Chaos Knights: Life after the Balance Update

Hey all, Danny from TFG Radio here, and today, we great scions of the Dark Gods have a bit to celebrate with the recent rules update from GW. I do love my Chaos Knights, but 9th hasn’t been totally forgiving, but at least now, one quick change suddenly breathes new life into our warp-infused bones. Of course, be sure to keep up with Frontline’s Tactics corner as plenty of other changes mean new challenges to overcome!

So, with GW’s new quarterly balance patches, a move that I think most players are generally quite happy to hear, Chaos Knights get one small change that fundamentally changes our list design: Obsec. To be more precise, Chaos Knights (and boo, corpse-loving Imperial Knights) now get Objective Secured on all Wardog/Armiger chassis units, so long as the army is composed entirely of Chaos Knights. As a bonus, all War Dog chassis units count as 5 models, and full size Knight chassis count as 10. This isn’t as radical as a host of new rules or even major point adjustments, but it absolutely alters how to approach list building. Let’s get into it!

The era of the War Dog is open us! I have long been a big advocate for our mini-killers, even just the humble spear/saw War Dog as their speed, varied weapon options, and their points efficiency make them sweet packages. In the early days of 9th, you saw the Mortarion/Moirax Lightning Lock War Dog list run hard over several scenes, and I have had surprising success in local leagues with a Moirax based lists splashed with various Chaos Superstars. Now, the thing is, that isn’t optimal anymore as to get Obsec on the little doggies, you need to be pure Chaos Knight, so now it becomes about balancing the punch and durability of our larger Knights with the utility and speed of our smaller ones.

Keep in mind that the cheapest War Dog (spear/saw) is 135 points and the most expensive is a Moirax with double Conversion Beamer (not that this is a good build) at 175, so even at the cheapest possible build, you can get 9 Spear/Saw Wardogs and 5 Moiraxes. That’s 14, which is certainly a scary amount of them, but maybe not the ideal. Really, most lists that I’ve cobbled together have anywhere between 4 and 9. With that in mind, the question in list design really comes down to how much you want to leverage Obsec and do you want separate Houses in your force?

How much Obsec is enough?

This is the tougher question to answer because really, it depends on playstyle, list archetypes, and of course, local meta. If you are awash in a lot of horde style control armies that jam objectives with 30+ bodies, then even the full 14 War Dog list really won’t be able to compete for those objectives. If you really only want cheaper bodies to send forward to claim middle objectives and table quarters, then you don’t want to spend too many points on units designed to die. Really, the Obsec is mostly useful for keeping small, MSU style armies that can send small 5 or 10 man Obsec units to take objectives from you a bit more honest, or especially late game, the 3 man remnants of a squad can’t walk onto an objective and take it from your Despoiler.

For me, I think I think 5-8 is likely a sweet spot, again, depending on your build, as it ensure that you can put 1 or 2 Obsec War Dogs where they need to be on Turns 2 or 3, whether that’s attacking a middle objective or just defending one of your own. I think less than 4 and they are easy to snipe out or just due to the normal attrition of the game, by Turn 3+, you really won’t have enough to leverage on the board. I think after 8, you are definitely skewing into a mostly War Dog based army, which isn’t inherently bad, but it does have certain weaknesses that can be exploited, namely lacking big knockout power and also giving up kills far more easily.


Two Houses or One?

This is another thing to consider as the custom House rules are made to make War Dogs a bit more viable, but there are several combinations that better benefit one type of War Dog versus another. For me, it generally comes down to two main choices:

Iconoclast Custom House: Harrying Packs and Frenzied Attackers

This combination gives your Spear/Saw War Dogs 5 attacks (or 10 sweeps) on the charge with an extra hit each unmodified 6 and the ability to Fall Back and Charge. Spear/Saw War Dogs can get tarpitted pretty easily, so being able to Fall Back and get around the chaff can be huge. Another advantage here is that if you are also taking some Shooty War Dogs, Frenzied Attackers may be a little wasted, but Harrying Packs also allows a Fall Back and Shoot, which is very much a boon to Moirax chassis. The downside here is that if you are going to take a larger knight, they better be melee oriented without relying on stomping feet to get any benefit other than Iconoclast.

Infernal Custom House: Harrying Packs and Abominable Constitution

This combination gives your Moiraxes or even Shooty War Dogs some great mobility and trickiness with an extra inch of movement (great for getting Autocannon War Dogs to 15″ of Movement and Moiraxes to 13″) but also, more importantly, you are always moving this fast. With Harrying Packs for the Fall Back and Shoot, you can make your War Dogs as slippery as a toad in a bubble bath. Add in that as Infernal, you can juice up for either +2″ of movement or turbocharge one gun for some high risk, high reward shooting out of nowhere. Even fightier War Dogs benefit here as the extra movement helps them get to where they want to be and again, the ability to Fall Back and Charge is never bad. The downside here is that Infernal is very swingy, and again, if taking a big Knight, you need them to be able to maximize the advantage from Abominable Constituion.

So, why not take both? Well, with that, you are paying 3 CP for it, and Chaos Knights do like CP, and also, it limits list building a bit as if you are going to take any big Knights, they have to be in the same detachment with the Warlord so you aren’t paying 6 CP for the detachment. Also, you have to be real mindful about how you are spreading around your 3 units of Moiraxes and 3 units of War Dogs to avoid running afoul of the Rule of 3.

So, with all of this in mind, this is the list that I’ve been having fun with and generally doing well.

Dogs and the Hog:

Infernal Custom House: Harrying Packs and Abominable Constitution

Knight Magaera: Claw. Warlord. Infernal Quest (WL trait). Blasphemous Engine.

War Dog Moiraxes x2: 2x Lightning Lock

War Dog Moiraxes x2: 2x Lightning Lock

Iconoclast Custom House: Harrying Packs and Frenzied Attackers

War Dogs x2: 2x Thermal Spear/Reaper Chaincleaver

War Dogs x2: 2x Thermal Spear/Reaper Chaincleaver

War Dogs x2: 2x Thermal Spear/Reaper Chaincleaver (one is a character)

So this list is about leveraging a lot of Obsec War Dogs with one big multi-phase threat that is also Obsec thanks to Infernal Quest and does not degrade until much later thanks to the Blasphemous Engine. The Magaera and 4 Lightning Lock Moiraxes provide a ton of firepower that can easily take on larger units but also, through sheer volume of fire, take on larger targets, and the Magaera, as Infernal, can also boost to put the Lightning Cannon up to S8 and D4, making it far more deadly against T8 targets. With 6 Spear/Saw War Dogs that are Obsec, can Fall Back and still Charge, and have exploding 6s, you have some decent forward melee threat that is fast and can take the center of the board quickly, and hey, Thermal Spears, especially 6 of them, can really add up in terms of damage to hard targets. Everything in the list is Obsec, so it can definitely play the mission, and well, it is still Knights, so having 120 T7 wounds and 24 T8 wounds is nothing to sneeze at.

While this list is definitely more skewed toward heavy War Dogs, I like having so many individual models to use, and I generally have the speed and maneuverability to get primary and decent secondaries.

If nothing else, just a few quick rules and I am excited to test and play with Chaos Knights again, and well, I hope to see more and more people take them off the shelf, especially now that the Ork Freebootaz air force is gone and Admech/Drukhari are a bit less efficient. Thanks as always for reading, and as always: play games and be nice to each other (except those filthy Imperial Knight players). Also, don’t forget that LVO 2022 is not all that far away, so make sure you have your tickets and get those rooms!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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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