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Friday, December 16, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #9

The Horde Approach

This will be the last article in the series and covers the final approach that I think works very well when considering how to defeat Grey Knights. In a lot of ways, this final approach actually works very well with a lot of other armies as well. The Horde Approach is really an extension of the Sustained Durability approach. I’m singling it out as a special type because I think it warrants further discussion.

The Horde Approach is probably NOT the first thing that comes to your mind. When I say Horde, most people go directly to Orks and Tyranids. Both of these armies can execute some portions of the Horde approach, but honestly, they don’t fit every aspect of what makes the most effective Horde Approach. When thinking about the Horde Approach, you should be thinking about the combination of a ton of durable bodies, the sustained durability portion, and some withering style firepower or assault. This was all touched on in the Sustained Durability approach as well, and probably refreshing yourself on that article will help as this article moves forward.

How It Works

The best mindset for making the Horde Approach work is to NOT think of it in terms of overwhelming your opponent. Instead, you should be thinking about FRUSTRATING your opponent’s effort to defeat you. The concept of overwhelming your opponent comes from that Ork mentality where I put 180 boyz on the board and execute ORK WAVE ATTACK to wash over my opponent like an unstoppable tsunami. Although this type of approach will work against some GK lists, against Purifier spam, probably the most common type, it will fail due to cleansing flame.

What we want is to cause our Grey Knight opponent to become frustrated. The Horde Approach excels at this tactic because while you maintain a Horde, it is very difficult for your opponent to shift you, by that meaning force you to move any given direction or to “kill you” off a certain portion of the board. You’ll constantly be contesting objectives as you add more fodder to the fight. You’ll constantly be occupying portions of the board and making yourself as annoying as possible to kill.

Let’s run a thought experiment on what I would consider a good Horde list. The Blood Angels infantry horde would consist of a ballpark of 70-80 MEQ bodies backed up by a few points of Feel No Pain. Further, a sprinkling of heavy weapons will allow the Horde to apply a withering firepower to the enemy over many turns.

Take this example army and deploy it widely across the field. Against Grey Knights, recognize that their main threat range is 24 inches. Past that, the majority of GK lists only bring two types of long range firepower, Psybolt Dreads and Psybacks. If I stay out of potential 30 inch threat range (30 because they can move 6 and fire) during deployment, this will force them to be more aggressive or lose a turn of shooting. That loss of a turn plays into my hands because it’s yet another turn that he isn’t taking down models. The bottom line will be, as you see, that the less models he takes down, the more you win.

He can fire his long range guns, but Psybolt Dreads will only average about 1 Dead MEQ a turn. That’s not even going to be a dent in the Horde. Psybacks will most likely be blown off in droves due to the 3+/FnP. Now, let’s further frustrate him by putting lots of our models out of line of site, in reserve, or against the back table edge. Each turn I go where he isn’t killing a substantial number of models frustrates his ability to win the game.

Further, and this is why this approach really works versus GKs, once he steps into that 24 inch kill zone, he is also in your primary kill zone. As a Blood Angel Horde, you also have a lot of Bolters. They aren’t very good, but 70-80 of them will kill Purifiers, very slowly. And the beauty of this is, you will take infantry losses a lot slower than he does.

Finally, your withering long range fire power will be slowly bleeding him. The goal is to outlast and frustrate. The last tactic will be in a Kill Point game, when a squad gets near death, hide it. Since you don’t have any easy to claim KPs and HE DOES (because of vehicles), you can seriously deny his ability to claim them.

The Assault

A Grey Knight player forced into this predicament really only has two tactical options. (One of the greatest things about this approach is that it really controls how your opponent will end up playing.) Your opponent will either attempt to claim mid-field objectives and keep you at bay, or he will be forced to assault you. The reason is that assault is generally the easiest way to kill off multiple models. Before I address the claiming of mid-field, let’s talk about his assault options.

Most GK lists that you will find dedicate one or two assault units. The rest are general MSU squads. The thing is, a 5 man Purifier Squad is no threat to the horde in assault. Only 3 of the guys have real weapons, and against a 10 man squad, they are going to be toast so long as you brought a fist or power weapon of your own.

The goal when dealing with the dedicated assault units is to forego all shooting at other targets and fire everything into the assault units. You will have the ability to do this effectively because you aren’t concerned about shutting down other targets to prevent losses. You are already very sturdy thanks to the Horde. Whittle them down, and then swarm them when they finally get there. Coincidentally, use the “swarm” assault to allow for consolidation moves to help slingshot you into mid-field for late game objective grabbing.

The Mid-Field Objectives

Here, the name of the game is that hopefully your withering firepower has disabled a lot of his long range guns. It’s not time to execute the “Human Wave” attack that you have been purposefully holding back for this long. The tactic in this case should be to overload one objective so that you can clear it and otherwise to simply contest the others. Contesting might be moving one squad up to contest. The game doesn’t end? No sweat, that squad dies and then another steps up. Use the squads which have been depleted for this kind of task.

And lastly note that if you can simply overwhelm most GK units, especially if they are MSU units or have been properly “withered” by your fire power.

