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Archite of Caerbannog
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In another thread Toloran had made a "spot-on" analysis on grotesques in this thread "Getting back into dE "

I wanted to support what he said but also wanted to add a little more on using them despite the dangers. First, and simply, unless you are a seasoned DE player I would stay clear of grotesques in both small games and tournaments. They have a bunch of interesting and controversial rules that unless you are a rulez lawyer extrordinare or just a glutton for punishment and ridicule I’d be somewhat shy in using them.


I do love the unit and think they have some merit in the game but in order to use them at all you would need to build your list around them or include them in the overall game plan. They do not compare to the other choices in their slot (like wyches) so please do not hit me over the head with that there are other choices better than grotesques for the points - I already know that and the answer is yes, the wyches are better in every way. That is not the intent of this post - it is simply, if you absolutely want to have Grotesques in your list and forsake the possibility of being competitive, or don't mind losing while having fun then please read on, maybe I can shed some light on them.

If you do not mind, here is a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses in 5th addition:

First, the most obvious and most attractive – they get to ignore all “hits” in the shooting phase from weapons of strength 5 on down. This has a hidden advantage that I do not think GW intended but if you consider the point cost of a grotesque I wouldn’t have any problem defending it. Let’s use an example of a Haemonculus with 7 grotesques on a raider. Their raider “explodes” and the strength 3 explosion is normally applied to the passengers – except, the strength 3 explosion of a vehicle is treated as a “shooting” attack (per the rule book) and grotesques ignore all shooting hits of 5 and below. The trick being is since we no longer allocate “hits” (only “wounds”) to the majority unit (the grotesques) in a multi-unit squad we get to ignore the explosion completely and the Haemy would never be touched. If the “hits” cannot convert into wounds then there is nothing to allocate – the hits are ignored and disappear.

Same thing goes for being shot at on foot. If a squad of marines with bolters fires at our example of 7 grotesques and a Haemy then all the bolter shots are ignored completely as the strength 4 “hits” would be ignored per the grotesques special rules and never be converted into a wound to be allocated. In our example, the only way to get to the Haemy wounded in the shooting phase would be to apply eight, strength 6+ “wounds” to the group and then the Haemy would be finally wounded.

Of course, where this gets debated is people insistence that the old 4th edition rule of “torrent of fire” is somehow applied (which it shouldn’t be as it is no longer in the rules of 5th edition) and that implies that we allocate “hits” to everyone just to be fair - ? Before I get any resistance to my interpretation and start receiving accusations of being “beardy”, “cheesy” and/or a “power gamer rulez-lawyer” (the worst accusation of all!) let’s take a look at the big picture – it’s a grotesque, just assault it! Sure, it’s the perfect “meat-shield” a Haemy could ever want – wouldn’t you think that be reason enough to justify its existence? The reason why a Haemy would ever be created – face it, we all know zombie creations suck in close combat so do not expect ninja-matrix kung-fu fighting. Their extreme weakness in close combat more than compensates for their extreme strength in the shooting phase.

The other special rule of “terrifying opponent” could be considered a strength if they could actually win combat. I’d say with all the new armies that are “fearless”, their lack of armor, their low leadership and their low initiative I’d say I wouldn’t count on “terrifying” anyone – perhaps a nice bonus if you can pull it off but hardly a game plan to rely on.

The last little advantage I like about the Grotesques is the fact that they are strength 4. Not much of an advantage but it’s a “perk” and if they charge a rhino they might be able to do something against their rear armor in assault. 7 grotesques provides 21 strength 4 attacks on the charge, not bad if you are hitting an immobilized vehicle with AV10 rear armor (hypothetical, I know).

As for their weaknesses, it all in the assault phase if you look carefully:
- No “fleet of foot” USR
- Low initiative – Stay away marines, hello Tau, Necrons and Orks!
- No Plasma grenades – our initiative ends up dropping to “1” with any difficult terrain test (oh joy).
- No armor save – an absolute liability in close combat unless you are striking first somehow.
- Same T3 as most of the army – still it doesn’t help.
- And they have 2 wounds – yes, I see this as a weakness.

For example, each grotesque death is a -2 to combat resolution so in our example above, we are looking at a possible -14 combat resolution. If you compare it to 7 warriors and a Haemy versus 7 grotesques and a Haemy the worst you would get with all the warriors dying is -7. Let’s analyze it. Say that our warrior/haemy squad killed 4 enemy units and the enemy caused 14 wounds to the warriors (and they all die). That’s 4 – 7 which equals -3 resolution to the surviving Haemonculus (I give my haemys a trophy rack so it’s -2 to me). If we apply the same situation to a squad of 7 grotesques and a haemy – we kill 4 enemy units and the enemy caused the same 14 wounds to the grotesques now the combat resolution looks like 4 – 14 which equals -10 (or -9 for the surviving haemy with a trophy rack) to our leadership.

