9th Edition Faction Focus: Chaos Knights

An article by    Gaming Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

9th edition is here and with it a host of new rules, points, and FAQs that have completely changed the game. In today’s Faction Focus, Shane Watts is talking about Chaos Knights – how they’ve changed in the new edition and how they play. So settle in and get comfortable as we dive into everything you need to know.

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The Points Updates

In expected fashion for 9th edition, almost every one of the Chaos Knights’ units went up in cost. For the most part, these changes were in-line with the changes for other factions, though there are a couple of exceptions we’ll talk about.

War Dogs went up around 10 points each, except for the Autocannon-toting variant, which got close to a 20-point increase for reasons that we’ll likely never be able to discern. One thing to note, the Graviton Pulsar that War Dog Moirax can equip was missing from the new 9th edition points, so it doesn’t seem like they can be used at the moment, which I am sure is just a mistake on GWs part.

The Knight Despoiler variants all went up, with the sharpest increase to Thermal Cannons and now you’ll pay a points premium if you want to take double gatling cannons – a pair of Avenger Gatling cannons costs 200 points, compared to 90 for a single. Even with the largest point increase, the double Thermal variant remains the cheapest of the double gun variants.

The Rampager and double melee Despoiler both went up only slightly, making them a bit more efficient compared to the field.

The Knight Tyrant went up slightly. This wouldn’t normally be an issue except that the Tyrant’s loyalist counterpart, the Knight Castellan, went down in cost thanks to its guns becoming free. This is likely an oversight but it’s a pretty unfortunate one.

The Cerastus Knights and 2 big’uns – the Prophyrion and the Asterius – went up, but not significantly so.

 

Chaos Knight. Credit: Mike Bettle-Shaffer

The FAQ

The FAQ helped Chaos Knights a ton. The rules to move over models have drastically changed; now the Titanic Chaos Knight units can move over enemy units (except for VEHICLE and MONSTER units) when doing a normal move, an advance, or making a Fall Back move. This means that one of the main tactics of move blocking a Knight with a cheap screen in order to prevent it from moving, is more or less dead. Freeing up the movement phase for Knights is a big deal and will better enable them to actively focus on getting onto objectives. This ability to more easily move over enemy models directly improves the House Lucaris Stratagem Trample Them, because now you will actually get more opportunities to use it (vs only being able to use it when falling back over infantry/swarm).

When it comes to Chaos Knight abilities that came out of Engine War, the Endless Torment custom Household trait received a clarification in that it allows re-rolling the number of shots per weapon, so a double thermal knight with an Ironstorm can re-roll the number of shots for all three weapons. (The wording wasn’t clear on whether it was by unit or by weapon pre-faq.) While this isn’t exactly a change, the clarification is certainly nice to have, and it’s a ruling in our favor.

 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Secondary Objectives (and how they make Chaos Knights cry)

Secondary Objectives are one of the big changes to 9th edition missions. To ITC veterans they’ll be conceptually familiar, but there are a lot of differences between these secondaries and the set you’re used to. Let’s go ahead and examine each secondary in the 2020 GT Missions pack, and how we can mitigate/achieve them. You choose three of these before the game begins, and you can only choose one from each category. Some of these are better for Chaos Knights than others, and some are just completely not feasible without souping in units from other factions.

Battlefield Supremacy

Domination: Score 3 points at the end of your turn if you control more than half the objectives. With most of the missions being 5/6 objectives, this means typically you will need to hold 3 or 4 objectives at the end of your turn. This seems like it is potentially doable in early turns of the game, but will get progressively harder as the game goes on. If you soup in some objective grabbing units, this becomes a lot more feasible. This objective also gives you end-of-turn scoring, which can help mitigate going second. (Good.)

Engage On All Fronts: Similar to Recon for 8th ed ITC scoring. Score 2 points if you have units wholly within 3 different quarters of the battlefield (6″ away from the center) at the end of your turn, if you have units wholly within all 4 quarters score 3 points instead. Fitting a Knight wholly into a quarter is kind of a pain in the ass, but can be achieved. However again without having some souped units, being in all 4 quarters, especially for multiple turns, is going to be rough. Getting some points is easy, but maxing is going to be hard, if not impossible. (Ok.)

Linebreaker: Score 4 points for having 2 units wholly within the enemy deployment zone at the end of your turn. Being “wholly within” is hard (as just mentioned above) for such a large base, and generally if you are souping in some objective holders, they are going to be in your backfield, so this doesn’t seem very good in general.  (Just no.)

No Mercy, No Respite

Thin Their Ranks: Score 1 point for every 10 models killed (10 points if that model was 10+ wounds). The current primary objective emphasizes durable units holding objectives, so a shift to elite durable units and vehicles is expected. When you tack that on to the fact you more or less need to kill 150 models to max this secondary, it seems fairly unrealistic to take. If you face an Ork/Tyranid horde with a ton of bodies this could work. Additionally, we don’t exactly have very many ways to deal a lot of shots/attacks (Lightning Locks, Battle Cannons, Iconoclast stomps), so this would be hard to achieve anyway and it competes with Grind Them Down. (Pass.)