Playing the Mission not the Game

The real reason why the Horde approach works is because you are playing the mission and not the opponent. You have the luxury of doing this because your army is so sturdy. The Grey Knight player will generally not have such a luxury, especially in a Kill Point game. Deny him kill points. Claim a few of his and run. Don’t play friendly on this one.

For Roll Dice and Tie, play for the Tie. That’s the best advice I can give with the Horde approach, and playing for the tie should be easy. Buffer your objective with all of your troops, and he’ll never chop his way to it.

For objectives, overload to claim and other wise contest as described above.

Example Armies

So, here are some example armies to help you see where I am going with this.

Horde Blood Angels:

Librarian – 100 (Shield for extra cover saves, Unleash for a swarm attack)


3 x Sang Priests – 150 (to be distributed around effectively for FnP bubbles)

2 x 5 x Sternguard + 2 x Lascannons (simply there to add withering fire at vehicles, easy to get KPs)


10 x Assault Marines + Power Fist – (for a counter-assault if you need one)

10 x Tactical Marines + Lascannon + Plasma + Fist – 210 (more withering fire)

10 x Tactical Marines + Lascannon + Plasma + Fist – 210 (more withering fire)

10 x Tactical Marines + Lascannon + Plasma + Fist – 210 (more withering fire)


10 x Dev Squads + 4 x Missile – 210 (see a pattern yet?)

10 x Dev Squads + 4 x Missile – 210

10 x Dev Squads + 4 x Missile – 210

Total: 1985 # of Bodies: 84 (don’t forget you can combat squad against other kinds of opponents)

Horde Sisters of Battle


Kyrinov – 90 (Fearless bubble will keep you from running if shot up or assault)

5 x DCA + 5 x Crusaders – 150 (counter assault unit)

Saint Celestine – 115 (best SC in the game. Talk about an objective contesting unit!)


5 x Celes + Multi Melta – 90 (withering fire)

5 x Celes + Multi Melta – 90 (withering fire)

5 x Celes + Multi Melta – 90 (withering fire)


10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword – 155 (they score, lots of bodies, more heavy weapons)

10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword - 155

10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword - 155

10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword - 155

10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword - 155

10 x Battle Sisiters + Multi Melta + Melta Gun + Power Sword - 155


10 x Retributors + 4 x Heavy Bolters (super durable and can kill tanks or Purifiers with ease)

10 x Retributors + 4 x Heavy Bolters (super durable and can kill tanks or Purifiers with ease)

10 x Retributors + 4 x Heavy Bolters (super durable and can kill tanks or Purifiers with ease)

Total: 1990 # of Bodies: 117

Horde Space Marines (Keep in mind that Space Marines and CSM don’t do a good a job of this as newer books because they currently need updates to adjust their point levels more appropriately)


Darnath – 200 (beat stick plus can tie up heavy assault units) - 200


5 x Stern Guard + 2 x Lascannons – 155 (withering fire)

5 x Stern Guard + 2 x Lascannons – 155 (withering fire)

5 x Stern Guard + 2 x Lascannons – 155 (withering fire)


10 x Tactical Marines + lascannon + plasmagun + fist – 215

10 x Tactical Marines + lascannon + plasmagun + fist - 215

10 x Tactical Marines + lascannon + plasmagun + fist - 215


10 x Devs + 4 x Missiles – 230

10 x Devs + 4 x Missiles - 230

10 x Devs + 4 x Missiles - 230

Total: 2000 # of Bodies: 76 (see how BA does this better ??)

Horde Dark Eldar – (keep in mind that a 4+ cover save is still pretty good for cheap units)


A few Haemoncs


Harlequins make an excellent counter assault unit which is almost impossible to kill at range.


20 x Warriors w/ 2 x Dark Lance (huge block that can have FnP and provides withering fire)

10-15 Wyches – (tie up units and are very frustrating)


Beast Packs make an excellent hold back and harass unit

Scourges can be both anti-infantry and anti-tank


There are more lists of course, and you can always go with Orks and Tyranids who can do this very well. Orks especially as they have more shooting capacity than Tyranids. The point is to follow the concept. This will play 40K a lot differently than what most people are used to. It can work though if played properly.

Finally, as on the podcast we are briefly discussing certain armies and how they would be played against Grey Knights in different ways. Although our podcast will cover this last article, on the final installment of RALPH (RALPH 10), we will cover the remaining armies which is not done here on the BLOG.

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.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #7

Continuingon the discussion from Article #6 on strategic approaches to defeat Grey Knights, this article will discussion another strategic approach to playing again against the Grey tide. The last article was about the AV 12+ approach which mostly applies to Guard, Blood Angels, Eldar, and to some extent, Necrons. The strategic approach in this article I’ll name the “sustained” approach.

As an aside, these strategic approaches not only work individually but also in tandem. Any time you can combine two more strategic approaches in your list or game, your overall effectiveness in taking down Grey Knights will actually improve.

The “Sustained” Approach

Two of the weaknesses found in the typical Grey Knight that were previously discussed were the lack of AP 1 & 2 weapons as well as lack of significant ranged fire. When we combine these two thought processes, we land on a strategic list building approach which can leverage both of those weaknesses to create a list theory which will rely on simply outlasting the Grey Knights, and the way in which that will be accomplished is by combining durability and range to create a long-term, or sustained game, in which you can whittle the Grey Knight player down. Over many game turns, eventually, you can either overcome them or chop them down to size so that you are on equal footing and able to compete in any mission type.

