Hammer of Math: Imperial Knight Non-House Martial Traditions

Picking up from where we left last week, this week’s Hammer of Math continues to look at the efficacy of the various Martial Traditions in Codex: Imperial Knights. Now we’re on to the stuff that Freelancers can use.

For those who have randomly stumbled across this article by blindly clicking on links, first of all stop that and second of all I highly recommend reading last week’s article first. This post continues to look at the various Martial Traditions available to Codex: Imperial Knights. Having examined the House options last week, this week will focus on the options available to custom houses and Freelancers. As a reminder Freelancers cannot use Glorified History or Fealty to the Cog.

As before many of these abilities modify gatekeeping rolls, so the chart below is a useful reference.

Imperial Knight Atrapos. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Imperial Knight Atrapos. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Questor Imperialis Martial Traditions

Front-line Fighters adds 1 to the Strength characteristics of ranged attacks if the target is within 18″ of the attacking model. Strength is an odd value since it only is important when certain thresholds are passed. For example the thermal spear is already S9 so against a T8 target it won’t do anything, but against T5 targets you’re now wounding on a 2+ instead of 3+ for a +25% delta. This ability primarily benefits odd-strength weapons that are near the sweet spot of useless, such as getting Armiger autocannons to S8.

Hunter of Beasts provides a +1 to hit bonus against MONSTER or VEHICLE targets, and adds 1 to the Damage characteristic of the attack against TITANIC targets. It also provides a bonus to the Lay Low the Tyrants Oath. Going from a 3+ to a 2+ to hit in most circumstances is a 25% improvement in probability, and adding Damage against TITANIC targets is particularly useful since Damage is a driving roll that has a major impact on output.

Noble Combatants gives a major bonus to melee attacks. If all of your attacks target one enemy unit, and no attacks are made using the Sweeping profile of a melee weapon, then you get a bonus number of attacks equal to however many attacks did not reach the Inflict Damage step of the attack sequence. This is a long-winded way to say that you get to try again for every attack that failed to hit, wound, or was saved. Even for a relatively high probability attack with a 3+ to hit and 2+ to wound that’s 44% of the attacks having a second chance before any save rolls are made. This is a very powerful ability within the context of the limitations.

Paragons of Honour is an odd one. If the army consists entirely of IMPERIAL KNIGHTS units (excluding AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM and UNALIGNED units) then when you swear two Oaths any units with this Martial Tradition get to swear a third Oath. The complexity makes it difficult to apply any kind of math to this impact, but if you plan on tacking on some Freelancing Knights for a mixed army force then you can skip this one.

Strike and Shield is a defensive melee-focused ability. Your massive walkers ignore any unmodified hit rolls of 1-3, which is unusual since most other abilities like Transhuman Physiology focus on wound rolls. This is generally more useful than wound-based abilities since Knight units have high Toughness characteristics which makes it less likely that something would have a 3+ to wound. This is effectively a modifier on hit rolls. Going from a 2+ to a 4+ reduces the probability by 40%, while going from 3+ to a 4+ is a 25% reduction.

Baroness Altria Pend-Tokage, Imperial Knight. Credit: Tyler “Coda” Moore

Questor Mechanicus Martial Traditions

Blessed Arms provides multiple bonuses. First the Range characteristic of weapons is increased by a flat 6″, which is either meaningless on an Ironstorm missile pod or extremely helpful for things like a 12″ meltagun or 30″ thermal spear which half range to determine when the damage bonus kicks in. Cognis heavy stubbers go from Assault 4 to Assault 6 for a 50% improvement while also improving Armour Penetration by 1 (from nothing).

Honoured Sacristans makes the model more resilient to Damage 1 attacks, providing a +1 modifier to the armour saving throw taken against those attacks. Most Damage 1 attacks aren’t likely to have a high Armour Penetration to begin with, although against Knights the player is likely going to throw everything they have and hope something gets through. As you can imagine this bonus is incredibly situational and is generally ignored in favor of other options.

Machine Focus allows the model to re-roll either one wound roll or one damage roll every time it is selected to shoot. Depending on the platform and foe this can be very useful (thermal lances), marginal (large volume shooting), or completely useless (facing Leagues of Votann). Re-rolling the damage increases the average of a D6 from 3.5 to 4.47 (a 28% improvement).

Steel-Sinewed Aim allows a unit to add 1 to the hit roll of ranged attacks made against enemy units within Engagement Range. This offsets the penalty of firing Heavy weapons into melee, or provides a 25% improvement on BS 3+ if you’re firing something like an Assault weapon.

Unremitting doubles the number of models in the target unit for purposes of calculating the Blast ability. This means that the weapon deals a minimum of three attacks against units of three to five models, and the maximum attacks against units of six or more. The level of improvement obviously depends on the target and weapon, with the primary benefit being against units of six targets since so many Imperial Knight Blast weapons have two dice worth of attacks.

Imperial Knight Gallant
Credit: Pendulin

Freeblade Martial Traditions

Last of their Line allows hit rolls to be re-rolled against units of 11 or more models, or in the case of ARMIGER-CLASS models units of 6 or more. For BS 3+ this translates to a 33% improvement in lethal output.

Mysterious Guardian has no quantitative benefit, as it allows you to take a unit that was placed into Strategic Reserves and deploy it as if it was one round higher than it currently is.

Peerless Warrior allows you to use an Epic Deed Stratagem for 0 CP instead of the actual cost. Most of the Epic Deed Stratagems cost 1 CP, with the exception of Machine Spirit ResurgentValiant Last Stand, and Noble Sacrifice which have variable CP costs based on the unit. This ability can only be used once per battle regardless of the number of models that have this Martial Tradition. While CP is more valuable in War Zone: Nephilim, this seems like a waste.

Mythic Hero allows units to count as having two more Honour Points than the actual value in the army. This is like getting the honour section of the House Hawkshroud tradition twice.

I still have the only Knight Preceptor in the media archive. Sad. Credit: Kevin Genson

Wrapping Up

So which Martial Tradition makes the most sense for three Armiger Warglaives? I feel like my options are really between Hunter of Beasts for the bonus to hit against the kind of things that the Warglaives are meant to take on or Blessed Arms to improve the range and effectiveness of both the thermal spear and the oft-forgotten heavy stubber. If I can find the meltas lying around somewhere I’m tempted to go with the increased range and make the Armigers even more anti-tank focused. Then again given that my “tournament” list includes such meta-embracing units as a Repulsor Executioner and an assassin (probably the Eversor for maximum gluteal intimidation) it probably won’t matter.

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