Praise the God-Emperor! Grey Knights in Ritual of the Damned might be one of GW’s biggest “hits” thus far in Psychic Awakening. The gifts bestowed upon the Grey Knights feel fluffy and well-represented in their updated rules.
Let’s dive straight into some of the goodies from Ritual of the Damned and discuss some tactica as well.
- Combos and Synergies Galore: Grey Knights have a variety of different combos and builds available to them now. You can reference our upcoming Tactica article for more insight into some of those combos.
- Psychic Assassin: Inner Fire, Psychic Channeling, Sanctic Shard, Powerful Adept, Empyric Surge, etc., combinations
- Can’t Touch This: Astral Aim and Edict Imperator combos to keep your firepower of out Line of Sight and hidden from enemy shooting
- Psybolt Laser Beams: Tide of Convergence, Psybolt Ammunition, Bring Down the Beast, and Litany combos
- Hero Hammer / Powerful Characters: Grey Knights have some incredibly powerful characters. From the mighty Grand Master Nemesis Dread Knight, Lord Kaldor Draigo, Voldus, Apothecaries, Brother-Captains, and Chaplains. Each Grey Knights character has unique ways to impact the game and are also a point effective way to increase the amount of Smites you can access to take advantage of Tide of Escalation as well as accessing the ever so important Dominus Discipline powers.
- Return of the Deathstar: In Ritual of the Damned, there are a number of key synergies that can help make the Paladin Star a force to be reckoned with. If you’re looking to play with one super buffed unit, look no further than the Grey Knights Paladin Star. The one draw back is that this unit will be FEASTING on CP all game long.
- “Deep Strike” and Timed Attacks: Innate access to “deep strike” abilities, Gate of Infinity, and Shunt moves. Grey Knights can expertly time their attacks and there is no flank that can withstand the amount of firepower that can come down on any given turn. Coupled with the below point, Grey Knights excel at deleting enemy screens to expose the juicy parts of your opponent’s army.
- Powerful Small-Arms and Mid-Strength Firepower: The combination of Storm Bolters, Psi weaponry, Psybolt Ammunition, Psychic Onslaught, Tides, Litanies, etc. make Grey Knights a force to be reckoned with. No army can clear a screen faster than Grey Knights and also take on a variety of targets.
- Psychic Superiority: Very few armies will be able to withstand a Grey Knights psychic phase and there will be few armies that Grey Knights won’t be able to completely shut down in their psychic phase.
- Resource Hungry: Grey Knights are still incredibly CP hungry and are still relatively expensive points-wise per model. Most lists will be putting down between 12-14 units in a 2,000 point list. It will be important for Grey Knights players to design their lists towards specific builds to take advantage of the army’s strengths while maximizing stratagems, psychic spells, and other synergies. Additionally, Grey Knights players will need to learn to really budget their CP to maximize the combos available to them. Many of our best stratagems cost 2CP and many combos will use anywhere between 2 – 6CP per combo. While you can get CP back, it will be very important to time these combos and budget your CP wisely.
- Precision and Order of Operations: Grey Knights are a precision army. There are many tricky order of operations that Grey Knights players can fumble over. Our movement phases must be precise due to short-mid range powers/firepower, and there will be a specific order you’ll want to cast your spells in the psychic phase to reduce your opponent’s ability to interact with your combos, reduce reprisals, and enhance overall army effectiveness
- Tricksy Rules: Grey Knights have some tricksy rules that will take time to get used to. The wording on many of the rules are slightly different than those from other armies that most players are already familiar with. In a more competitive setting it will be easy to get these rules wrong and will be very important to practice to be on top of your game.
- Elite: Grey Knights are still a very elite army. We are an elite army that still lacks durability. This means it is critically important to know the right time to coordinate an attack or when it’s time to setup your strike. Each model and unit lost is a significant hit to your overall output. Additionally, almost every one of your units is going to be Power Level 6 or greater, which makes denying ITC secondaries to your opponent that much more difficult.
