Chaos Knights – 9th Ed Forgeworld Compendium Review: Cerastus Knight Acheron

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio, and today, I am going to go over that model that loves to bring the heat, without the heft price tag of the usual option, The Acheron. It brings some flame, it brings some punch, and if used right, it can bring pain in both main damage phases of the game. Don’t forget to keep up with everything over at Frontline’s Tactics Corner either! You don’t want to be caught unaware.

Primary Weapons:

  • Acheron Flame Cannon – Range 18” Heavy 2d6 S7 AP-2 D3. This weapon automatically hits.
  • Reaper Chainfist – Choose one mode:                               
    • Saw: S16 AP-4 D6 melee weapon                               
    • Sweep: S8 AP-2 Dd3 melee weapon. Make 3 hits rolls per attack.
  • Titanic Feet – S8 AP-2 Dd3 melee weapon. Make 3 to hit rolls per attack.

Minor Weapons:

  • Acheron Twin heavy Bolter – Range 36” Heavy 6 S5 AP-1 D2

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 Acheron is like a budget Flame Tyrant, and while you lose out on some volume of fire, you get an offensive weapon that also doubles as a strong piece of board control with some melee prowess thrown in, far more than a Tyrant. The flame cannon is money, to put it lightly. At S7 and damage 3, it is a weapon that will absolutely murder just about anything shy of T8, and even then, with a good roll on the number of shots, you can put enough heat through as even 2 failed saves is suddenly 6 damage.  Range 18” is short, but if you factor in a 12” movement when healthy, the Acheron has a surprising threat range where it is not too hard to get a juicy target into range. This is even more true in 9th with smaller boards. Since it autohits, the Acheron doesn’t need to care about any to hit penalties or even if it is degraded. It also has the benefit of being area denial as you essentially create a bubble around the Acheron of “if you come here, I will flame you”.  Even more, charging the Acheron becomes problematic as taking 2d6 autohits from the cannon can absolutely devastate a unit or even a harder target. There really aren’t too many units that want to risk 2d6 hits of the flamer. It is not entirely easy to piece trade for the Acheron in melee since there is always the possibility that you simply die to the overwatch.  This is especially true for melee characters that may only have 5 or 6 wounds as all they need to do is fail 2 saves to die in the overwatch.

The Acheron also has strong melee potential as it has 4 attacks, not 3 like a Tyrant, at WS 3+, and as a bonus, it has a melee weapon. The Chainfist is not a Thunderstrike Gauntlet, so you can’t sub it out for a relic, but you don’t need to as it is already an amazing weapon that hits like a Thunderstrike without the negative modifier. It also has a sweep attack now, new in 9th, and while it is essentially the same thing as Titanic Feet, it is NOT Titanic Feet, so a lot of other abilities can suddenly impact it.  With the 12” speed, it is very much possible to get an Acheron to fly across the board and punch the beejesus out of a hard target or get some sweeps on.  Because it has an autohit weapon, if it degrades, it is still useable as one part of its offensive is always at full effect, which is nice reliability as some knights are great when healthy, but suffer once they are in the mid-tier, but with the Acheron, you know that the flame cannon is always there for you.  All of this for 145 points less than Tyrant and losing only 2 wounds in the process (and a few guns).

Ambition here is going to dictate how you want to play the Acheron. If you want survivability and more consistent melee, Iconoclast is a good way to go. The +1 attack and +1 to AP really makes the Acheron a scary melee threat with 15 sweeps or 5 mega hits that are AP-5, which pretty much guarantees no armor saves on just about any target.  This also opens up a lot of juicy combinations with the Vows like Vow of Carnage to start wracking up the bodies to turn the Acheron super-saiyan in the midgame.  With the flamer and the heavy bolters, it is not too hard to get 10 kills a turn the first turn or 2, and then by turn 3, the Acheron charges in with 6-7 attacks or 18-21 stomps, and each 10 kills there is just more money.  As the Acheron is 26 wounds, Vow of Dominance is not terrible either to keep it alive much longer than your opponent would want, and again, since the flamer never worries about degrading, you can stick in the fight for a good while.  If the Acheron is going to be your main second wave threat that you want to stay alive and not rocket forward to die, the Veil is great for the  4++ all the time, but it is not necessary either. Overall, Iconoclast gives you some opportunities to power up the melee and get more attacks with means more consistent kill.

