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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Grey Knight Terminators Unit Analysis • Weapons Selection

This article is written for those players who are new to the army. This will probably be obvious to people who have already been playing Grey Knights (GK) for some reasonable period of time. I think it's good to release a mix of tactical articles aimed at the various levels of experience. Also it never hurts to touch upon the basics from time to time. Hopefully some of the information presented will be helpful for more experienced players.

This article discusses which weapons (melee and shooting) are the best choices for Grey Knight terminators. A lot of this can be applied to Paladins but i opted to forgo including them in the analysis in an attempt to keep the article more succinct. This is all based upon my experience playing pure GK TDA (tactical dreadnaught armor - an old GW term for terminator armor) armies.

Your choices are as follows:

• Nemesis force sword (+1 invulnerable save in melee) NFS
• Nemesis force halberd (+2 initiative) NFH
• Pair of Nemesis force falchions (+1 attack) NFF
• Nemesis daemonhammer (basic strength is doubled plus initiative drops to I1) NDH
• Nemesis warding stave (2++ invulnerable save in melee) NWS
• Brotherhood Banner (all models in the unit gain +1 attack and Nemesis force weapons are automatically activated, including any characters attached to the squad, though this still requires a successful psychic test) BB

Grey Knight terminators (GKT) come standard with the Nemesis force sword. Halberds and daemonhammers are free in exchange for the sword. Falchions cost 5 points per model for the upgrade. The warding stave costs 20 points. The Brother Banner costs 25 points and the model loses it force weapon in exchange.

I thought GKT were an awful unit when I first read the new codex then I came to realize they are currently one of the best troops in the game (in my opinion of course). Basically you have the options available to build squads that are I6/S5 with two base attacks per model, ignores armor saves in melee and have an invulnerable save !! The basic 5++ invulnerable save might not sound like that much but think of it this way - you will save one terminator for every three invulnerable saves taken. I have learned from playing dark eldar that a 5++ invulnerable save (i.e., flickerfield) is pretty darn good. The 2+ armor save is great as well (obviously) - simply count the number of times you roll a 2 in any game for all your armor saves and you'll see exactly what I mean.

I arm my squads as follows for every five terminators including the Justicar:

— 3x halberd & stormbolter
— 1x daemonhammer & stormbolter
— 1x halberd & psycannon

I think that the halberds and daemonhammers are the best choices for melee. They are both free !!

Nemesis Force Halberds
I6 is a big advantage for five man squads versus dedicated enemy melee units such as Berzerkers. Generally you will hit first and if you successfully cast Hammerhand the halberds are S5. Hammerhand is a psychic power that grants +1 strength - this is added to the basic strength so daemonhammers are S10 (i.e., 2xS5 versus 2xS4 + 1). Halberds ensure that versus lower initiative units you'll strike first and reduce the total number of enemy attacks in return. Halberds are also help versus I6 enemy units such as genestealers and wyches since they are not hitting first in melee and thus not reducing your total number of attacks as well.

Nemesis Daemonhammers
The daemonhammer is extremely useful versus enemy units such as Thunderwolf cavalry and Warbosses since S10 inflicts Instant Death on T5 and lower toughness units. Daemonhammers are also great versus enemy armor, especially landraiders and Monoliths ! As outlined above I like to take one daemonhammer per every five terminators.

Other Melee Weapons
At first when the new codex was released there was a lot of speculation on the Internet that falchions would confer +2 attacks but this turned out not to be the case when the GK FAQ was finally released. The points add up very fast if you're playing a GK TDA army and as such I don't find them very beneficial. If you have a ten man squad it's much cheaper to take a Brotherhood Banner which I recommend if you have the points to spare. The warding stave is also an expensive upgrade for GKT and only benefits one model - as such I don't highly recommend them for GKT either. Finally while the sword is free I prefer I6 over a 4++ invulnerable save in melee... This is a specific case when offense can be better served than defense

Each terminator comes standard with a stormbolter. You can upgrade one model per five terminators as follows:

• Incinerator (S5 AP4, template)
• Psilencer (unfortunately really not worth mentioning except for one OT point mentioned below - IMO)
• Psycannon (S7 AP4 Rending, 24" range, 4 shots) Good gosh it's an assault cannon on crack !!!

