Warhammer Tactics: Operation Knightfall

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Welcome to Warhammer Tactics! Today, we’re going to break down all of your options when facing off against an Imperial Knight.

That way, when somebody shows up with their fancy new Castellan at your local store, you’ll be equipped to take it down. I’ll be breaking down some universal tactics that you can use, and then I’ll delve into some faction specific strategy to help make sure you’re properly equipped to go Knight hunting.

First, there are a myriad of Imperial Knight variants. Each variant has its own weapon options and special rules. Obviously, writing tactics on how to handle each specific variant would end up coming out as a small book! So, I’ll be broadly referring to Knights as a collective. Make sure to ask about how your opponent’s Knight is equipped and respond accordingly!

So, let’s look at the weaknesses of an Imperial Knight. First, they usually clock in around 450-600 points depending on load out and variant. Even in a 2000 point game, that’s a significant chunk of your opponent’s points! Defensively speaking, they are mostly 24 wounds (some variants fluctuate a bit on this number, usually the Dominus class variants), Toughness 8, and they have a 3+ armor save and a 5+ invulnerable save. So, small arms fire isn’t very likely to do any significant damage, but volume of shots can chip off a few wounds here and there. Against anti tank fire, they benefit from being tougher and having an invulnerable save, so they tend to be significantly harder for most anti tank weapons to really hurt. In addition, they have the ability to add one to their invulnerable saving throws through the “Rotate Ion Shields” stratagem. If your opponent has one Knight, you should just assume that the model always has a 4+ invulnerable save from your shooting attacks.

So, shooting them to death for many armies isn’t usually the most effective method of attack. Luckily, there are a few different things that we can do to circumvent this issue. For one, we can simply ignore the Knight. Imperial Knights bring 0 list synergy with other armies. They don’t improve other models for the most part. All they’re really good for is laying down the hurt. This is completely army and list dependent, but for some lists, just ignoring the Knight is the right option.

Since the Knight’s only purpose is to kill things, it needs to kill at least it’s price in models to be efficient. And if you are playing an Ork list with 200 boyz and some stormboyz and a few characters, let’s say, most Knights just aren’t going to be able to kill 500 points of boyz, even if they’re totally ignored. That means your opponent is effectively losing points on his investment if you ignore it completely.

Again, I stress that this answer is one that should be weighed carefully. Knights actually don’t hit that hard for a 500 point model, except for the melee variants. They’re far more defensive in nature, so ignoring it and not playing to its strengths is a totally valid option. But, you need to be 100% positive that your opponent won’t come out ahead with you letting the knight run free.

Another option available to combating Knights is getting up close and personal. Knights only receive the benefit of their invulnerable save from shooting attacks. Dedicated melee armies, especially ones that can get over Strength 4 or that do multiple damage easily (think Khorne Demons, specifically Bloddletters), can easily just run up to a Knight and knock it over, no problem. Strength 4 models can plausibly chip a few wounds off, but it’s not a reliable method to really kill it, at least in one turn. Even a horde of 30 ork boyz making 120 attacks will, on average, do only 4.44 wounds to a Knight, which isn’t exactly breathtaking. But, heavy hitting units can really do a number. Like everything else we talk about, this is going to be list and faction dependent, but for many lists melee is a practical and efficient answer.

We can also just debuff the knight so it’s no longer effective. An easy example would be adding any kind of negatives to hit, as this really tanks the effectiveness of the Knight. There are also a couple of Psychic Powers that allow you to shoot with enemy models. These powers become insanely powerful when used on an Imperial Knight. If you have one of these powers at your disposal, make sure you bring it along!

Finally, we can mess with the Knight’s ability to move. This is mostly a tactic that’s useable against melee focused knights, but it can occasionally have some mileage against gun platforms too. After all, many of the gun platform knights still have some close range fire power. Keeping them out of range of that close ranged firepower goes a long way. Now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “But, Knights can just walk over enemy Infantry!”. That’s actually not quite true. Yes, the “Super-Heavy Walker” ability does allow Knights to walk over enemy Infantry and Swarms, but there’s a catch. They can only do it while Falling Back.

