Updated Imperial Knight Review and Tactics, Part 1
Alright guys, sorry about the long silence, real life has just meant I've been too busy to play lately. I have however picked up the Knightly Mantle again and got a few games in. A lot as changed for the Imperial Knights since they came out and that pretty much means any review you can find on them is woefully out of date! As of publishing this article, the Imperial Knight army now has the following at it's disposal:
- Imperial Knight Paladin
- Imperial Knight Errant
- Cerastus Knight Lancer
- Cerastus Knight Castigator
- Questoris Knight Magaera (Experimental)
- Adamantine Lance Formation
That's come a long way from the army of only 2 models we had at release! With all these options, it's really important to understand what each one brings to the table, and what differentiates them from the other variants.
Knights in General
Right, so what exactly is a Knight? Imperial Knights are the smallest super-heavy walkers in the game, each (so far) with 6 Hull Points, AV 13/12/12, and an Ion Shield. The Ion Shield for those who don't know, allows the Knight to pick a facing (front, left, right, rear) at the beginning of each shooting phase, and any shots originating from that facing will have a 4+ invulnerable save. That basically means that if you want to reliably kill a Knight Titan, you need to offer threats from multiple facings. Aside from durability, a Knight, like other super heavy walkers move 12" a turn and can stomp stuff in combat. Each one is a bit of a swiss army knife, it's just up to you if you want the corkscrew or the phillips head screw driver.
Imperial Knight Paladin
The Paladin is pretty much the "generic" knight, with a mighty rapid fire battle cannon, plus reaper chainsword and two Heavy Stubbers. If you're not sure which knight you want in your army, the Knight Paladin is never a bad choice. Like you'll discover with each knight though, it's not without it's limitations.
I recently discovered how difficult it is for Knights to handle a plethora of Rhinos. Due to it's AP 3, the rapid-fire battle cannon is incapable of killing a non-open topped vehicle in one volley, meaning if your opponent is meched up, you need to come up with another solution for opening cans. Sure, a Knight can easily pop them in combat, but now you're spending 375 points to kill 35 point metal boxes. Against infantry hordes however, tossing two battle cannon shots around can make short work of anything less resilient than terminators.
Another fringe benefit that the Paladin brings is that it has two heavy stubbers. That might not seem like a lot, because what is 6 bolter shots going to do? The big deal is that it means you can fire your rapid fire battle cannon at one target and a stubber at two other targets, giving you 3 potential units to charge in the assault phase. That means if you obliterate 2 of your targets with the knights battle cannon or other units shooting, you still have a 3rd option you can go after.
Imperial Knight Errant
The second "generic" knight variant is the Errant. Like the Paladin, it's equipped with a Reaper Chainsword, meaning it's melee attacks are Destroyers, but it sacrifices the Rapid Fire Battle Cannon for a Thermal Cannon. This gun is beastly, a 36" range S9 Ap1 Large Blast, Melta weapon, any armour it hits within 18" is rolling 2D6+9 for armour penetration! The Errant serves two purposes, it's great at killing things like Meganobz at range, which can really devastate a knight in combat, additionally, unlike the Paladin, it can actually kill a transport vehicle in a single volley. Since rolling a 5+ on the vehicle damage chart isn't exactly reliable, it's also fortunate that it comes armed with a heavy stubber so that you can shoot a back up target to charge in the assault phase. It's a good second knight that fills some gaps that the Paladin leaves open, if you're taking a single knight titan, unless you really need the AP2, I'd probably stick with the Paladin.
A whopping 500 point knight Errant. For that extra 130 points you get a Knight Errant that's always a Seneschal (+1WS/BS, 3+ Ion shield), though cannot have a Warlord Trait. He also gains It Will Not Die, can run and shoot and re-roll's 1 on the stomp table. That all sounds great, but when you realize that it's an extra 130 points, I really can't justify him... I'd like to, but I can't. IWND isn't reliable enough, the 3++ shield just means that the one side you're already defending is slightly more defended (and people will just shoot at 2 sides like they already do), re-rolling 1's on the stomp isn't mind blowing and an extra D6" of movement (but you still can't charge) isn't blowing my mind.
EDIT: After writing this, I think I came up with the only way I'd consider using Gerantius, and that is with 2 other knights, which would allow me to make another one warlord, giving me 2 Seneschals. It's still a bit expensive, but it distributes the cost and having 2 Seneschals is pretty dirty.
Cerastus Knight Lancer
The first of the knights released by Forge World, the Cerastus Knight-Lancer is a dedicated combat knight. It's a bit more expensive than the Paladin, but it's considerably different. It's Ion Shield cannot be used to the rear, which is really rough against Drop Pod space marines, but in combat it gives the Lancer a 5++ and if fighting an enemy super heavy, it is -1 to be hit. It's gun is fairly lack lustre (18" S7 Ap2 Heavy 6, Concussive), and without a stubber, it means you have to charge whatever you shoot that at. Finally, the Cerastus frame knights can run 3D6".
