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Saturday, 30 May 2015

Analysis: Codex Imperial Knights


One of the most disruptive new releases of modern 40k, Codex Imperial Knights ushered in a new era of titanhammer and redefined the concept of the 'standard' game to include elements previously only seen within the safe confines of Apocalypse. This infamous codex has now been re-released for 7th Ed, with lots of new content and ways to literally Stomp your enemies into submission. Let's take a detailed look at the new book and how it will fit into the current state of the game.

Weapons

We will start by looking at the weapon options in the new book, since all codex Knights share the same profile and are fundamentally defined by their weapon choices.

Primary Ranged Weapons

Avenger Gatling Cannon (Warden or Crusader)

At 36" S6 AP3 Heavy 12 Rending, the Avenger is the most versatile of the Primary weapons, effective against infantry, light-to-medium armour, Flyers and Flying Monsters. While it may not always get the kill, it basically forces anything that can Jink to do so.

Rapid-Fire Battle Cannon (Paladin or Crusader)


Firing 72" S8 AP3 Ordnance 2 Large Blasts, this weapon is good for damaging light armour and killing elite infantry, but is more variable than the Avenger due to its reliance on scattering blasts. Despite it being Ordnance, avoid shooting the Battle Cannon at vehicles since it will only strip 2HP at best.

Thermal Cannon (Errant or Crusader)


At 36" S9 AP1 Heavy 1 Melta Large Blast, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a great anti-armour weapon; however, while it will reliably damage most vehicles, it still only has a 33% chance to Explode a normal vehicle, so make sure you have other weapons available to back-up your Thermal Cannon. Consider that the normal Meltagun that all Knights can access for only 5 pts is just as good at killing vehicles as the Thermal Cannon, albeit at much shorter range.

However, the Thermal Cannon is excellent for killing heavy infantry—it is your only option for bypassing 2+ armour saves, and its Large Blast makes it a great threat to Deep Striking Terminators or Centurions.

Secondary Ranged Weapons

All codex Knights—but currently not Cerastus Knights—now have the option to add a secondary, carapace-mounted weapon. Knights have always been great for killing hard targets, but previously struggled against hordes and airborne threats—these new secondary weapons cover these vulnerabilities quite nicely.

The option for extra firepower is attractive, but be warned that these weapons do not come cheap! Remember that Super-Heavies like Knights can fire any number of ranged weapons each turn, and may individually target them against any number of enemy units.

Ironstorm Missile Pod

At 72" S5 AP4 Heavy 1 Large Blast Barrage, this weapon covers the vulnerability against horde infantry that would otherwise overwhelm a Knight army with more bodies than they can kill. At 30 pts, this is the cheapest secondary weapon, and is not a bad option even if you just use it to kill infantry that try to hide on backfield Objectives.

Stormspear Rocket Pod

This weapon is basically a triple-shot Krak missile launcher; at 48" S8 AP3 Heavy 3 it threatens a variety of targets, and is a nice versatile complement to the nice versatile Avenger. However, it is the most expensive secondary weapon option at 40 pts.

Twin Icarus Autocannon

A twin-linked Autocannon with Skyfire and Interceptor, the Icarus covers the vulnerability to Flyers and Flying Monsters normally suffered by full-Knight armies. It can also be used against skimmers, but Snap Fires against most targets. At 35 pts, it is a fair upgrade to give you some air cover; if only it had been a Quad Gun...

Melee Weapons

Reaper Chainsword (Errant, Gallant, Paladin, Warden)


The default melee weapon for most codex Knights, the Reaper simply confers Destroyer attacks. The dastardly D is great for killing Monsters/Gargantuans and other Supers, but overkills most targets.

Thunderstrike Gauntlet (Errant, Gallant, Paladin, Warden)

For 10 pts you can 'upgrade' your Reaper to a Gauntlet, which also confers D attacks but strikes at Initiative 1. It also has a gimmicky special rule that confers an out-of-phase shooting attack whenever a Knight kills a Monster or vehicle with their Gauntlet—cute, but not worth extra points or striking last.

No Melee Weapon (Crusader)

The Knight Crusader uniquely has no dedicated melee weapon, but that does not reduce its close combat effectiveness against most targets; it still has three attacks at S10 AP2 (remember that all Super-Heavy Walkers have Smash). Also remember that all Knights Stomp equally. This means that the super-shooty Crusader is still no slouch in melee.

Ranks

Some Detachments and Formations confer 'Knightly Ranks' upon certain models that have in-game effects.

