Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PGK Reflections

So I've been playing quite a few games with Grey Knights and I have some vital battlefield experience to share.  This will be a semi-battle report in addition to a full blown analysis of the units I've played with lately.

I played a game with a all termie list last night and I wasn't too happy with their performance.  Small model count and terminator armies always suffer from bad rolling.  Not saying that my rolling was terribad, but it was mediocre.  Mediocre is not allowed in army with only 27 models.  As most of you know, 40K is a wound saturation game.  You shoot something enough, force enough armor saves and no matter how amazing you are, you will die.  Terminators suffer from this problem.

Last night's game was against CSM and I was playing with 2x 10x units of Terminators and a unit of 7x Paladins.  The task force was led by a Grand Master w/ Psycannon and a Librarian with a bunch of skulls scattered around the battlefield.  At the end of the game, I drew a pretty conclusive analysis of the battle:

  • Low model count and average rolls is NOT OK.  You might make 7 armor saves one round and think you're pretty badass, but when you fail 4 on each squad of Termies in 1 round of enemy shooting you'll quickly think overwise.
  • Grey Knight Terminators are very badass indeed, but when you're looking at ~50ppm (due to upgrades) with 5+ invuls and nothing better, this forces one strict policy:  Be in cover or die.  A squad of enemy CSM Termies let loose with a crap-ton of Combi-Plasma and I lost 6 guys, just like that.
  • Cover is needed to keep Terminators alive from shooting, but cover also drastically reduce their ability to move around the battlefield and help score.
  • DS is good, but it should not be relied on.  The fact that my Paladins arrived on the bottom of Turn 5 is testament to this:  I rolled a 3 on 2nd turn, a 2 on 3rd, 1 on 4th and spewed tears on 5th.  Sure, you can argue that the GM should of been on board to call down his Paladins, but how do you determine which squad he's attached to comes down in time?  Ideally, there would of been a building located somewhere towards the middle that blocked all LoS and I could of used Psychic Communion to call down his battle-brothers.  This is good strategy, but definitely not guaranteed that the battlefield will be setup this way (and it was not).
  • It's not cool when the only units you have come down in piecemeal, giving your opponent the opportunity to saturate one unit at a time.  This results in a lot of dead heroes.
  • The elite of the elite suffer from all kinds of bad rolls.  It doesn't matter if you're rolling to aim, wound or assault, if you roll subpar, you will suffer greatly next round because there's just not enough targets/bodies.
  • Although the game ended in a draw, I can definitely say that Terminator lists suffer at objective-based missions where you simply don't have enough bodies at the end of the game.

Even though my Terminators didn't impress me, one thing's for damn sure:

The game changed when the Paladins hit the field, again.  Saturation of damage was neutralized by having 2W with FNP and my Paladins soaked up entire turns of damage while remaining intact.  Wound allocation played a big part because I wasn't afraid to allocate stray wounds onto my GM and Libby just to reduce wounds on the squad.  When the Paladins charged units, enemy units died.  When enemy units charged them, they fell like water on rock.  My shots remained true from MC Psycannons and enemy walkers and vehicles were smashed asunder by faithful Daemonhammers.

But enough about Terminators and Paladins, let's talk about PGK in general:

Rifleman Dreads with Psybolt Ammo help fill a huge gap in the PGK army, just like your faithful TLLC/ML Dreads from 3rd.  The reason is simple:  Between the ranges of 24" and 48", you have virtually nothing that can silence enemy guns.  That means Razorbacks, Defilers, Leman Russ or any kind of long range firepower can tear through your expensive models without fear or retaliation.  DSing into the enemy line with Terminators can be viable, but bad reserve rolls and scatters can play a huge factor in how you can execute the strategy.  With that said, I highly recommend Rifleman Dreads w/ Psybolts in most GK army lists.

PAGK will continue to be the workhorse of your army.  This can be either in the form of Purifiers made troops, Interceptors made scoring or standard GKSS.  If you have a unit of 10 guys, Psybolt Ammo is preferred.  If you don't, you don't need it at all.  Purifiers can go either aggressive with Incinerators, defensive with Psycannons or cheap mid-field with just Halberds and Psybolts.  Interceptors can be good at dealing damage and putting out wounds, but their cost is still prohibitive in where they'll go in most army lists.  Last but surely not least, GKSS will be the driving force of most GK lists imo.  10 dudes with 2 Psycannons in a Rhino with Psybolts and a Justicar with a MC DH costs 295 points.  Sure, they're definitely expensive compared to most troop choices in the game, but this unit is perfectly capable of tackling anything in the game.    This includes big MCs, AV14, GEQ, MEQ and everything else.