Grind Them Down: Score 3 points at the end of the battle round if more enemy units were destroyed than friendly units. With having a low unit count, that is generally durable, this is a pretty solid pick. If you soup and can protect those units via hiding etc, this is probably one of the most reliable secondaries Chaos Knights can pick. (Pretty good.)

While We Stand, We Fight: Identify the 3 highest point-cost models in your army. For each of those 3 models that are alive at the end of the battle, score 5 points. So we don’t want our big Knights to die, but expecting all 3 of our most costly to survive a whole game is fairly unrealistic. Getting 5 points from this is realistic, but not 10/15, unless you practically tabled your opponent early in the game. (Not Good.)

Purge The Enemy

Titan Hunter: Score 10 points for destroying an enemy Titanic unit, 12 points if 2 or more were destroyed, and 15 if 3 or more was destroyed. Well the good news is, if you run into another Knights army, this should work well for you. The bad news is, everyone will take this against you. (Good vs Knights sadly.)

Bring It Down: Score 2 points for every enemy Vehicle/Monster destroyed with 10 or less wounds, 3 points for a Vehicle/Monster with 11+ wounds. If you are facing a list with a bunch of Vehicles/Monsters this is a solid choice for obvious reasons. If your opponents list fits the bill, this should be an easy 8+ points. (Good.)

Cut Off The Head: Score points depending on the turn that the enemy warlord was destroyed (13/10/6/3/1). If you brought a Tyrant, this could happen with the missile snipe, but is still very risky. (High Risk, High reward, if you brought a Tyrant.)

Assassinate: Score 3 points for every enemy character destroyed. Most armies are rocking 2-5 characters, so depending on the opponent, this can be fairly reliable. With the new Look Out, Sir targeting rules for characters, this is easier to achieve as well, but still reliant on being able to get at your opponents characters. Combos well with Abhor The Witch(Good.)

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Shadow Operations

Raise The Banners High:  Infantry unit performs action on an objective starting at the end movement and completing at end of your turn. Banners are destroyed at the end of any phase that your opponent controls that objective. During your command phase, score 1 point per objective with a banner on it and 1 point per banner remaining at the end of the game. Well the good news is, you can entirely forget about this secondary unless you brought soup-ed infantry, and since I would imagine they’ll be in the backfield, you more than likely won’t have more than 2 banners up at a time. The upside is that any banners you put up, will probably stay, since your opponent will have to get past the knights to tear them down. (Ok, with the right soup.)

Investigate Sites: Non-character infantry unit performs action at the end of movement within 6″ of the center of the battlefield with no enemy units within 6″ of the center, completes at end of you turn. Score 3 points each time this action is completed. With the discussion for Raise The Banners High, this is even harder to achieve and riskier as well, so probably not good.  (Not good.)

Deploy Scramblers: Non-character infantry unit performs action at end of movement phase, once wholly within your deployment zone, once more than 6″ away from either deployment zone, and once wholly within enemy deployment zone, completes at end of your turn. Score 10 points if all 3 pieces are completed, zero otherwise. I see a theme of, we don’t really have the tools, and with part of this objective relying on an infantry unit completing an action in the enemy deployment zone, even with soup this probably isn’t going to happen. (Pass.)

Teleport Homer: Infantry unit performs action at the end of the movement phase, while wholly within the enemy deployment zone, and completes at the end of your next command phase. Score 4 points each time it is completed. As said throughout this section, already our weak point in needing infantry, and being in the enemy deployment zone with 2 units seems very unrealistic. (Pass.)

Warpcraft

Abhor The Witch: If your army contains no Psykers, Score 5 points for every enemy Psyker character destroyed, 3 points for non character Psyker units. This secondary is Amazing – if you run into Grey Knights, Thousand Sons, or other Chaos lists, assuming you didn’t soup in your own Psyker (or you take the Tzeentchian Pyrothrone relic). (Super Good, if your opponent has 2+ psykers and you have none.)

Mental Interrogation: Psyker character performs psychic action (Warp Charge 4) within 18″ of any enemy character model, score 3 points. If you decide to make one of your knights a Psyker with the Tzeentchian Pyrothrone or soup in a Psyker, this should be fairly simple to achieve in the earlier turns. With only scoring 3 points per action, you need to do this every turn to max, which seems like it won’t happen that often, unless you bring quite a few Psykers. Keep in mind that enemy Psykers can still use Deny The Witch to stop this action. (Good, if you brought a Psyker.)

Psychic Ritual: Psyker character performs psychic action (Warp Charge 3) within 6″ of the center of the battlefield. Score 15 points if completed 3 times, zero otherwise. A few concerns arise here, one of which is the need to be near the center of the table, which is an issue if there is no objectives nearby. Secondly, an enemy Psyker can deny this. So if your opponent is able to keep you away from the center and/or deny it multiple times, you are going to lose out entirely on this secondary. (High Risk, High Reward.)

