Codex Chaos Knights: The Crusade Rules Review

Chaos Knights, the coolest, biggest, spikiest robots in the entire 41st millennium, have finally gotten their new crusade rules. Inside are rules for sending your chosen fallen hero down a path of eternal damnation, the standard affair of agendas, requisitions, as well as battle scars and battle honors for both your pilots AND the knight itself. These rules are pretty jam packed so let’s dive in.

Order of Battle Composition

First off are some basic rules basically outlining all the neat things you can do in crusade with your new knights as well as rules for including Dreadblades. Basically if you add a Dreadblade to your Order of Battle then you need to select a Fell Bond for them to adhere to as outlined in the normal rules, pretty simple stuff but it’s nice to have the option there for people to make the order of battle of their dreams where there’s a single knight unit in support of a larger army. 

One little wrinkle here which I was hoping would get resolved with a new book, is that you still need to spend the RP on the Specialist Reinforcements in order to use the Tyrannical Court stratagem in order to upgrade your knight to a character. Most people I know when creating a crusade roster will want a souped up warlord with warlord trait and relic since it’s annoying to factor it in when progressing through crusade naturally. This means that chaos knights players will likely be spending 3 RP on Order of Battle Creation minimum. This is compounded by the fact that pure Chaos Knight armies are going to be VERY RP hungry trying to get to a 100 PL (or 2k) Order of Battle since most people aren’t thrilled about low point games against knights. A lot of armies at that level don’t have the tools to deal with a full knight lance at low level games and I suspect there’ll be some friction there for a lot of pure Chaos Knight players. There are ways for knights to become characters later (through a battle honor) but you’re very likely to want a character at the start

Chaos Knight Lance Credit – Norman

Path to Damnation

Onto the fun stuff! The unique mechanic for Chaos Knights allows you to send your character knights down the path of eternal damnation. Through this they’ll pick up powerful boons and powers as they dedicate themselves to the dark gods. Be warned however, those who walk this path will also gain damnations that will hinder your knights forever.

The way this breaks down is when you start your crusade you can nominate a Chaos Knights model from your Order of Battle to be Damned. They gain a neat little keyword and can begin gaining Damnation Points. Damnation Points can be acquired in a variety of ways, but the most common one is going to be killing enemy units. Depending on the number of units your Damned knight slays in a single battle you get a Damnation Point at the end of the battle. This amount varies depending on the knight class of your Damned model, with War Dogs needing 2, Abhorrent Class knights needing 3 and anything else needing 4. There are other ways to get Damnation Points but more on that later.

So you’ve got some Damnation Points, now what? Well when you gain 3 Damnation Points you traverse to the next circle of damnation  of course! What’s a circle of damnation? Wow, it’s like you haven’t even read the book. The circles are how you track your knight’s progress toward total corruption, and each circle comes with something new you need to add to your knight. The first circle gives you a god appropriate keyword of your choice or the Chaos Undivided keyword. From there you start to gain Pacts of the dark gods. 

These pacts come in 3 different flavors, lesser, greater, and exalted. The lesser pacts are, well, the lesser of the 3 with neat little buffs like a free stratagem once per game depending on which god specific keyword it has via Favored Knight, or (and this is the go to one if you’re manually selecting instead of rolling) Swift Ascension which lets you act as tho you killed one more unit than you actually did when seeing if you earned a Damnation Point at the end of the battle AND decreasing the tally needed to become favored if you have a Favor of the Dark Gods by 5.

The Greater pacts have some cool stand outs too such as +1 to hit in melee and another for +1 to hit in shooting from Mark of Destruction  and The Eightfold Eye respectively. You can also get a free extra Fell Bond for your knight via Echos of damnation.

The good stuff is in the Exalted category though, where you can get The Protection of the Pantheon which makes you able to only take a max of 6 wounds per phase in the first battle round. You can also get Glory to Chaos which lets you fight twice if you kill a unit.

