6 Feb 2015

Grey Knights - Unit Overview Part III

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!

Heavy Support

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.
Change? Weaker.
Competitive? No.

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.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

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.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

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.
Change? Stronger.
Competitive? Yes.

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!


  1. Hello, thank you for your articles; they were very insightful and useful. I am a new player to 40k and have been putting together Grey Knights for my first army. I think some of their tactics may be a bit advanced (effectively utilizing the correct combinations of psychic abilities in different places as well as positioning as you point out with Paladins) however I was very taken with their lore so went with them. I really liked how you ended each unit breakdown with the change and competitiveness rating. It helped me get some ideas on what to include in my lists. That being said, what are your thoughts on their competitiveness as an army overall? I only play casual friendly games at the moment, but I would like to start improving my ability to create competitive lists as well. Do you find that they are greatly benefited by allies, or do they stack up just fine on their own in your opinions? What are some armies they are weak against, and who are they strong against? Forgive me if I ask too much, I was just very impressed with your analysis on these units and thought I would try to glean more from your obvious experience if possible. Thank you!

    1. Hey mate, thanks for the feedback!

      Grey Knights are a difficult army to rate in terms of overall competitiveness as they have some really powerful units and capabilities, but in a 6th Edition and particularly 7th Edition context being such an elite force has some big down-sides. The objective game is tough for them to win - they excelled in 5th Edition because matches mostly revolved around kill points which Grey Knights are absolutely ideal for - because they are heavily outnumbered even when taking the cheaper squads in the codex. In terms of codex updates, they didn't really get what they needed which was mass points drops across the board so that they started being more valuable - they pay too much for slight boosts but no actual defensive improvements against ranged attacks.

      Grey Knights can be really nasty in specific builds that revolve around high aggression by using the Nemesis Strike Force detachment, Nemesis Dreadknights with Personal Teleporters and so on. They also build well in other ways, particularly as Allies given that they can provide a lot of psychic presence and hitting power to another army. Lord Kaldor Draigo is a staple Allied HQ choice for death-star units - he also suits Paladins perfectly well for similar reasons - while Dreadknights are great units for their points.

      Grey Knights struggle against any army with a high rate of fire and lots of AP2 shooting, notably Eldar (their basic guns can be AP2 on to-wound rolls of a 6), especially if that army is either highly mobile or long ranged. This is because Grey Knights are mostly short-ranged (24") and usually avoid transports in most builds, meaning they rely on Personal Teleporters and Deep Strike to get around. High rate of fire is the bane of their existence as they are no more tough than the far cheaper standard Space Marines, despite having almost half the total number of models in equivalent points.

      Grey Knights specifically in a Nemesis Strike Force detachment are very powerful against static builds (though these are rare in 7th Edition) as they can get in that armies' face on turn one and deny their ranged advantage entirely. Grey Knight units aren't fantastic in combat but most static gunline builds are near the bottom of the barrel for close combat, unless you count the Zealot-led blobs of Guardsmen the Astra Militarum utilizes. They tend to get crapped on by Necrons but they do at least have a semi-counter to the new Reanimation Protocols with massed Force. They also get some insane benefits versus Daemons, obviously, though a dedicated summoning or flying spam list will still put the Grey Knights to shame.

      I hope that helps! Thanks again!

  2. I'm wondering what people are deep striking in their NSF? Dreadknights and Interceptors already have shunt so the only viable units that can use it are GKT and Paladins both of which have pretty poor alpha strike capabilities. There's the added fact that if you don't get to go 2nd then you can be alpha struck pretty badly by certain lists. You also need to use a comms relay for added investment. A CAD unlocks the 3rd Dreadknight and Draigo and Libby can gate GTKs for better mobility. Is this not a more effective use of points or am I missing something? Thanks.