Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Genestealer Cults(8E)

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Why Play Genestealer Cults[edit]

Because you like creepy cults, alien hybrids, and giving birth to hideous monstrosities. A strange fascination with being stroked by xenomorphs is optional but recommended.


  • Everyone gets at least one extra arm when graduating from Neophyte status.
  • Yours is the Heavy Rock Drill that will pierce the heavens.
  • You like Genestealers.
  • You like tanks.
  • You like Genestealers IN tanks.
  • If you have an army entirely made up of Genestealers, with one detachment of Tyranid genestealers and one of Genestealer cults, no sane person will ever want to fight you afterward.
  • You know the truth about what's coming.
  • You get to Cult Ambush Genestealer squads into charge range in your movement phase.
  • You can have your pick of Astra Militarum detachments for brainwashed allies to shore up some of the list's inherent weaknesses.
  • You can mix in some Tyranid units into your army as an allied detachment as well
  • You get to combine the character and custom model options of IG and Tyranids, fancy an army made up of death cults of creed models combined with Tyranids painted in the manner of Gorgon? You can do that. Fancy drop troops backed up with war boy style hybrids? You can also do that (MY BODY IS CHROME!!!). No other faction (other than the orks of course) can boast such customising potential as you literally have a galaxies worth of variations to choose from or make up.
  • You can proxy IG models for your more “different” models and that’s also fine as they may simply be hiding their extra limbs, even Xenos can get camera shy.
  • The Vigilus open day showcased a few new GSC models, an older neophyte with a holographic map planning an attack on Warhammer World (no, seriously), Dirtbikers and ATVs, not forgetting the gunslinger model that got shown off alongside the abominant(who is now out in the Tooth and Claw boxset alongside new aberrants)
  • To add onto that the 2019 new year open day just showed off even MORE GS Cult related models, what looks to be a female Magus, two assassin looking dudes, a Medic and a guy who hacks into vox relays, it also gave us new information on other models, the Biker with the sniper is actually an hq choice and the gunslinger model is called a Kelermorph.


  • They're crap average at shooting, with BS4+ across the board and no shooting buffs.
  • Heavy Support and Fast Attack choices are extremely limited without using other allied factions.
  • Their entire army is extremely squishy and expensive.
  • This army is arguably the weakest in 8th edition currently without support. Troops choices which are needlessly expensive and squishy vehicles are the least of their problems. The fact that they don't get faction traits, good strategems and relics REALLY hurt an already weak set of units. (Although, that’ll change when the codex comes out - but that's not likely to happen any time soon)
  • The cult ambush table is generally unreliable at getting units where they need to be and is almost more likely to put them where you don't want them to be rather then somewhere you'd like them to be.
  • No named characters, not a huge con but considering the powerful stats and abilities of armies that do have them you may feel the sting of it.
  • Aberrants, Maguses and Primuses cannot be bought separately (which is only really a con if money is an issue.). Maguses and Primuses are only available in the Broodcoven box which comes with a Patriarch and 2 familiars. New Abberant models have been released by GW in the new Tooth & Claw box set. The box is an amazing deal for what you get and comes with the new Abominant, the buff monster HQ meant to tag along side Abberants. Soon the Abberants and Abominant models will be released for single purchase.
  • Currently no codex for the army. YET. SOON. (Our codex will hopefully be in November December January February)

Faction Keywords[edit]

Did you guess GENESTEALER CULTS? Well, you're half right. Unlike most factions, Genestealer Cults lack a wildcard sub faction keyword and all their units have two core ones instead - GENESTEALER CULTS and TYRANIDS, which gives you outstanding synergy with the big alien bug monsters you love so much. However, even though Genestealer Cults units have the TYRANIDS faction keyword, they cannot use Relics, Strategems, Warlord Traits, or Psychic Powers from Codex: Tyranids, as per the most recent Tyranids FAQ.

Special Rules[edit]

  • Cult Ambush: Units with this keyword may begin the game off the board "in ambush". At the end of any of your Movement phases, you may roll a D6 and consult the table below to deploy the unit onto the table. GENESTEALER CULTS CHARACTER units may select a friendly GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY unit also in ambush to accompany them when arriving; in which case you roll on the table once and apply the same result to both units, with the additional restriction of deploying the two within 6" of each other. Units in Battle-forged detachments can only use this rule if the entire detachment possesses the GENESTEALER CULTS keyword.
    • If both you and your opponents agree, you can play with GW's current beta rules (which are not official and might not be), in which case Cult Ambush cannot be used on turn 1.
  1. Cult Reinforcements: Your opponent nominates two board edges. You roll a D6. On a 1-3 the unit deploys within 6" of the first edge, on a 4-6 the unit deploys within 6" of the second edge. The unit must also be more than 9" away from any enemy models.
  2. Encircling the Foe: You nominate two board edges. Your opponent rolls a D6. On a 1-3 the unit deploys within 6" of the first edge, on a 4-6 the unit deploys within 6" of the second edge. The unit must also be more than 9" away from any enemy models.
  3. Lying in Wait: Place the unit anywhere more than 12" away from any enemy models; or, Place the unit anywhere more than 9" away from any enemy models and not visible to any enemy models.
  4. A Perfect Ambush: Place the unit anywhere more than 9" away from any enemy models.
  5. A Deadly Trap: Place the unit anywhere more than 9" away from any enemy models. It may then either: Move D6", or shoot with all of its weapons as if it were the shooting phase. This free action does not stop the unit from shooting again or charging in the immediately following Shooting and Charge phases.
  6. They Came From Below: Place the unit anywhere more than 9" away from any enemy models. The unit can immediately act as normal (i.e. take an action in the current movement phase), despite having just arrived as reinforcements.
  • Unquestioning Loyalty: If a GENESTEALER CULTS CHARACTER model would suffer a wound, and a GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY unit is within 3", you may roll a D6. On a 4+, the wound is disregarded and one model of your choice from the GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY unit you picked is slain.
  • Brood Brothers: You may include ASTRA MILITARUM units in your matched play GENESTEALER CULTS army, even though they share no faction keywords in common with you. You may only take a maximum of one ASTRA MILITARUM detachment for each GENESTEALER CULTS detachment you have, and you can't mix units within detachments. The ASTRA MILITARUM detachment will not benefit from REGIMENT-specific rules and cannot use any named characters- it uses BROOD BROTHERS as its REGIMENT keyword.


