Chaos Knights: 9th Ed Forgeworld review – Cerastus Knight Lancer

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, let’s talk about the ultimate Super-heavy missile of melee madness, the Lancer! If you like speed and a few biiiiiiig stabs with a shiny spear, then check it out. Of course, don’t neglect all the information to be had over at Frontline’s ever expanding Tactics Corner!

Primary Weapons:

  • Cerastus Shock Lance (shooting) –  range 18” Heavy 6 S6 AP-1 Dd3
  • Cerastus Shock Lance (melee) – Two profiles. You can only select Charged if the Lancer made a charge move this turn.
    • Standard: S14 AP-4 D6 melee.
    • Charged: S16 AP-4 D8 melee.
  • Titanic Feet – S8 AP-2 Dd3 melee weapon. Make 3 to hit rolls per attack

Special Rules:

  • Ion Gauntlet Shield – 5++ invulnerable save that increases to 4++ in melee. In addition, TITANIC models suffer -1 to hit on their melee attacks that target the Lancer.
  • 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 receive the benefit of cover to its saving throws unless at least half of the model is obscured

The Lancer is all about being a super-charged missile of anti-Titanic death, and in this role, there are few entries that come close.  As the Lancer is almost entirely melee focused, it is the cheapest of the all the Cerastus models, coming in at 440 points, just two dimes cheaper than the Castigator. Really, for 440 points, you get a model with 26 T8 wounds that has a 5++ and a 4++ in melee; that is pretty resilient for not so many points.  As a bonus, you keep the old Cerastus speed boost of a base 14” move.  The Lancer really needs that extra speed as it is all about the melee, so it needs to strike first to really maximize what it can do. 

And boy-howdy, can it do work.  Without any other buffs, a stock Lancer does 17.78 wounds on average to another Knight while a Reaper-chainsword Knight only does 4 wounds back on average.  That is a pretty damn big difference in output, so you can always throw a Lancer right into the maw of another Knight and not have to worry about it. Even a standard Gallant using the Fist is only doing 6.25 on average.   This is of course stock (assuming the Lancer charged), but once you start adding on the buffs, a Lancer becomes a pretty much guaranteed Knight killer.

The easiest way to up the offensive output of a Lancer is to go with Iconoclast for the +1 attack on the charge. With 6 attacks on the charge at AP-5, this is 25 wounds on average to a standard Knight chassis, and well, throw in Trail of Destruction for reroll to hit (or Path to Glory), and now it is 31.630, killing the Porphyrion and its ilk in a single go.  That’s impressive. You can further augment this by getting lucky on a Daemonic Vigor roll to get the Lancer to WS 2+, and now you are going to kill any Knight you hit on average dice (except for another Lancer of course). If Iconoclast and you throw in Vow of Beastslayer, rerolling 1s on the wound means that again, you are just going to crush any model you hit that does not have an invulnerable save. 

If you are Dreadblading, you can either hope to roll Path to Glory and Daemonic Vigor, but it can honestly be wiser to simply choose Daemonic Vigor and take the Rune of Nak’T’Graa to choose Path to Glory.  With Path to Glory for the free rerolls against Titanic and Daemonic Vigor for either the speed boost or WS boost, you are going to out-threat just about any target and get the bonus efficiency of reroll to hit without spending CP.  A full kit Iconoclast Lancer is going to do 34 wounds on average to a standard Knight chassis, meaning you kill any Knight on average dice (unless they have an invulnerable save in combat).  Even against a Knight with a 5++ in melee, you are still doing 23.04 damage, so not outside of likelihood to kill non-Cerastus Knights.  If you throw on Eager for the Kill as a Warlord trait, you are fast enough to get inside a lot of deployment zones, and now you have 7 attacks. The Lancer even stacks up well against such heavy hitters as Mortarion since they can’t really afford to biff even a few saves. 

