Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide

The 'biggest' Warhammer 40k army, Knights have tons to offer - here's our guide to Imperial Knights tactics, lore, and stratagems

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Instagram user @40ksteve showing a Knight Lance of Imperial Knight house Griffith

When Warhammer 40k’s Imperial Knights ride forth into battle, the ground shudders beneath their iron tread. Each Knight is a huge warsuit constructed of impregnable adamantium, bearing weapons capable of tearing open battle tanks and rending down fortress walls. To prepare you for leading an Imperial Knights army of your own, this guide has details of the Imperial Knights’ tactics, stratagems, and codex information, plus a run-down of the main Knight classes and their weapons. Time to sally forth!

In the far future of Warhammer 40k, Imperial Knights are effectively prehistoric artefacts of war. Each one is many centuries old, a relic of ancient technology, maintained by the devotion of generations of tech adepts, and ridden into war by the scions of a venerable knightly household. Combining the medieval romance of the questing chevalier with the raw firepower of a 40-foot-tall mech suit, Imperial Knights join battle bedecked with pennants and decorated with livery that proclaims their lineal oaths, their rolls of honour, and histories of conquest.

Protected from incoming fire by ion shields of arcane design, and armed with ranged and melee weaponry of immense scale and destructive power, the Imperial Knights are some of the most powerful and imposing units within the armies of Warhammer 40k’s Imperium of Man – as well as a perennially popular tabletop force that plays differently from any other.

They’re among the largest models you can field on the tabletop, and one of the most rewarding hobby projects available. But before you embark on your own – best read on for a brief lesson in just how awesome these machines are.

We’ve got sections on everything you need to know about Warhammer 40k’s Imperial Knights:

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Instagram user @40ksteve showing a Knight Lance of Imperial Knight house Griffith

Imperial Knights lore

The first Knights date back to the Dark Age of Technology, when the ascendant human species colonised the galaxy using powerful technologies now long forgotten. The flexible Standard Template Construct systems enabled the construction of any tool mankind might need on the worlds it claimed. The design for the Knight was adapted from the industrial and agricultural machines employed on hardy frontier worlds, enabling those first colonies to defend themselves against native beasts, xenos raiders and stranger things besides.

Knight pilots form a psychic bond with their warsuit

Knight suits psychically bond with their pilot through the control interface known as the Throne Mechanicum. The powerful machine spirit of the Knight suit influences the pilot with the urge for glory and the will to control, while the pilot’s consciousness seeps into the Throne Mechanicum. Over time, a Throne Mechanicum will accrete generations of mental imprints from the pilots who bonded with them. At the same time, the Knights exert an influence over the society of their worlds. Between the psychic impression of the Throne Mechanicum, and their inevitable role as defenders and commanders, the Households of Knights have risen to positions of hereditary, feudal control over their worlds.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing House Raven Imperial Knights models aided by Ultramarines Space Marines

In the time of horror known to historians as Long Night or the Age of Strife, the worlds of mankind languished in terrified isolation. Tempestuous warp storms made galactic travel a nigh-impossibility, shattering any hope of interstellar civilization.

Mankind was at the mercy of warp-borne monstrosities and xenos predators. In this darkness, the Knight Worlds blazed like beacons. With reaper chainsword and battle cannon, their mighty warriors held back the foes that sought to devour mankind.

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When the Emperor’s Great Crusade reunited the human homeworld with its lost children, the Knight houses were quick to bend the knee. Some pledged to the Forge Worlds of the Mechanicum, reforging ancient bonds that had existed in the Age of Technology, losing their independence to the relentless demands of the machine cult but gaining a great boon of irreplaceable technology. Others swore to the Emperor and his Imperium, the romance and vision of the Great Crusade calling to their chivalric hearts.

