40k List-Tech: Five is the Bloodiest Number

The list-tech segment is a series of articles designed to focus on unique, competitive lists crafted by players in the community in order to provide new and experienced players with tactics, tips, and tricks to use in the heat of battle. Today, we check out an Imperial Knights list.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Keep calm and make a list

Hello everyone! Welcome to another List-Tech article. Today we are going to pick the mind of a successful Imperial Knight player, who loves himself some giant robots and a quick game. He recently got second place at the Reddings League GT with 5 knights. Usually knight armies play spoiler and rarely win big in the ITC’s msu driven meta, but I think with the shift to the deathstar culture, and a good general we will see knight lists make the top tables… or not, who cares? Giant robots are frickin’ awesome!

bens imperial knight 3

Ben’s army is beautiful and deadly, like Frankie’s eyes.

Ben Vaughn’s 5 Knight List

Knight Warden (Warlord & High King)
Knight Warden
Knight Warden
Knight Warden
Knight Gallant


1. Tell us a little bit about your army, why did you go with certain units? Why did you pick this army list in particular? Is there anything special about your army that you want to highlight?

After trying out a number of different 5 Knight lists, I settled on a very shooting oriented list. The Exalted Court formation offers some amazing benefits, specifically upgrading all of the Knights to WS5 & BS5 and making them characters. This means that in shooting, I can take full advantage of the Warden’s Gatling Cannon hitting on 2’s, and in close combat I’m not only hitting most opponents on 3’s but I can also challenge out their characters, which is especially valuable against units where the sergeant is carrying something like a meltabomb.

The Knight Warden is by far the best of the knights as a generalist, and that gets even better when you up him to BS5. The Gatling Cannon can threaten pretty much everything on the board, including flyers. There are also a number of units that even knights don’t want to engage in combat, and having a solid shooting game means I can focus fire on the stuff I don’t want coming near me. Specifically in my list, it means I can throw 48 STR6 AP3 Rending shots downrange, which is often enough to wreck that key transport, or force otherwise scary units to jink, even if they’re in the air. It also helps with matchups like Battle Company, where each knight needs to damage/destroy multiple units per round if I’m going to win.


2. What expectations did you have for the meta? Were there any armies you were worried about? What match-ups did you feel most comfortable with?

As far as the meta goes, I tend to be afraid of specific units in armies, rather than armies themselves. For example, as far as Eldar goes, I the scariest thing to face across the table is a Wraithknight with CCW & Shield. Since he swings at init5, he can reliably knock out a knight before it can even swing, and my shooting really isn’t that effective against it (although thanks to the recent ITC vote, he won’t be rocking a 4+ cover nearly as often any more). Fortunately, the meta seems to be moving away from the CCW Wraithknight and more to the Skatatch Knight, which doesn’t cause me nearly as many issues. When it comes to Battle Company, that means Lascannon Razorbacks and Grav Cannons, which need to be silenced as soon as possible. The single worst thing to face, however, is Haywire heavy Skitarii, usually in a War Convocation. 2-3 units with Haywire can absolutely wreck me from Drop Pods. I expect that the recent GW FAQs will actually help Knights significantly, between the changes to Jinking, Drop Pod allies, and cover saves.

we are the meta

3. How did you prepare yourself and your list for “meta” armies like Eldar varients, Battle company, and Daemon lists? Who did you beat on the way to victory at the tournament?

Honestly, the best thing about playing Imperial Knight is how relaxing they make tournaments. Almost every game I play is over with plenty of time to spare, so I never feel rushed, I have a chance to chat with my opponent both before and after the game, and I have plenty of time to wander the floor, check out other armies, and rest, which makes a long tournament day so much more bearable. It’s also nice for me (perhaps not so much for my opponents) that there are a number of matchups that I have a significant advantage in. I’ve had countless army list discussions that ended with “I think it’ll perform well, but I have no idea how to beat 5 knights.”

bens imperial knight 2

4. Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back on the tournament was there anything you would have changed about your list to better accommodate the meta you experienced?

