Factions‎ > ‎Genestealer Cults‎ > ‎

Special Rules

This section details army special rules including Genestealer Cults Special Rules, Tactical Objectives and Warlord Traits.

Genestealer Cults Special Rules

Return to the Shadows

Those kissed by the void find it easy to melt away into the shadows once their bloody ambush has been launched.
Instead of moving in your Movement phase, any unit with this special rule that is not within 6” of any enemy models, can be removed from the battlefield and placed into Ongoing Reserve. A unit cannot Return to the Shadows in the same turn it arrives from Reserves or Ongoing Reserves, and cannot do so whilst embarked in a vehicle.

Unquestioning Loyalty

The scions of the cult are so fanatically devoted to their masters they will hurl themselves in front of blades and bullets.
A model with this special rule automatically passes Look Out, Sir attempts, and can even make Look Out, Sir attempts when fighting in a challenge.

Cult Ambush

Genestealer Cults plan meticulously before each strike, their strategies honed to give every advantage when they rise up as one.
Units with this special rule that Infiltrate, or that arrive from Reserve or Ongoing Reserve, can choose to roll on the Cult Ambush table, below, instead of deploying or arriving from Reserves normally. Unless otherwise specied, ambushing units move onto the table as described for other Reserves and cannot move any further during the Movement phase of the turn they deploy or arrive on the battlefield. Units cannot use the Cult Ambush special rule whilst they are embarked inside a vehicle.

Cult Ambush Table

Units that deploy or arrive by Cult Ambush roll on the table below. If, for whatever reason, you cannot set up an ambushing unit or move it onto the board, it remains in Ongoing Reserves instead.

1Cult Reinforcements: The prey has been drawn forward into the jaws of the trap - now is the time to show the unbelievers the cult’s true strength.
The ambushing unit moves onto the board from your own table edge. 
2Encircling the Foe: Skulking around the flanks of the enemy army, the Patriarch’s faithful crawl into position to cut off any chance of escape.
Roll a D6: on a 1-2, the ambushing unit comes in from the table edge to the left of your own table edge; on a 3-4, they come on from the table edge to the right of your own table edge; on a 5-6, you can choose left or right. 
3Lying in Wait: Revealing themselves from carefully prepared hiding places, the true believers appear as if from thin air.
Set up the ambushing unit anywhere on the table that is more than 9” from any enemy unit. You can alternatively set up the ambushing unit anywhere on the table that is more than 6” from any enemy model so long as no enemy model can draw line of sight to them. 
4A Perfect Ambush: A long-planned strategy comes to fruition - the cult’s adversaries look on in horror as the battlefield comes alive with scuttling warrior forms.
Set up the ambushing unit anywhere on the table that is more than 6” from any enemy model. 
5A Deadly Trap: The first the enemy knows of the cult’s ambush is the crack of weapons fire; those broods without firearms sprint closer whilst the foe still reels.
Set up the ambushing unit anywhere on the table that is more than 6” from any enemy model.

After placing the ambushing unit, you can immediately make a bonus shooting attack with it as if it were the Shooting phase (this does not prevent the unit from shooting again in the ensuing Shooting phase). These bonus shooting attacks cannot cause Morale checks, but they do have the Pinning special rule.

If the ambushing unit does not have any ranged weapons, it can instead choose to run in the Movement phase
6They Came From Below: The ground shakes as a cultist brood bursts from below the earth, screeching and shrieking. For their prey, the end is nigh...
Set up the ambushing unit anywhere on the table that is more than 3” from any enemy unit.

Unlike other units that Infiltrate or arrive from Reserves, the ambushing unit can charge in their first turn or on the turn they arrive from Reserves. 


All models in this codex have the Genestealer Cult Faction. This Faction allies with models from all other Factions at the Come the Apocalypse level of alliance, apart from Tyranids and Astra Militarum, which are Allies of Convenience.

Special Rules


A Chimera treats all water features as open terrain when it moves.


The bearer can re-roll all To Hit and To Wound rolls of 1 when attacking with this weapon.

Brood Instinct

Only a Patriarch can join this unit. Whilst a Patriarch is joined to this unit, the Purestrain Genestealers gain the Furious Charge special rule.


The AP value of a Wound caused by this weapon is equal to the current Strength characteristic of the model it was allocated to. For example, if a Wound from a web weapon was allocated to a Space Marine (Strength 4) that wound is resolved at AP4. Against vehicles, or models with a Strength of 7 or more, this weapon is AP-.


A model equipped with a Metamorph claw has a +2 bonus to its Strength during the Fight sub-phase.

Cult Demagogue

Friendly units with the Genestealer Cult Faction that are within 12" of this model have the Hatred special rule.


Purestrain Genestealers have 5+ invulnerable save.

Lasgun Arrays

A Chimera has two arrays of three lasguns. With the exception of Genestealers, up to six embarked models (up to three per array) may re one lasgun each from these arrays, provided they are not also using a Fire Point this turn. Use the Chimera’s Ballistic Skill for these shots – the arrays can shoot at this Ballistic Skill regardless of how far the Chimera moves. If the Chimera has suffered a Crew Stunned or Crew Shaken result, the arrays can only make Snap Shots. Each array may shoot at a different target to the Chimera’s other weaponry, though all lasguns in the same array must shoot at the same target.


A model equipped with a weapon with this special rule has a +3 bonus to its Initiative during the Fight sub-phase.

Life Drain

Any To Wound roll of 6 made with this weapon has the Instant Death special rule.

Living Idol

Friendly units with the Genestealer Cult Faction that are within 12" of this model have the Fearless special rule.