So, what will this approach look like? It will either generate a superior durability or combine moderate durability with fire reduction principles and playing the missions. Let’s talk about what this means in general before getting to the approach punch list.

Superior Durability

The first thing that should come to mind is a 2+ save. Before we even consider rolls to hit and wounds, a 2+ save immediately reduces all incoming fire power from Grey Knight armies by 83%. The reason why is that Grey Knights just don’t have any AP 2 guns. Continuing that thought, you don’t really need Storm Shields unless you plan on engaging the Grey Knights in Assault where their Power Weapons can now be leverage. See, a Grey Knight player, if faced with having to take down 2+ save models in mass would prefer to assault you UNLESS you also have storm shield. In that case, shy of Death Cult Assassins, he doesn’t have a lot of options for easily taking you down. This line of thinking is getting way off course, but it is worth handling upfront.

What I really want to point out is how good a 2+ save is versus Grey Knight shooting. However, it isn’t THAT great. Grey Knight armies generally lay down some ferocious anti-infantry fire. A 2+ save will help tremendously, but it isn’t enough by itself to have superior durability. The reason why is that a model with a 2+ generally also has a very high price in points.

See, durability should not be measured in terms how survivable a given model is. It should also be measured in the quantity of models. The easy way to think about this is that a single Marine is fairly durable in terms of the 40K universe. However, 10 Marines in a squad is very durable. 10 Plague Marines are SUPER durable with a 3+, 5 toughness, and FnP. Digging deeper, a single Plague Marine isn’t as durable as 2 Space Marines. However, 10 Plague Marines is way more durable than 10 Space marines. Get where I’m going with this? Think about how durable a 30 man Ork mob is in cover. Even more than Plague Marines!

Having a few models with a 2+ save is great! Having 30 of them would make you have superior durability. Now, there aren’t too many lists that can pack those kinds of numbers.

We need SUPERIOR durability. To do this, we need to combine quality and quantity into the most efficient anti-infantry shirking force we can. This should combine elements like FnP, a decent save, rerolls, unit size, wound allocation, special rules, and a mass of other things to create durability.

The last thing to consider here is that durability should also be measured in your ability to reduce the incoming fire power throughout all turns. For example, my standard GK lists can usually down around 13 MEQs on average a turn. That’s great at full bore! However, if you are shooting back at me, and I’m taking casualties, I should stay at full firing power for very long. When my fire power starts going down, your durability goes up. Get it?

This concept leads into the next discussion…

Fire Reduction

Because reducing enemy fire makes you more durable, most lists will need to incorporate the kinds of fire power which will seek to reduce the firing potential of the Grey Knight list. This could take on many forms. For example, manipulating the effective 24 inch range of a Grey Knight player is Fire Reduction. If your army can stay out of the 24 inch bubble, you are severely reducing the ability of the GK player to kill you.

Fire Reduction could also be specifically taking units which, even if suicidal, will significantly reduce the enemy’s fire effectiveness. For example, a DDM (Dreadnought in a Drop Pod with a Multi Melta) is generally designed in most lists to serve this roll. (I don’t actually think they are very good at it, but the point is easy to make.) They drop in, pop something nasty, then die. In the case of a Grey Knight player, that suicide drop would probably be against a Psybolt Dread, which isn’t a bad trade provided you kill it.

Fire Reduction could also just purely be lots of “pew pew” on your end. After all, if the GK player is taking losses, his fire power is being reduced, right?

It could simply be hiding out of LoS. That one is easy if you play with enough terrain.

The goal of Fire Reduction is to mitigate the casualties you take throughout the game. This increases your durability. The long you know you will be in the game allows you to manipulate the final point which is…

Playing to the Mission

The last goal of this approach will be to play the mission. This might mean playing the length of the mission, taking a few losses, and then leaping out on turn 5 to claim/contest some objectives, and win. It might be killing a few Grey Knight Razorbacks to claim some easy KPs then run like a school girl to hide in the corner.

The longer your army can stay near max efficiency, the more options you will have late game to play to the mission.

A Final Word

The Sustained Approach isn’t going to be the cup of tea for everyone out there. So many of us play this game for the carnage and dramatic battles aspect. The sustained approach is generally more like the slow, plodding, turtle approach. It wins races, but it doesn’t generally look good doing it.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some armies which can leverage the sustained approach very well versus Grey Knights and still do a lot of damage. Black Templar come to mind here as does Guard, of course. Demons also come to mind, in some ways. However, many effective sustained approaches might end up being kind of boring looking like Blood Angel gun lines, MEQ Hordes, or others.

The key to really mastering the sustained approach is to think first about how you will weather the storm and win in the end before you think about how you will kill the enemy.

Key Points to the Sustained Approach

- You need to achieve superior durability. Do this through either staying out of line of sight, providing a QUANTITY of survivable models, or a combination of withering fire power and survivability. Examples: A MEQ horde with durable fire support like a Blood Angel MEQ horde with FnP, or a Space Marine horde in general. A bucket load of gaunts, so thick as to be impassable. An army of terminators. Even better, an army of terminators with Feel no Pain. A blocking, suicidal, or fierce army with just a few elements which can be killed due to LoS or target saturation that will win in the end.