High King (Exalted Court)

A High King has WS/BS6 and +1 to its invulnerable saves. It is also a Character and can take Relics. Being a Character is a really nice ability for a Knight, since it allows them to issues challenges and kill or neutralise those pesky squad leaders with Meltabombs before they can attack. The bonus to invulnerable saves also synergises very nicely with the Relic Sanctuary, which confers a 6++ (boosted to 5++) invulnerable save on a Knight's nominally unshielded arcs. That high BS is golden when combined with a blast weapon—subtracting 6" from your scatter range is good, but remember that models with BS6+ can totally reroll their blast scatter too.

Baron (Household Detachment, Exalted Court, Baronial Court)

A Baron has WS/BS5 and is also a Character that can take Relics. Hitting on a 2+ with direct fire weapons is nice, and especially useful on a Crusader or Warden with their twelve-shot Avenger Cannon.

Knight Commander (Household Detachment, Exalted Court, Baronial Court)

If you nominate a Knight from a Household Detachment, Exalted Court, or Baronial Court as your Warlord then they become a Knight Commander, and may reroll their Trait and all misses in a challenge. This is a nice extra bonus for models with few, but powerful, melee attacks.

Detachments

Codex Imperial Knights contains two new unique Detachments, the Household Detachment and the Oathsworn Detachment. Both Detachments include multiple Lord of War slots with the Imperial Knights Faction. Options to fill these slots includes the five Knights presented in the codex, and the three Cerastus Knights whose rules are available to freely download from the Forge World website—all the Cerastus Knights already have both the Lord of War Battlefield Role and Imperial Knights Faction, so there is no need for an explicit FAQ/Errata to fit them in to these Detachments.

Household Detachment


This Detachment comprises three mandatory and two optional Knight slots. The key benefit of fielding this Detachment is Objective Secured for all your Knights. Objective Secured is a really big deal for Knight-heavy armies, since it prevents them from auto-losing to fast MSU lists that can afford to stall and sacrifice units whilst stealing Objectives. It may not be a sexy rule that helps you kill things, but Objective Secured can and will win you games—and the Household Detachment is the only way that Knights can get this powerful rule.

The Household Detachment may be designated your Primary Detachment, and your Warlord Knight is automatically promoted to a Baron and Knight Commander.

If you're taking three or four Knights, and don't want to use one of the Knight Formations, then the Household Detachment is your go-to option.

Oathsworn Detachment

If you only want to field one or two Knights, then the Oathsworn Detachment is your only option. It has no special rules, and is explicitly restricted from being your Primary Detachment. Note that you can field an Oathsworn Detachment comprising three Knights, but there is absolutely zero benefit in doing so compared to gaining Objective Secured from a Household Detachment, or other bonuses from one of the Knight Formations.

Codex Knights

There are five different Knight variants in the codex, all sharing the same familiar profile. One is geared purely for shooting, one is geared purely for assault, and the remaining three can be considered 'hybrids'. All have a token Heavy Stubber that can be upgraded to a Meltagun for a very cheap 5 pts, and any assault or hybrid Knight should take this upgrade if you can afford it.

Knight Errant


The cheapest hybrid Knight at 370 pts base, the Errant comes equipped with the elite-slaying Thermal Cannon and a Reaper Chainsword. Errants are great at midfield control, pushing forward early and aggressively to shoot once or twice before charging into melee.

When considering one of the expensive carapace weapon options, keep in mind that you ideally want your Errant to spend half the game locked in close combat, so you may not get optimal value from an extra ranged weapon.

An Errant is nice to have in a Knight army, or allied to another Faction that lacks AP1 or AP2, since it really is valuable for ganking enemy elites in both the shooting and assault phases. But remember that the Crusader also brings a Thermal Cannon, so if you aren't getting your Errant into melee to use its Reaper then you're probably better off with the Crusader instead.

Knight Paladin


Slightly more expensive than an Errant, the Paladin costs 375 pts and comes equipped with a Battle Cannon and Reaper. Once considered the 'default' Knight variant, the Paladin finds itself in an awkward position in this new codex: the Warden is more versatile, and the Crusader is better at fire support. Sadly, I don't think there is much value in taking the Paladin anymore, unless you need fire support and just can't afford the superior Crusader.

Knight Warden


The new holder of the 'most versatile' title, the third hybrid Knight also costs 375 pts and will be a common sight in Knight armies. Like the Errant, the Warden is a star of the midfield and can do a lot of damage in both the shooting and assault phases with its Avenger Cannon and Reaper. Also like the Errant, the Warden can make some use of a carapace weapon, but should not be a first priority to receive such an upgrade.