- Lack of Long Range Anti-Armor Firepower: Most of our firepower still sits in the 24″ range. While we do have access to Lascannons and other traditional anti-tank weaponry, those platforms tend to lean away from the strengths of a Grey Knights army.
- Terrain Dependent: Unfortunately, to really get the most out of your GK army, you are going to be heavily reliant on terrain. Magic boxes, ruins, LOS blocking terrain will be crucial to run an effective list. No army will lose a game faster on planet bowling ball than Grey Knights.
- Difficult Army to Pilot: Overall, Grey Knights are a difficult army to pilot. They are a glass hammer type of army that hits hard, but cannot take much of a punch in return. Playing GK effectively will come down to how well you can coordinate your attacks, cagey play, maneuverability, and being deliberate to maximize your effectiveness in each phase.
Masters of the Warp: Tides
Grey Knights get an arguably better version of super-doctrines. The ability to change your doctrine based on the board-state can be game changing and there are some interesting tactical decisions you can make and army builds that can really take advantage of building around these Tides.
Some common tactics will include starting in Tide of Shadows for the durability, shifting to Tide of Escalation for MW offensive output. Next turn, start in Escalation to fire off all of your Adolescent Rites of Banishment Smites and then switch to Tide of Convergence for additional Shooting output or vice versa (except switching to Escalation at the beginning of your subsequent turn). There are a lot of different options here that a savvy Grey Knights general will be able to take advantage of throughout the course of a game.
Tide of Fury: When resolving an attack made with a Nemesis weapon by an INFANTRY model with this ability, you can re-roll a wound roll of 1.
• Rating: 3/5
• Use: Generally speaking, Grey Knights do not want to be in combat early-on. I can see this potentially being useful during the mid-to-late game or at the end of the psychic phase after Tide of Escalation has been used to deal MW damage via Adolescent Rites of Banishment Smites to get those Nemesis weapons to take down some juicy targets.
Tide of Convergence: Add 1 to the Strength and Damage characteristics of psi weapons (psilencers, gatling psilencers, psycannons, heavy psycannons, twin psycannons, and any ranged weapon that have been affected by the Psybolt Ammunition Stratagem during the current phase) that INFANTRY models with this ability are equipped with.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Incredibly powerful tide. 40 Strength 6 AP-1 Damage 2 bolter shots is going to do work with Psybolt Ammunition. Purgation squads with Psychic Onslaught are now Strength 6 AP-2 Dmg D3+1 and will be able to threaten any target (additional synergies with Astral Aim, Invocation of Focus, Ethereal Manipulation, Bring Down the Beast, etc.). An argument can be made for embedding Psilencers or Psycannons into as many squads as you can now, especially when going MSU to maximize Tide of Convergence and Tide of Escalation.
Tide of Shadows: A unit with this ability receives the benefit of cover to its saving throw even while it is not entirely on or within a terrain feature. When resolving an attack made with a ranged weapon against a unit with this ability while it is entirely on or within a terrain feature, subtract 1 from the hit roll.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Wow. Ravenguard without the distance restriction. This Tide significantly helps Grey Knights’ durability issues and makes some units potentially very difficult to bring down. Based on the wording there are some potentially interesting combinations with GK vehicles, flyers, dread knights, dreads, etc. that can really boost their survivability.
Tide of Escalation: When a unit with this ability and the Rites of Banishment ability manifests the Smite psychic power and it is not resisted, that power inflicts 1 additional mortal wound on the target.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Another wow. The ability to spam Mortal Wounds is going to be something that any Grey Knights players will consider building around. Realistically, there are opportunities to be spamming 12+ mortal wounds per turn that will put a considerable hurt over time. Combined with a Brother-Captain’s Psychic Locus ability will allow units to spam Mortal Wounds at 24″. The ability for Grey Knight’s to clear chaff with all of their storm bolter shots and immediately start smiting your opponent’s meaningful units provides reliable source of damage throughout the course of a game.
