After a short vacation it’s time to jump back on the Crusade review bandwagon with a look at the new stompy-bois. Now before we begin, incorporating knights into a crusade campaign is a bit of a challenge. Since the army is such a swingy army, it is hard to incorporate fairly and should be disclosed before the other players make their rosters. Since many of the narrative missions require you to complete actions, it will be interesting to see how GW tries to overcome this hurdle.
At the start of your campaign you can nominate any number of knights to be “Questsworn” and to gain Honor and Shame points. As your army becomes more honored you will gain more of these points, the same is true of shame points (if you become dishonored). These units may go on Quests that end when you achieve 3 glory points or 3 shame points. If you get 3 Glory points you get a “Quality” upgrade, if it is because of 3 Shame points you get a burden. The Qualities are divided into three categories and vary in usability depending on the knight. Some buff shooting providing auto-wounding on 6’s to hit while others make the knight -1 to hit in close combat. It should be noted that each quality comes with two abilities. The first which is always active, the second can be activated by spending an honor point (you only spend 1 point if any model uses one of these abilities). It is also worth noting that you can only have one of the second-level bonuses active per battle round. While there is some downside to using these abilities they can be very powerful, besides the ones already mentioned you get opportunities to fight twice, reduce damage or get double exploding 6’s. Needless to say, this does cause some balance concerns for the GM. I would recommend mandating players roll these buffs rather then pick them.
Likewise, the burdens vary from devastating (2 permanent battle scars) to mild (-1 to WS). I might allow players to select these as many of these are really punishing and cannot be fixed.
So with the rewards in mind what are the quests? Each quest is tied to specific agendas the player must take which can make them difficult to achieve for multiple knights in one battle. Since these are tied to being the model that achieved certain agendas their usefulness rises and falls depending on these agendas.
Agendas and Relics:
So, speaking of agendas, the knights have 6 options to choose from. All are decent with some new twists thrown in. One doesn’t require anything of you and automatically removes 1 Shame point so long as you don’t end the game dishonored. Sally Forth is a fun one that gives you experience for killing the an enemy unit in your opponent’s deployment zone, and also for killing a unit while outside your own deployment zone. Honor Must Be Satisfied is a risky one as a certain model must kill the enemy unit with the highest points cost, but does reward a significant bonus if you do it via melee. I kinda like this one but feel it’s a little risky to be worth taking (if the nominated unit lives through the battle you gain a shame point). Next, you can spend 2CP to get a unique relic to recapture, this will take a knight out of action for a turn but does provide a nice boost in exp. Finally Slayer of Beasts gives you 1 exp for killing each vehicle or monster unit with another +1 for killing them in melee.
The knights have 3 Artificer crusade relics to choose from, one provides a 6++ in melee and does mortal wounds when rolling a 6 to save. Another provides a secondary weapon the ability to snipe characters while the last allows an armiger to share a Bondsman ability with another armiger within 9″ (the only one worth considering in my opinion). As we move on the Antiquity Relic the Laurels of Nobility are largely useful in mitigating the negative effects of your own crusade rules, allowing you to ignore one burden and get a 5+ save against shame rolls. The last one is a tremendous relic that keeps your model from losing more then 8 wounds a turn if it is Honored, and 6 wounds if it is Virtuous. This is hilarious especially if you can combine it with a model to heal.
Army Traits and Requisitions:
The knights get 5 tables to select from for their battle traits, thought you have to roll to see if the trait is a pilot or suit trait. The pilot tables are divided between a Pilot table or a Freeblade table. The pilot table provides a series of useful upgrades with only one bog-standard +1 to WS option. Some notable options allow you to gain extra glory points and expo. for being marked for greatness, another allows you to Deny the Witch once per round. The freeblade table has fewer options, but very useful ones giving you access to stratagems and warlord traits for a chosen house, +1 S and A if you are fighting a unit with 6+ models, and getting +2 wounds and +1 to charge and advance rolls. The suit tables are divided up between Armiger, Dominus and Questoris tables. Most of the tables have at least one really good option. The Questoris table allows you to duplicate a Quality or trait from itself to a nearby armiger. The armigers can shoot a unit that fell back from it, or chase it 6″ on a 4+ while the Dominus can make units it destroys subtract 1 from their out of action tests and gain Glory points when units fail out of Action tests.
In addition to these boons, there are also custom battle scars, with one table for the pilots and one for the suits. The pilot table isn’t too bad with many of the results providing manageable debuffs. The suit table is devastating. While there is one result that isn’t bad for shooty knights (-2 S) the others are pretty rough with options decreasing the total wounds a model has, or weakening its invuln or armor save.
So, since you will want to save your RP to remove battle scars from your knights, what other options do you have? Well you have an option to change a household knight into a freeblade for some narrative fluff. You can pick a armiger and give it a free command re-roll if it is within 12 of a designated Titanic unit. Interesting that there is no limit on the number of times you can use the command re-roll but it does count as using the stratagem. Knightly Quest is useful as it allows you to add the Questing keyword to new knight units while also providing a glory point if the unit has suffered a battle scar or gained a level. Exalted Court allows you to add the Exalted Court keyword to units that reach the Legendary level. The Arts of War allow you to swap Knightly Teachings. Finally you can use the last requisition to upgrade an armiger to a true knight on a 2+.
Wow this turned out to be a lot longer than I imagined. I wonder if GW was trying to make up for the short length of the codex by providing more crusade rules? Overall I think these rules are fair, but that knights will still be an issue in crusade campaigns. If a player picks the right set of upgrades it will be very hard to stop them. The low point values of initial events should help slow the tide, but the rules as constructed make them a tough list to factor in, especially at low point or power levels. I will be reviewing the Chaos Knight codex next, but I think it may fall afoul of the same issues. I don’t know of an easy remedy here beyond the GM playing an active role in mediating the campaign.
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