Greetings all and welcome to the third article in my Grey Knight Unit Overview series! I will be covering the Heavy Support and Lord of War choices from the latest codex, determining their competitive value and providing miniature unit analysis' for ease of viewing. I hope you enjoy this short addition to my Grey Knight review!
Purgation Squad - With the same basic profile and stats as a Strike Squad, one would be forgiven for assuming Purgation Squads are superior overall due to their increased access to special weapons at similar prices to their brethren in the Troops slot. In theory, being able to bring four psycannons in a unit at the minimum squad size would be amazing if it weren't for the crucial change of that weapon from Assault/Heavy to Salvo, rendering it almost worthless on power-armoured Grey Knights given their poor durability-per-point as well as the criminally short range of the gun when firing on the move. While they can certainly defend themselves better than regular Space Marine Devastators with their force weapons and psychic powers - notably Hammerhand - they just don't function properly considering that it will be at least two movement phases before they get set up in a good position to fire, wasting two shooting phases with their mandatory psycannons. This is assuming you take a transport for them to move them into the midfield so they can actually use their 24" ranged special weapons, needing at least one turn of ferrying to get into position, then a second turn to disembark which still forces them to use the weaker secondary profile of the Salvo psycannons.
Seeing as psilencers and incinerators are wasted on Purgators - you may as well take Purifiers if you want to steal another armies' Drop Pod to Deep Strike some incinerators down as they are better in combat, Fearless and have Cleansing Flame - it is almost insulting that the third, seemingly best option is also just shamefully bad on Purgation Squads. Points decreases for the psycannons themselves are evened out by paying for the mandatory Justicar, while exchanging Astral Aim for Night Vision is a further hit to the squads' usefulness that they absolutely did not need. Astral Aim at least allowed the unit to shoot out of sight of enemies or conversely fire at units they couldn't see, making up for the Devastator-Purgator deficiency of dying too quickly under pressure. Don't forget that this squad is mostly pointless when using the Nemesis Strike Force as Deep Striking psycannons are better delivered by Paladins or Terminators, while incinerators are the domain of Purifiers given that it combos so insanely well with their Cleansing Flame. Like Strike Squads, I just don't really see how the rules designers justified weakened rules and no significant price reductions given how badly Grey Knights fared in the shift from 5th Edition to 6th Edition.
Nemesis Dreadknight - Of the handful of units that actually got better in the latest Grey Knight codex when considering both codex-related and rulebook-enforced changes, the Nemesis Dreadknight is undoubtedly the recipient of the "most improved unit" award. The basic profile is identical to its previous incarnation, as is the base cost and the special rules - unless one counts the various changes to army special rules and the addition of Purity of Spirit, even if the last one doesn't really provide a functional difference. The stream-lining of their rules, upgrade to being a "Character" and thus capable of issuing challenges - which doesn't hurt it at all in 7th Edition with wounds spilling over - and addition of Sanctuary to its psychic powers make it a potent monstrous creature for its point natively, allowing it to easily provide itself with a 4+ invulnerable save to complement its stock 2+ armour save and 5+ invulnerable save. Where the Dreadknight really improved out of sight is in the upgrade costs with each of its weapon options dropping anywhere from 5 to 45 points in price; the already mandatory Personal Teleporter has seen a tremendous points reduction, while each of its improved ranged weapons have become slightly less expensive as well.
About the only real downside here is that the Dreadknights' melee weapons aren't as effective as they used to be, especially now that it no longer comes equipped with a Nemesis weapon in its base equipment, though the hilariously cheap daemonhammer upgrade solves this issue immediately and doesn't sacrifice an attack with the Dreadknight still retaining two specialist weapons. A crazy reminder of just how much cheaper this unit is now once you factor in the upgrades is that a build that runs a personal teleporter, a daemonhammer, a heavy incinerator and a heavy psycannon is a whopping 65 points cheaper than it used to be in the old codex, while the same build is less expensive than a similar build featuring just one ranged weapon instead. While the greater access to ranged AP2 does hurt their previously seemingly unassailable 2+ armour save quite a bit, the mass changes to power weapons and gradual removal of AP2 weapons from close combat - at least ones that strike at Initiative, anyway - make it a far tougher foe in close combat. This is still an insanely good unit and one that complements any Grey Knight list exceptionally well, whether it uses a Combined Arms detachment or the codex-exclusive Nemesis Strike Force detachment.
