Codex Imperial Knights: The Crusade Rules Review

Honour! Chivalry! Huge Robots with more guns than sense! If any of these sound cool then you’re in for a treat with the Imperial Knights Crusade rules. Inside you’ll find rules for keeping your noble house in order, questing throughout the galaxy, and levelling up your nobles as well as their mighty steeds.

Sworn to a Quest

Quests! You all knew this was going to be here, because they’re Knights, and Knights love Quests, and also it’s a pretty obvious story hook for a bunch of Knights running around doing Knightly things.

As with all good things in life, your first taste of the Questsworn life is free – if your Crusade roster has any Imperial Knights models on it when you create it, you pick one of them to become Questsworn, which basically means they get to interact with this section of the rules. This isn’t the only way to shove that keyword on a Knight – this will be where a good chunk of your RP goes – so you’ll have plenty to track as your force develops.

Questsworn Knights need a Quest, and you’ve got six to choose from. In order to complete the quest, you have to either complete the associated agenda from this book or (for all but one of them, anyway) complete an alternate objective. Some of these are just other Agendas – Assail the Foe has you choose between either gaining 1XP from the Knight-specific Sally Forth agenda or gaining 3XP from the core rules’ Dealers of Death – while others have more peculiar requirements. Take To Slay a Tyrant, which requires a Knight to either complete the Slayers of Beasts agenda or gain a Weapon Enhancement from the core rules. But my favourite here is Settle a Grudge, which charges the Knight who accepts it either with going big-game hunting with the Honour Must Be Satisfied agenda or, if it has at least one Battle Scar, surviving through at least two more games without removing those scars.

Once you’ve completed your Knightly Deed, you now need to rack up some Glory points while avoiding Shame points. Gain 3 Glory points and complete your quest’s deed to pick up a Knightly Quality: a sort of super-charged Battle Honour that combines an always-on ability and an Honour Extremis ability – a once-per-game power that can really swing things in your favor if used at the right time. There are nine here, and they’re largely pretty cool. Superior Duellist subtracts 1 from hit rolls against the Knight, and lets them interrupt in the Fight Phase once per game for free. Death Before Dishonour gives your Knight the ability to prevent enemies from falling back from it if you win a roll-off, and can drop d3+3 mortal wounds on a unit that even tries to fall back once per game. And Marksman’s Pride gives you some longer-ranged power, allowing your ranged attacks to automatically wound on an unmodified 6 to hit, and letting you turn off a unit’s ability to Overwatch or Set to Defend for a round and imposing a -1 to hit in its next shooting phase when you hit it once per game.

The Qualities table is pretty neat, and largely worth the effort to get them. Crucially, while they generally do the sort of things you’d expect from a Battle Honour, they aren’t Battle Honours and don’t count toward the maximum number you can have. In other words, your Knights can still pick them up even if they’ve reached Legendary status, which is pretty neat. Instead, the cap comes from the way they’re laid out on the page: there are three categories, and each Knight can have one from each category. And if your Knight completes a quest but already has all three qualities allowed? Your force gains an RP instead, which is pretty neat.

There’s a downside to using the Honour Extremis abilities, though: at the end of the game, if you used any of them, you lose an Honour point, which means that if you want to finish the game as Virtuous, you’ll need to finish with a full 6 points. Not the worst penalty, but as your force gains experience and develops, it can quickly become a real pain.

Of course, not all Knights are particularly good at questing, and there are rules for those jerks as well. Knights who don’t perform well – or who give up on a quest to start fresh on a new one – gain Shame points. If a Knight racks up 3 Shame points before picking up a Quality, they’ll gain a Burden instead. These work basically the same as Qualities, except they’re bad, and you should feel bad if you get one.

Racking up Glory and Shame is pretty straightforward – depending on whether you finished the game Dishonoured, Honourable, or Virtuous on the Oaths table, your Knights gain Glory or Shame appropriately. Units with more XP don’t gain anything for finishing as Honourable, and Heroic and Legendary Knights get extra Shame for finishing Dishonoured.