The Warden works very well paired with an Errant. Somewhat counter-intuitively, you should use the Warden to shoot at transports and the Errant to shoot disembarked passengers—not great rules-to-fluff alignment, but GW don't always get that right...

Knight Gallant


A dedicated assault Knight, the Gallant is very cheap at only 325 pts, but comes with no ranged weapons by default. It has one role: charge the enemy. With five D attacks on the charge, plus Hammer of Wrath and Stomp, the Gallant should make an absolute mess of most units in 40k. It has all the attributes required to be successful at assault in 7th Ed: high speed, high impact, and the resilience to survive crossing midfield.

That said, I don't think the Gallant is a particularly good choice as a Knight allied to another Faction—a good opponent can and will neutralise/destroy an isolated and over-extended Knight. However, the Gallant is good value within a Knight army, since it can zerg ahead of your other Knights and put early pressure on your opponent while your other Knights manoeuvre and fire.

The question of carapace weapons on a Gallant is a tough one: with one the Gallant is nearly as expensive as a hybrid variant, and can't shoot it anyway whilst locked in combat; but without one, the Gallant will probably find itself unable to do any damage in the opening—and possibly closing—turns of a game.

Knight Crusader


The big daddy of the codex Knights, the shooty Crusader costs a huge 425 pts and comes equipped with both an Avenger Cannon and Thermal Cannon. This weapons configuration gives it strong coverage against nearly all unit types, and given its dedicated shooting role it can make the best use of a carapace weapon too. But also remember that the Crusader is still very powerful in melee, with its S10 AP2 attacks, Hammer of Wrath, and Stomp.

The Crusader can freely exchange its Thermal Cannon for a Battle Cannon, making it extremely efficient at killing infantry without 2+ saves. However, I think the default configuration will be more useful in most armies.

Expect to see lots of Crusaders allied in to other Factions that want extra firepower and an assault deterrent. They will probably be a rarer sight within primary Knight armies due to their higher cost.

Imperial Armour Knights

Forge World have published Imperial Armour rules for three of their own 'Cerastus' Knight variants. They are all Lords of War with the Imperial Knights Faction, so they fit in perfectly with the codex Knights and all their new Detachments and Formations.

The Cerastus Knights all share a common profile, that differs from the codex Knight profile by +1A and the addition of the Flank Speed rule: Cerastus Knights all Run 3D6", almost guaranteeing them a second turn charge if you're inclined to zerg them across the table. All three Cerastus Knights fit the 'hybrid' description as they each come equipped with a ranged weapon and a melee weapon.

Cerastus weapons are unique and make them quite different from the codex Knights. One important thing to note is that the Cerastus Knights don't have a token Heavy Stubber with which to plink away at their desired melee target, so they can find themselves unable to charge at all if they destroy their primary target with shooting.

Cerastus Lancer


The first Cerastus Knight is fairly expensive at 400 pts, and comes equipped with a Shock Lance and a special version of the Ion Shield. The Shock Lance shoots at 18" S7 AP2 Heavy 6 Concussive, making the Lancer very good for killing elite infantry (like the Errant and Crusader) and even better for killing Monsters and Gargantuans. The Concussive rule is an often-overlooked beauty, since debuffing an otherwise equal opponent—such as an enemy Knight or Wraithknight—to I1 is very powerful if you can follow-up your shooting with a successful charge.

The Shock Lance is no different from a Reaper Chainsword in melee (D AP2), but it does provide a +1I buff in the turn you charge; this doesn't matter if you're charging an enemy big guy (due to Concussive shooting) but it does help if you're charging I4 infantry. Remember that all Cerastus Knights have four base Attacks, so five swings at I5 when you charge is pretty damn good in the world of Titanhammer.

The Cerastus is the only Knight without an Ion Shield, being instead equipped with an Ion Gauntlet Shield—this is an important distinction! The Ion Gauntlet Shield is very similar to the common Ion Shield, except that it cannot be used to shield the rear arc but does provide a 5++ invulnerable save in melee. It also confers a melee -1 To Hit debuff upon enemy Super Walkers and Gargantuans.

The distinction between an Ion Gauntlet Shield and a regular Ion Shield is important for two reasons:

  • The Relic Sanctuary is an Ion Shield, not an Ion Gauntlet Shield
  • The High King rank only buffs Ion Shield invulnerable saves
This means that a Lancer with Sanctuary can shield two arcs (including its rear arc) with a 4++ invulnerable save and its other two facings still get a 6++ save; furthermore, a High King Lancer with Sanctuary can shield one arc with a 3++ save, another arc with a 4++ save, and its other two arcs with a 5++ save. And in either case, the Lancer still gets a 5++ save in close combat too!

