The new 40k Genestealer Cults codex is here – from Stratagems, Traits, Datasheets, and army-wide rules, here is our review and how to play them.
If you’re wondering how to play Genestealer Cults, or if you should start playing them, this gives you plenty of info to mull over for their new codex Stratagems, Traits, Datasheets, and army-wide rules
How to Play Genestealer Cults Warhammer 40k & Rules Review
Codex: Genestealer Cults: Retail Price $50
These rules are collected from all the following Genestealer Cults Codex reviews on YouTube, and Warhammer Community alike, so be sure to watch your favorite presenters talk about their take on the book at the links below!
- The Glacial Geek
- Bell of Lost Souls
- Sprues & Brews
- Guerrilla Miniature Games
- Tabletop Tactics
New Genestealer Cults Codex 9th Ed. 40k Warlord Trait Rules
With six Genestealer Cults warlord traits rules to choose from, Prowling Agitant and Focus of Adoration both look like strong choices. Prowling Agitant makes our warlord neigh un-chargeable, as they will more or less always be +6″ away from the first charge each turn, however with it being a 6″ normal move, it’s actually better than that!
The Focus of Adoration is also a great option because it changes how your opponents play the game, suddenly easy charges are much more dangerous once there are 4+ enemy units (maybe more, maybe less) who can heroically intervene instantly.
9th Edition 40k Army-Wide Rules
You can include an entire Detachment from Codex: Astra Militarum in your Genestealer Cults army. Not only does this give you access to lots of additional units but, even better, it doesn’t prevent the Genestealer Cult units from using the awesome new Crossfire rule to gun down anyone standing in the way of your rebellion.
Brood brothers is a GSC classic and we like to see how they are handling it this time around. Just remember to not let the amount go over 25% of your Power Rating , not points. While they are generally similar, just pay attention or you’ll lose your Crossfire rules.
Previously, Infantry units would get a boost to their Leadership thanks to the Cult’s shared consciousness. Now, that boon is stronger than ever and spreads to all Brood Brothers forces. While they may not gain the Crossfire keyword, it’s hard for the massive firepower offered by a Heavy Weapons Squad or some Valkyrie air support to go unappreciated by Acolyte and Primus alike.
Getting this for everything is really nice and of course, Infantry gaining the Unquestioning Loyalty is going to help them stay on the field longer.
Out of all the models in the codex, some have keyworded abilities. Conceal involves categorizing units for two following abilities. In deployment units with Conceal can be set in “ambush” instead of on the board, if they are Infantry or bikers they go “underground”. Ambush allows you to set up a marker in your deployment zone, then pick an ambush marker on the field to effectively have that unit deepstrike onto. Additionally no enemy units can move within 9″ of markers.
Underground is essentially a way to deepstrike in as normal instead of at an ambush marker. Unquestioning Loyalty is more or less a “Lookout sir” rule. If a Cult Character fails a saving throw, a Brood Brother or Cult model may roll a D6, on a 4+ the model rolling the dice takes the damage instead (the roll also gets +1 if the character was a Patriarch).
Cults, if you didn’t know, function very similarly to sub-factions, meaning your detachments will align themselves with one of the cults and gain exclusive benefits that are tied to it!
Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor seems to be mostly concerned with melee prowess and a hint of battlefield control/strategic play. Rerollable charge is great for melee units and getting automatic light cover if further than 12″ is pretty good as well! These combine for a game plan that is sure to net value every round of the game by saving wounds you wouldn’t have and getting into combat when you might have failed the charge otherwise.
The Warlord trait Inscrutable Cunning also looks super strong by giving you a 1cp discount on any Strategic Ploy or Battle Tactic Stratagem. This is only once per round and can only affect the same stratagem once per game. Still, an extra potential 5cp for free is always good.
The Hivecult seems to go in another direction with a heavy emphasis on range and additional movement. Being able to shoot at -1 to hit after falling back is still great. being able to perform actions after falling back or advancing is also great, especially since they can shoot without failing actions!
The Bladed Cog actually has 3 benefits to their creed bonus. All models gain a 6+ Invulnerable, they can each reroll one wound roll, and they get +3″ range on their ranged weapons. This all makes for a pretty decent ranged skirmisher cult.
The Warlord Trait is ok allowing you to target an enemy unit at the start and CORE around this warlord gets full wound re-rolls. Which makes this a great option for lists that run a single large unit like Jump Pack Vets or the like.
The Pauper Princes creed gives the list access to +1 to hit after charging or being charged and can ignore all attrition role modifiers. The +1 to hit is nice, but the ignoring attrition modifiers seem pretty lackluster.
The Relic gives an aura giving all core units around it a 5+ invulnerable, which is actually super good!
