Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

Ave Omnissiah!

My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Force, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood and Skitarii legions, and perhaps the Titan Legion, Legio Gojira (which will never happen because I don't have money for Forge World Titans).

Oh, and I'll throw in the Thousand Sons from time to time because they're my favorite Space Marine Legion. I refuse to believe that they are Traitors! They're just...ahem...secretly loyal to the Imperium!

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Starting Warhammer 40K: Imperial Knight

Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been busy the past week with spring cleaning (an ethnic Chinese tradition) so I didn't have time to do much about Warhammer 40K. Now that I have a bit of time, and since Christmas has just ended, I had an idea about starting a Warhammer 40K army - what with the festive spirit and giving season and all.

Basically, if you're wondering what to give as a present, and you want your son/nephew/friend/loved onee (daughter and niece also work here, let's not be gender-biased) to start playing tabletop Warhammer 40K, you might probably want to give him or her a box. But what do you give to someone who has never played Warhammer 40K before? Similarly, what if you are someone, like me, who decided around the same time last year that you are no longer contented with just reading the novels pouring out of Black Library and want to participate in an actual tabletop game as well? If you've read so much Warhammer 40K fluff and been exposed to so many factions, would you have trouble deciding which faction to start off with?

That's what this article is today: Offering a suggestion on how to start off a Warhammer 40K army. I know this is going to sound controversial and perhaps downright stupid, but I personally think a good choice to start Warhammer 40K is an Imperial Knight.

Yeah, I can hear the dismissals and outcries already. Why would you want to start with a super-heavy?! Are you crazy?! An Imperial Knight gets killed easily! It's difficult to learn tactics and strategies with an Imperial Knight! It's not good advice for list-building! Blah, blah, well, I'm sure people will elaborate more in comments (if anyone comments, that is, I don't think anyone actually reads this blog, and I don't blame them) with better criticisms than the ones I randomly threw out. And they are right.

But I never said an Imperial Knight was the BEST choice, nor did I suggest it for learning strategies, list-building and tactics. I said it's a good choice for starting Warhammer 40K tabletop. What I'm focusing on is the rules of the tabletop game itself, not the strategy, deployment, tactics and list-building. Why? Well, I'm going to list the advantages and good points of fielding (as well as procuring) an Imperial Knight.

Before I begin, I would like to make it clear that the best advice is still BUY THE ARMY THAT YOU LIKE. Yes. Don't just buy an Imperial Knight because I said so. Buy it if you like it. If you have something else you like, like Xenos scum and Eldar Cheese, then buy them because by the Emperor, it is YOUR army, not mine. You have to be the one who likes the army you buy, build, paint and field. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of starting the game.

The suggestion of Imperial Knights is for new players who have absolutely NO idea what they like, are dazzled by the vast array of options and factions, people who are indecisive, or you can treat it as a plain analytical article for why an Imperial Knight makes for a good starting army. If you have an idea of what you like, or you already started the game with a faction you like, buy that. Don't be like me and waste money on Tau (only to sell them at huge losses) just because I wanted to power-game with my Imperial Knights and decided that I needed anti-air to cover my Adamantine Lance Formation's weakness (in the end, I had Icarus autocannons and Skitarii for that, so the Tau stuff was a total waste of money and I do not regret getting rid of those blue commies Xenos scum).

With that out of the way, here are my reasons why I think an Imperial Knight is a good starting point for people who have no clue what they like. Yet.

1: You only need one to three models.

A single Imperial Knight is enough for a whole army, to be honest. 500-point games? Sure, let me bring my Knight Crusader, upgraded with a rapid-fire battle cannon and Stormspear rocket pod. If your opponent is all right with it, then perhaps throw in a Helm of the Nameless Warrior or Mark of the Omnissiah to round the points off to 500 (of course this is, strictly speaking, illegal, but if you're just starting out and learning how to play, then your opponent might not mind). 800-point game? A Knight Errant and a Knight Warden, both with meltaguns and a single carapace weapon. You don't even need to glue or magnetize the carapace weapons, just use blue-tac. It's enough. 3 Imperial Knights for 1,500-point games would be good, but if you're just starting off, maybe stick to 1 or 2. Save the $200 for that 3rd Imperial Knight for a new army if you're going into bigger games (I'll elaborate more at the end, and in another article).