So, if you park some cheap units 1.1” in front of the Knight, he actually can’t move forward. As long as you have cheap units to get in the way, you can effectively stop a melee based Knight from ever being even remotely threatening all game, or at least until you’re ready to try to take it down.

Now, before we delve into some Faction specific abilities, I would like to talk about a specific Knight combination some players like to use. Through a combination of a warlord trait, relic, and the “Rotate Ion Shield” stratagem, it’s possible to push an Imperial Knight to a 2+ armor save, and a 3+ Invulnerable save. My honest suggestion for most players is to automatically ignore this Knight. Unless you’re 100% confident that your list can handle something this durable, the right answer is to usually ignore it and focus on the rest of the enemies force. In each Faction specific area, I’ll make sure I address this specific set up a bit further based on what that Faction can plausibly do against it.

IMPERIUM OF MAN
The Imperium players actually have many avenues of attack for handling a Knight. You can ally in some Blood Angels for what many players affectionately refer to as “Smashguinius”. It’s a Blood Angel Captain with a Thunder Hammer and a relic Jump Pack called the Angel Wing, along with a few psychic powers and stratagems. You’ll make something like 16 Thunder Hammer attacks, assuming you also swing twice. That’s ~12.5 hits, 8.32 wounds, ~6.9 that push through saves, for about 21 Damage! Given Knights only have 24 wounds, all you have to do is put a little light firepower after that, and down it goes!


Alternatively, you can take some Raven Guard Terminators and Shrike. Infiltrate up close, walk up, and charge on in. 8 terminators will make 17 attacks, get 11.33 hits, 5.68 wounds, 4.73 push, for 14 wounds! That’s half of it’s health right there. Now add in Shrikes attacks and the rest of your list, and you can probably down it in one go, or get it very close to dead. This setup is a tad narrow, but it’s great at its job.


Imperial Guard also have their fair share of answers. Infantry heavy Guard lists can usually just ignore a Knight, since it won’t come close to killing its share of Guardsmen. You can also always take a Shadowsword, and fight your opponent’s Lord of War with your own! That Volcano Cannon will make 6 shots, get 3 hits, 2.5 wounds, 1.25 will push through that invul, and you’ll still do about 9 Damage, a third of its health. Throw in its Las Cannons for another 4 or so Damage, and some Leman Russes, and you can easily kill it in 1-2 turns.

Regarding the 2+/3++ Knight: Most of the options I discussed here go out the window against this. Your best bet will be Smashguinius, or ignore it. Even a Shadowsword’s Volcano Cannon will only push .83 wounds, for 5.83 damage. That’s not very good for a model as expensive as a Shadowsword. Yes, it has some Lascannons, but those don’t add too much.

CHAOS

Chaos also has its fair share of ways to handle a Knight. For one, Bloodletter Bomb (a Bloodmaster+30 Bloodletters deepstriking in and charging 3d6+1 inches) can really do a number on a Knight. Although you have to wait until Turn 2, once you do come in and make contact, you’ll get 60 attacks, 50 hits, 16.7 wounds, and you’ll push just shy of 14. Because of some funky math with how the bonus damage on wound rolls of 6 works, Those 14 pushed wounds do about 21 damage! Then you spend 3 CP and fight a second time, and that Knight is as good as toast. Or you kill it with the Bloodmaster, or you shoot it a bit before you charge to soften it up. You’ve got lots of options.

If shooting it is more your thing, some Slaanesh Obliterators can handle this badboy, no problem. Prescience, Veterans of the Long War, and Endless Cacophony means you’ll be spitting 24 S8 ap-2 D2 shots. Assuming they have a re roll aura nearby too, that’s 23.33 hits, 15.56 wounds, 10.37 push through, for just shy of 21 Damage! Now, Obliterators are very random units, so in execution your results will be all over the place. But you can pretty reliably get some serious damage down with this set up.

Regarding the 2+/3++ Knight: If you don’t have a Bloodletter Bomb, you’ll probably just want to ignore this thing. Assuming they attack twice, Bloodletters can actually kill this in one go. You’ll get 120 attacks, 100 hits, 33.3 wounds, 22.2 will push, and because of the chance to deal bonus damage on the Bloodletter Weapons, on average you’ll get 33.3 Wounds. That’s WAY more than enough to kill a Knight, even accounting for him swinging with his feet and killing a few guys. If you don’t have a Bloodletter Bomb, you’re probably going to have to ignore it. Tzaangor Bomb won’t do nearly as much damage, but over a couple turns could plausibly kill it too.