Grey Knights have some new toys to play with from the Stratagem department. Be diligent with reading through the rules as some of them are not as intuitive as you’d think (e.g. Bring Down the Beast)
- Transhuman Physiology (2CP): Going to be an extremely powerful Stratagem especially when used in tandem with Redoubtable Defence. These two strats are going to be used often with Paladins. The drawback? Most of the Statagems you want to use on Paladins cost 2CP (let alone fight twice for 3CP).
- Dynamic Insertion (1CP): This is going to be another powerful Stratagem that can be used with Powerful Adept, Psychic Channeling, Emypric Surge, to psychically assassinate opposing units. I can also see this being combined with Vortex of Doom for that psychic suicide bomber mentality. Additionally, I believe there will be cases where this stratagem can be used on Strike Squads or Troops to steal an objective from an opponent to score precious VP.
- Bring Down the Beast (2CP): The Grey Knights equivalent to Doom (the shooting variety anyway). This stratagem when combined with Tide of Convergence, Psybolt Ammunition, Psychic Onslaught, etc., is going to be one of your best options for taking down your opponent’s heavy armor.
- Redoubtable Defence (1/2CP): 1CP if your unit contains 5 or fewer models or 2CP if greater than 5 models. Combined with Transhuman Physiology or Armoured Resilience, this is going to make your Paladin unit extremely durable. Thankfully, this isn’t like Heed the Prognosticars and you can choose to use this after you’ve been chosen as a target for a ranged attack.
Situational or Build Dependent Stratagems:
- Masters of Combat (2CP): Can be potentially very useful to ensure you’re getting the miles out of your expensive Paladin units. In most cases, this will be a strat you use if you’ve made a mistake, over-extended yourself, or were caught unprepared. However, one awesome use of this ability is that each model is allowed to fight as it is removed. There’s a lot of tricky things you can do with this, such as getting free interrupts if you’re in a multiple combat situation.
- Overwhelming Assault (1CP): Useful if you get your Dreadknights into combat and really need something to die.
- Big Guns Never Tire (1CP): This can be a very useful stratagem, especially when used with Edict Imperator for the Grey Knights version of fire and fade.
- Fury of the Proven (1CP): Can be a powerful stratagem especially when used in conjunction with Hammer wielding Termies.
- Powerful Adept (1CP): Another potentially very useful stratagem, that will most likely see use combined with Inner Fire, and Dynamic Insertion. Can also be used to guarantee a critical spell goes off so that you can maneuver out of Deny the Witch range.
- Duty Eternal (1CP): Pretty much straight from the Space Marines codex. If only this worked on Dreadknights …
- Fight on the Move (1CP): For 1CP, this becomes a very interesting stratagem. The ability to charge, wrap a unit, then shoot, and charge can be very powerful.
- Empyric Surge (1CP): This will most likely be used in combination with Inner Fire or Vortex of Doom
- Steady Advance (1CP): Potentially useful for large squads to maximize the total number of shots your Infantry squad will be putting out.
Maybe Worth Your Consideration Stratagems:
- Vengeance of the Machine Spirit (2CP): A Land Raider or Stormraven are not units you want to invest in for suicide runs, but if your Stormraven is going down, it might as well go down in a blaze of glory. Probably better use for your CP but can be situationally useful.
- Untainted and Unbowed (1CP): Potentially useful if you’re using Purifiers for their MW output and need them to survive or tie something up.
- Prenatural Senses (1CP): Boy how we wish this wasn’t limited to Purgation Squads. Since most of your Purgation squads should be out of LOS, I do not see many opportunities for this stratagem to come into play.
There are some absolute no-brainer spells in the Dominus Discipline. The problem that many Grey Knights players will face is the balance between the Dominus powers and the Sanctic powers. I have been leaning more towards a hero hammer style of list in order to incorporate these powers into my army.
Warp Shaping (WC5): If manifested, select a Tide of the Warp that is not dominant. The currently dominant Tide of the Warp is changed to the selected Tide of the Warp.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: The ability to situationally change your Super Doctrine is incredibly powerful. There are so many ways that can impact the game going from Tide of Shadows to Tide of Escalation, then Escalation to Convergence, etc.