Keep in mind one thing though, and this is something that EVERY player should keep in mind everytime you play with/against Grey Knights.  No matter what, aside from the Paladins, PAGK and GKT are just regular Marines.  GKT play exactly the same as standard Terminators (the ones w/ fists and stormbolters) and therefore, they are subject to the same weakness.  The same applies to PAGK (Purifiers, Interceptors, GKSS) because underneath all that beautifully decorated silver armor is the same Marine you've been killing for ages.

With that in mind, here are the facts:

  • A balanced list will always be better than a list focused on one thing.  This can be Purifier spam lists, Draigowings, Terminator heavy lists, it doesn't matter.  You want everything in your army to stay truly effective because it broadens the strengths of your army while scattering your weaknesses.  Imagine your army as a toolbox containing rock, paper and scissors.  It will be a hell of a lot more effective than a stack of paper vs. your opponent's scissor [unit].
  • Including weapons of all different calibers:  Rifleman Dreads that can shoot out from 48" and touch things with TL S8, 24" threat from Psycannon with S7 Rending, and a plentiful amount of Storm Bolters that can force wounds and chew up hordes.
  • Paladins is one of those units that will demand your opponent's respect.  Terminators will to a degree, but they don't really compare to 2W FNP models that can be outfitted and equipped to your heart's desire.  The only thing keeping these guys back from running the entire game is their points.  I think I'll run a unit of 5-10 in every list I make from here on after.  I have been impressed with their performance time and time again and I think these guys will single-handily change the way the game is played vs. Grey Knights, kinda like Orks and their Nob Bikers.  Can I kill Paladins?  Yes, then you've got yourself a competitive army.  If you can't, don't even bother competing.

More to come later...


Anonymous said...

One thing I've been curious about is, if you consider yourself a competitive gamer, why is it that you are restricting yourself to a PGK army? That steps into the realm of a fluffer/modeller rather than a competitive gamer. IMO inquisitors and henchmen are great as they cover the holes left by the GKs in terms of lack-of-wounds.

HERO said...

That's what I played when I first started the hobby; pure Grey Knights, no Inquisition or Henchmen or radical crazy stuff. It's fun, can be competitive and looks amazing on the table.

Anonymous said...

Haha fair enough :)
I'm still torn regarding the delivery device for Paladins. As you mentioned Deep Striking is not dependable (as it never is), but the other options are either too costly (Land Raider, Storm Raven), possibly going to be errata'ed (Chimera) or too slow (footslogging), leaving possibly, something like Summoning, which in itself is a Deepstrike.

How are you going to be using them going on in the future? Still going to deepstrike them?

jermy said...

What do you think of this 1850 list?

Grand Master
10 Purifiers-2 psycans, 4 halberds, 2 hammers
10 Purifiers-2 psycans, 4 halberds, 2 hammers
10 GKSS-2 psycans, halberd on champ
10 GKSS-2 psycans, halberd on champ
10 Interceptors-2 psycans, hammer on champ
10 Interceptors-2 psycans, hammer on champ
2 rhinos for purifiers

I didn't want to go too vehicle heavy and wanted to be PGK. Do you think it'll fair pretty well in pick-up games?


HERO said...

As for the DS issue, I still think thats your best bet. DS into cover if you need to, as getting that precious cover is definitely the best form of protection. As for what kind of transport options you should take, I really would keep them on foot because everything else is really costly.

As for Jermy, I would personally drop 1 of the Interceptor squads for some Rifledreads. The Purifiers are great in Rhinos, but I would definitely take 2 more Rhinos for those base GKSS squads.

Anonymous said...

HERO, first off, thanks a ton for all the advice. I a pretty new player and I am looking to get into the tournament scene, and I wrote this list and I am wondering what you think.

Librarian with 4 powers and tele homer 170

Grand master with blind and rad grenades 205

10 man unit of purifiers with 4 psycannons halberds and a mc deamonhammer 300

Stormraven 205

2 5 man strike squads with a psycannon 120 each

Dreadknight with heavy psycannon 170

7 man paladin unit with 2 mc psycannons mc deamonhammer 560

What do you think?

