Saturday, February 15, 2014

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.


  1. Once again I had the same thoughts as you regarding new releases and what to do for my army.

    But have you taken a look at the Imperial Armour 2 superheavies? The Typhon and the Cerberus are both smaller superheavy tanks and have a very marine aesthetic. The Fellblade is also really cool but I dislike the round dome turrets compared to the Baneblade.

    I'm going to wait and see how everything pans out before deciding on a superheavy tank or the Knight titan as Warhounds are far too point intensive to consider and I dislike Thunderhawks and their price tag.

    1. I've not given the Forge World models too much consideration, in part because I dislike working with resin. The Typhon and the Cerberus really do look nice, and I like their rules, but they're a bit too 30K for my army.

      Despite being made of resin, I had already resolved to get a Thunderhawk in the April-May time frame because it's the iconic Super-Heavy of the Space Marines and because I wanted to be able to fully participate in the Escalation games that our group started playing just last night. With the release of the Imperial Knights, there's a lot less pressure to get a Thunderhawk, meaning that I can hold out a little bit longer for the mythical plastic Super-Heavy flyer.

      It's worth noting that you don't have to choose between Knights and other Super-Heavies. Imperial Knights don't fill a Lord of War slot and instead can be taken as a Primary or Allied Detachment. That means that a Primary Detachment of Marines could take a Thunderhawk and three Imperial Knights. With the turbo-laser destructor upgrade, the four Super-Heavies would cost you 1885 points, but they would sure look awesome on the table.


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