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They're not just called Genestealers for nothing!

"Iä! Iä! Tyrannicus fhtagn!"

– One of many unholy Genestealer Cult prayers

"Praise be! The star children deliver us!"

– White Dwarf October 2016

"Mankind has always looked to the stars for salvation...and finally, THE STARS HAVE ANSWERED!"

– Unnamed Magus

Genestealers (Corporaptor hominis) are alien creatures in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They have undergone many fluff revisions since their inception, but they have always been lethal in melee (so deadly that Space Marine power armor is like tissue paper to them, no exaggeration), preternaturally fast, pseudo-insectoid in form, protected by a thick shell of Carapace and reliant on other species for reproduction.

Basically what would happen if the Xenomorphs decided to run a Lovecraftian doomsday cult... IN SPAAAAACE!

Rogue Trader[edit]

The 2nd edition pic that has defined the identity of Genestealer Cults for decades.

In Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (the first edition of Warhammer 40,000), Genestealers were simply one of many creatures encountered in space, spreading from the moon of Ymgarl. They could be extremely dangerous in close quarters, as each of their six strong limbs ended in sharp claws, and they had a gruesome lifecycle reminiscent of the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, but otherwise had little to distinguish themselves. Most notably, they were not connected with the Tyranids at all. Indeed, the core rulebook noted that Genestealers with human ancestry could be intelligent, and even friendly! Their natural form had an almost leech-like head, and they were specifically described as "vampirish." They also ignored armour saves until 4th ed. That was annoying.

Space Hulk[edit]

When the Space Hulk board game was released a few years after 40k: Rogue Trader, Genestealers received a significant bump in their threat level. The game made it clear that the Genestealers were a much more virulent and widespread menace than their initial description, and their head was changed to have a much toothier mouth. In keeping with GW's ripping off the Xenomorphs, Genestealers would use stealth to approach the Marine player's Terminators as "blips" of some unknown number of Genestealers, and then come out of hiding once they had a good ambush prepared. They achieved a super-human level of coordination via a hive mind, represented by the Genestealer player having unlimited time to move his pieces.

Later Editions[edit]

In later editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Genestealers were revealed to be (or retconned into, depending on your point of view) vanguard organisms for the Tyranid Hive Fleets. They are capable of thinking for themselves and operating without the Hive Mind's leadership, a rare trait among Tyranids, although they are not synapse creatures. Space Hulk-era Genestealers were re-designated "Purestrain Genestealers," created by the Hive Fleets themselves.

Genestealers are sent to infest Space Hulks and spread among the stars. Their long tongues contain a barbed ovipositor; when they encounter sentient anthropoid, they use this ovipositor to inject a "seed" into the host's body, combining the host species' genome with the greater Tyranid genome (hence the name Gene-stealer.) This is a method called the "Genestealer's Kiss," which is either a face-biting parody of a kiss or an injection under the ribcage. Fun fact, this biological process exists in real life under the name of "horizontal gene transfer", and is mostly used by bacteria to help other bacteria develop resistances to antibiotics, and more importantly is the main process involved in genetic engineering! More recently, the Genestealer Cult of the Twisted Helix has discovered how to extract this "seed" for use in contaminating food and medicine, allowing the Genestealer curse to spread to locations far removed from any actual Genestealer.

Dawn of War 2[edit]

An Assault Terminator trying to protect his power pants from Jeanstealers

Genestealers are pretty lore accurate in Dawn of War 2. They eat whatever they face. They act as the ultimate melee troops for Tyranids in tier 2. Let's run some numbers: A regular Tactical Marine starts with 60 melee skill, a standard melee squad starts with 70. These motherfuckers are starting with 80 by default! And this even gets worse if they have any synapse support. If they are under Improved Synapse of the Hive Tyrant, their health increases by 25%. If they ever get into the melee synapse of Warrior Brood, their health increases by 75%, and melee skill by 10, and you can combine these 2 synapses together! Yeah, they can basically murderfuck anything in melee combat. And this gets even worse if they use their Adrenal Rush ability. Gains increased speed and damage, gains small amount of health in each hit they make, and decreases incoming ranged damage.

Everything aside, the most simple solution to deal with them is to get a walker out. Genestealers can't purchase their anti vehicle klaws until tier 3. That makes them balanced right? I hope so. But when they get them, they can solo a Dreadnought! Thankfully, they have light infantry armour, which means that they can be killed easily with most ranged weaponry and struggle against melee fighters that are able to survive long enough to get a few hits in themselves. AoE melee attacks are your friend against them.

