Grey Knights as allies:
Heroes and units

5th Edition

Note: This tactica is now old and needs an update. Many facts will not be correct for current 6th Edition game. However the general gist is pitched right.

With the new Codex DA the old No Allies rule has gone. So why not take advantage of the new opportunities available to us. This Tactica goes some way to explaining why this mysterious secretive Chapter can work so well with our secretive mysterious Chapter.

This has been recently updated to cover both the 5th Edition 40K Rulebook and Codex Space Marine armies. Thanks to mwise1023 and Alexander McLaren for their invaluable help with the original material.

1. Why take Grey Knights as allies?

Well it's a good question. The way to look at is to see what the DA specifically lack, then see how the GK can dovetail neatly in as a fix. As I see it the GKs add the following benefits to a Dark Angels army:

  • The first thing is being able to get your hands on another Ld10 psychic hood. I know for some reason I am slightly fixated on this, and yes Ezekiel would fit the bill — but he hasn't got terminator armour, he has limited psychic powers and he's expensive. Our generic Librarians are Ld9 only, and with limited fixed powers plus on the weapons and wargear side they are not very customisable.
  • The option to get your hands on some S6 power weapons rather than taking Azrael and a good counter to C:SM Relic Blade spam.
  • The option to select characters and units with wargear that have some neat anti-psyker abilities.
  • The option to select an expanded set of wargear for characters and units that is no longer an option for the Dark Angels.
  • The option to select from an expanded set of psychic powers.
  • True Grit storm bolters for Grey Knights in power armour.
  • The option to attach your termy-armoured GK hero to a Deathwing squad and utilise the Deathwing Assault special rule. Yes as mad as it sounds this is entirely feasible.
  • The option to field a proper retinue. With retinues gone from the Dark Angels Codex, it is useful feature that you can protect a GK independent character with his own de facto retinue.

I suspect that many, like me, will only be interested in the GK Heroes and Terminators. So this is where the focus of this article will unashamedly fall, although of course I will cover power-armoured GK units too.

For those of you who baulk at the idea of any kind of Inquisitorial allies in a Dark Angels army for fluff reasons then that is fine. Just bear in mind that our Codex allows it so for me I'm fine with it. Secondly I have never actually seen the GK as Inquisitors — to me they are a Chapter that just happens to be closely aligned with and be the specialist anti-Daemon militant arm of the Inquisition. If these are arguments won't persuade you then maybe the info below will. Keep an open mind.

2. A few notes on Allies

Before we start I should just say that you can only take allies from the Codex Daemonhunters in the HQ, Elite and Troop slots, but ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY FILLED THE COMPULSORY FORCE ORG SELECTIONS FROM THE DARK ANGELS CODEX, sorry for the capitals but this is important and often overlooked. Full details on what you can take will be found in Codex: Daemonhunters. If you intend to use allies in tournaments, please check with the organisers first as quite often allies are not allowed.

3. An important note on 'Daemons'

Or when is a Daemon not a Daemon?

Daemonhunters psychic powers and Wargear were largely created as tools to combat Daemons and the forces of Chaos. However, in both the Codex Chaos Space Marines and the Codex Daemons the Daemons therein are now Fearless; but more importantly, and this is critical to wargear selection, many of what is classified in the Daemonhunters Codex as being a 'Daemon' actually no longer exists in either the Codexes. [See 'Daemons' Terminology list p21.]

By the strict letter of the rules it appears that 'Daemons' covers only these entries found in both Chaos Space Marines, Codex Chaos Daemons as recognised by the Daemonhunter Codex list.

From Codex Chaos Space Marines:

  • Greater Daemons,
  • Defilers and other vehicles with the Daemonic Possession vehicle upgrade,
  • Possessed Chaos Space Marines.

From Codex Chaos Daemons:

  • Defilers.

This means that by RAW, many of the psychic powers and wargear items now have limited capacity or have been rendered virtually useless!! This is obviously a poor situation and the recent DH FAQ has failed to take this into consideration as it didn't update the list. Obviously, you could say that a Daemon is a Daemon as common sense dictates that the GK rules also apply to Daemon Princes and Summoned Lesser Daemons, even if buy by the letter of the rules, they don't.

