Sunday, 1 April 2012

Beatin' A Dead Horse - GK's

So we all know about this supposedly good book called the Grey Knight Codex. As such,  there is not too much to be said on the armies or units at this stage of the game, so my column on the GK's will be more reserved to results, observations and the hobby side of things. Today I will actually cover a little bit from all three!

Today I will be starting off with my current GK list, as much to give an idea of what I'll be work with and on in the coming weeks. Then I will move on to initial thoughts about the mirror match, and ending with the first pictures of the WIP of the GK's.


So we need the obligatory list don't we? Well, here's a little exercise, guess 6 units out of a possible 13 that make up my army (including HQ).

 I bet most will reasonably guess at least half the army, with a good shout at getting the wargear. It's not to say that GK's are mono-build, arguably its far from that, but the most popular archetype within the book, based around Coteaz (you guessed that bit right?) lends itself to certain units that happen to very good (and this is very much overly documented (both here at SONS and on other blogs). Either which way, this is my current list:



5x Purifiers (2x PsyC 2xHalb 1xDH) - Rhino (SL)
5x Purifiers (2x PsyC 2xHalb 1xDH) - Rhino (SL)
5x Purifiers (2x PsyC 2xHalb 1xDH) - Rhino (SL)

5x GKSS (1xPsyC) - Rhino (SL)
5x GKSS (1xPsyC) - Rhino
5x DCA - Psyback
5x DCA - Psyback
3x Aco - Psyback
3x Aco - Psyback

Psyfleman Dreadnought
Psyfleman Dreadnought
Psyfleman Dreadnought

So no major surprises here. The standard Elites + Heavies that we see in 90%+ of the Coteaz lists are present, and in all my testing games they do most of the heavy lifting.

The focus really is on my troops. I severely dislike Acolytes as a unit in themselves, while being a cheap scorer, they don't really do much else, well actually they do nothing and as such I've never been a fan of the lists that rely on them for the scoring as a method to get the "good stuff" lists. Psybacks can be underwhelming at times, and while 62 points for a scorer is nice, when its literally just a heavy bolter on wheels, its not exactly the be all and end all of investments.

GKSS provide an element of solidity to the core. Their versatility of being able to push objectives solo and have some form of resiliency and duality (while they aren't combat beats, due to the power weapons they aren't atrocious), or they can be a nice little threat bubble on a rear objective. Having played a few games with them sat up in a razorback, I found myself often wanting them to just shoot their psycannon instead, or if they take a couple of casualties be sat in a rhino top hatching. On par, I'd probably say a psycannon is better than a psyback anyway.

The final duo to the troops is the DCA. I absolutely love this unit. They are a big feature in my Sisters army, but in the GK list they operate very differently. The Sisters are an army (or at least my list) that wants to get to 12" or less, and the DCA are a big element in the clean up crew and pretty much make it so that its not a suicide mission. GK's are at their comfort around 18/24" with their cannons pounding into you. The DCA offer a cheap (75 points is pretty darn cheap) scorer, with a nice threat bubble that acts as a counter attack unit much like thunder wolves in the Space Wolves book. There are times where they will be key and I'll throw them forward, other times I use them to jockey position with a deathstar (which they are very good insurance against. Its a unit, that I feel are both really well positioned and just an excellent choice.

That's that. The only other list I want to try right now (other than a Land Raider + bigger DCA unit) is a more turtled approach with a shrouding Librarian. 


Like I say above, there really aren't many stones left unturned when it comes to Grey Knights, with the exception of the odd "off the wall" build.

However, one thing that does strike me, and it will be a feature that keeps appearing in my future articles, is the concept of the mirror match. Given my intentions of Grey Knights to be my primary tournament army this year (with Sisters hopefully for things like future Blog Wars), I expect to be playing a hell of a lot of mirror matches. While I don't have much practice right now, fortunately, Atreides is slowly working on his own GK army (his Desert Eagles!) so I am sure we will get in plenty of practice.

In my experience, namely from other games (but not discounting 40K), mirror matches are arguably the most skill intensive matches you can play. Both opponents have the same tools coming into the game and are looking, on the most part (if we assume some form of skill parity) to exert the same game plan.

We have a lot of factors to consider with a mirror match, rand while some players often look upon mirrors as boring, I do seek and find joy in "getting one over" the mirror. It will be something I certainly will be coming back to a lot in the coming weeks / months.

