Building to counter 5 lists sounds good in theory, and might be practical for elite armies such as the Grey Knights, but it probably won't work as well for armies with lots of options. Such factions will quickly find that they have more than 20 potential models overall and will then have to pick which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of. I'm not knocking the idea, mind you, but it could easily be re-phrased as "build a combat roster that gives you the flexibility to tailor your kill teams to different opponents."
I began looking at the Grey Knights last night when it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to get my eldar corsairs (Asuryani) converted and painted in time for a league that starts in 2 weeks. I’ve worked on Grey Knights in past editions of Kill Team, so they seemed like the appropriate fallback position for me. I’m assembling them now (the ones that haven’t been assembled yet, that is). My “Grey Knights” will actually be the Legio B&C, and since I’m playing somewhere new [to me], I’m ensuring that all of the weapons are appropriately WYSIWYG to prevent confusion. Some players might confuse them for Deathwatch due to the Legio’s appearance, but the Nemesis weapons should make it pretty clear who they are.
What follows are my initial thoughts on the Grey Knights for Kill Team. I’m sure that these will be refined through my own experiences as well as the input of others. My focus is on overall combat roster development – building a combat roster that allows you the most flexibility for a wide range of opponents.
One significant advantage that the elite (i.e., high point cost) kill teams have is that they are able to create a more flexible roster. This is especially evident with the Grey Knights, who have only three model options (Justicar, Grey Knight, Grey Knight Gunner). The command roster is a new concept in Kill Team, and one whose importance should not be underestimated. Necromunda has a similar mechanism, though Shadow War: Armageddon and previous editions of Kill Team did not have this mechanism. Mainstream Warhammer 40,000 doesn't have anything like this, so the concept will be new to many of us (including me, which is why my thinking is so focused on it at present). With the command roster, you are able create a pool of resources, picking and choosing the resources you need for each battle.
With the importance of shooting, the Grey Knights have an advantage in that each model has a powerful ranged attack. Up to two models may be equipped with heavy/special weapons, with the remaining models being equipped with storm bolters. The ability to fire 2 shots at 24” with a BS of 3+ should not be underestimated. That’s twice what the average (Chaos) Space Marine can do with his bolter, and generally better than the basic firearms of pretty much every other kill team’s basic model type.
It’s important to seriously consider the melee weapons. Since a maximum of two models in your kill team will be pure shooty, all other models, including your Justicar, will have a melee weapon (or two). You might not want to get into melee, but you still need to plan for it. The sword, halberd, and warding stave all cost 0 points, whereas the hammer and falchions options each cost 2 points (1 point for each falchion). You’ll want at least one of each weapon option on your combat roster – though I recommend at least two of each, with at least one of the models so equipped being a specialist.
With the Grey Knights, you have one mandatory model – the Justicar. You will have at least one Justicar, and as many more on your command roster as you want for flexibility. Each additional Justicar that you include on your command roster will reduce your overall flexibility, though, so I wouldn’t go overboard. Most players will get away with having only the one Justicar, though some might choose a second with a different weapon or maybe pursue the alternate Leader progression with the same weapon. If I were going the route of having two Justicars, I would have one for MEQ
and the other for less well-armored opponents.
The next model to consider is the Grey Knight Gunner. While you can
have a gunner with the “standard” (i.e., melee) weapons, the gunners are the only models that can take the incinerator, psilencer, and psycannon. The incinerator and psilencer will each cost you 3 points, whereas the psycannon will cost you 2 points. Since you can only take two Grey Knight Gunner models in a kill team, a strategy might be to include six total, two of each weapon on the roster. This will allow you to take the one or two weapons that best support your strategy.
After that, we have the basic Grey Knight. These models, like the Justicar, have five different weapons options – Nemesis force sword, Nemesis force halberd, Nemesis Daemon hammer, Nemesis warding stave, or two Nemesis falchions. Taking either the hammer or falchions option will cost you 2 points, with the others all being equal at 0 points. I recommend having three each of sword, halberd, and two each of stave, hammer, and falchions. One of each weapon type should be a specialist, and one should not be a specialist. For those weapons for which you have three on your roster, whether or not to have a second specialist in each weapon is up to you. If you do choose to include a second specialist for a weapon, I recommend that this be a different specialism from the first, which will allow you to include both models in the same kill team.
As far as specialisms for the Grey Knight Gunners go, the Heavy specialism works for any of the weapons. Yes, the incinerator doesn’t really benefit at level 1, but the abilities at higher levels can be very effective. Beyond that, while some specialist abilities have a more obvious benefit at level 1, all of them have interesting abilities at higher levels. Even if a level 2 ability doesn’t appear that good, odds are pretty good one of the level 3 abilities is
good. And then consider the level 4 ability to choose any
ability for that specialism. While some specialists/abilities might be duplicated across multiple members of the kill team, you should still consider having a variety of specialisms in your team. This will provide more overall flexibility for different missions.
Depending on your overall composition, you can have either four or five models in your kill team. A four-model Grey Knights kill team will have only the most expensive of model/weapon combinations, but will benefit from having lower Force in-game. However, such a kill team would maximize on the Grey Knight kill team's basic weakness, which is small numbers. My recommendation is that you aim for a more flexible five-model Grey Knights kill team.
As has been stated, there is the mandatory Justicar. While you can exclude gunners, I recommend that you always have at least one, and I prefer to have two in my kill team. The remaining models will all be regular Grey Knights.
So a summary of my initial recommendation for a Grey Knights combat roster for kill team looks something like:
- Leader (equipped for MEQ)
- Leader (equipped for non-MEQ)
- Grey Knight Gunner – incinerator, specialist
- Grey Knight Gunner – incinerator
- Grey Knight Gunner – psilencer, specialist
- Grey Knight Gunner – psilencer
- Grey Knight Gunner – psycannon, specialist
- Grey Knight Gunner – psycannon
- Grey Knight – sword, specialist
- Grey Knight – sword, specialist
- Grey Knight – sword
- Grey Knight – halberd, specialist
- Grey Knight – halberd, specialist
- Grey Knight – halberd
- Grey Knight – falchions, specialist
- Grey Knight – falchions
- Grey Knight – hammer, specialist
- Grey Knight – hammer
- Grey Knight – stave, specialist
- Grey Knight – stave
Note that my assumption on the Grey Knight Gunner "specialist" entries is that these are Heavy specialists. You can easily make the second model with the weapon some other type of specialist, though that reduces overall list flexibility.
With that, you can tailor your Justicar to the mission/opponent; you can take up to two gunners (only one will be a specialist if you have two of the same weapon); and you can take a flexible combination of regular Grey Knights, with specialists and non-specialists for each weapon so that you can get the "best" combination.
It will be interesting to see how my thoughts on the combat roster strategy will evolve over time.