Friday, February 21, 2014

Knights Officially Revealed

GW is finally advertising the White Dwarf containing the rules and background for the Imperial Knights. Of course, all of the more obsessive fans already knew what was coming. I just might have gotten my hands on a copy of the White Dwarf a day or two early and have already pored over it.

The Fluff
As expected, the magazine discusses the fluff of the Knight Houses. For the most part, this is shown to be similar to that of the original Imperial Knights from Epic. However, the revised Knight fluff now divides the one-man Super-heavy Walkers into factions. Although the Knight Houses predate the Imperium, and still remain relatively independent, most have chosen to align themselves with different groups. There are effectively three types of Knights: Imperial-aligned Knights, Adeptus Mechanicus-aligned Knights, and the independent Freeblades.

At this point, there is no difference in the rules for Imperial, Mechanicus, or Freeblade Knights; the difference appears to be cosmetic. The Imperial-aligned Knights tend to forgo the imagery of the Adeptus Mechanicus, decorating their walkers with Aquilas and the emblems and colors of their Houses. The Mechanicus-aligned Knights sport a predominately red color scheme. They also bear the logo of their House, although this symbol inevitably incorporates the Cog Mechanicum. Freeblade Knights are independent of any House, each having its own individual symbols and colors.

The Decal Question
A short while ago, the rumor mill revealed that a sheet of Imperial Knight transfers was going to be sold separately from the kit. This inevitably caused an uproar among those who are perpetually looking for a reason to complain about Games Workshop. As expected, they immediately assumed the worst and decried the greed of GW for selling the decals separately, not once thinking that perhaps the separate sheet was supplemental to one included in the kit.

A sheet of transfers is indeed included in the kit and is shown in full detail in this issue of White Dwarf. The variety of decals on this sheet puts those included in other kits to shame. It contains imagery specific to three Imperial-aligned Houses, two Mechanicus-aligned Houses, and one Freeblade Knight in addition to multiple Imperial, Mechanicus, and generic symbols.

As good as the sheet included in the kit is, the one that is being sold separately is even better. It's an enormous A4-sized sheet (i.e., about letter-sized) that covers four additional Imperial-Aligned Houses, two additional Mechanicus-aligned Houses, and four Freeblades. There are also a huge number of symbols used by the Imperium and the Adeptus Mechanicus. Interestingly, the sheet includes personal heraldry for Imperial-aligned Knights, some of which include imagery from Space Marine Chapters such as the Ultramarines and the Imperial Fists. Although I'm not usually a fan of water-slide decals, I'm actually tempted to buy this sheet if only to get the Mechanicus logos.

The Model
Although I had already seen plenty of leaked images of this issue of White Dwarf, those low resolution images didn't capture the level of detail and the thought that have gone into the Knight models. For starters, the weapons have lifting lugs on them. The designers envisioned the pre-Imperium Knights' as all-purposes walkers. Since they might be used for heavy labor one day and combat the next, the walkers' arms were designed to accept any number of tools or weapons. Lifting lugs on the arms would have aided in swapping out the various equipment.

Also, one image in the magazine and the accompanying blurb show that the GW design team modeled a highly detailed frame underneath the Knight's armor plating. The idea is that the Knights were originally fielded as skeletal machines in support of their various Houses. As time went on, armor plating, heraldry, and decorations were added.

I was happy to see that the models come with a selection of three heads. One is patterned after a medieval knight's helm, one looks like a stylized skull mask, and the third has a cybernetic look that is clearly meant to resemble a skull.

[Update: Images on GW's pre-orders page shows that the cybernetic skull isn't a separate head; it's the head used on all Knights. You can either go with the bare face or you can cover it with one of three face plates: either a stylized skull mask or one of two masks resembling medieval helms.]

What am I Going to Do?
For starters, I'm buying at least two right off the bat. I intend to field them as an Allied Detachment alongside my Ultramarines. And I'm definitely building Knights Errant. The Paladin's rapid-fire Battle cannon isn't particularly interesting to me given how much difficulty an S8 gun has at taking out vehicles with heavier armor. Plus, the Knights have Hammer of Wrath and their Reaper chainsword is a close combat D-weapon. Clearly they're meant to get in close and do some real damage; the long-range Battle cannon doesn't exactly complement that strategy. Now, a S9, AP1, large blast, 36" range weapon with the Melta rule is a different story. The Thermal cannon is the next best thing to a D-weapon.

The paint scheme is a less obvious decision. I like a lot of the Imperial-aligned imagery and the fact that some of the personal heraldry incorporates symbols of Space Marine Chapters suggests that a few Imperial Knights have earned the respect of the Astartes. But I'm also a fan of the Adeptus Mechanicus and I would really like to have a group of red Knights sporting the Cog Mechanicum stomping alongside my Marines.

[Update 2: Pre-order photos let us see how tall the Imperial Knight really is. Although the GW website is currently saying it's 8 inches tall (i.e., about an inch shorter than a Wraithknight) a little Photoshop work shows that it's actually about 6.5 inches tall (which is what I guessed before). I created the image below by matching the base sizes of the Space Marine and the Eldar Guardian. I then used the width of the 25mm bases to determine heights.]

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More On Imperial Knights

Another image has been leaked which may give us a better indication of the height of an Imperial Knight:

This photo suggests that the Knight may be about an inch taller than a Trygon. The Trygon and the Riptide are very nearly the same height, which would make the Knight slightly taller than I had previously guessed. However, I suspect that the Knight Paladin is actually in the foreground of the image, making it look slightly larger than it actually is. I think I'll be standing by my guess of a 6.5 to 7 inch tall Imperial Knight.