The Lancer is optimised for hunting down enemy Supers and Gargantuans. This specialised Knight is very good in a primary Knight army, but is unlikely to be commonly seen as an allied Knight. If your opponent lacks suitable high-value targets to hunt with your Lancer then it should perform similarly to an Errant, at a 25 pts premium.

Cerastus Castigator


The next Cerastus Knight is attractively priced at 380 pts, and comes equipped with a Castigator Bolt Cannon and a Tempest Warblade. The Castigator Cannon is very similar to the Avenger Cannon at 36" S7 AP3 Heavy 8; it trades a third of its shots for Twin-Linked, and Rending for +1S, with the net result being very similar damage output against nearly every target type. This makes the Castigator (a.k.a. Castrator) very comparable to the Warden in both firepower and price.

Where the Castigator is really unique, however, is in its close combat weapon: the Tempest Warblade. Unlike every other Knight melee weapon, the Tempest is not a D weapon, but 'only' hits at S10 AP2—just like a Crusader. But unlike the Crusader, the Castigator and its Tempest Warblade have an interesting pair of extra rules:

  • Deflagrate (a.k.a. Defecate) inflicts an automatic S10 AP2 extra hit for each unsaved wound inflicted on the target unit (non-recursive)
  • Tempest Attack allows the Castigator to trade its four Attacks at I4 for a single special attack at I2, which inflicts one automatic hit per model in base contact (note this also hits friendly models by RAW, beware!)
Given that most models will Pile-In at or before the I2 step, this combination of rules enables the Castigator to automatically hit most or all of an enemy unit at S10 AP2—likely inflicting a lot of unsaved wounds—then inflict a whole lot more extra S10 AP2 hits for free. And then it can Stomp at I1, just to add insult to injury.

The Tempest also allows the Castigator to reroll armour penetration, just in case you find yourself fighting heavy armour instead of hordes.

While the Lancer is optimised to hunt down the big guys, the Castigator is optimised to exterminate the numerous little guys. The Castigator is a really nice addition to a Knight army, since it very effectively covers their typical weakness to horde infantry. But this is yet another Knight you're unlikely to encounter as an ally to another Faction, since its role is just a little bit too niche.

Cerastus Acheron


The final Cerastus Knight is a strange one; the Acheron is very expensive at 415 pts, and comes equipped with the very niche Acheron Flame Cannon and a Reaper Chainfist, plus a twin-linked Heavy Bolter to give it more flexibility in setting up assaults. The Chainfist is basically what the Thunderstrike Gauntlet should have been—it strikes at Initiative just like a Reaper, but it rerolls 1 on the Destroyer table against vehicles.

The Flame Cannon, however, is a strange beast. It uses the Hellstorm template, which can hit a truly scary number of models, and it hits at a very nasty S7 AP3 Ordnance 1. It notably lacks the Torrent rule so you will have to get very close to use this weapon, but it will be devastating against most infantry; sadly it will not Instant Death those ubiquitous T4 models. Being S7 with the Ordnance pseudo-reroll to armour penetration, and inherent Ignores Cover from being a template, also makes the Flame Cannon good for stripping HP from light and medium armour. Overall it is a great weapon, but its short range is a significant limiting factor—you will probably only ever fire it once before you get stuck in to close combat.

Just like the Castigator, the Acheron helps primary Knight armies deal with infantry hordes, but it is also a bit too niche to be used as an allied Knight. Furthermore, its value over a Paladin or Crusader with Battle Cannon is doubtful when filling the anti-personnel role in a Knight army. But at least it looks awesome!

Formations

If you only want to add one or two Knights to another army, then the Oathsworn Detachment is your only option. However, if you want three or more Knights, then you can choose between the Household Detachment (with Objective Secured) or one of these Formations. When considering any of these Formations, remember that you have to weigh their value against the opportunity cost of losing Objective Secured...

Exalted Court

A very straightforward Formation at face value, the Exalted Court comprises five Knights—no more, no less—of any type with no restrictions. Four of these Knights are promoted to Baron, and one is promoted to High King. If you designate this Formation as your Primary Detachment then your Warlord Knight becomes a Knight Commander—this does not necessarily need to be the High King, in case you wanted to make a backfield Crusader Baron your Warlord for safety.

If you are building a primary Knights army with five Knights then this Formation could be your best option; the stat boosts and ability to challenge-out dangerous melee opponents on every single one of your Knights is a fair trade for Objective Secured.

