Chaos Knights – 9th Ed Forgeworld Review: Cerastus Knight Castigator

Hey everyone, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we are going to look at one of the best multi-purpose Knights out there, the mighty machine-gunnin Castigator! Of course, I’d be remiss in my duties to not inform you of all the great material available over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner!

Primary Weapons:

  • Castigator Bolt Cannon – Range 36” Heavy 16 S6 AP-2 D2
  • Tempest Warblade – S14 AP-3 D3 melee. Make 2 hit rolls per attack
  • Titanic Feet – S8 AP-2 Dd3 melee weapon. Make 3 to hit rolls per attack

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 receive the benefit of cover to its saving throws unless at least half of the model is obscured.

The Castigator is a multi-threat attacker that focuses on quantity more than quality, but when you are a Knight, even your quantity has better quality than others.  As the Castigator is a Cerastus chassis, you get 26 wounds, making it pretty damn beefy but a bit toned down from 8th.  Consider that you get this for 460 points, which isn’t too bad at all told. As a shooting platform, the Castigator pumps out an impressive amount of shots for one gun, and at its base, it is a Primaris killer.  With -2AP and flat damage 2, every failed save is a dead Primaris, and against lighter vehicles, the Castigator will shred those just as well.  Even against hordes that rely on a Feel No Pain style save to last like Leviathan Gants, Plaguebearers, or Orks with Painboyz, the damage 2 means it is quite a bit harder to ignore damage as making 2 6s (or 5s) is not so easy. With S6, most hard targets are relatively safe, but through sheer volume of fire, you can force enough saves to do some moderate damage if need be.  36” range isn’t really that long, but in the more compact table of 9th edition, it is more than enough to be in range of most targets unless playing certain deployments.

In melee, a Castigator is more about putting out a lot of flat 3 damage rather than landing the big hits. The Castigator is not ideal for taking on any other superheavy, but it excels at taking out elite infantry like Custodes, Aggressors, or Bullgryn. With 8 attacks with the sword, chances are you are wounding on 2s, and forcing invulnerable saves (or if they don’t have one like Aggressors, forcing a 6+ save).  While most hard targets have an invulnerable, one failed save translates to one dead model, so losing 2-3 in a single volley can be devastating.  Against true hordes, you always have stomps if you want 12 attacks.  Against a medium vehicle like a dreadnought or transport, the sword is more than enough, but don’t expect a Castigator to take on a super-heavy threat.

Ambition here really changes the math, so you need to decide how you want to play the Castigator. If you want to maximize the number of attacks that the Castigator does in melee, then Iconoclast is the way to go.  With +1 attack and AP in melee, the Castigator starts pumping out 10 swings with the sword at AP-4, which shreds just about anything short of a super-heavy.  Even then, with that many attacks and maybe Trail of Destruction, any Super-heavy without an invulnerable save in melee is going to feel the pain. Iconoclast also gives you access to Vow of Carnage, which allows you to super-charge the Castigator.  With 16 shots, against a horde army, you can easily start to stack up the kills and generating even more attacks. Even getting just 2 more attacks with Iconoclast means that the sword is going to obliterate just about anything or you get even more super-stomps to throw out.  You can dance around the edge of your range for a turn or 2 and by the time you fully commit, your Castigator is now throwing out 14-16 sword attacks or 21-24 stomps.  Especially if you are planning to use the Castigator as your turn 3 push, the Veil is not a bad idea to keep it alive and healthy longer with a 4++ to shooting.

If you want more versatility and more ranged power, Infernal is a great choice. Pumping up the cannon to S7 and Damage 3 makes the Castigator a far scarier ranged threat that suddenly has the pop to kill all but the heaviest targets at range. At base profile, a Castigator is unlikely to do much to a heavy vehicle (like a Repulsor or Tank Commander) with average damage being 7.11 wounds caused. If you enhance the cannon, then you get 10.667 average wounds, a healthy increase that makes it not too far out of averages to one shot a Tank Commander, and welp, if you go full bore and throw in trail of destruction, now you are up to 14.22 wounds caused, enough to kill a Tank Commander or severely cripple a Repulsor chassis.  While resource intensive, this gives you a lot of ranged threat on a model that also has respectable melee output against a variety of targets.  If you want to just rocket the Castigator forward, boosting for Speed makes the first turn charge quite easy, and if you do manage to get the extra movement from say Dreadblading Demonic Vigor, you can actually realistically get 2 different Knights into the front lines on turn 1 as an 16” movement, +1 to charge Castigator doesn’t need Full Tilt to advance and charge if your opponent deploys on the line.  Even if you are just rolling randomly to only take the 1 mortal wound, any of the boosts helps you, so you can let the Dark Gods decide how you want to use the Castigator that turn.