The Twisted Helix creed give the units +1 Strength, +1″ Movement, and 1 and 2s to wound auto fail against friendly units regardless of modifiers. All three of these look great! They are all small boosts, but they are certainly welcome ones.
As for the other options, the relic seems good, gaining an extra Genomic Enhancement for some sweet bonuses.
New Genestealer Custom Cults
GSC players can also create their own Cults by using this sort of “point buy” system. Essentially you can make a combination of traits totaling 4 points.
On the first page here, Impassioned (+1 to hit on charges), Hunter’s Instincts (re-roll charges), and Agile Guerrillas (units count as being stationary after a turn that they move or advance) seem to be the best options, however, all of them are definitely playable.
As for the second page, Accustomed to Toil (Unmodified wound rolls of 1 and 2 always fail against friendly units), Synaptic Resonance (Psychic test rolls of 1 and 2 can be re-rolled), and Cold-Eyed Killers (Unmodified wound rolls of 6 and melee attack get an additional AP) all seem great and even better they all cost 1, meaning you can take them all and even one more!
Another important rule for GSC is Crossfire, which is essentially battleforged. Crossfire Markers are placed by landing 5 or more hits from a Crossfire unit or hitting with a weapon that has greater than 1 Damage. These markers last until the end of the turn. When shooting at a model with a Crossfire Marker, that unit gets +1 to hit that unit. There are also benefits if they are EXPOSED, which are explained below.
Whenever a unit with the Crossfire keyword shoots and scores at least five hits (or a hit with a Damage characteristic other than 1) their target gains a crossfire marker. Once an enemy unit has a crossfire marker, it becomes especially vulnerable to attack. First, any further Crossfire units shooting at them add 1 to their hit rolls. Then, if the target is Exposed, they’re in for a world of hurt.
How does a target become Exposed? If you draw a line from the attacking unit’s base to another friendly Crossfire model within sight, and that line passes over the targeted unit, that targeted unit is Exposed (like the picture above).
Attackers add 1 to their wound rolls against the Exposed unit, and if the attackers are within 12” of their target, they ignore enemy cover too. Enemies taking cover in Obscuring terrain have some protection, but unsuspecting foes will fall victim to the Cult’s diabolic pincer attacks.
This is a pretty cool rule and basically turns your units into marker lights that also do damage! If you get both the five hits on a unit and have them exposed, you will have all kinds of buffs. So be sure to order your shots correctly so your better units get the bonuses.
How to Play Genestealer Cults 9th Ed. 40k Relics Rules
With a total of 11 relics, the Genestealer Cults Codex also has a decent spread of rules options here too! On the first page, Wyrmtooth Rounds looks sweet, upgrading the already strong Kelermorph into an insane character nuker with potentially 6 shots at S6, -3 AP, and 3 damage each.
Amulet of the Voidwyrm also looks strong upgrading the model to have a 4+ invulvn, a one-time free guaranteed save, and makes it impossible to Overwatch or Set to Defend against their charges, making for a potent French in your opponents plans to deal with your melee units.
The other weapon upgrades here look a little stronger than usual with great unique abilities, so keep an eye out for those as well!
As for the second page, there are a few good relics options for the Genestealer Cults as well. The Crouchling looks like a great support piece, giving not only a one dice re-roll for each psychic test the model takes, but also making them undeniable on passing doubles, which is all the better thanks to the re-rolls!
Dagger of Swift Sacrifice looks decent with both a re-roll ability and the potential for some freebie mortal wounds in each successful combat.
New Genestealer Proficient Planning
Being able to upgrade a model and making them even more toolbox-y fitting whatever you need out of them is huge and the extra customization helps each new list really feel like your own.
Out of all of these 3 seem likely to be popular choices: They Came From Below, From Every Angle, and A Trap Sprung.
They Came From Below allows you to reveal a (non-vehicle) unit at an ambush marker and immediately make a move! YOu have to be more than 9″ away from enemies, but it’s still a fantastic surprise attack and movement ability all in one.
From Every Angle essentially allows you to deep strike units in from reserves as if it was one turn earlier, giving you much higher alpha strike potential than most opponents could anticipate.
Finally A Trap Sprung gives the unit an extra charge die the turn it comes onto the battlefield after being underground, once again living up to the alpha strike expectation of GSC!
New Genestealer Cults 9th Ed. 40k Psychic Powers Rules
As for Psychic Powers rules, Genestealer Cults have their own codex discipline, meaning they have six to choose from.
Mass Hypnosis is an incredibly brutal debuff, reducing an enemy unit’s attacks by 1 and even further forcing them to fight last. Additionally Might From Beyond is a simple +1 to attack on a friendly unit but is of course still a powerful option in a faction with some great melee units.
How to Play Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Wargear
A few small changes all around with notable profiles being the Cult Sniper Rifle with a decent buff with +1 Strength,+1 AP, and flat 2 damage now and Grenade Launchers are worth double-checking since the Jackals now have access to them!
