Warhammer 40K Grey Knights Tactics – Ritual of the Damned – Nights at the Game Table

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The Grey Knights. Sons of Titan. Brother of Sanctity. Whatever name you think of when you think of the Imperium’s pre-eminent daemon fighters, one thing you don’t think about is how powerful and competitive Grey Knights are on the tabletop. Saddled with one of the very first codex released in 8th Edition, the boys in silver tuxedos have struggled to be relevant in the 40K scene. All this is about to change with the release of Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned, which grants new rules, Stratagems, a new psychic discipline, a dedicated set of Litanies for the updated Chaplain and new relics to the Grey Knights. We’re going to explore a few of them.

Masters of the Warp

Without a doubt, the most exciting change for the Grey Knights is the new Masters of the Warp ability, which interacts with Tides of the Warp. Think of them like combat doctrines for codex-compliant Space Marine armies, except not tied to a game turn or a progression of doctrines. All Grey Knights units (except Servitors) gain the Masters of the Warp ability along with Bolter Discipline and Shock Assault. Much like “super doctrines” for other Space Marine chapters, you only get the benefit of Tides of the Warp if every unit has the Masters of the Warp ability.

Dare to Dance the Tides (of the Warp)

At the start of the first battle round, you choose what Tide is currently “dominant” (in effect). Every unit with the Masters of the Warp rule gains a bonus based on whichever one you choose:

  • Tide of FuryInfantry models making an attack with a Nemesis weapon re-roll wound rolls of 1
  • Tide of ConvergenceInfantry models with psi weapons add 1 to Strength and Damage characteristics. Note that this includes any weapons that have been affected by the Psybolt Ammunition Stratagem during the current phase.
  • Tide of Shadows – Units get cover even if they aren’t in cover and are -1 to hit if they are in on or within a terrain feature. AKA, “The one you will always start the game with.”
  • Tide of Escalation – when a unit with the Rites of Banishment ability manifests Smite, add 1 additional mortal wound to the damage. …and just like that, Grey Knights have consistent 2 mortal wound Smites. Hooray!

Unlike combat doctrines, you can change the dominant Tide with the Warp Shaping psychic power; part of the new Dominus discipline covered later. This means Tide of Shadows could be active, when a psyker casts Warp-Shaping to make Tide of Escalation dominant, and then proceed with the rest of the Psychic phase with enhanced Smites.

Stratagems

Grey Knights have 16 new Stratagems at their disposal in Ritual of the Damned, so I’m not going to cover every single one. There are some that are ported over from Codex: Space Marines (Transhuman Physiology, Vengeance of the Machine Spirit, Duty Eternal, Big Guns Never Tire) but the majority are Grey Knight specific. Here are a few highlights:

  • Dynamic Insertion – 1CP – Use this when a GK unit arrives on the battlefield using the Teleport Strike ability, you can set up more than 3” from enemy units instead of 9” (but you can’t charge with that unit this turn). Movement blocking, objective claiming, and just unleashing fiery death on an enemy unit – this one has a lot of applications.
  • Bring Down the Beast – 2CP – Used during the Shooting phase, after a Grey Knights unit has fired on a Shooting attack at a Vehicle or Monster. All other Grey Knights units that fire at that model may re-roll to wound. That’s right kids, the Grey Knights version of Doom. This one is smokin’…almost literally.
  • Fury of the Proven – 1CP – Grey Knights Terminator unit +1 to hit. Interestingly, this can be used in any phase.
  • Powerful Adept – 1CP – Grey Knights Psyker unit with Rites of Banishment ability increases the range of all psychic powers by 6”. Extra range is always a welcome bonus especially where psychic powers are concerned – just ask a Thousand Sons player.
  • Fight on the Move – 1CP – Grey Knights Interceptor Squad can shoot and charge even if it fell back this turn. No to hit modifiers on this one. Excellent!
  • Empyric Surge – 1CP – After a Grey Knights Psyker unit manifests a power, until the end of the phase GK units with 6” are +1 on psychic tests. If you’re paying attention, Grey Knights have a lot of +1s to psychic tests. With most of their powers being WC7 and below, Grey Knights are poised to have some very reliable Psychic phases.
  • Redoubtable Defence – 1CP (5 models or less)/2CP (more than 5 models) – When a Grey Knights Terminator unit is targeted with a shooting attack, -1 to the Damage characteristic of ranged weapons until the end of the phase. Pair this with Transhuman Physiology and suddenly your Terminators can be truly resilient.
  • Untainted and Unbowed – 1CP – Grey Knight Purifier Squad has a 4++ invul save and auto-passes morale until the end of the turn. Sure, it’s only a 4++ on 1 wound models, but it’s still a 4++.

