I’ve always had a soft spot for Knights/Titans going back to the late 80’s when I used to spend hours staring at the ‘Epic’ (literally) battle reports in White Dwarf.
The 6mm scale meant that huge battles could be created which really brought to life the swathes of destruction and grim Dark murder fields that 40k is all about.
Seeing hundreds of infantry march into battle supported by waves of dreadnoughts, convoys of Land raiders all under the shadow of ‘machine god’ Knights and larger Titans was an evocative sight indeed – even if it was only 6mm scale!
I was lucky enough to get the Adeptus Titanicus game for my birthday back in 1988 (cheers Nana!) followed by the Space Marine expansion set, which I’ve still got today. Chuck in some pretty terrifying artwork from the likes of Jess Goodwin and you had something that really got under my skin. To say that I am looking forward to the re-release this year is an understatement!
So, 30ish years later (sweet Jesus…) and here I am still fascinated by those hulking machine gods, if only my pocket money still covered the costs…..
I’d only been back in the hobby a year when GW announced they were releasing Imperial Knights. I was very much ‘hard for heresy’ at that time and had a 3000 point Emperors Children 30k army, so although I bought a couple of Knights to support them, it was more to paint and display than anything else.
I migrated back over to 40k when 8th dropped and kicked off an Admech army.
The plan was to get that up to 2000 points and play my Knights as a Super Heavy Aux detachment from time to time until they got their own Codex. I’d visited the Forgeworld site and added a Cerastus Archeon to my basket countless times, but never pulled the trigger – “I’ll wait until the Codex drops” was my wallet saving mantra.
So although my Knights had more game time in 8th, they were invariably targeted early and generally didn’t see beyond turn 2.
I enjoy winning games as much as the next beer and pretzels player but try not to get too hung up on an armies “competitiveness” as long as it’s fun to play (and play against) and paint. From my experiences playing with the ‘Wicked Sisters’ it was obvious that a mono-knight list would struggle in 8th. My damage output was reliably unreliable and survivability poor. The short falls of Knights in 8th has been done to death elsewhere so I won’t labour those points here.
But all that’s changed now right?! The new codex means it’s a great time to be alive for Imperial Knight players?! Surely now is the time for us to rule the battlefields and stomp our foes to dust in the name of the Emperor/Omnissiah?!
Well my fellow Scions, I’ve had the book for a few days now and having read it from cover to cover and list bashed until my eyes bled….the answer is…I think so yes!
At the very least we are going to have a lot of fun trying. Which is what it’s all about right?
This is by no means a Codex review – there are others online who did that better than I ever could within a few hours of it being released, but I do want to share my initial thoughts and give you a flavour of the book, then talk a little about the list I’m planning. Once I’ve got my models on order and my House allegiance decided I’ll put up a more detailed post.
Parking the units/rules for a moment, it’s worth kicking off by saying that the artwork throughout the book is fantastic and is accompanied by plenty of in-depth fluff. I’ve felt a little short changed in that respect with previous codex offerings, but not here.
Noble Knight Houses are divided into three allegiances – Questor Imperialis, Questor Mechanicum and Free blades. Or in laymen’s terms – the Imperium, Mars and old Jack. They don’t like each other much but generally play nicely when needed. The Imperialis houses are Terryn, Cadmus, Griffith, Hawkshroud and Mortan. Mars have Raven, Vulker, Taranis and Krast.
There is history, artwork and heraldry provided for all of the above along with 7 Free blades.
I’d had my heart set on a heavily weathered Hawkshroud army before the codex dropped. I think they look fantastic together and hadn’t painted yellow since my 7th edition Iyanden and wanted another crack at it. Having had a good look at the House Mortan scheme, I am now starting to waiver. I also like the idea of having one maverick CC orientated Free Blade in my army who just tears into battle. The pottential for custom fluff is great!
If you aren’t keen on any of the existing Houses you can create your own and choose whichever house hold tradition (see below) you like best – a decent option.
As you’d expect, each house gets its own buff (tradition). Hawkshroud immediately stands out for me as it doubles your Knights remaining wounds for the purpose of the wound table. When you’ve got so few models to start with, maximising anything that keeps those models fully effective for as long as possible is critical. That’s not to say the others are bad mind. I also like the +1 attack House Griffith gives you when you charge as that translates to 15 stomp attacks!
There is also a Knight Lance rule where battle forged armies can choose one knight in each detachment to be a character as long as you have at least 3 big knights (Questoris or Dominus class).
Knight strategems are split between Imperial Knights (so anyone can take them), Imperialis only, Mars only and household specific.
They definitely feel nice and fluffy and there are some absolute belters in there. I probably won’t take a gauntlet…..wait…what’s that? Death grip you say? Holy shit! I think that’s the most thematic Strategem I’ve seen in 8th so far. Rotate Ion shields will be standard fare each turn improving a an Armiger or Questoris Knights invun by +1 for 1CP. You can use it on your Dominus class but at a tax of 3CP.
