I, like a million other gamers it seems, am looking to build a genestealer cult army. This army just appeals to me on so many levels: lore, models, rules – the fact that genestealers are actually functional now. Due to the insane cost of the hybrid/metamorph box (basically $1 a point here in Canada!) I’m being very methodical about what exactly I want to buy and how the army works before I start selling various organs to make this happen.
In the meantime however, I do have a ton of genestealers languishing in their foam collecting dust. One of the units that is most improved with the new book are genestealers of course, and I do have an easy to incorporate formation to my existing Tyranid army – The First Curse.
The new cult genestealers are the same point cost as before, but now sport a 5++ invulnerable save, stealth and come with three attacks stock. This may not seem spectacular to those who’ve never played stealers before (I’m raving about a 5++ after all) but previously you died with no saves whatsoever to bolters. You know, the most common weapon in the game. Nevermind what flamers did to you when you finally did (theoretically) attempt that charge. Stealth and that extra attack are just icing on the cake!
Now with the first curse formation, you’re also getting furious charge due to the Patriarch and a super happy random fun chart (thanks GW) which gives some pretty spectacular bonuses, including a 4+ armor save, rage, preferred enemy, grenades or poison! Cult ambush (yay for random charts!) and return to the shadows means the unit is never truly out of position unless you roll a 1, and with return to the shadows this is easily rectified. So with this formation you’re required to take 20 stealers with the Patriarch (like you wouldn’t anyways!) and it’s really not very point intensive to do so. The upgrade to level 2 for the Patriarch isn’t technically mandatory, but you’d be crazy not to. Likewise a couple familiars is a very cheap and good buy.
What does this give a Tyranid player?
- Board control. Sure it’s only on a 6 that it happens on a 6 with cult ambush, but just knowing that this could be a possibility is going to scare your opponent just a bit. No one wants a Patriarch and 20 genestealers popping up 3 inches away and charging a unit.
- The ability to reposition to grab late game objectives. Return to the shadows is very powerful, especially in objective games. Being able to remove your unit to automatically come in the next turn with cult ambush wherever you want them can hold or clear an objective pretty easily. If you’re worried about that late game “1” on cult ambush, keep an objective near your board edge.
- Tough character removal. Challenges are not an issue for the Patriarch at all as they’re allowed to Look Out Sir even in challenges. The weight of rending attacks can easily bring down very resilient close combat threats and the uber characters getting tied up with the very dangerous Patriarch, who shrugs off any incoming attacks to the squad with the invulnerable save.
- Access to good psychic powers. Sure catalyst doesn’t work on the first curse as they’re somehow not Tyranids anymore thanks to Allies of Convenience, but Broodmind powers are amazing. The primarus alone can be a game changer – WC 1 to reduce WS/BS/I AND Attacks by 1? A power that gives +1 Strength and Rage? Yes please! Seriously, upgrade to mastery level 2.
Testing the Theory
I had a chance to test out the theory this past weekend in a couple of games. I took a first curse formation and a combined arms detachment of Tyranids – double flyrant, malanthrope, gaunts, spores, a couple units of dakka fexes and a tyrannofex in a pod.
Basically wanted to test out if the First Curse was a benefit to my standard nid list, or should I just keep a hive fleet leviathan detachment for the third flyrant and a few odds and ends instead.
Well I have to tell you that the formation did not disappoint.
In my first game I faced orks. My opponent had a buzzgob stompa (the half price forgeworld one!), two units of truck mounted tank bustas, couple beefy loota squads, some meganobs and a big bike deathstar with painboy, warboss and that forgeworld bike boss with the at initiative power claw.
I rolled the fabled 6 when it was time for the first curse to come in and ripped the deathstar to shreds before it could swing. The orks only had a couple models left, broke the unit and ran it down with ease. After some retaliation casualties it returned to the shadows while the stompa bore down on their previous location. Sure then when they returned from cult ambush and rolled the dreaded 1 and got annihilated by said stompa – but they held it up at least and removed some hull points so still served a very good purpose.
Second game was vs. deathwatch with some dudes in pods, some sniper marines on an objective, a dread in a pod, a scary deathstar in landraider (it was deathstar day I guess) and one of those fancy cool flyers. With the first curse able to meet the deathstar head on once it disembarked I just didn’t have to devote any of my other units to try to deal with something they just weren’t able to deal with effectively.
The first curse is just a really good answer vs. deathstars. They hit first and with all those rending attacks, they don’t really care if you’re a necron wraith, TH/SS terminator, or tooled up character. It’s just a mass of forced saves that have the potential to carve armor as well.
At least at first run, they do exactly what they’re supposed to do, and have outperformed every other time I’ve fielded genestealers.
Given stealers are my favourite Tyranid unit (the other being warriors – yes, this has been a rough go for me these last few years!) I’m very excited that the stealer is back, and they are most definitely something to be feared on the tabletop again!
…now if I can just figure out a way to sell this extra kidney on the black market I’ll be able to afford those hybrids.