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Necromunda; Genestealer Cults Review

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Greetings one and all,


Sometimes the enemies of the imperium are closer than we’d like. Far closer. It’s best to stay away from anyone that doesn’t look entirely human, so let me give you a warning about the Genestealer Cults, and what they want, and maybe then you might be able to avoid them.



History


On Necromunda, the Genestealers are synonymous with a single word; Secundus. The legend of Hive Secundus is one of how a single man's hubris led to the Xenos corrupting the entire hive, which as a result, was purged by nuclear fire on the orders of the Imperial House.


Secundus is now a ruin, surrounded by the so-called “Dust Wall” constructed from steel and ceramite. This defensive structure is permanently guarded by the Necromunda PDF regiments, and nearly nothing gets in or out of the hive, by land, sea, or the maze of tunnels underneath. But unfortunately, nearly nothing isn’t the same as nothing. Small numbers of survivors escaped their confinement behind the wall, and among them were the Xenos corrupted cultists. As a result, they have now spread out across the Great Ash Wastes, making their homes in isolated mining clan settlements, Ash Waste Trader Outposts, and Hive settlements beyond the relative “safety” of the main hive itself.


However, despite the widespread propagation of the Genestealer Cults across Necromunda, they still have yet to spawn any purestrain Genestealers among them. It is hypothesized that the cult's inability to gain access to the monster that many still believe is buried within Secundus is the reason for this stunted growth cycle, and there is no doubt that everyone would like to keep it this way. But perhaps because of this, thus far, the cults have managed to stay under the radar of the Imperial House and its vast armies. Though this is not to say that there hasn’t been conflict already. The Genestealer Cults have had running battles with both House Orlock and Delaque, who thus far believe these mutants are just that, and nothing more sinister. But only time will tell how long it will be before others learn of the true nature of the Genestealers.



Gang Structure


The Genestealer Cult Gangs are somewhat unique in their makeup when compared to others, in that they have two options for their leader. Unlike other gangs that have this element to their structure, however, such as the Cawdor, the Genestealers are physically different. These gangs also lack Juves, having two different types of Ganger instead so this is definitely something to bear in mind when creating your gang of mutants.



Cult Adept

One of the two leader types of the cults, Adepts are Psykers. They’re also slower than their counterpart, and their stats don’t really seem to be meant for physical combat, which means you're unlikely to give them the more expensive weapons. The Adept though is the cheaper of the two leaders, so if you can justify the lesser stats for the potential of psychic ability you’ve got a really cost effective leader right here.



Cult Alpha

The second leader is the Alpha. These are the opposite of the Adepts being faster, having a better weapon and ballistic skill, and a strength of +4, which makes them pretty good in any kind of fight. On top of this they get the extra arm special rule, which is pretty good as it allows a fighter to fire an Unwieldy Weapon as a Basic action rather than a Double action, gives a fighter +1 attack, and their unarmed attack has rending. Any fighter with this rule can carry 4 weapons, but can then make 3 attacks at the same time as long as they have the sidearm or melee trait. They are also an extra 25 credits more than the Adept though, and they’re not Psykers either, but are certainly the way to go if you want a combat oriented leader.



Hybrid Acolyte

The Champion of the Genestealer cults, these models are okay stat-wise until you notice the fact they have 1 wound. That's right. A single, lonely, solitary wound. That said they do have access to all the gear Genestealer Cult can have, and have access to the extra arm special rule at the cost of 45 credits. But I have no issues in saying though, that these have got to be the worst Champions out of all the gangs in my opinion. Glass cannon comes to mind…



Aberrant

The first of the two Gangers of the Genestealer Cults. These things are combat monsters with a weapon skill of +3, strength 5, toughness 4, and 2 wounds (ah, now I see where the other Acolyte wound went). They can only use close combat weapons which makes having the ballistic skill redundant (but at +6 it’s not like it’ll make a difference anyway), and they can be given armour, but that's it. That said though, if you want a strength 9, Ap -4 and 3 damage, give one of these guys a heavy rock cutter and you can lay anything you charge to waste. Top that off with the Unstoppable skill they get as standard, and you really do have a near unstoppable murder machine.



Neophyte Hybrid

The second Ganger available, these Neophyte Hybrids have a fairly basic statline and are okay all rounders, but the interesting bit is that they can also get the extra arms special rule for 45 credits. However, Neophyte Hybrids have to make up the majority of the cult, so these guys have to have equal to or more than the combined total numbers of all other cult members in your gang. This limits you somewhat when taking the mutated juggernaut of the Aberrant into consideration as both are listed as Gangers for the rules of the game. However at only 45 credits a pop and being able to arm at least one of these guys with a Special Weapon at creation, they’re relatively cheap gang-padding material. Might as well just treat these Gangers like superior Juves for the Genestealers.



Special Rules


The Genestealer Cults have access to a skill set of Wryd Powers, but these skills are limited to the Psykers of the gang, meaning only your Adept Leader will be able to benefit from them. That being said, having the ability to use Hypnosis, Unbreakable Will, Zealot, Mind Control, Assail and Force Blast is nothing to be sniffed at. Of these skills, the best in my opinion are Hypnosis and Mind Control, because firstly, both of these skills are basic actions, and secondly, they give you the opportunity to directly manipulate your enemies. Hypnosis enables you to target an enemy within 9” and in line of sight of your Leader that hasn’t yet been activated, and if you are successful in a Willpower check, the enemy can only make a single move action that turn. Mind Control on the other hand means you can make enemy fighters shoot each other if they’re within 9” and in line of sight of your Leader, and better yet, there’s nothing saying you can’t target the guy with a grenade or missile launcher. So you can effectively just sit back and laugh as he blows up his own fellows for you.


With all of this in mind though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In a campaign, Genestealer Cults can’t sell captured enemies to the guilders at all, but they themselves can be sold to the guild for their full price. Also, it’s more expensive to visit the docs at 3d6x10, rather than just 2d6x10 for others. Lastly, you don't get to hire a second hanger-on until your rep 10, as opposed to every other gang where you only need it to be 5.



Models


The Genestealer Cult range is massive. Easily the biggest range of any Necromunda faction. You’d think this would be a good thing but there is actually a slight downside to this fact; the units come in boxes that are far bigger than you would ever need for a Genestealer Cult in Necromunda. As an example, Aberrants come in packs of five, which is way more than you’d ever need to be needing to field in your gang. That said, ebay is a thing, so getting hold of single models isn’t that hard, or selling the rest of your unused models from the box is pretty as well.



Summary


Genestealer Cults are an interesting gang to play in Necromunda. They’re not shoehorned into any one role in particular, being quite a versatile selection of gang members. They have a good lineup of models and equipment to choose from, as well as some powerful skills and abilities that can really turn the tide of any battle. They are exactly what you would expect from the minions of The Great Devourer to be; adaptable, stealthy, and lethal.




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