Exalted Court of House Terryn

This Formation is effectively an Exalted Court with pre-selected Knights, and the addition of some extra rules. It comprises:

  • Knight Warden High King with Knight Seneschal (+1A) as its fixed Warlord Trait
  • Knight Errant Baron with Counter-Attack and Interceptor
  • Knight Crusader Baron with a 12" bubble of Overwatch and reroll 1s on Ion Shield saves
  • Knight Paladin Baron that can take damage for the High King if within 6" (effectively Look Out Sir)
  • Knight Warden Baron that rerolls charge range and rerolls To Hit in the first round of an assault
If you are building a primary Knights army with five Knights, and you are willing to take this specific combination of Knights (which is not bad), then this Formation is pure gold. Let's consider what all these extra rules can do:

  • A Warden is a good all-rounder as your Warlord, and you may as well give him Ravager to maximise that extra Attack
  • Interceptor on an Errant is amazeballs for nuking Podding Centurions and similar threats. You should always find the point to give this Errant a carapace weapon, probably the Rocket Pod. 
  • Firing Overwatch with Knights is only really good for Wardens and Crusaders, but that represents three of the five Knights in this Formation, so you should get good use from it. This will help even the odds if you're at risk of being charged by a Gargantuan.
  • Rerolling 1s on Ion Shields is good any day of the week
  • Redirecting damage from your Warlord onto the arguably least useful member of the Formation is a nice ability. You can use this ability even if your Warlord is in a challenge and the Paladin is not even locked in the same combat!
Whilst expensive (1920 pts minimum cost), this Formation is very good. However, you probably won't have any allies or points spare to buy many carapace weapons, so you'll be vulnerable to Flyers and horde infantry.

Baronial Court

If you only want three or four Knights then the Baronial Court becomes an option. This Formation comprises between three and five Knights of any type, without restrictions. One Knight is always promoted to Baron, and if it is also your Warlord then it gains Knight Commander too.

The Baron has a 12" bubble of Overwatch and Counter-Attack. As stated earlier, amongst the codex Knights only the Warden and Crusader can make good use of Overwatch; however, the Imperial Armour Castigator and Acheron are also great beneficiaries of Overwatch.

Finally, this Formation has the Ionic Shieldwall rule, which allows its members to improve their front arc Ion Shield by +1 if they are within 6" of another member. This is not that useful in most cases, since a competent opponent will just manoeuvre for side/rear arc shots, and if one Knight goes boom, it is likely to nuke at least one of its comrades on the way out. However, if you wanted to include three Crusaders or Paladins in your army for some backfield fire support then the Ionic Shieldwall becomes very good—park your three Knights in a corner and fire away, with a 3++ invulnerable save to shooting and Counter-Attack and Overwatch to deter assault.

If you are going to run three or four Crusaders or Paladins as backfield support, then this Formation is worth considering. However, a Household Detachment with Objective Secured is a very viable alternative, and should be the default option for any other combination of three or four Knights.

Tripartite Lance


Now this is an odd one! The Tripartite Lance Formation comprises a Warden, Gallant, and Crusader, all formed-up as a single squadron. The squadron gets certain rules depending on which of its members are alive:

  • While the Warden is alive, all shooting by the squadron benefits from -1 to cover saves
  • While the Gallant is alive, all members inflict D3 Hammer of Wrath hits on the charge
  • While the Crusader is alive, all Blast weapons in the squadron are Twin-Linked
The Warden and Crusader buffs are very nice at first glance, but unfortunately are mostly wasted on the Knights you are forced to include in this Formation. The Gallant has no shooting to benefit, unless you buy it a carapace weapon; the Warden can make use of the cover save reduction, but it has no Blast weapons (unless you buy it an Ironstorm).

Being a squadron has both advantages and disadvantages, but the net result is negative. A Tripartite Lance can only influence one part of the table, and throwing a tarpit at one will neutralise the entire Formation. Knights in close proximity tend to nuke each other whenever one dies, and there is much less risk of overkill when shooting a squadron (Eldar Fire Dragons and Wraithguard will particularly enjoy shooting at this Formation).

Overall, the Tripartite Lance is an interesting concept that flops due to its lack of internal synergy, and other, better Formations in the book. Skip this one.

Gallant Lance

A Gallant Lance comprises three Gallants with Crusader and Rage, and they can all reroll their charge distances. This Formation has three good things going for it: it's fast, it's cheap, and it can influence three different parts of the table. Playing this Formation is very easy: deploy spread out, move and Run towards the enemy on turn one, charge on turn two. Kill as much as you can before you explode, and hopefully nuke something good on the way out.