Armoured Resilience (WC6): If manifested, select one friendly Grey Knights Infantry unith within 12″ of this psyker. Until the start of your next Psychic Phase, when resolving an attack that targets that unit subtract 1 from the wound roll.
• Rating: 3/5
• Use: Potentially a very nice boost to survivability. I think you’re most likely to see this being used on a unit of Paladins when you don’t want to invest in Transhuman Physiology to save on CP. Can also be used on some of your melee beatsticks or even a Purgation squad to try and survive a barrage from a Thunderfire Cannon
Ethereal Manipulation (WC7): If manifested, select one friendly Grey Knights unit within 6″ of the psyker. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, when resolving an attack made by a model in that unit in the Shooting phase against a unit that is within half range, you can re-roll the hit roll.
• Rating: 2/5
• Use: Don’t want to bring Draigo, well now you can reap the benefits as long as you’re within half range. Given the other options in this Discipline, I don’t expect this to be used much.
Edict Imperator (WC7): If manifested, select one friendly Grey Knights unit within 12″ of this psyker. That unit can shoot as if it were your Shooting phase, and then make a move as if it were your Movement phase (it cannot Advance as part of this move). That unit cannot shoot again this turn or charge this turn.
• Rating: 5/5
• Use: So many potential options for this one. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to Fire and Fade a Land Raider, Stormraven, GMNDK, etc.? Well now you can! This combined with Astral Aim gives Grey Knights two reliable sources of shooting that can keep your precious units protected from return fire. You can also shoot and hop onto objectives or just gain extra movement. Incredibly powerful spell.
Empyrean Domination (WC7): If manifested, you gain 1 Command Point
• Rating: 5/5
• Use: It every turn.
Inner Fire (WC5): If manifested, select one enemy unit within 1″ of this psyker and roll a number of D6 equal to the result of the Psychic test. For each roll of 1 this psyker suffers 1 mortal wound, and for each roll of 3+, that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound.
• Rating: 3/5
• Use: Psychic assassinations. I expect that this could catch opponent’s offguard if they’ve never played against Grey Knights. With a +2 Casting Bonus, (Sanctic Shard, Brotherhood, Empyric Surge, and a few other options) you can pretty reliably do 5 – 6 Mortal Wounds to an enemy character. While there are powerful against armies that rely heavily on a specific character, this combo requires a pretty hefty investment to pull off. 1CP for Dynamic Insertion, 1CP for Powerful Adept, 1CP for Empyric Surge, potentially more with Psychic Channeling, additional relics, etc., and this doesn’t even include the points for the model and the chance that the spell is denied. Combined with your Smite and/or Vortex of Doom, this Psychic Suicide Bomber could be a potentially crippling blow to your opponent, but one I suspect that savvy opponents will game plan for.
Relics of Titan:
Finally Grey Knights get some updated relics that might be worth using. You now have a couple of optoins that are worth considering.
Blade of the Forsworn: Replaces a model’s Nemesis Force Sword. +1St -3AP 3D that denies invulnerable saves against daemons. Situational at best.
• Rating: 2/5
• Use: If you’re looking to have fun and only have units modeled with Nemesis Force Swords
Sanctic Shard: When a Psychic test is taken for a model with this Relic, you can re-roll the result. Add 1 to the total for Psychic tests taken for a model with this relic.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Almost a must-take for the Psychic Suicide Bomber tactic. Can also be useful to consistently cast some of your more difficult spells
Augurium Scrolls: When resolving an attack made with a Nemesis weapon by a model in a friendly Grey Knights unit within 6″ of a model with this Relic, an unmodified hit roll of 6 scores 1 additional hit.
• Rating: 2/5
• Use: Pretty self-explanatory.
Stave of Supremacy: Model with Nemesis warding stave only. When a Psychic test is taken for an enemy model within 18″ of a model with this Relic, that enemy model suffers Perils of the Warp on any roll of a double.