Worth noting that one of the better late game strats Benevolance of the machine god is only available to Mars households. For 1CP you can bring a heavily wounded Questoris Knight back to the top row of the damage table. Those battle cannon/thermal cannon/avenger cannon shots hitting on 3s instead of 5s or making a late game dash/charge at full range could be crucial.
Combine Rotate Ion shields with the Iron Bulwark Warlord trait and Sanctuary relic and you’ve got a 2+, 3++, T, 28 wound Knight Titan. Ooosh.
The Heirlooms of the household strategem lets you nominate a Questoris or Dominus Knight for 1CP, or two for 3CPs, which means they gain the Char keyword and get a relic.
In a similar vein we have the Exalted Court Strat that lets us choose one Questoris/Dominus Knight for 1CP or two for 3CP. This gives them the Char keyword and allows you to assign Warlord traits to them. As with the heirlooms they will all need to be different.
The House specific stratagems offer some nice flavour too. Again, for me Hawkshroud Strat stands out with their ability to choose a Knight to over watch when another model gets charged within 12”. Better still, if the enemy charge is successful then your model that over watched can carry out a heroic intervention!
We have an impressive 23 Heirlooms (relics) to choose from which isn’t bad considering Custodes have full access to the vaults of Terra and they can only muster 13!
The bad ass Traitors Pyre and Endless Fury caught my eye for damage output. The Valiants Conflaguration cannon is already going to leave a mark with 18” 3d6, S7 -2 D2 auto hitting shots. Upgrading that to be able to re roll wounds feels almost dirty.
For survivability you can go for Armour of the sainted Ion which improves your standard save to 2+ and Sanctuary (5++ in CC). Hawkshroud also have a relic which lets you negate mortal wounds on a 4+ which could be very handy when facing mortal wound heavy armies.
Warriors of the Noble Houses
Knights are now split into three classes – Dominus, Questoris and Armiger.
Points have dropped across the board and I am sure those extra points will be used to run Guard detachments in more competitive lists. It’s easy enough to burn 6CPs before the game starts so having those extra 5 would be very useful.
I’m sure you all know about the new big boys in town – the Castellan and Valiant. In short they are immense and can get even more brutal with the use of strats and relics. I wasn’t keen on the models themselves when they first landed but have to say that I’m warming to them and am now excited about painting one up.
Helverins look great and I’ll definitely be running two in my list. 4 x 60” D3 shots @ S7 -1 D3 each isn’t to be trifled with (I do like the way that GW opted for 2xD3 shots rather than 1xD6).
Armigers are getting a bit of a kicking but feel they have a place in any Knight list. 164 points for a very mobile utility unit that can hit hard in either CC or shooting seems good value to me. 4 x S12 -3 D3 CC attack’s coming in hot (14” move per turn plus an advance and charge strat) would be dangerous to ignore.
Canis Rex is the other new guy on the block. He’s a Questoris class knight with a Las Impulsor, multi laser and tricked up Gauntlet (Freedoms hand). Unlike his brothers he’s hitting on 2s. That’s handy as the gauntlet is -1 to hit so you’re smashing face on 3s instead of 4s. He’s roughly the same points as a Crusader and good fun to play as Hekhtur hops out when Canis is destroyed (assuming he doesn’t blow up) and then runs around shooting things with his pistola. If nothing else it could deny a kill point while Sir Hekhtur runs for the hills. Plus it’s fluffy as hell.
Talking of Las, we also have access to a new Questoris Knight. This has the usual stat line but gives you a nice little re-roll 1s to hit for any Armiger class Knights within 6”. He has the Las Impulsor and reaper chain sword which can be swapped out for a Gauntlet.
The way Free Blades work is pretty novel and is based on qualities vs burdens (buff vs nerfs). You can choose a single buff or randomly generate with 2d6 and keep both. The burden isn’t automatic, only taking effect take effect should you roll higher than your leadership with 2d6 at the start of each turn.
As I say, this is just a flavour based on my initial read throughs of the book and I’ll post some more in-depth thoughts when I’ve had some game time.
All in all I think it’s a great Codex. The level of customisation it gives to our very low model count is superb and I’m sure it will lead to a ton of thematic events on the tabletop. The new unit options not only look good to build and paint, but look like they can bring the pain on the tabletop. There will always be shortfalls to an army that has such alow model count, but given the points drops you can now throw in a guard battalion should you want the extra boots and CPs.
In terms of my plans, I can’t not build and paint a Dominus class Knight and for me the Valliant just tips it.
The Helverins look like they are a real nuisance and can benefit from various shenanigans from strats. I can see me running 2 of those with an Armiger Warglaive thrown in to be a pest.
I’m not fully decided on the Questoris Knights yet or whether I’ll start from scratch or use the Sisters, but will probably back the Valiant up with a Crusader and Paladin. I do like the idea of a gauntlet wielding Free Blade Gallant (which has WS2 and 5 attacks instead of WS3 and 4A).
UPDATE: This haul a delivered today…
Would love to hear the thoughts of other Knight players. Drop us a comment!