The Goonhammer Review: The 10th Edition Imperial Knights Index

To the glorious sounds of big stompy feet, assorted enormous guns and a resounding HONK from their warhorns, here come the Imperial Knights!

If you like big stompy robots there are all kinds of mechs of one sort or another available to Imperial, Xenos and even the hated Chaos Knights, which we will not sully this article by discussing (but which we’ll definitely cover elsewhere). Of course, the only honourable option is to ignore all of that nonsense, strap yourself into the Throne Mechanicum of an Imperial Knight and charge it at something.

This review is going to cover the Imperial Knight Index. This contains the plastic Knights from the main Games Workshop line, but Forge World makes a load of other knights which will have a major impact on the units you take in an army, especially with plastic Lancers (and possibly other Cerastus) on the way. We’ll discuss them when we get a chance to look at Imperial Armour.

The road map didn’t say when the Knight Codex would be released so it won’t be till Summer 2024 at the earliest. Knight players will be using these rules to chart their glorious path to victory (or perhaps glorious death) for the next year or so.

So it’s a good thing that they’re pretty good.

Before we begin we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a review copy of the Index for review purposes.

Army Rule

There’s quite a lot here because, in addition to the usual army rules everyone gets, these rules need to cover how Super-heavy Walkers work and what happens when a Freeblade rocks up to join other Imperial Armies.

Code Chivalric

The rather convoluted system from 9th, where you picked two of four oaths to track how honourable you were being, has been simplified considerably. Now you pick one of two Oaths once you know what mission you’re doing, gaining an Oath Ability for doing so. You can become Honoured when you accomplish a single deed required by that Oath.

Being Honoured doesn’t do anything inherently (as honourable conduct is its own reward) but the warm glow it provides triggers various effects from your Detachment Rule, Enhancements, Stratagems and so on, as we’ll see.

Warhammer Community has already shown us these, so here you go:

Lay Low the Tyrant is a strong generalist ability that will improve your knights whether they’re shooting or fighting in melee. We are pretty sure you get to reroll one hit or wound each time you activate the model, not every dice result of a 1. As such it will tend to benefit weapons with a few powerful attacks like a Thermal Cannon or the “Strike” attack of Knights’ melee weapons. It won’t be so impactful for high-volume attacks like the Avenger Gatling Cannon or “Sweep” attacks – though it’ll still help.

You’ll want to consider what your opponent’s Warlord is before choosing this Oath. If they’ve got somebody reckless who wants to engage you in honourable combat then you can oblige by killing them in various noisy and spectacular ways. Be aware that not all enemies will be as noble as this, however. A truly cowardly foe might leave his Warlord in reserve, denying you the kill for several turns.

Or you can go with Reclaim the Realm and just be awesome at charging around the battlefield. This is mainly only a benefit to knights that want to get into close combat, though in theory this would help a bit if a Knight ever wanted to run away from something. This is good for Knight Errants and their Warglaive Bondsmen, as we’ll see.

It looks like it will be difficult to claim an objective in your opponent’s deployment zone to fulfil the oath on turn one, but perhaps not impossible. A Gallant could potentially advance 20” under this oath, or move 13” and charge. But the Leviathan deployment deck places objectives fairly far back into deployment zones, so it’s a really big ask to get honoured in turn one. That means you’ll be taking at least one shooting phase without your 5+++, and often two or more.

While it’s nice to have the option of oaths, I think we’ll also see players build their armies to go for one oath or the other. For example I think the Dominus knights both really want to have the rerolls from Lay Low the Tyrant, for the whereas a melee-focused army with a lot of Gallants, Warglaives and so on will get more use out of Reclaim the Realm. Of course, it may turn out to be more useful to have the flexibility of both options rather than going heavily for a melee or shooting approach.

Bondsman Abilities

In your Command Phase a Questoris Knight can declare that an Armiger within 12” (who hasn’t been claimed by another Questoris) is his Bondsman. You might imagine that this would be an oath of a lifetime’s service, but in fact it only lasts for one Battle Round of Warhammer 40,000, ending on your next Command Phase – when new bonds can be issued. Each type of Questoris Knight has a different Bondsman Ability. When you activate it both the Armiger and the Questoris Knight benefit from the ability.

