Grey Knights – After Action Assessment

I have spent a few days with Codex: Grey Knights now and, after the weekend, I was prepared to officially reclassify the book as Not As Bad As All That. However, the truth is in the playing, as always, so I scheduled a couple of games for Bank Holiday Monday – one against Dark Eldar, then Imperial Guard, both played by the long-suffering Alan and at 1,500 points.

 

List One

I chickened out a little here. Worried about the Grey Knights lack of long-ranged anti-vehicle firepower and ever mindful of how the Dark Eldar vehicles can flit about at range, I took an allied Imperial Knight.

Grand Master – Cuirass of Sacrifice, Digital Weapons, Powers: Sanctuary, Cleansing
Strike Squad – Incinerator
Razorback – Twin-Linked Lascannon
Paladins – Daemonhammer, Psycannon, Master-Crafted Weapon
Dreadknight – Heavy Incinerator, Gatling Psilencer, Nemesis Greatsword, Personal Teleporter
Interceptor Squad – Incinerator
Knight Paladin

The first mission was Relic and I got first turn. I deployed the Strike Squad in their Razorback directly opposite the Relic, while everything else was either deployed to flank them or, as in the case of the Knight Paladin, on the far flank to take advantage of its long-ranged weaponry.

Alan deployed aggressively, with the bulk of his army clustered behing a large ruined building, within striking distance of the Relic. Just a Ravager and three Reaver Jetbikes were deployed on his far flank, where they could take advantage of their range and speed.

In the first turn, my Strike Squad steamed forwards and disembarked from the Razorback, grabbing the Relic. The Grand Master and his Paladins teleported in, hoping to get a line of sight on the Jetbikes and Ravager hiding behind a rock, but they were a little off course and appeared between the two groups of Dark Eldar. Then I decided to do something quite mad – knowing the main group was where all his Wyches were on board their Raiders and Venom, I teleport shunted not only the Dreadknight but also the Interceptors into the ruins.

This was where I started to really appreciate the Incinerators. The Interceptors kicked off first, laying down an Incinerator blast on the Dark Eldar warriors led by their Archon. With a few of their Storm Bolters also applied, the squad was wiped out – with the first unit’s firing, I had bagged First Blood and Slay the Warlord (the latter down to the Incinerator, which I’ll come back to in a minute).

The Dreadknight kicked in with its own Heavy Incinerator, targeting Wyches on board a Raider and Venom. The vehicles made their Flicker Field saves (Alan made a lot of those in this game) but plenty of Wyches on board both were roasted.

In his turn, Alan got his remaining Wyches out of his vehicles and charged, going after the Interceptors (wiping them out) and the Paladins. The Paladins took a charge from two Wych units that had been more or less reduced to half strength by the earlier firing but destroyed them in two rounds of combat – however, the Grand Master had gone down to a Haemonculus throwing out a Casket of Flensing.

The Ravager started trading blows with the Knight Paladin, while the Reaver Jetbikes tore across the board to hammer three of the Strike Squad, including the one that had picked up the Relic. However, they did not have enough movement to get too far away after that, and the Strike Squad abandoned the Relic to pursue them, annihilating them with one blast of the Incinerator (ignoring both armour and jink, it kills them on a 2+ – I called it a Whirlwind in liquid form, but it is really better than that). The Dreadknight supported them by finishing off the Wyches that had killed the Interceptors, then jumping out of ruins (with its armour save, the Dreadknight really does not care too much about Dangerous Terrain tests) and grabbing the objective.

In trying to get round the Knight Paladin’s shield (which he was quite successful with), Alan brought his Ravager in a bit too close and both that and the last Raider went down to its Hammer of Wrath (did not get to use the chainsword!). The Dark Eldar flyer made an appearence, but it was too little too late, and it was downed by the Dreadknight’s Gatling Psilencer. The Grey Knights had managed to table (wipe out) the Dark Eldar in five turns.

 

Conclusion One

The first turn ‘alpha strike’ with both deep striking and teleport shunts are very risky and can go very wrong. However, casualties did not matter too much in this game, as it was all about the Relic, and the three advance units (Paladins, Dreadknight and Interceptors) caused a great deal of damage when they appeared. If you think you can get away with that tactic, it is worth doing. The weapon of the match was the Incinerator – at Strength 6 and ignoring cover, it causes Instant Death on Archons, kills all Dark Eldar on a 2+, and bypasses Feel No Pain, a favourite of Alan for his Wyches. The latter is also bypassed by the Hammerhand/Force powers which, of course, everyone has.

The other notable power was Sanctuary, used on the Dreadknight – bumping that Invulnerable save to 4+ kept it in the game.

The final conclusion is, as with many games in the past, I don’t think the Imperial Knight ever really pulls its weight and does not justify the points spent. Looks scary though and it focusses the opponent’s attention.