The cool thing about the pacts is that they aren’t linear as you’d expect, you get your first exalted pact in the 3rd circle as well as another at the very end. But interspersed throughout the circles are Damnations which are unavoidable and you cannot get rid of them. Some of these are devastating like Warp Tethered which gives you -2 to move and -1 to advance and charge, or things like Boon of Flesh and Cursed Machine Spirit which makes you gain 2 battle scars from the pilot and knight table respectively (more on that below) which do not count towards your maximum number of battle scars and can never be removed. I think some of these are a bit harsh and may scare people off from interacting with the system, but no one said the path of damnation would be a walk in the park right? The circles are way more favorable to your Damned knight than they are detrimental though with 5 pacts available and only getting 2 damnations along the way

It’s worth noting, these damnations and pacts are NOT battle scars or battle honors but they also take away and give crusade points respectively. This is nice since it’ll stop knights from running away with too much power too early.

Knight Abominant. Credit: Rockfish
Knight Abominant. Credit: Rockfish


The agenda section has some real bangers to add to your tool belt in crusade games. There’s one agenda each that’s specific to Iconoclast and Infernal households with Dark Vows asking you to swear an oath to either kill a lot of dudes, kill big dudes, or hold objectives, and getting xp for how well you do that and Infernal Pact having your opponent set up an objective marker (hell yeah) asking you to retrieve a lost artifact and granting you xp at the end of the game in addition to being able to cure a battle scar.

There’s an agenda for your Damned models called Praise the Dark Gods which wants you to shout about how cool your chosen god is by performing a full round action, if you perform the action twice all the Damned models in your army gain 2 XP, if you do it three times they get 3 XP and a model that did the action gets a Damnation Point. This ones a bit rough since your Damned models are likely to be your big knight and since he can get shot from anywhere on the board standing there all round and yelling is likely not the best use of your 500 points.

Extermination is the only universal Agenda you can always take and only gives xp. All you gotta do is table your opponent and everyone left gets 4 XP. This one rocks.

The last agenda, Dread Mercenary, is one specifically for dreadblades asking them to do mission stuff like killing dudes or standing near objective markers. If they do a good job they get 3 XP. If they do a REALLY good job you 5 xp and a battle honor of your choice or the ability to become damned. This is really cool but requires your dreadblade to basically hold the entire mission on their backs but gives you a nice halfway point if you can’t get the full tallies


No crusade section would be complete without your page of requisitions. Most of these are standard but the section does have a reminder that the Repair and Recuperate requisition from the core book costs 2 RP for titanic models. Yet another reason to horde as much RP as possible.

First up we have Dark Infamy which costs 1 RP lets you give a knight with 71 or more XP an additional Battle Trait or if it’s a psyker an additional Psychic Fortitude. This is neat but sorta a nothing requisition, although to be fair if there’s a faction in which you’ll have 71 XP on a single unit relatively quickly its knights. 

Forge a New Destiny of Terror besides having a kick ass name, lets you turn one of your knights into a Dreadblade. It loses its Dread Household keyword and gains the Dreadblade one in addition to a new Fell Bond and if it’s Battle-Hardened while also being Damned it gains a Lesser Pact without having to increase its crusade points! It’s cool, it’s flavorful and the extra free traits are a nice touch.

Path to Damnation lets you make a new knight Damned and if it already is you get a free Damnation Point by using this requisition when it levels up. It’s nice that it gives people opportunities to buy Damnation Points but your RP is probably better spent elsewhere.

Chosen of the Gods is an interesting one. It lets you change the Pantheon Undivided keyword with any of the god keywords. So if you want Blessing of the Dark Master but you also want the Nurgle keyword to partner with your Death Guard more easily you have a way to do it!

Dark Favour is how you get Favours in your crusade force and requires that the model be Damned and are Battle Hardened rank or higher. Since through the Damnation process you can get a god keyword, you’re locked to the Favors appropriate to that keyword (for example Nurgle models can only take the Putrid Carapace, Blessing of a Thousand Poxes, and Aura of Corruption)

Closing us out we have Infernal Transfer which lets you transfer your pilot to a new knight when it gains a Battle Scar. The new unit gets all the xp of the old one and all the pilot specific traits and scars the old one had in addition to all the Damnation stuff it had. This is an interesting one since its potentially a way to slow grow your crusade by letting a character you have in an armiger transfer to a bigger knight when your Order of Battle is ready for it. That said it requires you to roll a 1 on the out of action test which is far from guaranteed, especially if you’re avoiding it.


