Before I start, I am a huge fan of Epic and that is how I started in the GW Universe way back when. I had Titan Legions with the reinvisaged plastic Paladins, as well as some of the older (and stranger) metal Imperial Knights. (plus Eldar ones). I loved the game and still firmly believe it to be the most enjoyable GW game I've ever played. Sadly, the game died the death and I parted with the models a few years back. Exciting rumours are that Epic will be making a comeback later this year. Many are skeptical of this, but then again many were skeptical they would ever release a Knight for 40k.....
Leading us nicely into this beauty of a model. Standing I estimate just a bit taller than a Riptide, the Knight model is a thing of beauty to behold. A nice update to the original plastic Knight model, the kit is meant to represent the knight errant and paladin variants. To be fair these guys were pretty similar back in the day and retain the different heads and primary weapons. No giant fist for the errant though. I have to wonder if there will be a generic superstructure sprue, allowing the sprue with the heads/weapons to be easily swapped for a castellan/crusader variant and a lancer/baron variant for release at some later date. The fact they are apparantly releasing a whole codex for the Knights/Admech/mercs suggest this may be so.
So, how do you field them? The dataslate and WD article suggests they are fielded either as an army in their own right (difficult given the rigid points and lack of scoring) or as an allied contingent. I personally will be getting a single one to use as an ally for other armies, which I think will have to be painted blue and gold as my original Epic Paladins were. I suspect the allies will be any Imperial army, though it remains to be seen if Dark Mechanicus will be represented in the form of chaos allies. As for points, they come in as 1.5 land raiders more or less, which seems very pricey initially, but there's a lot to consider.
The stats give it s10, 13/12/12 and ws/bs/i4. It also is a super heavy walker with a host of accompanying rules including invincible behemoth. In a nutshell, it can move 12", cannot have any damage inflicted on it save hull point stripping and can stomp as well as attack in close combat. Speaking of close combat, it comes with a nasty SD/AP2 close combat weapon - ouch! Both come with paltry heavy stubbers (one for the errant, two for the paladin) as secondary armaments, while the paladin packs a 2 shot battlecannon compared to the mega melta weapon on the errant. (s9, 36", Ap1, 5" blast) It also has the ion shield, which you can determine the facing of at the beginning of your opponents shooting phase to give you a 4++ save from that arc - nasty. Finally, don't forget that as a super heavy walker, once the 6 hull points have been stripped this thing's gonna go boom, so beware kamikazee runs.
The community thus far seems equally split 3 ways on the Knight. Some think they are way overcosted, others overpowered and then some like myself think they seem on the surface to be just fine. A D strength CC weapon does seem a bit much, especially as the blade itself is significantly smaller than the Wraithknight ghostglaive (but the same as a stompas D strength chainblade). The problem may lie in that the combination of hammer of wrath, stomp and D strength CCW does make the Knight a CC beast. However, it still needs to hit in close combat and so it's likely the D hits will be limited to 2. Plus it gets no protection from its shield in combat and thus is as susceptible to glancing and penetrating hits as an Ironclad dreadnought, though hammernators and the like will probably be stomped/Destroyered before striking. Let's do some maths on that for a second:
8 hammernators (about the same points as a Knight) charged by a knight.
Knight goes first with hammer of wrath (s10 hit, wounds, terminators save)
Knight stomps, 2 templates, hits and wounds 2 terminators overall, kills 1
Knight attacks with D-weapon, hits twice, kills 2 terminators
Terminators fight back with 10 attacks. 5 hits, 1 fails to penetrate, the other glances and strips a hull point.
So it's pretty beastly in combat and will pretty much trounce everything it comes across except those superheavy walkers that are even more badass that it. The fact that the shield doesn't work in combat is a good thing, thought the Knight more than makes up for it by being able to destroy everything else beforehand. I think therefore the best way to tackle it would be a combo of long and short ranged firepower from different angles, forcing it to only use the shield to protect one arc. As the shield effectively negates half your non-destroyer hits this is important. Still, it's going to be a tough nut to crack, being super defensive at range and super offensive in combat.
Matt came up with a good suggestion when we were discussing the Knight, in that removing the D strength from the CCW and making it a regular walker with the invincible behemoth rule and 12" move would make it more balanced. The main differences being that it would not be able to stomp or auto-remove things in close combat, but retain the damage resiliance that the behemoth rule confers. Looking at the relative size of the Knight to say the Wraithknight and Riptide (who do not have the stomp attack) I can see the reasoning in this. A price drop would be necessary in this case though I beleive, in which case you come full circle and wonder if it was fairly balanced to begin with.
Let's compare to the stompa, which has similar armour, similar CC potential (lower initiative but more attacks and AP1) and double the cost and hull points. The Stompa would most likely come out on top in a toe-to-toe match here, and I'm certain that in a ranged firefight the stompas superior armaments (despite lower BS) would make it a match for the Knight. However, two knights against the Stompa (near equal points) would likely be more than a match for the stompa, especially up close. How about another super heavy? A revenant vs 2-3 knights would likely be more than a match for them. It's ability to outmaneuver them, use holo-fields to protect itself and inflict a potential 2 destroyer hits on 2 seperate targets per turn (bypassing the ion shield and armour) would mean the knights would stand little chance of getting into combat with it.
So. a lot of things to think about and I'm sure this, like so many things of late, will affect the meta of the game. I just hope that the unit turns out to be reasonably well balanced, with people working out the best ways to tackle them and get the most from them. I personally will be getting one a fielding it when I can purely for the cool looks and chance to use some new rules.