Liber Mechanicum: The Goonhammer Review

Thanks to Games Workshop for providing us with a free copy of this book to write this review.

The Mechanicum, the predecessors to Warhammer 40,000’s Adeptus Mechanicus, are the first non-marine army to see rules in this new edition of Horus Heresy and so they’re our first chance to see how this new paradigm will work outside of the legion bubble we’ve been in since launch. But this book doesn’t just include rules for the core Mechanicum force, but also for the Knight Questoris Households and the Titan Legions, both of which present unusual opportunities and challenges to the Heresy player.

Army Rules

The Mechanicum get a number of army special rules, including Warlord Traits, special Reactions, the Orders of High Techno-arcana, and cybertheurgy.

Warlord Traits

Where the Legiones Astartes and Hereticus mostly get two Warlord Traits per Legion, the Mechanicum has to make do with three, total. Soul of Cold Iron helps mitigate pinning, and Science of Slaughter can help your Magi stuck in combat, but on the surface Logic of Victory would be your go to, substantially improving stats used in Reactions while potentially also granting you a bonus Reaction in each phase. However, as we’ll see later on in this review, the ability for Mechanicum armies to react is severely limited, and so this warlord trait is considerably less powerful than it seemed when previewed. Ultimately none of this warlord traits are game changers (which is fine, most of the marine ones aren’t either) but there being just three for the entire faction feels a little rough. There aren’t many options here to play with.

Reactions

The Mechanicum Advanced Reaction usable once per game is Scornful Fire which is a powered up, but also more limited, version of Return Fire. The downside is that it only triggers when your enemy targets a unit containing one of your Independent Characters, but in return every friendly Mechanicum unit within 12” gets to shoot back. There’s a lot of Mechanicum units that can’t
make Reactions at all unfortunately, but if you build your firebase right this right here is a “once per game, ruin someone’s day” level ability.

Interestingly, Mechanicum players also get a second, more specialist but repeatable, Advanced Reaction: Geruso Protocol. This is only available to Knights Moirax, and it allows you to functionally overwatch on behalf of an Automata or Knight unit that’s been charged and ignore cover saves for the target unit.

It’s worth here addressing one of the major issues with reactions in this book: none of your Automata can do them, thanks to the special rules of their unit type. This is significant to remember when building your army, since a Legio Cybernetica type force can just, quite easily and entirely by accident, build an army that can’t use Reactions at all. Even in other types of Mechanicum army you’re going to find that a serious proportion of your units can’t react, and that’s definitely a blow. Reactions are the thing this edition, and just cutting a lot of your units out of them is rough to say the least.

Orders of High Techno-arcana

Your Archmagos is the model you’ll build your army around, being required to take one of the seven Orders of High Techno Arcana, each of which substantially change how your Archmagos and likely your entire army plays. An Archmagos Prime can take all seven
options, while an Archmagos on Abeyant misses out on Malagra and Myrmidax.

In rough order of what we find least to most interesting, they are:

Lacryaemarta, apart from being annoying to spell, helps mitigate Rending, Poison and
Fleshbane attacks against themselves and joined units, also allowing your Battlesmith
units to heal or enhance your infantry, making them faster for a turn.

Archimandrite lets you have a Mechanicum Allied Detachment (otherwise impossible), gain a second Cybertheurgic Arcana, and significantly boosts the power of models with
Battlesmith in your Detachment, including letting them grant their BS to friendly units. Really spicy though is adding Power of the Machine Spirit to a vehicle with it, letting them split their fire however they like – potentially very powerful on the right target.

Malaga are your assassins, letting you upgrade Machinator Arrays and Servo-Arms in the
Detachment with prehensile data-spikes for +10 points, a nasty melee weapon with
Breaching (6+) and Reach (2). Your Tech-Priest Auxilia units gain the spike and Scout for
free, and your Archmagos gains a collection of rules to make them nastier character hunters. Finally, you can take up to three Arcuitor Magisterum models as a single HQ unit instead of the normal Elite for 100pts per model, more expensive than a single Elite but letting you unleash a swarm of tiny assassins, which is always fun.

Myrmidax let you take Myrmidon Secutors and Destructors as Troops (but not Line). Your Archmagos gains Bulky (3) and 5 wounds. Finally, you gain Hatred (Everything) and can take a Thanatar Calix as an Avatar of Destruction, giving nearby Myrmidons Line and +1 Wound when determining combat resolution.