• Rating: 2/5
• Use: It does what it does. Can be useful against other Psychic heavy armies.
Artisan Nullifer Matrix: Librarian model only. Once per turn, when a Psychic test is taken for a friendly Grey Knights unit within 6″ of a model with this Relic, you can increase or decrease by 1 the value shown on one of the dice.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Can be a very useful relic to reduce the amount Mortal Wounds you take from Perils, but also casting with more consistency. Can also be a useful relic for the Psychic Suicide Bomber tactic.
Aetheric Conduit: Techmarine model only. When using a model with this Relic’s Blessing of hte Omnissiah ability, the target model regains up to 2D3 lost wounds instead of up to D3.
• Rating: 3/5
• Use: This one has me relatively excited. I am planning a build with 2 GMNDKs, one of which will be the target of Edict Imperator. With the ability to gain a 3++ from Heed the Prognosticars or Sanctuary, this can make your GMNDKs a pretty durable gun platform and keep them churning more effectively over the course of the game.
Litanies of Purity:
Grey Knights finally have access to updated Litanies and some very powerful combinations.
Litany of Faith: If this litany is inspiring, then when a model in a friendly GREY KNIGHTS unit within 6″ of this model would lose a wound as a result of a mortal wound, roll one D6; on a 5+ that wound is not lost. This is not cumulative with any similar rules.
• Rating: 3/5
• Use: Another source of mortal wound defense.
Words of Power: If this litany is inspiriting, select one friendly GREY KNIGHTS unit within 6″ of this model. When resolving an attack made by a model in that unit with a ewapon that has a random Damage characteristic, you can re-roll the dice when determining the damage inflicted.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Can be very powerful when combined with Purgation squads, or squads yielding Psilencers or Nemesis force weapons. This combined with Psychic onslaught and Tide of Convergence, can be very powerful.
Intonement for Guidance: If this litany is inspiring, select one friendly GREY KNIGHTS unit within 6″ of this model. When resolving an attack made with a ranged weapon by a model in that unit, ignore hit roll modifiers and Ballstic Skill modifiers.
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Can be very powerful against the Aeldari flyer matchup or if you happen to come across Plague Bearers again. The Psybolt Ammunition, Tide of Convergence combination will be effective at taking down enemy flyers.
Recitation of Projection: If this litany is inspiring, select one friendly GREY KNIGHTS unt within 6″ of this model. Add 6″ to the Range characteristic of bolt weapons and psi weapons in that unit are equipped with.
• Rating: 5/5
• Use: While it may not seem that powerful, since the majority of ranged attacks are 24″ in range, savvy opponents may deploy off the line to negate you a first turn kill. Increasing your range by 6″ can be a huge boon for ensuring a kill and not losing a turn of offensive output.
Invocation of Focus: If this litany is inspiring, select one friendly GREY KNIGHTS unt within 6″ of this model. When resolving an attack made by a model in that unit with a Nemesis weapon or psi weapon, improve the Armour Penetration characterist of that weapon by 1 for that attack (e.g. AP 0 becomes AP -1)
• Rating: 4/5
• Use: Another nice litany that can be used to get your 40 Psybolt shots to AP-2.
- Librarians: Their relic allows them a 6″ aura to increase the reliability of casting. They are also able to cast 2 spells from the Dominus Powers which is very powerful.
- Chaplain: These guys are going to be powerful force multipliers and can also be a backfield character that can access the Dominus Discipline for Empyrean Domination or Warp Shaping
- Brother-Captain: BCs will be must-takes to take advantage of 24″ smites. Their ability to access the Dominus Discipline is also key.
- Apothecary: I believe that you will see the Apothecary rise in popularity. For 88 points with the Nemesis Daemon Hammer, these Smashecaries will get 5 attacks on the charge, with the ability to spam Smite or access other valuable Dominus spells. The fact that you can heal or revive a Paladin is just the cherry on top. I am considering trying to fit three of these in my upcoming list.
