Wednesday, May 27, 2015

40K SMG Wargaming Article: Roll for Knight Fighting

Dat Guy here to talk about the infamous Imperial Knights and their new codex. 

Having only been around for a year or so, this release marks the fastest codex update for any 40k army thus far. Originally a codex of 2 units, Imperial Knights have quintupled their number since first stomping onto battlefields: 5 'standard' Knights and 5 from Forge World. For this article, I will be focusing on the Knights from the new codex, but don't forget that the FW Knights are legal for play within several of the new detachments and formations (save for the 30k Questoris Knight Styrix).

The new Imperial Knight Warden kit can make any of the following: Errant, Paladin, Warden, Gallant, or Crusader. And while the 'old' Knight kit will still be available, the negligible increase in price is well worth the additional weapons / details sprue. 

Now, onto the codex!

Coming back for round 2 unchanged are the Knight Errant and Paladin, but new to the game are Gallant, the Warden, and Crusader. Each fills a general niche, but with the addition of carapace mounted weapons, weapon options, heirlooms, and the benefits of the several detachments and formations, any given Knight can be kitted to fill most any role.

The Gallant comes equipped with a Reaper Chainsword, a Thunderstrike Gauntlet, and a heavy stubber; but it is a full 50 points cheaper than a Paladin or Warden. This gap in points will be a key to introducing new Knights, additional weapons, or heirlooms into Knight lists.

The Warden bears the new Avenger Gattling Cannon with in-built heavy flamer, a Reaper Chainsword, and heavy stubber. Geared for short-mid ranged combat, the Warden can threaten any target with a high volume of medium Str rending shots.

The Crusader is the most expensive Knight to date and comes with both a Avenger Gattling Cannon, a Thermal Cannon, and heavy stubber. Additionally, the Thermal Cannon may be swapped out for a Rapid-fire Battle Cannon and heavy stubber. The second Knight to lack a Str D melee weapon (after the FW Castigator), it can engage the largest number of enemy units at multiple ranges. 

Any Knight may replace its heavy stubber with a meltagun for a negligible cost; and for the price of aeltabomb, those with a reaper chainsword (save for the Gallant) may switch to the new Thunderstrike Gauntlet. Though the gauntlet drops the Knight to Int 1, should the Knight destroy a vehicle or monstrous creature in melee it may throw the victim up to 12" as a large blast with a Str equal to the MC's toughness or half of the vehicle's front armor rounded up. Generally speaking, you'll be throwing Str 5 - 7. As an additional, out of phase, shooting attack, it's not too bad of a deal.

New options for any Knight are carapace weapons: the Twin Icarus Autocannon, the Ironstorm Missile Pod, and the Stormspear Missile Pod. Any 1 can be added for a moderate cost and each adds a different element to the Knight's capabilities. 

Most appealing to me is the Twin Icarus Autocannon as it perfectly meets a glaring weakness that Knights previously had: flyers and flying monstrous creatures. Half of a quad-gun for a bit more than half its price.

The Ironstorm Missile pod offers something new to Knights: anti-infantry barrage. Matching the range of the Rapid-fire Battle Cannon, this weapon is ideal for clearing objectives of light to medium infantry without having to sacrifice the Knight's positioning or distract a primary weapon from a more suitable target. 

The Stormspear Missile Pod fires 3 battle cannon Str / Ap shots to supplement anti-Meq and anti-vehicle firepower at medium ranges.  A solid choice for Gallants and other Knights who deal with multiple vehicles often.

Next come the heirlooms; relics that are only allowed to high ranking Knights within specific detachments or formations. These range from adding USRs (Rampage, It Will Not Die), to enhancing melee weapons, to a leadership boosting banner. My personal favorite is Sanctuary; an Ion Shield that grants a weak Invulnerable save on all facings not covered by the normal Ion Shield's save. 

Lastly, I'll cover the new detachments and formations. Previously, a battleforged Knight army was built from any number of Knight Detachments, each consisting of 1-3 Knights. Now, there are the Household and Oathsworn Detachments. The Household Detachment is built from 3-5 Knights and gives several benefits, including Objective Secured on each Knight. The Oathsworn Detachment is built from 1-3 Knights but cannot be your primary detachment; thus the only means of including 1 or 2 Knights in an army.

The formations included are: The Exalted Court, a 5 Knight group where each is made a character, receives a WS/BS boost, may take Heirlooms, and your Warlord is greatly upgraded; the Baronial Court, a 3-5 Knight group offering improved Ion Shields if within 6" of another Knight from the group, Counter Attack AND Overwatch, and some decent boosts to your Warlord; the Tripartite Lance, requiring 1 of each of the new Knights, grouping them into a unit, and granting benefits to the lance based on which Knights are still alive in the unit; the Gallant Lance, a trio of Gallants that gain Rage, Crusader, and re-rolls on charge distances; and finally the Skyreaper Lance, made from any 3 Knights (that must have the Twin Icarus Autocannon upgrade), which grants Tank Hunter and Shred when targeting flyers or flying monstrous creatures.

As a Knight player, I'm very excited to try out combinations of the new Knights and their options.  My initial list is built around the Exalted Court formation using a Lancer, Errant, and 3 Gallants.  With luck, a WS / BS 6 Lancer with Rampage and rerolls to hit in challenges should offer a nice surprise to opponents.  

-Dat Guy

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