Forge World Knights – The Goonhammer Hot Take

An article by    Gaming Tactics Warhammer 40k        0

Adeptus Titanicus Cerastus Knight-Lancers

Alongside the Chaos Knights FAQ, Games Workshop have surprised everyone by dropping some revised rules for the various Forge World Knights, and new rules for some upcoming ones. Today, One_Wing dives into these to explore whether this changes how they stack up against their Codex competitors.

Regular readers of this site will know that:

  1. I am not a big fan of Forge World in matched play.
  2. I recently destroyed Forge World forever by taking out a triple-FW knights list at an event.

The Great Enemy, as played by my recent tournament opponent Jay C. Photo: Mine

That’s what I thought, anyway, but Forge World had other plans.

Alongside the expected Chaos Knights FAQ that went up today, Games Workshop have uploaded a big old pile of new rules – updated datasheets for all existing Forge World Knights and rules for two new ones that are going up for order soon. A cursory glance at the rules suggested that this release was at least worth paying attention to, sufficiently so that we thought we’d dive straight in to bring you our review/hot take of what this means for people who own unusually large resin sons, or are at least resin-curious.

While I am not Forge World’s biggest fan, and extremely wary of new datasheets after the Caladius Grav Tank (which is so preposterously broken that UK TOs have started to ban or 0-1 it), new rules for these extremely cool models are ultimately a good thing – my takeaway from playing against them as they were was mostly that they were just worse than their regular counterparts, generally being too costly, and trading the raw power of their codex brethren for weird rules that didn’t work that effectively. The story was pretty similar when we reviewed Chaos Knights – we struggled to find many compelling reasons to take the Forge World versions, when there’s a whole codex worth of great options for the plastics. Trying to help people use their cool toys is always nice, so this is a good thing for Games Workshop to do, and if they break the metagame I’m just going to blame TheChirurgeon (because I’m assuming he’s somehow orchestrated this to flex on me).

We’ll start with a quick note about the FAQ, and then cover:

  • The two new Knight Datasheets
  • What’s changed for all of the existing ones and where they might now fit.

The Chaos Knights FAQ

Two notable things came out of this:

  • Forge World Knights picked up all the “boilerplate” rules needed to work with the codex. We already basically assumed this was going to happen.
  • Diabolic Rift (the Infernal anti-psyker stratagem) got dunked, now only triggering perils on any roll of a double.

There was some speculation in our writer’s room that the odd way Diabolic Rift was worded might have indicated that “of a double” was missing from the text. Either that has proven to be true, or GW have had a wave of hate mail about this stratagem in a volume not seen since people thought Commissars were too good in the Astra Militarum codex (wow do those seem like more innocent times). Certainly as it originally worked the stratagem felt a bit out of line with 8th ed design principles, being a risk-free hammerblow against some armies, but I’m not totally convinced it was actually broken – it could be played around if you were tactical.

Doesn’t matter now, because it has been replaced with a shadow of its former self. You might still get some use out of it in some matchups, and there will probably be the odd occasion where it works out better, as your opponent might be willing to “risk it” and get punished. It’s no longer an active “draw” towards being Infernals however, and given I was already hotter on Iconoclasts I think that’s just pushes them further ahead (though as we’ll see, Infernals did pick up some new toys from Forge World).

That’s the preliminaries out of the way – on to the shiny things!

The New Knights

Acastus Knight Asterius

We start off with a relatively “safe” entry into the ranks in the form of the Knight Asterius. Joining its cousin the Porphyrion in the “Oh lawd he comin Acastus” class, this hefty beast clocks in at a mighty 830 points, which as it’s only very slightly harder to take down than a Castellan, immediately makes its use in competitive play look pretty suspect – it would need some outrageous weapons to make it worth putting so many eggs in one basket.

As soon as you review the weaponry and rules, it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t get there. It’s probably a bit better than the Porphyrion, as while the big guns are slightly less good, the sub-weapons are a lot stronger, giving it a lot more flexibility. It has a lot of “D3s” on it’s weapon profile too, so the House Raven Stratagem is potentially nice on it, but we’re really dancing around the point here – you can have two Questoris Class knights for the cost of this one, and that’s just always going to be the better choice in tournament lists.