This part of the article is very simple for me. I play all infantry based lists with no transports so I feel I need the psycannons... As such I take one psycannon per every five terminators. If you use a Stormraven(s) to transport some of your troops then I could see the possible value in using incinerators for those dedicated units. That said you'll probably only be able to shoot them once per game most of the time though YMMV. I don't use incinerators so I'm definitely not an expert in that area. While incinerators are much cheaper (5:1 ratio in points cost versus the psycannon) I think it's a safe bet to say most GK players prefer the psycannon over the incinerator.  ;  )

The only beneficial use I can see for the psilencer is that it can be easily converted into a psycannon - seriously, GW kind of gave us the pointy end of the stick when they decided to kit the five man boxed set of GK terminators with only one psycannon.  :  (

The psycannon is amazing and it can be easily spammed throughout an army. To me there is an astonishing difference when it comes to S7 versus S6 with rending. I'm not going to mathammer the odds of a psycannon versus an assault cannon glancing|penetrating  the various armor levels - I'm sure you can easily find those statistics elsewhere. I take as many psycannons as I can cram into a list. They are much hated upon and for good reason... nothing is safe from them except for Monoliths (and that's why you bring those daemonhammers in the oft chance case you happen to run up against a Necron army). I have destroyed more than my fair share of landraiders, rhinos, razorbacks and my favorite target - the chimera.

The Stormbolter and Psybolt Ammo
As I said this is the standard shooting weapon for GKT. It might seem like nothing much at first glance compared to a psycannon but I've found through extensive play that the upgrade for psybolt ammo is well worth the cost (i.e., 20 points per squad). If you're smart and field 10 man units, splitting each into 5 man combat squads when appropriate, then you've just divided the cost in half. Psybolt ammo means that you can glance rhinos and razorbacks on front and side armor - these transports are no longer immune to what was once only harmless bolter fire. Even better you can penetrate the chimera on side armor which is almost guaranteed to happen more often than not if you've got a lot of GKT roaming around the battlefield !  :  )

Psybolt ammo also means that you're wounding basic Marines on a 3+ versus 4+ and the extra damage inflicted over a game can add up fast....

0.667*0.5*0.333 = (~10%)  vs.  0.667*0.667*0.333 (~15%)

So basically five percent greater odds to inflict an unsaved wound versus power armor. That's actually a ten percent better rate per terminator since each stormbolter fires two shots apiece each shooting phase... Or even better yet a 40 percent better rate per four GKT.

I just had to squeeze in a little mathammer for all the number crunchers out there.   You know who you are too !  :D

Versus T3 units you're wounding on a 2+ as compared to a 3+. Again it might not sound like much but it adds up over the course of most any game against foot sloggers.

Putting It Altogether
So we come to the end of another article, which means it's time for me to sum up what I've said above. Basically take another look at my standard configuration per every five GKT:

— 3x halberd & stormbolter
— 1x daemonhammer & stormbolter
— 1x halberd & psycannon

That's it in a nutshell.

As I have pointed out these choices are based upon my in game experience and I've had a lot of success so far with my GK TDA army. If you feel I've missed out on something important please feel to bring it to my attention here. Maybe in reality the psilencer is actually worth it's points in gold... I doubt that though but then again I could still be wrong. Most of what I've said is basic knowledge once you've had the chance to gain some meaningful experience playing Grey Knights and the army is quite popular now - of course. I do think a lot of players are missing out on the benefits of psybolt ammo... It's a little pricey as an upgrade and probably most think it's benefits are simply not worth the added cost. I beg to differ though.  ;  )

That's all for now. See ya again next time.

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