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Monday, December 12, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #8

The Matching Firepower Approach

This is article number 8 in this series, and as the previous two articles, this article will discuss yet another strategic approach to taking down the Grey Knight scourge that is plaguing the galaxy. The two previously discussed approaches more or less relied on simply outlasting the Grey Knights in a fight and winning based on the mission. This will be the first approach which seeks to win the game by simply killing the enemy.

The Matching Firepower Approach seeks to win the game by simply matching the Grey Knights, blow for blow, with your own firepower. From there, the trick is to then be able to leverage cheaper units to achieve that net result. In this way, you can seek to leverage the Grey Knight weakness of “spendy” units.

Before I begin truly addressing this approach, I wanted to first issue a disclaimer of sorts. The ability for this approach to succeed will depend very highly on the type of list the Grey Knight player is seeking to run. This approach works wonders when you are playing against a “Purifier” list, Paladin list, or Grey Knight Hammer list. It loses strength when playing against a more MSU heavy Grey Knight list or Henchmen list. Dreadnought Spam lists, depending on the match-up, may also be your bane. The reason why I even consider this a valid approach, however, is that basically the approach works except in some special cases. Even in those special cases, if your list is properly optimized, you generally still have a fighting chance to simply out-play or out-roll your opponent. So, it’s validity as an approach is in that the majority of lists you face won’t be your anathema, and even if they are, you still have a fighting chance of outplaying your opponent.

Matching Firepower

The idea here is simple. Either simply outshoot him or match his firepower! This is really only possible for very certain lists. Mostly, I think Space Wolves, Imperial Guard, Black Templar, and Dark Eldar. Of course I’m known for hating on the Dark Eldar (jokingly so), but see the disclaimer above as to why I think that they can make this work.

So, how do these armies go about matching the Grey Knight fire power? It’s really simple. Use the same kinds of MSU, spam lists you already know exist. Use them well. Here’s how it works.

Personally, I play a henchmen based, dread spam list which basically seeks to outshoot my opponents. I am exactly the Grey Knight player that you DON’T want to try this approach against. However, tournament after tournament, list after list that I see, go for Purifiers or Paladins which is exactly what you WANT to play against. Conventional “internet” wisdom tells Grey Knight players that they don’t “need” more than three Psybolt Dreads. Now, I could pose all kinds of reasons why that logic fails, BUT this is an article on how to defeat Grey Knights… not how to build Grey Knights!

The Rock on Rock

At the end of the day, the Matching Firepower approach should be more seeking to burn the Grey Knights out rather than trying to obliterate them. The idea is that both of your lists smash each other to pieces, but at the end of the day, you win because you have a lot of cheap units still functional to take objectives, pick up a few last KPs, or what have you. Guard and Wolves exemplify this type of play. After the smoke clears, you simply want more bodies than your opponent has to hold and contest. Be thinking about this as a war to crush each other rather than a battle in which you will attempt to table your opponent.

As a GK player, I want my opponent to focus on killing me rather than winning the game. The reason why is that he will make moves and sacrifices to that end rather than to the objective of the game. This type of maneuvering makes it easier for me to operate with my own scoring units as well as to counter my opponent’s moves.

Lastly, and I haven’t said this enough, stop trying to throw in that “fun” hammer unit. (Specifically, Space Wolf Players, Thundercav don’t work. Period.)

All Hail Razor Wolves

So, they are still quite functional! This seems like an about face from all the advice I have delivered thus far about not running walls of AV 11 vehicles. It’s not, though, for several reasons. First and foremost because the entire back bone of this strategic approach is gambling that you won’t run into a henchman MSU spam list. This may or may not be a safe gamble for your local meta. However, every list takes a gamble. At the end of the day, though, Razor Wolves, properly built, still bring a tremendous amount of fire power to the table that even my henchmen spam lists will fear. Let’s face it, 15 split target missiles backed up by 9 or so lascannons and Wolf scouts is still an equation that works. As a Grey Knight player, I know that if I roll badly, get my fortitudes shut down by an annoying Rune Priest, and so on, I can easily lose that match-up.

Yet, let’s focus on what most of us see in Grey Knights. Purifiers. These guys rely on short-ranged Psycannons to do the dirty, else they are assaulting. Now, if you are a good Razor Wolf player, I shouldn’t have to cover the topic of how to handle assaulting units. The Psycannons though need to be addressed. The tactics here are deceptively simple. First, use scouts to disable Dreads (take melta bombs, they work and that comes from experience getting nailed in the face as a GK player). Second, constantly move so that they can’t fire their guns in Heavy mode. And as a result, target their Heavy Bolter backs, first. Third, stay in cover. Heavy Bolter backs are decent, but at the end of the day, they aren’t that great. I know. I run a lot of them!

Honestly, the easy way to beat Purifiers, especially the MSU kind, is to force them to keeping moving. Meanwhile, putting anti-infantry fire into them that causes wounds to wrap around in the squad helps a ton. Razor Wolves can do this easily. Another “pisser” for Purifiers is that they will want to target your tanks. This leaves your infantry actually pretty darn safe to just stand there and plink away at them or to threaten with assault. This seems “dumb” to most Razor Wolf players who are used to cowering in their metal boxes, but think about it for a bit, and you will realize that a hidden weakness of Purifiers is that they combine their anti-infantry and anti-tank into a single unit which can only do one or the other in a given turn.

Paladin lists are a bit more trouble because your lascannons will always get shuffled onto Draigo. At the end of the day, though, this is still a winning gambit for you and a situation in which you can outplay your opponent. This would sound dumb but consider tanking shocking repeatedly with all your vehicles as a valid tactic. Keep in mind he’s probably got 800 or so points wrapped up in that unit so having to lose a few pawns to take down the queen is totally valid.

Dark Eldar, really?

Are you playing a well optimized Dark Eldar list? If not, then don’t even read the rest of this statement. If you are, then you should realize that with the amount of Dark Glance (read also Blasters) shots you have, you should be able to match them. Once again, we are working with an underpinned assumption about Purifiers and Paladins. An MSU Grey Knight will still probably destroy you. That being said, at least you have a fighting chance in this case. Even with my henchmen spam lists, I still sweat if I have to play a DE player with 25+ Darklight shots who has first turn on me. I know, I should just reserve right? See, smart Dark Eldar players want you to do that so they can line your board edge with vehicles.

I’m not saying this will work all the time, but it is a thought. Indeed, I think it will work most of the time against most Grey Knight lists I see. I still consider this though to be a weak match-up against more optimized GK shooting lists.


This is easy. The more cover save ignoring shots you have (read Manticores), the easier you can pull this off. Really, Guard have all the tools they need or ever needed to fight GKs. This should sound like a reoccurring theme at this point!


Because the amount of S9 Missiles hurt! A lot! Combine that with the potential to suicide some melta pods in later turns to kill Dreads. This one is straight forward as well. The most likely rumor right now too is that Templar are getting a sweet Phil Kelly dex in the next few months anyways.


At the end of the day, the point of this approach is really easy. You seek to smash the opponent and win in later turns. This is the “no duh!” approach, but it’s still valid to consider that even as powered as that Grey Knight dex is, it’s still quite possible to defeat it straight up. The biggest reason for that is generally surrounding the types of lists that players are actually taking.

Article Number 9 will cover the “Horde” approach specifically. No, I don’t mean Orks. This is an extension of the “Sustained Durability” approach which deserves its own article. That will be the last approach in the series.

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