In the relevant sections as we come to them I shall indicate where this anomaly has an impact, but as we are looking at Grey Knights as a general ally rather than one specifically brought in to combat Daemons, I shan't dwell too much on this.

4. The nature of the beast — Grey Knights

So what are they? Well the Grey Knights are the purest of the Marines — and the crème de la crème of them as well. Grey Knights are strong and specialised to fight the forces of Chaos to any end. They're a secret Chapter that not too many even know about in the realm of the Imperium, but Chaos is quite familiar with them as wherever Chaos is, so the Grey Knights are there too to defend humanity. In many respects the secrecy of their background and mission makes them similar to our beloved Chapter in that both are singularly focused and drop any other mission for their prime objective.

The Grey Knights themselves have many special rules surrounding them, have some excellent gear available and as such can/are very expensive.

Here's what you get — first, the good bits

Fearless

They follow the rules for being Fearless as described in the 5th Edition Rulebook.

Deep Strike

Grey Knight heroes, GK terminators and GK fast attack squads may use the Deep Strike rules as described in the 5th Edition Rulebook.

True Grit

Grey Knights use the True Grit rule that enables those with a storm bolter to shot them in their shooting phase as well as allowing them to gain an extra attack in close combat. Note that models in terminators armour do not benefit from this. As a point of interest, True Grit has been pretty much caught up by the newer Codex Space Marines, Codex Dark Angels and Blood Angels where Marines now get a bolt pistol for free enabling them to shoot pistols before charging in.

The Aegis

This refers to the special armour that Grey Knights wear. It can ward off psychic attacks but note — the Aegis only protects the wearer(s), not other non-aegis wearing models. If you want to protect the army as a whole a psychic hood is still the thing to use. Something else to add here, DA characters attached to GK squads do not gain protection from the Aegis armour.

Dreadnoughts also have Aegis armour. They benefit from Ld10 when attempting to ward off psychic attacks

The Shrouding

This is the combined psychic chants of all the Grey Knights to confuse their enemies with their purity and faith. The result is that any unit attempting to shoot at them must pass a test in order to establish whether it can see them. This works much like the Night Fight rules found in the 5th Edition Rulebook but highly modified. An important note about Shrouding is that it is not that effective except at very long ranges — basically, if your unit is within 30" of the enemy they will be seen pretty often, so keep that in mind before relying on it. In fact the average Shrouding result ranges are between 30-33".

Rites of Exorcism

The very presence of Grey Knights upsets Daemonic foes and as such applies a negative leadership modifier to all daemons' Leadership. However, as the newly released Chaos Codex has made all daemons Fearless this is now negated. But the rule that any daemonic foes attempting to assault Grey Knights do so as if they were in difficult terrain still stands.

Nemesis Weapons
These are standard for Grey Knights and have some very special bonuses. For most Grey Knights, they add a bonus of +2 strength and on some other nice properties too. They're especially nice on Grand Masters where they also become a far more potent force weapon.

and the bad bits

Daemonic Infestation

The very fact that Grey Knights are present must be because of considerable Daemonic activity. As such, Daemon Packs will gain the Sustained Assault rules as the forces of Chaos keep coming. This is meant to off-set the power of the Grey Knights against Chaos. Unfortunately even having just one GK in your army will bring this rule into play.

Note: this is one area where the new Chaos and Daemons Codexes have had an effect as there are no longer 'Daemon Packs' as such. However, sensibly, most players have adopted the rule that any Daemons present will bring this rule into effect.

Expensive

As will be seen later, certain choices can be pricey.

5. GK Heroes allied HQ selections

Grey Knight Heroes come in two forms, from the highest rank of Grand Master to a lower rank of Brother-Captain. The difference lies in their stat line as well as the abilities of their Nemesis force weapon. They are already equipped with everything they need for the battle including the Terminator Armour and Nemesis force weapon and storm bolter, but have access to the army to grab a few more helpful items — particularly a psychic hood. Both heroes are potent Psykers and as such may have psychic powers as well (such as Holocaust).

