This is part #5 in a series. Last time, I talked about the weaknesses of Grey Knight-centric lists. As promised, I will cover Henchmen lists and weaknesses next. To start talking about henchmen weaknesses, though, it’s useful to first understand the types of henchmen you might run into.
Acolytes should be thought of as regular Guardsmen because they have the same stats. They will come in three flavors in a GK list. There is the minimal scoring unit, the special weapon unit, and the storm bolter unit.
The minimal scoring unit is generally 3-5 acolytes. They are stupid cheap at 12+ points. They can score. Their sole purpose in life is to score. Generally, they go into reserves, and when they come on the board, they will find a razorback to crawl into or a wall to hide behind. Grey Knight players use these to skimp points on scoring so that they can effectively dump the rest of their points into more lethal units.
The special weapon unit is generally 3-5 acolytes, but this time, they are packing melta guns or flamers. That’s right. Acolytes can get 3 melta guns in a 3 man squad. Yes, it’s ridiculous, I know. In all reality though, these still act as more a scoring roll than a combat roll because they are so weak. Usually, the addition of the guns is just to make the unit lethal “just in case”.
The storm bolter acolyte squad is also intended to be a cheap scoring unit. However, it will come packing 5 or so storm bolters to add some 24 inch range anti-infantry. This way, the squad can remain relatively safe while still adding a few guns to the fight.
Acolytes are just weak. Their weakness is EVERYTHING. One thing I would highly recommend when considering fighting a GK list would be to dedicate a small unit or two of anti-infantry to shooting these guys up. The basic strategy for a GK player is that you won’t shoot his acolytes because if you do, you are neglecting killing something that is far more lethal. However, a heavy bolter here, or a multi-laser, may pay off, especially when they are LD 8. Just keep it rolling around in the back of your head.
Some lists carry psykers in numbers and almost always in a Chimera. When you get about 8 or so Psykers, they can lay down S 10ish AP 1ish blast templates out of the back of that Chimera. Ouch!
Psykers can be sick if you let them be sick. However, they are still LD 8. This means a few things. First, they fail a lot of psychic tests just because of that. Second, if you have a hood in range, they aren’t casting squat. You need hoods if you got em! For those armies who can’t have hoods, it’s sad face. Your only choice then is to blow up the Chimera and kill them like you would any guard player. That’s when they are at their most effective. Otherwise, get a hood into range often and early.
This is actually one of the areas where Space Wolf Runic Weapons aren’t as good as hoods, not even close.
Death Cult Assassins
These are the ones you should fear. Death Cultists, as described, are the most broken unit in 40K in my opinion. At face value, they are a Bloodletter, deadly but manageable. It’s when they get stacked with Hammerhands and Grenades that they get stupid.
Death Cultists, if given the chance, will assault and kill anything. Their biggest weakness is their 5++ save and lack of grenades. However, a seasoned GK player will mitigate this. He will attempt to tie you up with Dreads first and then assault. Or, he will use a Land Raider. Or, my personal fav, simply abuse the assault rules to ensure I only assault into the one guy who has just his small base portion poking out of terrain so I don’t need grenades.
The common solution I hear for Assassins is, “well I’ll just blow up their ride and shoot them”. That’s a great theory, but it doesn’t work in practice. Yes, you can do that. However, in doing so, you are more than likely putting fire power into a unit that isn’t hurting you back at range.
You should understand that unless they are in an assault vehicle or in a Storm Chicken, they aren’t that much of a threat to you. DCA are a much better counter-assault unit than an assault unit. The biggest problem though is that they still score with Coteaz.
If you are an assault heavy army, you must find a way to deal with them. In that case, I would say that you must shoot and kill them. They should be target priority, put every gun you got into them. If you have no guns, you better get some. DCA will annihilate things like Terminators. They aren’t scared at all, and they are so cheap, the seasoned GK vet will gladly sacrifice them to kill your hammer units.
If you aren’t an assault list, you can basically ignore them unless they are coming after you. Food for thought.
Only found in DCA squads, I actually recommend to most people that they aren’t worth their points. People take them though because they have a 3++, and they will put them with DCA so they can wound allocate to them. They have S3 Power Weapons which aren’t much of a threat, but it’s still something to consider. They are best used when you are trying to “just shoot up the DCA”. You can see why you may need to reconsider that strategy.
Major Henchmen List Weaknesses
The first major weakness is LD 8. This means you can break them with tank shocks, shooting, etc. This couple with the second major weakness which is lack of And They Shall Know No Fear. Get them to break when they are below half, and there is no coming back. Even better, they’ll drag an IC with them off the board if they break in that situation. Just remember, though, that And They Shall Know No Fear applies to the whole squad if an IC in the squad has it.
Explosions are your friend! Anytime you can get a vehicle to explode with Acolytes or Assassins in it, you will kill a lot of them. This forces LD 8 pinning and morale checks. Bonus! Yet another reason to be packing a reasonable amount of AP 1 if you are planning on going GK vehicle hunting.
In the end, though, the biggest piece of advice I have for dealing with Henchmen lists is to think of it more like playing Imperial Guard. They are basically the same army. Whereas guard packs in Vendettas, Grey Knights bring Dreadnoughts. In a lot of ways, they aren’t even as good as Guard.
This leads me back to one of my number one pieces of advice. In a Grey Knight world, if you can beat Guard, you can beat GKs.
Orks versus GKs
When I first saw the GK book, I hung my Orks up for good. I thought, “that’s it. Orks are finished”. Cleansing flame shuts down mobs, and Force Weapons shut down Nobz. Dreadnoughts massacre Killa Kanz. I got nothing left.
Now that I’ve had some practice with my GKs, I think a little different.
Battle Wagon Orks are actually a decent match-up for most GK lists. The reason is the combination of the 14 FA, the KFF, and the ability to pick your fight. Purifing Flame a problem? Ghazzie doesn’t think so! Force Weapons got you down? Boyz don’t care about power weapons. Flamers also love to chew on GKs, and most of all, Henchmen builds have very little to combat Orks with. DCA will do okay, but they will drop to a concentrated assault by Boyz.
Horde Orks is more of an issue because stacked cleaning flame + your lack of ability to choose fights, hurts. If the GK players don’t have Purifiers, though, it’s on like donkey kong!
Another thing to remember with Orks, especially against the likes of Paladins, is to know your multi-assault rules like the back of your hand. Realize this, if I drive up with 2 Wagons, one full of 20 Boyz, the other full of Meganobz, how can I slaughter Paladins with losing very little?
Assault with the Boyz first, putting someone into BTB with all the Paladins. Step 2, manipulate your ranges such that the Mega Nobz barely make into BTB with one model. Now, the GK player can’t pile in because he’s already in BTB with worthless Boyz. He now has one Paladin to kill a Mega Nob, and the rest of the Mega Nobz will now send their S8 Paladin killing claw attacks through the rest of the Paladins which they chop up a Boyz squad.
Lastly, in a GK world, Lootaz suck. That’s the end of the story.