For 10,000 years the Knight Households have waged the Imperium’s wars, hurling back rebels, aliens and heretics with gallant charges of their massive war engines. Since the Cicatrix Maledictum split the galaxy in two, separating the far side from the Emperor’s light, the Knight Worlds are amongst the few bastions to hold back the tides of darkness that besiege the so-called Imperium Nihilus. Just as they did in the Age of Strife, so the Knight Houses defend mankind from unthinkable foes. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community graphic showing the portrait of Hekhtur Cerberan, pilot of the famous Knight Canis Rex

Imperial Knights characters – Sir Hekhtur and Canis Rex

Every Knight is a warrior apart, staunch of heart and indomitable in spirit, for no lesser mortal could tame the mighty soul of their iron steeds, much less lead them to war against the Emperor’s numberless foes. But, in the 41st Millennium, one Knight above all others commands the respect of his peers and the hatred of his foes.

Sir Hekhtur and Canis Rex are the sole survivors of a Knight world taken by the Iron Warriors

Sir Hekhtur Cerberan is the last loyal son of House Cerberan. Hailing from the Knight World of Randoryn Alpha, Sir Hekhtur and his Knight Preceptor Canis Rex fought side by side with the rest of his Household when the heretic forces of the Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines sought to claim their world. Though the Knights fought a staunch defence and reaped a bloody tally on their foe, they were gradually encircled, besieged, captured, or destroyed. Death was not to be their fate, though: each Knight was subjected to horrific torture, while Dark Mechanicum hereteks  and warpsmiths set to work corrupting the spirits of their war machines. Of all House Cerberan, only Sir Hekhtur was not killed or corrupted.

Perhaps sensing its master’s unyielding resolve, perhaps urged to motion by the Emperor’s will, Canis Rex somehow broke from the bonds of the hereteks attempting to subvert it, and smashed a path to its master. Together with other Imperial survivors, they escaped, forming the core of the Randoryn resistance. Sir Hekhtur was unable to save his world, but, rather than laying down his life in pursuit of vengeance or redemption, he engineered an escape aboard a stolen shuttle. Now he is the Chainbreaker, always at the frontline of the Imperium’s wars to liberate worlds languishing under the shackles of the arch-enemy.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing the model for Imperial Knight Canis Rex

While at full health, Canis Rex fights with an impressive Weapon Skill and Ballistic skill of 2+. The knight suit is armed with a Las-Impulsor and the legendary Freedom’s Hand, a gargantuan thunderstrike gauntlet which inflicts 2d6 wounds (for a minimum of 6). Should the noble Canis Rex be slain, Sir Hekhtur is able to disembark and fight on on foot, with an archeotech pistol, and denying your opponent any victory points for destroying Canis Rex while he yet lives.

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As with other Freeblades, Sir Hekhtur has martial qualities and spiritual burdens that affect him in combat. One of many Freeblades who is Last of Their Line, he can re-roll hit rolls of one for attacks made against units with ten or more models, while his status as a Legendary Hero allows him to reroll a single failed hit, wound, damage, charge or save roll each battle round. Yet Hekhtur is Obsessed with Vengeance, and he must direct all his attacks and charges into the nearest visible enemy unit whenever his burdens weigh too heavily on his soul. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Games Workshop product photo showing the Imperial Knights 8th Edition codex front cover

Imperial Knights codex

Lacking a 9th edition Codex, the rules for Knights are spread across five sources:

  • 8th edition Codex: Imperial Knights
  • 8th edition supplement Psychic Awakening: Engine War
  • The FAQs for both those books which update several weapon stat lines and ability wordings to bring them in line with the latest edition
  • Warzone Charadon Act 1: The Book of Rust, which adds rules for Freeblade Lances (bands of ‘Ronin’ Knights without masters) and extends the rules for the noble House Raven.

The Imperial Armour Compendium contains rules for the exceedingly exotic knights sold by Forge World.

Until they get a 9th Edition Codex, playing Knights correctly involves a fair amount of cross-checking to make sure you aren’t missing anything. This guide should help cut through the confusion. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Alan Bailey showing an Imperial Knight lance painted in purple and gold

Imperial Knights detachments – how to understand them

Every Imperial Knight is a Lord of War choice, meaning you can only take them in two types of Warhammer 40k detachment: the Super-Heavy Detachment, which costs 6 Command Points (CP) if it contains any Titanic units, or 3CP if it does not, and contains 3 to 5 Lords of War choices; and the Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment, which costs 3CP, and contains only one Lord of War.