Meltaguns are a worthwhile upgrade, to give you a chance of popping transports and charging their passengers. I wouldn't bother with expensive carapace weapons—these guys are shock troops, pure and simple.

Skyreaper Lance

Another straightforward Formation, it comprises any three Knights with Icarus Autocannon, and they all get rerolls to penetrate/wound Flyers/Flying Monsters. If the Icarus had four shots instead of two, this Formation would be awesomesauce. If you weren't giving up Objective Secured for a very niche ability, then it would be worth consideration. But as it stands, there is sadly no good reason to take a Skyreaper Lance.

Adamantine Lance

The original Knight Formation, the Adamantine Lance is still legal and viable, although its value must now be weighed against the flexibility of the Baronial Court and utility of the Household Detachment.

An Adamantine Lance comprises three Knights Errant or Paladin in any combination. They do not form a squadron like the Tripartite Lance, but get three buffs if they are within 3" of another Formation member:

  • Reroll all failed Ion Shield saves
  • Reroll charge distances
  • Inflict D3 Hammer of Wrath hits
These are great buffs, but the requirement to maintain close proximity is a significant limitation and liability. But more limiting is the choice of only Errants and Paladins; Errants are good, but I wouldn't want three of them, while Paladins are inferior to Wardens and Crusaders.

I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the Adamantine Lance on tournament tabletops, but I think it will gradually be overtaken by the newer, more flexible Formations and Detachments.

Warlord Traits

Knight Warlords must roll on the Faction Trait table, they cannot access the rulebook or any other tables. There are no bad Traits here, but some are definitely better than others:

  • Landstrider confers a 12" bubble of +1" to Run and charge distances, which should be quite useful in most games.
  • Favoured of the Omnissiah applies Master-Crafted to one non-Relic weapon. This is really good when applied to a Blast weapon, since it allows all scatter to be rerolled, even for multi-shot weapons like the Rapid Fire Battle Cannon.
  • Exemplar of the Joust confers rerolls To Hit when the Warlord charges. Not the most exciting Trait, but it is deceptively powerful because it represents the holy grail of competitive play: reliability.
  • Cunning Commander confers Outflank to your Warlord and D3 other Knights. This is a valuable strategic tool, especially in missions like Emperor's Will where the Objective is buried deep in enemy territory. Just be careful not to Reserve too many Knights and attack piecemeal.
  • Ion Bulwark allows the Warlord to reroll 1s on any invulnerable save. This is particularly useful if your Warlord is a Lancer and/or has the Relic Sanctuary, or if you have allied Divination psykers that can cast Forewarning.
  • Knight Seneschal confers +1A, which is nearly always useful.
Remember that a Knight Commander can reroll its Trait.

Relics

Knights now have their own set of Relics, called Heirlooms of the Knightly Houses. Only character Knights (Barons and High Kings) have access to these Relics, and each Knight may only take a single Relic (as stipulated in the Wargear List section of the codex).

The Banner of Macharius Triumphant costs only 10 pts and confers a 12" bubble of rerolls on Morale/Pinning/Fear tests for all Armies of the Imperium. This is superior to the Astra Militarum Regimental Standard since it affects all Imperial Factions, for fewer points, without the opportunity cost of losing a special weapon from a Company Command Squad. A great Relic if you're running any sort of Imperial allies alongside your Knights.

The Helm of the Nameless Warrior and Mark of the Omnissiah both confer a single special rule on the Knight for a big 30 pts—Rampage and It Will Not Die respectively. Whilst both of these rules are good, they are really not worth 30 pts, considering that could otherwise buy you a carapace weapon for one of your Knights.

The Paragon Gauntlet and Ravager are both melee weapon upgrades; the former is a Master-Crafted Gauntlet, the latter is an AP1 Reaper with rerolls of 1 To Hit. Not terrible upgrades if you have points spare, but I would probably spend those points on carapace weapons first.

Sanctuary is an Ion Shield that also confers a 6++ invulnerable save to your 'unshielded' arcs; nice for only 15 pts, especially for a High King that would get a 5++ instead. This Relic is nearly an auto-include for your Warlord. As stated earlier, Sanctuary is even more powerful when given to a Cerastus Lancer, since by RAW it stacks with the Ion Gauntlet Shield to provide such a Knight with two 4++ shielded arcs instead of one, plus two 6++ unshielded arcs.

Conclusion

For any luddites out there still denying the existence of Super-Heavies in 40k, I have bad news for you fools: titans are here, and they're here to stay. The new Codex Imperial Knights is a great evolution of the previous mini-Codex, and if nothing else clearly demonstrates GW's commitment to the disruptive but positive new direction that we have seen emerge over the last few years of the game.