Contrast this with trying to buy, build and paint more than 10 models. I think the Dark Vengeance Starter set is a good buy, but honestly, it offers so many models and units that the list gets downright dizzying. I mean it has 49 models! And 2 different armies! And there's not a lot of choice - if you want to play Dark Angels, you're pretty much stuck with a Chapter Master (or Company Master), a Librarian, a 10-men Tactical Squad, 5 Terminators and 3 Bikers. No customization, no room for much options - your Librarian doesn't have the Terminator armor that you might want. Plus you have 2 different armies, and you're probably going to wonder which to use. That's of course assuming you are actually hardworking enough to build and paint all 49 models (then again, if you wanted to start Warhammer 40K you probably already have the determination to go through all that).

An Imperial Knight box offers all 5 choices - so you can build a Knight Errant, a Knight Paladin, a Knight Warrant, a Knight Gallant or a Knight Crusader. Take your pick. No restriction whatsoever. And you don't have to remember the rules for so many models. Plus, unlike the Dark Vengeance set, you probably don't need to spend weeks or even months building and painting your Knight. Maybe a week to build it (I built one in about 3-4 hours), and another week to paint it. Much easier than trying to build and paint an entire army (and if you give up halfway you've just wasted your money).

Now I'm not discouraging you from buying Dark Vengeance - it's still a very good starter set! It has its own advantages, strengths and benefits, but I also think just buying an Imperial Knight will have its own advantages as well.

2: Easy to learn the rules.

The Imperial Knight Codex is thin and light enough to carry around, and you don't need to flip through so many pages to find the Knights you're looking for. Besides, they all have the same rules anyway, so you only need to refer to the book for the weapons they're carrying. This will allow you to concentrate on learning the tabletop rules - for example, the four phases. Movement phase, your Knight moves - and you don't need to worry about moving so many models! You can ignore your Psychic Phase since Knights do not have psychic powers, and Shooting phase would be easy to remember as you only have a few weapons on each of your Knight, so you don't have to remember, for example, if your Sergeant has a bolt pistol, you have 6 lasguns, 3 special weapons, etc. Assault phases hould be easy to remember and learn too. Basically, if you want to learn the four phases and how the tabletop game flows, fielding an Imperial Knight would be an extremely easy and quick way to learn (of course, I'm not bothering with the complexities, tactical decisions, placement, etc. but this is for starters who are trying to get a feel of the game and see how one match plays out).

Furthermore, you also learn about vehicle rules, armor values and stuff when playing an Imperial Knight. Not to mention, you get exposed to the super-heavy rules pretty early on, and so know Invincible Behemoth, Smash, Move Through Cover, Stomp, etc. And if starters find the whole vehicle damage table complicated, the Imperial Knight's Invincible Behemoth rule allows it to ignore that table except for the Explodes! result, so it does allow the owner to gradually get used to the vehicle rules.

Of course, the Dark Vengeance set shines here because it gives you a small rulebook along with the armies, and if you jump into the game with an Imperial Knight like I did, you'll have to buy a $100+ rulebook that's thick, heavy and takes up a lot of space. Ouch. But then again, if you're not very fond of Space Marines and was going to start off with another army anyway, then you were probably going to just buy the rulebook anyway.

3: Quick and fast

Not sure if Warhammer 40K is for you? Worried about matches that take 3 to 4 hours? Are those matches (I find them fun, personally) too long for you? Then an Imperial Knight is for you, sir!

