Imperial Knights 7e: Army Review, part 2
We're back for round 2! This week I'll be going over the Imperial Knights Detachments, Formations, and Relics, essentially everything I didn't cover last week.
First up is the "standard" detachment for running a knight-primary army. It consists of 3-5 Knights, and if it's your primary detachment, one knight can be upgraded to a Baron (WS/BS 5, Character, access to Relics), and your warlord (the Baron) may re-roll failed hits in combat. The real great part though is all of your Knights gain Objective Secured. Knights always have issues with objective missions, so Objective Secured will be very welcome. It still doesn't help the issue of not being able to have your knights in 5 different places at once (and can't pick up the relic), but it does mean when you do have the opportunity to snag an Objective, you usually wont be denied.
In the old book, you could always take a detachment of a single knight to throw into another army, well you still can! This detachment is 1-3 knights with no bonus at all and cannot be the same faction as your primary detachment (just like Allied Detachments). I'm not sure why you'd ever take 3 without taking one of the formations or the Household Detachment instead, but oh well.
I think this may be the biggest formation in all of 40k (outside of Apocalypse). If not in points, in stature, with a whopping 5 Imperial Knights of your choosing. All of them are Barons (see above), the warlord can re-roll hits in challenges, and one model is upgraded to a High King/Princeps (WS/BS 6, 3+ Ion Shield), holy cow, a full army of Knight Characters. The big advantage is that being characters, the Knights can all challenge out things like Power Fists hiding in units that would otherwise be problematic. The big disadvantage is that your army most likely will consist entirely of only 5 models, making objectives a massive pain, but you'll look cool doing it! I'm not sure if the advantages of the Exalted Court are better than those of the Household or even the Baronial Court, as the extra WS/BS is fun, but doesn't go far on an Imperial Knight.
This is an interesting alternative to the Household Detachment, the Baronial Court consists of the same 3-5 knights, with one model being upgraded to a Baron and the Warlord getting the standard treatment. The other bonuses are kind of interesting though. If you're within 6" of another Knight (which I don't often like to do anyhow), you'll get +1 to your Ion Shield save (to the front only), for a sexy 3+ save on 2 Knights, very similar to the Adamantine Lance, added survivability for being close to each other, which dramatically decreases a Knights survivability, but situationally can be very nice (like when your opponent doesn't know to threaten multiple flanks). The second bonus is that all knights within 12" of the Baron have Counter-attack and can Overwatch, both of which sound great, until you remember that most Knight weapons are either Stubbers or have a Blast (though the Warden can make good use of it), and that +1 attack on a Knight really isnt' all that impressive, only giving about a 0.416 additional wounds to an infantry squad in combat. Compared to Objective Secured, I think that the Household Detachment will help you win more games for sure.
The Triparte Lance is definitely an odd duck. You're required to take 3 knights which are entirely different from one another, a Warden, Crusader and Gallant, who must fight together as a vehicle squadron, but gain a few bonuses so long as each one is alive,as there is no character though, it can never be your Primary Detachment, making it unfeasible in a Knight primary army, and incredibly expensive as an allied force. As long as the Warden lives, enemies fired at suffer -1 to their cover, the Gallant grants them all D3 Hammer of Wrath, and the Crusader twin-links any blast weapons the unit may have (which is only his gun and any purchased Ironstorm Missiles). Being a single unit means if they do get into combat, they're going to make a mess with 7 Destroyer attacks and 3 S10 Ap2 attacks, plus 3D3 stomps, additionally, if they get any psychic powers cast on them (i.e. Invisibility or Prescience), then the whole unit is affected. That said, being a single unit opens them up to the same weaknesses as the Adamantine Lance and Baronial Court, when Knights are close to each other, bad things happen. It's easy to out maneuver this formation, exposing multiple flanks to various enemies, making it easy to ignore their defenses and shoot where they're unshielded, and when one explodes, it's very close to another Knight, risking the possibility of hitting another of your own Knights with a destroyer attack. Also, by being a single unit, any shots fired at them are not wasted, if one knight is killed, the additional damage will carry over to the next. Overall, this seems like a fun thing to play with in a game of Apocalypse, but on the 40k board, I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole.
Unsurprisingly, this is a formation consisting of 3 Gallants! What happens when you put 3 pissed off mega robots together? You make them even more angry! This formations gains Crusader (making them run faster and better chance of sweeping the enemy), Rage (for 6 attacks each on the charge), and the ability to re-roll failed charges, but still lacks a character. Since this formation consists entirely of Gallants, it's also the cheapest 3 Knights you can add to an army. Obviously lacking flexibility and firepower, I still don't think it's a very competitive option, but at the very least it would be fun to play a bunch of big robots running full tilt across the field to smash into combat.