Grand Master

The Grand Master (GKGM) starts with a S6 force weapon boost as well as the standard Grey Knight Terminator loadout of storm bolter and Aegis Terminator armour. He may also have a retinue of Grey Knight Terminators (GKT), but he does not have a dedicated transport option — although they may always deep strike by their special rules. It's worth noting that you can easily spend 200+ points on the GM alone and then another 200-500 on a retinue and a Land Raider Crusader to ride in so don't get carried away.

The Grand Master has much enhanced stats over the Brother-Captain, with a greater Ballistic Skill and Initiative, as well as a greater number of Wounds and Attacks. This not only makes him more resilient, but he is a more dangerous combatant both at long-range (hitting on a 2+) but in close combat (striking quicker and more often). In addition to this, the Grand Master's Nemesis force weapon is a more potent tool of destruction. Instead of just being a Str6 power weapon, as the Brother-Captain's is, his also acts as a force weapon, allowing him the opportunity to kill multi-wound high toughness models with a single hit.

It is worth pointing out that the Eternal Warrior universal special rule is so prevalent amongst many big-hitters in 5th edition 40K that generally the force weapon has become a somewhat diminished tool. However, due to unique wording in the DH Codex, a force weapon "slays outright", this has been interpreted to mean it can even kill those who have Eternal Warrior and so would usually be immune to Instant Death weapons. It's worth discussing this with your opponent first.

The main disadvantage with the GM is the fact that he isn't immune to Instant Death — he has no Iron Halo or Adamantine Mantle or their equivalent.

Brother-Captain

The Brother-Captain (GKBC)is often maligned as being an expensive for a one-wound character, but actually I think he is a great choice as "loner" allied HQ. But he is inexpensive and has full access to the Daemonhunter armoury so take full advantage of that. Just keep him out of harms way as he only has one wound.

GK heroes and Deathwing Assault

As both heroes are wearing terminator armour and both are ICs, you are perfectly entitled to join a lone hero onto a Deathwing squad and utilise the Deathwing Assault rule.

Recommendations

The GK Grand Master is a character that can go toe to toe with almost anything in the game and he actually requires very little in terms of wargear upgrades. Taken in his out-of-the-box setup he is a reasonably priced character. Try to protect him and at the same time maximize his impact. You can keep him with a squad, either a de-facto GK retinue or just by attaching him to another squad, and remember he CAN be attached to a Deathwing terminator squad and deep strike in using the Deathwing Assault rule. This is a great way of getting the GM into action and swinging that Nemesis force weapon. I can't recommend this highly enough.

The Brother-Captain is also valuable as a single allied HQ as he is cheap and you can give him a psychic hood which is one way of getting a decent Ld10 hood back into your DA army without breaking the bank. He too can be Deathwing Assaulted with a termy squad or given his own GK terminator retinue to help protect that vulnerable single wound, and as such used as a mini-GKGM. Given the recent changes to the 40K 5th Edition Rulebook, ICs can now be individually targeted if not part of a unit so almost definitely I can't think why you would want to field him on his own. So the old route equipping him with a psycannon and a psychic hood and using him to snipe from within your deployment zone as 'safe' with his untouchable Independent Character status is looking less attractive as relying on Shrouding and cover isn't that reliable a safety net.

Other options to play with is master-crafting the Nemesis particularly on the GKGM to get an extra hit in. If you plan to deep strike, don't hesitate to give either of them them an incinerator, psycannon or maybe a combi-bolter. The extra firepower when you arrive makes up for the fact you cannot attack that turn. I also would add in Sacred Incense so GKGMsl hit before any Chaos Lords/Daemon Princes and many Chaos characters while the GKBC will hit at the same time.

Something else to consider is to give them a teleport homer so they can call in reinforcements. This can be a neat, cheap option to fielding Ravenwing bike units.

A great trick for your Hero, is to give him Hammerhands as an ability for anti-tank purposes.This power gives your Hero several Strength 8 attacks which can be more effective than a single meltabomb.