Which House is also going to have an impact, and thanks to the Tempest Warblade not being Titanic Feet, a lot of the custom House bonuses actually apply to it. The most pivotal being Frenzied Attackers, making the Castigator gain an additional hit on a 6 with the sword, which even on an Infernal Castigator is at least 1 more hit, but much more likely to get 2 more hits as Iconoclast.  You can pair this with Hate-Driven Charge for an extra AP on the charge, and you can suddenly get an Infernal Castigator to fight with the same ferocity as an Iconoclast one, but with all of Infernal’s boosts to shooting and movement.  If you like shooting, House Khomentis almost custom made for the Castigator if you take the Warlord Trait. Getting one turn where you are pumping out 16 S7 AP-2 D4 attacks that reroll to hit and wound is just bonkers good. House Lucaris is a good choice for Iconoclast as the +1 to hit in the first round of combat makes the Warblade that much more reliable, and the Warlord trait is workable as well. Herpatrax is also strong for just an extra flat 2 wounds, bringing the Castigator up to 28, making it quite beefy, especially for the point cost.

Dreadblading is of course a good idea here unless you are desperate for one of the Ambition only relics. Daemonic Vigor is an outstanding choice as the Castigator directly benefits from any of the possibilities. Path to Glory can also be helpful if you are facing a lot of characters, particularly melee ones as the Castigator can become a great character killer.  If you are planning to be a bit cagey and not commit the Castigator early, Galvanized Hull is good for ignoring -1 AP weaponry.  In terms of relics, well, it depends on how you want to run the Castigator.  Khornate Target is outstanding if you are sending the Castigator at elite infantry like Custodes or Terminators where you can force them to save on 6s rather than a 4++ (or 3++), and each failed save is a dead model. This can be a pretty effective counter to many elite armies that rely on their invuls and multiple wounds to hold objectives.  If going against hordes, particularly if Iconoclast with Vow of Carnage, having Galvanized Hull and the Nurgle Plate makes the Castigator a ruthless killer against low value melee units.  Really, the Castigator is a versatile platform that can do a lot of work depending on how you build it.

Because it is so cheap, if you just want a Knight to act as a major threat, a Castigator and 2 Moirax Wardogs with Lightning Locks is a cheap (for Knights) detachment that gets you a whole lot of S6 shooting plus the potential melee threat of the Castigator, all with plenty of points for whatever else your chaotic heart desires.  A Castigator also pairs well with 2 Double-Thermal Despoilers as this nets you a lot of T8 wounds, and a lot of ranged threat with some melee prowess to boot, all while having enough points left over for a healthy battalion of something else.  You can also go real crazy and just take 3 of them, which may not be ideal, but it would look heckin’ cool on the table.

So why isn’t this Knight dominating the meta? Well, that’s more to do with Knights than anything else. Despite all its tricks and angles, it is still a Knight, meaning it can be move blocked easily, it can’t go into ruins, and it can’t traverse the board at will.  A canny opponent can keep the Castigator from doing what it needs to do.  The Castigator also doesn’t help with the mirror match as it is ill-suited to taking on other Knights, so in those matchups, it isn’t pulling weight the way other Knights would. It also doesn’t have access to any out of Line of Sight shooting, so infantry can easily hide from it.  Since this game is so lethal at range, you also have to worry about being alpha-struck off the board on Turn 1.  As it is a split role, it doesn’t offer the amazing, overpowering offensive ability in either shooting or assault, and sometimes that’s what you need more than anything. Lastly, it can be a CP intensive model as it really shines with Trail of Destruction, Full Tilt, and Vows, so it is going to eat up a lot of precious CP that Knights aren’t ideal at generating on their own. All that said, the Castigator, particularly for its price point, is one of the best options that Chaos Knights have.

90/100 – A competitive-minded list built around Chaos Knights should always consider the Castigator. It has so much flexibility for such a reasonable cost that it should be one of the first Knights that you consider.

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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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