Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The New Knights: Not Quite What We Were Expecting

Just yesterday I speculated on the weapons that the Knights shown in silhouette were carrying. Much of my speculation was based on rumors that had been floating around for about a week. Now that images from the upcoming White Dwarf have leaked, it turns out that many of the rumors were in error. First, the new Knights do not have any ranged D-weapons. Second, their armor, Ion Shield, and Hull Point count are the same as the Paladin and the Errant. Without upgrades, the Knight Warden even costs exactly the same as a Knight Paladin.

To be honest, I was kind of disappointed to see that the most jaw-dropping (and thus the most suspect) rumors were false. Once I got over that fact, I found that I'm still really excited for the new Knights. They might not be Shadowswords on legs, but they still add a lot of versatility to the army.

The Knight Crusader is built for ranged combat. Its base weapons are the Thermal cannon or rapid-fire battle cannon, a heavy stubber, and the Avenger gatling cannon with built-in heavy flamer. The Avenger gatling cannon is a 36" range, S6, AP3, Heavy 12, Rending weapon. This turned out to be the gun I misidentified as a possible Volcano canon.

The Knight Warden is armed with the Avenger gatling cannon, a heavy stubber, and a Reaper chainsword. For 10 points the chainsword can be replaced with the Thunderstrike gauntlet. This giant power fist is Strength D, AP2, and has the Colossal rule which causes the model fighting with it to strike at Initiative 1. The gauntlet also has the Hurl rule, which allows the model to throw a defeated Monstrous Creature or non-super heavy vehicle at an enemy unit within 12". The result is an AP- Large Blast with a Strength equal to the Creature's Toughness or half the vehicle's front Armor Value, respectively.

Finally there's what I assume to be the Knight Gallant (none of the leaked photos seem to specifically identify it by that name). The Gallant has a Reaper chainsword and a Thunderstrike gauntlet.

Now we get to the upgrades. From what I gather from the German images, the cheapest is the 5 point cost to swap the heavy stubber for a meltagun. Then there are the three carapace weapon options. One is the Twin Icarus autocannon; a twin-linked, 48" range, S7, AP4, Heavy 2, Interceptor, and Skyfire gun for 35 points. For 40 points you can get the Stormspear rocket pod; a 48", S8, AP3, Heavy 3 weapon. Finally, there's the Ironstorm missile pod; a 72" range, S5, AP4, Heavy 1, Large Blast, Barrage weapon for 30 points. Interestingly, it sounds like the Knights Paladin and Errant may also be permitted to take a carapace weapon. One photo shows the Knight Errant Crimson Reaper with an Ironstorm missile pod mounted on it.

At first glance I wasn't particularly impressed by the carapace weapons. Once I thought about it, though, I realized that the fact that they're mounted on Super-heavy Walkers makes them a good deal. Since a Super-heavy can fire its weapons at different targets, each additional weapon is like adding one more unit to the army. Four 40 points you can get almost as many S8, AP3 shots as a Space Marine Devastator Squad can give you. The Ironstorm missile pod is effectively a 30 point Whirlwind tank. And the Twin Icarus autocannon is essentially a Space Marine Stalker tank with half the shots but with the Interceptor rule.

For a Knight Crusader, I'm considering the heavy infantry-busting combination of the Rapid-fire battle cannon, the Avenger gatling cannon, and the Ironstorm missile pod. That's two S8, AP3, Large Blasts, one S5, AP4, Large Blast, and 12 S6, AP3, Rending shots from a single model.

The Models
The models are about 95% identical to the Paladin and Errant. In fact, the White Dwarf says that the new kit has all the sprues needed to build the original models (as I originally suspected). There are a few additions that are kind of neat, though. For those who didn't like putting tiny aquila heads on their Mechanicus-aligned Knights, the new kit has little Cogs Mechanicus. Sadly, since I already have two unbuilt Knights, I won't be able to replace all the aquilas unless the new kit has extras.

The new model kit also adds a rim to the shield on the right side of the torso. And it includes two new faceplates: a Mechanicus one that looks half armored and half organic and a brutish one with a snout.

[Edit 5/1/2015: Make that three new faceplates. A couple leaked photos now show a third new faceplate with a solid upper half and a perforated "mouth guard".]

My Impressions
I had really hoped that this release would include ranged D-weapons, if only to keep up with Eldar. However, if Eldar are removed from the equation, this is actually a very nice release that gives Imperial Knights a lot more variety and allows them to be a full, reasonably well-rounded army. (And leaving ranged D-weapons out of the army makes it easier to keep friends.) It looks like five Knights, a few meltagun upgrades, a Thunderstrike gauntlet here and there, and a few carapace weapons bring the army up to 2000 points.

I also like that there are enough options to give each Knight a specific role in the army. It's easy to see a Knight Gallant with its Reaper chainsword and Thunderstrike gauntlet leading the charge. A Knight Errant and a Knight Warden with their 36" range weapons follow just behind the Gallant, taking out tanks and infantry, respectively. The Knight Paladin with its longer ranged Rapid-fire battle cannon guards their backs. At the rear, a Knight Crusader covers the rest of the army with its ranged weapons.

Unfortunately, I'm now extremely excited about building a Knight army, meaning that there could be a substantial delay in starting my Skitarii army.

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