4+ before the buff since you’re likely to be using Falchions. This will do its best work on a halberd-armed Paladin. B
  • Sanctuary (WC 6) – Pick a friendly model within 8″. That model gets a 5+ invulnerable save until the next Psychic phase, or +1 to its invulnerable save if it already had one, to a maximum of 3+. Really helpful for keeping your elite units alive, especially your terminators, who may drop very quickly against some factions. B+

 

Playing Grey Knights

We recently interviewed Jake Cordero about his Grey Knights after he made the top 8 at the LVO Kill Team tournament and wrote about his experiences here. Some quick takeaways he had about playing Grey Knights:

  • First and even second turn, hide the leader in the back, and then use him third or fourth turn to relieve another unit on an objective so it can go forward to fight. As needed, have him peek around a corner to see a single target within 12” he can Psybolt/shoot at without risking too much.
  • If you lose the initiative and the opponent gets off a charge, try to position my other models to make sure you can psybolt them off of your model before they get a chance to attack. Since the model that was charged didn’t move, if you successfully remove the attacker, you still get to shoot.
  • Try to make good use of reserves and outflanking, especially if there are positional bonus objectives you can capture.
  • The morale phase is really important. Even in games where you lose a model or two, you can keep pressing your opponent and racking up kills, and as those teams start failing nerve tests or breaking, things can swing back in your direction. A lot of games can seem to not be going your way, but can turn around if you just hang in there and keep on, scoring “Kill More” objectives thanks to having fewer, tougher models than most teams, and capturing more objectives late when morale starts doing some real damage to your opponent.

 

Credit: Jacob Cordero

Sample Roster: Jacob Cordero’s Grey Knights

  • Justicar w/ Warding Stave, Leader
  • GK w/ Hammer, Zealot
  • GK w/ Hammer, Combat
  • GK w/ Psilencer, Heavy
  • GK w/ Incinerator
  • GK w/ Falchions

Jake played a full 20 man roster at LVO but he took these models every game at 125 points. Realistically you’d want a full roster with terminator options and other weapons, but most of your models are pretty similar so you’ll pick teams that look the same. You can see his full roster here:

Jacob Cordero’s Grey Knights, click to expand

5th place, LVO Kill Team Tournament

Specialists
Justicar w/Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Leader
Justicar w/Nemesis Warding Stave, Leader
Terminator Justicar w/Nemesis Force Halberd, Leader
Grey Knight w/Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Combat
Grey Knight w/Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Zealot
Grey Knight w/Pair of Nemesis Falchions, Combat
Grey Knight w/Pair of Nemesis Falchions, Zealot
Grey Knight Gunner w/Psilencer, Heavy
Grey Knight Gunner w/Incinerator, Demolitions
Justicar w/Nemesis Daemon Hammer, Zealot
Justicar w/Nemesis Warding Stave, Zealot
Terminator w/Nemesis Force Halberd, Combat
Terminator Gunner w/Nemesis Force Halberd, Psilencer, Heavy

Grey Knight w/Pair of Nemesis Falchions
Grey Knight w/Pair of Nemesis Falchions
Grey Knight w/Nemesis Force Halberd
Grey Knight Gunner w/Incinerator
Terminator w/Nemesis Force Halberd
Terminator Gunner w/Nemesis Force Halberd, Psilencer

 

Playing Against Grey Knights

The thing that sets Grey Knights apart from normal marines is the psychic phase. Psybolt must target the closest enemy model, and it goes off before the Shooting phase (or Fight phase). That means that the Grey Knights player will have the first chance every turn to kill something, but each model they have can only target a single model based on positioning and you have some control over that. Have disposable models and place them out in front and the Grey Knights will have to Psybolt them.

 

Painting and Modeling Grey Knights

Grey Knights are one of the easiest teams to build. A single Power Armored Grey Knights box builds all of the PAGK options you need, and a single Terminator box builds all of the Terminator/Paladin options you need.

We have an article on how to paint Grey Knights here.

 

Final Thoughts

Grey Knights are a team I’d recommend building if you like Kill Team. It’s a nice combination of easy to build, interesting to play, and it has a small physical footprint so it’s easy to transport. I have a hard time recommending it as a competitive option in an objective-focused ruleset but it’s very competitive in rulesets that reward you for killing things.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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