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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.