TYRANIDS

Tyranids don’t have too many ways to actually kill a Knight. Genestealers tend to really bounce off since they only wound on 6’s, even though their rending attacks ignore armor on the Knight. They can probably kill a low health one if they have a big squad size, that’s about it. That’s not a problem for you though, since you have much better options than killing it. You can ignore it, or debuff it into the ground. You can move infantry around it to stop it from moving very easily, shutting down melee Knights. You also have access to a -1 to hit Psychic power, which is helpful. If you tap into GSC, Knights become kind of a joke.You gain a second -1 to hit, and you can shoot it at your opponent too! Even the 2+/3++ variant really falls into the same pitfalls, since your objective isn’t killing it.

If you don’t have access to GSC, some hiding and double firing Hive Guard can put in some work. You’ll get 24 shots, 16 hits, 8 wounds, push 5.33, for just shy of 11 Damage. It takes two turns, but you can kill it no problem. You will struggle against the 2+/3+ variant however, since you don’t have a great way to kill it, unless you happen to be playing a melee focused monster heavy list. Overall though, Nids are particularly well positioned to handle Knights.


AELDARI


Aeldari have so many tools for handling Knights it’s insane. You can block “Rotate Ion Shields” with Dark Eldar, you’ve got lots of good anti tank weapon options, Craftworlds have a ton of debilitating psychic powers that can make a Knight extremely frail, Harlequins can get tons of anti tank weapons up close and personal, Ynnari can double fire some Dark Reapers….

 

My only real advice for Aeldari is that you should consider other codexes if playing a mono codex army usually when considering Knights. It’s a lot harder for you to handle a Knight in a 2+/3+ than it is for them to handle a Knight that had Rotate Ion Shields blocked, has received -1 to saves, and has been Doomed. To get all these benefits though, you’ll need to take multiple different Aeldari armies.

Unless you’re playing Mono Craftworlds, that is. Craftworlds have enough psychic buff manipulation and minuses to be hit that you should be just fine as long as you remembered your Dark Reapers or Fire Dragons. Overall, this is probably the best Faction to be playing in terms of handling Knights, with Tyranids being a solid 2nd place.



TAU


Tau are far, FAR more limited in their options for handling Knights. You really can’t engage them in melee, and you probably don’t want to ignore it, since most Tau lists tend to have some expensive toys in them. You also don’t usually have tons of spare infantry to block off it’s movement.

Unsurprisingly, what you can do as Tau is shoot it right off the table. 5 Markerlights, a use of Kauyon, and most lists in Tau can do pretty good damage to a Knight. If you’re playing T’au sept, it gets even easier, since the +1 to wound strat really pushes your damage up. Maybe use a Command/Control Node on a Riptide for even more insane damage. Just make sure you overlap all of your buffs, and fire everything into it, and you’ll usually kill or severely injure it in one turn, no problem.

Where Tau really struggle however, is the 2+/3++ set up. The 3++ invul really mitigates your damage, and you don’t have any realistic way to kill it in melee either. What you can do however, is take 3 units of 9 sniper drones out of T’au Sept. With 5 lights, a Firesight Marksman, and a Drone Controller, you’ll be hitting on 2+ rerolling 1’s. With the T’au Sept strat, you’ll wound on 4’s, and 5+ also net you a mortal wound. It’s very easy to get into rapid fire range with their 48” guns and above average movement. Layer this all together and you get 54 shots, 52.5 hits, 26.25 wounds. Out of those 26.25 wounds, you immediately score 17.5 Mortal Wounds (!!!), and you get another 4.4 or so wounds after saves. Add those together, and you get 22/24 wounds off a Knight! The rest of your army can easily get those last few.

I can’t claim ownership of that set up, however. It’s 100% Nick Nanavati that pointed this on eout, and it’s a good one to keep in mind if you find yourself possibly having to play a Knight in 2+/3++.