Armiger Moirax

This is where the fun starts – these look pretty good.

They are excited about their new friends OK? Moiraxes aren’t even out yet. Photo: TheChirurgeon

 

The wording on how you choose their weapons is weird, but basically works out to you being able to double up on anything except the Moirax Conversion Cannon if you want to. That pretty much immediately takes the Cannon out of serious contention, as it’s more expensive than the other guns and requires you to be out of range to use any of the other weapons to get the best profile.

I’m also not a massive fan of the claws – they are free, and come with a Rad Cleanser, but the negative hit modifier combined with the lack of a “sweep” attack makes them fairly unattractive – the place I really like melee Armigers is in Chaos Infernals, and I’m pretty happy that I’d rather have a Warglaive there than this (although being 17 points cheaper might matter sometimes). It’s possible I’m way off base here – the Rad Cleansers are pretty neat, and they’re decent wrecking balls for 145pts so they could find a home, but I’m not convinced this is the best way to use these.

On the other hand, I like some of the gun builds a lot because these things are cheap. All of the other guns are 5pts a pop, meaning that dual gun builds run to 155 points, which is a steal. None of the guns are quite as good as Helverin Autocannons, but they’re at least decent. My favourite for general purpose use is the Volkite Veuglaire – it has decent range, a great rate of fire (it out-does regular Helverins for anti-horde) and enough of a damage profile to chip some damage off vehicles (though to be clear, regular Helverins are better there). The Lightning Lock is cute but loses out to the Veuglaire as an all around choice – it’s slightly better against non-Plaguebearer hordes, and against 1W power armoured targets, but Plaguebearers are the best horde in the metagame and smolmarines are hardly tearing up the scene, and you sacrifice the anti-tank capability of the D2 on the Veuglaire.

NB: Reddit user h311fi5h has since persuaded me that I might have been a bit too quick to discard the Lightning Lock – it actually does slightly better against Plaguebearers than the Volkite, and is not a lot worse against armoured targets with no invuln. As long as there are still powerful invuln-laden vehicles in the meta I’m still a fan of the Veuglaire, but it’s not as clear cut as I initially thought.

The final choice is the Graviton Pulsar. This is weirdly statted – it’s clearly an anti-vehicle tool, but has S6. It does hit like an absolute truck if it gets a wound through and a few relevant targets (Craftworld Eldar Planes, Lords Discordant) are T6, against which this can be a potent tool. D6 shots sucks as ever, but the ceiling here is high.

The final rule they have is the ability to heroically intervene if they’re within 6″ of a friendly TITANIC knight, and to move 6″ if they do. I don’t think this is super relevant since the melee build isn’t that good, and the last thing you want is to get your gun-wielding Armiger tied up in combat.

The best “default” build for these feels like the double Veuglaire build – it’s a pretty efficient package for 155pts, and deserves to be at least sampled in lists. The other two specific builds I like are:

  • Infernals w/Veuglaire and Graviton: Applying the Infernal buff to the Veuglaire is always great, but against the specific targets the Graviton is already good against getting +1S makes them completely brutalespecially as Chaos has access to “good” re-rolls against flyers from “Trail of Destruction”.
  • House Mortan w/Claw and Graviton: Once again, you can use a strat to let the Graviton absolutely ruin the day of a nearby Crimson Hunter by ignoring their hit modifiers, and the House Mortan trait offsets the hit modifier from the claw and makes their heroic trick actually relevant!

The Updated Knights

Acastus Knight Porphyrion

Model: Alex Hunt

Changes

  • Toughness 9 > 8
  • Base BS 2+ > 3+
  • Base WS 3+ > 4+
  • Ironstorm Pod normalised to regular statline
  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra (chance of getting a wound back each turn)
  • Magna-Lascannons can overwatch now

Impact

The Porphyrion already never really saw any play and making it substantially worse at the same cost, most notably taking away its unique schtick of having base toughness 9, effectively ensures it will continue not to do so. Thanks to its better spread of weaponry the Asterius might have looked semi-attractive with T9 and base BS2, so it looks like the Porphyrion has taken the hit to normalise the statline of an Acastus class to a point where this isn’t an issue.