The Dominus Discipline

So, you know how sometimes you look at a psychic discipline and thing, “Man, at least 2 of those are filler powers because they needed 6 to make the discipline.”? That is definitely not the case with the Dominus discipline. All of the powers are good, and some of them are great. The only caveat is that GK Psykers can’t generate powers from both the Sanctic discipline and the Dominus discipline (so no double-dipping, outside of the Lore Master Warlord Trait). Chances are you’re going to be taking a LOT of Characters, though, so be sure to spread the disciplines around.

  • Warp Shaping – WC5 – Change the dominant Tide of the Warp. Probably best taken on more than one psyker, as it’s the only way to change the dominant Tide.
  • Armoured Resilience – WC6 – Select a GK Infantry squad within 12”, until the start of the next Psychic phase wound rolls against that unit are -1. Protective modifiers to Wound rolls are rare, this one is great.
  • Ethereal Manipulation – WC7 – Select a friendly Grey Knights unit within 6” of the psyker, they re-roll hit Shooting hit rolls. It’s like having one of those new-fangled Chapter Masters for one unit.
  • Edict Imperator – WC7 – Select a friendly Grey Knights until within 12”, that unit can shoot as if it were the Shooting phase and then move as if it were the Movement phase (no Advance). The unit cannot shoot again or charge this turn. Fire and Fade in psychic power form. FANTASTIC.
  • Empyrian Domination – WC7 – Gain 1CP. For an army that can go through CP at a truly alarming rate, this power is incredible.

Inner Fire – WC5 – Select an enemy unit within 1”, roll a number of D6 equal to the number rolled for the psychic test. Each 1 == 1 mortal wound to the psyker, each 3+ == 1 mortal wound to the enemy unit. This can be great, or it could go hilariously wrong. Probably not a power you’re going to take often, but it could be great with a little luck.

Relics of Titan

There are 6 new relics for Grey Knights in Ritual of the Damned, and while they aren’t all super-stars, there are a few that stand out:

  • Blade of the Forsworn – replaces a Nemesis force sword, S+1 AP-3 D 3, Daemon units can’t take an invul save. If you look across the table and see a Daemons army, this becomes an auto-take.
  • Santic Shard – +1 to Psychic tests is taken, and you can re-roll the result. Continuing the trend of making Grey Knights Psychic phases reliable, this one is pretty much a must-take.
  • Artisan Nullifier Matrix – Librarian only, once per turn you can increase or decrease by 1 the value on one of the dice of a Psychic test for a GK unit within 6”. Having the ability to twiddle with psychic test results with no CP cost is, in a word, “baller”. I love this one.

Litanies of Purity

Finally, there’s the new litanies for Grey Knights Chaplains. Again, some are better than others:

  • Words of Power – Select a GK unit within 6”, if the weapon has a random Damage characteristic, you can re-roll the Damage.
  • Intonement for Guidance – Select a GK unit within 6”, ranged attacks for that unit ignore hit roll modifiers and Ballistic Skill modifiers. Very useful against armies with Flyers and other tricks.
  • Refrain of Convergence – this model adds +3 to Deny the Witch tests. If you’re facing a psyker-heavy army, this one is a go-to auto-take.

