So far in the series, I’ve gone over what I believe to be the areas where Grey Knight draw their strengths as well as what I see as the 4 basic list archetypes that is the basis for most efficient GK builds. Your mileage, as with anyone’s opinion, may vary.
The next obvious thing to discuss in my opinion is the biggest weaknesses of the Grey Knight codex. Surely, if we want to be able to do well in a Grey Knight dominate world, we should always keep some thoughts in the back of our minds on exploiting some chinks in their armor.
The first and most obvious weakness of Grey Knights is a definitive weakness in taking down Armor Value 12 and higher targets. There are a couple of key reasons why this is true.
First, once you hit the Armor 12 range, you are now negative any ability for a Psycannon to really hurt you on anything other than a “6”. Granted, once the “6” is roll, you are going to get hit with a penetrate. However, you will note that once you factor in a BS of 4, needing to roll a “6”,followed by a standard 4+ cover save, the statistics tell us that the Grey Knight player has a 1 in 18 chance to land that penetrating hit.
Now, a 1 in 18 chance isn’t all that bad when you consider a Psycannon in Heavy mode fires 4 shots. Basically, you fire 4 Psycannons in Heavy mode, and you have a decent chance of penetrating. This might seem “okay” at face value, but you will see in the next two ‘weakness’ categories that I will introduce why this is a big problem!
Other than Psycannons, Grey Knights have access to Psybolt Dreads and the odd multi-melta on a Storm Raven or Land Raider. Since any codex has access to those same multi-meltas, let’s set those aside as neither a strength nor weakness. However, Psybolt Dreads are one of the GK’s biggest strengths. So, this one is important.
Against a 12 armor value with a cover save, it will take about 2 Dreadnoughts firing on average to reliably score a penetrating hit. When shooting at something like a 55 point Chimera, this is a horrible waste of fire power. When shooting at a 200 point Storm Chicken, it’s not so bad. So, right away, the kind of 12+ armor is also a consideration.
At the end of the day, Dreadnoughts can and will destroy 12+ armor, but they won’t do it quickly. Thus, the weakness here is to deal with those Dreads early on. Then, they are relegated to just Psycannons or assaults. Also note that Dreads can easily stun higher armor value vehicles just to knock them out, a common tactic for a GK player versus things like Vendettas, Predators, etc.
Next, the Psyback is extremely ineffective against AV 12 and completely ineffective against AV 13. Since a lot of GK players take Psybacks in spades (see the standard archetypes), you can actually make a large portion of their spent points fairly worthless if you bring this type of armor in numbers.
Then, of course, there is the AV 14 issue for GKs. Here, they have terrible odds of taking down a Land Raider, and are best at in assault or with a psychic power like Might of Titan or Warp Rift. Stay out of range for assaults and a Land Raider is very reliable versus Grey Knights mainly because of….
Grey Knights function best in a 24 inch world. The obvious exceptions here are Dreadnoughts. You must also take into consideration that most Grey Knights unit can move and fire. So, consider it more like a 30 inch world.
If it hasn’t been a theme yet, it should be. If you want to try and manipulate the range element of Grey Knights, you need to shut down the Dreadnoughts. Once you do that, you can hang back outside of that 30 inch range to maximize damage.
Consider things like refusing flank to shut down their power. Consider putting your long range elements in corners to be out of range. If you stay away from the Psycannons and Storm Bolters, they can’t hurt you.
Points Spendy MSU
The next and probably biggest weakness to Grey Knights, in my opinion, is the nature of how many points they must spend to field special weapon types. Now, in the assault, Grey Knights get a BARGAIN BASEMENT BLOWOUT on their equipment versus point cost. However, when it comes to special weapons, namely the Psycannon which is their only real option, they pay a premium to field a single Psycannon. For example, a Space Wolf player can get access to a melta gun in a Grey Hunter squad for 80 points. A Grey Knight player must fork out a minimum of 110 to get his special weapon. Compare that to a Melta Vet squad which gets 3 Melta Guns for 100.