The fact that these abilities now affect Questoris Knights makes quite a difference. It’s a simple upgrade to their power, for starters. It means that an efficient build probably brings at least as many Armigers as Questoris Knights, so you can keep these abilities “up”. And it makes Questoris Knights feel more individual. Rather than basically the same hull with only the guns to tell them apart, they will now be good at different stuff. I’ll discuss these abilities when I look at a few datasheets later on. 

We aren’t told exactly when to activate Bondsman Abilities, other than that it happens in the Command Phase. For now this means you can do it when you want, perhaps waiting to see whether an Armiger gets Battle-shocked before applying the rule. On the other hand you might want to use the Preceptor’s “Mentor” Bondsman Ability, which increases the target’s LD, before the Battleshock test.

Super-heavy Walker

This is a simple one: your big knights can walk over non-Titanic models and terrain that’s less than 4” tall, as if they weren’t there whenever you make Normal, Advance or Fall Back moves. Note that this doesn’t allow you to fall back and shoot or charge, which knights could do in previous editions, but it can still get you out of a tight spot – or perhaps into one.


Imperial Armies can bring either a single Titanic Knight or up to three Armigers. They can’t be Warlord and can’t have Enhancements. They also won’t benefit from army abilities, Detachment Abilities, Strats and so on belonging to the “main” army because they won’t have the right keywords. You won’t be able to use Bondsman Abilities because you won’t ever have both a Questoris knight and an Armiger to use them on.

This will tend to make it better to bring something other than a Questoris Knight as your allied Freeblade, as they’re the ones whose abilities are most keyed into the Knights’ army. Dominus Knights lose less because they don’t have Bondsman Abilities anyway. Canis Rex loses least because, as an Epic Hero, he isn’t allowed Enhancements anyway, and he has no Bondsman Ability either. Even he will lose out as he’ll only be able to use his Legendary Freeblade ability for generic stratagems, not the Imperial Knight ones.

On the plus side of course, you get to bring an Imperial Knight. This will do all sorts of great things for your army, while setting them all a glorious example of honourable Conduct (or perhaps not, as the Oath rules don’t apply at all in this case, so do what you want).

Imperial Knight Paladin. Credit: Jack Hunter

Detachment Rules

Detachment Ability

This one is really simple. INDOMITABLE HEROES gives you 6+ Feel No Pain right from the start, improving to 5+ if your army becomes Honoured by completing your vow.

That works out as a 20% increase in durability for all your models from the start, becoming a 50% increase once you’re Honoured. If you think that sounds like a big deal, you’re right.

This means that you’ll want to fulfill your vow as early as possible in the game. If you aren’t sure which vow to go with, taking the one that’ll you think you’ll achieve soonest is probably the most honourable choice.


“Enhancements” replace the Relics and Warlord Traits of previous editions, combining the two things into a single set of upgrades which you can give to your CHARACTER models but not to EPIC HERO models – though only Canis Rex is one of those.

As it turns out, all the big knights in the Index are Characters, so they can have Enhancements. A couple of the enhancements are limited to only Questoris models, meaning they’re not available to Dominus Knights (or presumably to forgeworld Knights).

There’s some fun stuff here. A MYSTERIOUS GUARDIAN can deep strike, which is already quite cool. Once per game they can fade away at the end of your opponent’s turn and deep strike back in again in your turn. This could be very nasty with a Valiant, which could appear right where it wasn’t wanted and start doing all sorts of damage. Any knight deep striking would have an ok chance of making a charge if you’ve gone for RECLAIM THE REALM as your Oath.

The BANNER OF MACHARIUS TRIUMPHANT lets you continue to control an objective if you wander off or die, which will be useful for an army with so few units.

The Questoris-locked UNYIELDING PARAGON reduces the AP of all incoming attacks by 1, which is lovely but maybe not as game-altering as these two. It would be great on a Dominus Knight with a 2+ save, but they aren’t allowed it. That’s annoying, as Chaos Knights can put the equivalent Enhancement on anything.