Due to the new FAQ just released Genestealer cults units cannot use Tyranid stratagems or warlord traits. However, they do get 2 shiny new stratagems from Chapter Approved:

  • Return to the Shadows(1CP): Remove an infantry unit from the board that is more than 6″ from enemy models. At the end of the next movement phase, return it to the board using Cult Ambush.

Could be useful if a unit does its entire job (securing a tactical objective, killing an isolated enemy unit) and would otherwise not have the mobility to get back to where it needs to be. Also great for late game objective snatches. Remove a battered obsec troop unit and then place it in the enemy deployment for line breaker or any objective to deny or gain VP last turn. The current FAQ clarified that units removed from the table in this manner aren't affected by the "you need to arrive by turn three" rule.

  • Meticulous Uprising(1CP): Before rolling on the cult ambush table, roll 2 dice instead of 1 and choose the result. A Primus or a unit accompanying a Primus may roll 3 dice instead. Note: since a Primus allows you to re-roll cult ambush results, that's 6 dice in total (roll 3, and if you don't get the result you want, reroll them).

Practically guarantees you'll get the 5/6 result you need. Is best used to deliver a Primus and your biggest, scariest unit - like a whole blob of pure-strain genestealers.

Broodmind Discipline[edit]

This is the only psychic discipline table your psykers can use. You can either roll randomly or choose one. Don't forget every psyker also automatically knows Smite.

  1. Mass Hypnosis: WC 7. A visible unit within 18" can't Overwatch, Fights last even if it charges, and suffers -1 to hit, all for one turn.
    • One of the best debuff abilities in the game. Most similar powers only do one of these effects, not all three at once. Unfortunately, most of the time you’ll only be able to make use of two out of the three abilities, the minus one is universally useful, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be charging a unit which can fight first in melee and can provide reliable and dangerous overwatch cover.
  2. Mind Control: WC 6. Target a model within 12" and roll 3d6. If you equal or beat its Leadership, the model immediately makes a single ranged or melee attack against another enemy unit. It can't hit itself, but it can hit other models in a unit to which it belongs.
    • Particularly effective when used on units with single-use weapons you can misdirect (Imperial Hunter-Killer Missiles etc.) or anything big and scary like snipers, tanks, and heavy weapons teams.
    • Can also be used to directly attack CHARACTERS hidden inside squads, by making a guy 1" away melee attack them or picking someone for whom the CHARACTER is the closest target.
    • Especially effective against plasma weaponry, as you can use the overheat and possibly kill the bearer as well as who you shot at.
    • Though in theory it can make a Baneblade or an Imperial Knight shoot on its own army, there's still only a ~53% chance of going off vs. a Ld9 target (~30% chance if there's an enemy psyker there to deny it), taking into account having to cast the power and roll above leadership. You also have to get within 12" - if your opponent is sensible their targets will be screened. It's a good power, just don't revolve your (anti-titan) strategy on getting this to work.
  3. Might From Beyond: WC 7. A friendly GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY unit within 18" gains +1S and +1A for a turn.
    • Have your Patriarch use this on his Purestrain Genestealer bubblewrap squad for frankly excessive amounts of melee damage.
      • Also consider taking a Magus with this and a Patriarch with Mass Hypnosis, with careful positioning the Magus can cast this outside of DtW range making it more reliable and leaving the Patriarch (who, as a melee character, is going to be within DtW range anyway) free to cast Mass Hypnosis.
      • When cast on purestrains in range of an Iconward with the +1S relic your genestealers will hit on a 2+ with 4-5 S6 rending attacks. While not affecting their chance to wound against most vehicles they can wound almost all infantry on a 2+ or 3+!
      • Give a Magus Might From Beyond to cast it on a unit of Hammer Aberrants w/ Iconward + relic (+1 Strength) to give them 3A at S14 AP -3 D 3. The only issue would be hitting on 4's but you could bring a Primus for +1 to hit.

And since everyone gets Smite, here it is for reference.

  • Smite: WC 5. Targets closest enemy unit within 18". Inflicts D3 mortal wounds, or D6 mortal wounds if the WC roll was more than 10.

Warlord Traits[edit]

Chapter Approved has kindly given us a Genestealer Cults warlord trait:

  • Focus of Adoration Friendly infantry units can do a Heroic Intervention within 6″ despite not being characters. Makes that squishy looking character look very dangerous if the nearby unit of aberrants also gets to pile in as well, and considering how many infantry units you can pile onto the board even your GEQ’s start looking very menacing as well.
    • As noted in the Sept 2018 FAQ you can use Heroic Intervention on your opponent's turn, even if they didn't declare a charge. This opens a large array of options from piling in nearby units into units that have been charged to charging your opponent on their turn without being at risk for Overwatch.