In practise, you’ll usually take a single Super Heavy Detachment with your Warlord in it

But there are wrinkles to this. A Battle-Forged Imperial Knights army can select one Knight in each Super-Heavy Detachment to gain the Character keyword. Additionally, if your Warlord is in a Super-Heavy Detachment, you get 3CP refunded if they are mounted in an Armiger, or 6CP if they are in a larger class of Knight. Then, the rules for detachments in the Grand Tournament Mission Pack for 2021 reduce the cost of a single Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment down to 1CP, provided it shares a faction with the rest of your army, isn’t your Warlord, and the faction they have in common isn’t just Imperium (or Chaos, Aeldari, Ynnari, Necrons, or Tyranids). Phew. That’s a lot.

In practise, this means that Imperial Knights will usually take a single Super-Heavy Detachment, containing their Warlord. If you blow through the five Lords of War slots this gives you, you can add a Super-Heavy Auxiliary detachment for 1 CP – but bear in mind that Auxiliary detachments never gain detachment bonuses, which means no Household Tradition or Allegiance Oath. It’s a good place to drop a single Freeblade (more on them later.) 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community artwork showing a Knight Castellan and Knight Armigers in battle

Imperial Knights tactics

Each Knight is a walking bastion of armour, force fields, and devastating firepower. Their mere footsteps can crush the mighty warriors of the Adeptus Astartes while their huge melee weapons will scythe through armoured vehicles with ease. But, except on those terrible occasions when Imperial Knights march to war against their heretic kin, the Chaos Knights, Imperial Knights are always outnumbered.

Because their power is so concentrated into so few units, Knights must be extremely careful in deployment and when committing their forces. They have no way to screen enemies away from objectives except by interposing their own metal bodies, and it only takes two objective secured models to survive combat with them to deny you the objective.

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Every Knight needs to earn their keep in as many phases as possible. Though you might equip them with a loadout of purely ranged weaponry, Questoris and Dominus class Knights have prodigious melee powers from the humblest of weapons – their giant, metal feet, which multiply their attack stat. 12 Strength 8, AP-2 Damage d3 kicks in the head will do a lot of damage to most targets.

As with other Characters, your Knight Warlord can Heroically Intervene 3” at the end of your enemy’s charge phase, a useful tool to trap enemies who seek to claim those objectives. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Stephen Reynolds showing a questoris knight in green and cream armour

The best Imperial Knights stratagems

Although you should be able to avoid any command point costs for your detachment, you will find that you have very few to play with. Because each Knight is such an immense concentration of force, their stratagems are accordingly expensive. Stratagems appear in both the Codex and Engine War, and some of the Codex stratagems have had their CP cost errata’d, so make sure to check.

’Rotate Ion Shields’ is a critical defence stratagem

The pre-battle stratagems Exalted Court and Heirlooms of the Household are justifiably popular among Knight players. Exalted Court allows you to turn additional Knights into characters and grants them a Warlord trait, while Heirlooms of the Household throws open the Sacristans’ holy vaults to dispense additional relics to your force. Both stratagems cost 1CP if they affect a single Knight, or 3CP if they affect two. Both stratagems are hefty yet worthwhile investments, increasing the survivability or offensive power of your cadre of chivalric mech suits.

Rotate Ion Shields is a critical defensive stratagem, increasing the invulnerable save of a Knight to 4+ against shooting attacks for a turn for 1CP (or 3CP for the huge Dominus class Knight. Except for Armigers, Knights are simply too large to benefit from any kind of terrain and can always be targeted by their enemies once in range. Powerful armour-cracking anti-tank weapons abound in 9th edition, such as the Dark Lance mounted on Drukhari Raiders, Twin Cognis Lascannons of Adeptus Mechanicus Ironstrider Ballistarii, or the Melta Rifles carried by Space Marine Eradicators.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing House Terryn Imperial Knight models fighting Khorne Daemons

Full Tilt allows a Knight to charge after advancing for 2CP. Depending on your deployment and the terrain, you may be able to attempt a turn-one charge that will congest your opponents deployment zone and give you some time to claim objectives.