While the Lancer looks awesome, I really struggle to find a place for it. In combat, it has one more attack than a Paladin, but it's a destroyer weapon still the same, either one will still kill just about any single model it fights. While it can run faster, it cannot charge after running it's 3D6", and since it has to charge what it shoots, if you want to kill infantry, you risk it's gun shooting you out of charge range. Ultimately, it is better at killing enemy super heavies than a Paladin or Errant, but for how many points it is, it's a bit over specialized for my taste.
One last thing to note, unlike the Paladin or Errant, it can be used as a Lord of War in any Imperial Army, which at least means you can take it without taking a Knight Detachment.
You can download the Cerastus Knight-Lancer's rules from Forge World.
Cerastus Knight Castigator
Hands down, my favorite Forge World knight so far is the Castigator. Like the Knight-Lancer, it is a Cerastus chassis, which lets it run 3D6" and has an extra attack as well. What really differentiates it is it's main gun, the twin-linked Castigator pattern bolt cannon. This beefy gun does something that I mentioned is a bit of a problem for most knights, it kills transports dead. With 8 twin-linked S7 Ap3 shots, it's like firing 4 autocannons into a vehicle, so metal boxes are far less of an issue with it around.
In combat it's very different than every other knight so far, mostly due to it's total lack of a Destroyer weapon. In exchange though, it has the Tempest warblade, which gives it two
special methods of attacking. When you make normal attacks with it, any unsaved wounds you inflict will cause an additional automatic hit with the profile of the weapon (S10 AP2), so if you're fighting a single monster with your 4 attacks, you could potentially cause 8 S10 Ap2 hits on it. The second way of attacking is the Tempest Attack, which allows it to cause a single S10 Ap2 hit on every model in base contact at Initiative 2, though unfortunately it doesn't stack with the ability that also causes additional hits. Couple this with the knights normal stomp attacks and you actually have a titan that doesn't mind getting in combat with hordes, though personally I'd still avoid that to keep it popping a transport a turn.
EDIT: Turns out that FW intended Deflagerate to stack with Tempest, the "Normal" in the Deflagerate rules is just a hold over from the 30k rules, which is where Deflagerate is copy/pasted from (see Volkite weapons). That changes a ton right there! Now if you're in B2B with 10 models, you could potentially kill 20! The Castigator is the perfect second knight, basically being the polar opposite of the Paladin. At range it can kill single models and in combat it kills hordes.
The downside to all of this is much like the Lancer, by lacking a heavy stubber, it's required to charge what it shoots at, which with 8 twin-linked shots, can easily mean you are not in range to charge after unleashing it's weaponry.
Also like the Lancer, it can be used as a Lord of War in any Imperial Army, which at least means you can take it without taking a Knight Detachment.
You can download the Cerastus Knight-Castigator's rules from Forge World.
Questoris Knight Magaera
The newest kid on the block is the Questoris Knight Magaera, and unfortunately it's the only knight that I think falls totally flat on it's face. It has a massive price tag (20-45 points more than a Paladin) and for that you get a tiny bit more survivability, and a significantly worse gun. The Ionic Flare Shield gives it some additional protection to the side it's already protecting with it's shield, which is amazing if your enemy is only in your front arc, but against more mobile foes, it's really a bit redundant. To add a tiny bit more to survivability, it has the Blessed Autosimulacra, which is essentially IWND that only works on a 6.
It's gun sacrifices a shot and a point of strength to gain rending and shred... which again on a S7 Ap3 weapon really isn't gaining much. Finally, for 25 points it can get a flamer that's S2, Fleshbane, and twin-linked (kind of silly with Fleshbane) that permanently reduces the toughness of whatever model you shoot with it. Since it's effect works on "models" and not "units" it means that you'll only be able to reduce the toughness of multi-wound models, provided they fail any saves they may have (AP5 is really not helping here).
I really wish I had more positive things to say about this knight, but aside from looking awesome, it really doesn't bring anything to the table that you can't get elsewhere in the army for cheaper. Like all the other FW knights, it can be taken as a Lord of War, but I'm not sure I'd even consider it then.
The Magaera's experimental rules can also be downloaded from Forge World.
Adamantine Lance Formation
One of the most interesting options that has become available to Imperial Knight players is the Adamantine Lance Formation. This Formation is made up of 3 Imperial Knights (Paladins and Errants only), and they get a really brutal set of special rules. While they're within 3" of another knight in the same formation, they are allowed to re-roll their failed Ion Shield saves, re-roll failed charges, and cause D3 Hammer of Wrath hits when they do charge. Since you're running 3 Knights, you can also nominate a Knight to be warlord as per the rules in the Imperial Knights codex. If you're running 3 Imperial Knights and not using any of the special Forge World variants, there's absolutely no reason to not take the Adamantine Lance. That said though, there may be some value in using some of the variants instead, but I'll go over that in a later article.