Specifically at Redding I played against:
1) A Space Marine player running a very eclectic combination of units that really didn’t have a way to handle Knights. He put up a decent fight, but unfortunately his list just couldn’t muster enough firepower to stop me.
2) A White Scars Battle Company piloted by a good friend of mine. He was running a very standard list, and outflanked pretty much everything. Unfortunately for him, I was able to kill his mobility early in the game by destroying his transports, which let me sit in the middle of the table with the objectives and rack up maelstrom points. He was able to kill one of my knights, which earned him Big Game Hunter, and ended up costing me the tournament.
3) A War Convocation piloted by another friend of mine. He deployed very defensively and I was able to take out most of his threats from range. I ended up ignoring his Knight (seriously, killing a Knight through a 2+ cover save is hard from range) and instead killing his Warlord, Kataphrons and Sicarians, which meant that I could then move forward and engage the rest of his army.

bens imperial knight 1

5. What are some tips or tricks you have for people who might want to start using your army?

As far as tips are concerned, I should probably mention that unless you want to see less of your friends, 5 Knights are not an army you want to drop on your casual game night. This is an army that’s a lot of fun at tournaments where you’re there for competition, but barring tournament practice my Knights don’t come out for friendly games, or at least not all of them. Now that that’s said, don’t discount how much shooting Knights can put out. There are a lot of matchups where you can actually outshoot your opponents, thanks to your front AV13 and high ROF weapons, and severely weaken them before you engage them in combat. Also, magnetizing Knights is incredibly simple, and gives you the option to run pretty much whatever you want.


got a list
Did you just win an ITC event? Is your list dominating everyone it crosses? Did you just recently do well with a unique list at a large event? I want to hear about it! Just send it to
Please do not send your army list in a format such as Army Builder, send them in an easy to read, typed format. Thanks!


About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

18 Responses to “40k List-Tech: Five is the Bloodiest Number”

  1. Avatar
    Dakkath May 29, 2016 2:18 am #

    Major props for the MEGAS XLR inspired paint job.

  2. Avatar
    Lord Krungharr May 29, 2016 7:01 am #

    I love the knight army idea for tournaments because of the low model count and what the writer said about faster games. If I sold a couple armies I could make the switch….hmmmm

    • Avatar
      rusty4tw May 30, 2016 6:09 pm #

      you could always just buy recasts — $150 for 5 is quite a bargain!

  3. Avatar
    Heldericht May 29, 2016 7:02 am #

    Nasty list. Great breakdown. Now I’ll have to think about how to handle 5 Knights when making my lists.

  4. Avatar
    AngryPanda May 29, 2016 12:25 pm #

    I used to dislike how many limitatiosn the tournament scene here had but I feel supremely lucky to be in a place in which almost no tournament will allow more than one Lord of War.
    It’s still hard for me to believe that this got any traction at all.
    Still that’s a cool paintjob 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Duh_Ruckus May 29, 2016 3:45 pm #

    5 Knights is very scary when you are looking across the table at it, but it’s actually very fun to play against you feel like a hero when one knight drops, you notice a huge hole left in the army. I feel they are very balanced and in. Good place in the meta

    • Avatar
      AngryPanda May 29, 2016 9:56 pm #

      I played against five knights at the tail end of 6th just after they were released and while I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing them in a format that allows it I think I can happily spend the rest of my life without ever having a game like that again.

      (Also I’ll totaly blame and judge anyone who does it, I just like to sound more reasonable than I am..)

      • Avatar
        pascalnz May 30, 2016 3:05 am #

        almost everyones first game vs 5 knights is just shock and awe. however when I was play testing my lot, my opponents worked out what to do and it was usually a draw or loss the second time, for the knights.

        they almost never win tourney’s and are actually very well pointed.
        the nice thing about playing them in a tourney as was mentioned, is that you will finish the game vs them, one way or another.