- It is highly preferable to achieve some kind of withering and sustained fire power. Think 10 man squad of Devastators with FnP in cover. They will be shooting for most of the game and require a ton of fire to silence. They are generally pretty good for silencing one GK gun a turn. Vehicles or units that can fire over 24 inches and stay out of prime GK fire range are also good examples.

- You need to be able to play to the basic mission types of Kill Points and Seize Ground. So, that means you need a way to mitigate your KPs in a KP scenario and also able to claim late game objectives or contest. Remember that a lot of GK lists function best as MSU lists and thus also give up a lot of KPs. This could be part of your strategy.

- Mobility is generally key to this kind of list type. You need to be able to move, not early in the game but LATE in the game. That’s the hard part.


I realize that the discussion behind this approach has been fairly cerebral. So, here’s some examples.

Suicide “Dar

I had a list concept running for a while which combines small squads of Guardian Jetbikes who provide a durable element by going into reserve, then using JSJ to stay out of LoS. It achieves superior durability because the other 75%+ of the points going into hyper-directed suicide units designed to cripple the effective shooting elements in an army. Think fire dragons, warlocks, etc. whose job it is to make a mess of the enemy for 3-4 turns which when the dust settles leaves them with little to shoot at bikes with. This achieves superior durability through target priority and list.

MEQ Horde

Think about how hard it would be to kill 70 or so Marines if you had nothing to do it with but Storm Bolters. Exactly. Grey Knights will want to assault this kind of list, but you can mitigate that with speed bumps, rhinos, your own counter-assault elements, etc. Make sure that some of this Horde can plink some long range shots to slowly whittle down enemy vehicles and also stop a Land Raider, and you got yourself superior durability. The key here is to focus on winning the mission, not killing the enemy.

Black Templar Terminator Lists

Here’s a great specific example. Black Templar have the ability to take 4-5 squads of Terminators with Tank Hunter Cyclones. This is great because it combines a lot of 2+ save bodies and sustained fire reduction. You will be killing a few GK vehicles a turn, while staying away from the enemy to leverage your 2+ save. You don’t need storm shields because you will avoid combat. It also has storm bolters so you can return the favor and whittle down GK squads.

The relatively not hungry Nid horde / not so WAAAGHY Ork Horde

Say what? You know how most Nid players think “CHARGE!” What if you thought, “sit in mid and make them come to me while I hide and/or spawn a bajillion termagaunts?” This goes for Orks too. Every tried shooting up an Ork mob that goes to ground in cover? It laughs at you. You’ll need a plan to manage Purifiers, though. So, keep that in mind. Nids are better at this than Orks when it comes to GKs. Orks, though can manage the suicide bit similar to the ‘Dar above much better, though.


At the end of the day, what most MSU Grey Knight lists don’t want to see is an army that can actually absorb all of its fire power. The reason is because they don’t have much to fall back on. Now, this is not true of Grey Knight Hammer Lists, but it is certainly true of the spammy Purifier and MSU lists. The truth is, GKs only bring a mediocre HtH punch to the party with the exception of Death Cultists. So, when you can absorb all that shooting and still make a game out of it, they start to run out of options.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #6

Effective Approaches

So far in the series, we have covered the various archetypes of Grey Knight armies, the true strengths of Grey Knight armies, and the weaknesses of Grey Knight armies. Now, it’s time to put all of this discussion together into some cohesive approaches for how to defeat the Grey menace.

I’ve already hinted at many of the elements that are effective against Grey Knights. These include things like higher than 11 armor values, to avoid traditional hammer lists, to quickly dispatch Dreadnoughts, to plan around range manipulation, and a few more. What I’m going to do now is discuss how to put all of these elements together into a cohesive list building approach that will up your game versus Grey Knights. These approaches can then be used to list build around the problems areas and to leverage your strengths versus their weaknesses.

An approach, better called a strategic approach in this case, is simply a game plan that one might run with that combines list building with game play tactics. This is an important distinction because as with any good list building technique, you should be combining your codex with the rules to match units with tactics. It’s also worth noting that not all strategic approaches will apply to all codices. I will try and point this out as I move through them.

A Note on Approaches

A strategic approach should not be thought of as a way to table your opponent. It is thought of as a way to win a game of 40K. This may involve winning on objectives, kill points, or other conditions. Grey Knights can of course be tabled like anyone else, but many of the approaches I am going to discuss revolve around winning objectives or kill points rather than just kill your opponent.

The AV12+ Approach

Several armies can bring quite a bit of AV 12+ to the party which severely hampers the average GK build. This obviously leverages the GK weakness of most of their long range shooting being moderately ineffective versus those armor types. Armies which can successfully build these kinds of lists can bring AV 12 vehicles in large amounts and effectively lay down fire power. Since a lot of GK builds do bring melee weapons which can crack these types of armor, one key point is that your AV 12+ build should either be bringing an even more lethal amount of short range fire power, assault power, or just simply have the ability to dual at range. Here are the key points to this approach:

- Bring AV 12+ vehicles in large amounts, generally 8+.