Nexus of Devotion

Friendly units with the Genestealer Cult Faction that are within 12" of any Acolyte Iconwards have the Feel No Pain (6+) special rule. Models that already have the Feel No Pain (excluding any Acolyte Iconwards) special rule instead add 1 to their Feel No Pain rolls.


When a model with a heavy rock drill makes its close combat attacks, it can instead make a single pulverise attack. If it does so, roll To Hit as normal, but resolve the attack at Strength 10 AP1.


To Wound rolls and Armour Penetration rolls of 6 made with a weapon this special rule are always resolved at AP1.

Rugged Construction

If this model suffers a Crew Stunned, Crew Shaken or Immobilised result, roll a dice. On a roll of 4 or more, the vehicle ignores that result, but still loses a Hull Point as normal.


A model equipped with a Metamorph talon has a +1 bonus to its Weapon Skill during the Fight sub-phase. A model equipped with two Metamorph talons has a +2 bonus to its Weapon Skill during the Fight sub-phase instead.


When a model suffers one or more unsaved Wounds from this weapon, it must pass a separate Toughness test for each Wound suffered or be removed from play.

Spiritual Leader

Friendly units with the Genestealer Cult Faction that are within 12" of this model have the Adamantium Will special rule.

Tactical Objectives

11Assassinate the Oppressors 
12Spread Panic and Confusion 
13Spring the Trap 
14Prepare for the Next Ambush 
15Claim the Rightful Dominion 
16Cast Down the Unbelievers! 

Codex: Genestealer Cults describes 6 Tactical Objectives to use in your games of Warhammer 40,000 that are exclusive to Genestealer Cult players, and help to reflect their insidious and horrific methods of waging war.

If your Warlord has the Genestealer Cults Faction, these Tactical Objectives replace the Capture & Control Tactical Objectives (numbers 11-16) described in Warhammer 40,000: The Rules. If a Warhammer 40,000 mission has the Tactical Objectives special rule, players use the normal rules for using Tactical Objectives with the following exception: when a Genestealer Cults player generates a Capture & Control objective (numbers 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16), generate the corresponding Genestealer Cults Tactical Objective instead, as shown in the table opposite. Other Tactical Objectives (numbers 21-66) are generated normally.

The enemy rally around their own figureheads and leaders too. Lay them low to prove the supremacy of the cult.
Score 1 Victory Point at the end of your turn if you killed an enemy character in a challenge during your turn.
The time has come to bring ruin to the upworlders. Burn away their illusions of safety with the terrible fires of truth.
Score 1 Victory Point at the end of your turn if at least one enemy unit failed a Morale, Pinning or Fear test during your turn.
Long has this day been planned for. Show the true cunning of the cult’s masters by closing your stranglehold upon the witless sheep of the enemy’s military force.
Score 1 Victory Point at the end of your turn if a unit arrived on the battlefield during your turn using the Cult Ambush special rule. Score D3 Victory Points instead if an enemy unit was also completely destroyed by such a unit during this turn.
The plans of the cult’s Broodcoven are many-layered and unknowable to mortal men. An interlocking series of assaults will flay the enemy force layer by layer until nothing is left.
Score 1 Victory Point at the end of your turn if, during that turn, any of your units were placed into Ongoing Reserves because of the Return to the Shadows special rule.
This land belongs to the Patriarch alone. Rip it forcefully from those who would keep it from him.
Score D3 Victory Points at the end of your turn if you control an Objective Marker that was under the control of your opponent at the start of the turn.
There is no purer act in the eyes of the Patriarch than to bring death to those who stand in the uprising’s path.
Score 1 Victory Point at the end of your turn for each enemy unit that was completely destroyed during your turn (to a maximum of 6 Victory Points).

Designer’s Note
If you own a deck of Genestealer Cults Tactical Objective Cards, you can generate your Tactical Objectives by shuffling the deck and drawing the top card instead of rolling a D66. These should be kept face up, so your opponent can see which Tactical Objectives you have generated, unless the mission you are playing instructs you otherwise.

Warlord Traits

When generating Warlord Traits for a Warlord with the Genestealer Cult Faction, you can either roll on one of the Warlord Traits tables in Warhammer 40,000: The Rules or roll on the table below.

D6Warlord Traits
1Shadow Stalker
The gloom seems to cling to the warlord like a shroud as he emerges grinning from the darkness, claws flexing in anticipation of the kill.
Your Warlord has the Stealth special rule. 
2Focus of Adoration
The warlord inspires such insane devotion his minions will leap headlong into battle in order to win his favour.
Friendly units with the Genestealer Cult Faction have the Counter-attack special rule whilst they are within 12” of your Warlord
3Wall Creeper
No barrier can hold back this void-touched beast. His agility makes light work of even razorwire nests and tumbled necropolises.
Your Warlord has the Move Through Cover special rule. In addition, your Warlord and his unit never suffer the penalty to their Initiative for charging through difficult terrain
4Born Survivor
Perhaps gifted regenerative powers by the immortal Hive Mind, the warlord can shrug off crippling injuries to fight on.
Your Warlord has the It Will Not Die special rule. 
5Alien Majesty
An aura of palpable grandeur surrounds the warlord, making his mere presence a powerful stimulant to the nerve of his followers.
All models in your Warlord’s Detachment can use his Leadership in place of their own. 
6Ambush Leader
The warlord’s impeccable knowledge of the underworld sees him emerge from hiding at the critical moment, charging from unseen quarters to tear a gaping hole in the enemy lines.
When using the Cult Ambush special rule with your Warlord or any unit that he has joined, do not roll on the Cult Ambush table; you can choose a result to apply instead.