Though right now there are various "version's" of the mirror;
  • Similar list vs Similar list (E.G Coteazwing vs Coteazwing)
  • Book vs Book (E.G Blood Angel DOA vs Blood Angel Razorspam, Draigowing vs Coteaz) 
We know when facing GK's we are most likely to face Coteaz, however, Draigo is fairly popular (and has plenty of variant builds) as is "pure" GK (no special char / unlocks, mass GKSS OR mass Terminators, or a mix), so the various breeds of mirror will be on my mind.

How about everyone else, how do you prepare for your mirror, or how well prepared do you feel? Especially those that do run the less common archetypes?


Primer: Despite the comment in my last post about GK's, I've been collecting these bitches for years. I've had a soft spot for GK's and the models since Rogue Trader days (while I was young, I still some how managed to acquire models back then, still have them to this day). My first real GK army was around the beginning of 3rd Edition, well before they got their own book, count as before it was cool. Then I took a break before the new line (I.E the second incarnation), upon returning, a full decade later, I was instantly drawn in. However, GK's sucked in 5th Edition, I mean full on unplayable, it didn't stop me from having an army, but I moved on (Blood Angels, my Second Edition love, and Deathwing, who funnily enough shared a book with the BA's back then!). The new book and model update came out and I of course updated my range. 

However, now, having done three different GK armies, I want to do something fresh. I love the book, probably more so than the newer models (I still just love the Rogue Trader versions more than anything), so I looked for something new. Ideally a concept that would mix well with my Sisters of Battle. The idea of Adeptus Custodes popped up, and it instantly appealed to me, they both work fluff wise with Sisters of Battle and I loved the paint range for them. 

And as such, the project was born;

This is the first kit bash Adeptus Custodes mode. Now I am aware its not "true" to the full on fluff. They are meant to be bigger than marines, and have more ornate armour. However, some things have to give, and time was one of them as well as model availability (I have so many sprues, I really want to use them up, and kit bashing provides a fun challenge)

The modelling and painting decisions were impacted a bit by this. Originally I had planned on a much simpler paint method involving true metallics and washes. But when I decided on the Custodes, I wanted something that looked good, especially since I would not be using stand out models.

Overall I think its a fairly decent representation, at worst its hopefully going to be a good looking and unique army by merit of just effort.

Next up is the painted model (well 70% shall we say) and the next "kit bash".

So the Non-Metallic Metal route was chosen. Both Atreides and Venerable have mentioned the time factor (and potential craziness), but I am not overly concerned. The above list requires only 25 models in NNM, and 3 of them (at least) will be 90% robed models anyway.

I am quite rusty as a painter currently, I haven't opened a pot or picked up a brush in probably over six months, and certainly haven't painted NMM in what must be at least a year. However, I did not want to treat this like a test model, I want to actually use it in the army. Overall I was pleased with the results, though there are some big signs of rust (I spot more and more each time I look at the model, but I always do that, I still see new flaws in my Belial every time I view that picture). However, I do think its a solid starting point for me to leap off on, it reminded me of the formula's and lets me look for improvements squad to squad (or even model to model). I have cut out some stages from the "show model" versions of NNM, since it's army painting after all.

  • Scorched Brown / Snake Bite Leather 1.5/1 mix
  • Devlan Mud Wash (watered down) (should be two washes)
  • Scorched Brown / Snake Bite Leather 1/1 mix over the top
  • Leviathan Purple recess only wash
  • Snake Bite Leather (with a touch of Scorched) "large" highlights
  • Snake Bite Leather / Skull White mix 3/1 (ish) "small" highlights
  • Snake Bite Leather / Skull White 1/1 (ish) "touch/point" highlights
  • Leviathan Purple wash "dark area's only"
There are a few improvements to the above recipe. Though largely it will be neatness I need to work on, for some reason I just couldn't keep an accurate hand over the should pad trim. I am happy with most of the highlighting area's but that is something you feel out a bit more each and every pass you do. I am very much an "effect" highlighter and not an "realistic light" highlighter.

Red is one of my favourite colours to have as a secondary, this time though I've used my staple (Red Gore) and used skull white opposed to blazing orange for the highlight stages. However, at no point do I apply Red Gore, I start with a Black/Gore mix, and then work from there, maybe the 2nd or 3rd coat is close to Gore but its a very poor pigmented colour (but imo the best looking). 