Example Army List and Tactics

So here we go with a list that will utilize some of the new things the Grey Knights now have:

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Grey Knights) [63 PL, 5CP, 824pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot [5CP] +

Detachment CP [5CP]

+ HQ [26 PL, 313pts] +

Chaplain [8 PL, 107pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

Librarian [9 PL, 103pts]: Storm Bolter [2pts]

. Nemesis Warding Stave [1pts]: Nemesis Warding Stave [1pts]

Librarian [9 PL, 103pts]: Storm Bolter [2pts]

. Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]: Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]

+ Troops [21 PL, 291pts] +

Strike Squad [7 PL, 101pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [29pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

Strike Squad [7 PL, 101pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [29pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

Strike Squad [7 PL, 89pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [17pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]: Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]

+ Fast Attack [16 PL, 220pts] +

Interceptor Squad [16 PL, 220pts]

. 2x Grey Knight (Incinerator) [52pts]: 2x Incinerator [18pts]

. 7x Interceptor (Falchions) [147pts]: 14x Nemesis Falchion [14pts], 7x Storm Bolter [14pts]

. Interceptor Justicar [21pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Falchion [2pts]: 2x Nemesis Falchion [2pts]

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Imperium – Grey Knights) [89 PL, 8CP, 1,172pts] ++

+ No Force Org Slot [8CP] +

Battle-forged CP [3CP]

Detachment CP [5CP]

+ HQ [31 PL, 463pts] +

Brother-Captain [9 PL, 130pts]

. Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

. Psycannon [7pts]: Psycannon (Terminator) [7pts]

Grand Master Voldus [10 PL, 153pts]

Lord Kaldor Draigo [12 PL, 180pts]

+ Troops [21 PL, 303pts] +

Strike Squad [7 PL, 101pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [29pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

Strike Squad [7 PL, 101pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [29pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

Strike Squad [7 PL, 101pts]

. 3x Grey Knight (Halberd) [51pts]: 3x Nemesis Force Halberd [3pts], 3x Storm Bolter [6pts]

. Grey Knight (Psycannon) [21pts]: Psycannon [7pts]

. Grey Knight Justicar [29pts]: Storm bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

+ Elites [37 PL, 406pts] +

Apothecary [5 PL, 76pts]

. Nemesis Warding Stave [1pts]: Nemesis Warding Stave [1pts]

Paladin Squad [32 PL, 330pts]

. 2x Paladin (Halberd) [88pts]: 2x Nemesis Force Halberd [2pts], 2x Storm Bolter [4pts]

. Paladin (Psycannon) [49pts]: Psycannon (Terminator) [7pts]

. . Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]: Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]

. Paladin (Psycannon) [49pts]: Psycannon (Terminator) [7pts]

. . Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]: Nemesis Force Halberd [1pts]

. 2x Paladin (Warding Stave) [88pts]: 2x Nemesis Warding Stave [2pts], 2x Storm Bolter [4pts]

. Paragon [56pts]: Storm Bolter [2pts]

. . Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]: Nemesis Daemon Hammer [13pts]

++ Total: [152 PL, 13CP, 1,996pts] ++

So how does this all work? 

  • The Chaplain will take two Litanies of choice, and the Warp Shaping psychic power
  • The Apothecary will also take the Warp Shaping power
  • One Librarian will take Armoured Resilience and Empyrean Domination and the Sanctic Shard
  • The other Librarian will choose powers from the Sanctic discipline and the Artisan Nullifier Matrix
  • The other characters will choose between Dominus and Sanctic powers, making sure Gate of Infinity and Sanctuary are available
  • Units will take Hammerhand or Sanctuary to taste
  • The Troops units and the Paladin unit are all armed with Psycannons, and of course you can use Psybolt Ammunition to make everything a psi weapon to maximize the Tide of Convergence bonus
  • The army as a whole will almost (and by “almost”, I mean, “definitely will, unless there’s an ultra-rare jolly good reason to start in something else”) start with Tide of Shadows, proceed to Tide of Convergence after weathering the alpha strike, and then switch to Tide of Escalation as soon as the majority of your units are in Smite range.

In Conclusion

I’m hesitant to use the term “game-changer”, but Ritual of the Damned truly is one for the Sons of Titan. The recent point discounts from Chapter Approved 2019/Munitorum Field Manual and these new rules represent a paradigm shift that will move the Grey Knights out of the basement and into the light.

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As always a big thanks to Games Workshop for the images provided for our article.


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