Everyone in the 40k world is talking about the Genestealer Cult and how amazing they are. They have a powerful ability to appear anywhere on the board. And there’s a chance they can even assault after being placed.

Pretty strong right?

In missions where you have to capture random objectives all over the board they’re really strong. But in missions where you only have 2 objectives their ability to be placed on the board becomes so much less powerful. And you can take advantage of their weaknesses.

I just played against them for the first time and I thought I’d share some tactics that worked well.

Stick Together

We played a special mission where we had both objectives in our deployment zone and the opposing team had to take just one of them away to win. To balance this when we destroy one of their units it goes into ongoing reserve.

Knowing how powerful they could be and being able to appear anywhere on the board scared the crap out of our team.

But we started noticing that only a couple of units would show up each turn. And when they did they were annoying but not impossible to take down.

Genestealer cult ambush
Three squads of genestealer cult ambush. Can you spot them all?

I recommend making sure every unit is near 2-3 other units. One of the few times they were able to pull off an assault after placement they destroyed some landspeeders. And were promply destroyed in our next shooting phase.

Psychic Hoods

We had two librarians on our side which gave us 2 dice to defend with. The Tyranids + Genestealer Cult had ~13 dice and crushed us during the psychic phase. The only thing that let us block any powers at all were our psychic hoods.

They kept targetting us with maledictions and since we were so bunched up almost every unit was within 12″ of a psychic hood. We were able to block maybe 1/3 of all the powers they cast which is pretty good.

Bubble wrap

We had several very hard hitting units. We had two large terminator squads with thunder hammer / storm shields & lighting claws. Attached to those we had librarians and I had Lysander.

Terminators & knight
Bubble wrapping my knight

Any one of these could be taken down by the 20 man genestealer squad if they get the drop on you. But by being close to one another & by bubble wrapping our knights we prevented the worst from happening.


Since we knew we didn’t have to go anywhere we actually bought forticiations. I almost never do. But they were insanely useful.

We use three very different fortifications. Each one was good in their own way.

The fortress of redemption let our devastator squads see most of the battlefield. As well as provide some AA & a frag missile storm.

The haemotrope reactors gave my ally some fun shooting with plasma guns.

And the classic aegis defense line gave a tactical squad awesome cover saves when a unit of zoanthropes unleashed their psychic onslaught.

Manipulate Reserves

One of the things that we didn’t do intentionally but really helped us out was poor reserve rolls for our opponents. We had 100% of our armies out and firing. And they rolled poorly for reserves two turns in a row. That let us take them apart piecemeal. We never even saw the 30 man termagaunt squad because they were coming in after the Trygon Prime and he came in on the 3rd turn.

And a 20 unit of genestealers with the patriarch (not pictured) didn’t come up because we called the game at the end of turn 3. That’s a lot of points that never made it onto the board.

Tyranids + Genestealer Cult on Table
See the giant unit of termagaunts on the left hand side? They never came in because of poor reserve rolls.

I know there are armies that have some ability to manipulate reserves. If you have this ability in your army take advantage of it. That could keep one of those monster units off the board for 1/2 of the game.

Flamers & Thunderfire Cannons

My god. I love playing Tyranids. I’m reminded of how good some of those medium strength but high AP template weapons are.

In the 1st turn my Thunderfire (which was hidden in the very corner of the map) killed 14 gaunts with the airburst shells (str 5 ignores cover).

And in the 3rd it killed two venomthropes which provided cover to a ton of Tyranid units.

And my tactical squads had flamers which moved around our deployment zone torching any infiltrating genestealer cult.

In the last couple games I’ve been working on my Do Everything Tactical Squad. I love them because they can do… well… everything. It’s:

  • Verteran sergeant w/ powerfist
  • Imperial space marine
  • Flamer
  • Grav Cannon
  • 6 space marines
  • Rhino

It’s about 250 points which is quite a bit for a tactical squad but I do love that they can do anything I need them to. I can run them with terminators and they can soften any target up. They’re also not bad in close combat. In one of their first games they took out an Iron Hands dreadnought that charged in.

The thunderfire & flamer are so great. I’ll be keeping at least one of each in my army. And I’m seriously thinking about getting a land raider redeemer or some sisters of silence for more flamey goodness.


The genestealer cult is awesome. And in missions where you have to capture an objective across the table they are probably amazing. But when there are only one or two objectives on the board and you use the buddy system with your units you should be fine.

They’re tough but not unbeatable.