On the Tabletop[edit]

Both Ymgarl and Purestrain Genestealers are ridiculously deadly in melee, both in fluff and crunch. On the tabletop, when a brood of Genestealers charges something, it's very unlikely to survive to the next turn unless it's a Land Raider due to their massive number of good strength attacks, rending, and high weapon skill that means they hit most things on 3s (seriously, these guys have higher weapons skill than a lot things made out to be close-combat experts), not to mention that they are fast little fuckers. A Zerg rush has nothing on these guys. In the fluff, their claws are so damned sharp that they might as well be power weapons (back in 2nd Edition and pre-codex 3rd Edition they WERE power weapons), slicing through armor and walls like a chainsaw going through rice paper. Their hypnotic eye powers show up irregularly in the fluff, showing up in the Dark Disciples Novel but not Ciaphas Cain; Hero of the Imperium for example. The fact they are faster than Eldar lets them laugh at any unit they charge/charging them, and they are usually deployed a-la Kroot Carnivores (parking them behind a windowless wall 12-18" from the enemy). Unlike Kroots though, they are not there to slow the enemy, they provide a hazardous area for the first turns and then, when the main force has reached their position, they jump out to help OMNOMMing.

In some editions Genestealer broods could upgrade one of the members to a Broodlord, which formerly had a major role due to the biomorphs it could use and psyker powers, but being reduced to a sergeant basically made it just add an extra punch, though it still had a better statline than any non Special-Character Space Marine HQs (except the CSM's daemon prince). Sixth Edition turned Broodlords into rape machines in challenges, as they are able to bring down almost any independent character in the game without eternal warrior, while costing much, MUCH less.

In 8th Edition, Genestealers are still great, but other armies have some melee options that are pretty on-par with them. A horde of Ork Boyz, for example, can pump out 30 more melee attacks in a turn, and cost 110 points less. Granted, they don't have the 5++ invuln, but they still will wreck a horde of Genestealers' shit if they get the first attack. On the other hand, the Genestealers are also very speedy and can rocket to the other side of the board with the right Stratagems. They can also charge after advancing (or lose that ability in exchange for a better armor save that can go up to MEQ-tier if in cover or under the benefits of Jormungandr's Hive Fleet Attribute) and can take Acid Maws for a few extra MEQ-killing attacks. Oh, and they also get a Deep Strike similar to a Terminator's teleport homers. They're especially potent with Hive Fleet Kraken since they'll have better advances as well as the ability to charge after falling back, which not only saves them from running the risk of being trapped in melee with something too tough for them to deal with but also improves their already impressive maneuverability and ensures that they'll always get the first swing in.


See Also[edit]

Tyrannic Bio-Organisms
Leader Organisms: Broodlord - Hive Tyrant - Neurotyrant
Norn Queen - Swarmlord - Tyranid Warrior
Small Creatures: Barbgaunt - Gargoyle - Genestealer - Hormagaunt
Neurogaunt - Ripper - Spinegaunt - Termagant
Medium Size
Biovore - Hive Guard - Lictor - Neurothrope - Pyrovore - Ravener
Tyrant Guard - Venomthrope - Von Ryan's Leaper - Zoanthrope
Monstrous Creatures: Carnifex (Screamer-Killer - Stone Crusher - Thornback) - Dimachaeron
Exocrine - Haruspex - Malanthrope - Maleceptor - Mawloc - Psychophage
Tervigon - Toxicrene - Trygon - Tyrannofex
Gargantuan Creatures: Cerebore - Dactylis - Hierodule - Malefactor - Nautiloid - Viragon
Flying Creatures: Harpy - Harridan - Hive Crone - Mucolid Spore
Bio-Titans: Dominatrix - Hierophant - Hydraphant - Viciator
Floral Structures: Capillary Tower - Reclamation Pool
Spaceborne Creatures: Tyrannocyte - Mycetic Spore - Ether-Swimming Brood
Other Organisms: Bio-Weapons - Cortex Leech - Meiotic Spore
Neurocyte - Neuroloid - Spore Mine - Sporocyst
Unique Creatures: Deathleaper - Laius Horror - Old One-Eye
Parasite of Mortrex - The Red Terror
Auxiliaries: Genestealer Cult
Members of the Genestealer Cult
Cult Leaders: Broodlord - Genestealer Patriarch
Specialists: Biophagus - Clamavus - Jackal Alphus
Locus - Magus - Primus - Nexos
Cultists: Abominants - Atalan Jackal - Brood Brothers
Genestealers - Genestealer Aberrants - Sanctus
Hybrids: Acolyte Hybrids - Hybrid Metamorphs
Neophyte Hybrids - Kelermorph Hybrids
Familiars: Alchemicus - Mindwyrm - Soulsight
Vehicles: Achilles Ridgerunner - Chimera - Dirtcycle - Goliath Truck
Leman Russ - Sentinel - Tectonic Fragdrill - Wolfquad
Allies: Tyranids
Playable Factions in Warhammer 40,000
Imperium: AdMech: Adeptus Mechanicus - Mechanicus Knights
Army: Imperial Guard - Imperial Knights - Imperial Navy - Militarum Tempestus - Space Marines
Inquisition: Inquisition - Sisters of Battle - Deathwatch - Grey Knights
Other: Adeptus Custodes - Adeptus Ministorum - Death Cults - Officio Assassinorum - Sisters of Silence
Chaos: Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines - Lost and the Damned - Chaos Knights
Xenos: Aeldari: Dark Eldar - Eldar - Eldar Corsairs - Harlequins - Ynnari
Tyranids: Genestealer Cults - Tyranids
Others: Necrons - Orks - Tau - Leagues of Votann