Pierce The Veil: Psyker character performs psychic action (Warp Charge 4) within 6″ of enemy’s battlefield edge and more than 6″ away from enemy units. Score 8 points if completed 2-3 times, or 15 if completed 4+. This is like Psychic Ritual, but almost harder in every way. Having a more difficult position to get to, and having to cast 1 more time for the 15 points, this seems like an auto pass, especially since our Psykers will have a hard time getting into position for this. (Pass.)

 

How They Play

With 9th edition, we have a new mission format and for the most part these revolve around holding objectives, which is not exactly what Chaos Knights are known for. Additionally the secondary objectives don’t play very well into a Chaos Knight list (and there is one that is directly targeted at us), so the ways one wins the game aren’t going to be easy either. The new terrain changes are slighted against us as well, but with high movement being able to draw line of sight around obscuring terrain should be feasible.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, the FAQ changes discussed above really open up the movement capabilities of Knights. In 8th edition move blocking Knights to keep them off objectives and away from gun line style units was very easy to do (nothing more frustrating that 5 scouts moving out hands across America style, and making your Knight incapable of moving forward on your turn).

These things in mind, you’ll need to craft a list to take advantage of the missions. Having big Knights to create forward board pressure and keep your opponent off objectives will be key, and having units in the backfield on objectives in order to score your own (which means either Souped in units, or War Dogs, or both).

If we focus on how to score Primary objectives, it doesn’t look too bad. In all but 2 of the GT packet missions, if you hold 2 objectives you’ll score 10 points primary (15 for hold more if you managed to keep your opponent off objectives during their turn). Holding 2 objectives for four turns is 40 of the 45 maximum points you can score, which is really doable over the course of the game. This is especially easy if you decide to soup in some objective holders, but can also be achieved by a pure Chaos Knights List.

In a pure Chaos Knights list, you will need to double down (use 2 units) to hold onto any objectives that your opponent can shoot you off of, however you are easily able to bully your opponents’ objectives. If you can combine a solid backfield/midfield objective(s) holding, and can use your big knights to keep your opponent off of their objectives you should be able to score more points for Primary than them. Also taking the Infernal Quest Warlord Trait gives you an ObSec Knight, that when combined with trying to bully your opponent off objectives, can easily take an objective away from your opponent for a turn or 2.

 

Credit: WhiteOutMouse

Sample Lists

Khomentis Annihilator and Friends

Super Heavy Detachment (Free because of WL in detachment)
Castigator (Warlord with Dread Hunter WL Trait)
Despoiler w/2x thermal
Despoiler w/2x thermal
Dreadblade Despoiler w/chainsword, gauntlet (Rune of Nak’T’Graa relic, Infernal Quest Warlord trait extra trait)

Red Corsairs Patrol (Free because 2 CSM units in detachment)
Master of Executions
5 Chaos Space Marines
5 Chaos Space Marines

This list gives you a little backfield objective holding in addition to unlocking the capability to use Raise the Banners High (although I wouldn’t vs enemy artillery for sure, just pay attention to the match up). One other neat trick you have here, is that with the inclusion of the Dreadblade, you can use the 5++ invuln in close combat relic, in addition to the fact that the Infernal Quest Warlord Trait makes your Dreadblade Obsec and count as 10 models. With a melee knight load out, this Dreadblade will want to scream across the table anyway, and with it having the Obsec rule, you stand a good chance at messing up your opponents game plan for holding objectives. (Since this is an Infernal household, you can get +2″ Movement and +1 to advance/charge with the Infernal bonus, and if you choose the Daemonic Vigor Dreadblade Pact there is a 50% chance you are at another +2″ Movement. So with an advance you’d be moving 18″ to 23″ before a charge using Full Tilt.) Will this Dreadblade die? Yes, but he will score points in the process.

Alternatively you can swap out the Red Corsairs Patrol, for a Daemons Patrol that costs 2CP with 2 squads of Nurglings and a Poxbringer. This gives you some more deployment options via the Nurglings, but since Nurglings aren’t infantry, they won’t be doing any actions.

Iconoclast Custom Household (Endless Torment Household Trait)

Super Heavy Detachment (Free because of WL in detachment)
Despoiler w/2x thermal, ironstorm (Warlord)
Despoiler w/2x thermal, ironstorm
Despoiler w/2x thermal, ironstorm
Moirax w/2x lightning locks
Moirax w/2x lightning locks
Moirax w/2x lightning locks

With the changes to points, effectively this list from 8th edition loses 2 War Dogs. It might be a bit more meme-y with the mission changes, but I wanted to include it. The clarification in the FAQ on Endless Torment allows for the Despoiler shooting to be maximized which is pretty cool. There is also enough points lying around that you can swap up to 2 of the Ironstorm hats for Stormspear hats if you so chose.

 

Outlook: Not Great

While I think Chaos Knights will struggle with the current 9th edition mission format, I think that with getting some games in you will be able to play Chaos Knights competitively once you learn how to make them work with the mission objectives in mind.

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