With the new codex, everyone's taking a second look at all of their favorite units of old. Let's see how they treated genestealers.
WS:6, BS:0, S:4, T:4, W:1, I:6, A:2, Ld:10, Sv:5+
Cost: 14 pts/model.
Brood Telepathy: Genestealers are not subject to Instinctual Behavior. They don't freak out when out of synapse range.
Fleet: Allows you to assault despite making a "run" move.
Infiltrate: Allows you to set up on the board outside of your deployment zone. This used to only be available to genestealers attached to a Broodlord as a retinue.
Move Through Cover: Lets you roll an additional d6 when moving through difficult terrain.
So What Changed?
Stat-wise, absolutely nothing. Points-wise, they're 2pts cheaper/model.
The real difference here is in biomorph selection. Biomorphs in the new book have changed drastically from what they were in the last book. In the old codex, they adjusted your stat-line. In this book, they give you a special rule (most of them USRs).
Scything Talons: 2 pts/model
Scything Talons allow you to re-roll any 1's to hit in close combat. The old codex gave you +1A.
Adrenal Glands: 3 pts/model
Adrenal Glands give you the Furious Charge USR, meaning you hit at +1S and +1I when you charge into close combat (only for that first round). The old codex did not have this option.
Toxin Sacs: 3pts/model
Toxin Sacs give your attacks the Poisoned (4+) rule, meaning you always wound on a roll of 4 or more. In addition, if your Strength is equal to or more than your opponent's Toughness (in this case, anyone with a T of 4 or lower), you get to re-roll all failed to-wound rolls. In the old codex, this biomorph gave you +1S.
The old codex had a few more biomorphs available as well; Acid Maw, Feeder Tendrils, Implant Attack, Scuttlers ... but the most felt absence I believe is Flesh Hooks. Flesh Hooks were assault grenades, allowing you to assault effectively into cover. Now, genestealers no longer have the ability to assault into cover viably. This means you'll have to take care with your 'stealers to avoid this scenario. Assault first with a lesser brood (gaunts, gargoyles, rippers, etc) then come clean up with the stealers.
I've used genestealers a couple of times now, and they're not completely pointless ... but they really have changed from a frontline shock troop to a more commando ambush and hold objectives role. Their biggest weaknesses are the 5+ save and the lack of flesh hooks. In the games I've played it's the versatility of a 5-man stealer brood that make it tactically useful. Going second, you can infiltrate ... hold in reserve to back up your backfield or flank. At 70pts, they won't break the game if they fail ... but they are STILL stealers, and that's not to be balked at! (Suneokun of Pathfinder)
Another big change is the option of taking a Broodlord as an upgrade to your troops unit of Genestealers. Before, they were ICs that took an HQ slot.
WS:7, BS:0, S:5, T:5, W:3, I:7, A:4, Ld:10, Sv:4+
46 points to upgrade one genestealer to a Broodlord, so he's basically 60 points (still less than before).
Your Broodlord can take :
Scything Talons (2 pts)
Implant Attack (15 pts) - Instant Death on any 6 to wound. It's like "rending +"
Acid Blood (15 pts) - Any wound inflicted on the Broodlord forces the wounder to make an initiative test or suffer a wound with no saving throws.
Also, the Broodlord is now a psyker!
Aura of Despair causes all enemy units within 12" to suffer a -1 Ld penalty. I saw an interesting article on GW's site that this can be used in conjunction with the Hive Tyrant's Psychic Scream to increase the effect. This confused me, as AoD is used in the beginning of the Assault Phase, and PS is a shooting attack. So... it retro-actively helps PS? I think the GW article writer needs to pay closer attention to their own material.
Hypnotic Gaze causes a Ld roll-off with one model in base-to-base with the Broodlord. If the Broodlord wins, the loser cannot attack in the close combat that turn.
Since he's just an upgrade he can't be singled out, but he works great to single out and ignore that powerfist or IC. God forbid these things run up against something like a wraithlord, or a single character. He could be taking serious lumps. (Xzandrate of The Kabal of Agony)
Any thoughts on the new codex's genestealers? Any tactics/insights into their use? Drop a comment and I might include it in the actual post (with credit given, of course).