- Bring an effective answer to kill 1-2 Psybolt Dreadnoughts in the first turn or two. You don’t need to kill them all, but taking a couple down will severely limit the GK ability to take you down.

- Has the ability to trade blows at a range of greater than or equal to 24 inches for several turns with the GK player.

- Has the ability to either stay at range for almost the entire game (thus very effective ranged game) or has the ability to assault MSU GK Squads, or has the ability to bring an effective short ranged, MEQ killing, shooting game.

- Has an effective “hammer slammer”. A hammer slammer is a unit or combination which is extremely effective at annihilating an enemy hammer unit like a group of Terminators, Thunder Lords etc. This might be a plasma toting squad, your own Terminators, etc.

Let’s work our way down the list of key points to this approach. The first should be obvious. It isn’t an AV 12+ approach if you don’t have a lot of AV 12+ vehicles. This could be Dreads, Chimeras, Wave Serpents, Predators, Land Raiders, and now, many Necron vehicles. The critical point here is that you need a bunch of them, not one or two. One of the first failings in this strategy will be to assume that you can run a Land Raider or two and then fill out the rest of your force with Razorbacks. This doesn’t work for two critical reasons. First, whatever is inside your Land Raider is probably very easy to counter with a group of Death Cult Assassins. Second, your Land Raiders can be managed by Psycannons or the odd melta gun leaving the biggest threat being you’re very easy to kill Razorbacks which is what the smart GK will focus on.

The second point is quite possibly the most critical. Your list or game plan needs something in it that can reasonably shut down a Dread or two very early in the game. The point is, the quicker the Dreads die, the more survivable your AV 12+ becomes. This becomes even truer if your game plan can leverage a long distance shooting game versus the GKs which outstrips their 24 inch base range for most of the fight. You can basically kite them once the Dread is dead (kiting being an MMO term which means running and shooting so that the enemy can never catch you and eventually dies). A plan for killing Dreads will vary from army to army. For example, Eldar might just suicide some Fire Dragons into them. Guard might just use a couple Manticores to get the job done or simply point a mass of Hydras and Vendettas at them for a turn. Blood Angels might put all their Lascannons into them for a turn or leverage something sneaky like Vanguard or a DoA bomb.

The next point attempts to leverage that most GK fire power is 24 inch range that is capable of really killing tanks. Sure, Psybacks can kill tanks, but they can barely dent armor 12+. So, we are talking now about having to deal with Psycannons. Now, not only do they need 6’s to penetrate your vehicle wall, they have to get to a shorter range to do it. Thus, the critical piece here is as stated above, kill some Dreads right away. Now, vehicles that can move and still fire become priceless. Take a Blood Angel predator as an example. Being able to back up 6 inches and still fire all of your guns mean that you can start and stay out of GK Psycannon range for quite a few turns, constantly doing damage to them.

The next point needs a little clarification as to the purpose. The basics of what I’m trying to state is that if your army can simply hang at range and blow the GKs off the table, do it! This is especially true if you can shut the Dreads down early. Basically, though, the only army I know that has a prayer of this is Guard. For everyone else, note that if you have to get close to them to lay the hammer down, say to claim objectives, make sure you bring something that is very effective at killing marines close in. Basically, you don’t want to get close, kill a couple, then, have your precious AV 12+ vehicle take a Hammer to the face. Either way, this kind of consideration is basically for objective games. You will at some point have to close with the enemy to take objectives. My advice then is to carry just a couple things that can easily clear one objective while you contest the rest. For example, a troupe of plasma gunners.

The only reason I’m telling you that you need an effective Hammer Slammer is to fight against other armies other than GKs. The biggest weakness of most of these kinds of stand-off, shooty lists is a solid hammer like a Thunder Lord crushing you. Bring something that you can repel them with. This will also help if you play a more off-center GK list like with Mordrak, some Terminators, or possibly a small Paladin squad. Guard basically have no options here as is their main weakness in the book, but books like Blood Angels and even Eldar certainly do have some options.

Next article, I will continue into another strategic approach which I’ll call the “durability” or “out last” approach. To wrap up, I’ll talk briefly about yet another codex and ways it can handle Grey Knights.

Space Puppies

So, the biggest thing about the Space Pups is that they have spent a couple years now being top dog, with little to no bad match-ups save for Guard. Usually, a Space Wolf Player’s biggest concern was another Space Wolf player. Times, they have changed! The biggest piece of advice I can give a Space Wolf player is that it’s time to re-examine the way you have been playing and instead of just assuming that you will out shoot everyone with Razor Spam and Long Fangs, that you are actually going to have to use some other parts of your codex now. Grey Knights Book > Space Wolves Book in general. Hate to call it, but it’s true. The quicker we start to accept that the better off we will be as Wolf players. However, there are still many things a Wolf codex can do to Grey Knight player. The point is that a lot of these kinds of “small” things would have been overlooked previously because Space Wolf players were simply used to dominating with their own “over-powered” codex.

Let’s start with NJal. I’m not going to lie, Njal is beast versus GKs. The biggest use for him would be to stuff him in a small squad, in a Rhino, in mid-field. Since GKs are mostly a 24 inch army (see scouts below to handle Dreads), they will come into that sweet 3+ denial range. Then, in late game, when the storm is ready to really rage, charge him forward and deposit him for max damage. I really think every Space Wolf player should seriously start considering Njal, maybe even as a must take. At a minimum, you will need a Rune Priest.

