Chaos Knight Tactica: First lists for 9th

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am going to dig into some Chaos Knight lists that I’ve been crafting. New editions and new rules mean new challenges, but I think that even pure Chaos Knights can surprise plenty of folk. Make sure to be keeping up to date with all the new theories and tactics over at Frontline’s ever reliable Tactics Corner!

So with the new changes to 9th, one of the challenges of playing Chaos Knights is that board control is essential to winning the Primary mission.  Sure, you can always go for the tried and true tabling route, but then that doesn’t always work, and there are plenty of builds that can stack durable units where you just won’t kill them all in 5 turns.

That said, the loss of turn 6 is generally a boon to Knights.  Knights are all about leveraging a lot of concentrated heat early, and in plenty of games, my Knights lost because I fell behind on scoring in Turns 5 and 6.  A shorter games means that our aggressive nature is a bit more rewarded as you can jump out to an early lead on Turn 1 and 2 and then try to hold turn 3/4/5.  So, let’s talk about Knight builds and what you can do.

Super-Heavy Detachment – House Lucaris

Knight Despoiler with 2x Thermal Cannons

Knight Despoiler with 2x Thermal Cannons. Character. Quicksilver Throne of Slaanesh

Knight Despoiler with 1x Rapid Fire Battlecannon/1 Reaper chainsword. Warlord. (Strike First, Strike Often). Relic flexible (but I always like Veil).

War Dog Squadron – 3x War Dogs with Thermal Spear/Chain-Cleaver

War Dog Squadron – 1x War Dog with Thermal Spear/Chain-Cleaver

So this list brings a lot of melta, perfect for armies that love vehicles or a lot of heavy infantry. Between the 4 Thermal Cannons and 4 Thermal Spears, you are going to kill hard targets, and even the Battlecannon can help murder a variety of threats. All the weapons are pretty much blast, so against large units, you are still getting a decent amount of shots.  You have a lot of heavy duty firepower here that just about any army has to respect.

This list also brings a lot of melee threat.  Thanks to House Lucaris, you get +1 to hit and +1 attack AND -1AP in the first round of combat, so each Dub-Melta is essentially a Gallant when stomping and the Warlord can either stomp or bring in some huge swings with the Reaper, perfect for taking out other super-heavies or super-characters.  To make it even better, one Dub-Melta and the Warlord both Fight First, meaning if your opponent charges them, they get in on the action, making melee units have to be very wary of actually getting to mix it up.   Let’s not forget about the 4 War Dogs, each one putting out either 5 S12 AP-4 D3 attacks or 10 S6 AP-3 D1 attacks at WS 2+.  Not shabby at all.

This list also has 7 bodies (that’s a lot for Pure Knights), so you can spread across the board a bit, and the Warlord and Quicksilver Despoiler can move forward to take the center, being a lot less scared of melee threats while the War Dogs move about to score far out objectives and then charge in to take contested objectives later.  Everything here moves fast, and thanks to being Iconoclast, you can always spend CP if in a shooty meta to put Oath of Dominance on your Warlord and the Veil for a super durable Knight that is hard to kill in just about any phase.   The trick again is to save the War Dogs for the flanks or as clean-up, using the bigger Knights to create pressure and take the center while the War Dogs go for objectives and maybe add some firepower against larger threats. 

Super Heavy Detachment:  House Herpetrax

Castigator. Character. Quick Silver Throne.

Despoiler with 2 Thermal Cannons. Character. Khornate Target (flexible).

Despoiler with 2 Rapid Fire Battle-Cannons. Warlord. Bound to None WL trait.  Veil of Medrengard.

550 points for Summoning.

So this list is much smaller with only 3 Knights, but it has plenty of points to summon units in. The main Summoner is the Dub-BC Despoiler as it has the range to camp the backfield and start summoning in units to take objectives (Nurglings and Plaguebearers are quite good for this).  The Castigator can also Summon, and with its speed and resiliency, it can get to the center of the board, and turn 2, start dropping in reinforcements.  Plus, it has the Quick Silver Throne, so it gets to Fight First, making charging it a tricky proposition.  The Dub-Melta has Khornate Target for that one situation when going against a unit that relies on a strong invulnerable save to live, and an Iconoclast Dub-Melta with dancing shoes is generally strong enough to do big damage to units.  Since this set up does eat starting CP, you could also go for Tyrant’s Banner for the chance to regen some CP. 

Really, the list is built on starting slow and playing mostly cagey.  Depending on the mission, you might summon twice on the first turn if you can get the two despoilers on separate objectives, or you may summon with all 3 on Turn 2 once in position.  You don’t want to overcommit too early as losing just 1 Knight, especially on Turn 1, really lowers your ability to get models out onto the table and taking the objectives.  This is where Herpetrax comes in handy as having 2 free wounds on each model makes them just that much harder to kill at range. Plus, your Warlord can revive on a 4+, perfect for getting one more turn of summoning in, and with Veil, it is not easy to kill at range at all. You could also trim the summoning points and get some Rockets on the Knights to held flush things out of hiding. 

Of course, this relies on having a rather tidy collection of daemons, but hey, if you do, it is worth considering.  

Super Heavy Detachment: House Khomentis

Knight Tyrant – Plasma Decimator/Volcano Lance. The Blasphemous Engine. 2x Siegebreaker. 2x Missiles. Warlord. WL Trait – Dread Hunter

1x War Dog Moirax – 2x Lightning Locks

1x War Dog Moirax – 2x Lightning Locks

Super Heavy Detachment: Iconoclast Custom House (Harrying Packs and Frenzied Attackers)

1×3 War Dogs with Thermal Spear/Chain

1×2 War Dogs with Thermal Spear/Chain

1×1 War Dog Moirax – 1x Lightning Lock. 1 Claw.

