Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grey Knight Culexus Assassin Finished with Commentary on Rule Set

My slow painting progress continues. In the month of July I managed to finish this fella.

I also got 80% done with a slaanesh chaos marines squad as well; pics to follow soon. WIP shots can be seen in my slide show found in the side bar.

I have also had some introspection on my painting and plan to elaborate in a future article on the subject in general.

Now that I have 3/4 assassins ready for play, I am eager to field them despite my vow to play with painted figs...which I can't always uphold.

However, this poor fellas rule set is either very poor when compared to his brothers and sister or I need to work on my imagination. Let's break it down.

To begin, he has the same basic stat line as all the other assassins in the Grey Knight codex which can be found HERE.
After a good start, things get a little funky.

First a bit of retrospection. Painting this model started off a near disaster. The primer coat went on thick and powdery, creating a dusty or crusty effect on the entire model. In fact all my henchman in the WIP thread suffered the same fate. I am loath to strip and re-prime so powered through and it can be seen in the model when up close. This feels comparable to me in how the rule set for this fella progressed...the bare model/basic stats = good. The primed model/remaining rule set = not so good.

Anyway, lets take a look at what we have to work with.

Wargear: Psyk-out Grenades, psyocculum

K, everyone in codex has psyk out grenades (when launching an assault any Daemons or psykers are reduced to initiative 1 for that phase)...this would be good if the Culexus had special death dealing attacks to Daemons or psykers but he doesn't. So, you will just get your regular A4 plus charging and CCW bonus. This means most things will own him in CC despite him going first which again with an assassin I7 he would most likely go first anyway.

Psyocculum is a 25pt piece of war gear that undoubtedly raised the price of this fella but adds very, very little. A psyocculum will make him BS10 when shooting at psykers or squads of psykers, but with a basic BS of 8 and inability to join squads...not so great of an improvement.

Animus Speculum: Range 12" S5 AP1 Assault 2*

*For every psyker within 12" of the Culexus Assassin, add +1 to the animus speculum's assault value.

This looks awesome at first, but the big limiting factor here is the range. Had it been even 18" it would have made this guy so much more threatening and useful. With such short range he will be in constant danger of being assaulted where his weak CC ability will see him dead versus any concentrated effort. Also while S5 is good for targeting most infantry, practically useless against vehicles, thus a bit of a waste for the AP1. Just one more point of strength could have made this weapon quite a bit better.

Etherium: Any unit wishing to shoot at the Culexus, or target with psychic power, must pass a LD on 3d6 (vehicles = LD10). If failed, cannot target Assassin...but can attack another target.

While this may keep the enemy from shooting him from a again is not useful as he only has a 12" range with his weapon so there is no need to shoot him from a distance anyway. Also when he is close enough to hurt your opponent he is close enough for them to pass the 3d6 test to see him. Could have been slightly better if after rolling and failing... your opponent would NOT be able to choose another target and just lost their chance to shoot with that unit. This would have at least made for a few tough choices.

So, with all this good news how do you use this guy?

Good question. The Culexus Assassins point cost is another big question. Barrelling in at 135 points makes me wonder as he really is far behind his siblings in usefulness. 90 or 100 points would be better, but still probably not help him see the table top more often.

He has the "ability" to take out whole squads, but many things must be arranged just so, to make this happen.

Here is about the best way I can think to use him:

Put him in a rhino in the center of your army at midfield. GK's is a midfield army, he has a short range, no sense hanging him back for any reason. A central 12" bubble is actually quite large, 24" diameter circle after all. Counting vehicles, IC's, etc you really could see this fella wrack up his shots to 10+. Remember though, a Grey Knight Strike squad is considered "1" psyker. But, you could easily have 3 units in rhinos (which are psykers) and a couple IC's within 12", plus the rhino he is in.

The rhino will grant it's fortitude keeping him shooting and granting +1 shot. An unprepared opponent will not like it when their entire squad, if out in the open, goes away from one models shooting. However you have to string many things together to make this happen.

Now a less obvious way to use him and one probably needing a rule clarification is when the Culexus is placed in a vehicle. In this instance does "Etherium" affect enemy shooting at a vehicle with a Culexus embarked? If so, your opponent will have to roll to see the vehicle on 3d6 in order to shoot it. Since items like force fields, sanctuary, and shrouding work when a Librarian is embarked; I think you could make a solid case. Thus, your Land Raider or Storm Raven could sit back make itself very hard to hit (or see), though you are paying 135pts to get this.

If using a Grand Master ot make him a troop choice he could annoy a few opponets while he safely sits unseen on a home base objective I suppose as another use...of course 3 henchman warriors at 12 points behind a rock will do the same for 123pts less.

All in all, a bit of a let down with this fella. But, I have had the model for ages and needed to make my set complete. He will see some action nonetheless, as I enjoy getting use out of "non optimised" units anyway.

How could he have been better?

Well, many ways actually. First off the "Etherium" could have granted him a 4+ or 3+ invul save... and/or allowed him to "phase" when moving granting ability to move 12" possibly even ignoring terrain. This would have mitigated the 12" range issue some what and giving him better ability to line up his shots. A weapon that counted as a power weapon versus psykers or daemons with a poison like ability would have been great. A "bounce back" ability versus enemy psykers, one in which if using their abilities within 24" of the culexus could cause the ability to be refocused to another unit of choice by the culexus controlling player would also have been interesting.

Can you think of any different or better ways to use this guy in your GK lists?

Thanks for the read,

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