REDUNDANT 8TH EDITION OUT
So you want to play Grey Knights?
Grey Knights in fluff and crunch are a hyper-elite army. They will always be outnumbered, they will hit hard, and they will drop fast if you make a mistake in a phase. They are not a top-tier army and most certainly not the worst out there; they are simply average. You will never be the best at anything, instead each Grey Knight unit functions as a general-purpose unit that is meant to force the enemy into a position where you have the advantage. You are playing such a high-risk, high-reward army that by Turn 3 you will likely be able to predict the outcome. If you are uncomfortable in gambits avoid playing this army. If you are, welcome to the Chapter.
A primer on what to expect as a Grey Knight
1. "The Dreadknight is a baby carrier", you will be reminded of this at least once at every event you go to. If you like the model and don't convert it, expect this line. Because you WILL have at least one in your army.
2. "Draigo", whether you or your opponent says this will depend on how effective he was in the game. I would say it is a 50/50 split on who says it.
3. You will deepstrike and you will mishap, if you didn't mishap it is most likely because you didn't make it out of reserves. That being said, fortune favors the bold, go for it.
Let us move onto the actual meat of this article.
The units, what makes them good, what about them are bad, and how to use them.
There are five choices for who will lead your army into battle. (The Techmarine is technically a HQ unit, but he requires at least one other HQ choice to be taken as such he will be addressed in the Supplement section of the Article)
Crowe in fluff is counted as one of the galaxy's greatest swordsmen. In crunch... he leaves much to be desired. With 2 wounds, no EW, and only a 4+ invul he can be expected to drop very fast.
Special Note: He does not have Deepstrike, this already makes him sub-optimal.
Assault: Designed to be a challenge specialist at WS8, he gains smash (thus AP2) and save re-rolls while he is in a challenge. Outside of a challenge he becomes a very weak unit that offers no force multipliers to his fellow Grey Knights. This is of course not counting that a competent opponent can just refuse the challenge and leave Crowe swinging with a AP- weapon.
Shooting: He has a stormbolter, in a Grey Knights army EVERYONE HAS A STORMBOLTER.
Psychic: ML2 w/ Cleansing Flame, it's alright. But other units can do it for cheaper and have more wounds as well.
Conclusion: Crowe as a concept is fun, however with the way Games Workshop implemented him he should be avoided. He has no synergy in the Grey Knight army and is too expensive for what he offers. If you're going to use him anyway... you need him in a transport with Purifiers, otherwise he is slogging a whopping 6 inches a turn. A Rhino is popped too easily, take a Stormraven.
Essentially a different/weaker Crowe. 25 points cheaper. Gain an AP3 sword and Heroic Sacrifice (It sucks). Lose one Mastery Level, two WS, one Initiative, one attack, Cleansing Flame, the ability simultaneously smash and re-roll failed saves in challenges. Damn, that sounds bad. Avoid this unit as well. Otherwise see same tactics as Crowe.
Stern is an eternally suffering Captain who has to make the tough calls as a Tzeentch daemon attempts to kill him. He is generally forgotten about. I suppose that daemon is doing a pretty good job.
Special Note: He has the ability to re-roll one save, wound, or hit dice per-phase. Your opponent can also re-roll one in return. This is generally not worth it, UNLESS the odds are already in your favor in which case it doesn't really matter. Ex. Stern failed to wound a 3+ MC while he has Force and Hammerhand activated.
Special Note Two: He also has another special, super anti-daemon version of banishment in which it targets all daemons within 12 inches. Useful, but... just not worth lugging him for that ONE match-up.
Special Note Three: He starts with Sanctuary. This is the most useful thing about him.
Assault: AP3 sword, WS6, 3 attacks, Initiative 5. He won't be murdering anyone in a challenge but he is solid. Having Sanctuary up means you will essentially have someone with a Stormshield in the army who isn't Draigo.
Shooting: It's a stormbolter. At BS5.
Psychic: He has set powers, Super-Banishment, Hammerhand, and Sanctuary. ML2, he's alright.
Conclusion: Stern has potential to serve as a good force multiplier. However his cost at 185 points makes him unfeasible as a ML3 Librarian w/ Liber may be taken instead for less and act as a superior force multiplier. If you insist on using Stern I would recommend taking him as a 2nd HQ option (the first being the Librarian) and putting them both in a Terminator squad. It won't be a very effective use of points offensively or defensively. Avoid this HQ.
There is one kinda fun combo you can do though... Draigo and Stern in a squad together will allow access to a 2++ rerollable ONCE per turn. Honestly not that powerful, but it can save your bacon if you go up against the D. Don't rely on it though, cheaper just to get two Librarians and roll for Invisibility.
The generic Brother-Captain is very similar to Stern. Before upgrades the only difference is in the psychic department (ML1 to Stern's ML2) and rather than set powers, the Brother-Captain may choose from five disciplines (Santic, Divination, Telepathy, Pyromancy, and Telekinesis). But as was previously said, this is *before* upgrades.