I am not too worried about the time to paint this force. But here's the general plan and what to expect on the WIP side in the up and coming weeks:
  • Coteaz conversion (70% done, based on an old Golden Demon winner, it also acts as my Uriah Jackobus model)
  • Death Cult conversions (0%) - using Dark Eldar Wych's
  • Finish Purifiers / GKSS - trying to work out how I will differentiate the GKSS (other than that they have swords, may have them holding their stormbolters)
  • Psyflemen Dreads to be converted using Imperial Guard Sentinels as a base.
Well at least that's the plan.


I was searching for Coteaz images, and found this:

That Coteaz picture is mine (that I sold). How weird? 


    1. List looks good.. the models look very cool. I think you have settled on a nice balance between functional and modelling for the sake of it..I have seen some very cool Custodes alternatives online..but they are far more expensive! lol..

      List is cool.. I like the idea of a LRR stuffed with 10 DCA.. that could be very nasty! Still, I have a particular view on single land raiders in an army..

    2. Yeah there are a lot of very cool custode models out there. Some I do feel are just a bit OTT and the model takes away from the painting (I feel). In some cases just a base coat and wash and the model looks "fine" (better than it should). I am not one to let the model do the work lol.

      The Land Raider list is interesting, probably will run it at blog wars.

    3. I hate that the Grey Knights Codex exists, what I dislike even more is when people try to couch terrible armies in a cool hobby project. The worst part is the kit-bash Custodes you have made don't really look like Custodes, a Space Marine with an elf head does not make a guardian of the Emperor. Your paint job is good but it's ruined by the sub-par mini beneath it. Also if your taking your army to any serious tournaments I caution you, my friend Ian runs a Grey Knight army with almost eighty mini's it at 1850 points, his list would absolutely obliterate yours barring bad luck, I know he's not the only guy running this kind of list so your idea about a mirror match may windup being death by a thousand shards. Good article keep it up.

      1. wow... what a hateful, vitriolic, and generally unpleasant post. there are so many things wrong with what you said that i don't even know where to begin.

        suffice to say, who are you to say what is and isn't good, and what should and shouldn't be done? your intolerance is everything that is wrong with the internet hobby community and it makes me sick.

      2. I don't think myself high judge of good and bad, but you have a chosen a thing that has artwork that depicts it a certain way, you have chosen to go a different way with it. Your examples though don't seem as if you put much effort into them in the building phase, the mini seems to have had a head swap and a weapon swap with bolt on pistol. I'm sorry if what I typed offended you or hurt your feelings, I know I get emotionally invested in my projects and I honestly apologize if my statements in any way upset you. I will not shirk from my opinions however, your paint job would look great on some minis worth the effort. Also "Good article keep it up." wasn't sarcastic, it was a good article well written and clearly thought out, put some of that effort into the conversions and you you'll have an eye-catching army.

      3. first off, these are not my models, i just leapt to the defence of the author because i dont like to see anyone's creations getting ripped apart.

        the fact is, your reply, while containing valid thoughts and criticisms, was perhaps poorly worded and came accross as very offensive. while this may not have been your intention i think it might be best to read things back as you might if someone had left YOU the comment before posting them in future. it is certainly something i try to do.

        additionally, maybe consider that many people are not up to your standard of converting ability, or simply are not as interested in that aspect of the hobby. accordingly, instead of simply saying, "this is poor", suggest ways to make it better, and offer real advice.

        regardless, thank you for actually bothering to come back and respond to the comments here, it shows that my first assumptions were incorrect, which is good to see.

    4. I think the conversions aren't too shabby. Personally I am not keen on the helmets, though don't take that the wrong way, that's because I don't like Eldar helmets fullstop and think they look pretty damn stupid. I do applaud your efforts though. Do you think some G.K stuff would make them look more detailed?

      As for the list, it's a typical Henchmen list. I can't say I am too fond of these lists. I've heard people say they are awesome, though when I've seen them in action they fail. Razorbacks go boom and Henchmen get ripped up by shrapnel.

      On another note, Chris, I think you're just as tactful as a brick to face. I am also not sure what this 'Bobby Big Balls' macho shit is about saying your mate mate can beat up someone's toy soliders with his toy soliders.

      1. I didn't mean it like "My dad can beat up your dad!" just that in a general game setting a Grey Knight list that focuses on mass forces is capable of absorbing casualties while continuing to inflict damage on an opponent. A henchmen list as you stated looks good but fails in practical application. I only mentioned my friend as I have first hand experience both competing against him and seeing him against other opponents.

    5. ooh, check out the controversy! (Not sure I could have phrased that in a more camp manner!)