 

 

NECRONS


Necrons are, unfortunately, probably the faction that will generally struggle the most against a Knight. You don’t have tons of cheap bodies to stop movement, you’re too elite of an army to settle for being shot/chopped up for 6 turns, and you don’t have many melee threats, which forces you to contend with the 4+ invulnerable save.

You do have a few options, however. For one, Wraiths out of Novoakh can lay down some pain. With the double fight stratagem, you’ll get 36 attacks, 32 hits, 10.67 wounds, 7.1 will push, for 14 Damage. You’ll have to invest everything else into it as well, but with some Wraiths helping out you can take it down. You can pair this with 6 Destroyers (not Heavy, just regular) shooting Gauss Cannons re rolling everything from Extermination Protocols. You’ll get 18 shots, 16 hits, ~8.9 wounds, You’ll push ~ 6, doing 12 Damage, exactly half of a Knight’s health. Combine this with the wraiths and you’ll get a kill on a Knight.

Unfortunately, you don’t have a very good answer to a 2+/3++ Knight. The improved defenses are very hard for Necrons to crack through. Your best bet is probably to ignore it and hope you don’t lose too much from the 6 or so rounds of fire from it.




Well, that wraps it up! This was definitely a longer one, but hopefully I’ve left you with some ideas to handle an Imperial Knight. They’re big, intimidating models, but they can be beat. You just have to play to their weaknesses, not their strengths. Make sure to check in next week for some Vanilla Space Marine tactics!

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33 Responses to “Warhammer Tactics: Operation Knightfall”

  1. Blightstar July 30, 2018 3:06 am #

    Shadowsword is actually a bit better than that: It gets +1 to-hit against Titanic Targets and Volcano Cannon rerolls to-wound against them, too. Also being Cadian improves its chances to-hit from ~66% to 77%.

    So thats ~4,66 hits, ~4,54 and 3,02 wounds after saves which translates to 21,17 damage. Against 4++ its 15,9 damage and 3++ 10,6 damage.

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:15 pm #

      Hey Blightstar, it looks like you’re right. I don’t believe it changes the overall gameplan for Guard in any significant way, but it does seem the math is off like you said. I’ll make an effort to be a bit more thorough in the future!

  2. Alex July 30, 2018 5:11 am #

    Gallants and Knight heavy lists without screens would be vulnerable to smite spam from Thousand Sons or waaagh charged Ork Weird boys.

    Also not my army, but I thought Necrons had access to mortal wound output from Tesseracts that could similarly cause trouble.

    • Lysere July 30, 2018 8:57 am #

      The mortal wounds from the Vaults aren’t quite as effective against single high toughness and wound models. Maybe all three together could do a good chunk but it’s nowhere near as good as Tsons.

      Also to note in general staying 1.1″ away won’t work against most knights as they are likely going to be a character so can just pile in, fight, and then fall back over you. Always watch our for the Heroic intervention.

      • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:12 pm #

        Hey Lysere, that’s a good point! Some Knights do often end up as characters, in which case you wouldn’t want to get that close with a unit. You could still restrict their movement in a broad sense the same way however. Good observation though!

  3. alejandro delgado gonzalez July 30, 2018 5:50 am #

    Shouldnt be any big mini around with 3++ is totally retarded. That was the reason magnus and mortarion were nerfed to loose that save and cant get better than 4++ .

    Having 8t 24+wounds and saving 66% of the damage shouldnt be allowed

    • Ujayim July 30, 2018 6:06 am #

      Man it’s almost like the mortal wounds people used to complain so heavily about would suddenly be useful, and would equalize the meta.

      It’s a shame we all got so mad about smite and gutted the armies that would have kept things like this off the table. :^)

      /only-mild-sarcasm

    • Blight1 July 30, 2018 4:40 pm #

      Hmmm?
      Magnus can still easily get a 3++. He just can’t re-roll 1s on saves anymore.

  4. Deviant Duck July 30, 2018 7:35 am #

    Or perhaps maybe knights should be able to use broken 3CP missiles and 1CP invuln stratagems every turn using infinite CP generated by IG. Perhaps detachments should only use the CP they generate themselves…?

    • ElWillowtree July 30, 2018 8:38 am #

      That’s a great idea – would you limit this rule to only CP generated during the course of the game, or all CP? For example if you start with 10CP in your army would any unit be able to tap into that starting pool?