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Knights that owe allegiance to the Questor Mechanicus have the powerful stratagem Machine Spirit Resurgent, which, for a single CP, allows them to ignore all damage they have suffered. This substantially improves the accuracy of a damaged Knight’s weaponry. Questor Imperialis knights are more likely to die, but go out in a blaze of glory: for 2CP they can make a Valiant Last Stand, shooting as if it were the shooting phase or fighting as if it were the fight phase (albeit with minimal accuracy). 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Alan Bailey showing a Forge World Imperial Knight model in purple and gold paint scheme

Questor Imperialis and Questor Mechanicus

Each Knight World owes fealty to one of two great masters, the Imperium of Man or the Mechanicus of Mars. These bonds of service can be traced to the Great Crusade when the Knight worlds were united with the Imperium and swore oaths to ride forth to the defence of their liege lords.

Each Questor grants access to different stratagems, relics, and warlord traits

These are represented by your army’s Questor Allegiance Oath. The Vow of Honour binds your knights to the Imperium of Man, adding 1 to their advance and charge rolls. The Sacristan Pledge represents the superior technology and materiel provided by the bonds with the Adeptus Mechanicus, allowing each Knight to regain one wound at the start of the turn. Whether your Knights are part of the Questor Mechanicus or the Questor Imperialis will also determine which stratagems, relics and Warlord Traits your army can access. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing a House Terryn Imperial Knight lance

Imperial Knight Houses

Each Knight House follows a Household Tradition, shaping its way of war. These open up unique stratagems and Warlord traits, as well as providing a more distinct narrative character to your force.

House Raven has the largest box of tricks, receiving two pages of extra abilities in War Zone Charadon Act 1: The Book of Rust. Each named Household is already pledged to either the Imperium or Mechanicus. Rules in Psychic Awakening: Machine War allow you to create your own Household which can swear allegiance to either.

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Household traditions are characterful bonuses for Knights of each Household. House Griffith, for example, revels in the Glory of the Charge, granting them +1 Attack on any turn in which they charged or heroically intervened, and allowing every Knight in the army to intervene as if it were a character.

Likewise, the indomitable House Hawkshroud are Oathkeepers, counting double their current number of wounds on their damage table, while the Relentless Advance of House Raven allows them to treat all Heavy Weapons as Assault Weapons when they advance and to ignore all penalties.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing a Knight Valiant model in House Raven colours

In most factions, the army-wide buff provided by picking a sub-faction will really define how your army plays in a way that a Relic, Warlord Trait or Stratagem won’t. This isn’t true for Knights, who concentrate their power into a tiny number of models.

House Krast’s Warlord Trait is a simple reroll ones to hit, a powerful buff

The Bio-Scryer Cogitator Array stratagem of House Cadmus allows a Knight to unleash its full ranged ordnance against an enemy unit that is set up within 12” of it as if it were the shooting phase, a powerful tool for controlling the battlefield that other Knight Households totally lack. The First Knight Warlord Trait from House Krast simply allows the Knight to reroll hit rolls of one, a huge boost to accuracy, while their Headsman’s Mark relic increases the damage of the Knight’s weapons by one against models with a wounds characteristic of ten or more, a cheeky little upgrade that will make an Avenger Gatling Cannon or Conflagration Cannon into respectable anti-tank weaponry. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Stephen Reynolds showing an Imperial Knight Magaera in green and cream paint scheme

Imperial Knight Freeblades

Some Knights owe fealty to no Household. Some have seen their comrades in arms slain to the last, powerless to save those they fought beside.

Others are disgraced warriors who have broken the codes of honour they swore to uphold, sentenced to exile. Then there are those whose have fled in disgust from a Household that has turned away from the Emperor’s light and sought the terrible rewards of the ruinous powers.

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Whatever the cause, Freeblade Knights bear a terrible burden, a source of pain and also inner fire, seeking to right past wrongs, wash away their dishonour or simply wreak terrible vengeance upon the foes that took everything from them.