This can be used instead of the BRB warlord traits:

  1. Legendary Fighter: If the Warlord charges in the Charge phase add 1 to their Attacks until the end of the Fight phase.
    • Your warlord is probably a melee monster. Good pick.
  2. Inspiring Leader: Friendly units within 6" of the Warlord add 1 to their Leadership.
      • Don't give this to your Patriarch, as it already has a 6" aura of auto-pass morale for all <GENESTEALER CULTS> units.
  3. Tenacious Survivor: Each time this Warlord loses a wound, on a 6 he doesn't lose it.
      • This will effectively increase your Warlord's wound threshold by 20%. Legendary Fighter is probably better though.
    • Ignoring one wound in six isn't fantastic, but it's one of your only defenses against mortal wounds. Might want this if your opponent can produce a lot of them.
      • Your warlord can also benefit from the Acolyte Iconward's ability for two 6+ rolls against each wound effectively giving a re-roll. This no longer is the case since the April FAQ


Melee Weapons[edit]

  • Bonesword: An ap-2 melee weapon for your unit leaders and the Primus. More of a sidegrade to the standard Rending claws which are free for those who come with them. It costs 1pt more than a Power Sword that other armies get access to and is 1ap worse. Skip unless you take a Primus as he has to have one. Never let the Primus use it, the Toxin Injector is always better. Acolytes Leaders perform worst against T4 Sv3+ and less than 5% better against guardsmen by using a BS instead of the Rending Claws, take an additional Neophyte Hybrids that have a 16.66% to kill a guardsman instead and wait for GW to learn how to math.
  • Lashwhip & Bonesword: The reason not to take a solo Bonesword. For 2 points more, you get the same stats as a base Bonesword, and adds the ability to use that character's attacks if they're slain before their turn in the fight phase. If you're going to spend the points for that -2 AP, may as well spend the measly 2 points for this as well. Remember that an Acolyte Leader has to trade both the Rending Claw and its Cultist Knife for this - this does mean you lose a [S4 AP- D1] attack, but this attack was negligible anyway.
  • Chainsword: Bonus attacks as standard.
  • Cultist Knife: It's a chainsword with a funny name.
  • Heavy Rock Cutter: Double Strength, AP-4 and two damage sounds fantastic, but that's not all. If you successfully damage a non-VEHICLE target, beat its remaining wounds on a D6 and it dies instantly. Goodbye Ogryns, TyraWarriors, Terminators and characters.
  • Heavy Rock Drill: At first glance it's a 1 damage Power Fist. However, it doesn't have -1 to hit and it can inflict up to 5 extra mortal wounds on a successful wound. Because mortal wounds always overflow to other models in a unit, you can even shish-kebab multiple targets on your massive drill with a single successful attack. Memes are essentially unavoidable here. This applies to other sources of Mortal Wounds but not the rock drill, as the rock drill stops dealing mortal wounds once the skewered target dies. However, this is our best weapon against tough targets with lots of wounds as it does an average of 2.777 damage - which means it beats out the cutter against targets with invuln saves.
  • Heavy Rock Saw: Same as the Rock Cutter, but minus the instant-kill ability and the -1 to hit roll. Real saws that make chainswords look like pool noodles. Stick a primus nearby for effective 2+ to hit shenanigans.
  • Power Hammer: Your Aberrants' weapon upgrade choice. 8 (6 more now) more points than the already expensive Pick they start with, but it might be worth it for Power Fists that always roll a 3 for damage. Now that aberrants have been reduced in price using these has actually become a good idea, hammer time has come at last.
  • Power Pick: A makeshift Power Axe. You get the D3 damage and AP-2, but you don't get the bonus point of Strength and they're a colossal 16 points each (now only 10 with Chapter Approved). Interestingly enough also a choice for the Neophyte Leader, although with only S3 and 2A it's an utter waste of points and efficiency compared to the cheaper (4 point) power maul, or the free chainsword/cultist knife.
    • Now updated to allow a free Rending Claw attack for each attack made with the Power Pick. Who wouldn't want more attacks?
  • Heavy Improvised Weapon: An amalgamation of Power Hammer and Pick, in a handy stop sign format. Exclusive to the Aberrant Hypermorph. Sx2 AP-1 D2, with 2 for 1 attacks and -1WS.
  • Toxin Injector Claw: Default Primus weapon, a venomous Rending Claw, it always performs better than the Bonesword the Primus carry, so always use the TIC.


  • Autopistol: Standard S3 sidearm. Most of your troops have one, don't forget them in melee.
  • Bolt Pistol: Standard S4 sidearm.
  • Hand Flamer: Absolutely brutal close combat pistol firing D3 S3 auto-hits. You're one of the few armies that can buy these en masse, but they're punishingly expensive (8 points each) and only have a 6" range.
  • Laspistol: Standard S3 sidearm.
  • Web Pistol: Makes wound rolls against the lower of the target's S and T. Situational. It is a 3 point D3 shot Autopistol for what its worth.

Basic Weapons[edit]

  • Autogun: Not much to be said here. Standard S3 Rapid Fire, your Neophytes all get one. Surprisingly vicious against T3 (and T5) en-masse if you make effective use of cult ambush.
  • Flamer: Most of your troops want to get up close and personal, and have poor BS. Lots of auto-hitting attacks are an asset.
  • Grenade Launcher: Just like tossing a hand grenade, except with a 24" range and an Assault weapon type, so you can use more than one per unit and toss them while Advancing. Especially useful for you because you don't have access to regular Krak grenades. Can also be fired as a single [S6, AP-1, Dd3] shot, which you might prefer to use when targeting vehicles and other bigger models.
  • Lasgun: Identical to, and interchangeable with, the Autoguns your Neophytes start with.
  • Shotgun: Assault 2, and +1S below half range. Not bad if you're zerging across the table, but the short range will come back to bite you in other circumstances.
  • Webber: Makes wound rolls against the lower of the target's S and T. Situational as it competes with the flamer and grenade launcher, but at only 5 points each, won't break the bank for cost. Stat wise, it's an Assault D3 Bolter with a 16" range.
    • The only thing it's gimmick seems to actually work on, is fighting Haemonculus coven units, being buffed by a Haemonculus; Plague Marines or Khornate Berzerkers. Of the few units in the entire game who's S and T aren't the same, most are vehicles.

Heavy Mining Weapons[edit]

These only require one guy to wield, so Neophyte squads can take two of them.

