Monday, September 01, 2014

Initial Grey Knights Impressions - Alladin's Afternoon Pilsner Musings #1

Hello All,

I finally had a chance to pick up Codex: Grey Knights and do a quick read-through (that, and some blogs and articles from gamers much wiser than me).

Ta-Da!! ... ... ... (crickets)

 Similar to my other main 40K army (Tyranids), the general consensus seems to be that the Grey Knights were robbed of a flavourful and versatile Codex, getting a bland and underpowered one instead. I wouldn't say they got robbed as bad as the Tyranids (and with all the formations/Forge World goodies now, the Great Devourer has somewhat levelled the playing field from its original position near the bottom of the power list), but with the exclusion of all Inquisition and Assassins from our Codex, along with the fact that we lost two Grey Knight characters (Mordrak and Thawn) while gaining NO new units or characters, it's safe to say that this Codex was a pretty big hatchet-job. Even the poor Tyranids received some new units, with the Crone and Exocrine both considered among the upper tiers of competitiveness within the Codex.

That said, I don't think that Codex: Grey Knights is as weak as some of the initial opinions, even as a stand-alone product. Once you add in the possibility of allying with Inquisition and/or Assassins (and/or any other Imperial force for that matter), I don't think we really lost that much in the competitive department.

As much as I lament the gutting of 1/3 of our Codex (in particular because a big part of my GK force hails from Inquisition and Assassins), I do feel this decision makes sense from a logical point of view. That said, I do wish that we got SOME new toys to play with in return, whether that be a unique vehicle, or even a new sculpt for a generic HQ (to complement the sweet new Librarian rules/point drop, for example). Instead we gain some new Warlord Traits, some decent-ish Relics, and a few points adjustments (which were overdue). It's definitely not enough to replace what we have lost, but is it enough to keep Codex: Grey Knights in the fight?

It's a good question, but kind of moot, as it looks like GW wants us to mix and match our Codices, rather than provide a full toolkit for every Army. While I do wish that every Codex should be able to compete on it's own merits, I also don't feel that every Codex needs to have strong, viable builds for EVERY play-style, but rather specialize in a few. A Codex that can be considered competitive by using any type of build, such as long-range firepower, mid-range firepower, assault, castling, alpha-striking, etc., shouldn't really exist in my opinion. Instead, each army should have their own flavour, while providing decent (if not necessarily competitive) solutions for all other builds. Games Workshop doesn't always succeed at this task, and have often missed the mark altogether, such as forcing Tyranid players to take a shooting-heavy army while actively making them impotent in assault.

With respect to Grey Knights, it's clear that the intention was to turn them into a somewhat aggressive, in-your-face army. This is evident in a number of ways:
  • The new Nemesis Strike Force Detachment, with its special rule allowing a much more alpha-strike oriented army (can roll for reserves starting Turn 1)
  • removing Psybolt ammo, which not only makes our one effective long-range gun platform (Psyfleman Dreads) obsolete, but also neuters the shooting potency of the majority of our force
  • In place of Psybolt ammo, they changed halberds to give +1 S while still keeping the odds high that Hammerhand can fire off successfully - if our units get into assault they can hold their own above average
  • Reducing the cost of Dreadknights, making them our premiere face-crushers.
  • Making Draigo even more of a combat beast, with instant access to Gate of Infinity again allowing for even more board control
  • By removing Astral Aim, they have reduced Purgators from a fun, situationally effective unit to Devastators with access to Incinerators. Night vision? Thank the Emperor!
Although I mourn what we have lost, I don't feel that these changes make them more bland per se, but more flavourful, though I guess it depends on your definition of bland. I agree that a mono-build Codex is considered "bland," I don't feel that we were given a mono-build. The amount of potentially viable builds has fallen (due to the exclusion of Inquisition in particular), but the type of quality builds that remain still have the potential to be somewhat competitive and, furthermore, reinforce the style that Grey Knights should exemplify more than the previous codex.

As many others have echoed, if you want an old-school Coteaz & Friends build, just make your primary detachment from Codex: Inquisition and add a Nemesis Strike Force detachment for whatever GK units you want.

For myself, I will stock up on some now-decent Terminators for my Troop option,  and use my Strike Squad Knights as either Deep Striking objective campers or use them as Interceptors.

Anyway, that's about it for my ramblings. I won't likely have a change to test out my Grey Knights for a while, considering I am committed to painting my force entirely before fielding it, and I now need to buy a number of new kits if I plan on fielding a pure GK-force.

Now, back to the final push of assembling my Tyranids!

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