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Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights codex ‘dread’ rules are scary stuff

Games Workshop's latest Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights 9th edition codex rules teaser introduces Harbingers of Dread, a series of dangerous debuffs

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights codex dread rules - Warhammer Communtity photo showing red-armoured Chaos Knights attacking Black Templars Space Marines

In its latest preview of new Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights codex rules, Games Workshop has revealed a new Chaos Knights army ability titled ‘Harbingers of Dread’ – placing a series of increasingly powerful, chaotic debuffs on enemies that might otherwise bring your mighty walkers down (so long as your army only contains Chaos Knights units, that is).

Profiled in an article on GW’s Warhammer Community website on Wednesday, the Harbingers of Dread rules are divided into three ‘tracks’, titled Doom, Despair, and Darkness. You’ll steadily collect (and stack) several different abilities over the game’s five successive Battle Rounds – with the option to ‘swap lanes’ from one track to another at specific junctures during the game, to change up your strategy. Some are marked with a skull symbol, meaning they’ll only affect enemies within ‘Dread Range‘ – a debuff zone around each of your units that starts at 12 inches, but can be extended.

As demonstrated by the five Harbingers of Dread abilities we’ve seen so far, GW says each track’s powers focus on a different in-game effect: Doom attacks enemies’ Leadership and inflicts losses in the morale phase; Despair shuts down enemies’ abilities and tactics; and Darkness protects your units from harm. We’ll take a closer look at the five revealed abilities below.

In a system that may take some getting used to (especially for less experienced Warhammer 40k players taking up Chaos Knights) you can swap between the tracks at the beginning of each Battle Round – but only between your current track and Doom.

You also have the option of remaining in one track all game – if your strategy is geared particularly towards disruptive, defensive, or morale-attacking tactics.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights codex dread rules - Warhammer Communtity photo showing the battle round cycle for the Chaos Knights' new Harbingers of Dread rule

Wednesday’s article first previews what appears to be the opening (Battle Round One) Doom ability, Dread Host, which saps Leadership and debuffs Combat Attrition tests in Dread Range. We then see the final (Battle Round Five) Doom ability, Horror of the Warp, which stacks with Dread Host to see models flee from Combat Attrition tests on 50% of rolls, as well as unmodified rolls of one causing two models to flee – potentially powerful in the blood-stained late game.

In the Despair track, we’ve seen Creeping Dismay – the Battle Round Two ability, which cuts three inches off the range of aura and command phase abilities for enemies within Dread Range of one of your Knights – and the Battle Round Four ability Paralyzing Insanity, which switches off enemies’ Objective Secured ability within Dread Range.

And we see Darkness’ Battle Round Three ability, Pall of Darkness – which gives enemies a minus one debuff on hit rolls when shooting your units from more than 12 inches away – again, potentially a crucial defensive buff for an army that has historically suffered from being shot off the table before it could really get going.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights codex dread rules - Warhammer Communtity photo showing the new Chaos Knights Harbingers of Dread rule Pall of Darkness

The Harbinger abilities preview comes after recent WarCom articles showed off several other titbits from the new Chaos Knights codex, including the Warp Storm psychic discipline, and Favour of the Dark Gods upgrades.

It all comes ahead of the upcoming Chaos Knights army set, containing two new War Dog Chaos Knights, and the new Knight Abominant variant kit, as well as a special edition of the new codex, and set of datacards. There’s still no release date for the army set, but, with rules previews accelerating, there can’t be much longer to wait.

Watch out for our upcoming, full guide to the Warhammer 40k Chaos Knights army in all its maleficent splendour – but, in the meantime, you can check out our guide to their loyalist reflections, the Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights. Alternatively, lose yourself in the warp by devouring our full guide to Warhammer 40k chaos factions.