- Paladins: Return of the Paladin star. Paladins are going to be monsters at board control but also provide a powerful option to leverage Astral Aim, Edict Imperator, Psybolt Ammunition and other synergies to maximize their damage output and control of the board. Paladins controlling a significant amount of the board coupled with Grey Knights ability to magically appear anywhere on the board will be frustrating for opponent’s and key for winning games.
- Purgation Squad: These guys are winners and still pretty cheap points-wise. Combining them with a Chaplain will increase their effectiveness and if the enemy doesn’t have any LOS ignoring weaponry, they can do some real work especially with Psychic Onslaught, Astral Aim, Tide of Convergence, and any of the wonderful Litanies that the Chappy can provide.
- Strike Squad: A relatively cheap source to spam mortal wounds and embed a Psilencer or Psycannon to take advantage of both Tide of Convergence and Tide of Escalation.
- Interceptors: I feel that these will be overlooked, but for a few more points than a Strike Squad, they can be perfect candidates for Psybolt Ammunition. Especially with their ability to shunt turn 1, they potentially have the ability to shunt into a magic box or ruin and position themselves to decimate an unsuspecting opponent’s flank.
- Land Raiders, Dreadnoughts, Grand Master Nemesis Dreadknights, and Stormravens: I think these are worth talking about. Astral Aim and Edict Imperator make for some interesting options. Additionally, with Tide of Shadows, the ability to improve your save and the -1 to hit modifier if you are within a terrain feature can go a long way to increasing the survivability of these units.
Where Do Grey Knights Stand?
I feel that Grey Knights may be a top-tier army in the hands of a skilled general. They have tricky order of operations, and nuanced abilities, spells, stratagems, Litanies, etc. that affect the game. They are inherently a glass cannon type of army, but interact extremely effectively in every phase of the game and are dominant in the psychic phase. I do feel that due to the complexity, they will be a mentally taxing army to play, but very rewarding when you are able to execute your gameplan on the battlefield. They can also be frustrating as you can fumble over their rules and there are multiple points that increases the likelihood for a greater margin for error by the operator. However, they have options, tools, and many situational tricks that many highly skilled generals covet.
Grey Knight Builds
I believe most Grey Knights lists are going to go the route of double battalion for the valuable CP. Unfortunately, many of the combos and tactics are quite CP intensive. Paladin Stars can easily eat a minimum of 4CP per turn, and upwards of 8+ if you’re fully committed to them. The Psychic Suicide Bomber combo can also cost a minimum of 3CP. So while you will be regenerating CP throughout the game, a Grey Knights player may need to spend 8+ CP in a turn to capitalize on a particularly big combo. I think ultimately, more sustainable builds that rely more on their psychic abilities such as Astral Aim and Edict Imperator will be more prevalent than builds that rely crazy combos for insane spike damage.
Grey Knights are still one of the armies with a true alpha strike. The innate ability to deep strike, gate, and shunt means that Grey Knights can get right in the mix of things whenever they want. With Paladins on the board, and interceptors, there’s opportunities to deep strike 2 GMNDKs, some support characters, then gate the Pallys, shunt the interceptors that can put out an insane amount of MWs and firepower when and where they land.
I believe that you will see some MSU builds with a Paladin Star and some Hero Hammer-Esque play more regularly. MSU and Hero Hammer take advantage of Grey Knights strengths and having some powerful and durable units to screen and protect them will be important.
Part 2 of our review will focus on some of these combos and more general tactica. I will also go over my current iteration of a “Competitive Grey Knights List” and break down the tactics, strategies, and choices within the list.
What are your thoughts on Grey Knights in Ritual of the Damned? What are you excited for and what are your plans for your Grey Knights in the future? Comment down below and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay up-to-date for GDFC’s latest releases.
Stay tuned for GDFC’s Thousand Sons review and we will be pitting the new Grey Knights against the new Thousand Sons in a forthcoming batrep!