All in all, this isn’t the most complicated faction-specific mechanic out there, and it rewards you for doing the Knightly things you were probably already doing. The Qualities and Burdens are cool and fluffy additions, and you’ve got to put enough effort into them to where it’ll feel like a meaningful effort invested into attempting each quest. All in all, a solid narrative hook, if not unexpected.

Imperial Knight Lance. Credit: Jack Hunter


Imperial Knights have six agendas to pick from. The first is Paragons of Honour which gives every knight in your army 1 XP if you finish the game Virtuous and allows you to remove a Shame point from a knight in your army. If you finish the game Dishonoured however, you cannot select anyone for Marked For Greatness

Next up is Honour Must Be Satisfied which has you pick a Questsworn knight from your army to hunt the thing worth the most points in the enemy army (interestingly not power level). The earlier in the game you kill it, the better the XP reward is but if you fail to kill it all together that model gains a Shame point. As they should.

Martian Pact is specific to Questor Mechanicus armies. It has you give up 2 CP to take it and is your standard “your opponent places an objective marker on the map and you have to do an action near it” secondary. If you complete the full round action then you get some XP (3 if it’s an armiger, 4 if it’s a big boy) and 2 RP. Not ideal in a tense game but very fluffy for the knights to be artefact hunting for their Mechanicus friends.

On the other side of the same coin we have Imperial Petition which also has you give up 2 CP to take it and has you try and secure objective markers outside your deployment zone using an action. Luckily this action starts in your Command Phase and ends at the beginning of your Shooting Phase so all you sacrifice is movement. It’s worth noting that on missions where there are 3 or less objective markers it has your opponent set up more until you hit 4. Armigers get 2 XP per time they did the action and big lads get 3 and if you completed the action on 2 different objective markers.

Sally Forth has you keep tallies as you kill enemy units while outside your deployment zone, gaining 2 tallys if you’re in your opponent’s deployment zone, giving you an XP per tally. This is a nice simple one and is nice since you’ll probably not want to be in your deployment zone anyway.

Lastly we have Slayer of Beasts which is another tally based agenda, tracking how many vehicles and monsters you kill, giving you two bonus tallies if the target was killed in melee and/or if the target was titanic. This one gives you XP equal to your tally divided by two. Another simple nice one and synergizes nicely with some of the other things in this book that wants you killing things in melee.


Specialist Reinforcements isn’t technically in this book, but you’re going to use it a lot for Imperial Knights. A lot of the coolest stuff in this book triggers off of the CHARACTER keyword, but unlike in matched play, you don’t get a free Character by taking a detachment. Instead, you have to spend 1RP to use the Knight Baron stratagem. Well, half of it, anyway: it’ll make your Knight a CHARACTER, but if you want a Warlord trait for it, you’ll have to buy that separately. This isn’t the only way to make a Knight a character, but it is the easiest. Just keep in mind that you’re going to want at least 1RP freed up whenever you add a new model to your roster.

As for requisitions that are actually unique to the faction, Exiled makes a Knight of your choice into a Freeblade, replacing its Household’s Martial Tradition with one from the custom trait tables. Unlike most Freeblade units, it gets to keep any Exalted Court upgrades it has, but they’ll only affect Freeblade units rather than the Household they came from. What really sets this apart, though is the cost: it usually costs 1RP, but if the unit has at least two battle scars on its shee, it’s free.

Oathsworn Bondsman gives one of your Armigers its own personal hype-robot in the form of a real Knight: choose an Armiger and a Titanic model, and the Armiger becomes an Oathsworn Bondsman to that Knight, letting it use the Command Re-roll stratagem for free so long as it’s within 12” of its boss. There’s a tradeoff, though: you can’t mark an Oathsworn Bondsman for greatness, but at the end of the day this is probably a trade worth making.