So this list is a bit weird, and it is definitely skew, but it functions off of two simple principles: maximize ranged threat and maximize board presence.  So with the ranged threat, the Knight Tyrant (don’t laugh) is still one of the strongest anti-vehicle models out there.  The Volcano lance, swingy to be sure, is still a legit threat to just about any heavy target, but the Plasma Decimator can switch between infantry and vehicles.  Throw in that as Infernal, the Tyrant can charge up the Decimator and make is S9 D2 for d3 mortal wounds but with no fear of rolling 1s or can double-stack the damage output for S9 D3, which is pretty tasty against a lot of targets.  You also have the one turn super punch of Dread Hunter, turning the Decimator into a murder machine of up to S9 D4, reroll hits/wounds.   That’s quite nice, and you still have the missiles and top guns for extra heat.  You also have the 2 double-lock Moirax for volume of fire, and they can skirt the flanks, relying on speed and range, to help clear objectives.

What takes those objectives? Well, the 5 Spear War Dogs and the lock/claw Moirax.  Thanks to Harrying Packs, they can’t get gummed up as easily, and they can generate some extra hits as well.  With Iconoclast, they are also better in melee in general, and overall, they flood the center with T7 chassis that fight pretty well and still have some ranged pop.   With a 14” move, you can send 2 in on turn 1 to start threatening the center, and you still have extra War Dogs to throw in there as the attrition games sets in.   Even if your opponent has the guns to kill the Tyrant quickly at range, can they also stop the War Dogs from getting into them? That’s the question the list poses, and a lot of other lists can struggle to answer it well.

So all in all, Chaos Knights can struggle to keep up in the Primary mission, but there are certainly ways to build for it, and now that 5 Knights is not really doable points-wise, focusing on 3 big Knights and War Dogs seems like a good way to go.  Really, I think as the meta shifts to vehicles and durable infantry, Knights will become a spoiler army that is well placed to take on more of the “top tier” builds that appear.

Thanks as always for reading, and I hope you are getting games in, wherever you are.  Stay safe everyone, death to the followers of the Corpse God, and have a nice day.

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

6 Responses to “Chaos Knight Tactica: First lists for 9th”

  1. Avatar
    black mage August 16, 2020 2:34 am #

    pity that have 1 billion of firepower and unable to score objectives in 9th will punish you. And with antitank, rampaging around i see list like that not suit what seem 9th ed will be, last but not least if veichles/antitank will be dominant, hordes of light intantry will slip under the radar and punish you.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy August 16, 2020 8:39 am #

      Yeah I would be very worried about hordes with these lists- they often have enough punch characters or mobile shooting to drop Knights where needed, but with nothing but Thermal Cannons you are going to struggle to kill them fast enough, even as Lucaris. Lightning Locks can help a lot there, though, and feel like 3-5 of them are pretty mandatory if you’re trying to build Knights. I had also looked at trying to make use of Avengers or Battle Cannons, but they are still more expensive than I’d like.

      • Reecius
        Reecius August 17, 2020 10:51 am #

        I will be curious to see if high model count armies are even still a thing in 9th ed. They may, but in my experience the detriments to big unit armies were too steep. Perhaps though, the community will find a way to make MSU high model count armies function which, while tedious to play, may work well in this new edition.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy August 17, 2020 6:06 pm #

          I think people are overestimating how bad off hordes are. Orks and Guard, for example, can both field large (100-200) numbers of models effectively that can take control of the board very early and present the enemy with the very real possibility of getting 15-0’d on the first two or three turns. And most opponents simply can’t afford to focus exclusively on blast weapons- weapons which, unlike other guns, get turned off while in combat.

          I don’t know if hordes are gonna be top tier this edition, but they definitely aren’t dead. Board control wins games.

  2. Avatar
    abusepuppy August 16, 2020 8:37 am #

    I honestly wouldn’t be too worried about getting locked in combat with War Dogs this edition; as Iconoclasts especially they put out enough shooting and melee that most things random units don’t love getting stuck in with them and the -1 to hit penalty doesn’t actually affect the output of a Lightning Lock all that much. (it goes from 12 expected hits to 10.)

    I had also been eyeing the Tyrant now that the price on the guns had come down. I still kinda feel like it’s probably not worth it, but for 100pts more than a Double Melta knight you do get a lot more shooting. My heart wants to think that the flamer/harpoon setup is viable, but that almost certainly isn’t the case.

    Summoning was a nice trick for Knights last edition, but this edition I don’t feel like it’s as valuable; you want to be taking control of objectives _early_ and trying do a “summon blossom” where you use a Knight to bring down a character, and then that character and the Knight to bring down a couple more units, and then keep repeating that until you run out of points is just gonna take too long to pay off considering how much you’re giving up. If you aren’t making use of the Knights melee threat potential, I don’t think you’re really getting value out of them as much as you need to.

    When the edition initially dropped I was playing around a lot with Lucaris to get Strike First Strike Often and the Quicksilver Throne to make two units that could strike first; sadly, however, for strike-first units (such as chargers), the _active_ player gets to choose the first unit to fight, so if they just charge a single Smash Captain or unit of Aggressors into you, that unit will get to swing before you do and kill your Knight (as opposed to non-charging units, where the non-active player gets to choose the first unit.) So that sadly put the kibosh on that plan- it’s not completely worthless, but it loses a lot of value. Still, Lucaris is an extremely good house and one of the better ones overall I think.

  3. Avatar
    Ernesto September 10, 2020 12:50 am #

    Regarding the second list, how can I include 3 characters in the army? I’d say that you can include the warlord and another one (the other despoiler) by corrupted heirlooms stratagem.
    Is this right?
    Thanks.

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