For all the progressive players out there, this is a Faction to get excited about. It's grown so much beyond the two datasheets we started with not that long ago! We are already starting to see rumours of cross-Faction Formations blending Knights with other Imperial armies, and I think it's very important to embrace the 'Armies of the Imperium' combined arms concept. Mono-Faction Imperials really can't hold their own against xenos these days, but the addition of Knights, Assassins, Inquisitors, etc. to Astra Militarum and Adeptus Astartes armies can make a huge difference to their competitive viability.

And finally, to those who are dismayed at the idea of more 'unkillable' models entering the game, I assure you that Knights are anything but invincible. Investing lots of points into a few powerful but still relatively vulnerable models is not for the faint-hearted! If you find yourself facing Knights, if you have a reasonable quantity of anti-armour weapons in your list then you should have nothing to fear—if you find yourself lacking in that department, revisit your army list before you complain about Knights! Also remember that mobile firepower is important, because the best way to get through a Knight's Ion Shield is to simply go around it. Lastly, remember that Knights are still very suboptimal against Flyers and horde infantry.

Now go forth and Stomp!

Images from Games Workshop Flickr pool.

13 comments:

  1. " It notably lacks the Torrent rule so you will have to get very close to use this weapon, but it will be devastating "

    Because of the speed of the knight, and the length of the hellstorm template, the actual threat range of the Acheron is rather ridiculous.


    It's about a 32 inch threat range. (including the 12 inch move). The hellstorm template is gigantic!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sweet Knight you have there greggles!


    Very true, the threat range of the Acheron is big, but if you measure from the front of the base it's more like 28", and that is more representative of deployment + first turn move + shoot. And that's not impossible to hide from in two-thirds of deployment maps.


    If you can't get a first turn shot with the Acheron, then you are risking overextension to get a second turn shot. This is much less of a risk if you have multiple Knights pushing into midfield, of course, but a solo Acheron may be hard to use effectively.

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  3. That is not my knight! Just a post I saw on twitter about it's threat range being much higher the most of us (myself included) realized!

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  4. Very important note on the Knight lancer ion gauntlet, contact FW and they will say that any upgrades to ion shield saves also works on the ion gauntlet, granting it 3++ from shooting and 4++ in close combat, making a high king lancer really fantastic. and of course sanctuary just grants a 6+ ion shield save, so that will go to 5+ as well and it will defend the rear.


    Also, deflagrate works on the tempest attack of the castigator[just to be clear:)]


    Email FW they are usually very quick to respond to rules questions. Adam from the dice abide has also emailed them as well as reece from frontline gaming and gotten the same answers

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  5. oh some thoughts on the tripartite lance.


    more pro's :)
    1. they can all benefit from a mysterious objective, like.. sky fire:) or reroll ones to hit, heck even +1 cover


    2. you can cast invisibility on the entire unit with one casting, this also goes for presience or forewarning:).


    3. if you charge on of them , the rest get to beat you up as well, good luck trying to hold up three knights attacking and stomping at once


    4. if one knight makes a charge all the rest will get to fight as well. you won't waste firepower as everyone can shoot at separate targets first.
    you can even multi assault, which is impossible for any other kind of superheavy.


    Give them as many guns as possible, just -1 to enemy cover saves is gravy:)

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  6. I have seen FW emails published online, but I wouldn't rely on that in a tournament given it's not an official FAQ. Plus if FW consider Ion Gauntlet Shield = Ion Shield then a High King Lancer with Sanctuary would get the 3++ on one facing and 4++ in CC; the RAW with two different Shields is probably better since that provides 3++ on one facing, 4++ on a second facing, and 5++ in CC.


    I got that Hawkshoud pic out of the GW Flickr pool, and they strip all the source info off those pics :-( But I'm also planning to paint my Knights as Hawkshroud, when I finally get some painting time... I'm averaging 1 model per 2 months at the moment :-(

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  7. Those are good points. I suppose that it fundamentally becomes a question of, "do you want to build a deathstar out of titans?" I would probably answer "no" because you're already constrained by your low model count, if you constrain yourself further by squadroning three of your Knights then a competent opponent can simply tarpit/outmanoeuvre you quite easily.

    And of course, the more extra weapons you add to the Trip Lance, the more it costs, and the fewer Allies you can afford. Tigurius or Belakor are probably the only reliable ways to get Invisibility on a Trip Lance in a <2000 pts game, and that makes a very one-dimensional army list.

