Chaos Knights – 9th Edition Forgeworld review: Acastus Knight Asterius

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, I am going to start my deep dive into all the goodies for Chaos Knights in the Forgeworld Compendium for 9th edition. We start with a big, big, biiiig model, the Asterius. If you like d3s, this is your place! Of course, don’t forget to check out all of the new information from just about any faction over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner.

Primary Weapons:

  • Karacnos Mortar Battery: Range 60” Heavy 3d3 S5 AP-1 D1. Blast. This weapon wounds on a 2+ except against Vehicle or Titanic units.
  • Twin Conversion Beam Cannon (x2): When attacking, select one of the profiles below:
  • Short Range – 0-24” Heavy 2d3 S12 AP-1 D2. Blast.
  • Medium Range – 24”-48” Heavy 2d3 S14 AP-2 D4. Blast.
  • Long Range – 48”-72” Heavy 2d3 S16 AP-3 D6. Blast
  • Titanic Feet: S8 Ap-2 Dd3 attacks that make 3 hit rolls for each attack.

Minor Weapons:

  • Asterius Volkite Culverin (x2): Range 45”  Heavy 4 S6 AP0 D2.  On a natural wound roll of 6, deals 1 mortal wound in addition to damage.

Special Rules:

  • Ion Shield: 5++ Invulnerable save against ranged attacks.
  • Explodes: When this model dies, roll a D6. On a 6+, it explodes and each unit within 2d6” suffers d6 mortal wounds.
  • Super-Heavy Walker: This model can shoot and charge after it Falls Back. When Falling Back, it can move across enemy INFANTRY models and SWARM models as if they were not there, but must end its move 1” away from enemy models. This model does not suffer the penalty for moving and firing Heavy Weapons. This model does not receive the benefit of cover to its saving throws unless at least half of the model is obscured.

The Asterius is an odd one, a long, long range gun platform that is all about avoiding the scrum and landing some big shots on a heavy target all while slowly eating away at models with its weaker weaponry.  It did lose a few of the things that made it different in 8th, and the change to the board size definitely didn’t help either.

With 30 wounds at T8 and a 5++ against shooting, this is a big, big model that is not going to go down without some seriously tooled firepower, and with its range, it can sit out of the fight and away from a lot of other targets.   While many Knights do not like long deployments, the Asterius sure does as its optimal kill zone is 48-60” where the Conversion Beams are at max power and the Mortar is still in range of good targets.  Yes, the Volkites are out, but those are mostly for chip damage against infantry or a wounded light vehicle.   At 50” or so, you are out of range of a lot of standard AT weaponry like Lascannons and Missile Launchers, and the Asterius is about living through the game as long as possible, not providing forward pressure.

The Conversion Beams are devastating at max range, getting 4d3 (so 6 on average) shots that wound just about anything on 2s with -3 AP and flat damage 6. There really aren’t that many Big Threats that want to take that heat.  The Mortar is a solid weapon against infantry, namely for always wounding on a 2+ and with Blast, it excels at taking big chunks out of units camping objectives. It no longer ignores line of sight though, so its usefulness is a bit limited as it cannot help you clear out those annoying units hiding in the backfield.  That said, all of its main weapons being Blast means that the Asterius has some good answers to larger units, namely hitting them enough times to really matter. It also helps that the Asterius is a huge model, so it can draw line of sight to a lot of the board, even if a unit thinks they are safe behind a container.

Ambition here does matter in different ways.  I like Infernal for the ability to boost the Mortar. Getting it up to D2 really gives you a nice answer to Primaris Marines as now they are just flat out dying for each failed save.   You really don’t need to boost the Conversion Beam Cannon, but if you don’t need to boost the Mortar, getting up to T9 on such a beefy model gets you a lot of mileage.  None of the Infernal only strats work that well though.  Iconoclast’s ambition doesn’t matter much as with only 3 attacks base and WS 4+ when healthy, you don’t want the Asterius to fight.  That said, it can definitely make use of the Vows. Vow of Dominance is excellent to make it so much harder to kill the Asterius at range as it can only be wounded on 4+, and Vow of Beastslayer gets you that extra mileage out of its cannon, and at full power, that’s an extra 12% wounds on the big cannon on any hard target, not too shabby for 1 CP. In terms of the Houses, Herpatrax isn’t a bad idea for just a free 2 wounds on the big beef cake, but really, it is the custom Houses that warrant the most attention.  With so many variable shot weapons, Endless Torment is a great option as getting to reroll one of those d3 can really matter, especially since with Blast, the Asterius is already going to get decent rolls against 6+ model units, but being sure that you are getting more and more shots on the single targets helps maximize what it does.