For part 2 of the ranged weapon list, the Heavy Seismic cannon got some tweaks resulting in what is most likely a buff overall.
- Heavy Seismic Cannon [Long-Wave] now 6 S and -2 AP (was 4 S and -1 AP)
- Heavy Seismic Cannon [Short-Wave] now 24″ range and -3 AP (was 12″ and -2 AP)
As for melee weapons, Cult Bonesword is the new Bonesword, which is essentially a +1S and +1 Damage buff to any model that used them before!
New Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Unit Rules Datasheets
First up for the new Genestealer Cults codex and 9th Edition 40k unit rules and datasheets is the multi-arm gunslingin’ Kelermorph rules!
The Kelermorph got +1 melee attack and lost its cultist knife, making it a neutral change. Additionally, the Liberator autostub got +1 strength and -1 damage, however, it gained the ability to deal a mortal wound on an unmodified 6 to wound. He also got to keep his iconic gunslinger ability, which is great to see.
A new addition is his Hypersensory Abilities which now let him move or fall back after shooting, making him a very hard unit to nail down. Its Heroic Deeds ability also got a slight change now affect nearby CORE units instead of Infantry, which should be largely the same pool of affectble units.
The Jackal Alphus also saw some changes. His statline got -1 wound, but gained +1 armor save. Sniper also sees a decent buff with +1 Strength,+1 AP, and flat 2 damage now. Additionally, the mortal wound now triggers on 4+ instead of 6s. Blasting Charges were also changed to d3 shots and are now S5, -1AP, 1 damage.
Priority Target has been changed to only affect one target CORE CROSSFIRE unit, instead of all units. Additionally, the effect now treats the target as “exposed” instead of +1 to hit. Skilled outrider has been update to Master Outrider, gaining him the extra benefit of not being targetable if within 6″ of Jackals or Vehicles. They can also shoot and charge after falling back, which is a very nice benefit.
Speaking of Jackals, they got +1 attack and +1 Armor Save across the board. As for the weapons, the Incinerator has been changed to assault instead of heavy, Autopistol was changed to Small Arms fire resulting in +1 strength, gained the option to take Grenade Launchers, and the same changes as above for blasting charges.
Additionally, they can now also shoot and charge after falling back, if they shoot at an enemy within 6″ they are treated as exposed. They also gained a pre-game move, giving them a good boost to mobility and practicality.
The Rockgrinder got quite a few changes, so we listed them below:
- +1 to Hit in Melee, Leadership, and Save(was 4+, 7, 4+, now 3+,8, 3+ respectively)
- +2 to Movement on full wound profile (was 10, now 12)
- +1 to Movement on 3-5 wound profile (was 8, now 9)
- +1 to Movement on 1-2 wound profile (was 6, now 4)
- Demolition Charges changed to flat 2 Damage (was D3)
- Clearance Incinerator now 15″ Range and 6 S (was 12″ and 5 S)
- Heavy Seismic Cannon [Long-Wave] now 6 S and -2 AP (was 4 S and -1 AP)
- Heavy Seismic Cannon [Short-Wave] now 24″ range and -3 AP (was 12″ and -2 AP)
- Drilldozer Blade now +2 S and flat 2 damage (was +3 S and d3 damage)
Additionally for abilities, it traded its 6+ FNP for a flat -1 damage modifier (to a minimum of 1 damage per source).
The Goliath Truck got a nice +1 to Armor Save and +1 to Movement on 3-5 wound profiles. Just like the rest of the units, Demolition Charges were changed to flat 2 Damage.
Just like the Rockgrinder, this also traded the 6+ FNP for -1 damage taken.
Now let’s recap the Shadow Throne units to give you a better overview of some of the new Genestealer Cults codex datasheet rules and updated model performance.
Shadowthrone Unit Datasheets
Up first, the Primus!
- Needle Pistol (now called the Scoped needle pistol) got +6″ range (was 12″ now 18″)
- Bonesword (now called Cult bonesword) got +1S and +1 Damage (was user S and 1 Damage, now +1S and 2 Damage)
- Lost Blasting Charge
- Cult Demagogue now only works for Core units and instead of adding 1 to hit, their aura is now a simple re-roll 1s to hit.
- Meticulous Planner now is in command phase instead of the first time after being set up
- Leadership now 9 (was 8)
- Familiars changed to wargear, no longer counts as a model.
- Spiritual Leader changed to a defensive aura, giving 5+ FNP (instead of deny the witch to non-psyker units)
- BS now 4+ (was 5+)
- Strength now 5 (was 6)
- Wounds now 7 (was 6)
- Familiars changed to wargear, no longer counts as a model.
