This post goes over the Frequently Asked Questions about Genestealer Cults Rules. I plan to write one about the faction itself later; as in, what models are good etc.

This post focuses on the rules because one thing GSC do is effectively “break” many of the rules that most other factions follow, in particular, around Reserves, Deep Strike, and One-shot.

One-shot: When do Acolyte Hybrids get their Demolition Charges back?

Context: Acolyte Hybrids have a weapon option Demolition Charges which are powerful but have One Shot. There are two ways that Acolyte Hybrids can “come back”:

  1. A model is returned through the Acolyte wargear Cult Icon which returns D3 or 3 models
  2. A new unit is added through the GSC army rule Cult Ambush, which adds a whole new unit

tl;dr Answer: Only with Cult Ambush, when the full unit comes back do you receive a unit with brand new demo charges.

You do NOT get charges back when a model returns from a Cult Icon wargear.

Why? Technically, no model ever gets its bombs back! Instead, the way Cult Ambush is worded is that you’re “adding a new unit to your army identical to your destroyed unit”. So they’re not coming back; it’s a whole new unit.

Cult Icon doesn’t give bombs back to a model that spent them because it’s returning the same model; not creating a new one.

What is Reserves versus Strategic Reserves?

Think of Reserves as what it sounds like: it’s a container like a bucket or box, for all your units that are alive but not yet on the battlefield.

Reserves itself does not give any rules on how or when the units arrive. That’s up to the abilities of the units that are in Reserves. The two most important examples are Deep Strike and Strategic Reserves.

In the core rules, Deep Strike is a unit ability that allows a unit to start the game in Reserves and can come down during Reinforcements anywhere that’s 9” away from enemies Core Rules Ref

Nearly every non-vehicle unit in GSC has Deep Strike! So this is important.

In the core rules there’s no limit to what can be in Reserves; HOWEVER, keep reading.

There’s a specific kind of Reserves called Strategic Reserves. Think of this as a smaller box within the larger box of Reserves.

Any unit can start in Strategic Reserves, up to 25% of your army, but it’s restricted to when and where it can arrive. If a unit starts the game in Strategic Reserves:

  1. Round 1: Cannot arrive during Round 1
  2. Round 2: Can arrive 6” from a board edge but not the enemy’s deployment zone, and 9” away from enemy models.
  3. Round 3 onward: Can arrive 6” from any board edge and 9” away from enemy models.
  4. If still in Strategic Reserves at the end of the game, they’re considered destroyed.

Here’s a picture that I hope helps:


It has also been clarified that a unit with Deep Strike can arrive using the Deep Strike rules even if they’re coming out of Strategic Reserves. See the 40k app > Rules Commentary > “Deep Strike (and Strategic Reserves)”. Deep Strike units are so cool you cannot keep them contained in an uncool box.

So those are the Core Rules, but of course, well all play by Leviathan Chapter Approves rules for real games of Warhammer 40k 10th Edition. Leviathan adds a few key additional rules around Reserves.

First, No more than half of their army in Reserves, by points OR by units

And here we have our first GSC way to break the rules: Primus ability Decoys and Misdirection allows for GSC units to be redeployed, including putting them into Strategic Reserves, which allows us to break the limits of what’s in Reserves.

Primus redeploys happen before the roll-off for first turn because it specifically does not say it’s after it’s ruled to redeploy before the first-turn roll-off.

But there’s another paragraph of rules for Reserves in Leviathan, and it deserves its own section…

Leviathan Reserves Ruling (or How to Deep Strike Turn 1)

Leviathan Chapter approved rules have the following paragraph in Section 8: Declare Battle Formations

Reserves units cannot arrive during the first battle round and any Strategic Reserves or Reserves that have not arrived on the battlefield by the end of the third battle round count as having been destroyed, as are any units embarked within them (this does not apply to units that are placed into Strategic Reserves after the first battle round has started).

First, let me caveat: it is arguably unclear whether this parenthetical applies to the whole sentence or simply the last clause and GW has not given an official ruling. However, I’m restating what every major Tournament has ruled, which is that the parenthetical “this does not apply…” applies to the whole sentence. If it wasn’t meant to apply to the whole sentence, GW could’ve split the sentence into two. Just a reminder kids: it’s a game but also, don’t write run-on sentences!

Let me emphasize the part in parenthesis:

this does not apply to units that are placed into Strategic Reserves AFTER THE FIRST BATTLE ROUND HAS STARTED

This rule is so important to GSC that I created this handy link:

What this means is that if a unit is placed into Strategic Reserves AFTER the first battle round has started (which means it started the battle on the battlefield), then it:

  1. Can arrive round 1 if it has Deep Strike
  2. Is not killed end of round 3

This allows a unit, say a Neophyte Hybrid unit, to Deep Strike round 1 if the following conditions are met:

  1. The unit starts the battle on the battlefield
  2. The unit is put into Strategic Reserves after the battle begins
  3. The unit has Deep Strike

1 & 2 are clear from the “this does not apply…” part, but why does it need Deep Strike?

If the unit does not have Deep Strike, then it has to follow the normal Strategic Reserves rules from the Core Rules, which don’t allow Round 1.

Let’s see how this specifically works for GSC

How to Deep Strike Turn 1 with GSC

First, see the sections above for the rules behind this and why. As a quick reminder, there are three conditions:

  1. The unit starts the battle on the battlefield
  2. The unit is put into Strategic Reserves after the battle begins
  3. The unit has Deep Strike

#1 is easy and obvious. Start with a unit (or two Battleline units) on the battlefield at the beginning of the game.

#2 is done with Return to the Shadows stratagem: 1CP, end of you your opponents turn, place up to two GSC Battleline units or one other GSC Infantry unit into Strategic Reserves. The units must have Deep Strike and not be engaged.

#3 is easy because Return to the Shadows only targets units with Deep Strike and every non-vehicle in GSC has Deep Strike!

Here’s how the timing works out. It only really works if the GSC player goes second.

If the GSC player goes first, then the opponent’s end of turn is just before round 2 and we could always Deep Strike on Turn 2 like normal.

Here’s the typical sequence, let’s assume two battleline units:

  1. During deployment (before we know who goes first), GSC player puts down two battleline units.
  2. If the GSC player goes second, then at the end of the opponent’s first turn in Round 1, GSC player uses their 1CP to Return to the Shadows those two battleline units into Strategic Reserves.
  3. Because the units were placed in strategic reserves those specific units are allowed to Deep Strike during the GSC player’s first turn (second turn of the whole game) in Round 1.

More Coming Soon!

  • How / When models come back from Cult Icons, including while in Reserves
  • Nexos free strat rules
  • and more…