Freeblades do not benefit from a Household Tradition, but one Freeblade in each detachment may bear Freeblade Qualities and Burdens; they may either select one Quality from a list or roll for two, and select two Burdens, or roll for one.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing a Freeblade questoris Knight with battle cannon and chainsword

The Qualities represent the unique spark of the Freeblade: a Peerless Warrior has an improvement to a randomly selected statistic, for example, while a Legendary Hero can reroll a single die roll once per battle-round.

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Burdens represent the chains across the Knight’s noble heart, and take effect when doubt and guilt grip their soul (or rather, when you roll equal to or above their leadership characteristic on 2d6, something you’ll check each turn). A Knight who was Exiled in Shame cannot benefit from any stratagems while their Burden hangs heavy on them, while a Weary Machine Spirit counts as having half its current number of Wounds to determine its characteristics. If you love the idea of world-weary warriors and misfits banding together, consider the Freeblade Lance from War Zone Charadon Act 1: The Book of Rust. This allows you to field an army of nothing but Freeblades, picking two benefits and a single burden for each, as well as a handful of stratagems and Warlord traits. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Instagram user @Pratheos showing Imperial Knight Armigers in a purple and white colour scheme

Armiger Knights

Even the smallest Knight is a massive war engine many times larger than its human pilot, while the largest begin to approach the scale of the God-Machines of the Adeptus Titanicus.

Armigers are piloted by lesser nobles, illegitimate children and squires to the Knight House. Comparatively small, Armigers are like the hunting dogs to the larger Knight suits cavalry.

Helverins’ long range cannons make them solid backline ground holders

Two Armiger class Knights are available from Games Workshop, the short-ranged Warglaive and the ranged Helverin. Though they’re the smallest of all Knights, these suits are armoured like light tanks, with Toughness 7 and 12 Wounds. The Helverin carries a pair of cannons that can project a hail of long-range fire, while the Warglaive has a short Reaper Chain-Cleaver and a Thermal Spear, effective anti-tank weapons or capable of ripping elite infantry to shreds.

Though they’re hardly ‘cheap’, Armigers are the smallest unit you can field in an Imperial Knights army. Reserving a 160 point Helverin to hold a backfield objective is far more palatable than committing a 450 point Knight. Warglaives can be redirected to deal with emergent threats or sacrificed to hold up a horde or blunt an assault, and the Bonded Oathsmen stratagem allows Armigers to heroically intervene up to 6” when one of their larger brethren is charged. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Instagram user @Pratheos showing an Imperial Knight Errant in a purple and white paint scheme

Questoris Knights

The great majority of Imperial Knight classes are built on the redoubtable Questoris chassis. Though the scions of the knightly houses might contest that there are noticeable differences in the temper of the different warsuits’ machine spirits, in game terms and in their models most Questor knights differ only in their armament. Canny use of magnets in the shoulder joints of your miniatures will allow you to swap and change between the various classes.

Knight class Main armament
Paladin Rapid-fire Battle Cannon and melee armament
Errant Thermal Cannon and melee armament
Gallant Reaper Chainsword and Thunderstrike Gauntlet
Warden Avenger Gatling Cannon and melee armament
Crusader Avenger Gatling Cannon, plus either a Thermal Cannon or Rapid-fire Battle Cannon
Preceptor Las-Impulsor and melee armament

Many knights bear devastating melee weaponry. The Reaper Chainsword is an atavistic call-back to the Knight’s origins as an agricultural machine, a twelve-foot chainsaw that will damage all but the most robust vehicles on a wound roll of 2+, dealing six damage and cleaving through all but the thickest armour.