Cybernetica makes your Castellax Line, making them massively more useful as a troops choice and probably your goto. Automata in this Detachment also reduce an enemy’s cover safe, and your Archmagos Cybernetica can join Automata units and always allocate hits against the robots, negating rules such as Sniper and Precision Strikes. This is a massive boost to survivability, especially against armies like Alpha Legion.

Reductor lets you do all sorts of nasty things to buildings, dreadnoughts, vehicles and
Automata with your Battlesmiths, and mandates that you take the Artificia Reductor
Cybertheurgic Arcana. More interestingly, you can select three areas of terrain before
deployment to remove its ability to grant cover saves, and make it both Difficult and
Dangerous terrain. These buildings are now more fragile, granting +1 on the Building
Damage table, but the option to almost force your opponent’s army out into the open
shouldn’t be underestimated.

Macroteck lets you take Tech-Priest Auxilia units with the Enginseer Techno-Arcana as
troops (but not line), lets Battlesmiths in your Detachment affect vehicles and grant protection against Breaching, Rending and Exoshock, and finally holy moly move terrain. Got a shooting heavy army up against a nasty World Eaters Berserker Assault force with a bunch of inconvenient line of sight blockers in the way? No problem! Just move up to three pieces of terrain up to 6” away to create delicious lines of fire. This all happens before deployment begins or Objective markers are placed, so no moving a building your enemy has already deployed in, but this kind of battlefield control is a rarity, so you should take full advantage.

Cybertheurgy

Unlike those ungodly Astartes, adepts of the Mechanicum do not use psychic powers,
instead using Cybertheurgic Attacks and Rites, with different models able to take different
options. You’ve got a range of Arcana (Disciplines) available with the familiar paired
power and weapon, although instead of Perils of the Warp you’ve got Cybertheurgic
Feedback, which does a single wound to your robot wizard and Pins them and the unit
they’re in, which is a tad harsher than the Perils rules because you can’t spread suffered
wounds out to the unit you’ve joined.

Of the Arcana on offer our favourite is probably Artificia Cybernetica, buffing your Automata (including the neat ability for them to make Reactions, patching that massive hole in your capabilities) and granting your Magos a S10 AP1 gun that will Instant Death Automata and Dreadnoughts, but cannot hurt anything that isn’t one of those, Buildings, or Vehicles. A close second is Artificia Reductor can make enemy units Emergency Disembark Vehicles and Buildings against their will while also pinning them, while also wielding a truly appalling anti-tank melee weapon.

Artificia Machina helps your more Battlesmith minded Magos, allowing you to use that
power at 12” and applying the effects twice and granting you an Assault D6 Haywire gun to
make any nearby tanks very sad, but at 12” anything inside them is probably already danger close. Ephemera Incursus allows you to control enemy Vehicles and Automata within 12”, shooting at their own side, though the associated Cybertheurgic Weapon is a bit of a miss. Ephemera Lacryaemarta lets you move a Mechanicum Infantry unit in the shooting phase and potentially grant that unit Hammer of Wrath (1) and Furious Charge (1) while also granting a brutal melee weapon to the Magos.

Mechanicum Units

HQ

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Four generic character options here, though practically two since two are just the “on Abeyant” versions of the others. The Archmagos Prime is your Praetor equivalent, and you can take them or an Archmagos Prime on Abeyant as a 0-1 choice, with only one Archmagos per Mechanicum army. Combined with their mandatory Order of High Techno-Arcana this is really your centrepiece model that’ll define how your army plays, and you can tool them up pretty substantially, even to be a pretty nasty melee beast.

One step down, your Magos Dominus is a bit more of a dedicated Cybertheurgist/Cybernetica expert, almost equivalent to a type of Centurion. They’ve got all the guns you could need, a 5+ Feel No Pain and the ability to join Automata units, which is always helpful, and also come with an “on Abeyant” datasheet split from the main sheet.

As for special characters, Calleb Decima Invictus is an Archmagos Reductor, meaning he’s locked in to Reductor Techno-Arcana and Cybertheurgy, and can’t be taken with another Archmagos in the force. Like a lot of other Archmagos builds, he’s good
but doesn’t stand out. His most interesting aspect is the ability to grant Move Through Cover to nearby units, which could be handy when you utilise the Reductor Techno-Arcana to demolish half the battlefield.