Scuttling Dread
Chaos War Dog. Credit – Norman


When it comes to failing your Out of Action test and ending up with a Battle Scar, you first need to work out if it’s the Fallen Noble or the Chaos Knight Suit that gets it in the neck.

Fallen Noble Battle Scars range from the mildly unpleasant Treacherous where at the beginning of your Command Phase, rolling a 5+ means you miss out on your Battle-forged CP bonus for that phase. Far more unplease results such Torture Throne which subtracts 1 from your hit roll in the Fight Phase in the turn that you charged and Symbiotic Sight subtracts 1 from your hit roll when shooting at units more than 12” away. Both of these will really hamper your spiky robot friend. Lastly you have the down right mean and crippling Despised which caps you out at a maximum of 2 XP per battle and cannot be Marked for Greatness.

On the upside, the Fallen Noble scars are far more forgiving than the Chaos Knight Suit Battle Scars with each one begging you to spend your precious Requisition on Repair and Recuperate to get rid of these pronto.

Beanith: This is assuming of course that you’re not a coward that uses Devastating Blow every time to avoid this little hiccup.

Defiant Machine Spirit means you won’t be Heroically Intervening anymore and your Aura is also reduced by 3” Festering Servos reduces your Attack characteristic by 1 and Corrupted Ion Generator reduces your Invulnerable saving throw by 1. Damaged Auto-loader reduces the range of all your ranged weapons by 4” and stops indirect fire weapons from targeting units not in view.

Beanith: My pick of the bunch is Volatile Reactor where at the start of EACH Morale phase, roll one D6 and on a 1 you suffer 1 or D3 Mortal wounds depending on if you’re a Pupper or a Chonky Lad.


The Traits section is massive with 18 traits to choose from split across 4 tables; Pilot traits, suit traits, iconoclast traits, and infernal traits. 

Let’s start with the Fallen Noble Traits, the highlights from which include

  • Conqueror of Worlds which lets you get an extra requisition point on a 4+ at the end of the battle. Multiple instances of this don’t stack unfortunately, they just give you more chances to get the bonus point. Still very helpful for getting more characters in your roster.
  • Arch-Fiend makes the knight a Character and lets it perform 6” Heroic Interventions. More characters means more Damned knights so this is real good
  • Profane Prophesy which gets you 2 extra xp if you’re Marked for Greatness and an extra Damnation Point if it’s Damned. This’ll get you to the 8th circle of damnation no problem.

Next up we have the Chaos Knight Suit Traits which has such hits as:

  • Unholy Vitality which lets you count as double wounds to see if you are bracketed and lets you reroll Out of Action tests. Keeping your knights in the fight for longer is always good so this one is welcome.
  • Headless of Destruction lets your knights shoot right into combat with no penalties. If they shoot a blast weapon and roll any 1’s to hit they take mortal wounds. This lets you be much more aggressive with your Knight Tyrants with all their guns and such.
  • And lastly we have Graven Hull which lets you add 1 to saving throws against 1 damage weapons. This helps your knights shrug off those incidental wounds from bolters and stuff and will almost always be valuable.

The Infernal Household Traits are exclusive to, you guessed it, Infernal Household knights. There’s only 3 traits here:

  • Warp Fire Reactor which enhances your Daemonic Surge ability by letting you select a second result when using the table. Note that I said “select”, this means you can roll a random result and pick the one you wanted for the specific situation all for the price of a mortal wound.
  • Engine of Spite is a super mean one, which has your opponents add 1 to their Out of Action tests and lets you gain a Damnation Point whenever they fail their tests. This is a surefire way to make the people in your crusade hate you since it effectively doubles their chances of getting battle scars, but bullying is actually very cool so everyone should take this as much as they can.
  • Rounding us out we have Infernal Dread which adds 3” to your Dread Range when you use your Daemonic Surge. This is solid but man Engine of Spite is so cool.