Quests are neat, and the Knightly Quest requisition lets you quest harder. If the Knight you used it on isn’t already Questsworn, it is now. If it was Questsworn, it gains a Glory point instead, getting you closer to picking up a nifty Quality. One other thing makes this unique amongst unit-upgrade requisitions: you don’t have to wait for a rank-up to use it. Instead, you can slap this bad boy on a Knight any time it takes a Battle Scar, helping you manage your Quests when it counts.

Armiger Warglaives. Credit: Kevin Genson

Crusade Relics

Knights that go on so many quests are bound to have some cool artefacts that they found along the way. It’s worth noting here that as a knight character you don’t have access to nearly as many crusade relics in the core book as an average character since they’re usually infantry locked, making these a welcome addition As standard there are three different types of crusade relics in this section; Artificer (any rank), Antiquity (heroic and higher), and Legendary (legendary rank (duh)).

First up in the Artificer relics category we have Electrothaumic Shields which gives you a 6 up invulnerable save in melee and  it can bounce back attacks in the form of a mortal wound on an unmodified save roll of 6 to a max of 3 mortals. Next we have the Oathbreaker Guidance System which lets your sidearm weapons (various stubbers, flamer on the chainsword, etc) ignore Look Out Sir. Lastly we have The Equerry’s Vox which promotes an Armiger to middle management and lets them share a Bondsmen ability they receive with another armiger within 6”. Nothing here is particularly game breaking but if you combine the Oathbreaker Guidance System with the right weapon upgrades for your sidearms you can get some cool character sniping going. While The Equerry’s Vox seems very useful, it requires that armiger to be a character which as discussed above isn’t exactly easy to accomplish and you likely want your big knights to be characters first.

In the Antiquity relics category we just have the Laurels of Victory which lets the knight who bears it gain an Honoured Chivalric ability for the battle round in your command phase if your army is Dishonoured. It also lets you ignore a Burden if you have one and a five up feel no shame (if you would gain a Shame point on a 5 up you don’t) for good measure.  

Lastly, in Legendary we have the Honour’s Aegis which caps the number of wounds the knight can take per phase by 8 if your army is Honoured and 6 if your army is Virtuous. This is an ability knights players having been craving since it was introduced in the game so obviously this relic is going to be sought after

Battle Traits

Well this section promises to be a doozy with 18 possible traits for all of your robot friends and their pilots. When your Imperial Knight gains a level, you start out (assuming you’re not some chump that chooses their results) by rolling a D6 and seeing if it’s the Pilot that gains a skill or the Knight itself.

Knight Pilots gain access to 6 possible Battle Traits such as:

  • Pious Pilot which allows them to Deny the Witch once per turn.
  • Knight Commander grants them the Character keyword if they don’t already have it, saving you a little bit of Requisition if you get lucky. It also increases any Aura or Bondsman abilities they might have by 3” 
  • Path of Honour increases the experience gained from being Marked for Greatness by 2 experience points. Plus if the model is Questsworn, each time it is Marked for Greatness you will gain 1 Glory point as well.

Freeblade Pilots only have 3 possible Battle Traits to choose from:

  • Guardian of the Frontier grants you a +1 to your Strength and Attack characteristics if the model is in engagement range of any enemy unit with 6 or more models.
  • Exiled Scion will add the Keyword of a Noble Household to that model allowing you to be able to take the Noble Household Warlord Trait and Stratagem associated with that keyword. This will not however, give you access to the Martial Traditions of that Noble Household or their Heirloom Relics.