Games Workshop knows that Knights suck against flyers, so they tossed us IK players a bone with the Carapace mounted weapons, then they tried to take it one step further with the Skyreaper lance, but fell woefully short. This formation consists of 3 Knights of any variety, though all must be equipped with the twin Icarus autocannon, like the Gallant and Triparte Lance, this cannot be a primary detachment. The bonus to the formation is re-rolling to penetrate flyers and to wound rolls against flying monsters. Unfortunately, as they're equipped with the Icarus, flying monsters wont be jinking against them, and there are few flyers that the IK face that re-rolling to pen is a huge deal... Once again, I think your'e better off going with objective secured, unless you know you're not playing with objectives and are going to face enough flyers to make this worthwhile.
While not in the book, I thought I'd mention it. The Adamantine Lance is still around, consisting of 3 Paladins or Errants. You can no longer run this format as your primary detachment as it has no way of upgrading a Knight to be a Character. The bonuses for the formation are very good sounding on paper, when you're within 3" of another knight, you are able to re-roll your failed Ion Shield saves, re-roll charges, and cause D3 Hammer of Wrath hits. The limited 3" range is the catch though, as it makes you very easy to outflank and to put threats on multiple flanks of multiple knights, the upside however is that unlike the Triparte Lance, you don't have to be so close to each other at all times. If the enemy is far away, you can bunch up and throw your shields to the front ignoring most of the damage coming at you, and if your opponent is moving to outflank you, you can split up and not give your enemy the advantage. This formation was great in a day where people had no idea how to fight against knights, and when there were only 2 variants in the game, but now with there being 10 different Knights, and a load of other formations, I'm don't think it's worth restricting yourself, the Warden and Castigator are just too good to ignore.
Any of the Knights which are Barons have access to a single Relic, this only affects the Household Detachment, Exalted Court and Baronial Court. None of the Relics are incredible, but they do give some little bonuses.
Banner of Macharius Triumphant
For an incredibly meager point cost, this relic is fantastic if you're taking an allied force of Astra Militarum. This banner allows all friendly units with the Armies of the Imperium Faction within 12" to re-roll failed Morale, Pinning, and Fear tests. Not bad, but utterly useless if you're not using Imperium allies.
Helm of the Nameless Warrior
Pretty simple, gives the bearer Rampage. This upgrade is quite expensive (double the cost of a power weapon for most armies), and ultimately isn't that amazing. Rampage sounds great on paper, but those ~2 extra attacks hardly adds up to a single additional dead Ork, and against the enemies that matter the most (single models swinging D), it does nothing at all.
Mark of the Omnissiah
Call me a cynic, but like the Helm, I don't care for this relic either, it's the same price as the Helm and gives It Will Not Die. That ability sounds amazing on paper, but most of the time, I don't think it will matter. I've had IWND a multitude of times on my Warlord with the previous codex and it only saved me in one game over a year of playing. Most of the time, regenerating a single HP one-third of the time isn't going to be a big deal, unless however, your opponent doesn't have a lot of Knight killing power, in which case your Knights are stomping him already.
The Paragon Gauntlet
For a mere pittance over the normal price of a Thunderstrike Gauntlet, you can get one that's Master Crafted. If you're giving your Warlord a Thunderstrike Gauntlet, and not taking another relic, then go for this. That said, you should not be giving your Warlord a Thunderstrike Gauntlet anyhow.
This weapon runs the cost of a power fist, and lets your Reaper Chainsword re-roll 1's to hit in combat and strikes at AP1, making it more likely to cause Explode results (nice against enemy super heavies). I find it a little expensive for the cost, but definitely not awful on a WS5 Knight, as 1's will be half of all your misses anyhow. Nothing amazing, but now awful.
The last relic, and fortunately leaving on a high note! For the price of a power weapon, you can give your Knight minimal protection on all sides, as any side not covered directly by the Ion Shield will gain a 6++. It appears that this is also affected by the bonus granted from the Baronial Court and High King, meaning you could have a 5++ on all sides and a 3++ on the side directly shielded. For it's price it's pretty much my de facto relic.
So there you have it, that's covered every unit you can take as an Imperial Knight Detachment. So where from here? Allies my friend! Keep tuned as I update my analysis of various allies and what a Knight primary army should look for in a supporting force.