 

List Two

This was against an Imperial Guard army, and an unbound one at that. Alan has just started this force so it is a case of throwing everything in to get the points up – however, it meant I would be facing five Heavy Support tanks, not what I imagined the Grey Knights were good at. Add to that, I had decided to go pure Grey Knights, with no allied support. This list would feature some new models I had painted up this weekend (pictures coming later this week!).

Librarian – Level 3, Combi-Plasma Gun, Domina Liber Daemonica, Powers: Hammerhand, Cleansing Flame, Sanctuary, Gate of Infinity, Perfect Timing
Strike Squad – Incinerator
Razorback – Twin-linked Lascannon
Paladin – Daemonhammer, Psycannon
Interceptor Squad – Incinerator
Stormraven – Hurricane Bolters
Strike Squad – Incinerator
Razorback – Twin-Linked Lascannon
Dreadknight – Heavy Incinerator, Gatling Psilencer, Nemesis Greatsword, Personal Teleporter

We were playing on a larger table this time which would favour the Guard’s long ranged weapons, so I elected to start the Strike Squads in their Razorbacks hidden behind rocks and everything else in reserve. I gave Alan the first turn.

He started off by deploying two Scout Sentinels right on my baseline, and they started worrying one of the Razorbacks while the Basilisk lobbed some inaccurate shells. In my turn, the Strike Squad in the Razorback charged the Sentinels and finished them off. Meanwhile, everything except the Stormraven and Interceptors appeared among the Guard’s own line.

The Dreadknight appeared just opposite Alan’s Command Squad, killing everyone but his warlord, who decided this was not a good career for him and promptly fled off the table. Once again, note, First Blood and Slay the Warlord. The Paladins were caught in-between a Thunderer and the Basilisk. Their first round shooting managed to destroy the Leman Russ Executioner via its weak rear armour but while the Basilisk continued to throw inaccurate shells across the battlefield, the Thunderer targeted the clustered Terminators and then promptly smashed a shell into the Basilisk…

The Thunderer was soon immobilised by a sneaky Razorback that poked its turret out of cover, and the Basilisk fell to the Paladins. After that, the Librarian and Paladins started to sweep up the flank (now safe from the immobilised Thunderer as they moved out of its arc), rolling up Guard squads as they went.

On the other side of the table, the Dreadknight was playing cat and mouse in jungle terrain with a Tank Destroyer and Medusa siege gun. Again, it was Sanctuary that kept it in the game (went on to the end with just one Wound left!).

No reserves appeared in Turn Two, but both the Interceptors and Stormraven appeared in Turn Three. The Stormraven swept on to the table to reduce the Tank Destroyer to one Hull Point, and then it banked to finish off the Thunderer at close range (Hurricane Bolters on the rear armour of a tank work wonders). The Tank Destroyer finally went down to the Librarian’s Cleaning Flame.

Once again, the Grey Knights had tabled the opposition, this time in four turns.

 

Conclusion Two

The Grey Knights are not weak – if you have been moping about the new Codex, don’t concentrate on what you have lost but on what is still there. Incinerators are great multi-purpose weapons and you will get in close enough to use them with Deep Strikes, jumps and teleport shunts. They Instant Death any warlords with Toughness 3 (and there are more of those around than you might think), and play havoc with Open-Topped transports.

The Stormraven did not do a huge amount in this battle but I can see its potential, and I wonder if the gunship should not be the main anti-tank weapon of the Grey Knights. Don’t leave home without one.

The combination of Sanctuary and the Dreadknight is a good one, probably better than Dreadnoughts. The Dreadnoughts have the long ranged firepower you will be looking for, but the Dreadknight can weather far more damage, especially if Sanctuary is running. The teleport shunt also means you can get it into exactly the right position, which is good if you have the Heavy Incincerator.

The Librarian is possibly, point-for-point, the best HQ choice of any army. He only has 2 Wounds, which can catch you unawares, but a Level 3 psyker is nothing to sneeze at and, with the right Relic and Warlrod Trait, he can have five powers (which is what happened in this battle).

Strike Squads in Razorbacks? Well, you cannot go far wrong.

The first turn ‘alpha’ strike will always be a risk. However, with just a ounce of luck you should be able to get into position for First Blood and, against Toughness 3 enemies, Slay the Warlord. Puts you two points up on turn one, and that is hard to argue against. Use Terminator armour and Sanctuary to keep you alive and, in the very least, you will do a lot of damage to the enemy. Just keep your eye on the battlefield objectives and make sure the rest of your force can accomplish them while you are causing havoc on your opponent’s base line.

Final Analysis: Grey Knights are not as easy to play as Orks or Dark Angels, but they are certainly not a weak option.

 

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