The Brother-Captain may take every option in the Grey Knights armory. He exists so that a player may customize their HQ to fit their fluff or the point level of the game. However so that this writer will not lose their sanity, only the most popular and effective loadouts will be reviewed.
Special Note: A statline upgrade of +1 attack and +1 Mastery level may be taken at 35 points. Not really worth it. It really should have added an extra wound.
Assault: There is essentially only one question. Do you want AP3 at Initiative 5 or AP2 at Initiative 1? This is mostly preference, but remember this HQ is not meant to be a beatstick. He will be lacking the key rules necessary to fight true close combat units. Otherwise he has a very respectable statline identical to Stern.
Shooting: While he possesses four options for a ranged weapon it really is a question of whether you can afford the Psycannon as there are better platforms for the others.
Psychic: With access to a wide variety of disciplines he can be flexible. However his ML1 cripples this potential allowing only one power besides the primaris to be taken. Avoid rolling Sanctic.
Conclusion: A Brother-Captain is a usable, but under-performing HQ. At his starting price of 150 he is too expensive for what he offers, which is mediocrity at everything. Tactically he is a less effective Terminator squad, so use him as one.
The best HQ in the Grey Knight codex. A Librarian acts as a force multiplier for the army and with a wide variety in psychic discipline he can also be offensively focused. At 2 wounds w/ a 2+ and 5++, he is fragile but fairly costed for the potential he brings.
Assault: As a psychic support unit he is not all that good at most other things. However as with most Grey Knight units, he is just a bit better than other codex equivalents. 2 attacks and WS5, he is likely going to land at least one hit per turn. The question is what weapon did you give him? He is notable for having access (at 5 point less than normal) to the Daemonhammer. As Grey Knights lack in AP2 considerably, it is highly advised you take this hammer to take advantage of the rare access to WS5. Just remember not to allow him in challenges, as any chump with a AP2 weapon will likely still murder him.
Shooting: 5 points for a stormbolter. Not worth it unless you are going for Misfortune. He can also take a combigun, providing a rare chance to have a source of actual melta in this army.
Psychic: One of the top psychic units in the game, at ML3 (25 point upgrade) he provides a decent chance of grabbing powers you want. Better yet, since you will have a large amount of warp charges due to your other units, you will actually be able to cast all of them. A important thing to note is that with this HQ you can potentially know all but *one* of the sanctic powers; this is done by buying the Liber Demonica relic and hopefully rolling a 6 on the Grey Knight Warlord table. As everything in the Sanctic discipline is actually good (Barring the primaris) this is worth doing more often than not.
Conclusion: This HQ is generally an auto-take for a Grey Knight army if you *want* to win. It is the only HQ that will generally earn its own points back due to being far cheaper than any other HQ option available to the army. It is also fluffy.
Two choices, 2+ or 3+ armor save?
Grey Knight Strike Squad
A basic marine statline, but with all the goodies one can imagine. A powersword (or upgrade to other power weapons that either grants +1A, +1S, or Ap4+2S AND Adm. Will.) and a Stormbolter. They are the grunts, very very expensive grunts that can deepstrike. And are ML1. It sounds amazing I know 20ppm (+Sgt. cost) with all that.
Assault: They are better than most other troops at assault solely due to their ap3 and wounding on 2+ if they get Hammerhand off. But they fall off when they fight hordes (due to low number of attacks and avg. WS) or when they go against actual assault units (who will either have 2+ armor OR have a higher Initiative). Their preferred targets are multi-wound models with 3+ or worse armor, this is kind of rare outside of Daemons, Tyranids, and Tau. Get Force off and make them weep.
Shooting: Packing Stormbolters is pretty nice for the most part. Being AP5 and Assault 2 they can thin out horde armies, but of course you still have cover to contend with. HOWEVER Grey Knight shooting potential has been decimated with their 7th edition codex. The psycannon a 24 inch S7 -AP4, Rending, is a workhorse of the army. But it is Salvo 2/4 now; which means if you move the range and number of shots is halved, also you cannot assault. So it is not good anymore. However there is a flamer-template weapon called the Incinerator that is awesome, S6 AP4 Soulblaze, this weapon is incredible value. D3 overwatch shots if somehow you get charged, AND ignores cover, it is almost always worth taking.
Psychic: Comes with three preset powers. Hammerhand, Force, and Banishment. Generates 1 Force Charge. Are above average in their ability to Deny the Witch.
Conclusion: They are jack-of-trades, they will not do anything particularly well, but they CAN do it. However they cost far too much what they bring; Tactical Squads by 7th edition standards are considered a point tax simply because they will rarely make their points back, for a GKSS it is even worse because you are paying a premium on a unit that dies just as easily. 3+ armor save doesn't go far anymore.
To Be Continued.