Land Raider Variants - Considering that I covered these not long ago (at the time of writing) in my Space Wolf Unit Overview and the three are absolutely identical between codices, I'll be brief here and focus on the changes to the Grey Knight variants specifically. Losing Fortitude and Psychic Pilot on transports as crucial and expensive as Land Raiders is a not insignificant "nerf" considering that they paid only a few points for those abilities previously. Land Raiders in general are fantastic in 7th Edition, but for Grey Knights specifically I think many players would have probably preferred their 5th Edition incarnations. However, the changes to the vehicle damage chart do have me favouring the newer versions seeing as it is now almost impossible to destroy one of these in a single shot where as previously a single meltagun could do it by rolling a 4+ on the penetrating hit chart, while a lascannon could do so on a 5+. 7th Edition is more about rapidly stripping hull points than favouring those heavier weapons with higher Strength values but lower rate of fire, a meta that Land Raiders simply adore.
While each of the available choices are either decent or good, the Purgation Squad and Nemesis Dreadknight occupy the opposite ends of the tier with the latter unit being the strongest available for the majority of competitive Grey Knight lists.
Lords of War
Kaldor Draigo - For those with well-placed concerns that the Grey Knights' most controversial special character wouldn't populate competitive lists anymore as a result of the new codex, fear not; Lord Kaldor Draigo is still an absolute beast and one of the scariest characters in the game. His stats have seen a few notable recessions with a one-point drop to each of his Weapon Skill, Strength and Toughness characteristics, though his points cost has been reduced by a rather significant value of 30. He is still the only Grey Knight in the army to wield a Storm Shield which, combined with his four wounds and Eternal Warrior, makes him one of the most survivable characters in the game considering he also packs in that awesome terminator armour. Unlike his previous self - no more Paladins as Troops, even though they are always scoring now anyway - Draigo is more of a unit buffer than a straight fighter, even if he performs that latter role far better than he did in 6th Edition. He has a crazy four guaranteed powers, most notable of which is Gate of Infinity that - alongside Sanctuary and a number of Divination powers - is one of the best tools for any death-star to have, instantly making Draigo a high-end competitive choice.
His unique psychic power Sanctified Flame has been removed, but his anti-daemon capabilities are stronger than ever with the buffs to Preferred Enemy, always knowing the character-sniping power Purge Soul, his stock Warlord Trait in Daemon-Slayer and the Daemonbane special rule on his Titansword. On that note, while Draigo is no longer automatically Strength 10 when attacking psykers or daemons, he now always strikes with a +3 Strength bonus - meaning he will usually be Strength 7 in combat - and crucially has gained AP2 as opposed to the old AP3, the ever-present Force special rule guaranteeing Draigo is an absolute nightmare for even the strongest close combat characters to face. For his much lower points cost, Draigo has simply improved out of sight and whether taken to lead a Grey Knight force or to provide an unstoppable wound-tank and Gate of Infinity to an allied death-star, he is truly a monster for his price and one of the best special characters in 7th Edition.
Thank you for reading my latest work concerning the venerable Knights of Titan! I rate the majority of the units in the Heavy Support and Lord of War force organization sections highly with Purgation Squads being the only true disappointment; do you agree with my views or take issue with them? I am eager to read your feedback on the collected thoughts presented here and am looking forward to any critiques you have for me; please leave your comments below so I can properly consider your feedback! Thanks again and have a lovely day!