Though harder to wield, the Thunderstrike Gauntlet is even more devastating, and the broken carcasses of monsters and vehicles slain by it can be hurled into their allies, dealing mortal wounds. The brash pilots of Gallant class knights wield both of these catastrophic weapons, adding an extra attack on their profile to compensate for the slight redundancy of carrying two short-range weapons that can carve a tank in two.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Instagram user @40ksteve showing a Knight Paladin of House Griffith

The Rapid-Fire Battle Cannon launches a barrage of heavy shells, the same caliber as a Leman Russ’ main gun. You would expect this gun to be effective against elite infantry and enemy armour, but invulnerable saves (as on the Drukhari Raider), abilities that prevent a unit from being wounded on rolls less than 4+ (such as Primaris Space Marines‘ Transhuman Physiology stratagem) or that reduce the damage a unit suffers by 1 (such as the Death Guard’s Disgustingly Resilient ability) all chip away at its effectiveness. The weapon also fires 2d6 shots, and rolling snake eyes can be incredibly dispiriting.

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If you want a weapon that suffers even more at lady luck’s hand, the Thermal Cannon is a Blast d6 anti-tank gun. An over-sized melta-weapon, it has high strength and excellent armour penetration, and inflicts more reliable damage at close range (rolling 2d6 and selecting the highest result). If you can’t bear the thought of lining up a perfect shot and rolling a 1 for the number of attacks, consider taking the Unremitting Household Tradition from Psychic Awakening: Engine War, which allows knights in your Household to reroll a single die to determine the number of attacks they make each time they are selected to shoot.

If you’d rather your Knights were armed with a minigun the size of an affordable family car, the Avenger Gatling Cannon is for you. With 12 Strength 6 Ap-2 damage 2 shots this is a go-to Space Marine killer (though see the notes above…). The relic Avenger Gatling Cannon Endless Fury has two more shots and, on to-hit rolls of 6, inflicts an extra hit on its target; it’s hard to say no, really.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing several Imperial Knight models in House Griffith colours

Only the Knight Preceptor bears the Las Impulsor, a curious rapid firing laser weapon that fires d6 high-Strength, anti-armour shots at short range, and 2d6 anti-infantry shots at long range. It’s not a blast weapon, which is a mixed blessing; though it lacks the guaranteed minimum shots against large units, it can still be fired into melee. Truly, the Omnissiah giveth as much as he taketh away. To round out this odd duck of a Knight, it allows Armiger class units within 6” to reroll hit rolls of 1, reflecting the Preceptor’s role as a mentor to novice Knights.

These Questoris knights can all be fitted with carapace mounted weapons, from the anti-aircraft Twin Icarus Autocannons, parabolic Ironstorm Missiles that can target units outside line of sight, or dedicated anti-tank guns of the Stormspear Rocket Pod.

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Add in a smattering of ancillary guns (Meltaguns or Heavy Stubbers mounted in the torso, a Tracer Heavy Stubber in the Rapid-fire Battle Cannon, and underslung Heavy Flamer in the Avenger Gatling Cannon), and Imperial Knights bristle with heavy weaponry.

Sadly, the development of defensive abilities in 9th Edition means that, even if points adjustments make Knights into a competitively balanced army, Questors really don’t feel as intimidating as they ought to. Still, we’re only a codex away from these weapons becoming suitably terrifying again, and have no doubt that we’ll be updating this guide as soon as that happens… 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Stephen Reynolds showing an Imperial Knight Castellan in green and cream paint scheme

Dominus Knights

The largest Knight kit made by Games Workshop, the Dominus Knights are walking battleships, bristling with firepower. Reflecting their predilection for ranged combat, Dominus-class Knights have worse Weapon Skill than their Questor siblings (though their giant footfalls are no less deadly). Two Dominus kits are available, the Castellan and the Valiant.

Knight Class Main armaments
Castellan Plasma decimator and Volcano lance
Valiant Conflagration cannon and Thundercoil harpoon

Both Dominus have a pair of twin-meltaguns for short-range defense against other Knights or similarly large close-range combatants. Their carapace mounts a combination of single-shot, invulnerable-save-ignoring shieldbreaker missiles, and twin-siegebreaker cannons, tiny weapons on the Dominus but large enough to be the main gun on most APCs or light tanks.