For some reason Archmagos Draykavac and Anacharis Scoria have their profiles in the Persona Schismata section, rather than in the core list. Since they’re HQs, we’re including them here, noting that they’re both Traitors.

Draykavac can be taken either on foot or on his Abeyant, and has his own High Techno-Arcana: Stataraga, allowing him to be taken as a Troops choice in a Questoris Household army while also letting you take Castellax and Vorax as Troops in such an army. His warlord trait allows you to kill a model which fails a Morale or Pinning test in exchange for it passing (not… great in low model count armies like Mechanicum, especially since so many units are Fearless) and his Liquifractor lets him choose to make a single attack in melee which,
crudely, inflicts either 2D6 minus victim’s toughness in AP2 wounds, or a number of penetrating hits equal to 2D6 minus half the Vehicle’s armour value. This is horrific, and your Praetors should go nowhere near the man.

Finally, his Djinn-skein lets him increase the BS of joined units by 1, and also lets your entire Detachment re-roll Scatter rolls as long as he can see the targeted unit or point of
deployment for Deep Striking units. Neat!

Anachoris Scoria is a friendly little scorpion who substantially boosts the effectiveness of nearby Cybernetica, allowing them to make Reactions. He’s immensely tough, with T7, 7 Wounds and Eternal Warrior, and his melee attack is hitting as S9 Ap2 with a whole range of bonus rules. He’s an absolute beast but probably not a Primarch killer. He’s also an accomplished Cybertheurgist, gaining Artificia Machina, Artificia Cybernetica, and Ephemera Incrusis Cybertheurgic Arcana, making him very flexible.

Elites

Tech-Priest Auxilia is a neat little unit, a squad of 1-3 Tech-Priests accompanied by 4-10 Servo-automata (Servitors). The most annoying thing about this unit is that you can’t take Tech-Priests without the servo-automata, so you can’t just bang down a Mechanicus Enginseer as a cheap and fun option. Their primary purpose is Battlesmith, but you must upgrade the unit with one of three Techno-arcana, the baby version of what the Archmagos can have.

Mechanicum Techpriest Auxilia
Mechanicum Techpriest Auxilia. Credit: CJ Shearwood

Enginseer grants the Priests a servo-arm and improves your Battlesmith rolls,  Lachrimallus gain Feel No Pain and boost the Feel No Pain rolls for nearby Tech-Thrall units, while Reductor grain Sunder and Wrecker and the option of conversion beamers and gravitor imploders, letting you set up a cute little long range firebase. What’s sadly less exciting is that only the unit champion (a Magos Auxilia) has BS4.

Arcuitor Magisterium are a new, Loyalist only, unit, acting as the Inquisitors of the Mechanicum. They’re tough, can join an Arlatax or Vorax maniple, and with their Precision Strikes (5+) and the ability to take a Paragon blade could cause some harm, though the two attacks really does set them back (though practically it’s 3 because of the two weapons you’ll make sure they have).

Domitars are Automata who are your tank and dreadnought hunters extraordinaire, armed with a pair of graviton hammers that at range put out a template with Haywire and Graviton Pulse. Since these are both rules which you use instead of rolling to wound normally, so we’re not sure what happens there other than “Vehicles, Automata and Dreadnoughts are all sad”. If we’re forced to make an interim suggestion for a ruling – it does both. In melee, Domitars will hit you with four S10 Ap2 Armourbane, Concussive (2) hits each, which are nasty, but weirdly don’t have any form of Brutal, so you’re likely still coming out on the wrong end of a fight with a dreadnought.

The first of two types of Myrmidons, Secutors are combat monsters designed to shred Terminators with Strength 7, AP2 and Hatred while not suffering nearly as much in return. If you hit a Vehicle, Sunder will help, while 6 bolter shots per model will thin out crowds a little before you mulch them. You can even upgrade them with some interesting weapon choices, but really you want these guys to hit melee as soon as possible.

Troops and Dedicated Transports

Everyone loves cyborg zombies, and your Adsecularis Tech-Thrall Covenant scratches that cybernetic itch. Players of first edition will be surprised to find they’ve lost the options for Mitralocks and, most aggravating to my 40, heavy chainblades as well, reflecting the “no model no rules” vibe. Hopefully we’ll get those in a Legacies PDF.

