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Monday, 9 May 2011

Grey Knight Review- Twist II

Hi all,

This is part 2 of Codex:Grey Knights reviews. As I explained in part 1, I'm not going to compete with the excellent reviews done by StelekKirby and Sir BuscuitHERO, and Mercer. No, this reviews the Grey Knight in light of the Expansions and variants, namely:

  • Planetstrike
  • Spearhead
  • Cityfight
  • 500-1000 points games
  • Apocalypse
This is Part 2 on that schedule- Spearhead. The rules and formations for this are free here on the Games Workshop website, but we'll still have a quick re-cap:

Spearhead- Quick Re-cap.

For those who need a reminder:
  • Spearhead allows you to take an army composed entirely of vehicles
  • the Force Organisation chart changes- 0-2 HQ, 0-3 Elites, 0-6 Troops, 0-3 Fast Attack, 0-3 Heavy Support, any number of Spearhead Formations.
  • battles are fought length ways on the table, so deployment zones are deep. 
  • there is usually less terrain in Spearhead, to accommodate the plethora of vehicles.
  • there are 3 variant missions and 3 variant deployments. None of these include Kill Points :)
  • Troops, Tanks, Walkers and all units bought as part of a Spearhead are Scoring units
  • vehicles in a Spearhead can fire 1 extra weapon per turn, and this shot can be at a different target to the rest of the unit/formation. 
  • Spearheads form units for the purposes of deployment
Grey Knights Quick re-cap

If you need a refresher on the pro's and con's of the 666th Chapter, then those mentioned above are well worth a read. In summary:
  • Grey Knights are expensive- more-so even than other Space Marines
  • They have Terminators as Troops; each Marine has a Stormbolter and Force Weapon. 
  • All of the Marines are Psykers
  • Inquisitors, Henchmen and Assassins (including the Officio specialists) are Elites
  • Dreadknights!

On to the good stuff:

Grey Knights in Spearhead

Well, let's take a look at the Vehicles and Monstrous Creatures available to Grey Knights. They've got all the usual suspects- Rhino, Razorback, Land Raiders (all variants), plus Dreadnoughts (and Venerables). They've then also got Chimeras, Storm Ravens and Dreadknights. Throw in the fact that they are, of course, Grey Knights, and that's a fairly impressive list of available toys for Spearhead armies.

Despite the range of units Grey Knights have at their disposal, they do have a few problems. The key issue that they will have to overcome in these missions is their lack of anti-tank weaponry in infantry units. the highest strength shots that they can produce is S:7 from the Psycannon. Now S:7 is good against transports, but this is Spearhead- AV:12 and :13 will be common, which means that the Space Marine infantry of the 666th will struggle here. I:6 doesn't really matter in Close Combat either, being as most of the assaulting will be against armour. The elite infantry of the Grey Knights really are going to play a support role for these scenarios.

Then again, their Vehicles and Walkers do have 1 advantage-  Fortitude. Yes, all of the vehicles can ignore Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned, if only they can roll a Ld test on 10 successfully! Combined with the Spearhead Formations, this is a massive boon, which other players would gladly pay through the nose for.

