John Lennon on Taking Chaos Knights to the Art of War Streamhouse RTT

The Streamhouse RTT is an annual event run by the Art of War team in which their team gets together to play in an eight-person tournament on stream. We’re covering the event this year and previewing the players and lists taking part. Today we’re joined by John Lennon, who’s bringing Chaos Knights to the tournament.

Welcome, brave scions of noble houses! Today we discuss the virtue of independence from a dying Empire, and the honor to be found in casting off the shackles of tyranny and control! Only by upholding the memory of our ancestors and the Old Gods of the Maelstrom can a Knight pilot earn their place in history… 

I never know how to start an article. Do I introduce myself? Do I give a fun fact? I’m John Lennon, and my March madness bracket is completely ruined. Luckily, I now have an opportunity to ruin everyone else’s bracket in the upcoming Streamhouse RTT for the Art of War! We’re running an 8-man, double elimination tournament, and we invited the best and brightest players from Art of War to participate with the goal of crowning a single champion as the King of the Streamhouse! You can read more about it here. There are a lot of bragging rights on the line, but it’s sure to be a good time! 

After the wonderful goons on this website seeded all eight players, we draft our army factions in reverse order. I spent a lot of time deciding on what faction I should take, with the context that Space Marines would almost certainly be off the table. Also, Nick threatened to fire me if I took Astra Militarum. While this is going to be an incredibly challenging tournament full of top competitors, it’s also an opportunity to throw a curveball and not pick the faction that I was expected to select. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Why Chaos Knights? 

So yeah, I picked Chaos Knights. While I had the opportunity to play any number of factions, I really wanted to embrace an army that was enjoyable for me to play as much as it was competitive. Chaos Knights have long been a pet project of mine, and I’ve really enjoyed playing the army since it came out last spring. Not only is the dread mechanic the best thing that GW has ever typed into existence, but also Chaos Knights hit that perfect goldilocks zone of “not a bad army, not broken”. It’s a strong codex that I think is slightly under-represented in today’s meta, and has big stompy robots to kill people with. What more could I ask for? 

As I was picking my army, I definitely tried to make a call based on what armies I expected people would and wouldn’t bring. I figured that if I wasn’t bringing Astra Militarum, the army probably wouldn’t be there. I also knew that Kaz was a lock for Ultramarines, which prevented Iron Hands from being taken. With two of the most offensive shooting lists in the game out of the way, including the one that gets free damage because I might have been on Cadia at the wrong time, I felt a lot more confident with my choice. Now I just had to write a list!

Writing the List

One of the features of this format is that we knew the main faction each player would bring before we submitted our list. Theoretically, you can tailor your list to account for which opponents you’ll be facing on the bracket path that you think is most likely. Practically, my army has four datasheets that I care about. Quinton, my round 1 opponent, is a dirty elf player. Jack Harpster, the one person ranked above me, is a dirty elf player. I noticed that they’re both using the same codex in direct violation of the rules, but then I remembered that Eldar don’t follow the same rules as other factions. Luckily I have been playing my Herpetrax dogs with maximum rocket pods anyways, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to cut them now. All elves must die! I’ve been rocking House Herpetrax in a 1/10 build for the past few months and have never felt an ounce of regret, so I expected that I would end up in that same place when lists were due. However, I wanted to experiment a little bit with other concepts before I settled on my battle-tested Herp-a-Dog list. 

Leading into list submission I decided to play around with House Korvax, just to see what it felt like. Although it’s an Infernal Household, it does bring a wonderfully fun stratagem that allows two armigers to move or charge through walls. With the terrain I knew I’d be playing around, this would really speed up how quickly my army could reach the opponent. While Infernal houses don’t hit as hard as Iconoclast, my side of the bracket includes a couple of armies that I may not need extra combat against. Tau and Eldar are both allergic to melee of any stripe, so I liked the idea of charging through walls into fire and fading cowardly xenos armies, because we were adopting the WTC faq. As well, the Korvax relic allows my big knight to autopass one failed save a turn, which could be really instrumental into, say, a hammerhead. Ultimately, it failed the table test. In some practice against Adam’s Grey Knights I felt that my damage output was too low in shooting and combat, and my choices ultimately led to a less competitive list. Rather than tailoring for any one opponent, I decided to stick with my Herpetrax dogs and rely on my play to get me past the foe! 