The Rite of Pure Thought means you can’t make Reactions or Sweeping Advances which is a blow but puts it on par with a lot of the rest of the army. They’re pretty fragile despite a Feel No Pain (5+), and honestly you’re probably going to be leaving them at home. Sure, 45 points for 10 is cheap as chips, but WS2 means that Hatred won’t be doing them any favours, and even Stubborn can’t stop Leadership 6 being a liability.

Thallax Cohorts are your main troops, a tough jet pack equipped platform that reduces enemy cover saves and prevents infiltrators being deployed within 24”, functionally removing that rule from your enemy in a lot of cases (Lupe’s Note: As an Alpha Legionplayer, I hate this so much). Their Lightning gun has been tweaked (and improved) into two profiles, Arc to deal with hordes and Strike to Rend, Shred and Exoshock anything tough. Their ability to pack a range of heavy weapons into a jump-shoot-jump platform with Deep Strike means they are a delicious, if narratively traumatising, option. They’re also Line which unless you’re running Ordo Cybernetica you really need.

Mechanicum Mechanicus Thallax
Mechanicum Thallax. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Scyllax Guardian-Automata are a fun little blender unit with an option to choose, whenever you want, to turn your melee attacks into S7 AP2 Cumbersome for the loss of Shred. Given how tough Automata can be, they’re a neat little choice to “tone down” a Cybernetica focused list.

Speaking of Automata, Castellax are a very nasty option. Think of them as slightly weaker dreadnoughts, being only Toughness 6 and 4 Wounds, while being almost half the price at 95 points each. In a fight against their Astartes kin they’re probably coming out on the wrong end, as none of their melee weapons have the Brutal rule which makes Dreanoughts so nasty, but they’ll rip and tear pretty much everything else happily and pack a bunch at range with some great options.

Mechanicum Castellax
Mechanicum Castellax. Credit: CJ Shearwood

To carry all your friends you can take a Triaros Armoured Conveyor, a front armour 14 tank with a capacity of twenty two and a whopping five Hull Points. Oh, and a freakin’ flare shield in case it wasn’t tough enough. This is all balanced out by the tank being AV 12 on the side and about as long as the Tour De France. These are remarkably heavily armed for a dedicated transport, and it’s certainly plausible to run these as an armoured fist.

One extremely notable absence here is the Terrax Pattern Termite Assault Drill. It’s just not here. We cannot explain why.

Fast Attack

Oddly, for an army stereotyped as full of slow clanky robots, Mechanicum Fast Attack is a hotly contested slot.

Arlatax are the answer to the age old question of “what happens if you strap a rocket booster to a robot”, and the result is probably “something that would be a lot better if it had the option to strike at AP2”. It’s fast, it’s tanky, and it’s probably your best option for Paragon of Metal, but they’ve not quite where you’d hope.

Ursarax sadly struggle to punch above their weight, with a less impressive Feel No Pain than you’d hope and worse Strength 4. That makes the power fists the optimum choice for smashing, and they’ll certainly do work against tough enemies with them… if they survive to get those hits in.

Mechanicum Ursurax
Mechanicum Ursarax. Credit: CJ Shearwood

Vorax are your insect robots, and also suffer from a lack of AP2, and feel a little overpriced. Their core value is their Scout and Fleet (2) movement shenanigans, letting you put a swarm of Breaching (5+) attacks where you need them most.

Vulturax are flyers that rock Disruption (4+) on a S6 gun, meaning to hit rolls of 4+ will cause an automatic Glancing Hit, and an automatic wound against Dreadnoughts and Automata. This is… fine, but at 125 points each you’re going to need a swarm of these to take down most flyers reliably. Ultimately it’s hard to see this really hold its own.

Heavy Support

Mechanicum Thanatar
Mechanicum Thanatar. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Thanatar Siege-Automata are massive automata designed to destroy everything in sight. Rocking a Leviathan-grade defensive profile of T8, W7 and 2+ save with an Atomantic Deflector, the Thanatar isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. The Thanatar-Calix is
your anti-tank robot, with a S10 Sollex heavy-las with Armourbane knocking you out at range while a Graviton Ram will do in your vehicles in close combat. The Thanatar-Cavas carries a pair of Shock Chargers which are… AP3 and that’s it. Not to worry, as your Thanatar-Cavas also carries a plasma mortar, a S8 AP4 large blast with Breaching (4+) and, most excitingly, the ability to fire it twice at the cost of D3 wounds.