  • Heavy Stubber: Standard lead-flinging man-portable support gun. Not great, but cheap (8 points, but that's twice what the Astra Militarum pay for it). Were probably being used for mine defense. A Grenade Launcher is 3pts cheaper, suffers no penalty on hit rolls if you moved, and is more versatile, so if you're looking for an upgrade to a squad look at them first.
  • Mining Laser: It's a half-range, half-damage lascannon. On the upside, it's cheaper and you can have two.
  • Blastmaster Seismic Cannon: Functionally pretty similar to a grenade launcher, but more reliable and with a shorter range and deadlier armor piercing mode. Longwave it's a Heavy 4 lasgun, slightly better than a frag grenade unless moving. Shortwave halves your range and shots but gives you -1 AP and doubles the strength and damage much like Krak grenades. AP-4 on 6's to wound, but with cultist BS it doesn't fire enough shots to reliably get those.

Heavy Weapons[edit]

Neophyte squads can form two guys into a weapons team and take one of these instead of a pair of the above Mining Weapons.

  • Mortar: It's a dirt cheap Missile Launcher that ignores line of sight but only shoots Frags; cost-effective anti-horde.
  • Heavy Bolter: Your source of medium-strength support fire. Anti-infantry mainly but almost as versatile as the Autocannon
  • Autocannon: This is your answer to T6 light armor and monsters, and generally decent at blasting things of all sizes. Loves medium-heavy units like Nobs, Rough Riders, TyraWarriors, and TEQ (especially if they have good invuln saves)..
  • Lascannon: Long-range anti-tank punch. Eats T8 and 9 for breakfast and comes back for lunch and dinner.
  • Missile Launcher: For when you can't make up your mind between anti-tank and anti-infantry, or when versatility is important. Use the Krak first, otherwise, it's just an expensive mortar that can't fire indirectly.


  • Demolition Charge: An enormous single-use grenade, but its weapon type is Assault, not Grenade so you can have multiple guys in a unit toss one at the same time. Inflicting D6 S8 hits at AP-3 dealing D3 damage each, they can potentially turn anything you throw them at into chunky salsa - but always bear in mind that there's a lot of dice rolls in there and that you only get to toss them once.
    • Cache of Demolition Charges: Your transports get these. Can only be used if the transport has embarked passengers, but they're infinitely reusable, unlike the single ones you buy for infantry.


  • Blasting Charges: A Frag grenade by any other name, booms just as sweet.

Other Wargear[edit]

  • Cult Icon: Allows Re-rolls to hit of 1 for the unit in the fight phase while the bearer is still alive.
    • At 20 points it's a cheap alternative to taking a Primus for melee accuracy. That being said they do deliciously sync with a Primus for your melee units. Hitting on 2+ re-rolling 1s for your heavy rock saws gives only a 1/36 chance of missing for their 2 powerfist-esque attacks each. This also works excellently for aberrants Aberrants can't take a cult icon.
    • Taking a Primus may not be the best idea, for Aberrants at least. “The Chosen One” rule from the Abominant (which you should be taking; he’s only 80 points) makes unmodified hit rolls of 6 count as 2 hits apiece(so long as the Abberants are within 6 inches of him), and having a Primus would be throwing those free attacks out the window. However, 6’s are hard to come by, so chose wisely.
  • Familiar: For 12pts get an extra body to add onto your Patriarch or Magus. The Familiar has the same statline as an Acolyte Hybrid, albeit with no weapons, no BS, +1Ld and a 6+ save (rather than a 5+). Once per game if your Magus or Patriarch has at least one familiar, you can cast one additional power - this will almost always be Smite. As it counts as a separate model, it can also absorb one (or more if you're lucky) hit which would otherwise hit your Magus/Patriarch.
    • Note that although the Primus has the Familiar's statline on its datasheet, this was an error, and was removed in an early FAQ.
    • Note that having more than one familiar with a Patriarch/Magus does not give it more than one extra power per game - the ability is once per battle, regardless of how many familiars you have with the character.
    • As the Familiar will essentially be used to cast Smite, when weighing up whether to take one consider that it's 12 points for a 75% chance of D3 mortal wounds, a 8.33% chance of D6 mortal wounds, and a 16.67% chance of 0 mortal wounds (assuming the power isn't denied). Also consider that adding a familiar is like adding an Acolyte "bodyguard" to your character, as the Familiar has a near-identical statline to an Acolyte Hybrid.

Genestealer Cults Relics[edit]

We have a new relic from Chapter Approved. This is our only relic as we have lost access to the Tyranid relic list:

  • Icon of the Cult Ascendant Add 1 to the Strength characteristic of friendly GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY units while they are within 6" of the bearer (Iconward only). You should take it for every single battle (not that you have a reason, not to), it allows your “guardsmen” to wound GEQ’s on a 3+ and MEQ’s on a 4+, not to be sniffed at as one of your armies main weaknesses is its low strength, and you could use it on your deepstriking genestealers to provide maximum butthurt to a unit of marines. It’s range of 6” also means that you could have most of your army being affected by the icon, just keep in mind that most of your deepstriking units won’t be benefiting from this. Bonus note: since this is +1 to the strength characteristic, Aberrants with hammers are now hitting at S12, and a Patriarch with LF Warlord trait and Might from beyond will have 8 attacks at S8. Combined with his claws innate reroll wounds this allows you to throw him even at heavy tanks (the T8 variety) and take chunks out of them.

Specialist Detachments[edit]

Specialist Detachments are an upcoming type of Detachment that will be added starting in the Vigilus Defiant campaign supplement. These Detachments are custom made for specific sub-factions which grant them access to additional Stratagems, Warlord Traits, and Artifacts.

General stratagems[edit]

  • Field Commander (1 CP): This stratagem bears special mention. For one command point, you can designate a character with a Specialist Detachment keyword and they gain the warlord trait associated with that detachment. Can't be used on named characters or to give your warlord a second warlord trait. Usefulness may vary.

Anointed Throng(1CP)[edit]

Cost one Cp and gives all abominants and aberants the Anointed Throng keyword making them entitled to the stratagem, warlord trait and relic listed below. Overall it’s a perfect detachment if you want to run allot of the new aberant models to deliver maximum butt hurt to the enemy at a high point cost.


