While I'm used to normally playing at the 1850 level, games around here seem to be much smaller. I am going to start the GK army at 1500 and work my way up as time and money permit. I figure anything below 1500 will be tough for any sort of GK army that doesn't lean hard on inquisition forces. I'm not against Inquisition in general, but I want to use the GK models I already have which are mostly PAGKs and GKTs.
Having said that, I plan on starting with a pretty vanilla list. Nothing fancy like Draigo, Mordrak, Coteaz, or shunting for 1st turn assaults. I think those options are better left for after I have a better feel for the codex and am operating at higher points values. For now, I want to start with the "must haves" from the GK codex and then support them with mostly GK forces. Anyone who has been following the internet chatter can probably guess what they are:
1. Pysfleman Dreads
2. Vindicare Assassin
Pysfleman Dreads are the main transport poppers and fire suppressors. They are effective against light vehicles and there are few infantry units that like to see four twin-linked S8 AP4 shots flying their way.
The Vindicare is the only long-range LR popper available without delving into henchmen squads. That and I see it being especially useful is in picking off annoying pyschic defense or hidden PFs.
Purifiers are just too good to not take at least one squad. Two attacks, Cleansing Flame, Fearless, and cheap weapon upgrades make them a force to be reckoned with. Yes, I could take Crowe and use them as troops, but I'm not a huge fan. For one, I'd rather use a GKGM or Libby as my HQ for both melee ability and utility. Two, I think Warp Quake is too nice of an ability not to have, so I plan on taking at least one GKSS (raising the effective cost of the Crowe tax). Finally, I think GKTs will be a nice counter to current ML meta and relentless Pyscannons should be especially useful.
Two Pysflemen and the Vindicare set me back 415 points but provide a solid suppression force. While they are pretty much required, I'm not sure about the Purifiers. I do think they are valuable, but they are also expensive. For now I will pencil in a 10 man squad with Halberds, 1 DH, 2 Pyscannons, and a Rhino. That clocks in at around 320 points. Depending on the rest of the list, these guys might have to be cut back some.
Having plowed through almost half of my available points on getting the "must haves", it's time to move on to the actual required units in the codex. As I mentioned earlier, I am probably going to start with at least one unit of PAGKs. They provide MEQ scoring, warp quake coverage, and decent firepower/melee ability. I know I want to run them 10 strong with two pyscannons and a Rhino. Other than that, I'm not sure whether to equip them with several of the bells and whistles such as MC DH, pysbolt ammo, etc. Even a "naked" squad with Rhino costs 260 points. For now, that's what I'll stick with and pimp it out if I have points left over.
For my next troop choice, I have two main options. I can go with another PAGK squad (or two) or a squad of GKTs. I think that while PAGKs are decent, I think a squad of five GKTs might be a better buy. They have better survivability vs small arms and in CC, get free weapon upgrades, have more attacks, and are relentless. The downsides are fewer total bodies on the table and a lack of transport which means more focus fire for the other vehicles in the army.
However, I think it's a worthwhile tradeoff for now. A 10 man squad with Brotherhood Banner, two pyscannons, three DHs, four halberds, and two swords costs 475 points. That's A LOT of points in troops, even very solid troops like GKTs, which makes me slightly uneasy. When added to the previous amount, that puts the list at 1470 without an HQ... which is a nogo unless I want to run a naked Inquisitor (I don't).
For the price of the GKTs, I could pick up another PAGK squad and have 245 points to put towards an HQ, unit upgrades, or more bodies. TBH, I think would probably be the better idea. However, I really want to give the GKTs a try for now. I have the models for GKTs, and don't have enough models to support 30+ PAGKs yet. After a few games I can adjust as needed.
Because I want to field the large squad of GKTs, I need to free up approximately 150 points for an HQ. There are really only a few possibilities to free up that many points, including the Purifiers, the Dreads, and the Vindicare. Because the list is already critically low on both bodies and vehicles, I think the Vindicare is the best target for the cut. That's a hard pill to swallow as I lose the ability to "reliably" penetrate LRs and pick off annoying pyschic hoods. Doing that and dropping a Halberd from the Purifiers frees up a total of 180 points to put towards a HQ.
For that 180 points, I can pick up a GKGM with Rad grenades, Pyschotroke grenades, or a few servo skulls. He would provide Grand Strategy (Hello scoring Purifiers without Crowe) which offers a lot of flexibility. He also can affect reserve rolls which might be useful. Finally, he's a solid CC powerhouse, especially with grenades. Overall a solid pick.
A slightly cheaper option would be the Brother Captain. However, without Grand Strategy, I just don't see the point. He's still a solid CC option, but simply doesn't bring enough to the army overall. Same thing with the Champion.
I could go with an Inquisitor and retinue for another vehicle, bodies, and possibly some melta goodness. This option has a lot of potential upside and is something I will explore more in depth later. The pure customization possibilities of Inquisitorial henchman are near limitless, so I think this might be a good place to rectify some weaknesses in my list that come out of playtesting.
For now, I am going to go with a pretty middle of the road option as a baseline in the form of a Librarian. With 180 points, he can take six "upgrades" in the form of servo skulls and powers. I think two skulls, Shrouding, Might, Quicksilver, and Sanctuary offer a solid core of buffs to the rest of the army. The skulls can be used for deepstriking and preventing annoying infilitrators/first turn assaulters. The powers offer greater survivability from assaulting and shooting both and increase the killiness of other squads. Might should be especially useful when dealing with walkers and vehicles that might otherwise walk through squads unopposed. In any case, I think this will offer a good starting point for adjustment based on playtesting.
So the initial list looks like this:
Servo Skulls x2
Might, Quicksilver, Shrouding, Sanctuary
3 DH, 5 Halberds, and 2 swords
DH, 5 Halberds, 2 swords
I think this will be a "decent" starting point to work from. Expect more tweaks soon.