Having those extra wounds is a pain and not necessarily an advantage. This happened to me in the my 2nd game ever in 5th edition, I had an Archon with 8 grotesques and I was charged by a large number of Kroot warriors. I killed 5 or 6 kroot but they directed all their attacks at the grotesques and the amount of wounds they delivered was too much to overcome – I think it ended up with a -11 combat resolution and if it had been a warrior squad then it would have been a -3 or -2 with trophy rack).

So now you should be asking, “So Kwi, how do you use Grotesques in which they can be productive?”. I am glad you asked and as soon as you discover it please let me know. However, I have been trying out a formation/tactic with using Grotesques and Haemy’s together and have had some successful results with it. I can’t say its competitive in any sort of way and for the general who loves a challenging themed army here is what I have used lately. I call it a Haemy Bomb (or a grot bomb) and I use it in my themed “Coven” lists when I want to have fun – here is the formation:

“Haemy Bomb” at 2000 points
4 haemys with combat drugs, scissor hand and destructors with trophy racks &
6 grotesques on a raider with screaming jets, horrorfex and lance.

2 Haemys with scissor hand, destructors and trophy racks &
6 grotesques on a raider with night shields, horrorfex and lance

6 scoring units of raider and warrior squads
3 Talos

The 4 Haemy/6 Grot squad is going to deepstrike while everything else is deployed on the board. The 3 Talos and the 2 Haemy/6 Grot squad will be placed up front and will shield (or screen) all the troop/scoring units.

1st and 2nd turn strategy for the starting force is simple – scare the “bejabbers” out of the opponent with 3 monstrous creatures coming straight at them with the 2 haemy/grot squad going “flat-out” straight at a likely target (like a troop choice). I like being reckless with the 2 Haemy/Grot squad and could care less if the raider crashes as the passengers will just walk off and ignore the explosion (as well as getting to disembark into the wreckage or the crater for a 4+ cover save). Warriors and raider squads are to hang in the back field and use lances to harass the enemy’s heavy hitters like tanks and stuff that might threaten a Talos. In other words, make him forget about the troop choices and preoccupy them with non-scoring units (like putting them in their face!).

The “Haemy Bomb” raider sits in reserve and when it’s time to arrive you are going to drop them aggressively near a target they can take on in close combat. A target would be preferably a squad that is less in number than them and do not have a 3+ armor save. You can target a 2+ armor save target if there is only one of them but preferably anything with a 4+ save or invul save is fine. The raider will land hopefully within 16” of the target and again I could care less if the raider is shot and explodes as the passengers would just walk off into cover (the wreckage or crater) and take a leadership check. The important thing you want with this unit is that they are within charge range of the intended target. Preferably, the entire unit of grotesques and Haemys get to charge but if the target is just too far for the grotesques then the 4 Haemys can detach themselves from the unit and use combat drugs (along with fleet of foot) and 12” charge their target (but hopefully you will not have to use a drug to charge).

If the Haemy/Grots do make the charge you make sure that the Haemys get to strike first. So the idea is to place as many “wounds” on a target in order to inflict “death by armor save”. With the combat drugs, we get to strike first and will also have the +1 attack or the re-roll misses (or both) drugs to help us achieve it - I would want to avoid taking 3 drugs but they are sacrificial in nature and I wouldn’t hesitate taking 3 drugs if the target really, really needed to die. 4 Drug Crazed Haemys create 20 scissorhand attacks (with +1 attack & hopefully with re-roll misses if you a daring 3 drugs) and with a 2+ “to wound” anything you are going to cause some armor saves. In my play testing of this particular squad I found that they could gang rape an Avatar or Wraithlord fairly reliably sometimes needing the added “feeble” help of the grotesques. It does get tricky when dealing with multi-unit squads or if they there are a decent amount of 3+ armor save units in the same squad. Idea is to tackle a target to finish it off or wound the target so its strike back is weak – I do not mind being stranded in the open with if I massacre my target as the Haemys have the grotesques to use as a meatshield and if I consolidated into cover then it’s even sweeter!

Now depending on the game, I would be coordinating this deep strike with the other 2Haemy/Grot squad so they end up helping each other out. That’s not to mention that you could coordinate it with the 3 Talos or any of the warrior/raider squads as well.

So does it work?

I did get a chance to try it out with a friend who was just starting Chaos Space Marines. He had Abbadon and Typhus in the list as well as Berserkers, 1k Sons and Noise Marines in the list. The game ended in the 4th or 5th turn as the gaming store had to close but the execution was fairly reliable (as I was depending on reserve rolls to come in the 2nd or 3rd turn) and I was pleased with the overall battle.