Watch me shed a single tear.

Winner/Loser

Big (literally) Loser

Not the only Knight to get nerfed into uselessness recently, of course. PC: Corrode

Cerastus Knight Acheron

Changes

  • Loses 2D6 advance.
  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra.
  • Chainfist no longer has a hit penalty.

Impact

As Warhammer Community themselves pointed out, combo-ing the Acheron Flame Cannon with the “Daemonic Power” Infernal buff is a neat trick. Losing their 2D6 Advance hurts a bit, but on balance isn’t massive for the Acheron, because outside of House Raven they don’t ever want to be advancing, as turning off their super flamer completely defeats the point of having one in your list, and for my money the removal of the hit penalty for the chainfist is a sufficient trade for both their losses.

The problem the Acheron has is that it probably needed a cost cut as well. In a world where you can have a dual Thermal Spear Despoiler for  <400 points, paying just shy of 500 for this just doesn’t quite cut it. It’s very slightly better than it was, and Infernals are good for it, but as we’ll see shortly there’s a waaaaaay bigger winner for them.

Winner/Loser

Minor Winner

Cerastus Knight-Atropos

An Atropos pictured in its natural habitat – killing stuff and about to explode violently.

Changes

  • Ranged Lascutter loses the “shoot again on killing a Vehicle/Monster Unit”.
  • Ranged Lascutter gains re-roll wounds against Vehicles/Monsters
  • Melee Lascutter loses re-roll hits against Vehicles/Monsters, and loses re-roll hits and wounds against Buildings
  • Loses 4++ against shooting (reduced to 5++)
  • Macro-extinction protocols now works in melee too.
  • Loses 2D6 Advance
  • Loses Blessed Autosimlacra.
  • Graviton Singularity Cannon re-worked – you now choose to overcharge it, adding D6 shots to the base profile, and buffing it to S14 AP-4, with a risk of taking D3 mortal wounds.
  • Apparently GW have changed their mind about how to spell “Atropos”

Impact

On paper the Atropos loses a lot, but the one big gain it makes outweighs the lot of that. The Graviton Singularity Cannon goes from deeply underwhelming to really quite good now that it can be turbo-charged on demand, making the Atropos a somewhat more compelling option. Sadly, as with the Acheron it probably needed a point cut to go along with this – it’s neat that it has some new tricks, but 555 points is still more than you really be wanting to pay for this body. Still, a win is a win, and anyone who has one of these built should be happy that the gun is now a lot more interesting.

Winner/Loser

Winner

Cerastus-Knight Castigator

Changes

  • +2 shots on the big gun.
  • Warblade re-worked – now damage 3 and loses the Mortal Wounds on 6s against vehicles, but doubles your attacks.
  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra
  • Loses 2D6 advance

Impact

Takes drink.

Takes another drink.

Dammit Forge World I knew the nonsense would be hiding in here somewhere.

The two changes to the weapons here are both improvements. Two more shots on the big gun is obviously great, and the Warblade change is also nice – the damage ceiling is no different from a Reaper Chainsword, but splitting it over more attacks smooths out the variance against big targets and helps a lot against anything with 3W.

The big money is the addition of more shots to the bolt cannon. Pretty much everyone agrees that the Avenger Gatling Cannon is the best Knight ranged weapon, and this is that but with four more shots. Anything that buffs weapons tends to get better with more shots, and Imperials can use this effectively with either the “Headsman’s Mark” or the “Blessed by the Sacristans” Warlord trait.

Both of these choices pale in comparison to applying the “Daemonic Power” buff from Infernals, and I think Infernal Castigators will be the biggest thing to come out of this update. I already thought that running “Knight Warden” Despoiler builds was potentially the best way to deploy the Infernal trait, and for a mere 16 point hike here you get an additional 3 wounds, a better melee weapon and four more shots on the main gun to buff up. This seems like a gigantic win for Chaos Knights, and is something I’d expect to see out and about on tournament tables soon.

