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Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights army guide

Chaos Knights are a fearsome, mechanical force of terror in Warhammer 40k, with newly revealed rules for Warhammer 40k 10th edition

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Author photo showing a Chaos Knight model head on, with glowing eyes

This is our guide to Warhammer 40k’s Chaos Knights, an elite force of devastating, monstrous war engines that blend ancient technology with daemonic cruelty. To understand the Chaos Knights is to understand what can happen when great power, supreme technology, and overwhelming pride are left to fester for millennia.


A Chaos Knight army is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding challenges you’ll ever find painting miniatures, and nothing else in the game plays like it. We have guides to other Warhammer 40k factions and we recommend you peruse those if you’re totally new to the hobby… but then again, arrogance and hubris are perfect attitudes for a would-be Chaos Knight commander…

Here’s what to know about Chaos Knights in Warhammer 40k:

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Games Workshop photo showing the Chaos Knights 9th edition codex cover artwork

Chaos Knights 10th edition rules

The Chaos Knights 10th edition rules emphasize how massive, devastating, and terrifying they are. Each Knight is a towering monster capable of ripping lesser enemies asunder, and projects an aura of dread that can cripple enemy morale.

Click here to download your free Chaos Knights 10th edition index cards PDF.

The Chaos Knights Index provides rules for the different marks of Knight suit that Chaos Knights may pilot. Though corrupted by the warp, the Questor Traitoris pilot similar Knight suits and bear the same formidable arms as their loyalist Imperial Knights counterparts, just with more spikes and black metal names.

Knight Tyrants are analogous to the mighty Knight Castellan and Knight Valiant, fielding the same immense armament. Similarly, War Dogs are a Chaotic corruption of the loyalist Armiger-class Knight, with the Executioner and Huntsman built to the same standards as the Armiger and Warglaive (but with spikes on).

The Stalker, Karnivore and Brigand stray further from the holy STC of the Armiger, cursed machines haunted by Pterrorshade warp entities. The Karnivore is given over entirely to melee slaughter and the Brigand to close-range firepower, while the Stalker freely mixes armament.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Author photo showing a Chaos Knight War Dog model

War Dogs lope alongside their masters like the curs they are, benefitting from aura abilities projected by their masters: while close to a Knight Rampager, War Dogs will reroll natural to-hit rolls of one as their bellicose lord drives them into frenzy.

The Abhorrent-class knights are the mainstay of any traitor house. Freed from the tedium of Imperial dogma, the Knight Despoiler can mix and match its ranged weapons, letting dakka fanatics mount twin Despoiler Gatling Cannons and a Ruinspear missile pod on a single Knight. The frenzied Knight Rampager is armed with a Reaper Chainsword and Warpstrike Claw in mockery of the loyal Gallant.

The Knight Desecrator wields the unique Laser Destructor, a long-range laser that can melt through any armour and total tanks with its vicious D6+3 damage amd the Obsessive Ruthlessness ability: when it targets a Monster or Vehicle Unit with a ranged attack, it gains the Devastating Wounds weapon ability, which causes Critical Wound rolls to inflict mortal wounds instead of their normal damage.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Warhammer Community photo showing a Chaos Knight Abominant model

Knight Abominant

Perhaps most corrupt of all is the Knight Abominant. This beastly behemoth wields a Volkite combustor, a weapon of ancient provenance that – with nine attacks and the Brtual Wounds ability – can easily inflict multilple, an infantry-threshing Electroscourge and tail-mounted Balemace.

This Knight’s greatest corruption is spiritual. The Knight Abominant is a psychic monstrosity; it inflicts a Battle-shock test on one enemy unit within 12″ at the start of your your Shooting phase, and mortal wounds on enemy units within 9″ of the model at the end of your movement phase on a D6 roll of 3+.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Author photo showing the Chaos Knight Rampager

Chaos Knights Dread Households

Chaos Knights are drawn from traitorous Dread Households, each with a unique war culture and army-wide rules, relics, and tactics. In Warhammer 10th edition these don’t currently have any rules.

