Greetings to WH40k rule team!
I am active 40k player and often take part in local club games and tournaments. Since the and of 7th and beginning of 8th edition of Warhammer 40k I play as Grey Knights. I avoid using allies so far and encountered several issues regarding overall performance of Grey Knights on the table. In this letter I want to let you know about this issues.
Here is the list. I rarely play Narrative, so this is based mostly on Matched play experience.
Most units in the army costs much more points than their Space Marine counterparts.
Grandmaster – 45 points more for 2 Psychic powers.
Chaplain – 29 points more for Psychic power and +1 BS.
Librarian – 17 points more for +1 BS and 1 more power deny.
Techmarine – 46 points more for Psychic power and must take Servo-Arms.
Terminators – 15 points for Psychic power.
Twin Heavy Plasma Cannon also costs 26 more points for Grey Knights for some reason.
While Grey Knights have access to different psychic powers, this is limited by Psychic Focus rule in Matched play. And Space Marines characters has way more weapon options to take. While I do not think, that GK character have to be cheap, the cost difference is drastic.
Most special weapons also cost a lot but not much better than a basic Storm Bolter (I will cover the issue below).
2.Lack of Command Points
Grey Knights are an elite army which means a small amount of units in every Grey Knight list. High point costs mean that Grey Knights are unable to field a Brigade detachment, unless taking the cheapest units which is usually hurts performance, in 2000 point games limiting Grey Knights with 7 CP at best. Unlike other armies Grey Knights do not have access to warlord traits or relics which return command points upon stratagem use. Neither they have cheap Troops choices to fill requirements for multiple battalion detachment. Considering that most important stratagems like Psybolt Ammunition, Psychic Onslaught and Heed the Prognosticars cost 2 CP, this limits Grey Knights to keep CP only for them making other nice but not as important ones, like Wisdom of Ancitents, Finest Hour or Orbital Bombardment not worthy enough to spend CP on.
In larger format (2000 pts+) games I am able to use only 3-4 stratagems per game. For 1000 pts games I can use only 1-3 stratagems and then go out of CP. Most of times they are Psychic Onslaught and Psybolt Ammunition because GK lack good anti-vehicle and anti-heavy armor shooting, so I almost forced to use these two stratagems every game to deal with vehicles and heavy infantry. As a result, I am unable to use most of the wide range stratagems presented in the Codex.
Let’s start with Domina Liber Demonica. It is a relic that reduce leadership of daemonic units close to the bearer. Reduction of leadership characteristics by 1 means that during morale tests a daemon unit will lose 1 more model than usual. It also means that Grey Knight psychic power 'Purge Soul' would kill one more model than usual. This makes Liber Demonica very situational Relic. Even in situations when it is useful (a match vs Daemons of Chaos), it has too low impact. Effect of Cuirass of Sacrifice, for example, will be triggered every time the bearer loses a wound which is a common situation against any army. Or let’s look at a situation where a model with Fury of Deimos shoot a unit of Pink Horrors. In perfect conditions, bearer is in Rapid-Fire range, all rolls for hit and wound are successful and no saving throws taken. This will deal 6 wounds. This is three times more wounds than horrors would suffer from Liber Demonica if perfect conditions (bearer within 6'' from target, Purge Soul was cast). In other words, Liber Demonica is never worth taking compared to other Relics of Titan even in friendly or narrative games.
Lack of AP value on his weapon makes him struggle in close combat against units with high armor save characteristics and toughness. If mediocre strength of 4 can be mitigated by warlord trait or Hammerhand psychic power, no AP value seriously hurts his effectiveness. Compared to the Brotherhood champion, who has AP -3 base and ability to increase either to-wound roll result or invulnerable save result, Castellan Crowe is not an attractive choice. Potentially, he can make more attacks because of special abilities, but in fact it doesn’t matter because these attacks probably will not hurt targets with high toughness/armor save. And against the horde-type units with a lot of models and low saving throw, a 5-man strike squad will deal more damage with just storm bolters. Without bonuses from Warlord Traits, Psychic Powers or Character abilities, Crowe can make, in best case, 10 attacks (all hits and wounds). Strike squad always does at least 10 attacks with Strom Bolters (usually 20, because of Rapid Fire). So taking Crowe to use him against hordes also meaningless. The only thing that leaves Crowe superior to other units is purifying flame. I will talk about it below.
So Crowe is a unit that doesn’t fulfill any role in army. There is nothing Crowe can do better than other units.
Terminator Squad is twice as more expensive as another Troops choice - Strike Knight squad. Compared to 10-man Strike Squad, one 5-man Terminator Squad has twice less Strom bolter shots (10 compared to 20), same number of attacks and same number of wounds. Terminators has better armor save and invulnerable save, but with new AP rules this is not as important as in previous edition. Terminators withstand small-arms fire better, but are much more vulnerable for multi-damage weapons. Most importantly, to fulfill a battalion detachment requirement, more than twice more points needed to do it with Terminators than with Strike squads. Compared to Paladins, 5-man Terminator squad has 4 less attacks and 5 less wounds. The latter is critical against multi-damage weapons, especially ones with 2 damage value. And difference between their point costs is just 12 points.
Both Strikes and Paladins are preferable to Terminators depending on the role on the battlefield you prefer them to use as. Strikes Squads are does more shots with Strom Bolters and way cheaper. Paladins can take more and deal more damage in close combat. So there is no point in taking Terminator Squad in matched play games. I see no reason to take them other Strikes while they cost twice as much or more.