Dreadblading here can make sense in certain matchups.  If you are really concerned about other Titanic units, Path to Glory is a good call for lots of extra mileage out of the hit rolls.  Galvanized Hull can be nice for ignoring AP-1, making the Asterius much harder to kill through chip damage.  The big problem is that with Dreadblade, you don’t get the two Ambition specific relics, and well, the Asterius likes them both.  If Iconoclast, the Veil is awesome as a 4++ to shooting on the Asterius is amazing, especially when combined with Vow of Dominance, and if Infernal, the Blasphemous Engine means you need to be damn near dead to degrade.   You can go with the Helm of Warp Sight but with a hard cap to -1 to hit in this edition, this relic really loses value, and the Asterius doesn’t put out enough shots on average to really leverage that.  In my mind, the best loadout is an Iconoclast Asterius with the Veil and Vow of Dominance for a truly, truly frustrating model to kill at range that will smoke any heavy armor and provide you a durable firebase.

Army composition matters a great deal here as I don’t see an Asterius being very effective in a pure Chaos Knight army unless it is the only Titanic Superheavy.  If you are doing a very objective heavy battalion of durable infantry, then the Asterius brings some kill at least. That said, the Asterius has some big hits against it.

The first and foremost being money and points. It did get a price drop from 8th, but 750 points is one hell of a commitment. If you actually want the Infernal ambition, really factor in that you need to spend another 300ish points for the accompanying War Dogs.  Granted, an Asterius with 2 Moirax War Dogs with Tesla is a good combo that covers AT and AP pretty well, but that still leaves you very, very little room for anything else.  This is why Iconoclast is best as you can get everything you need to make that 750 points as durable as possible without having to spend any more points as you don’t need to care about the actual benefit more than just the ability to take Veil and the Vows.  Even then, 750 points in one model leads to skew. Don’t forget that the only guaranteed fire that you get is from the Volkite, which are outside of the optimal range band, and that’s only 8 shots. It is completely possible to roll a lot of 1s and end up with only 4 shots from the big cannon and 3 from the mortar.  That’s a real bad turn, and there is no House Raven strat here to make that less likely.   If the Asterius over-performs, you are going to have a great game. If it under-performs, you’re gonna have a bad time.  If you get alpha-struck by a mean as nails army like Eradictors somehow getting to you, boom, you are now playing 1250 points against 2000 in a standard game. With no real way to heal, once this model gets degraded, it’s threat drops considerably, and it is a CP hungry beast. You want to spend 2 each turn for Trail of Destruction to reroll hits and get the most mileage out of your high-powered shots, and you will want to spend CP to give it Vow of Dominance at least.  Since it is best at least 24” away, the smaller board size really hurts it as it needs to be far away from its main targets to maximize its offensive output, and that’s much harder to do now.

The Asterius is a major resource sink and against certain matchups like say an Ork horde, it is not going to do much work for you at all.  It doesn’t have the volume of fire to really threaten a horde (at max, it is doing 12 big shots, 9 mortars, and 8 Volkite followed up by 9 stomps. That may seem like a lot, but against 100+ models, it really isn’t when it accounts for almost 50% of your army).  This means that if you really want to take the Asterius, you need to dedicate the rest of your army to anti-horde and board control, so again, pushing you into a specific build. This is also not perhaps the most optimal build as well, 9th is very much an objective based game, and the Asterius is no help there.  Going to a smaller board and losing the out of LoS shooting on the Mortar really, really hurts this model.

50/100 – Very much not your friend. The Asterius can do work in against certain matchups like a Primaris horde, but only in a very specific style of army, and is it going to take you to the top of the pops? Probably not as it is too expensive and resource intensive for what it gives you, and by including the Asterius, you are giving yourself a huge hole to fill in terms of meta. 

Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to check out TFG Radio and our new TL;DR battle reports! Stay safe and play some games when you can.

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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.

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