As for the Knights themselves, there are 3 traits each for the Armiger-class, Questoris-class and Dominus-class with some of my favourites being:

  • Questoris-class knights can have Sanctified Armour which grants the model the ability to ignore mortal wounds on a 5+ which can be improved to a 4+ if your army is Virtuous.
  • Armiger-class knights can get Aggressive Persecution. This tasty little ability will make trying to fall back from this Armiger a nightmare for when an enemy unit does fall back during the enemy movement phase, on a 4+ you can make a normal 6” move or shoot at the unit that fell back. You obviously can’t move back into engagement range of an enemy unit but you could make some interesting moves onto objectives or move out of line of sight.
  • Dominus-class knights could take Withering Fire which will increase the odds of units that it destroys failing its Out of Action test by subtracting 1 from the result. This is fine because they could also end up with Ionic Shieldwall which lets them use the Rotate Ion Shields/Ion Aegis Stratagems for free once per battle which is dull as dishwater.
Baroness Altria Pend-Tokage, Imperial Knight. Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

Battle Scars

Beanith: Not gonna lie, I’m a tiny bit disappointed this section won’t be a complete cut and paste job from the Codex Chaos Knights Crusade Rules because I’m behind on my Napping quota and that Hammock won’t swing by itself. There are some similar effects of course but there’s enough difference with the rest that we can let this slide.

Much like their spikier counterparts, Battle Scars can be dealt to either the Knight Pilot or the Knight Suit with each chart having 6 different results ranging from “I can work around this” to “Windmill slam that Repair and Recuperate Requisition ASAP” 

The Knight Pilot Battle Scar chart has some interesting effects.

  • Stain of Dishonour is the same as the Chaos Knight 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.  
  • Pilot Trauma means the Knight is not eligible to fight until after all other eligible units have flights. TLDR Fight Last.?
  • Disgrace to the Household hinders the Bondsman abilities by not letting you use or be affected by them on that unit. They also cannot Heroic Intervene or be Marked for Greatness.

Knight Suit Battle Scars are where things just get mean.

  • Weakened Servos subtract 2 from the units Strength characteristic and prevents them from Advancing.
  • Wounded Pride leaves you at the mercy of the Dice Gods with no re-rolls allowed for that unit and for a cherry on top, this unit cannot perform actions. 
  • Buckled Armour effectively increases the AP values 0 & -1 for all incoming attacks by subtracting 1 from any saving throws against those attacks.
  • Corrupted Damaged Ion Generator reduces your Invulnerable saving throw by 1.

Adding a Knight to your existing Crusade Force

Bringing a Freeblade with other factions in crusade is a little harder narratively than in Chaos, since they have the gods to help thematically tie them together. Admech is the obvious choice here, but they already have rules that allow you to bring knights with them with Knight of the Cog. There are some cool options though, like bringing a Freeblade with the Mysterious Guardian trait with Sister’s of Battle to represent a holy guardian appearing seemingly out of nowhere to protect your force. Alternatively you can bring one with the Mythic Hero trait with some Custodes just to hammer home the “best of the best” theming. Overall though you’ll probably see less Freeblades than Dreadblades in crusade since Imperial Knights want a group to be able to maximise their buffs. Still though, very nice to have the option.

Final Thoughts

Norman: Another great crusade section for the books. My main complaints are the same as the ones I voiced in the Chaos Knights crusade review, basically these Orders of Battle are going to be incredibly RP hungry since they need 3 RP to fully kit out a character and it’s very easy for knights to run away with XP early by taking survivor every game especially if they are doing a lot of 1k games early on. That said, the quest mechanic is super cool and the entire book is oozing with opportunities for your knights to be honourable warriors in giant robots.

Beanith: Out of the two Knight Codexes, this one lost out to the Spikier Robot Lads by a very narrow margin for my imaginary medal. But I’m not going to convert my Robot Lads into Spikey Robot Lads any time soon as I am lazy and am in no rush to dip my Knight collection in glue and then roll them around in leftover Spawn bits. The deciding factor for me was that it’s mostly due to the constant faffing about with Quests, Honour and Dishonour book keeping… I just wanna stomp around and cackle madly with my Stompy Lads. 

As I mention in the Chaos Knight Crusade Review, 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 not sure if I want to add a Freeblade to any of my Imperium Crusade Rosters currently without investing in some more suspiously Knight sized ruins for the board to hopefully let the giant bullet magnet last at least one turn.