Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sir Biscuit and the Grey Knights

Grey Knights have, as long as I can remember, been the army I've wanted to play. The first model I painted was a Grey Knight model, and even when I played exclusively fantasy I knew the Daemonhunters codex like the back of my hand.

These weren't just mighty armored space warriors, these were the true knights of the 40k universe, ripped and re-purposed straight from Arthurian legend, with a style swiped from the Knights Templar. Heroic deeds and righteousness of this nature have always appealed to me like nothing else, in my mind, the fluff and style of other factions do not even come close to a comparison.

There was one thing that held me back, however, and that was the rules. Before I ever bought a 40k model, I proxied dozens of games with every faction I was interested in, and researched them as much as I could. The reality of the situation was apparent: GK simply were not very good.

At heart I do not play this game because I want to tell stories about the universe, or because I want to build a "realistic" force. I RPG for that kind of stuff, and it's much better for it. So, I moved on to other races, occasionally modeling a Grey Knight here or there, but never having the extra cash to collect any serious number of them.

Now, that is changing. Grey Knights may not become the "best" army, but with this update they are certainly up there. The army I've always wanted to play can finally function at a level high enough that I can enjoy them. So, ever since the announcement that we would be seeing GK as the next updated army, I've been living on a pittance the last few moths, saving enough that I can leap into a 2500 point army the minute the 'dex drops.

Speaking of, I've been looking over the preview codex at every opportunity, enough so that I have it for the most part memorized. I've played a few proxy games, and have been scouring the net for all the information and strategies I can find.

All this has given me a very good impression of what the GK codex does and does not do well, as well as how the army and units within function as a whole. These are the fundamental truths as I see them:

1.) GK are elite. What I mean by that is not only that they come in small numbers and pack devastating equipment, but that they will require very solid play in order to work well. They are similar to the Dark Eldar in this way: a bad, or even average player with DE won't perform very well, but with a good player they should be performing at the top tier.

2.) GK are very good at shooting. They are also very good at assault. With minimal upgrading, even the basic GK strike squad can inflict significant damage to almost any unit in the game. GK truly bring what every other marine army says it has, but doesn't: flexibility in both shooting and melee. This is excellent, as it allows you much more leeway when matching up your combats, a must in a smaller, more elite army. Applying focused pressure in this way is the critical component for using this army: you must engage the enemy in the right amount, at the right time, and at the right place so that you deal enormous damage and take little yourself.

3.) That being said, I do not believe that pure shooting GK builds will work very well. If they do not bring at least 1 strong melee unit, I don't see any way for them to hold the middle of the board. Very assault-oriented armies will still kill you before you shoot them to death, (24" is not far...) and shooting armies will still outshoot you. You don't have to max every aspect of a squad, but your units need to be prepared to fight both in melee and at range if you expect to do well.

4.) There are going to be a lot of builds with this codex. Like, a LOT. I know people are already trying to bleed it down and find that "best build", but I don't think it will exist as obviously as it does in some codexes. Like a lot of fifth edition armies, the book will have multiple good builds, and one won't necessarily be overtly better than the others. What lists work best will come down a lot to play style.

Point 4 is especially relevant, as I am already seeing players scramble in every direction trying to build good lists. Some people are going for a straight gunline, some are building melee deathstars. Certainly my co-authors (co-reviewers?) have different ideas about how to run the codex than I do. This is very exciting to me, as we'll all be taking many of the same units, and using them in entirely different ways. For my part, I am extremely impressed with how fast and hard hitting the list can be, especially in CC. I have already plotted out the basics for an army, and I'll be getting into more specific weapon options as I do more play testing.

For now, I'll start by reviewing the things I know. It may seem odd to already be critiquing an army that hasn't even officially launched yet, so I'll be looking at thing that are quite easy to build first: HQ loadouts, for the most part, don't need playtesting for me to know which ones are the best, and some heavy units like Dreadknights and Dreadnoughts are also quite simple to class and review. The basic troops, are, strangely enough, the hardest to deal with, and will require extensive play before I can really say what is good an what isn't. (And no, I don't think strike squad+2 psycannons +MCr Daemonhammer and psybolts is that great. It certainly doesn't lab that well against many other units.)

That said, the HQ review (for the pure GK options, at least) will be up within the week. See you then, troopers!

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