        I think losing a game because you couldn’t’ finish it in time is far less appealing than just making some bad decision or hitting a bad match up.

        • Avatar
          AngryPanda May 30, 2016 4:00 am #

          Oh I’m not saying they win. I’m just saying they are no fun to play against and while anyone is free to disagree I’m not alone in that.
          Yes the game is going fast but if I want to play a small army I’ll play a game with small armies. I get that. I go play Infinity then.
          I’ve had this discussion before and don’t realy want to go into it again. Your format allows them so it’s fine to bring them. I don’t think there is middle ground to be found between people who think it’s just a balance issue and people who kind of expect the other player to actualy bring a 40k army too. In my experience neither side even gets the other’s point. And in any case what is legal is gonna be used, but honeslty if it’s not even that efficient then I realy don’t get the point.
          It’s like sneaking a pogo stick in a boxing match. The opponent will be bewildered and annoyed, it looks silly and you still get punched in the face in the end.

          • Avatar
            LordWynn May 30, 2016 5:52 am

            So you’d rather play against a proper deathstar then?

            Knights are tough if you are completely unprepared for them but otherwise they die, frighteningly fast even.

          • Avatar
            Stilgar May 30, 2016 6:03 am

            I’ve toyed with multiple knights lists but I’ve never actually used one as it just doesn’t suit my play style. However, if someone wants to bring them I’m okay with since, as you mentioned, they’re a legal army. I do enjoy the look of knights though and I enjoy painting them so I can see the appeal of an all knight army. I think complaining about them is meaningless though since there are other far more broken things out there at the moment. I won’t go into specifics there but you consistently see the same factions at the top of almost every major and local tournament.

          • Avatar
            Heldericht May 31, 2016 12:15 pm

            If you’re looking at it from a look and feel perspective, even then playing against knights can be fun. It’s always an epic moment when a knight goes down. The opposing player gets a huge sense of accomplishment.

            I think there is a middle ground to list construction. Knights may be on one, end, but stuff like Battle Company or Warp Spider spam is on the opposite side.

            Competitive 40k is a whole different beast from casual 40k. There is no point in complaining about a competitivel list. It’s not made for fun, it’s made to win. The guy who plays it even said it in the article that he doesn’t bring it outside tournaments. I don’t see the problem here.

          • Avatar
            Threllen May 31, 2016 12:48 pm

            And, honestly, what makes a Battle company or warp spider spam any less aggravating than playing against 5 Knights? At least with the Knights they’re very straightforward and I have a chance to kill them with enough Anti-tank firepower. Nothing worse than watching a bunch of warp spiders jump away from days and trying to deal with a million of them on the board.

  6. Avatar
    AngryPanda May 30, 2016 8:49 am #

    If I have to chose one yes. Thankfully the issue doesn’t come up for me. Continental Europe is not really huge on allowing more than one Lord of War, if any at all. I’d actively have to look for one that has them.

  7. Avatar
    Dakkath May 30, 2016 11:37 am #

    Does the High King’s +1 to ion saves apply to the extra saves granted by the Sanctuary (which counts as an ion shield)? A 3++ on one facing with 5++ everywhere else is kinda scary.

    • Avatar
      LordWynn May 31, 2016 2:31 am #

      Good question, I’ll ask it in the GW FAQ and see what they say.

    • Avatar
      AbusePuppy May 31, 2016 7:07 am #

      A Sanctuary is, indeed, an Ion Shield (as per the new GW FAQs specifically) and thus it will benefit from the High King’s bonus. (It can also benefit from the Baronial Court bonus, if you are running that, though you’ll need to set it to a facing other than front in order for it to matter.)

  8. Avatar
    Grunt May 31, 2016 2:00 pm #

    Do you think stomping out of combat would make knights a top tier army?

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