If you want sheer speed, Infernal is the way to go.  Charging up for +2 movement and +1 to advance/charge adds some exceptional speed, and if you stack all the other movement boosting relics and abilities, you have a model with insane threat. If you go full bore for this, you boost for movement, roll 1-3 on Daemonic Vigor for +2 movement, take Eager for the Kill Warlord Trait for an additional +1 to advance/charge, and Quicksilver Throne for +1 to advance/charge, and with Full Tilt, you are going 18+3+d6 in the movement phase and charging 2d6+3 in the charge phase for a total average threat of 34.5 inches, but more importantly, a minimum threat of 27”.  That’s pretty insane, and if your opponent deploys on the line, you can pretty much just walk up and not have to worry about advancing at all. With a smaller board in 9th, the Lancer can easily go from one side of the board to another in a single turn. If you can get wholly into your opponent’s deployment zone, that’s 6 attacks as well.   With a 4++ in melee, the Lancer can be a pain to actually kill, and even at WS 5+ on lowest profile, if it gets to charge again, it can still do big damage if the stick hits. 

Which house only adds more pop and flavor here.  Herpatrax is a legit choice for 28 wounds on the Lancer, and its warlord trait for a free revive, especially for a model that is really a piece-trade unit, can be very impactful.  Lucaris is also an awesome choice to get the Lancer a +1 to hit on the charge, making it even better at murdering anything it touches. With WS 2+ and 6 attacks on the charge thanks to Iconoclast, that’s 18 stomps, making it a pretty good answer to larger units.  Vextrix is a great Infernal house for a free reroll for hit/wound, but really, it is the Relic that matters. Heretek Power Core is amazing for a Lancer for +1 movement, damage 9 (!) on the charge with the Lance, and a +1 to explode is great for a Lancer who excels at getting deep into enemy lines, and popping Spiteful Demise can mean sniping out annoying characters or really weakening units that may be hiding on a 3+. In terms of Custom Houses, Slayer of Kings is great for making sure the Lancer will kill big threats and Abominable Constitution is great for having 15” of Movement and always moving that fast, regardless of damage.  Not bad at all. 

Since the Lancer is melee focused, its gun is really an afterthought.  The Lancer does need something to clear chaff though, so it pairs well with Moirax War Dogs with Lightning Locks to clear out anything in its way, so it has a straight shot to its intended target.  That is something to remember with the Lancer; it really needs either Ambition to fully function, and it needs a way to clear a lane for it to get into valuable targets.  It is a trade piece, so you need to make sure you can trade it for enough.  As part of this, never be shy with Spiteful Demise as the Lancer should die deep in your opponent’s lines, and getting an explosion there can cause mass havoc, especially if they have a lot of support characters.  Another interesting wrinkle is to use the Lancer as a pikeman to absorb charges, and this works well with Iconoclast for Vow of Dominance, making it far harder to wound for even high powered attackers, and then you simply Fall Back and charge in next turn.

There are of course problems with the Lancer.  First, it is melee oriented, and well, that means it needs to get there first.  Since it is a Knight, it can be move blocked or can simply be penned in by terrain.  While it can get some crazy movement, this game rarely has totally linear paths, so if your opponent deploys well, there is no real chance for the Lancer to get to what it needs to get.  It’s utter skill at killing other super-heavies is also a weakness: it really can’t do much else for its price tag.  It’s attacks are wasted against chaff, but if Iconoclast, you can dance pretty well with 18 attacks, but still, it’s real power is in melee against big threats. That really is part of what limits it: it is great in a mirror-match, but it offers little in a lot of other fights where you need massed kill rather than focused kill.  There is such a thing as overkill as while a Lancer with the right buffs can murder a Superheavy, a Gallant Despoiler (especially with a relic weapon) or Rampager is also going to mathematically kill most targets for cheaper.  While they are a bit slower and have less wounds, they are still going to get the job done, and again, for a bit cheaper.  That said, no other Knight is as survivable in melee as a Lancer, and that’s something to consider, especially if you are in a meta that is full of really big melee threats where that 4++ is going to matter.

83/100 – A solid Knight and one the best hard target killers out there that can do work in a list designed to help it excel. The Lancer is a turn 1 beast that pressures your opponent and is also frustrating to kill, so it pairs well with shooting/smite spam to clear screens and keep your opponent focused on their side of the board rather than yours.

Thanks as always for reading, and hey, if you want to watch SaltyJohn not listen to my advice (and play those lowly Imperial Knights), check out TFG’s latest TL;DR battle report!

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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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