Start seriously considering taking scout squads with melta bombs. This is heresy, I know, but 2 scout squads with melta bombs are a total PITA for a Grey Knight player because it leaves his Dreads exposed. In fact, Wolf Scouts can be so disruptive for the typical GK gun line that it might be worth taking even more. Sure, they will get chopped up by Purifiers, but they actually fight just fine versus Strike Squads. Furthermore, if they bag a Dread or 2, it’s totally worth it.

Likewise, Lone Wolves are EXTREMELY annoying to a GK player. Why? 2+ Save, Eternal, and FnP. A GK player has to dump a lot of precious fire power into them to make them stop advancing, and each shot is a Long Fang or Razorback that didn’t get tagged. Also, because a Lone Wolf can easily stand up to a small Strike Squad or Purifier Squad, and he can easily wreck Dreads, Land Raiders, you name it.

The biggest mistake right now I think a Wolf Player can make is to try and run Thunder Cav. I know they are cool, and they are so darn effective against almost everything. However, they are dog meat to a squad of Death Cultists. The only realistic way you will make these work versus a seasoned GK player is if you somehow bring enough guns to kill the DCA before your dogs get there. Good luck with that!

Another big tip I have for Wolf players is to play a lot more defensively than you are used to. Fact is, if you are in mid-board, the GK player is going to have a hard time dislodging you, and frankly, your Wolf boys can tackle most GKs in assault, even with their power weapons. This is especially true with someone like Njal shutting down those hammerhands.

Razorspam still works! But only with a Rune Priest there (preferably Njal) to stop Fortitude rolls. Then, you got a game. Right now, were I to run a Wolfy Razor List, it would probably look like this:




5 x Scouts + Melta Bombs + Melta Gun

5 x Scouts + Melta Bombs + Melta Gun

2 x Wolf Guard + PFist + Melta Gun (scouts)
4 x Wolf Guard + Combi-Melta


5 x Grey Hunters + Melta Gun

5 x Grey Hunters + Melta Gun

5 x Grey Hunters + Melta Gun

5 x Grey Hunters + Melta Gun

7 x Grey Hunters + Standard + Power Weapon + Melta Gun


4 x ML Long Fangs

4 x ML Long Fangs

4 x ML Long Fangs

Otherwise, I would even be really tempted to run the Missile Spam Logan Wing lists which I can talk about a little with the next strategic approach.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11th Company Tournament Results

You can find the excel spreadsheets as well as this same explanation here:

Here are the results of our tournament:

Best Overall: Gabe Dobkin (Cobra Commander Imperial Guard)
Best General (Bracket #0 Winner): Kyle Cox (Imperial Guard)
Best Appearance: John Ross (Dark Eldar)
Best Sports: Jason Driver (Sisters)

Bracket #1: Jay "Shrek" Steinberger (Tyranids)
Bracket #2: Edwin Rankin (????)
Bracket #3: Chris Freudiger (???)
Bracket #4: Stephen Fore (Blood Angels)
Bracket #5: Timothy Marteleire (????)

Of note:

Gabe Dobkin did more than just take Best Overall. He actually won Best Appearance by 0.5 points, tied for Best Sports with Jason Driver, AND played in Bracket #0 on Day 2. Gabe has also won Best Overall at NoVA 2011 this year. He exemplifies the 40K player that we are all striving to be and is the total package.

Not mentioned here but should be is Devin Schafer. Devin was battling it out on our top table with Kyle Cox for Best General. I know Devin previously from NoVA 2011 where he ended the tournament on table #2. To top it off, Devin was not on our top table with your traditional tournament list. he brought Eldar with only 3 vehicles and a unit of 10 Wraithguard. Because Gabe already has a ticket to the NoVA invitational, I have extended our next invitation to Devin.

Working with Rankings:

Attached is the Spreadsheet which shows the scores for all participants. Remember that in the NoVA format, you really need to look at things in terms of 4 separate "tracks".

Overall Tract - This is the Overall Score column. This combines your Sports, Appearance, and Battle Score. Your Battle Score also incorporate your OVERALL win/loss record. Sports, Appearance, and Battle Score all count as 33.33333% of your overall score.

Bracket Tract - Day #1 should be more considering as a preliminary or qualifier day. Day #2 then was your actual tournament bracket. Thus, your "place" within that bracket is determined first by your Bracket Win/Loss record and then by your Battle Score.

Your Bracket is intended to be consisting of your peers. Thus, your position in your bracket will tell you where you "rank" among your peers.

Sports Tract - This is your sports score in relation to everyone else. Your score is the sum of all the points awarded to you by your opponents. So, if all of your opponents gave you a "6", the top value, you would have scored a 36.

Appearance Tract - This is your army appearance score. It is based entirely off the NoVA rubric. We had 2 judges calculate your Overall Score, Best Mini, and Best Conversion. The average of those two judges' opinions become you score. Your Overall was then multiplied by 2. Thus, the top possible score is 400 points.

A lot of people will want to know.... well what place did I come in?