  5. Hemmers July 30, 2018 7:53 am #

    Another Choas unit that is probably worth mentioning is a Winged Daemon Prince of Khorne with the Skullreaver Relic, it also has the bonus of that it can be used as the HQ choice of a patrol detatchment if you are using a Bloodletter Bomb.

    Doing 6, Str11, Ap-4, D6dmg attacks on the charge, rerolling to hit (DP aura) and rerolling to wound vs titanic targets is easily enough to do over half its wounds in damage or kill it outright if your lucky enough.

    In my list I fly it up behind a screen of Plague Drones which protects it from shooting and hops out to rip face. Even if it doesn’t actual make it into combat with a knight you could still slam it into something else and use its Loci to make sure the deepstriking Bloodletters make it into combat.

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:18 pm #

      Hey Hemmers, yeah that’s an excellent point! This wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of every option, but rather just an attempt to give players an idea of how they could handle things.

      That flying DP you describe sounds valid to me, and looks pretty nasty! Just at a glance it looks like you’ll do 13.6 damage on average, dropping to 11.3 if they took the 2+ armor save relic. That’s still a hefty amount of damage!

  6. Rob Butcher July 30, 2018 1:55 pm #

    what about taking your own knight ?

    what about casting Null Zone to remove the invulnerable saves ?

    there’s plenty of ways of removing knights … the Codex is not new or a shock anymore

    • Michael Corr
      Michael Corr July 31, 2018 12:32 am #

      Null Zone is too unreliable to hinge a whole battle plan on. Plus, how do you get the Librarian into range of the knight to use it safely?

  7. Andrew McLellan July 30, 2018 2:43 pm #

    Forgot Orks! I suppose surrounding with low cost troops or Weirdboy deep striking Meganobz? No shooting.

    • Blight1 July 30, 2018 4:43 pm #

      Very interested in how the ork codex comes out.
      I also think kustom mega kannonz en mass could hurt one quite handily.

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:24 pm #

      Hey Andrew, good observation! Skipping Orks was actually intentional.

      When I prepare these articles, I start by taking a lot of notes and converting those notes into the article when I’m done. I was deliberately skipping Orks since they’re still index, and that makes their options pretty basic. So, they were going to get a blurb instead of a dedicated section.

      However, it seems I completely forgot to mention that in the transition. I’m still a little new to this (long time player, not so much with writing.) So,although I strive to not make mistakes, little things do unfortunately happen.

      Regarding Orks, for the most part you’re really looking at ignoring it. The Weirdboy super smite thing is valid against Knights that come to you, but you’ll almost certainly never make it happen against something like a Castellan.

  8. Gotchacoverd July 30, 2018 6:21 pm #

    What about the 13 year old kid I’m my local shop that runs 5( two are the little ones).

    Do I just need to run over his army case in the parking lot?

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:27 pm #

      Well, while Nights would never condone that, that is certainly a very difficult list to handle! Your best bet would be probably either to start with the Armigers, or one of the Knight’s in a stock 3+/5++, and dedicate everything to it.

      The specifics would depend on their load out versus your list, but at the end of the day, mono Knights are awkward to play against, but they’re usually just a tournament army.

      I’ve certainly never heard of a child playing a mono knight list for fun.

    • John Palmer August 1, 2018 2:01 am #

      A tip to remember against an all-Knight army is that you declare targets, then activate Rotate Ion Shields, *then* declare weapons. So, if you’ve got a Predator with Lascannons, declare two Knights as shooting targets; whichever one he declares Ion Shields on, shoot it with your Storm Bolter, and fire all the Lascannons into the unshielded one!

      • Reecius
        Reecius August 1, 2018 7:35 am #

        There is certainly a strong RAW argument for that but I am like 90% certain that that is not intent so perhaps not a tatic to count on long term. We will see though, of course, I could very well be wrong.

  9. Pyrothem July 30, 2018 6:31 pm #

    Can confirm that Necrons have no answer to knight list. Tried all the combos I could think of in a few list at a few different small tournaments and it was never close.

    Kind sad that Necrons went from being THE army that any armored opponent fears in pretty much all past editions to now where people just kind of chuckle and take their easy win from you.

