Phew, the Codex releases are just flying off the press at the moment. It seems that Admech are getting everything just shy of their own book, which I'm certain is all related to the Chapterhouse fiasco - thanks a lot chaps. I'm confident, however, that in the couple of years we'll see a unified Admech codex incorprating the Skitarii, impending cult mechanicus, Imperial Knight and probably some new units. For now, however, I'll bring myself back on track to talk about the latest GW offering: Imperial Knights.
It's a bit of a low blow releasing a Codex so soon (16 months) after the previous one, but in their defence it is a £25 book for 120 pages and feels much more like a proper codex than the previous offering. Speaking of which, I can offer no comparison to the previous book which, thankfully, I didn't pick up. Anyway, as per usual I'll talk about the book, models and rules in order and try to offer a general overview of what this release has to offer before summing up. Cheers.
Now, ordinarily I don't much care for the GW approach of lots of CG pics throughout the book showing off colour schemes, but despite this the ones in this book are top notch and make up about 50% of the book itself. The first section, as always, deals with the background of the Knights complete with starchart, hierarchy and timeline. This takes us to page 19. The next 5 pages detail the individual types of Knight, which this release has increased from 2 to 5 (more on them later). The next up is the aforementioned section on heraldry, which gives us some 50 pages of beautiful Knight pics, covering Imperial, Mechanicus and Freeblade (many of which will be familiar from WD) Knights, with particular emphasis of houses Terryn and Raven. This is a glorious section and is great to flick through and immerse yourself in. The rest of the book is made up a gallery and the usual rules section at the rear. Let's not forget to mention the standard datacards which were also released. Overall I think for the price this is a great book and, while I feel for Knight players who bought the previous book, I suspect they'll be more than appeased when they get this one in hand.
This shouldn't take too long as the only release is the Knight Warden kit, which is effectively the same as the original Knight Paladin kit +1 sprue. This extra sprue grants you the ability to do the following:
- 3 new masks to choose from.
- Admech gargoyles (to replace Imperial Eagle heads) for mechanicus aligned armies.
- a meltagun option to replace the stubber.
A power fist option alternative to the reaper.
Avenger Gatling cannon with built in heavy flamer.
Two carapace mounted weapons; an icarus autocannon array and a rocket pod mount with two different fronts for different rockets - both the pod and guns look to be independent so you can split the carapace weapons from one kit between 2 Knights using the mysterious (til now) hole on the top.
A couple of decorative bits.
There are advantages to this if you have a whole Knight army as for every Warden kit you can have a slightly cheaper Paladin kit and spread the weapons around. However, for those such as myself who own a single Knight it's a bit frustrating to not have access to the extra weapons. I hope (not holding my breath here) that GW release the extra sprue separately at some point as that's a win/win situation for them really. Overall impression, a great update to the initial kit which fills many gaps and helps to make all the mono-pose knights look more unique. I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of years (paired with an admech release?) we get another Knight book with another kit release utilising the same 3 core sprues but with a different 4th sprue giving yet more options and builds.
Right, on to the meat of things. After the Eldar release I guess the big question is how are Imperial Knights going to stand up to wraithknights? Let's find out.
Units: (all lords of war)
Same price as before just with a few more options now. The Errant can swap out the stubber for a meltagun for the price of a meltabomb, which is more fitting given its role, and can also swap the chainsword for a thunderstike gauntlet if you're going for the classic epic look. As with all Knights it can choose to upgrade to add in one of the three carapace weapons mentioned in detail later.
Again price unchanged, but as with all the Knights it can swap its stubber for a meltagun and choose to upgrade to add in one of the three carapace weapons mentioned in detail later. It too can opt for the Thunderstrike Gauntlet upgrade for the price of two melta bombs.
Same cost as the Paladin, this chap has all the same options as the Errant and Paladin but sports an Avenger gatling cannon as its primary gun with an additional heavy flamer. He is essentially the middle ground between the Paladin/Errant with a penchant for killing light-medium vehicles, MEQ and even being able to take a decent pop at flyers (especially with the icarus upgrade).
