Fighting off the forces of Chaos and alien Xenos threats for thousands of years, the Imperial Knights stand tall on the battlefield. With oaths taken and guns blazing, these monstrously huge hulking machines rain down terror on all who stand against them. Games Workshop sent us a model kit for one of these Imperial Knights, along with their brand new Codex, which we're diving into in our preview. Stay until the end of the article for a look at the new War Zone Nachmund: Rift War supplement for Warhammer 40K as well!
Who Are The Warhammer 40K Imperial Knights?
The Warhammer 40K Imperial Knights are their own discrete army within the Warhammer 40K universe. Instead of fielding hordes of smaller models, each Imperial Knight is a massive walking battle station with a full suite of weapons, great armor, tons of wounds, and special rules all to themselves. Playing an Imperial Knights army means fielding just a few key units, but each one can stop entire regiments in their tracks. It's a different playstyle, and you have to be careful not to get surrounding or lose objectives, but the sheer table presence alone while playing an Imperial Knight as really a sight to behold.
But who are the Imperial Knights? As described in the Imperial Knights Codex, the Knights were originally armored walkers created by early settlers in humanity's first expansion into deep space. With challenges and danger at every turn, humanity in some enclaves built these giant suits that could "traverse dangerous terrain, prevail through horrific climatic conditions and be used by their pilots to defend their settlements." To pilot an Imperial Knight is more than just pulling some levers and pushing some pedals, it involves sitting upon the Throne Mechanicum, and being neurally linked directly into the interface of the Knight. But as the pilots of these suits became more enmeshed with their machines, they grew more authoritarian, and their worlds became conservative, secluded places. Though this protected them from many of the horrors that would befall humanity during the Old Dark, it turned once forward-looking communities into small fiefdoms, with these noble Imperial Knights and their family line ruling like true knights and monarchs before being brought into the light of the Emperor.
What Are The Warhammer 40K Imperial Knights Noble Houses?
In much the same way other armies in Warhammer 40K have a multitude of clans, chapters, and more they can choose from when constructing their army, the Imperial Knights all fall into a series of houses, each with their own lore, insignia, color scheme, and special rules. Though each is covered in-depth, let's take a snapshot look at some of the abilities granted to each house.
First, resplendent in red and white, is the House Taranis. They're described as "true servants of the machine god" and the oldest of the noble houses. They benefit from, among other bonuses, the ability to roll to ignore non-mortal wounds, and come with a Command Stratagem that allows them to re-deploy a destroyed unit that hasn't exploded back onto the battlefield with three wounds remaining. Next up is House Raven, a household without a home planet, who is treated as having remained stationary after it moves or advances, and they come with a relic that allows Armigers (smaller-class Knights) to re-roll hit rolls of 1. House Krast swiftly joined the Imperial Crusade when they were rediscovered by humanity, and automatically wounds on hit rolls of 6. House Vulker are reclusive and mysterious, and can re-roll hit rolls of 1 if targeting the closest enemy unit. House Mortan was late to rejoin the Imperium, and are expert melee attackers, re-rolling attack rolls of 1 in melee. They also have access to a very nasty melee weapon, Honour's Bite, as a special relic. House Hawkshroud values honor over all else, and treat their remaining wounds as double when determining how their stats decrease when wounded (a very cool ability I haven't seen elsewhere). House Cadmus are hunters, and they can re-roll wound rolls when attack units with six or more models. House Griffith value courage and skill at arms, and gain an extra attack when charging or the target of a charge. Finally, the haughty and ceremonial House Terryn get to roll two dice when charging and keep their favored result.
This is just a small taste of all the houses and their abilities, each one comes with additional rules, Warlord Traits, relics, and Command Stratagem unique to their house.
How Do The Warhammer 40K Imperial Knights Play?
To take a closer look at the Imperial Knights, let's check out the sample model Games Workshop sent along, the Knight Dominus box. With this kit, you can build either the shield-breaking Knight Valiant or the weapon-laden Knight Castellan. We went with the Knight Castellan, check it out in all it's glory!
This huge model has an 8" move, a weapon skill of 4+, a ballistics skill of +3, has 8 strength and toughness, and a shocking 28 wounds! The standard weapon array it comes with is a Plasma Decimator which is a Heavy 2D6 weapon that deals two damage per wound (and you can supercharge it at your own peril for 3 damage per wound). It also comes with four Shieldbreaker missiles, which deal D6 damage on a wound, and a Twin Meltagun, which is Assault 2 and deals D6 damage. Add on to that its Twin siegebreaker cannon (a Heavy 2D3 weapon), a volcano lance (dealing D6+8 blast damage!!), and its titanic feet, and this is effectively an army's worth of firepower on one model. That's how a lot of these Imperial Knights play, with slight adjustments for if they prefer ranged attacks or melee.
Like all Imperial Knight models, you can see why you don't need that many units to create a potent, power-packed fighting force. There's so much more lore, history, and campaign options to peruse in the Imperial Knights Codex, but we'll leave that for you to explore in more depth.
Bonus: Warzone Nachmund Rift War
Also coming out for preorder this weekend is the newest addition to the Warzone Nachmund season of campaign play. This book covers the continuing story of the war for Nachmund (a vital gauntlet of realspace hotly contested by the Imperium, the forces of Chaos, and Xenos races alike), as well as campaign rules for a War of Desperation, which allows a group of players to form alliances and allegiances as they battle for victory.
There's also a series of Legendary Missions for different levels of play within the Crusade, including Scorched Stars, where a Chaos ship is slowly consuming (literally, with big teeth) an Imperial ship, and the Imperial Alliance players are trying to set off munitions and destroy their warp drive to take their foe down with them. There are also exciting Codex Supplements and armies of renown to further customize your units. First, there's the Castellans of the Rift, an Ultramarines successor chapter dedicated to striking hard with hit-and-run tactics during a Crusade. There's also an Army of Renown for the Thousand Sons called the Warpmeld Pact, who embrace the chaos of the warp and allow you to fold in lots of Tzaangor warriors. This section is really built out, with stratagems, ritual incantations, and more. There are also Crusade rules for an Army of Chaos Undivided, bridging various Chaos units under one noxious banner. Finally there's the Coteries of the Haemonculi, a Drukhari army of renown which allows them to bring on mercenary forces.
That wraps up our coverage on Imperial Knights and Warzone Nachmund Rift War, Want to learn how the other side handles huge machines? Check out our review of the Chaos Knights Army Box, also up for preorder this weekend.
The products used in the creation of this review were provided by Games Workshop.