  • Devotion till death(2CP): a strategem that allows fallen Anointed Throng aberrants to pile in and fight after they are slain in the fight phase, even if they have already fought in that phase. Exelent if you know your 10 man squad of hammerrants will perish after a hopefull charge against a knight or something else that would lead to their demise.

However it must be activated at the start of the fight phase.

  • Fight for the Anointed One!(1CP):at the start of the fight phase you can pick a unit of Aberrants within 6" of an Abominant and the get to re-roll wound rolls of one for that phase, when you want to ensure you put out maximum damage on your target.

Warlord Trait[edit]

Insidious Mindwyrm: add +1 to charge rolls for Anointed Throng models within 6" when the roll is made, can help make the charge out of cult ambush easier.


Blessed Sledgehammer is a relic for abominants with the Anointed Throng keyword which improves his weapon to Ap -4 compared to his previously already strong Ap-3. This means most tanks do not get any saving throws when this big boy and his big boy hammer do what they do best, however it might be overkill when considering the abundant amount of invunereble saves currently in the game.

Deliverance Broodsurge (1 CP)[edit]

Same as the Throng gives all affected units the Deliverance Broodsurge keyword, this affect your acolytes, neophytes, Iconwards and goliath trucks, not bad if you have a lot of trucks as transports.


  • The First to Draw Blood(1CP):At the start of the fight phase a Deliverance Broodsurge unit that made a succesful charge can add +1 to it's wound rolls, perfect for a big squad of rending claw acolytes.
  • Reckless Manoeuvre(1CP):At the end of the movement phase a Deliverance Broodsurge unit embarked in a goliath truck can disembark if they did not embark within it that turn, however if they use this they must roll a dice for each model and on a roll of one that model is slain, the models must be more than 9" away when they disembark though and cannot move that phase, that last part makes it a lot less appealing.

Warlord Trait[edit]

  • Auger of the Insurgent: Allows Deliverance Broodsurge units to re-roll advance and charge rolls within 6", a shame this doesn't include purestrains, but still nice for your acolytes.


  • Vial of the Grandsire's Blood:Effectively Iconward only due to keywords, add +1 leadership to friendly cult models within 6" and once per game you can give a Genestealer Cults infantry model within 3" +2 to their strength and attacks, perfect to use on a Patriarch or Abominant to ensure whatever it's pointed at is gone.

Unit Analysis[edit]

HQ Units[edit]

  • Patriarch: A Broodlord from the Tyranid list, with +1 Strength (and, for some reason, a 5+ BS even though it still has no ranged weapons) and the obvious factional ability swaps. Just as much of an obscene infantry blender in melee, and also grants all GENESTEALER CULTS within 6" immunity to morale along with the usuals (5++, giving Genestealers +1 to hit in melee, and being able to Charge after Advancing). Like the Broodlord, the Patriarch has monstrous rending claws which are AP-3, reroll all failed wounds, and on a 6 to wound become AP-6! The same as a volcano cannon!
    • Also still a one power/one deny psyker, but can optionally bring up to two Familiars to throw a second Psychic power once per game.
    • Remember you can use command points on your ambush. So even though he isn't a primus, he can still get decent ambushes.
  • Magus: Your cheap psyker option, with one power, one deny, and up to two familiars. Grants a lesser version of Deny the Witch to all GENESTEALER CULTS units within 6", which they can only use on powers targeted directly at them.
    • Don't forget he's affected by his own aura, so he can use that free Deny on things that target him. You can still only try to Deny each manifested power once, though.
    • Specially designed to make Grey Knight players cry as all of your units can Deny their Rites of Banishment.
  • Primus: Ambush rerolls for himself and any accompanying unit, and +1 to hit in the Fight phase for all GENESTEALER CULTS in 6". Also a pretty mean melee fighter in his own right. As durable as a leaf in a storm.
    • Seriously consider this guy as an alternative to the Patriarch in your ambushing Genestealer squad. He still gives them +1 to hit, and the reroll on the Ambush table might get you that guaranteed turn one charge.
  • Acolyte Iconward: Ignore wounds on a 6 for GENESTEALER CULTS INFANTRY, and reroll morale tests for GENESTEALER CULTS, within 6". An HQ slot and 53 points might seem expensive, but you'll probably still want a lot of these guys around.
    • 53 points isn't expensive when you consider that these guys will be in the middle of a huge infantry blob, a turn or two of enemy shooting and you'll have made the iconwards points back, and this stacks perfectly with Unquestioning Loyalty, as first, you'll have the characters save, then the roll to redirect the damage , then your unlucky guardsman gets to roll to prevent the damage. This doesn't work sadly, as the Unquestioning Loyalty states that the shunted model is outright slain. Thus it gets no save, just straight up dies. In short, you'll be wanting A LOT of these guys around if you're running big infantry blobs (which you should be doing anyway).
      • Hopefully the Iconward will be moved to the elites slot, upon the arrival of the codex like other banner-bearing units. As it stands right now he competes heavily with other HQ choices in a battalion detachment.
  • Abominant: A recently revealed (although we’ve seen a model for it for the past two months) new HQ for the genestealer cults, looking effectively the same as an aberrant only much bigger. Nothing is known about it stat wise... Scratch that, still not too much known about this new guy on the Hab-block, but what we know is that he comes equipped with the new Power Sledgehammer which is a Sx2, AP -3, D6 melee weapon with the trait to turn all damage roles of 1 and 2 to 3's. GW's said that the sledge would give him an effective Strength of 12 so should mean he is rocking a strength of 6. Also revealed is this big, retard's buff ability for Aberrants; all unmodified hit rolls of 6 cause two hits. This guy was made to turn characters and TEQ's into red stains, bust Chimeras in two, and turn Russes into swiss cheese. This isnt even taking in to account Aberrant tag-alongs. Think about Might from Beyond and this guy... Knights will fall to this two-faced, overall wearing, mutant.
    • Regenerates d3 wounds at the start of your turn, reduces damage by 1 (minimum 1), and has a 5+FNP. At 5T 5W, he'll need to take multiple melta shots to keep him down.
    • His familiar friend also gets two S4 swipes in, and brings a Shadow in the Warp equivalent, a 12" -1 to non-Tyranid Psyker tests. RAW stacks with Shadow in the Warp, let's see how long that lasts before it gets FAQ'd.
    • With Tooth and Claw, this guy takes Aberrants and turns them into absolute motherfuckers. His rule "Chosen One" gives Aberrants within 6" exploding hits. On an unmodified 6 (sorry, Primus!), the hit roll hits twice. Combine this with their new Power Picks, and these guys will shred all the unimportant stuff while the mutant retard king kills any characters dumb enough to get too close to him.