Myrmidon Destructors are your second type of Myrmidon Host, with every model able to rock a different heavy weapon. Darkfire cannons are probably the best bet as one of the best of the greatly reduced number of AP2 Mechanicum have access to. These lads are basically “bulky heavy support marines” and honestly that’s cool and good.

Mechanicum Myrmidon Destructors
Mechanicum Myrmidon Destructors. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Despite being thought of as an armoured force, Mechanicum really don’t actually have that many Vehicles. The Karacnos Assault Tank is one of the few available, and can probably be best described as a war-crime on tracks, with a 7” blast with seven special rules on its Karacnos mortar battery, including Crawling Fire and Shell Shock (3). This pie plate is going to hit a lot of dudes, and even the ones that get back up aren’t going to be going anywhere in a hurry.

Krios are the other main kind of tank the Mechanicum can take and they come in two flavours, vanilla and venator. Both are fast but quite light tanks but they sport different main weapons. The standard version has a lightning cannon which is a nasty big blast weapon with Rending (4+). That makes it able to punch above it’s weight in terms of armour penetration, even though it’s strength 7 and is nice for hitting 2+ save models with wounds. The venator instead mounts a pulsar-fusil which is basically a viciously effective terminator and veteran killer that also inflicts pinning. It would be nice if it had brutal though. Altogether this is a pretty decent unit, with the vanilla choice seeming the stronger one.

Finally, you have the Knight Moirax Talon, armed with, well, pretty much whatever you want. You can make mini melee Dreadnoughts with siege claws and irad cleansers, Marine mulchers with Lightning Locks, guardsman munchers with Volkite Veuglaires… However, Lightning Locks seems a solid top place choice against marines. With the rough spot automata find themselves in, Moirax have a very strong place in this army and we expect to see a lot of them on tables.

Mechanicum Knight Moirax Talon
Mechanicum Knight Moriax Talon. Credit: CJ Shearwood

Lords of War

All the Mechanicum Knights can be taken as part of a Mechanicum Detachment, including the Magaera, Styrix, Atropos, and Asterius. Your Magaera and Styrix are probably best used to thin out units, while your Atrapos is your giant killer, counting all ranged weapons as twin-linked when targeting super-heavies, knights, titans, or monstrous units. The Mechanicum Acastus Knight Asterius mounts a pair of twin-linked heavy conversion beam cannons, which can at best be S12 AP1 5” large blast monsters, but this requires your target be over 42” away, which is a bit of a long shot. They might be best used in mega battles, as their guns degrade the closer the enemy is, and on a standard 6’ by 4’ board their 625 point price tag is a bit hefty.

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

Ordinatus Engines are the staggeringly powerful (and staggeringly expensive) super-heavies unique in form to the Mechanicum, and both types come with an Ordinatus Dispersion Shield, reducing the strength of incoming shooting by -2 and ignoring Explodes results if anything gets through, a neat way of making sure you get to play with your absurdly expensive toys. The Aktaeus is the cheap and cheerful 800 point transport drill thing, carrying up to 42 models in a subterranean assault. There’s not really much more to say about it; it has 14HP, so it’s getting to where it needs to go, and once per game you can immobilise it to send out continual pulses of death to nearby units, in a cute range
of 6 multiplied by the game turn.

The Ordinatus Ulator is a whopping 1,075 points and is worth every single one. It’s armed with a sonic destructor, which is in the politely titled “exotic and miscellaneous weapons” section, which instead of shooting normally shoots the 5” template in a beam 72” with every model clipped by the template suffering a S6 AP2 hit with Pinning, Armourbane, Murderous Strike (5+) and, just to add insult to injury, Ignores Cover. Knights, super heavies, buildings and other large victims suffer this hit at S10 instead and this is a destroyer weapon meaning it is going to absolutely wreck vehicles (or anything else).

The Titan Legions

Vast machines of war, the Titan Legions of course have their own game set in the Age of Darkness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the Big Versions. Titan Legions are a support force rather than a stand alone army, and they have their own specific detachment (the Titan Maniple) that can only be brought as an optional detachment in an army with another primary detachment. It’s composed of a compulsory troops or lord of war choice, and then you can bring along a bunch of HQs, Troops and Lords of War if you want. However, there’s no exception to the cap on Lords of War in list building from this detachment, so you’ll need to be playing a large enough game. You can alternatively bring along a single Lord of War choice using the standard detachment from the core book, and there’s no reason not to if you’re just grabbing a single titan.