Infernal is a great choice if you want full-speed aggression or a super soaker.  Being able to up-charge the flamer to S8 and D4 is insane, and if you roll well enough, that is a profile more than capable of taking huge bites out of hard targets.  If you plan to dance around at 18”, using the flamer more than the fist, this isn’t bad at all.  If you want speed and a first turn charge, Infernal is also good as +2 movement and +1 to advance/charge on top of 12” movement makes this a real possibility.  If your opponent deployed poorly, it is not hard to get the Acheron into their lines and snipe out a big threat on Turn 1.  Giving the Acheron the Blasphemous Engine isn’t bad either as it will take a long time to degrade, so you can sit and dance at flamer range and not worry about degrading if you need to also come in with the melee punch.  The Acheron is somewhat short ranged, so it wants to be up close, which means you can easily get targets into range for Diabolic Rift to help hurt your opponent’s psychic phase.  Bind the Souls of the Defeated can work with the Acheron since it sweeps just fine, but it is not likely to get you a ton of mileage.  That said, Pact with the Dark Gods on an Acheron is great as getting another turn with the flamer can be brutal, especially if your opponent had to over-extend to take it down in the first place.

House also has some big impact here, namely the House bonuses that do not effect Titanic Feet but can effect the Chainfist.  House Khymere is solid for a reroll 1s to wound, making both the sweep and slash just devastating to their intended targets, and if you spend your CP to get it to reroll to hits, you are essentially rerolling everything.  Lucaris is another great option because the +1 to hit in the first round of combat is always lovely, but a great combo is to give the Acheron the Warlord Trait to Always Strike First, making the Acheron just an absolute anti-charge model that is worth the CP to overwatch with its flamer and then gets to swing in first before whoever charged it.  This makes its almost impossible to kill in melee since it is getting so much damage on the charging unit before they get to swing.  Like the Castigator, the combination of Infernal Frenzied Attackers and Hate-Driven Charge makes an Infernal Acheron fight just about as well as Iconoclast while also being able to super charge the Flamer, giving you a great boost in threat to both Shooting and Melee.  Getting an extra hit on a natural 6 in melee with the Sweep means you are getting 2 extra hits on average, which is pretty sweet when you also factor in that you can be rocking a S8 D4 flamer.

Dreadblading depends on what you want to do.  If you aren’t planning on giving the Acheron the Veil or Engine, then Dreadblading has its place.  In Infernal, going for Daemonic Vigor gets you the chance for the super long threat. If you roll the 2+ movement, you are suddenly Mv 14”, and with Quicksilver Throne and Infernal supercharge, you are moving 16”, advancing d6+2, and with Full Tilt, charging 2d6+2.  That’s an average charge range of 30.5”, which is tasty to say the least.  This pairs well with 2 CP for Spiteful Demise as it is not likely to survive a turn in the middle of your opponent’s army, but you can make them pay of it.  Even if you roll the 4 or 5, getting WS 2+ on the Acheron just makes it a better melee threat. Path to Glory can be useful if going against another Titanics or character heavy armies where you want to make the most out of the fist, but that’s pretty corner case.  Daemonic Vigor is the best option here.

The Acheron, depending on what you’re doing, also has the benefit of being relatively CP light.  Since its primary ranged weapon does not roll to hit, you don’t need to spend 2 CP for Trail of Destruction for reroll hits, and it only takes 1 CP to Rotate Ion if you need it.  Of course, this depends on what else you are doing with it.  If you plan to Full Tilt and then Spiteful Demise, now you are spending a good amount of CP.

So what’s the downside here? Well, it is still 480 points, which is cheaper than DubGatt now but more expensive than DubMelta with much shorter range.  This means that the Acheron really needs to be close, and unless you build your army to give the Acheron Always Strike First, it will likely die earlier in the game than you’d want.  The gun is also swingy, which is pretty on brand for Chaos Knights, as it averages 7 hits, but that’s just the average, which means on a turn by turn basis, you could roll 11 when you didn’t really need it and 3 when you do.  This is just the nature of it, and you have to either accept that and build a list with contingencies, or just let the dice happen and be stuck to their whims.  With only the flamer and twin heavy bolter, you are not generating a ton of shots per turn, so you fall victim to that toolbox style build where you have answers for many problems but none of those answers are particularly amazing.  The flamer is solid, but again, up to the vicissitudes of fate, and the gauntlet hits hard, but only useful against certain targets. Of course, there are also just the general problems that Chaos Knights have.  They require a lot of CP to really function at maximum efficiency; they cannot move across the board freely, so it is easy to get wrecked by terrain; and of course, they are points intensive models that have to start on the board, so you are generally vulnerable to alpha strike. With all that in mind though, if you are looking for a more swiss-army knife style Knight, the Acheron is a good pick, and if you are running a Conflagration Tyrant, an Acheron is a good replacement if you are trying to save points.

75/100 – The Acheron can do some good work in the right lists, and it is not so expensive that you cannot take other knights with it, and it has a lot of different play that you can leverage every game. It has one of the higher skill caps in the Knight line up, so a savvy general can use it in a variety of ways, but you need to be on point about how to use the Acheron from game to game. Thanks for reading, and check out TFG Radio’s TL;DR battle reports!

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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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