Wednesday, 27 April 2011

40k: Grey Knights Review Part 1- The Lords of Titan

Ahoyhoy internets, DaveHowitzer here with the first of the promised articles on the shiney ones themselves - the Grey Knights. Today we're starting right at the beginning and looking at the neumerous HQ options featured in the GK codex and discussing their merits on the tabletop. So here we go!

Lord Kaldor Draigo
"Slayin' Daemons, like a boss"

Draigo is a monster put plainly and simply. He comes with an upgraded Grand Master statline which is fairly nasty in the first place -he's running about with WS 7, T5 and 4 attacks & wounds man!- He's running along with Terminator armour, a Storm Shield, the usual complement of GK Termy grenades and a storm bolter like most of the book is with some shiney extras. Mastery level 2 is nice with being able to use his unique power, Sanctified Flame -basically a heavy flamer with no AP- and charge in using the Titansword as a force weapon or casting Hammerhand in combat. The Titansword is nice, a MC force weapon with Daemonbane that resolves attacks against a unit with a Daemon or Psyker in it as S10, but it would be better if it counted as a Nemesis Force Sword that was MC and had the cool S10 bit, although is a 2+/2++ in combat fair? Probably not. Eternal warrior is here, along with Fearless and the Grand Strategy rule from the GK GM entry, but we'll get into that later. Finally with the Lord of Titan rule, he makes Paladin Terminators troops, which is interesting, but with the lack of option for Storm Shields, they are far more squishy than other Terminator builds. The option for Psybolt ammo would have been nice, making that bog standard Storm Bolter a bit more mean, but you can't have it all.

All in all Draigo is a good choice, very combat centric. You really need to stick him that unit of Paladins in a Crusader if you intend to use him in a CC capacity (which you will) in order to make sure he reaches his target. At 275 points he's a heavy points sink, but he really is a monster, with a great statline, Grand Strategy and one of the most survivable saves in the book (2+/3++). I think he's a solid choice if you really want to be doing Draigowing or a combat centered GK army, -that would be a poor idea...- but for the Grey Knights' bread and butter; performing extremely well in the midfield; there are better choices.

Grand Master Mordrak

Mordrak is the guy Scooby Doo runs away from, purely and simply. He has an upgraded GM statline and all the "usual refinements" in Terminator Armour, grenades, Iron Halo, Grand Strategy etc, with a MC Nemesis Daemon Hammer. Not too shabby. His special rules are more funky than the 70's:
First into the Fray is pretty shwing, it allows Mordrak and his unit to deep strike automatically onto the field T1 without scattering, which is extremely useful -allowing that pin-point accurate deep strike to where Mordrak and his bodyguard need to be.
Ghostly Bodyguard is kinda cool and funky, it allows Mordrak to be accompanied by a unit of "Ghost Knights" -essentially a unit of GK Terminators that don't take up a force org slot- that vanish should Mordrak die. Further when Mordrak takes a wound, if the controlling player rolls under his remaining wounds on a D3, another Ghost is generated in the unit.

Mordrak is a cool option to take, I wouldn't say in a regular game I'd have him over a normal GM, but there's definately some utility to be had with First Into the Fray...I mean who want's a unit of Ghost Terminators up in your grill T1...certainly not the Scooby gang.
Brother Captain Stern

I also never figured why he was shooting the ground...
Finally a familiar face and a familiar sense of sheer failure. Oh Stern, your fluff is so badass, why do you persist at being shocking! Brother Captain Stern comes in at 200 points (50 more than a standard Brother Captain by the way folks) with the bog standard BC statline and wargear. Like all ICs he has no options for extra bling (I'm looking at you Servo-Skulls and Rad Grenades) but surely he must have some super bling special stuff and psychic powers right? RIGHT?!.......Wrong

The Strands of Fate:- This rule is as much of a hindrance as it is a help. It allows Stern to re-roll one To Hit, To Wound or Saving throw per phase of the game but at the cost of allowing the enemy player to do the same an equal number of times. Had this been on a 150pt character I don't think it would have been an issue, but realistically, paying this many points for a double edged sword...nah.

Zone of Banishment is anteresting, kinda like Holocaust's bigger brother (from the 3rd ed Daemonhunters book). Instead of making his normal attacks in combat, Stern can opt to use this psychic power in the assault phase, casting a D6 inch wide circle around him where any model (friend and foe except Stern himself) must take a strength test, which if failed causes the model to be removed from the game. I see some utility in this, especially against hordes, however this means that to use this without Stern blowing up his own guys (which will more than likely be Terminators or Paladins) he really needs to be assaulting by himself.

All things considered, I don't think Stern is worth 50 more points than a standard Brother Captain. For those points you are getting a standard character statline with bog standard equipment (not even a master crafted weapon!) and 2 special rules that are less than inspiring. In my view folks, give the good Captain a miss.

Castellan Crowe

Man I love Crowe for so many reasons, I wish ANY of the lists I have written so far included him. First and foremost, look at that model. LOOK AT IT. It's gorgeous! Furthermore, his fluff is cool and Purifiers are cool. Yes the interwebs find him incredibly uncool. Let's find out why;
Crowe is essentially what you get it you cross a Purifier and a Brotherhood Champion on steroids. For 150pts you get a Brotherhood Champion with WS 8 and I 6 (shwing), Cleansing Flame, (shaawiiiing) Rending attacks that rend on a 4+ (double shwing) and Purifiers as troops (SHAAAWIIIIIING). This comes at the price of Crowe being the only Grey Knight without a Nemesis Force Weapon and a super combat nerf that we will discuss in a moment in the form of the Blade of Antwyr and finally -most annoyingly- Crowe is not an Independant Character.

The Blade of Antwyr...why GW...why? This is a truely horrid rule. In essense, it boils down to the ENEMY getting Furious Charge and re-roll To Hits when assaulting Crowe. Yeah...

Master Swordsman almost makes up for the shocker above by giving Crowe's attacks the Rending special rule on the roll of a 4 or more To Wound, which isn't too bad.

Now let's discuss the idea that has been roaming the internet about the "Crowe Tax", the idea that taking Crowe is a necessary evil in order to take Purifiers as troops -he is perhaps seen as a free kill point to the enemy or a worthless 150pts spent on an HQ that does nothing. Well folks, think again. We have to think of Crowe in a different role from the rest of the Gk army, the midfiled holding power armour. Crowe does not perform in the midfield full stop. His lack of IC status means he has no "bodyguard" to soke up wounds and (more importantly) has no access to a dedicated transport. So we must use him in a different way.

Crowe should be played as a backfield "minder" or in simple terms a counter assault unit to intercept deepstrikers or outflankers/scounts who are nearing a friendly held objective. Crowe hides near the objective until the enemy closes in, which eliminates the weakness of being on his own, and then springs on them with an assault. He is more than capable of taking down masses of enemies with a devastating combo of Cleansing Flame and Sword Storm, and can put up a good show against Wolf Lords on TWs with Rapier Strike, Rending and if worst comes to worst Heroic Sacrifice.

To conclude the first section of our look at the Grey Knights codex, we see that our named Space Marine characters are remarkably balanced in comparison to other books thus far. there aren't as many shiney tricks as perhaps BA or SW but is that really a bad thing when we consider what we are getting in terms of bang for our buck? For me the only real stinker in terms of named GK characters thus far is Stern, who I felt really let the book down.

Next time, a look at our generic Astartes HQ choices, then a look at Inquisitors!

Until then stay safe and happy gaming!

Love, Dave

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