With regards to the Haemy Bomb (and not going too far off topic with the battle report) what I did was I used a “super gun-boat” squad (10 warriors with 2 blasters and 2 splinter cannons with a Sybarite with xenospasm on a raider) to thin out Abbadon’s squad of 10 Berserkers on turn 2. He shoots down the super gunboat down in his turn 2 but a part of the warrior squad survived and in turn 3 I was able bring the berzerkers down to 3 and Abbadon taking 2 wounds himself (as my opponent tried to absorb some of the wounds that would have been on the berzerkers - he ended up flubbing some of them with rolling “1’s”). I also ended up deepstriking on turn 3 and the Haemy bomb raider landed 6” away from him. In his turn 3 he decides to shoot the raider and somehow misses with all his attempts so he decides to assault it and it does explode in spectacular fashion as the passengers shrug it off without incident. In Turn 4 the Haemy Bomb assaults Abbadon and the remaining ‘zerkers while I targeted my other units elsewhere as I wanted to see if my bomb can take 2 wounds off of Abbadon and the remaining 3 zerkers. I ended up using 3 drugs taking 1 or 2 wounds myself and put 3 Haemys against Abbadon and 1 Haemy towards the zerkers. The 1 Haemy kills 1 zerker and believe it or not Abbadon fails 2 of his 2+ armorsaves and dies. The remaining 2 zerkers kill a grotesque and the remaining 6 grotesques kill off the 2 zerkers.

Not bad and the majority of the unit was still intact. They certainly did need the help from the “super gun-boat” squad to “soften” up the zerkers but it wasn’t that hard to coordinate tactic. Despite Typhus killing a Talos a turn and half my warriors killing off the large squad of 1k Sons the game would have been very interesting to play out. His army was primarily on foot and he had half of the objectives. If the game continued I think I could have out maneuvered him taking the other half of the objectives and contesting one of his objectives with an empty raider. So it was a draw but with open ended possibilities, either way.

So I am not saying the Haemy Bomb is competitive or a “sure thing” but it is INCREDIBLY themed and super fun to use – the idea of drug-crazed mad-scientists and their creations dropping out of the sky and ganging up on a target is enough fun to not care if I win or lose the game.

As for grotesques - if you got any other ideas or want to tell me I'm crazy that's find too. As I see it, even no agrees with my interpretations the Grotesques will most likely get changed someday soon and it won't matter a hill of beans!

Scourge Lord
1,638 Posts
Thanks for sharing your experience with the Grotesques. I like them a lot, and have actually had a few games where they were effective.

I actually once played a game with them against Tau, only to find out the Tau did NOT have any S6+ weapons. Who'd have thunk it?!

With that said, they are usually a huge liability. They make a great meat shield in theory, as long as close combat isn't involved, but the problem becomes that players quickly learn their S5 or less shots get ignored, and so they just shoot at something else instead. Sure, they can give 4+ cover now, but that's a lot of points for something I could achieve by picking a "free" piece of terrain instead.

So they can only protect ICs from shooting. I'll have to try out your Haemonculus Bomb. It sounds fun!

But lately I've been using my fandex rules, and many of those games have included Grotesques simply because it basically fixes all the problems you've mentioned (single wound, gained an armor save). Couple that with the ability to join a small group of them with another squad and you've got some really handy protection, although my version ignores wounds and not hits, thus allocation can still happen to that squad. It makes that squad worth 3 KP if destroyed (4 if in a Raider), but there's always a price to pay.

One more thing... you forgot to mention Terrifying Opponents as a negative. The rule effectively says if Grotesques win a close combat (by some miracle, or with the Haemie Bomb), the enemy gets to skip the sweeping advance check and go straight to falling back. That's no good when you could likely end up getting shot and/or assaulted in the next turn while the Grotes stand there and look like their Stupid selves.

235 Posts
One more thing... you forgot to mention Terrifying Opponents as a negative. The rule effectively says if Grotesques win a close combat (by some miracle, or with the Haemie Bomb), the enemy gets to skip the sweeping advance check and go straight to falling back. That's no good when you could likely end up getting shot and/or assaulted in the next turn while the Grotes stand there and look like their Stupid selves.
That's not how Terrifying Opponents works, sweeping advance is a step in falling back.

"When a unit falls back from combat, the victors make a Sweeping Advance, attempting to cut down the retreating enemies.

Both the unit falling back and the winning unit roll a D6 and add their Initiative value to the result....."

You still get to sweep a unit that loses a combat with grots involved (although given how slow grots are, you will want something else there to sweep them).
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