Ritual Of The Damned is the next book in the Psychic Awakening series, featuring Grey Knights, Dark Angels, and Thousand Sons. The Grey Knights have received a preview today talking about everything that they are going to be receiving. Grey Knights will have their own unique version of Combat Doctrines along with new Relics, Psychic Powers, Stratagems, and even their own set of Chaplain litanies. But, is that enough to save the Sons of Titan from their position as one of the weaker armies in 40K? Only time will tell, but frankly a lot of what was previewed is very promising to raise the Grey Knights several pegs. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started!
First and foremost, Grey Knights are going to have their own version of Combat Doctrines. Instead of having a cycling list that they move from, Grey Knights will have to pick a “Tide of War” from the following list that is active the entire game: Fury, Convergence, Shadows, or Escalation. Fury is by far the weakest of these, as it provides the lowest damage boost of any of the options here. Re-rolling 1’s to Wound works out to about a 17% damage hike, and there are some other options here that are far more powerful, particularly Shadows and Escalation.
Shadows represents a huge amount of damage reduction to your army, especially against small arms fire like Lasguns or Bolters. As an example, between the addition of cover and the -1 to be hit for being in terrain, your regular Power Armored models will take ~63% less damage from Bolter Fire! Technically, they would have the benefit of cover so in a way it’s only a 25% reduction, but no matter how you slice it this is a large damage reduction. Even in the open, it’s a straight 50% damage cut against AP0 attacks at range. This drops off as AP values go up of course, but Shadows will still most likely be the go-to for any competitive player due to it simply drastically reducing the amount of damage you take. As a quick note, unlike other similar abilities that have range limits like Alpha Legion or Raven Guard, this ability does not, which is just another mark in it’s favor.
Escalation comes in at a close second place, and against melee focused lists this will probably be your go to. Put simply, Escalation simply doubles the damage that you deal in your Psychic Phase from your regular units, and even provides a damage boost on your actual Characters. Throw in a Brother-Captain to double the range of your Smites, and you have an army that can pick multiple units up a turn in the Psychic Phase. These two are going to form the core choices for most Grey Knights players, as they simply offer the biggest power boosts.
Finally, we have Convergence to look at. +1 Strength and Damage on all “Psi” Weaponry is theoretically a really powerful ability. However, Psi weapons are very short ranged and they’re hard to efficiently spam in a list. There are some totally reasonable combos with this and Astral Aim, but at the end of the day this competes with Shadows or Escalation. Without some really over the top Psychic Powers or Stratagems to further help this Tide out, it’s firmly placed in the middle of the pack of the Tides.
Grey Knights are also receiving a second unique Psychic Discipline, called the Dominus Discipline. So far, it looks like Grey Knights will have some kind of Power to change what kind of Tide is active from the Warp Shaping power, however it’s text wasn’t previewed. Instead, they showed off a second Psychic Power, Empyrean Domination. This power is deceptively useful. At a glance, it’s hard to cast since it’s on a 7, and it only provides a single CP so it seems somewhat use impaired. However, the thing to remember here is that practically every Grey Knights unit knows a Psychic Power or two. So, you can have a 5 man Strike Squad sitting on terrain in a corner holding an objective all game that also gives you a few CP over the course of a game. Due to the expensive and elite nature of Grey Knights, the army really struggles to bring a lot of Command Points to the board. This is a brilliant way on Games Workshop’s end to give Grey Knights a way to increase the amount of CP that Grey Knights get without it being completely broken.
Grey Knights will also be receiving a suite of new Stratagems to supplement the ones that they already have in their Codex. Empyric Surge is just one of many of the new Stratagems to be gifted to the Grey Knights, but man is it a good one. With a little clever positioning from an Infantry Unit manifesting Smite, you can make an entire UNIT (not model, Unit) broadcast a +1 to cast all Psychic Powers for the turn. That’s a practical guarantee that all of your Smites will go off for the turn, not to mention any other powers you need to cast. Again, the set up can take a little work here but this can end up being 1CP to get +1 to cast on every relevant power you cast in a turn.
Grey Knights are also receiving some new Relics to expand their range to pick from from the Relics they have in their Codex. Unfortunately, the Stave of Supremacy just isn’t that good. It moves the odds of having Perils Of The Warp from 1/18th to 1/6th. So yes, you are tripling the odds of your opponents suffering Perils of The Warp while they have a caster within 18” of the bearer, but this comes at the cost of a Relic. The exact amount of Relics that this will compete with is up in the air, but it’s unlikely this will be one of the best options available to Grey Knights. This all being said, it could be a game changer against Thousand Sons or a Grey Knights mirror match!
Finally, Grey Knights are getting their own unique set of Litanies, called the Litanies of Purity. As a teaser, they previewed the Recitation of Projection, but unfortunately it’s pretty awkward as it only provides a 6” range increase to a single unit’s bolt and psi weapons. You could do something nifty while under the Tide of Convergence and a Purgation Squad loaded with Psycannons behind a wall with this and Astral Aim, but that’s a lot of eggs to make one unit deal some solid dakka at the cost of having a Chaplain babysit a Purgation Squad and giving up Tide of Shadows for your army. All in all, this particular Prayer isn’t very good, but there’s still another 5 that we don’t know what they do.
All in all, the Grey Knights look like they will be receiving a substantial power boost based on these previews. The new Tides will give Grey Knights some much needed flexibility, and the various rules updates should give them plenty of powerful options to pick from for their Characters, and a new Stratagem lineup will hopefully bring this army back into the limelight. It should be noted that they also saw some large reductions in CA2019. Although this army probably won’t end up shifting the entire meta, if you have a Grey Knights army on a shelf somewhere you should definitely dust it off and pick up Ritual Of The Damned. You won’t be disappointed.
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