    So don’t expect to see any Necrons at any top tables till next year’s CA. Even if Chapter Approved lowers points I don’t think would fix it though so it will have to be a rules re write or a strategy to ignore invuls or something to make Necrons a viable army (IE not a OP army just an army that has a chance to win a major)

    Fingers crossed. It is going to be a long wait till winter.

  10. Victor July 30, 2018 8:37 pm #

    I know very well that one of deepstriking MegaNobz with the Weirdboy. A favorite of a friend of mine.

    I generally have so many screens of cultists (I play Chaos) that when my friend has killed them all is already too late for him

  11. Víctor Yanguas July 30, 2018 10:22 pm #

    Could you do an article about facing against several Imperial Knights?

  12. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr July 31, 2018 12:37 am #

    Great overview article! Some really nice points to help people out with Knights. I know that I’ve found them a struggle to kill since the codex dropped.

    As you said, a lot of the time you can simply just ignore it and go after the objectives. However, the new Dominus Class Knights can put out so much firepower, that with some armies you simply can’t ignore them. For smaller, elite armies, they can eliminate several units in one turn of shooting.

  13. Techpriest Bertrand July 31, 2018 3:08 am #

    Death hex is notably absent from this analysis for Chaos as it denies the inv entirely.

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:31 pm #

      Hey Bertrand, good observation.

      Death Hex has consistency issues, and a tight range requirement. At only a 12″ range, and requiring an 8, it’s only successful ~40% of the time, although investing a CP for a re roll makes it much higher.

      That doesn’t mean it should be discounted, of course, and there are ways to make it work more consistently (Cough Ahriman/Magnus Cough). But I personally felt that baseline it had too much consistency issues to make the cut.

      Depending on what list you’re playing out of Chaos it can totally be a noteworthy inclusion!

      • Víctor Yanguas August 1, 2018 3:34 am #

        I usually use death hex with ahriman. A range of 18″ and +3 to the psychic test when using cabal stratagem makes it more reliable

        • Reecius
          Reecius August 1, 2018 7:34 am #

          Yeah, that makes short work of Knights. Null Zone too, although much harder to pull off but possibly stripping the invul from multiple Knights.

  14. NinetyNineNo July 31, 2018 9:52 am #

    Just going off pure mathhammer, I was surprised to find that Crisis are surprisingly decent at dealing with buffed-up Knights as a beta strike. If you’re going against the standard 3+/4++ one, a squad of 5 with triple CIB and a Commander (possibly Farsight) dropping in with Drop Zone Clear, 5 Markerlights and Command and Control Node will easily one-shot said Knight (even a Dominus), coming in at about 480 points plus the Commander. Doesn’t do as well versus the 2+/3++, but the combination of high ROF, multiple damage and just enough AP plus a few ways to buff them into being able to hit/wound reliably make work. Now if only CIBs actually came in the damn box…

    Oh and aren’t Shockcannon Hive Guard and Haywire Blaster/Cannon DE and Harlequins pretty much made for this? They don’t care about invulns.

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:32 pm #

      Hey Bertrand, good observation.

      Death Hex has consistency issues, and a tight range requirement. At only a 12″ range, and requiring an 8, it’s only successful ~40% of the time, although investing a CP for a re roll makes it much higher.

      That doesn’t mean it should be discounted, of course, and there are ways to make it work more consistently (Cough Ahriman/Magnus Cough). But I personally felt that baseline it had too much consistency issues to make the cut.

      Depending on what list you’re playing out of Chaos it can totally be a noteworthy inclusion!

    • Richard Kruse July 31, 2018 5:36 pm #

      Hey Ninety Nine, yeah this is true, especially out of Far Sight Enclaves, you can make a crisis bomb do some work too! And yeah, you can never have enough CIB’s.

      You could use Shockcannnon Hive Guard, but honestly I like regular Hive Guard better, even though Shockcannons are of course better for this specific job. There’s a lot of other sacrifices to Shockcannons that I think make them almost never the right choice compared to Impaler Cannons.

      As far as the Aeldari stuff goes, 100%. That army seriously has so many ways to handle a Knight or 2 it’s insane. A 2+/3++ Knight sitting in the backfield can be awkward for them because of range issues, but by and large, the army shouldn’t have a major issue with one Knight.

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