A cheaper, specialist Knight, this chap is two power fists cheaper than a Paladin/Warden and, stubber aside, comes with no ranged weaponry as standard. It does, however, pack both a Thunderstrike Gauntlet and a Reaper chainsword, allowing you to choose between them and gain an extra attack in combat. They can also swap out the stubber for a meltagun and have the same carapace options if you do choose to add some ranged potential, maybe even some anti-air.
Another throwback to epic, where while the original packed twin lascannon and quake cannon, this new version is equipped more like the epic Castellan (suspect GW have overused this term lately with the Kastelan and Castellax) Knight, which had a multi-barrelled autocannon. Now, it packs a both a Thermal cannon and an Avenger gatling cannon, making it less deadly up close but a dedicated fire-support platform at range. The meltagun and carapace options are as for the other Knights and for the price of a meltabomb you can upgrade the thermal cannon to a rapid fire battlecannon. This chaps base-cost is, however, two power fists more than a Paladin, making him by far the more expensive of the variants. Still, one of these and a Gallant would balance costs out and give you dedicated specialist units instead of an army of generalists. I suspect a good loadout will be the battlecannon upgrade and a rocket pod.
There are two main detachments to choose between: the Household and Oathsworn. The Household is more for a majority or entirely Knight army and allows you to choose 3-5 Knights (all Knights are Lords of War) with the following perks. Command benefits grant a reroll for your Warlord on the Knight trait table plus allows him to reroll failed to hit rolls in a challenge - this is crucial given how devastating each of those destroyer hits can be. Added to this one of your Knights may be a Lord Baron (if this is the primary), which makes him a character (so he can be involved in challenges) and allows him to select one Knightly heirloom (relic). And there's more - he gains +1 WS and BS to make him stand out further from the other Knights. Lastly, and this is another big one, all models gain objective secured, meaning knights can rightly hold objectives from most other units (we'll ignore the solitary CAD Grot). There's not much to say about the Oathsworn detachment, except that it's geared up to be the allied detachment really, granting you 1-3 Knights with no perks and cannot be your primary detachment. I will likely be using the Oathsworn to get my single Knight into games but if you're allying at least 3 then the Household detachment (or a formation) seems more sensible for the perks of both ObSec and (if primary) the benefits the Baron will receive.
Obscenely expensive but you could squeeze one in at 2000 points with minimal upgrades (and I suspect most will try to for the perks). The court is a fixed 5 Knights of any type which grant both the Knight Commander rule (reroll traits and to hit in a challenge) as above but also grants two more perks. All Knights gain +1 WS and BS and are characters able to select Heirlooms. More-so, your Warlord (High King/Princeps) gains +2 WS/BS rather than +1 and gets +1 to its ion shield rolls, making it a beast in all regards. A hefty price, but who would fancy taking on 5 of these guys!?
A bit of a step-down from the Exalted court, but still darn powerful. This formation is 3-5 Knights and so is a viable alternative to the Household detachment as an allied army. You still benefit from the Lord Baron and Knight Commander rules as per the detachment, but also have a couple of extra rules instead of ObSec. Knightly vassals allows the Baron and Knights within 12" to gain both counter-attack and allows them to fire overwatch! Not sure how useful these will be as most Knight weapons are blast weapons and not many will be keen to charge them in the first place. The other perk is Ionic shieldwall, which grants all Knights within 6" of another Knight to add +1 to their Ion shield save on the front arc. So essentially, this formation is designed for an intimidating cluster of Knights in the midfield who gain resiliance to ranged shooting and being charged, while the detachment is more designed for objective games and having Knights spread around the battlefield. For 3 Knight games I'd go with this one and use you allies to grab the objectives, whereas for sole Knight armies in the 1750-2000 range (assuming you don't want to take the Baronial Court) the detachment seems more appropriate.