The Secutarii Axiarch is the only HQ choice in this faction, and is basically the Secutarii version of a centurion – more wounds, more attacks, buffed stats and some fancy wargear choices. He only has WS 4 though, so he’s not going to be able to hold his own against any characters with real bite. The real meat comes from Binaric Stratagems that lets you choose a buff for your Secutarii units from one of four: Feel No Pain (5+), Move Through Cover, Wrecker or Preferred Enemy (Infantry). The last is our pick for the best bang for your buck, as it turns secutarii into pretty efficient killers.

The Secutarii Hoplite Phalanx is the first of the troop options and is a tough nut to crack with some nice layered defences: 4+, 5+ invulnerable, 6+ Feel No Pain. Add to that the Kyropatris Field Generator and blocks of these are gonna be pretty hard to move. You probably do want to run them in large units though, 20 for preference, to make the most of their generators and to ensure when you hit something in combat you can finish the job. It’s a real shame they’re not Line.

The Secutarii Peltast Phalanx is the other option and offers some ranged firepower to your cyborg friends. Unfortunately the basic loadout just isn’t very killy, with the Galvanic Casters being lacklustre and expensive to upgrade. Switching them out for Arc Rifles is certainly tempting, but an expensive proposition. Ultimately these don’t feel like they’re going to achieve a huge amount unless you invest more than is sensible into them. However these offer up an opportunity to use your 40k Adeptus Mechanicus models, because the arc rifle and rad carbine options are just skitarii. Add in an Axiarch (Marshall) and you can use a few cheaper plastic kits to round out your Mechanicum army in an allied detachment (or in a marine force, for that matter). Again it’s a shame they’re not Line, but they’re still a fun little denial unit and it’s great that the option is there.

Skitarii Vanguard. Credit: Rockfish
Skitarii Vanguard make perfect peltasts. Credit: Rockfish

The titans are of course the real draw of this particular subfaction and they’re certainly extremely tough. Even the smallest and weakest, the Warhound, is rocking 12 HP an 14/13/12 armour, 2 void shields, and some pretty Big Guns. At 750 points it’s a big spend but it’ll be a rock against which the enemy breaks and you can have a lot of fun stomping around with it. It’s also feasible to fit this into a 3000 point list, so it’s a fun unit to include.

Warhound Titan Credit: Greg Chiasson

Once you move past this into the larger titans you’re moving out of “you might bring this to a game” and into “this is for a special event or weekender” and honestly does it matter if they’re good or not? All of them are hugely tough, absurdly killy, and utterly impractical for anything approaching a normal game. If you are playing a game big enough to bring a Warlord then you probably don’t care overly about tight game balance, and just want it to be huge stompy and kill things – it’ll definitely do that. Your resin toddler will have a great time.

Questoris Knight Households

While you can only use Titan Legions are an allied detachment in your army, Questoris Knight Households can be your army. Veterans of first edition may remember Knight lists have a bad reputation, being oppressive to fight and overwhelming if you’d not built very explicitly to tackle them. The good news is that the Questoris Knight Household in second edition is an entirely different beast, and they’re shaping up to look to be extremely fun to play with and against.

There’s a new detachment for this subfaction, the Household Detachment, and it can be used as a primary detachment or a secondary. If you take it as a primary then you can take an allied detachment, which is cool, and also the limit on Lords of War is dropped. Now this might sound like you’re going to be able to jam your whole list full of big knights, but actually the truth is quite a lot neater than that.

Questoris Household Force Organisation Chart

Armigers are your troops, and you can field them in groups or singularly, so you must have at least 2 armigers for each of your big knights. This it turns out, is an excellent solution.

Knight Units

So let’s look at the Armiger Warglaive Talon and Armiger Helvrin Talon (if you were hoping for Moirax, they’re not here – Mechanicum main only). You can buy these in units of 1 – 4 and they’re not Vehicles, but Armigers. This is a new unit type for this book, and it’s a fascinating one. The summary is that they’re a lot like Dreadnoughts (similar statline, wounds not armour facings, can fire all their weapons, fire heavy and ordinance as if stationary, reroll fleshbane and poison against them, 5+ invulnerable save, etc) but with some key differences. To represent that their pilots are less skilled and veteran they’re Stubborn but they can fall back from combats (and be swept), they can be pinned, and they have WS and BS 4. They’re a little less tough (with a 3+ not a 2+ save) but they’re faster and get move through cover meaning they can cross rough ground really quickly. They also have Line, which means these are actually more comparable to Contemptor Dreadnoughts in a Fury of the Ancients Rite of War – and the number of events banning that should tell you how good it is.