Strike Squad is better than a Purifier squad in every possible way. Purifiers about 50% more expensive, do not have teleport strike, cannot compete for objectives with other armies’ Troops, does not fill troop slot. Purifiers has higher leadership, which is rarely decisive because of And They Shall know no Fear special rule. They also can take 1 more special weapon per 5 models, but this is situational too, because a force weapon is exchanged for special weapon (usually it is better to leave Strike Squads with Strom Bolters and give all special weapons to Purgation Squads). Finally, Purifying Flame - ability that makes Purifiers deal d6 mortal wounds with smite. In fact, because of range 3" of Purifying Flame, single Strike Squad with Rites of banishment can deal more mortal wounds per battle than a purifier squad. Purifiers can never cast Smite on turn 1, unless something charged them or came out of reserves near them (and it is hard to me to imagine in which situation it is possible, because no one will go near such a squad by their own will). But Strike Squad can. If Purifiers are in range of Smite on turn 2, they will deal 3-4 mortal wounds on average. After they kill their target, they will be most likely out of range again. It will take one or two more turns to get to another target. Strike Squad will most likely do one mortal wound on every turn (especially with Brotherhood Captain nearby).
Now Purifiers are too similar to Strike Squads but cost almost 1.5 times more. In my games, one purifier squad usually casts Smite once or twice. Then they are taken down or out of range of Smite and even Brother-Captain does not help. My opponents always easily avoid them.
Psycannon was a weapon effective against light vehicles in 7th edition because of how armor penetration worked. In 8th edition, however, it ceased to be anti-vehicle because most of them has 10+ wounds. With damage characteristics of 1 it takes too much shots to destroy a vehicle. It is also not very good against infantry - not enough shots to threaten numerous light infantry and too low AP to deal with heavy infantry. Compared to assault cannon, Psycannon has 1 more strength point, 2 less shots and only 2 points cheaper. Two more shots are a very big difference, much better than +1 strength. Psycannon better only at wounding t7 and t12-13 (the letter I've never seen in unit datasheets) than assault cannon. So Assault Cannon only 2 points more expensive than Psycannon but way better.
Actually, taking Psilencer is almost always better than a Psycannon. Most vehicles are t6-8. So Psilencer wound them on a roll of 5+ and has no rend at all. But Psilencer has two more shots and each deals d3 damage instead of just one. Adding Psychic Onslaught gives Psilencer +1 rend and it wounds t8 on 5+ too. On top of that, Psilencer costs twice less points.
Another problem of Psycannon is how Grey Knights army work. They are always on move. They must come from reserves or transports and charge. After they destroy one target they must move to get another charge. This means always -1 penalty on heavy weapons for moving. And this is why storm bolter is often preferable to special weapons. Let’s compare Storm Bolter and Psycannon. Storm Bolter is 3+ to hit for most Grey Knight units. Psycannon is 4+ to hit, because must be on move. Storm Bolter is 3+ to-wound against t3 (very common), 4+ to-wound against t4 (very common), 5+ to wound against t5-7 (t7 is common for vehicles), 6+ to-wound against t8+ (common for super-heavy vehicles). Psycannon is 2+ to-wound against t3, 3+ against t4-6, 4+ against t7, 5+ against t8+. So, generally, Psycannon is +1 to-wounds. So here is a trade-off - -1 to-hit and +1 to-wound compared to Storm Bolter. Psycannon is also has better AP (-1). But it costs 10 times more. Grey Knights want to be close to the enemy, so Storm Bolter often does 4 shots too. In the end, we pay 18 points just for getting +1 AP. Psycannon is very strange weapon rule-wise right now and even Storm Bolter does better against most targets for its cost.
At the same time, Heavy Psycannon is the best special weapon of the Codex. With 2 more shots and straight 2 damage, it really hurts vehicles. It is often mounted on Grand Master in Nemesis Dread Knight, so hits on 3+ even when it moves.
It is a good weapon but still it costs too much. The main issue is, however, is that is cannot fire when unit comes from reserves. So it is out of synergy with other Grey Knights weapons. It never reaches target on turn one. While, unlike Psycannon, it is not a strange weapon and good against infantry, it struggles to reach its target (problem similar to Purifying Flame). Unfortunately, because of this, it is still not worth its points. Psilencers can do more damage simply because they are in range of fire from the turn 1.
Heavy Incinerator, on the other hand, is probably the worst weapon right now. It costs 10 points more than heavy Psycannon, has 1 less strength and d6 damage. On a Nemesis Dread Knight even on movement on average both H.Incinerator and H.Psycannon scores 3-4 hits per phase. If it is a Grand Master in Nemesis Dread Knight, H.Psycannon is way better (I usually get 5 out of 6 hits).
Again, heavy incinerator is too expensive for what it does.
9.Psychic focus beta
New psychic focus beta rules will hurt Grey Knights a lot. Smite is the only way Grey Knights can reliably deal with high toughness/save targets out of close combat. Even with Psychic Brotherhood rule casting Smite in larger games will become much harder leaving Grey Knights without only tool to deal with tough enemies.
Please, reconsider either the new Psychic Focus rule or current Rites of Banishment rule.
These are the main issues regarding Grey Knights I encountered so far. I also want to ask some questions about other game aspects and factions.
- Can you please confirm, that it is intended to convert Brimstone Horrors to Poxwalkers via the stratagem “The dead walk again” for no point cost in Matched Play? This combination became very popular lately, making some lists almost unkillable.
- If a Chaos army includes Heretic Astartes detachment and Death Guard detachment, is it possible to use both Heretic Astartes stratagem “Veterans of the Long War” and Death Guard stratagem “Veterans of the Long War” on the same Heretic Astartes or Death Guard unit on the same turn?
That’s it. Thank you for your attention and your effort in making WH40k better!
With best regards!
Here it is. I wrote more about personal concerns, but if anyone wants to use it as a template - feel free. Also note, that there are probably mistakes, as English is not my native language.