THERE IS NO SUCH AS PLACE. Get it out of your head. :)

What there is only your position in one of the 4 above tracts. Remember, because of the Day 2 bracketing system, you were no longer in competition with the ENTIRE room at the start of day 2 in terms of the Best General prize.

Also, if you were in our top bracket, your games were naturally harder than had you have been in Bracket 4. This is why your battle score is probably lower than people in other bracikets.

The best way to describe your "position" in terms of generalship is like this:

Your Day 2 bracket is full of your peers. First, compare your W/L then your Battle Score. That will show you have you rate versus your peers.

People who were not in your bracket did not qualify in the same position as you. In some sense, you could consider that they did not "place" as high as you. Although, this isn't technically true. I would wager that our Bracket #1 winner could have competed just fine in Bracket #0. :)

So, if you wanted to use that sort of rating to determine your "place" in terms of generalship, sort like this:

First by Bracket, Second by W/L, Third by Battle Score.

I have included a copy of the excel spreadsheet sorted in this manner.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #5

Henchmen Builds and Weaknesses

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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #4

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.

Armor 12+

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….

Short Range

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Defeating the Beast: Fighting Grey Knights Article #3

This is Part 3 of a series.


The third common type of Grey Knight list is the Draigowing. The concept behind this list is to leverage the Paladin’s uniqueness as a rock style unit and of course, Draigo. These types of lists will focus on getting you to focus on Paladins. From there, the actual goal should be to claim objectives or win on kill points. This list was really made famous by Blackmoor’s performance at the NoVA 2011, but there are key reasons for that which I covered in another article. In general, to think about defeating a Draigowing, the worst mistake you can make is assume that the general “this is how you beat a rock list” strategies are all that apply. There is some common wisdom there, but Draigowing’s bring a lot more to the table than the standard rock style list.

An optimized Draigowing will look something like this:



Librarian (Shrouding, Might of Titan, Sanctuary)


10 x Paladins w/ 4 psycannons, and a smattering of swords, halbreds, hammers, and master crafted-ness for wound allocation.

A couple 5 man strike squads or a 10 man or so.


Techmarine w/ Rad, Psybrokes (optional here)


10 x Interceptors (Blackmoor wisely chose this unit and I think they are great for this list, but not necessarily common)


2-3 x Psybolt Dreads for long range support.

First, to briefly analyze the list, let’s analyze some of the key elements this list brings as well as the Grey Knight strengths that it leverages. First, with so few squads, Draigo’s Grand Strategy will be good to make something like Interceptors an additional scoring unit if needed. Otherwise, the ability is just marginally useful and is a Red Herring as described. The Librarian, however, is almost a requirement. The reason is psychic defense, Shrouding, and Might of Titan. Clearly, the biggest weakness of a Paladin is the lack of a 3++ like other Terminators. Shrouding will fix this against shooting attacks so long as the Paladins are in cover. Might of Titan also shores up another big weakness which is potentially getting bogged down by Dreadnoughts or other walkers. Yes, the Paladins can Hammerhand up to S10 with hammers, but they still only get 2 attacks, and that doesn’t strike fear at all into a Venerable Dreadnought.

The most self-defeating thing you can do is say, “oh this is just another newb rock list.” This list actually leverages some true GK strengths that other rocks cannot. For starters, the 4 Psycannons. How many rock units bring a set of guns that are almost guaranteed to take down a Land Raider at 24 inches? How many rock units can lay down that plus 6 Storm Bolters in anti-infantry defense and before they charge another rock unit? How many rock units can wound allocate an ENTIRE squad without spending a ridiculous amount of points?

Not only can Paladins dominate most units in assault, they can out-shoot most units as well. And lastly, the wisdom in taking the 10 man squads is because you can always combat squad in objective games, but in KP games, you can deny KP like crazy.

This type of list leverages the Paladin, Anti-Hammer/Counter-Assault, and Duality as great strength. It also packs in a lot of very noticeable weaknesses like lack of fearless, ability to be double-tapped out, etc. The problem that I always see though is that it’s easy to “arm-chair general” those weaknesses, but people don’t actually put thought into their list to actually accomplish those goals.

Henchmen MSU

Similar to Grey Knight MSU, Henchmen MSU leverages similar principles but does so using the extremely points efficient henchmen squads. In my opinion, these are the most devastating and optimized Grey Knight lists for the meta. These lists will look something like this:



Libby or GM or OXI or even OXM w/ Terminator Armor


1-3 Venerable Psybolt Dreads

1-3 5 x Purifier Squads w/ Rhinos or Psybacks + 2 Psycannons


1-2 Squads of Death Cultists + Crusaders (potential)

1-2 Servitor Squads in Chimeras with Multi-Meltas, Plasma, etc. (depends on # of inquisitors)

3-4 Warrior Acolyte Squads w/ Psybacks ranging for 12 point 3 man squads to Melta Squads to Storm Bolter Squads

0-3 Storm Chickens

0-2 Interceptors


2-3 Psybolt Dreads

0-1 Land Raiders

Now, I don’t say “makes the best GK lists” lightly. The reason why I’m really saying this is because, outside of Paladins, these lists leverage every Grey Knight strength. It packs in vehicle spam with Psybacks, leveraging Fortitude, it packs in Psybolt Dreads, combined packing in a more than average amount of anti-vehicle and anti-infantry fire, and Death Cultists/Purifiers make for a crazy good counter-assault element. Let’s face it, this is like running Imperial Guard except in an alternate dimension where Ogyrns are Terminators killing machines.