The Castellan is equipped with immense long-ranged firepower. The Volcano lance is a minimised version of the laser-weaponry mounted on space ships, a Heavy d6 blast Strength 14, AP-5, damage 3D3 weapon that rerolls wound rolls against Titanic units. The Plasma Decimator is a Heavy 2D6, Strength 7 AP -3 D1 Blast weapon, which can be overcharged to S8, AP-3, D2 at the risk of causing mortal wounds to the bearer. Castellans pledged to the Questor Mechanicus can call upon the relic Cawl’s Wrath, a Plasma Decimator with increased strength and damage.

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community photo showing House Raven Imperial Knights attacking Daemons of Tzeentch

If your opponent has brought only a limited quantity of anti-tank weapons, the Castellan can wipe them away in a single salvo. Just remember that almost all the weaponry borne by the Castellan is a blast weapon, which cannot be brought to bear when engaged in melee, so it is extremely vulnerable to being tied up by chaffe.

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Where its sibling is reserved, the Valiant is a front-line bruiser. It carries the enormously oversized Conflagration Cannon and the Thundercoil Harpoon, a short ranged damage 10 weapon that will wound anything except a Warlord Titan (or a member of the Dark Angel’s 1st company…) on a 2+ and can reroll hit rolls against vehicles and monsters – and then deals another d3 mortal wounds as it channels voltaic force into the vehicle it has skewered. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Warhammer Community artwork showing a Knight Porphyrion in battle

Forge World Knights

There are as many Knights made by Games Workshop’s specialist studio Forge World as there are by Games Workshop itself, representing models that were prolific during the Horus Heresy but rarities by the time of the Dark Millennium. These are kits for truly dedicated collectors, either hybrid kits that combine plastic components with resin conversion parts, or completely resin kits for the largest, most imposing knights.

The bulky Porphyrion and Asterius Knights are the biggest around

Rules for these magnificent war engines can be found in the Imperial Armour Compendium. The Moirax is a variant Armiger, and the Styrix and Magaera are variants on the Questor chassis. More imposing (and more expensive), the Lancer, Acheron, Castigator and Atropos are all Knights of the long-limbed Cerastus class, faster and sturdier than their Questor counterparts. The absurdly bulky Porphyrion and Asterius occupy the Acastus class, the largest vehicles that a single pilot can control through a Throne Mechanicum, without losing their mind to the mount’s belligerent machine spirit.

With rules by Forge World rather than Games Workshop, these Knights are always a little out of step with the core rules for their faction, swinging from under- to over-powered with each points update. Get one if you want a deluxe modelling and painting challenge that will be the centrepiece of your collection, not because you’re trying to rule the tournament scene. 

Warhammer 40k Imperial Knights army guide - Photo provided to the author by Alan Bailey showing two Imperial Knight armigers in a purple and gold paint scheme

How to start collecting an Imperial Knights Army

When your army is made from 80-ton walking war engines, you don’t expand your force in small steps, you do it in great strides that shatter the earth beneath your mighty tread.

Questoris knights cost from 400 up to nearly 500 points, depending on their loadout, while Armigers are relatively svelte, at around the 150-point mark. There’s not that many different ways to add up those values to make 1,000 points, which is the very smallest size you really want to be playing Knights with. At current point values, 1,000 points will get you two Warglaives, two Helverins, and a Preceptor – or a single Armiger and a pair of Questoris  Knights (which you can magnetise at the elbow joints and carapace weapon to permit experimentation).

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The Armiger-heavy army is slightly easier on the wallet, has a modicum of synergy between the Preceptor and its smaller attendants, and won’t suffer quite so much from being outflanked and outmanoeuvred by more numerous adversaries. But if you’re collecting Knights, you’re probably doing it for the stonking great gorgeous models. If that’s the case, you already know where you’re going to start – with the kit you think looks coolest. The real question is if you’re ever going to stop.

With thanks to @40ksteve for photographs of his creamy smooth House Griffith, Stephen Reynolds for his lush green and cream Knight Castellan, Knight Crusader and Knight Magaera, @Pratheos for his royal purple and white Armigers and Knight Errant, and Alan Bailey for his intimidating purple and gold knight lance.

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