  • Acolyte Hybrids: Your infantry blob, melee flavour. They're first and second generation hybrid, highly deadly for troops and can be made even deadlier with loads of weapons.
    • If you really want to splash out on points and give your opponent a nasty surprise, you can give every single one (take fewer) a Hand Flamer and drop 20d3 auto-hits every shooting phase both in and out of melee.
      • However, it might be you who gets the nasty suprise when you realise that a 20-man squad, all with hand flamers, costs 380pts. Don't expect to be firing your hand flamers in assault either - it is very rare that a combat will last through two fight phases without one side dying or falling back.
    • Try 5 man squads with blast charges popping out out no where and banging tanks, taking objectives and irritating campers. Think gears of war wretch's.
    • The Heavy Rock Drill and Heavy Rock Cutter can give tough enemy units a very, very nasty surprise with their mortal wound spam and instant kill abilities.
      • If they wound, they will on average deal ~2.8 damage with each swing. Consider taking the Saw instead - it's 14 points rather than the Drill's 25 (as per CA2017) and does only 0.8 fewer wounds to the opponent.
      • The maximum 8 Heavy Rock Drills in a 20 man squad is a potential 80 mortal wounds with every round of fighting (or 120 if you're using Might From Beyond). Never mind the heavens, you can pierce a titan with power like that. Pity that's 240 points just for the Drills, really... (or sensible) Still, if you do somehow manage to get stuck in against something that would require that many mortal wounds to down (like an entire Imperial Knight army) they will make back significantly more than their cost.
    • A good take for this squad is 10x Acolytes (4x Rock Drills, Cult Icon). This costs 186 points, and when near a Primus will kill ~154 points worth of Primaris Marines in a single charge phase.
  • Neophyte Hybrids: Doing dual duty as both expendable meat shields and troops: ranged flavour, these guys manage to have a separate identity from guardsmen and cultists through their use of cult ambush. You can easily spare points for some of these guys without having to rely on transports. It's not one hundred percent reliable, but it is cheap and can be scary done properly. Two of them can form a gun team and crew a single weapon from the Heavy Weapons list, your only source of heavy weapon teams. Or you can leave them separate and take two Heavy Mining Weapons instead. Consider what you're likely to be facing before making your choice.
    • I'm not saying to do this but with the right support they can be surprising in combat. A unit of 20 with shotguns, buffed by a Primus, cult icon and Might from beyond can make these guardsmen equivalent have 41 attacks hitting on 3+ re-rolling 1s at S4. Giving the same melee ability of a full Crusader squad with a captains buff (minus special melee weapons) with chainswords but also having 40 assault S3 shots at 12" or S4 at 6".
      • This combination does cost 229 points though - at this point you may as well be taking 15 Genestealers, which would give 60 3+ attacks at S4, AP-1 (6+ being AP-4), 5++ and +2" movement amongst other things.
    • These guys play a decent mid-long ranged game, especially in a Goliath truck. 10 with 2 grenade launchers, 6 lasguns and a mortar only costs 65 points for on average 13 S3 shots at 24" and 3 S4 at 48". On top of the reasonably priced Truck's 4 autocannon shots and 3 more S4 via heavy stubber. Pretty decent for holding a backfield objective while also contributing some supporting fire.
    • Consider taking an understrength unit of 1 Neophyte, this open a slot to cult ambush another unit. Not after Chapter Approved

Dedicated Transport[edit]

  • Goliath Truck: Open-topped so you can fire your autoguns and hand flamers out of it. You also get free 12 point Demolition Charges to throw if there's a unit embarked. Comes armed base with a single heavy Stubber and a Twin autocannon. Fragile at T6 and a 4+, but ignores wounds on a 6. This unit costs just under 110 points, so if you're taking it to solely protect your Neophytes, remember you could be taking 22x extra Neophytes for the same cost.
    • Consider using it as a battle-bus with some cheap neophytes in it, but be aware that it'll fold under any concentrated fire - it's a light vehicle, not a tank. The guys inside will only suffer mortal wounds die on an 6 1 when bailing out though, so they should live for at least a little longer after their ride goes pop.
  • Cult Chimera: Generally more durable than the truck with +1T and +1Sv (although lacking the Rugged Construction ability to ignore wounds on a 6), but loses open-topped so your troops can't add their firepower to the Chimera's guns. The Chimera has more versatile - although not necessarily more powerful - weapon options, smoke launchers, and a slightly bigger transport capacity so you can bring a couple of characters with your 10-man squad. Embarked units enable it to shoot its Lasgun batteries, which are much weaker but quite a lot longer-ranged than a Demo Charge Cache.
    • In many situations the truck is as tough as the chimera. Autocannon, grenade launchers, plague spitters, uncharged plasma, and a few other niche weapons are the only weapons where your +1T will matter. As far as armor saves go the rugged construction save will mean the truck and chimera are similar in many situations, and in some situations, the truck is better. Lascannons and demo charge the truck will effectively be the same toughness and bother will get a 6+ save at some point in the rolls. Against melta, neutron lasers, and other AP -4 weapons the truck is actually tougher than the chimera. Lastly, the truck also is tougher against grav as it doesn't take multiple damages. TLDR toughness wise it's a wash between the truck and the chimera, as they are usually the same toughness and in special cases, one vehicle beats out the other.