- Monstrous rending claws (now called Patriarch’s claws) now has flat 2 damage (was D3)
- Lost Blood Telepathy
- Lightning Reflexes (now Preternatural Reflexes) now gives 4+ Invulnerable save (was 5+)
- +1 Psychic Power manifests per turn (was 1, now 2)
- All Wargear now listed on the sheet, look above for details
- Shotgun lost the unique ability
This new weapon Remote Explosives looks fantastic. Getting a decent amount of shots with Blast and a triple base-damage modifier against vehicles and monsters built-in, make this thing an absolute powerhouse of damage.
Because the damage bonus is so high, you’ll probably want this character to chip away at vehicles and monsters any time it can, as a damage potential of 18 is pretty dang high for a solo unit with a ranged attack…
Reductus Explosives is a unique rule because your opponent can choose to ignore it or avoid it. If they ignore it, you get to control the field and affect your opponent’s decision-making, which is powerful in a competitive scenario. If they don’t ignore it, you get a decent amount of mortal wounds for free!
Cloaked giving another +1 to saves while in cover is pretty big, making the Reductus Saboteur even harder to take down if you place them correctly and thanks to their decent range, it shouldn’t be too hard to do and still be effective. Additionally, Clandestine making the Saboteur un-targetable within 12″ makes abusing its own 24″ range much easier!
It seems like it always gets -1 to hit regardless of being in cover, which could also make this unit an absolute menace to deal with for your opponents to deal with.
Genestealer Cults Codex 9th Edition 40k Points
Notable point changes include the Patriarch going up 5pts, but familiars going down 5pts, meaning if you take two familiars it’s actually a total of 5pts cheaper than before. Similarly, the Magus also has cheaper familiars but has the benefit of himself being 5pts cheaper as well, making him a great option. Jackal Alphus is 5pts more now, but with his improved abilities and better sniper, it seems like it’s definitely worth it.
Alcolyte Hybrids are 1pt more now, while Neophytes are the same, which might help them edge out in terms of troop choices.
Finally, one last important model is the Kelermorph which is the same points as before! So watch out, the six-shooter might still be on the loose hunting down characters in future games.
Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Secondaries
As for secondaries, all of them are super on theme, making them fun options if nothing else. The one with the most potential seems to be Broodswarm which simply nets you a VP if you have more models in your deployment, in the middle of the board, and in your opponent’s deployment, plus a bonus 1 if you do all three for a total of 4 per turn.
If you make your list to tailor this, for example, tons and tons of models deep striking in, then you should easily be able to complete at least 2 of these nearly every turn and probably all three for the 4 VP once or twice pretty reliably!
Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Stratagem Rules
On the first page of stratagems, we’ve got a pretty good 1-2 combo in Dig Them Out and Overload Fuel Cells. The first part, Dig Them Out for 1CP Industrial Weapons in a selected unit targets an enemy within 12″, they are treated as being exposed, meaning they ignore cover and gain +1 to wound if they have a crossfire marker on them.
Overload Fuel Cells is also 1CP and gives a variety of effects. If ranged, get +1 damage, if melee, get +1 Strength, and if any 1s to hit are rolled, then the attacking model recieves 1 mortal wound.
Massed Firearms on the second page is also a decent option, for 1CP, if a unit fires all shots at a unit with a crossfire marker, 6s to hit auto wound!
Leaders Of The Cult is also a great option, for 1CP. If your list has a Patriarch as the warlord, you can select TWO other HQs to receive different traits! 1CP for two extra traits is a fantastic rate, but you do have to commit a Patriarch as the OG warlord in your list composition.
On the third page, Lurk in the Shadows and Return to the Shadows are another good pair of stratagems, this time helping protect your units. Lurk in the Shadows is 2CP and prevents the opponent from targeting an infantry unit unless it is the closest target OR within 12″.
Obviously, that can be pretty powerful, especially if you have, for example, a fully kitted melee unit that just needs to survive one more volley to make that all-important charge the following turn. Return to the Shadows is 1CP and if no enemy are within 6″ after movement or attacks (before consolidation) the infantry unit can go into reserves and deepstrike in the next movement phase.
The last page has two options, that were covered by GW and are actually very good!
If that sounds powerful already, you’d be right, and that’s far from all the Genestealer Cults can do with their Crossfire units. Coming under such heavy fire often renders enemies completely unable to defend against an incoming charge and gives their attackers plenty of time to hack away before risking retaliation.
Here’s all the latest on how to play Genestealer Cults with their 9th edition codex rules updates and points changes for Warhammer 40k:
- Cults Rules & Proficient Planning
- Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Unit Rules Datasheets
- Warlord Traits, Relics, & Psychic Powers Rules
- Genestealer Cults 40k Stratagems & Army-Wide Rules
- Genestealer Cults 9th Edition 40k Wargear, Points, & Secondaries
What do you think about the new codex rules for the Genestealer Cults and how to play them in this review?
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