Imperial Knight Armiger Helverin
Imperial Knight Armiger Helverin. Credit: Pendulin

The Warglaive comes with a chainblade and a thermal lance, which gives it a nasty anti-armour gun and an extremely scary thing to hit terminators with that makes them sad and fall over. The chainblade does lack Brutal so it’s probably not going to come out on top with a dreadnought if it hits combat straight away, but it can almost certainly outshoot it and. The Helvrin comes instead with a pair of Phaeton autocannons, which have two firing modes (one gives sunder the other Ignores Cover) both with a majestic 64″ range and ap3.

As it stands you’ll have plenty of use for both and there’s not a clear winning on which is better. They’ll both do excellent work. They’re however not invulnerable, and they have some key weaknesses. You’ll see pinning and morale matter a lot more here, and even massed bolter fire can take one down eventually. They’re also a lot more vulnerable to weapons like Missile Launchers, because ap3 is a lot more common than ap2.

Instead of going through every single knight, we’re just going to look at the chassis and quickly talk about the weapons you can take. The Knight Questoris basically gets the full range of options available to the plastic kit on a body that’s pretty tough with 7 HP (but with the added toughness of not being able to explode or take more results on the penetrating damage table) and 13/12/12 armour. They’re fast and strong but they’re not invulnerable – concentrated fire will bring one down, though a 4+ invulnerable save to shooting is going to help that a lot.

Imperial Knight Paladin. Credit: Jack Hunter

The knights built on the Cerastus Knight Armour (the LancerCastigator, and Acheron) are all a bit stronger (strength 9) and faster (Movement 14, plus flank speed that lets them go faster if they’re not shooting), and get an extra attack. Other than that they’re pretty similar to the Questoris, but each with its own twist on aggressive assault (spear, sword and fist, respectively). Meanwhile the Acastus Knight Porphyrion goes the other way, mounting All the Guns and getting a lot tougher and stronger (9 HP and 14 armour on the front) in exchange for a substantial price tag. They’re also 0-1, which is sensible all things considered. The last four knights in the section (Atrapos, Asteroid, Magaera, and Styrix) are shared with the Mechanicum and we covered them earlier. You cannot bring the Moirax with you though, which is an odd absence given all the other knights come over. There are also no domimus knights here, which is a strange absence.

Mechanicum Knight Acheron
Mechanicum Knight Acheron. Credit: CJ Shearwood.

Household Ranks

Not content with making Knight Armies cool again, the Liber Mechanicum has decided to upgrade them to Cool as Hell with the addition of Household Ranks. These are special upgrades you can buy for your Lord of War slot knights that represent their position in the Questoris Household. These range from the cheap and cheerful (30 points for an Uhlan that makes a Knight faster and gives it Scout and Outflank) to the expensive and powerful (80 points for a Seneschal that buffs WS and BS and gives it a warlord trait that lets knights nearby reaction fire at whatever they like, not just big things) to the entertaining but baffling (a 30 point discount for a Aspirant to represent a teenager not fully ready to command a knight but forced to, and giving them pretty substantial stat reductions).

These are a fantastic addition, and it means that knight armies not only will be awesome in terms of the raw units, but will have personality and weight and you can customise the already pretty varied core units even further to fit your battle plan. Did I mention you can outflank with a knight? It’s Cool as Hell.

Conclusion

The Liber Mechanicum is a land of contrasts. The core Mechanicum list that it supports, the main army it’s for, has gotten a rough end of the deal – not many choices for army special rules, a lot of serious downsides in their units, and not many stand out options for army selection. You can certainly have a great time with these lists and for some people that’ll be all that matters, but it’s a shame that they don’t seem to have had the same glow up as the marines did.

These somewhat negative vibes can be thrust hurriedly aside when it comes to the Titan Legions and, particularly, the Knight Households. Titans are fun, and offer a chance to include some of your plastic 40k models, but the Knight Households are so much fun and seem like they’re going to be really great to play and play against. It’s a shame not all of the book got the same treatment.