Horus Heresy Hot Take: Dark Angels Legion Inner Circle Knights Cenobium

In Goonhammer Hot Takes, we do quick-pass reviews and reactions to new releases, rules, and events. In today’s Hot Take, we’re covering the latest step on the Road to Thramas – the Inner Circle Knights Cenobium, for the Lion’s First. 

The Inner Circle Knights are the newest models to be revealed for the Dark Angel’s Legion. The early precursors to the more ‘modern’ Deathwing, the Inner Circle represent the Cenobites of the Orders Militant in the Legion.

NB: Forge World updated the rules for these models following their original upload; this article incorporates those changes. 

Credit: Forge World

These mighty warriors bear the strongest weapons in the arsenal of the First, clad in thick Cataphractii plate and wielding unique terranic greatswords of peerless quality. Their models are some of the best looking infantry produced by Forge World, dripping in iconography and artifice. In their left hands are built in plasma-casters, which bathe the foe in actinic fire as they charge into combat – a really cool nod to the plasma-heavy nature of the Dark Angels. I fell in love with these the moment I saw them, and think the helmets are particularly excellent – very evocative of 15th century “gothic” armour styles.

Their rules give a nice insight into what is coming in Book 9: Crusade. Starting at 275 pts for 5, with +45 pts per model, a squad of Cenobites has a Terminator statline with WS 5; the Sergeant, however, is 2 Wounds with WS 6, which is a nice upgrade.

They have, by default, Cataphractii armour and terranic greatswords (S 6 AP 3 Instant Death) which means you will have to consider your targets, as going toe to toe with other Terminators may not be the best move; although anything with a Feel No Pain won’t get that benefit! However, they can take thunder hammers for free – an amazing swap! I would take at least 2 hammers in a squad, minimum, as this gives you some heavy hitting power and the ability to take on walkers. Grenade harnesses are also cheaper than normal, which is good to see. My first impression is that they aren’t cheap, but they are competitively priced for the equipment loadout and can have some tactical flexibility if you mix the weapon options.

They also have Stubborn and Adamantium Will – given the Sergeant is LD 10 this is really nice and makes them reliable.

Now, the bulk of the benefits of these guys come from their status as Cenobites of the Orders Militant, this means they are “each dedicated to a singular creed of war” and a squad of Cenobium then, in turn, embody one of these Orders.

As per the Order Exemplars rule, they pick an Order for the entire unit at the start of the game.

  • Augurs of Weakness is +1 S to armour penetration against AV 11 or more. This is really really good for thunder hammers, and on a terranic greatsword (becoming S 7) its not bad either. However, you don’t really want to throw these guys into heavy walkers or hunt vehicles in melee, so I think this probably will be situational depending on your opponent.
  • Icons of Resolve – +1 Attacks if you are Charged by one or more enemy units. A very evocative image of the unit standing firm, and a form of psuedo-Counter Attack. I think, depending on how you’ve built your list, this could be a good one to take. If they’re in a Dedicated Transport, its likely they’ll be the ones charging, so take something else.
  • Guardians of Sanctity – When making a Deny the Witch roll, roll an additional D6 and discard the lowest. This is OK, but very situational – however, you pick an Order before the game starts, so if you’re up against a psychic heavy army, you could swap this in.
  • Slayers of Kings – Reroll 1s to Hit when fighting a combat or a Challenge against a model of WS 5+. Again, amazingly evocative, and against some armies this is brutally effective. Whip out a thunder hammer, go toe-to-toe with the enemy Centurion, and wipe him from the face of creation.
  • Hunters of Beasts – Reroll 1s to Wound when fighting a model which is T 5+. Mechanicum, tremble in fear. This makes the Cenobium peerless hunters of war constructs – most Mechanicum don’t have 2+ saves or Eternal Warrior, so the greatswords will absolutely carve through everything in their way and deny their Feel No Pain as an extra benefit.
  • Reapers of Hosts – +1 Attack in any fight sub-phase where you begin in base contact with more than one enemy model. I think this one will probably see the most use as it is a good “default”, and plays well to the Cenobium’s strength of horde clearance with the swords. Hurl them into a 20 man Tactical squad and turn them into mincemeat and smoking ceramite.
  • Breakers of Witches – Reroll Hits and Wounds in close combat with an enemy unit under the effect of a Blessing, or an enemy unit which is a Psyker or Brotherhood of Psykers (or, under the new rules, also Psychic Pilots, Daemons and Ruinstorm Daemons). This one will either be a never-take or a must-take, depending on who you’re facing. Daemons will be absolutely pulverised by this, as the greatswords will trigger repeated Instant Death wounds. Thousand Sons need to target any Cenobium swearing this oath with the entire fury of their force – if they get into combat, its game over.

Finally, we turn to the weapon which made the internet lose its collective mind – the Plasma-Caster. This is a 12″ S 4, AP 2 Assault 2 Ignores Cover weapon – like a curious psuedo-plasma pistol/boltgun. Whipping out 10 shots with these will soften up any enemy.

What made people shout and screech was the rule Plasma Flame, which allows rerolls to Hit for Overwatch.

Yes, we know Cataphractii can’t Overwatch. However, I have consulted the finest rule-savants and scribe-wrights of the Adeptus Administratum and they have assured me that this is analogous to a USR for this “family” of plasma weapons. This means it will be relevant elsewhere; or else there may be a rule allowing Dark Angels Terminators to Overwatch in certain situations.

Edit: The amended rules now allow them to Overwatch – so problem solved, and this makes them a real nightmare to attack in close combat!

So there you have it, our Hot Take – the Cenobium look fantastic, have a competitive ruleset, and are very flexible depending on the force you’re going to deploy them against. Take five in a Land Raider with 2 hammers and 3 swords, and you have a reasonably-costed (~500pt) heavy hitting elite assault unit which can find its place in any Dark Angels host!

Until next time!