  • Hybrid Metamorphs: In 7th edition, these guys were your light can opener and elite infantry blenders alike, 8th ed doesn't really change that, but it does change how useful their wargear is. Clocking in at the same cost as a space marine they trade survivability with raw melee potential and Cult ambush shenanigans. Coming with autopistol, blasting charges, rending claws and Metamorph talons with the option to take hand flamers and 1 of 3 exclusive melee weapons. Do not replace Rending claws with a second metamorph talon, they already have one and don't give any benefit to having two.
    • Metamorph Talon: Basic CCW with +1 to hit, if you have a Primus nearby these are redundant and even if you don't know statistically the rending claws have the same effect but have more potential.
    • Metamorph Whip: These are actually pretty decent. If the bearer dies before he fights in the fight phase, he gets to make his attacks with a weapon of his choice before being removed. Generally used as a fall back plan if they end up getting charged as they are as squishy as a 4 point guardsman.
    • Metamorph Claw: In 7th edition these were the bomb, allowing Metamorphs to have S6 Rending claws for a small price. Now though they are just +2S melee weapons. Generally not worth it, you are replacing Rending claws with it and for a cost for the same general effectiveness but less potential.
    • These models are absolutely outclassed by Purestrain Genestealers - their ability to "specialise" in 7e is no longer present. A Genestealer costs the same as a Metamorph with a Whip, and the Genestealer also comes with a 5++, the ability to advance and charge, +2" movement, +1 toughness, +1 leadership and +1 attack when the unit numbers 10 or more.
  • Aberrants: Expensive and squishy, but you can give the whole squad Power Hammers for eight S10 3 Damage attacks. Try to Ambush them on top of a tank or monster they can smash apart, or pile them and a character into a Goliath. Honestly, when GC was released, Aberrants were not necessarily bad but were just far less competitive than all the other units in the codex. And now they are worse. So yeah.
    • As of Chapter Approved Aberrants have become cheaper making them a lot better. 33pts per model (if equipped with hammers, but why would you give them the puny picks), have them accompanied by an Iconward with the +1 S relic to make them S12 AP -3 D 3, if you bring a Primus you can also have +1 to hit which negates the -1 modifier from the hammers as well as a better chance of a good Cult Ambush. Bringing a Magus with Mass Hypnosis/Might From Beyond and these guys become either really hard to kill or insanely strong in CC with S14 (Probably overkill though...).
    • It does make these guys the rape machines they were meant to be, for 33 points you get 2 S10 ap-3 Damage 3 attacks which hit o a 4+ (which can be easily increased back to a 3+), all on a T4 frame which reduces all incoming damage by 1, other factions would be paying through the nose for such power. Their real power is the cult ambush, something other factions would again be paying through the nose for. No land raider, artillery, psyker, terminators, dreadnought, etc. is safe, and chances are a unit of 5 of these guys (and a primus) at 236 points will be making their money back after a turn or two of combat.
    • Even then, these guys are very similar to terminators (various flavours included), except that for a few points less you lose a stormbolter, and an amazing amount of durability with the invuln and 2+save, not to mention the supporting cast for terminators is stronger and the weapon options are better and more varied. A point to point battle between CC terminators and aberrants with power hammers easily ends with a victory to the terminators. SO if you're willing to pay a not inconsiderable amount for some squishy, semi-powerful CC beasts , aberrants are your unit.
    • With the release of Tooth and Claw, they've gotten some buffs. Their Bestial Vigour ability now grants them a 5+FNP in addition to the damage reduction. Power Picks seem reasonable again, granting a free hit with their Rending Claws for each swing of the pick. For every 5 models, you can change one to an Aberrant Hypermorph(+1A), who can bring either a Power Hammer, or the new Heavy Improvised Weapon (Sx2 -1AP D2, 2 hits per attack at -1WS), and a bonus Hypermorph tail for an extra S5 -1AP attack. If you can, take a few ablative models - despite how durable they might seem on paper, often it is the case that a number of models will die before they get to swing.
  • Purestrain Genestealers: They can move 8" and charge after advancing. Now, that's scary enough. Also, if a unit has at least 10 models in it, they get 4 attacks instead of 3 with their Rending Claws, which are S:User AP-1 and if you roll a 6 to-wound the attack is resolved at AP-4. They CAN scratch heavy vehicles like Land Raiders, but don't try it unless you took 2 units of 20 'Stealers. These guys excel at making mincemeat of just about any non-vehicle unit. Not even Orks or Khorne Berzerkers can survive a full-strength Genestealer charge. And to top it all off? They kept their 5+ invulnerable saves. It's not like they were gonna be auto-popped by Bolters anymore due to AP0, but it helps against the heavy-hitting things like Plasma and Heavy Flamers.
    • They also make great bubblewrap for your Patriarch. His aura will render them immune to morale and give them +1 to hit, and he can also make them even more horrifying by manifesting Might From Beyond to give them +1S and +1A. There isn't much that can stand up to 100 S5 AP1 attacks on the charge that hit on a 2s and gain AP4 on a wound roll of 6 (not to mention the Patriarch's own attacks).
    • As of the 1.1 Errata/FAQ Purestrains are now 15 points each, strictly more expensive than their regular Tyranid counterparts (12 each). On the upside they've got Cult Ambush, but the downside is that they're an Elite choice rather than Troops. They're probably your best Elites choice in a pure cult detachment though, so that's not a downside if you're going to be pulling ambush shenanigans. Even if you just want to run them up the table, 3 extra points per model is cheap compared to the overheads of buying a Tyranid HQ to run an allied detachment or the lost CP to take them as auxiliaries. If you want a 'Nid HQ and maybe some more of their lovely monsters/cannon fodder though, regular Genestealers in those troop slots might save you a few points for other things if you aren't looking to ambush with them.
    • With a complete unit of 20 with Might from beyond cast on them and a Patriarch's +1 to hit these guys get 100 attacks with rending claws hitting on 2+ and wounding everything T6-T9 on 5+. On average this is 82 hits and causing 13 saves at -4 and 14 saves at-1. Even against a 2+ Armour save (Land Raiders I'm looking at you) this causes about 15 wounds and against 3+ Invulnerable it's about 9 wounds (which may not sound like much but that is against the toughest models in the game, against Hammernators it's about 18 wounds after saves). Not bad for 450 points and then you have the Patriarch to finish off whats left.

