So I thought I would start my first series of articles with the aspect of 40k I know most about. The Grey Knights.
I will work through the different force organisation chart slots, analysing the different units strengths, weaknesses, value for points and possible tactics for those units.
In this post I will start with the pure Grey Knights named character HQ slots and will analyse the generic Grey Knights and Inquisition elements in other posts.
Lord Kaldor Draigo.
The poster boy of the new codex, Draigo has a good statline, able to to dish out the pain to MEQs but lacking the number of attacks to tackle hordes. His 3++ and eternal warrior also make him very survivable.
But other than a beatstick, what does the Supreme Grandmaster give us for his price tag?
He comes with a neat psychic template attack designed to tackle daemons but nothing special because his psychic powers are better served activating his force weapon and casting hammerhand. His sword strikes at st10 when in combat with a daemon or psyker, this can be useful for causing instant death without having to go through psychic defense . The most important ability though, is making paladins troops choices.
This special rule has led to whole paladin armies termed 'draigowing' and is the source of most of his cost.
Grand strategy is a bag of utility he as well, but a regular grandmaster also has access to it. Draigowing in particular, however, benefits massively from being able to make more troops choices based on the mission at hand. This overcomes a significant weakness of having incredibly expensive troops choices and hence often few scoring units.
Draigo is best used in conjunction with a paladin squad. The synergies between the two are vital to making a successful unit. Draigo can absorb anti-tank fire aimed at the paladins which is necessary for your paladins to survive. If you're not bringing a unit of paladins to the table, then draigos points are better spent else where.
If you're bringing multiple units of paladins however, I think you would be better served with a librarian because the protection draigo brings is limited to a single squad at a time. Or, if you have the points, draigo can be used successfully in conjunction with a librarian but this is a very costly investment often weighing in at about 500 points.
Grand Master Modrak.
Modrak has a set of rules that are best used within a specific army build. His ability to deepstrike first turn without scatter is a powerful tool and because his ghostly bodyguard have the stealth USR this unit can be failry robust.
Like Draigo, Modrak is a fairly good beatstick with four attacks and a daemonhammer but it is his ability to take a retinue and hide within it, replenishing his extra wounds that make him better in combat than a standard Grand Master.
The first turn deepstrike can be powerful but only if it is supported correctly. Often, the case is that the army needs to be built around modrak so that he does not become isolated close to the enemy lines. Interceptor squads, stormravens and personal teleporter dreadknights are the best units to use in conjunction with Modrak because they have the speed to support his aggressive deepstrike before he gets overwhelmed.
The need to include these units in the army is mitigated by the grand strategy, since you don't need to worry about spending points on a full complement of troops units.
Modrak is a more powerful Grand Master but also forces your army to play in a certain way in order to be fully effective. You are forced to build your army around his 'First to the Fray' rule or else you would be better served with a regular Grand Master. His ability to replenish his bodyguard whenever he is wounded is cute but cannot be trusted on to win you a game.
In order to be successful with playing modrak aggressively many people attach other characters to the squad. A librarian with the summoning power is often the choice flaunted as the best choice, but the summoning is an incredibly risky power so is probably not the best choice. Draigo is another possible option because of his capacity as a close combat beast but spending the points for modrak and his ghoulies comes in as enough to buy a decently sized paladin squad with twice the survivability and better combat performance, so draigo is not a good choice either. To increase the effectiveness of first to the frey, I suggest either a bare bones brotherhood champion or a techmarine tooled out with grenades and a stave. Both options drastically increase the squads effectiveness in close combat whilst not being massive points sinks if things go against you.
Garran Crowe is the brotherhood champion of the purifier order and as such, has most of the benefits of a regular brotherhood champion whilst also unlocking purifiers as troops choices.
Purifiers are one of the strongest troops choices in the game as a whole, so naturally a lot of people take crowe just to utilise that ability.
Crowe's other special rules are very limitting so that he is not an 'auto inclusion'.
For starters, Crowe is not an independent character and therefore cannot join squads. This makes the brotherhood champion buffing rules useless.
Next, instead of a nemesis weapon he has a 4+ rending daemonsword that he doesn't use to its potential. This is useful for damaging vehicles but other than that is not as good as a nemesis force sword which would increase his 4++. In addition to this, the blade of antwyr buffs your opponents units when they charge him.
This special rule is ridiculous if you try and use Crowe in a conventional manner.
The combination of these rules has led to the inclusion of crowe to be known as a tax, simply to be able to have purifiers as troops.
Even in these lists though, Crowe must still be used and he has some utility.
Crowe is an an assassin. March him up to your opponents biggest and most nasty unit let him die and take his close combat monster with you. Crowe's high weapon skill makes it likely that you will hit your opponent on a 3+ and only psychic defences will drastically reduce your odds of taking something with you. To get him there you will need to play skilfully so that he does not get shot off the board before he gets there. Make use of cover and of threat saturation so that your opponent does not shoot him.
If you are playing against an army with no real combat presence, like guard or tau, or an army with nothing that could be considered a 'combat monster', then Crowe must be used in a more subtle way.
He can be used to put the hurt on 'normal' squads, like tacs or other standard troops; or he can be used as a tarpit. Getting him there is the problem. To do this, you can hide him behind a rhino or razorback. His banner does not count for line of sight so with some careful placement your opponent won't be able to target him, but be careful of your opponent exploding his cover!
If neither of the above are an option then the best thing to do with Crowe, is to hide him. Put him in a spare transport. Hide him at the back of the board behind some terrain. Do anything to avoid your opponent getting a free kill point. But remember, this is a last resort. He can be used in better ways than this, but against a leafblower list or a standard competitive tau list and in a kill points mission, he serves better not dying.
The perfect warrior stances and cleansing flame will be analysed in the brotherhood champion and purifier reviews respectively.
Brother Captain Arvann Stern
The anomaly or the special characters. Stern doesn't really bring an awful lot.
He has the stats of a brother captain, a special psychic power and the ability to re-roll one dice per phase.
Zone of Banishment is an interesting power, forcing any models within d6" of stern to pass a strength test or die. This includes your own models.
So if you want to use this power, then you need to run stern on his own or risk losing your own manz. If he is on his own, stern has a big fat cross-hair on his head saying, 'instant death me'.
The re-roll ability can be very useful but the fact that your opponent gets to re-roll one dice for every one you re-roll, limits its uses because any benefits you may get are just as likely to pass on to your opponent.In addition, your opponent is not limited to one dice per phase, rather to the amount of dice you re-roll. So he can choose to use all of the re-rolls you use in the same phase. So for all your trouble, you give your opponent a more powerful ability than you get yourself.
And for these two abilities you pay an extra 50 points over a regular brother captain! Now, brother captains aren't the best choices but a brother captain that is more expensive than a grand master? No thanks!
Stern should be limited to purely fluffy lists as there are vastly more cost effective and powerful HQ choices.
So that's it for the named HQs, some very good choices and some not so good choices, but interesting choices all the same! Draigo and Crowe open up unique list building options whilst modrak necessitates the list be built around him. Stern does not fit in with the others and is a bit of an odd-ball choice.
Comments welcome as always and if you have any suggestions on what could be added to this review then I'd be happy to look at them.