Generally speaking, these provide an assortment of heroic ways for your knights to do more damage to the enemy. There isn’t a lot of subtly here but there’s a lot of pain for the enemies of the Emperor. Several of them also benefit significantly from you being Honoured.

One of the fun ones is Shoulder the Burden. Once per game (and once more if you’re honoured) for 2CP you increase a wounded (even slightly) model’s move, toughness, save, LD and OC by one and get +1 to hit for all its attacks, till your next command phase.

Squires Duty works for two Armigers picking on one enemy target in either the shooting or fight phases. Both of their guns get +1S and -1AP against that thing, and also +1D if you are Honoured. A couple of Armigers could do really serious harm using this. So could Honoured Warglaives in melee, as it turns their sweep into a 2D attack.

There are also a couple of classics. Rotate Ion Shields gives a knight a 4++ against shooting. Valiant Last Stand is a standard fight on death ability in melee, counting as on one wound normally or full wounds if Honoured.

I also want to flag that the Core Stratagem Tank Shock is pretty fun for Knights. A Thunderstrike Gauntlet has a Strength of 20, which is almost definitely more than the target’s toughness. You’re going to be rolling 22 dice, scoring mortal wounds on a 5+ as you charge in.

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


Looking at the Knights themselves, you have three chassis in the Index: the Armiger, Questoris and Dominus. All knights on the same Chassis have generally the same stats and many of the same weapons, but now their datasheet and Bonsman Abilities have slightly more to make them feel different.

Five Coolest Units

  • Armiger Helverins chuck out 8 good anti-vehicle shots a turn with good damage, though they might want to use the Squire’s Duty stratagem to compensate for weak AP . Their key ability is Anti-Fly 2+ on their guns if they’re in your deployment zone or on an objective, which is great as that’s generally where they want to be anyway.
  • The Errant’s Thermal Cannon now only has a 24” range. However it’s Bondsman ability lets it and the Armiger advance and fire (but not charge), with rerolls on the advance. So it’s good at getting that gun into range and happy using either oath. It also gets +1 to hit the nearest target with ranged attacks, though I don’t think that necessarily suits its equipment all that well. This isn’t a unit you want to use to kill screens.
  • I love the Knight Warden’s Bondsman Ability, which is -1D on incoming attacks targeting it or the Armiger. The Mythic Hero enhancement grants a knight the ability to target two Armigers for its Bonsdman ability and I can see that being given to Wardens a lot. It also gets Devastating Wounds on ranged attacks except against vehicles and monsters. Mortal wounds spill over to new targets, which can make its 2D avenger and D6 damage Stormspear Rocket Pod significantly more efficient – and of course more dangerous too. On the other hand at S6 the Avenger is now somewhat weakened by toughness of some of its potential targets now going to 12 and more. It isn’t as much of an “anti-everything” gun any more. 
  • The Valiant is a major threat now. Not only is its harpoon now really quite reliable (especially with rerolls from the Lay Low the Tyrant Oath) but it also has devastating wounds (on a 4+ vs vehicles and monsters) so it can potentially skewer a whole squad of 12 1-wound targets. The Conflagration Cannon is absolutely devastating, and a huge threat with overwatch as it hits automatically. You can also cause one unit that it’s shot to take a battleshock test, and the cool thing here is that you’ve got loads of different weapons. It’s no problem to fire a siegebreaker or something at a unit on an objective, perhaps losing control of it for your opponent. One downside is that you don’t get a bondsman ability, though to compensate slightly nearby Armigers get the benefit of cover from your Ion Aegis aura.
  • Canis Rex is unusual in that all the details are on one side of its card, with Sir Hekhtur on the back. It’s a lot like a Preceptor except that it hits on a 2+, has sustained hits and all of its attacks cause crits on a 5+. This actually equates to about 75% more hits than you’d usually get, which is kind of devastating. He’s better in melee too with 5 attacks from his gauntlet, hitting on 2s, which will probably do more damage than a Gallant thanks to sustained hits. When the Knight dies Sir Hekhtur gets out and your opponent doesn’t count the kill till he’s gone. He’s a Lone Operative but I don’t think he’ll survive all that long most of the time. You can’t give Canis Rex any upgrades or enhancements, and he doesn’t have a Bondsman Ability but other Knight Army and Detachment abilities work. Note that you can use the fight on death stratagem on Canis Rex, even though Sir Hekhtur bails out. It’s only the little guy himself who can’t, and you probably wouldn’t bother anyway.