Be careful with psychic powers, in particular on the GM as his force weapon attack counts as his one psychic power per turn. If you plan on using it do not use another power, in fact you may not want to buy a power at all. Just attach him to a GKT unit with the power you want.

Conclusion

Scary and can be expensive — the Grand Master is excellent and brings so much to the DA army. Use him in larger games (2000+ points) particularly in a Deathwing army where committing circa 170+ points to one model will not hamper you too much. In smaller games I would leave him alone and go with the Brother-Captain instead.

6. GK Terminators allied Elite or retinue selections

The Grey Knight Terminators are the elite troops of the Grey Knights. They are incredibly powerful with an arsenal of potent weaponry and WS5 to boot. But, with no-upgrades, a 5-man squad of GKTs costs the same as a Deathwing squad with an assault cannon!! GKT squads always include a Brother-Captain who rather usefully can access the Daemonhunters Armoury as discussed above.

The Terminator squad always includes an embedded Brother-Captain, and he can access the full Daemonhunters armoury (see above for notes on the GKBC). But when taken as a Hero's retinue however, the BC is NOT included. Squad sizes can be anything from 3-10, though why you'd want 10 is anyone's guess. A 4-man retinue is ideal, while 5 or 6-man for a standalone squad is best if you have the points — using less if points are tight.

Rather like Deathwing squads they may take thunder hammer and storm shields in place of their normal weapons — the Nemesis and the storm bolter — for free. These guys also have two other weapon upgrades available although both are expensive. The sycamore is incredible on a terminator because of its long range when using the Heavy mode, use Assault mode if you intend to assault after firing (GK termy armour doesn't allow you to assault after firing heavy weapons).

The Incinerator is also an excellent weapon option on deep striking terminator squads where the template can (hopefully) work it's magic. It is worth noting that unlike their Grey Knight power armour brethren, terminators lose none of their close combat weapons if they take the psycannons and incinerators — so if you have the points there really is no excuse.

Again, they are potent psykers and Holocaust is a great ability to take on the embedded Brother-Captain. They may always Deep Strike, so they are very fast although they do not have a dedicated transport option.

GKTs are best used in one of two ways:

Deep strike assault

With their deadly Nemesis weapons ideally you will want to get GKTs into assault action as soon as you can. You can deep strike squads in with incinerators or psycannons. As such this is a great unit to bang down behind the enemy lines: you let loose with the storm bolters and assault/heavy weapons and next turn same again then charge in with the Nemesis — similar arrive/shoot/move/shoot/assault tactics that you would utilise with your Deathwing. And you have the added benefit of being able to use Holocaust as the squad's psychic power as it can be used on the turn you arrive (remember you aren't actually assaulting). This should be considered the primary tactical option for any allied Grey Knight terminators.

Fire-support

Potentially, these squads have a lot of firepower with their greater number of storm bolters and two psycannons, and configured this way you can set up the squad to footslog where you are maximising on the ranged firepower and The Shrouding. Screen them and march them forward down a flank shooting and moving as you would a Deathwing squad — they will be marginally better protected from return fire, but have more to put out themselves and from greater range. This is a tactic sometimes practised within 'pure' Daemonhunter armies — but seems to be wasting their enormous cc potential when used as allies.

Recommendations

While the Str6 power weapon is very, very nice there will be times you will want S8, so don't forget you can upgrade some of them to have a thunder hammer and storm shield for free — one should be enough for most squads as insurance — because in all honesty you are wasting the full potential by not using the Nemesis/storm bolter combo.

Conclusion

They're Terminators yes so anything that kills a DW termy will kill a GK termy too. But they do offer something markedly different to our own Deathwing variety. In a pure GK force they don't get the backup from a good range of cheaper anti-tank weaponry that can be fielded with the Dark Angels so suffer a bit. While in a DA multiwing setup they can excel. It's just a case of using them to their strengths.