OK, lets look at some of the Defensive units that the Knights can put out.
  • Armoured Spearhead. 60 points buys up to 3 Tanks a 5+ invulnerable save. Essentially, this is Flickerfield for Transports. It's good on Rhinos and Razorbacks, but on Chimera's it's amazing. Why? well, by putting them in a Spearhead, you just bought the Chimeras Power of the Machine Spirit. Remember that by virtue of being in a Spearhead, each Chimera can fire 1 weapon in addition to its other allowances, at a separate target. So move flat out with 3 Chimera's and shoot 3 multilasers, then next turn engage 2 different units, while the Jokaero inside shoot a third. 
  • Destroyer Spearhead. 75 points gives you an extra shot with 1 Spearhead. Given that shooting is what Grey Knights are all about, this is definitely worth consideration. Only Heavy Support units may be chosen- so only Land Raider variants and Dreadnoughts then? Oh no- you only get to shoot with 3 Psiflemen Dreadnoughts prior to Turn 1!
  • Ambush Spearhead. A mere 75 points gives up to 3 Vehicles or Walkers Stealth and Infiltrate. They can't be placed in reserve, but it does allow a unit of Transports to get across the board quickly (thanks to Infiltrate) and then hunker down in cover. 
Yeah, OK, defence isn't really the Knights greatest strength. What about dirty tricks?
  • Mechanised Assault Spearhead. This is great for Terminators in Land Raiders. The Formation always arrive First Turn from outflank- it may not sound like much, but remember that all missions are played length ways. It's expensive (thanks to the cost of the Land Raiders and the units in them) but does allow you to get the enemies side armour, and thanks to Machine Spirit and Spearhead, each Land Raider can shoot 3 different targets when they arrive (assuming they move 6".) Basic Godhammers with Multi-Meltas are a real force-multiplier for the Grey Knights here. 
  • Outrider Spearhead. Due to the Fortitude Psychic power, this becomes viable. Essentially, you can move a shot from the main tank onto one of the Outriders. This means that the Land Raider Crusader with Grand Master and 7 Paladins running Feel No Pain can reliably make it to the enemy, if you are willing to spend the 140 points extra for 2 out riding Rhinos. With Smoke and the ability to ignore Shaken and Stunned, it's worth it if you've already got a high-points Deathstar that needs protection.
  •  Mass Attack Spearhead. This one's expensive, and I think it counts as a dirty trick for Grey Knights rather than an offensive formation. Basically, 6 Troops units on foot can all get S:7 Krak grenades and Preferred Enemy: Monstrous Creature. You aren't allowed to buy them Transports, but they can ride in Transports bought as a Spearhead. Good on Strike Squads. Great on Terminators. A hell of a shock if combined with Coteaz and Henchmen!
  • Skystorm Spearhead. This can only be used with Storm Ravens. However, it does allow you to move 36" from Reserve, shoot, disembark and assault for 45 points. As a late-game objective grabber, this can be a game winner.
There- now the Grey Knights are starting to get some options. The weakness of the Infantry mentioned before? Well, take all of your Troops as Mass Attack, and have them carried in Armoured Rhinos, all of a sudden they start to look a little more effective. Combined with the Mechanised Assault Spearhead, they've got some nice combinations which can really hurt an opponent. But we haven't finished yet- what about the Offensive Formations?
  • Tank Hunter Spearhead. this is simple. For 60pts, you can give any 3 Tanks or Walkers Tank Hunter. Psifledreads? They're now S:9! Land Raider with Multi-melta? Yes please! Given that the infantry are going to struggle to hurt enemy armour at range, this one's a must for your main offensive units.
  • Skyfall Spearhead. Another formation only used with Storm Ravens, this time you can Deep Strike (reliably- only the first one scatters), shoot then disembark and assault. This formation will allow you to put your key units where you want them, and get the rear armour of the enemy where all that small-arms fire will be worthwhile.
  • Monstrous Spearhead. Created for the Tyranid players to get involved, this allows up to 6 Dreadknights to gain all of the following: Counter Attack, Fleet, Furious Charge, Rage. So that means they can charge between 13" and 18", at S:7 I:5 (that's death to enemy Vehicles/Monstrous Creatures) or get 5 Attacks when they receive the charge. For those of you that already have 3 Dreadknights- this formation will set you back 570 points if you also have Psycannon. Bargain!
Well, that's it. There are a few Spearheads I've left out- either the Grey Knights can't take them, or they're just not worth it. 

The beauty of Spearhead with Grey Knights is that you get to play them outside of their comfort zone. They are not designed to be an anti-mech army- but the elements that can take out enemy armour are very good at it. Luckily, the Formations, with some clever choices, can offset the weaknesses of the 666th Chapter, and the strengths of the Codex can then be used to overwhelm your opponent. The army, essentially, remains a mobile firepower based force- play it like that, and they'll be awesome!

A final note- I've concentrated on Vehicles throughout this post, but there is one element of the Codex which deserves special mention- the Reserve/Deep Strike element. All of the Marine/Terminator units can Deep Strike, and with the right HQ you get to affect Reserve rolls how you like. This means that surgical strikes from infantry elements, or late-game objective grabs by Shunts, are still viable in Spearheads- the key problem being how are your men going to survive the incoming fire on the following turn? This becomes less important when the Mechanised Assault has Shaken/Stunned/Destroyed most of the enemy force for you already!


Spearhead isn't all that popular, but it is free, and unlike some of the other Expansions doesn't require you to build specialist terrain. Currently, many believe that Mechanised armies are the way forward- so I suspect that quite a few of the Grey Knight players out there will already have a Spearhead viable army, as will their opponents. In which case, download the rules, break up the routine and try it out. This Codex provides some unique challenges within this expansion- and they are potentially very good at it!

There's a list here for those that are interested.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

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