I also neglected to mention the rumors that the Imperial Knight codex (whether it's in the form of a White Dwarf or possibly a Dataslate) is supposed to contain instructions for fielding an Imperial Knights army, a Mechanicum army, or a Freeblades mercenary army. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find out what any of that means. I'm not sure if it's a fluff-only difference or if it affects force organization.

Imperial Knights Incoming

Shortly after it was revealed that Escalation only allows the Primary Detachment to bring the Lord of War, Bryce was able to convince me to sell him my unbuilt Baneblade and Shadowsword models. I had every intention of saving the money for a Thunderhawk, but then the following images from an upcoming White Dwarf leaked:

Knight Errant: I love the model's skull-shaped head

Knight Paladin: the Avatar of Khaine in
the foreground gives an indication of size

Knight Paladin

Back when Apocalypse 2.0 was still just a rumor, there had been whispers of so-called Imperial Knight models. (Knights are essentially Adeptus Mechanicus mini-Titans.) I was sorely disappointed when these failed to materialize. Now that these images have leaked, I have to wonder if the rumor-mongers were correct that GW was working on Knights but wrong about the release dates or if this is just a coincidence.

The Models
The look of the models is exactly what I would have hoped for; i.e., hunched, aggressive-looking, and fantastically garish. I guess my only complaint is that I had hoped that they would be a little taller. The Forge World model of the Avatar of Khaine seen taking on a Knight Paladin is about 4.7 inches tall, which suggests that the Imperial model is somewhere between is 6.5 and 7 inches tall. This puts it at about the height of a Riptide.

Although I had been hoping for something closer to a Wraithknight in size, the model will easily dwarf my troops and Dreadnoughts and should be adequately intimidating. And the bulk looks like it will easily make up for any lack of height.

The Rules
Images showing the rules for the Knight Paladin and the Knight Errant have been leaked and are readily available. I don't know if there will be other Knight variants with this release, but what we know so far suggests that we will only be getting these two.

The Knights are relatively small Super-Heavy Walkers and have a lower points cost than the Super-Heavies found in the Escalation book (each is about 50% more than a Land Raider). Both are equipped with a D-strength Reaper chainsword. The Knight Paladin also carries a two-shot Battle cannon while the Knight Errant has a Melta weapon called a Thermal cannon. This weapon, which I find a lot more interesting than the Paladin's armament, has slightly more range and greater strength than other Melta weapons, in addition to being a large blast.

The Imperial Knights' armor values are middle-range, although they benefit from a 4+ invulnerable save granted by an Ion Shield (which has no effect in close combat). This shield protects a single facing during any given turn; the player chooses which facing is protected at the start of the opponent's shooting phase.

At first glance, the Knights seem to be lacking compared to other Super-Heavies, and I was a little concerned that a single model would have a hard time surviving long on the table. However, only a short while after I first saw the rules for the Knight Errant, I saw another image from the White Dwarf revealing that the Knights aren't Lord of War choices at all. Instead, a player can take three to six as a Primary Detachment or he can take up to three as an Allied Detachment. Individually, an Imperial Knight might not cause an opponent too much worry. A pack of two or three would be a different matter.

Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with the 40K hobby, the new models were immediately compared to Wraithknights and Riptides, with any number of players griping that the Knights are overpriced for what they do and that nobody will buy the models with those rules. Well, call me "nobody" since I was already determined to buy one regardless of the rules. And once I found out that I could field several, I decided to buy at least two. Despite the certainty of some people, there are plenty of us who are modelers first and foremost; if a great new model has awesome rules, then they are merely the icing on the cake.

White Dwarf Rules?
Now, it's certainly possible that the complainers are right and the Knights won't work well under their current rules. That's why I think it's interesting that these rules are being released in White Dwarf. Given what a big release this will be (pun intended), and that GW is going as far as allowing players to form Primary Detachments of Knights, I would have expected at least a digital codex to accompany the new models rather than a few pages of rules in a magazine. There's also a lot of fluff that could go with the Imperial Knights that a single issue of White Dwarf probably won't be able to get into. For these reasons, I think that these are essentially glorified beta rules meant to allow players to use the brand new model as soon as possible.

Similarly, the Stormtalon's original rules were included in White Dwarf upon its release. Less than a year later Death from the Skies was published and the Stormtalon saw a decrease in points cost, it was given the unit type of Flyer, Hover, upgrade costs were revised, and the Hover Strike rule was deleted and replaced by the Strafing Run rule. All these changes seemed to be in response to players' experience with the model.

Here's my theory; as with the Stormtalon, GW is reluctant to set down the Knights' rules in a more permanent format until they can polish them and ensure that their expensive new model is adequately competitive. It's also possible that the new kit is merely the first in a line of Adeptus Mechanicus models that will eventually get their own official codex.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Land Raider Crusader WIP, Part III

The Land Raider Crusader continues along, slowly but steadily. As I tend to do with all my models, I started with the most detailed components and will eventually finish with the large, simple surfaces.

Late last month I finished the interior, which got a lot more attention that any hard to see region ever should. I pulled out my Razorback so that I could make sure that the Land Raider's interior matched that of the previous vehicle; i.e., a Fortress Grey base, with Charadon Granite bench structures, Chainmail details, and a Badab Black/Nuln Oil wash:

Last time, I was unhappy with how obvious the brush strokes showed up in the wash. This time I dry brushed the base coat back over the wash to hide the brush strokes, which is also how I clean up washes on exterior surfaces:

Once I finished the interior, I moved on to the hurricane bolters and the twin-linked assault cannon. These are nearly complete, which leaves the exterior engine compartment as the final area with any significant detail.
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