+++ House Herpetrax Iconoclast Detachment +++

Knight Desecrator (Warlord, Warp haunted Hull, Aura of Terror, Veil of Medrengard, Blessings of the Dark Master) 430

2x  War Dog Brigands (2x Havoc Launchers) 320

1x War Dog Brigand (Havoc Launcher) 160

3x War Dog Stalkers (3x Havoc Launchers, 3x chaincannons, 1x Mark of the Dread Knight/Helm of Dogs, 3x Slaughterclaw) 470

2x War Dog Stalkers (2x Daemonbreath Spears, 2x Havoc Launchers, 2x Chaintalons) 300

1x War Dog Stalker (Daemonbreath Spear, Havoc Launcher, Chaintalon) 150

+++ Dreadblade Auxiliary Detachment (Worthy Offerings) +++

War Dog Executioner (Mirror of Fates, Helm of Warpsight) 170

Explaining my choices

This is where I settled for my list. It’s extremely similar to where I had been in the past, with the only real change being that I made my Executioner into a Worthy Offerings dreadblade. I have found that Executioners are a bit unreliable for me, so I haven’t tried to take any “extra” ones besides the heavily buffed dreadblade. Luckily this bad boy ignores hit modifiers, cover, and is +1 to hit against vehicles! Knowing that there could be Harlequin boats and Tau planes in my future made me embrace this loadout. He also carries the mirror of fates, for a little extra CP regeneration in those games where I don’t take a generating secondary such as Grind. I’ve loved having the Havoc Launchers, and think that I have just enough Favors to make the list function. Choosing this list really came down to comfort for me, as I believe that any Knight list can fall apart quickly if you make mistakes, and I wanted to have every aspect of my list down comfortably so that I could spend my effort worrying about the opponent, not my own rules. Six Stalkers and 3 Brigands mean that I’m packing six each of my favorite weapons, namely the Chaincannon and Daemonbreath Spear. This gives me a wonderful mix of profiles for cracking just about any toughness characteristic in the game, with enough volume and ap to punch through most targets as well. Larger daemon monsters may be an annoyance, but I didn’t want to tech too hard for a potential matchup that’s on the other half of the bracket. Odds are I won’t have to play Nick, but if I do I will just try to bully him out with Dread abilities and my objective control. 

The last real decision point was on the Knight Desecrator. In testing with some friends, I have started to accept the conclusion that three more armigers is probably better than taking the big man. With that said, House Herpetrax bows to none, especially not logical arguments, so I followed my heart here. And my heart says that a Knight army with no knights is weak sauce. I’ve already said that the dread mechanic is my favorite part of Chaos Knights, and I honestly just can’t give up how good the Aura of Terror warlord trait is at influencing dread tests. Only a titanic Knight can take the trait, so I was locked in. The Desecrator provides some pretty handy captain rerolls in shooting, is entirely inconvenient to kill, and also slams in combat. Blessings of the Dark Master turns off rerolls, and once I’ve caused some damage also unlocks Trans-hitman. How can I leave him at home? I took the Warp Haunted Hull and Veil of Medrengard upgrades as well for a bit more durability in shooting and the psychic phase, andfor a crucial one deny in case anyone tried a psychic secondary against me. 

Knight Desecrator. Credit: Rockfish
Knight Desecrator. Credit: Rockfish

Looking ahead

The last thing to talk about is the bracket itself. My first game is into a vicious hail of doom list that is specifically written to take on Chaos Knights. Turns out other armies have more room to tailor than Knights, huh? After that, I’ll face either Bro’ken Tau or Grey Knights with Hunters of Beasts helverins. Honestly, I think that in a field of 8 strong players the three worst matchups for me are all living on my half of the bracket. I should have an easier time if I make it out alive, but that’s a big if! I certainly have the tools to kill any of those armies that I set in my sights, but all three would love to try and score points from behind walls while blasting me with long range, or fire and fading, anti tank. Good thing I have my Havoc Launchers! 

I’ll close this out with a prediction: Obviously every player here thinks that they have a path to the top, but I think my War Dogs really have a shot to claim gold. If I win the event I think it will be with a loss, because there’s a few combinations of missions and opponents that will prove to be very challenging. But, I have a punching chance in every game and I think that I match up well against some of the top competitors here. March is all about madness, so let’s root for the dark horse chaos knights! 

Tomorrow: Jack Harpster’s Harlequins

And that’s the list!  You can find a video breakdown of my Streamhouse lists over on the Art of War 40k Youtube channel and if you want to see more of list testing in action along with tons of other high level 40k content, check out the War Room, which offers a free 3-day trial to test it out! And, of course, follow along with the Streamhouse RTT brought to you live by Joe from WarGames Live on the Art of War 40k Youtube channel March 31st to April 2nd.

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