Because of this “point spendy” nature, that makes Grey Knights actually quite susceptible to massed anti-infantry fire. Funny that probably the best army in the game at anti-infantry fire is also weak to anti-infantry fire. As those wounds wrap around and tag a Psycannon guy, they suddenly have a decent amount of “dead weight” sitting around. ( I use the term loosely because they still have Force Weapons and Storm Bolters, but in a Mechanized World, those things are fairly irrelevant.) For you non-mech players though, this is a much bigger deal. Still, at the end of the day, Grey Knights die just like any other marine to shooting. Except, each time one bites it, it’s a significant amount of points and power lost.
Lack of AP 1/AP 2
Grey Knights, just in general, have very little access to low AP Weaponry. Crazy this, but if you combine this knowledge with the weakness I just mentioned, suddenly a plain jane Terminator with Fist/Storm Bolter suddenly looks like a great option for fighting Grey Knights. His 2+ save doesn’t care about Grey Knights, and he puts out a lot of Grey Knight anti-infantry killing potential. Likewise, armies like Loganwing Missile Spam are in a pretty good spot versus Grey Knights because they always get their saves.
Grey Knights do have plenty of power weapons, though. So, let’s be careful about getting into Assault.
LD 9 Psychic Powers
Many of the most annoying Grey Knight psychic powers are rolled on models with a 9 Leadership. Force weapons, hammer hands, cleansing flames, warp quakes, and on. If it’s not an IC or Vehicle, it’s rolling on an LD 9. Why is this a weakness? Because Psychic hoods, save for some terrible exceptions, come on LD 10 models. LD 10 hoods dominate in a psychic war versus LD 9 psykers. Further, Eldar Warding Runes just dominate here since the average rolled on a 3d6 is 10-12.
Lack of Storm Shields
Grey Knights do not have Storm Shields. Grey Knight players will try to make up for this weakness on their Terminators usually by including a Librarian with Shrouding and relying on cover. However, one failed psychic test (or hooded test for that matter) and a lot of AP 2 can make a mess of Grey Knight Terminators and Paladins in a real hurry! The best part of this is that their Terminators are 40+ points (55 for a Paladin at minimum) each time you take one out.
That’s enough discussion on weaknesses for one article. In the next article, I’ll address the weaknesses one finds in the Henchmen builds which are just as important for consideration. In the meantime, here’s some reflections on Eldar fighting Grey Knights.
Using Eldar versus Grey Knights
Eldar have a TON of advantages versus Grey Knights and one BIG weakness. First and foremost, the most effective Eldar builds are almost always completely mechanized. I can’t speak the Foot ‘Dar lists because they generally don’t perform well in my experience. So, this is a caveat for this discussion.
The big weakness for Mech ‘Dar is that Grey Knights can still shake/stun your vehicles. That means you can’t shoot back, and GKs generally bring enough shooting to get it done. My best piece of advice here is to Tank Shock and RAM a lot!
Now, let’s talk strengths. First, you come packing an all AV 12 force. That’s a huge advantage. Second, you come packing the best suicide melta units in the game, Firedragons. And using those Firedragons, you can very quickly take out Dreadnoughts. This is a one-two punch against Grey Knights. Take out the Dreads quick. Rely on AV 12 to survive the rest of the army. Combine that with most of your vehicle guns being 36 inch range or higher, and you are seriously leaning on a lot of GK weaknesses.
Then to top it all off, you have access to Runes of Warding. This will shut down fortitudes, hammer hands, cleansing flames, and many other useful GK abilities as well.
In fact, Eldar may well be one of the best match-ups versus Grey Knights. Here’s an example 2000 point list I am thinking about running in the near future to combat the Grey Knight world.
3 x 5 xFire Dragons in Wave Serpents w/ Dual cannons, Spirit Stones
3 x 5 x Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents w/ Dual Cannons, Spirit Stones
2 x 5 x Dire Avengers
3 x Falcons w/ Dual Cannons, Spirit Stones, Holo-Fields