Winner/Loser

Big Winner

Cerastus Knight-Lancer

A Lancer strides forward to do the true Greater Good of crushing Tau. Model: Jack from Oxford Outriders. Photo: Mine

Changes

  • Loses 2D6 advance
  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra
  • Loses re-rolls to hit on the Lance
  • Gains S16 and D8 on the Lance when it charges

Impact

Sadly, the Castigator has stolen all the buffs and the Lancer looks a bit forlorn. Of all of the Cerastus Knights, the Lancer leaned most heavily on the 2D6 advance to be worthwhile, and losing it is a huge blow. The changes to the Lance are also a sidegrade at best, and it still falls behind a Gallant or Rampager in combat potential. It’s fun to get out in an Apocalypse game if it’s going to be duelling other Knights, but otherwise loses out here.

Winner/Loser

Loser

Questoris Knight Magaera

Changes

  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra
  • Loses 4++ against ranged (becomes 5++)
  • Lightning Cannon becomes AP-2 and D3 (from AP-1 and Dd3) and scores 3 hits on an unmodified 6 to hit.
  • Plasma Fusil to S7
  • Rad Cleanser now wounds on 2+ against non-vehicles
  • Empyreal Preysight now affects all targets.

Impact

Another winner here, and you’ll be sensing a theme – the main gun has received a hefty buff and now looks competitive with what you can pull together as a main gun on other Knight platforms. It is also another weapon that is ideally placed to benefit from the Infernal buff, with the jump from S7 to S8 being one of the most important in the game, and a chance to get additional hits on a high roll making it a compelling choice to combo with Daemonic Power and Trail of Destruction.

Not content with that, the Magaera also picked up a bunch of milder buffs to its other toys and abilities, and what it lost in exchange (the ranged 4++) is less relevant now that Rotate caps out at 4++ anyway.

He is still a bit of a pricy boi, coming in at 500pts if you keep the base Chainsword or 525 if you swap to the Claw and Cleanser (which I think you probably should), but you are now getting some powerful guns for the cost, and while it still probably doesn’t quite equal the most optimised Codex build, it’s a much more “defensible” choice.

Winner/Loser

Winner

Questoris Knight Styrix

Changes

  • Loses Blessed Autosimulacra
  • Loses 4++ against ranged (becomes 5++)
  • Graviton Crusher becomes AP -3
  • Volkite Chieorovile now does a MW on 6 to wound rather than an additional hit.
  • Rad Cleanser now wounds on 2+ against non-vehicles
  • Empyreal Preysight now affects all targets.

Impact

Sadly, we end with a bit of a whimper – unlike the Magaera, which got a huge buff to its main gun in exchange for a bunch of other stats being tidied up, the Styrix’s main weapon has received what’s at best a sidegrade and is instead probably a mild downgrade against most relevant targets. If you squint the Magaera now looks plausibly competitive against other Questoris loadouts, but sadly the Styrix still doesn’t get there.

Winner/Loser

Loser

The Wrap Up

For those who’ve skipped to the end and just want to know where we’re going with this hot take, the summary of the important stuff is:

  • Cerastus Knight-Castigators look seriously good, especially as Infernals.
  • Various dual-gun loadouts of the new Armigers are priced to move.
  • The Questoris Magaera look pretty OK now.

The good news is that nothing here looks as absurdly busted as the Caladius, for which we can all be thankful, but both the Castigator and Armiger Moirax sit at a strong intersection of price and capability where I expect them to see some serious experimentation. Finally, the huge buffs handed to the Magaera push it into a place where you wouldn’t feel embarrassed to have it out and about in a Tournament army.

That’s my take on the new Knights – if you want to disagree or to explain to me why Caladius Grav tanks are totally balanced, hit us up on our Facebook page or at contact@goonhammer.com. You can also contact us if you like our searing hot takes, but let’s be honest, where would the fun in that be?

Forge World Status: Still not forgiven. Models: Konrad B. Photo: Mine.

That’s all from me, Wings out.

 

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