      List - it is a bog standard GK Henchman list, there is some reasonable scoring, but the Acolytes, imho, shouldn't ever be in the transports.. they should be in reserve and walking onto a homne objective, hopefully late in the game and out of LOS. As Mercer comments.. they will die in an explosion of Razorback shrapnel.. IF they are in them...

      Regarding the Mirror Match Up. To address Chris's point, there are a load of different GK builds that this might struggle against at 1850 (Inq, 3 x 5 Purifiers, 5 x 5 Strikes, 2 x 5 Purgation - all with max Cannons and in Psybacks - this is a scary 1850 force..for other GK's), in the same way that there are many other mirror match's for other armies that are tough.. but you need to consider the mission, terrain and player skill..

      As to this "bashing" of Bull's conversions.. yeah, they are simple, but they will look great on an army wide scale and whilst they may not be as ridiculously ornate as the artwork..nor are so many things in the GW line up. A lot of mini's (GW produced) fall short of 'official' artwork.. the SW kits for example, of which I am a massive fan, do not match up in any way to the sheer awesome power of Adrian Smith what are we supposed to do.. Frankly, I am happy to run my tactical marines as "Sisters" and call them "Band of Brothers" ..the Sisters models are all metal and I fucking hate the end of the day, this is all about personal viewpoint.. it's up to you how you partake in your hobby and vice versa.. let's leave it at that hey...

    6. This is a minor variation on the standard tournament GK Coteaz list. I run less Acolytes than the average list because I am not a fan of them.

      re: mirror match. I mention that exact sentiment Venerable, I refer to the most common list (the one above) and then the fact that the GK book has various others, that despite being different lists, given the same book and some of the rules unique to GK's make for one of the tougher book vs book mirrors. Like I say, more on this later.

      re: the models. I have six weeks to make and paint the army. I want NNM and to spend a lot of my time on my HQ conversion (making and painting). If I had more time I would actually order the resin models themselves. I will most likely do that later this year as I expand the army. I am not a fluff monkey, nor do I like to ruin models, but everyone here knows I take far more joy in paint job than conversion.

      Thanks for the criticism, the points on the model are valid (the conversions will get better as they go along, that is model 1 of 25), but the list "advice" is extremely off base unfortunately. 5 minute research into tournament results (reports of which can be found here since we all attend them regularly, if not just look at the actual tournaments, you will see our names in amongst them) will demonstrate that.

      Or you can wait a few days and I am posting a column about UK meta and its breakdown which covers lists such as this.

      Also if you wish for more advice or information on the top end lists that feature at UK events, just listen to 40KUK podcasts, it regularly features one of our posters, Killswitch, one of the main players with a list very similar to above, and many others.

      Thanks again for your comments, hope you keep reading.

      And I promise, I'll make more effort on my next models!

    7. I know competitive gaming definitely has regional variation, and if your style of list works well in your area than clearly you understand your environment and that's absolutely key in placing well within a tournament. I've built an army or two in a tight deadline, my Death Guard was finished in the short span of two months and had 38 Plague Marines, 2 Rhinos, a predator, a Land Raider, a Vindicator and a rather plain Chaos Lord. All the infantry were converted from standard Chaos Space Marines and all the vehicles were converted to match the Death Guard theme, it was a budget build that I spent less than $250 on. I do want to back up this up with some actually pictures of the work so here are some links.

      The Greater Daemon wasn't part of the army for the initial build but I still think he's pretty cool. I've just always felt that if you're going to make something special you should do your best from the ground up. I look forward to seeing the progression of this force of yours, and hearing about your gaming exploits.

    8. Mini's look nice Chris, I'm pretty sure I've seen them before on your site..awhile back though.

      Remember we are all over the pond bud.. the 'regional variation' is far, far less than in the States.. we are only a little (if monstrously amazing) island and as such, when we participate in tournaments we are seeing all the regional variation we need to make a solid and well founded judgement as to what works. Typically, this shows in tournament results..although lets be fair..Bully has been out of the game for a long while, so let's wait and see if he remembers how to roll dice! lol..

      1. I do sometimes forget the difference of scale between the United States and England. Within my home state of North Carolina there are honestly two different meta communities, in the western part of the state where I live and game mech is king, while towards the coastline hordes seem to be very popular. Both are pretty valid directions depending on any number of factors but it can be difficult for road games. As for my Death Guard, thank you for the compliment, and I did finish them nearly two years ago, since then I've had Dark Angels(the green variety), Space Wolves, Blood Angels, two different Imperial Guard armies and a half dozen partial forces, now I'm working on my Executioners, but they are intended as a collectors force not a tournament one.