An Imperial Knight, as many people have rightly pointed out, are sometimes impractical in games. They either crush the enemy too easily, or they die too easily to drop-pod melta squads and Haywire (I bet my 170-point Sicarian Ruststalkers can easily wipe out my 420-point Knight Warden!). However, if you flip this around, this can mean quick games. Sure, you might lose a lot when people bring hard counters to your Imperial Knight, but both you and your opponent might get a good laugh when your Imperial Knight blows up in an Apocalyptic explosion and destroys both armies for an entertaining draw. Plus it also means you'll find ways to navigate or place your Knight strategically to avoid those deadly meltaguns. I hope. Either way, if you're someone with a short attention span, or has little time to game, an Imperial Knight provides a quick fix and a shorter game.

4: Easy to build, keep and bring around

Having so few models makes it easy to build and store. You can just build and paint one or two Imperial Knights, or even three, and being bigger it's easier to paint than a Guardsman. I know how difficult and time-consuming it is to build a platoon of Guardsmen, 10 each, and then paint every single one of them individually. Some people enjoy it, but if you don't, then just build an Imperial Knight, spray paint it, coat the rims, and then go straight to gaming. Additionally, you don't need a box to store dozens of Guardsmen, vehicles, aircraft and artillery (or just infantry). You just throw one or two Knights into a bag and carry them around without much difficulty. They're not too big like the Warlord Titans to carry around, and not too small and numerous like infantry to transport either.

5: Shooting and Melee

Playing an Imperial Knight is also an excellent way of learning the rules of shooting and assault. As mentioned earlier, with so few models, it makes it easy to remember the rules just for the Knight, and the weapons. The Knight is good with both shooting and melee, especially if you brought the hybrid ones with cannons and a Strength D Reaper Chainsword. You'll get to roll scatter and roll to Wound with both a strong gun (battle cannon or Avenging Gatling cannon or Thermal cannon) and a weak gun (heavy stubber), and fairly judge the rough values of Strength against Toughness. You also get to remember the whole Ballistic Skill as well, with the Knight's good BS4.

Similarly, you'll get used to melee with the Knight's good WS4 and take note of the Initiative and Attack values. With so few models, you can concentrate on getting used to shooting and melee instead of worrying over who has what weapons, who has what BS, who has what WS, who has the higher Initiative, who has how many attacks, since Knights have the same stats all across the board. Guardsmen, for example, are usually BS3 and WS3, but Veterans have a higher BS, Sergeants have more attacks, and if you give your Sarge a Power weapon or Power Fist, you've to remember Unwieldy and different strengths. With Knights, you don't have to remember all those, and can just focus on shooting and melee.

6: High durability

An Imperial Knight's strength is not just its Invincble Behemoth that allows it to shrug off vehicle damage stuff (except Explosion! results), but also its high AV13 front, ion shield and 6 hull points. As I said earlier, it may be killed easily, but it will still last longer than a Guardsman with Toughness 3 and 1 Wound. Or even a Space Marine with Toughness 4 and 1 Wound.

What this means is that the Imperial Knight will stay alive long enough for you to get familiar with it and its rules, so you don't have to keep trying to keep track of whether your squad of 10 guardsmen only have 5 shots left after losing half of their squad to a devastating bolter volley. It also means you don't have to take the model off the table as frequently as your opponent. Usually...I hope. And you don't have to bother with Morale checks since it's effectively Fearless, and you don't have to worry about the weapons snap-shooting after moving since it's effective Relentless.

7: Ambiguous Alignment

Okay, maybe you don't like the Imperium and much prefer Chaos, but you have done your research, read through 1d4chan, forums, other Warhammer 40K blogs' comments (can't be mine since I get almost zero comments) and Internet stuff, only to find out that the current Chaos Space Marines codex sucks. I don't know how true that is, but I heard Khorne Daemonkin is pretty competitive. Huh. Anyway, you want to play Chaos but you don't like Chaos Space Marines, and you're not interested in summoning Daemons or spilling your blood for Khorne (because you like Tzeentch more but you can't wait for the Thousand Sons and Tzeentch Daemonkin supplement that's rumored to be released next year). So what do you do?