Fast Attack[edit]

  • Cult Scout Sentinels: Identical to the Imperial Guard version. Except we pay 3pts more for HK missiles, autocannons and 2 more for Heavy flamers than the IG, even though we basically are the IG. Guess lack of proper Mechanicus support hurts.
  • Cult Armoured Sentinels: As above, identical to the IG version save for Keywords.

Heavy Support[edit]

  • Cult Leman Russ: Almost identical to the Imperial Guard version, except you can't take additional tanks in a squadron (so you need a Heavy Support slot per tank, rather than being able to squeeze up to three into each). If you want massed tanks, then an allied Imperial Guard Spearhead Detachment might be better, but don't forget the extra HQ you'll need to buy to go with them (although if you're going massed tanks, it makes sense to bring a Tank Commander along anyway). You could bring them as Auxiliary Support Detachments too, but remember you need one Cult detachment for every AM detachment you want to bring - and that Auxiliary Support Detachments only fit a maximum of 3 tanks, and incur a -1CP penalty for each one you bring. Making a proper Spearhead Detachment gets you a bonus Command Point and can fit 3-18 tanks, as well as pick up any other odd AM units you might want. With the new Guard codex now out, an AM spearhead will help your Leman Russ tanks massively. They gain objective secured, can take orders from a tank commander. Unfortunately, the option to get a Regimental Doctrine was ruled out with an FAQ, but you can still take juicy relics and warlord traits that recycle CP like mad.
    • Now gains Grinding Advance, just like the IG version.
    • Really if you're planning on taking one of these, you should very seriously consider taking an Imperial Guard version. The Imperial Guard version costs 10pts less, has better plasma vents, can benefit from orders, has a larger choice of weapons, gets objective secured in a spearhead, can squadron up, and even gets guard regimental bonuses and stratagems. The cherry on the top is that the Imperial Guard version is 10 POINTS CHEAPER.
  • Goliath Rockgrinder: Loses open-topped and 4 of its 10 transport capacity for a bigger gun and a massive rock drill attached to the front that gives it a potential nine S8 AP2 attacks on the charge. With only 6 spaces inside, you'll probably want to use this to shield something like an Aberrant squad on their journey to the enemy lines. Consider swapping the weapon for a Clearance Incinerator if you want to rush this in, as all of the other weapons are Heavy class and will only be hitting on 5s. Get into charge range, disembark the infantry then smash your way in to soak overwatch for them.
    • A great source of anti-armor/monsters; put 5 or 6 Acolytes with heavy weapons inside. Jump your models out 9" in front of the grinders, then charge in. The dozer blade does about the same damage as 4-5 missile launchers that moved, or stationary ones if you ambush your primus in nearby. Just bear in mind that you only ever hit on 5+ with the drilldozer blade as we are sadly lacking a stratagem like Crush them! From the AM codex.
    • Has 3 different guns options to choose from in addition to the stock Heavy Stubber and Drilldozer blade and can also take a Demo charge cache for 12 points like its counterpart Truck. The priciest option at 25 is the Heavy Mining laser-this is a 36" Lascannon with a fancier name. Next, at 22, you have the previously mentioned Clearance Incinerator-this is an Assault Heavy Flamer with a 12" range and is the best compliment to the Drilldozer. Finally, at 15, we have the Heavy Seismic Cannon, like its smaller counterpart available to Neophytes. This gun has 2 modes of fire and wound rolls of 6+ have AP-4 for both. Longwave is 24" Heavy 4 S4 AP-1 D2, while Shortwave is 12" Heavy 2 S8 AP-2 D3. Just bear in mind that you have guard armor level BS for your shooting (4+ to 6+) and at T7 W10 Sv 4+ trying to imitate a Russ will usually get you wrecked in short order.

Brood Brothers, Tyranid Allies, and you[edit]

As mentioned above, Genestealer Cults armies have the option of allying in with the following:

  • Astra Militarum: Requires one Genestealer Cults detachment for every Astra Militarum detachment, so in most cases you can take one detachment of them. They lose their regimental bonuses, regimental stratagems and regimental relics.
  • Tyranids: These can be allied in freely.

You should use allies to shore up the weaknesses in the Genestealer Cults army (for example, by bringing in a Shadowsword to deal with titans). The "hot takes" for allies will be added below. In general Genestealer Cults have the following issues:

  • Removing screens for their Cult Ambush: Any Genestealer Cults player knows that a simple screen can end up with you wasting a 376pts deathstar on a few weak squads. Genestealer Cults rely on their Cult Ambush to get a lot of their "heavy lifting" done, so it's often worth having allies on the board to first remove the screens with shooting.
  • Anti-tank (and anti-titan): This issue can be resolved with Aberrants in melee, but this strategy often has the flaw of being screened, as mentioned above. Furthermore, your Aberrants can't be everywhere at once, and so it is best to have some points-efficient allies who can take down tanks. The mining lasers provided by the Genestealer Cults don't prove effective unfortunately, or at least when compared to allied choices.
  • A first-turn board presence that doesn't feel wasted: As per the "Big FAQ 2", now at least half your points (and units) must be deployed on the battlefield. This means that without allies, you have to put over 1,000pts of squishy glass cannons on the board turn 1. Rather than fill up this 1,000+ points on Neophytes or expensive units like Aberrants that will quickly get picked off, it is better to have sturdier allies start on the board, and put most of your Cult in reserve, where they belong.
  • Keeping board control before Cult Ambush: It is highly important that you gain control of the "no man's land" area of the battlefield, to prevent your opponent from expanding their forces to create a null-zone of anti-deep strike. The last thing you want is for your ambushing units to be restricted to the back corner of your deployment zone when ambushing. Use some fast and reasonably durable units to do this.
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