Last up we have the Iconoclast Household Traits available to the other half of the knight factions:

  • Knight of Blades lets you ignore any modifiers to your weapon skill and reroll hit rolls of 1 in melee. Based on the rider for House Herpatrax I think ignoring modifiers includes bracketing in which case this rules very hard. If not, still very cool.
  • Relentless Destroyer lets you ignore modifiers for advance and charge rolls and lets you consolidate an extra 3”. Since Titanic models often ignore difficult ground (if the feature is less than 3” tall) this is kinda nothing, the extra 3” consolidate is nice I guess.
  • Gloryseeker gives you hit rerolls against Vehicles and Monsters and gives you an extra Damnation Point if you kill a Titanic model. This one’s really helpful and rocks for knight duels.
Credit: Games Workshop


This may be one of the best crusade relics sections that Games Workshop has ever printed. Looking through these there wasn’t a single one I wouldn’t want on my twisted engine of destruction.

Out of the gate in the Artificer relics section (any rank can take these) we have the Damned Crucible, which gives a Damned knight a free lesser pact and on top of that whenever they gain a Damnation Point at the end of the battle, on a 4+ they gain another one. This is probably a mandatory early get for knights on the Path to Damnation to speed run your way through the circles.

Next up we have Craahdekh’s Throne of Sacrifice, which lets a Damned model with a favor start the game with their favored ability. This is unbelievably strong in some situations, like making sure a Karnivore can advance and charge turn 1 with the Quicksilver Throne or starting with the full defensive abilities from the Blessing of the Dark Master which is great if you lose the roll off.

The last of the Artificer relics are The Harbinger’s Chains which makes enemy units in dread range auto fail their dread tests if they roll doubles. The dread abilities are super powerful when they go off so anything that helps them happen more consistently is helpful.

Kicking off the Antiquity Relics section (obtainable with Heroic rank or higher), we have the Shades of Ruin which gives a PTERRORSHADES model from your army (basically any of the new knights) -2 to be charged and as a cherry on top if an enemy unit fails a charge against this knight they take a mortal wound for their trouble as the birds peck them really really hard. This rocks, no notes.

The Icon of Damnation is probably the least exciting of the bunch, but still useful, allowing you to regain d6 lost wounds once per battle in a command phase. The big issue for this is using your cool once per game relic to regain 1 wound will suck and there’s probably better battle honors out there to gain.

There’s just a single Legendary Relic and it’s a doozy. The Helm of the Dreadknight lets you pick a melee or ranged weapon whenever you fight or shoot respectively and if you roll a 6 to wound with that weapon you do a number of mortal wounds equal to the damage characteristic. This is so so so cool, especially when you remember the Mirror of Fates favor exists and you can consistently make one of your wounds an automatic 6 one per turn. This on a Knight Desecrator with The Diamonas and a big fist with this combo is gonna be a terrifying thing on the board.

Knight Tyrant. Credit – Norman

Adding a Knight to your existing Crusade Force

As described above, adding a Dreadblade to your order of battle is pretty simple but the system allows for some really fluffy (and potentially effective) armies. For example you can take a Knight Rampager or really any knight that wants to be near enemies with the Aura of Corruption Dark Blessing and Hellforged Construction for its bond with your Death Guard for some stacking toughness debuffs (toughness 2 marines!) and some mini Disgustingly Resilient. You can also include a Knight Abominant or any knight with the Tzeentchian Pyrothrone Dark Blessing to add the psychic mayhem. You may not get psychic dreadnoughts but psychic knights are pretty great. One thing this book really lets you do well is make highly flavorful and effective knights while also not getting in the main army’s way. The options are endless for really cool flavorful support and the book has a ton of Dreadblade support in it of itself.

Final Thoughts

Norman: These rules rock incredibly hard. There’s so much fun stuff to play around with and it really individualizes every knight in your army, giving them their own path toward corruption. I wish they had addressed the sheer amount of RP it costs to manage this army but its not that much different than it was before this book, you just have to stay at low points for longer than you’d like, or be part of a campaign that manually increases your Order of Battle. That all said I can’t wait to get my corrupted knights on the field and have these dumb idiots start their trip to the 8th circle.

Beanith: Out of the two Knight Codexs, this one squeaks out a narrow win for me. I’m not too concerned about the RP costs involved with either book with I much prefer to celebrate the individual achievements by waiting for my robots to do something noteworthy and earn a Warlord Trait or a Relic with the added benefit or making life easier for Combat Patrol and Incursion level games. I’m looking forward to finding room in Stinky Steeve’s Fun Time Crusade Roster (my Death Guard) to take a big stompy Knight Abominant and seeing how quickly I can cripple the poor thing with a dozen battle scars.