The other thing about this list is that since so little points is put into any one unit, you can continuously pack in more and more units. For example, Acolyte squads are so cheap, you could easily see lists containing 9-10 Psybacks and still have 3 Psybolt Dreads. Or, you could easily see a list containing 6 Psybacks and 6 Psybolt Dreads AND still have enough Death Cultists in it to swat aside any assault unit.

The big thing to notice about this kind of list, though, is that it, like Imperial Guard, is entirely reliant on its vehicles. Take down the vehicles, and they have a problem. Recently, I’ve been getting a chuckle out of the idea that Tau are actually a good match-up for this kind of list, and it’s true! Think about how much damage 9 Broadsides with Target Locks would do to this list!

Also, as an aside, the worst plan EVER is to assume you are just going to march up there with a bunch of Terminators like you can with Guard and stomp face. Death Cult Assassins, even in small numbers, backed up by Hammerhand, will utterly annihilate you. You will have to think outside the box.

Notice the lack of AP 2. Notice the lack of Melta. Notice the lack of units. These are the things to focus on which we will in our continued discussion.

Putting it all Together

So, now, I’ve covered the 4 basic GK list archetypes. Honestly, the only other type of list you will likely see are simply non-optimized versions of these lists. You might see something like BIG Purifier squads or multiple small Paladin units. If you plan to beat these more optimized versions, those lists shouldn’t be much of a threat.

So, hopefully your mind is in the right spot now when considering your way forward. Here are some key points to trigger off of when building your lists to take into account the Grey Knight scourge:

1) Do you have an actual plan in your list for Paladins? To kill them? Ignore them? Stall them? Not an arm-chair general plan, but A PLAN.

2) Can you safely ignore or deal with 6-9 Psybacks in cover, with fortitude without having your lunch money taken? Makes those Razorspam lists not look so good doesn’t it?

3) If you are relying on a few vehicles, do you have an answer to shut down Psybolt Dreadnoughts QUICKLY?

4) Can you beat a Mech Guard list that has the most broken, over-powered assault unit in the game to back it up? (Hint: stop trying to use Hammer lists. They don’t work :P)

5) Did you bring any Psychic defense?

Here’s a Black Templar list I really badly want to build. I’ll explain why I think it would be great for the current GK Heavy scene. I’m not completely satisfied with the list yet, but I wanted to share the direction I am going with it as it pertains to this conversation.


Marshall + LCs + Terminator Armor + SS + Tank Hunters – 370

4 x Terminator Command Squad + 2 x Cyclone Missile Launchers + Tank Hunters

Emperor’s Champion – With Uphold or Suffer Not


5 x Terminators + 2 x Cyclones + Tank Hunters – 265

5 x Terminators + 2 x Cyclones + Tank Hunters - 265

5 x Terminators + 2 x Cyclones + Tank Hunters - 265


5 x Crusaders + Multi-Melta – 90

5 x Crusaders + Multi-Melta - 90

5 x Crusaders + Multi-Melta - 90

5 x Crusaders + Plasma Cannon – 100

5 x Crusaders + Plasma Cannon - 100

And more points to go probably into either another command squad or Drop Pods/Rhinos for the troop choices. Maybe 3 Land Speeders. Etc.

So, why would I want this to play Grey Knights with?

First, this list brings 16 S9 anti-vehicle shots. S9 means Dreadnought killing and Razorback smashing. The shots are also dispersed across multiple infantry squads which are packing a 2+ save. This basically means that I will be able to out-shoot most GK vehicle heavy lists, and I am bringing a ridiculous amount of fire power to overwhelm cover + fortitude.

This list does not attempt to assault. It attempts to “out last” the enemy at range. Thus, I don’t need to sweat the counter-assault potential of a GK list. You want some? Come and get it because I’m not coming to get my face chewed off by Death Cultists or Purifiers.

If it has to fight a Hammer style list, it can easily bust up Land Raiders and Storm Chickens at range, and if I have to tango with a Dreadnought, S9 Power Fists FTW. Possibly, if I take Uphold, it’s Preferred Enemy S9 Power Fists. If I take Suffer Not, that’s S10 Power Fists.

Against Paladins, I have a veritable cornucopia of S8+ shooting. Just with this concept list, 19 shots with more to come when the list is done. So, I can trade shots with them for a couple of turns to soften them up to either make them hit less hard or eventually to assault big with a bunch of Powerfists once they are whittled down.

What I wish I had in this list is some psychic defense. But, Templar can’t have that. I also wish I had some more resiliency in my Troop choices. That may come with points though in the form of Rhinos, melta guns, Drop Pods, etc.

Can this list beat Guard? Absolutely. It will outshoot Guard off the table.

Now, that’s just an example of the kind of thinking that you need to be having. In the next few articles, I’m going to dive into every Codex and discuss the types of lists that will stack up well versus GK or give you the honest truth if your dex doesn’t have a prayer.