7. GK allied Troop selections

The basic GK troop type are 25 point supermarines with WS5 S6 power weapons, storm bolters, a range of special rules, psychic powers, psycannons and incinerators. But they have no transports, lascannon, missile launchers or plasma. Their Str6 attacks combined with WS5 make them reliable but not overwhelming close combat opponents. You are required to take a Justicar as well as the normal complement of Grey Knights to make 5 to 10-men strong squads. This can become very, very expensive, but large squads tend to be optimal in order to ensure their survival and keep them from being overwhelmed too easily (meaning 7 or 8 models per squad).

The Grey Knights have the same weapon upgrade options as the terminators, and the psycannons can be fired either in an assault fashion to allow them to move and fire, or in heavy mode for greater range. I prefer the psycannon over the incinerator due to the strength of the weapon and the number of shots, and you can have up to two of them. But it's worth noting that unlike Terminators and heroes with their wrist-mounted weapons, every time you purchase a special weapon for a Grey Knight squad, you lose a Nemesis weapon, so you're hurting your abilities in combat by taking shooting weapons more often.

The GK squads have all the benefits of Aegis armour and Shrouding as well as the option of taking a squad psychic power as do their GK terminator and GK hero brethren discussed above. But, with no dedicated transport option they are forced to walk or hitch a ride in a passing Land Raider. This lack of cheap transport is a real pain.

The best and most advantageous loadout for a Grey Knight squad would be:

  • 1 x Justicar with melta bombs
  • 7 x Grey Knights with storm bolters and Nemesis weapons.

Keep it simple and use these guys to their best advantage. Just a note to say that the Justicar cannot buy weapons, only wargear (the rule saying this is cleverly placed on the wargear page rather than the Justicar listing). Of course, strictly speaking, you could buy Artificer armour for your Justicar and then a psycannon.

Recommendations

Without a transport or deep strike option they are not a very viable assault unit. They're good in a fight but not good enough to justify buying a Land Raider so maybe you could try marching them behind cheap screeners. But with two psycannons and their storm bolters you should keep them back for counter assault. Remember they are only as durable as regular marines, anything that kills normal marines (star cannon, special close-combat weapons, invisible power fists) will make a mess of them too. Keep them screened and keep them away from fights they cannot win.

Conclusion

Not really worthwhile unless you're running out of slots and really want to use them. If you really do want to field Grey Knights run with the Fast Attack teleport team instead (see below). Grey Knights on foot are very vulnerable to enemy fire even with their Shrouding and to be honest can't see many DA players using them within their armies, especially as we have three perfectly good Troop choices already.

8. GK allied Fast Attack selections

The exact same squad as the Troops selection of Grey Knights may be taken as a Fast Attack option in which case they may deep strike into battle. This is a preferable use of Grey Knights due to their lack of transports and long range weapons. With psycannons you can destroy enemy armour from behind as well as fire upon entrenched teams or invulnerable beasts. With two incinerators they are great for thinning large units then assaulting.

Now here is where allied GKPA units can add something. Being able to deep strike well armed power armoured units has long been the Holy Grail of Space Marine armies — made more tangible by drop pods — and the Dark Angels are no exception. The Teleport (Fast Attack) GK units have great potential to wrest the initiative from your opponent by spoiling his plans from T2 onwards. Dropping a squad of seven or eight armed with two psycannons or incinerators, the rest with Str6 power weapons and storm bolters, these are going to cause some damage to a wide variety of units. Add a melta bomb to the Justicar for good measure.

Recommendations

With two incinerators or psycannons drop them within range. As with terminators I find that deep striking is an all or nothing affair. You need several units dropping in to inflict maximum damage and absorb the counter-attack so don't send them in alone. You can give them teleport homers to improve your chances when dropping in other units. And don't forget they just have the option of deep striking — it is not compulsory — so if there is situation where you really do not want them to drop in, you can deploy them normally.

Conclusion

Yes OK they aren't a scoring unit but they are good for contesting. The problem they face is excellent competition from other DA Fast Attack options — notably Ravenwing units. In my opinion though, the GK Teleport squads are better than standard DA Assault squads.

See the next installment: Grey Knights as allies: Weapons, wargear and psychic powers


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