Knight - Avenger and Battle Cannon. Credit: Rockfish
Knight – Avenger and Battle Cannon. Credit: Rockfish

Five Biggest changes from 9th

  • You can’t fall back and charge or shoot any more, which is a major reduction in your options once you’re tied up in combat. However, while in melee you can fire at whatever you like at -1 to hit. 
  • Battlefield terrain is a bit friendlier now. You can see through windows! The cowardly foe can’t hide behind things and shoot at you any more. And you can get the benefit of cover from ruins, statues and forests fairly easily.
  • Nobody has Obsec, so now big knights will more often control objectives while in melee.
  • A general cutting away of rules. No households. No distinction between Imperial and Admech knights. Vows are simplified. Some of this stuff might reappear in the codex, when we eventually get it.
  • Bondsman abilities benefit the Questoris Knight as well as the Armiger. This incentivises armies with around the same number of Armigers and Titanic knights, rather than skewing one way or other.

General Unit Thoughts

There are two key ways to field Knights: as their own army or as freeblades (one titanic or three armigers) accompanying another Imperial army. 

Very generally speaking, I think Canis Rex and the Dominus Knights are the best options if you want a Freeblade. Freeblades will be on their own, so things like enhancements, bondsmen abilities and stratagems aren’t available. These units have limitations on all that stuff anyway, so they don’t miss out as much.

On the other hand, a “proper” Imperial Knight army will more often want to be mostly made up of Questoris and Armiger Knights, using the full suite of Enhancements, Bondsman Abilities and so on. This means that you’ll want to design your army to maximise the benefits of these combos, or perhaps to give yourself a selection of abilities to tackle different threats.

I have a hard time picking the best options for things like Bondsman Abilities. Either I’ve forgotten how to spot useful stuff or the writers have done a good job of making all of them useful. I definitely rate the Warden’s -1D ability but it is one of the more passive options and there are various ways round it – such as shooting something else. The Errant’s ability to advance and shoot gives potentially valuable board control but may not be required after the first turn or two. 

Wrap Up

The best thing I can say about these rules is that they look fun to use. I want to get my Taranis Knights onto a table, perhaps with a couple of new Helverins and/or a Valiant. 

With an army made of a fairly small number of expensive units you don’t have too many different abilities to remember or track, but the things you do have all look like they work and have an impact. As such it won’t be all that difficult to get your army to work efficiently. Games will likely be decided by the great and rubbish decisions you and your opponent make and the vagaries of the dice gods, rather than because you forgot to do something complicated at the right moment.

I used to like to bring a small Admech detachment so I had some models to screen with, carry out actions and so on. I won’t be able to do that any more but fortunately the recent arrival of Imperial Agents gives you some fairly similar options. At 2000 points you can take two units, plus a couple of characters like Inquisitors and assassins if you want.That’s a good addition to the toolbox and perhaps a fun opportunity for conversions. I’d love to see a unit or two of subductors converted to look like feudal men at arms, and with their 4++ shields that wouldn’t be a terrible choice for a screening unit. I think Exaction squads might be better, thanks to their 5+ Feel No Pain – and their guns might come in handy too!

Credit: SRM

Finally it’ll be really interesting to see what rules Forge World Knights get. Plastic Cerastus are being made for Heresy, which will make them way more accessible. I expect that the plastic kits will be out before the full Imperial Knight Codex, so it’s possible they’ll feature in it.

It’s looking like a great time to play Knights. See you on the field!