HERO said...

Not bad, a little worried for the small GKSS squads since they don't really have much protection. 5-man PAGK die pretty quick if not in a transport. Check the prices on some of your squads, they're a little off. And no, I can't write out costs for you :)

Anonymous said...

Ok thanks man! I can fiddle around with upgrade costs when I get the book :) also, the reason for the small strike squads was so I could fit more Killy stuff in :D l plan to just plop them in cover on an objective for bonus psycannon shots and then I can make other units scoring like the paladins and dreadknight.

Byron said...

Hero, great info as always; I really enjoy the read although I must admit I am a little radical in wanting to use PGK, mixed inq, and pure inq, but to each their own. Have you tried Paladins without the apoth upgrade? Also, I know you love the halberds (and I can't blame you there) but do you ever run 1 or 2 force swords in your paladin/termy groups? I would think the slightly better save in CC would be nice against other PW/PF and could aid in wound alocation shanagins with the paladins. Also, I haven't seen you post any info on the dreadknight yet. Are you simply refusing to proxy or just taking your time in implementing it? Same question with the purgation squads. Thanks, I'll probably be following up at work under anonymous.

Byron said...

Sorry, one final question, what's your view on the Venerable Dreads? I don't recall a distinction in the general tactica. Granted, the increased cost is substantial but BS 5 would be great with a "psycannon" (AC/psybolts) since it compensates for the lack of TL. Moreover, the ability to make the enemy reroll on the damage table can be down right scary when you have the ability to ignore both stunned and shaken results. Your thoughts?

HERO said...

Ven. Dreads w/ TLAC and Psybolts are great.. just expensive. I would fit some into my list, but as a PGK player, I'm always running tight on points. I have tried Paladins w/o the Apoth and they're still pretty good. Once you get to 5+ squads (~7), you want to take the Apoth; especially if you're taking HQs in the same unit. And no, I prefer killing my targets ahead of time with Halberds over waiting for armor saves.

I'm not a big fan of the Dreadknight because I think the models ugly. However, I do intend on getting a couple of games with him in the future (proxy of course) just to see what happens. He's kind of a predictable unit though.. as if you take him with a GM and Shunt pack, you immediately know what the trick's going to be.

Unknown said...

Thanks for some great info on how the GKs work now-a-days.

It is clear that terminator lists lack diversity, but even worse - they lack dependability. To get these types of lists to work, we really need to figure out how to utilize the GM's reserve-control ability better. I have never seen anyone use it, but heard a bunch of people complaining about late or scattered reserves.
Eldar players have learned to use the Autarch to control reserves, we need to figure out how to use the GM. In my book, it doesn't matter if you deploy late, but I will go a long way to avoid scattered deployment.

I think a turn 1 deployment of the GM, working the early game as deployment orchestrator, and once everything has been deployed, he is summoned to action by the Libby for mid-late games happy-slapping of foes... Perhaps the Libby is a bad choice... maybe an additional GM is the way to go. Double Grand Strategy, +-2 to reservers.

Furthermore I think we need to learn the art of unit screening, so that when we need to footslog in bad cover we can use cheap (...eehh cheaper) units for screening.
Finally - a terminator-list need diversions. Interceptors and to a lesser extend Teleporting NDKs are in my book perfect distractions. They can be immensly annoying, forcing the opponent to deal with them instead of the advancing terminators.

But... the main challenge is to get all of those 175 points working to its maximum on the GM. The rest is just gravy.

Food for thought!

Anonymous said...

Since for under 115 points you can have 2 inquisitors with psychic communion, wouldn't that be a fair trade off for a GM and a Libby; all reserves coming down on a 2+ for the rest of the game?

Anonymous said...

Just played my first game with the new codex and another guy played just about the same list as mine on the table next to us. Both of us had dreadnight, termies & SSGKs, plus some odds & ends. He really struggled against Orks & I tied against vanilla marines. All of HERO's advice and commentary turned out dead on. Great advice so far! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I agree that inquisitors are a cheaper way of getting communion, but you miss out on the great strategy and after doing the math, just one GM can significantly reduce the unpredictability of your deep strike. More than 60% will arrive on turn two, another 30% on turn 3, and the rest in turn 4. So using the GM you will have mopre than 90% of you deep strikers on field by turn 3.

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