Turn your "Imperial" Knight into a Chaos Daemon Knight. Paint it black and red, draw a skull or something on the banner, add horns, add spikes, throw in lots of stuff and make him as Chaos-y as possible. There you go. You're still Chaos, but you now have a Knight that has the same rules and stats as your awesome Imperium brethren. After all, House Devine and oher houses have fallen to Chaos according to the fluff, and who's to say you can't have a Daemon Knight? Just use the same rules but tell your opponent that for the sake of game narrative and fluff, your Knight is a Daemon Knight. It still works!

This also applies to Ork fans, and at my local gaming store, someone actually converted an Imperial Knight into a grotesque (and I mean this in a very good way) into an Ork Knight! Awesome. I should get a picture of it and post it here one day, but obviously I need the owner's permission and I don't have the chance to meet him.

These are the reasons why Imperial Knights make a good starter army for beginners, in my opinion, of course. I'm not suggesting that playing Imperial Knights make you more tactically nous and turn you into a competitive, high-level tournament player able to sweep the table. But I do think fielding Imperial Knights allow a fledging player just starting out to familiarize himself (or herself) with the game, learn the basic rules such as the four phases, shooting and assault, have a quick taste of the game without being put off by the tremendous amount of time needed (though I actually enjoy spending all that time playing), and have no trouble transporting so few models around for a game without worrying about dropping or losing anything.

After starting with an Imperial Knight and finding out that you really like the tabletop game, you actually enjoy spending a longer time moving models around the table and rolling dice, you want more models and a larger army, and you're finally motivated to develop a deeper tactical nous, heavier list-building and better strategies, then I would recommend expanding out of Imperial Knights and jumping into a new army. No! Do NOT throw away your Imperial Knight! Keep them! In fact, you probably want to keep them as an Ally (or if you really love them, as the Primary Detachment) to your new army! And my suggestion for that new army is none other than the Adeptus Mechanicus such as Skitarii (more so) and Cult Mechanicus (less so). Huh, I think that article for expanding into a new army is for another day, so we shall stop here for today.

So yeah, if you're thinking of starting Warhammer 40K, or getting someone else to begin the tabletop game, please consider getting an Imperial Knight. It's easy to use, field, learn and familarize yourself with the game! For expanding into a new army after getting used to your Knights (that's why I advise getting just 1-2 at first, and not jumping straight to 3...or 4, like I stupidly did), I'll elaborate more in another article in the new future.


  1. Nice write up! Your points about knights are all valid & helpful for beginner stompiness.
    I have 4 knights myself (1 magaera & 3 magnetized imperial). Been using them combined with a small guard/astra militarum CAD, the magaera can be a lord of war & the 3 knights as an allied detachment, or use all 4 knights in a household detachment.
    What I have to decide now is purchase a 5th knight and go full household (for reasons your article states and I seem to like knights best) or... wait for this weekend and check out the new ‘starter sets’ and maybe add a small mechanicus/skitarii formation as well! Decisions ;-)

    1. Glad to see a fellow Imperial Knight player! I love these guys, they're so fun to use!

      I did find after playing a few games that I like having more models on the table, and that putting Skitarii allies (or making them the primary detachment) was more fun for me than fielding pure Imperial Knights. Of course, everyone's preferences will differ according to individuality, so if you like having the Exalted Court, go for it! This is why Warhammer 40K is so fun, everyone's armies are so diverse even if they're the same faction. You'll rarely see an identical Space Marine army, or even an identical War Convocation (mine is so different from the other War Convocations on the Internet and Youtube).

      I also heard about the new starter sets, and I'm waiting to see what they have. Seems very interesting! I don't mind getting another 10 Vanguard, a 2nd Tech-Priest Dominus and a 4th Onager Dunecrawler.