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  8. belakor can't cast it on them;P. but tiggy is good and sevrin loth is perfect[at least for invisibility]


    600 points on allies is enough to get scouts and maybe some storms plus Tiggy or loth.


    It's definitely worth some play testing, it's a unique piece of 40k crunch. it might not be worth it, but it's hard to theorise about something we haven't really seen before.

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  9. It is official for ITC at least. that's good enough for most, it's at least worth talking to your TO about it. ITC do house rule a few things but the basic unit rules[barring explicit exceptions, invisibility, 2++ rerolls, ranged D etc] are pretty solid.


    are you sure sanctuary grants a standard ion shield and 6+ to other facings, or just 6+ to other facings? I'm away from my rules right now, but it is intriguing , it'd be pretty funny on a magaera, v14[or maybe 15] with a 4++ a 3++ on another facing and 5++ on all the others with a 6+ it will not die. tough to kill much?:P


    I'm pretty sure FW will just say it modifies anything with "ion" in the title though. It super fluffy makes sense as well, you get better at using your shield so the save goes up, tadaa:). I also like 4++ in combat a lot!


    It's probably worth another letter to FW to see how sanctuary plus the other two ion fields work/also with high king

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  10. Not yet, but FW have already previewed Chaos Knights on the way! But yes, I know you can fit in Tig/Loth, but you end up with a totally one-dimensional list. It would be a great scrub-stomper list but I doubt any good competitive player would be too concerned.

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  11. I have no respect for ITC, or any other system that fudges the rules of the game. Banhammer is bad enough, changing rules is just pure arrogance. It's all just populist pandering to attract more "filler" players to ITC tournaments to make them more financially successful. There is nothing wrong with the standard game rules.

    High King would buff the Sanctuary 6++ by RAW because Sanctuary is an Ion Shield and the 6++ is an invulnerable save... so that fits the conditions for High King.

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  12. I only mention ITC as a big fish in the TO department. playing with friends or local levels where you can just show them a FW letter is probably fine. I was just addressing your point about having it maybe not being allowed.


    I only play maelstrom missions and use all the rules as they are when I play locally and I love it. it also helps that we have some great terrain at our disposal, which is really important to having the game run well for all different types of armies. Maelstrom also has a tendency to mess with death stars and I love not having to play, lets see if it goes to the 6th turn game:)


    I think I wasn't clear enough on my thoughts about sanctuary, having it be buffed to 5++ is a given for a high king, I was just wondering if it also gave a facing the standard 4++ [3++ for high king] and as I'm reading the card, it sure looks like you could have that 3++ and 4++ on two facings with a high king lancer.


    the craziest outcome would be 3++ and 4++ on two facings 5++ on the rest and 4++ in combat. going to have to write a letter to FW pretty soon.


    one last thing, Gerantius?? does he still exist?. I might not have his white dwarf, so I can't read the fine print but, he would be a ridiculous high king:P ws7 2++ ion shield etc etc

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  13. I get what you mean. It worries me when I see so often statements like, "army list X works really well in ITC" which should be an obvious sign that ITC is a significant deviation from the normal game. It may just be a dream, but I look forward to the day when the majority of the 40k community is mature enough to simply play the game, instead of twisting it to suit their preconceptions.

    Regarding Sanctuary, the codex reads, "Sanctuary counts as an Ion Shield. In addition..." Regarding Lancers, they list 'Ion Gauntlet Shield' in their wargear list, and list rules for how the Ion Gauntlet Shield is different to an Ion Shield. So by RAW, a Lancer with Sanctuary has both an Ion Gauntlet Shield and an Ion Shield which additionally provides 6++ to other arcs. This means 4++ on one arc (IGS), 4++ on a second arc (IS), 6++ on the other two arcs (Sanc), and 5++ in CC (IGS).

    So yes, a High King Lancer with Sanctuary does indeed get 3++ on one arc (IS), 4++ on a second arc (IGS), and 5++ on other arcs (Sanc). But I think it would still only get 5++ in CC (IGS), because High King specifies "Ion Shield" and we've established that the IGS is different. But such a Knight would still be very tough!

    Gerantius still exists, but can only be taken in an Unbound list or one of the Formations that specify an "Imperial Knight (of any type)" because his Battlefield Role is Imperial Knight, not Lord of War. But even if you took him in an Exalted Court, his 'Forgotten Knight' rule specifies that he "does not use the rules for Knightly Ranks". Now there are no longer any rules called 'Knightly Ranks', but that might be a hard case to argue. If you can get away with it, he would be WS/BS7 as a High King, and would also have a 2++ Ion Shield save.

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