This is an interesting idea and consists of one of each of the new Knight variants, each of which adds a perk to the formation so long as it remains alive. They are also fielded as a single unit, though each counts individually for VP purposes. The Warden adds withering fire, granting a -1 to cover saves from this formation; the Gallant adds Wrathful onslaught, granting D3 hammer of wrath attacks rather than 1 each; the Crusader adds precision bombardment, making all blast weapons twin-linked. Now, while all these perks are pretty good, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. The benefits to blast weapons will only apply to one weapon in the detachment (Crusader) unless you upgrade any models to carry the Ironstorm pod. The D3 hammer of wrath may still only yield you 1 attack each, and let's face it, is hammer of wrath really that decisive when a Knight charges in? The -1 to cover saves is probably the most useful with all the jink saves out there nowadays, but the problem with the formation is that as you lose models you lose perks, unlike taking the Baronial Court and Detachment. As they are all one unit you can try to position to protect your Warden I guess, but a canny opponent will always be trying to manoeuvre around those Ion shields anyway.
Good if you like your battles up-close and nasty. This formation has 3 Knights Gallant and thus they all benefit from crusader, rage and full tilt, allowing them to re-roll failed charge distances. If Gallants are your thing then this is definitely the way to field them, but most people would, I'm guessing, prefer a mix of different Knight types. Also not to be forgotten is that, as the cheapest variant, you could field this formation for under 1000 points.
The last formation is designed to plug that gap in the Knights AA potential. It consists of any 3 Knights which must all take Icarus autocannon upgrades. The Skyreapers rule allows you to reroll failed armour penetration rolls (including rerolling glances) against flyers and to wound rolls against FMCs. If anti-air is lacking in your army and you were going to take 3 knights with the autocannons anyway then this is a perfect way to ensure taking down those pesky flyers/FMCs in an army lacking any real other alternatives for anti-air.
1 - Landstrider - Warlord and all Knights in 12" add 1 to run and charge ranges.
2 - Favoured of the Omnissiah - One (non-relic) weapon master-crafted.
3 - Exemplar of the joust - reroll to hit in any assault phase in which he charged.
4 - Cunning Commnader - Warlord and up to D3 Knights gain outflank.
5 - Ion Bulwark - Warlord can reroll ++ saves of 1.
6 - Knight Seneschel - +1 attacks
All weapons as before with the following newbies:
Avenger gatling cannon - 36" S6 AP3 heavy 12 rending.
Ironstorm missile pod - 72" S5 AP4 heavy 1 5" barrage.
Stormspear rocket pod - 48" S8 AP3 heavy 3.
Twin Icarus autocannon - 48" S7 AP4 heavy 2 interceptor skyfire twinlinked.
Thunderstrike gauntlet - Same as reaper chainsword except it piles in and fights at initiative 1 and can hurl MCs/vehicles it kills/explodes. This grants an immediate shooting attack against an enemy unit in 12" using the toughness/half front AV of the hurled model with AP- large blast.
Heirlooms of the Knightly Houses:
Banner of Macharius triumphant (cost 2 melta-bombs) - all armies of the Imperium in 12" must reroll failed morale, pinning and fear tests.
Helm of the Nameless Warrior (cost 2 power weapons) - model rampage.
Mark of the Omnissiah (cost 2 power weapons) - It will not die.
Paragon Gauntlet (cost power weapon) - Master-crafted Thunderstrike gauntlet
Ravager (cost power fist) - Reaper chainsword that re-rolls failed to hit rolls of 1.
Sanctuary (cost power weapon) - Ion shield that also protects other 3 facings with a 6++.
11 - yield no ground - 1VP if no enemy units in 12" of your table edge.
12 - Duel of Honour - 1VP if one of your Knight characters issued or fought in a challenge.
13 - Assail the foe - 1 VP if made 1 successful charge (D3 if 3-4, D3+3 if 5+)
14 - Titan Killer - D3 if one gargantuan creature or super-heavy destroyed.
15 - Honour of the house - 1 VP if controlling an objective marker (D3 if 2+)
15 - A grudge to settle - opponent nominates one of their units - 1VP if you destroy it.
In the final analysis this is a great little (well, big) release. The book feels like a real codex now and is gorgeous throughout. The new Knight types and rules all fulfil a specific role and the options allow you to tailor them to specific points values. The new weapons look like a lot of fun and the army now has decent AA options. Though I fully intend to stick to just the one Knight for now I hope to get ahold of a new sprue somehow (please sell them separately GW) and have the incentive to finally finish and field my Freeblade now. Cheers.