We expect something like the Dread Households to re-emerge as new Chaos Knight Detachments when the 10th edition Warhammer 40k Codex for Chaos Knights releases.

Chaos Knights and the Marks of Chaos

As they are presented in the current Index army list, Chaos Knights can’t gain Marks of Chaos to show their favor to one or the other of the Chaos Gods. Marked Knights were a big, flavorful feature of the army in ninth edition 40k, so we expect something like them will reappear when Knights eventually get their 10th edition codex.

Harbingers of Dread

Where the Chaos Knights walk, reality quakes. They are accompanied by a rising tide of dread, shattering the minds of their foes and, eventually, the very stuff of reality itself – represented in-game by the Harbingers of Dread Army rule.

Chaos Knights project a pall of Despair. While an enemy unit is within 12″ of the Knight, each time it must take a Battle-shock or Leadership test, it must subtract one from its roll. From the third battle round, Chaos Knights gain +1 to wound enemy units that are Battle-shocked, and Battle-shocked enemy units subtract one from their hit rolls when targeting your Knights.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Author photo showing a Chaos Knight model faceplate

Chaos Knight Dreadblades

Dreadblade are Chaos Knights that walk alone, insane, dishonored, or corrupted to such an extent that even their own traitor kin shun their company. Instead they march to war alongside the other forces of Chaos.

You can include one Titanic Chaos Knight or up to three War Dogs in any army where every model has the Chaos keyword, breaking the normal rules that every model must be from one faction.

These knights can’t gain enhancements or be your army Warlord, but this does allow your Chaos Space Marines, World Eaters, or even Chaos Daemons to enjoy some super-heavy walker support.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights guide - Warhammer Community photo showing Chaos Knights models fighting Black Templars

How to start collecting Chaos Knights

Every Chaos Knight model is a massive investment of money, time and prayers to the dark powers. Start your army with a kit that you want to spend hours with, not what the internet says is the most competitive. As with any other Warhammer 40k unit, be wary: by the time you’ve built it, the meta may have shifted to favour something else.

There are now four dedicated Chaos Knight model kits (plus a variant of a loyalist Knight with resin upgrade parts sold on Forge World) but you must still raid Imperial supplies to construct a Knight Despoiler, Knight Tyrant, or the Executioner or Huntsmen War Dogs.

This is a perfect excuse to massively convert your army. Kromlech, Bitspudlo and many 3D modellers produce conversion bits to transform loyalist Knights into traitors – and neodymium magnets, a modelling saw and drill will allow you to magnetise weapons and get more value out of each kit.

Chaos Knights Lore

Before the rise of the Imperium of Man, when the first human galactic civilization fell into Long Night, each and every human world stood alone, easy prey for deadly xenos and more sinister things lurking in the dark between stars. Yet throughout this time of suffering, the Imperial Knight Houses stood proud.

Piloting mighty walking war engines, bearing terrible armaments from the time of man’s greatness, they were blazing torches in the dark. When the Emperor’s Great Crusade reunited mankind’s lost domains, the Knight worlds pledged their blades to his cause.

But a flame can gutter. Might begets hubris and pride ushers in a fall. When the arch-traitor Horus Lupercal turned his guns on the Imperium he brought with him many Knightly Households: the spurned, the avaricious, the bloodthirsty, and the cruel. In the age of Warhammer 40k, these ignoble cavaliers are known as the Chaos Knights.

When the Horus Heresy failed, the surviving renegade knights fled into the Eye of Terror, claiming hellish new domains in warp space. Some fallen Knights still observe perverse mockeries of their chivalric oaths, while others barter with daemons and the twisted genius of the Dark Mechanicum. When they ride forth to war, worlds burn in their wake.

With thanks to 40kSteve for his lightning-wreathed Knight Desecrator, Medrengardian Knight Tyrant and lurid pink War Dog, Alex Morris’ sinister, converted red and blue Dread Household, and Gonders for his rune-etched Khornate Knight Desecrator.