|Painted by the brilliant "jontlaw". Look him up on Flickr.|
First things first, the models are some of the best of the new batch of DA miniatures. Whilst they're a little difficult to assemble and limited in terms of poses they're still beautiful sculpts. For this reason alone I'm trying to figure out if I can squeeze them into my lists. Ultimately, they're always going to have to compete with regular Deathwing terminators because they cost a similar number of points and they're doing a similar job to TH/SS equipped versions of the DW termies. Let's get something out of the way first. If it it's a straight choice between regular DW terminators and DWKs then it all depends on whether you'd got Belial/Azrael to make them Troops. If you have, then the decision is simple as scoring units are so vital in 6th. If on the other hand you either haven't unlocked Troops or have already packed our that part of the FOC then should you take them?
Let's compare them to DW termies assuming you haven't unlocked normal terminators as Troops. A lot of people say you're better off with standard TH/SS terminators. So let's take a look at a comparie the two first. Points wise there isn't much in it with DWKs coming in at 235pts and a full TH/SS regular squad at 245pts. Easily better to take DWKs then right? Well not necessarily as DWKs aren't AP2 all of the time as they're usually S6 AP4. The crucial difference though is initiative. The DWKs are hitting at initiative 4 instead of initiative 1. Is that worth the trade off in AP? Well it's one of those situational things. Sometimes it will be and sometimes it won't. However, with Smite mode they become S10 AP2 and retain their initiative. Think about that for a minute. It may be only once per game but that's 12 S10 AP2 attacks on the charge plus another 4 S6 AP3 from the master. Factor in WS5 + hammer of wrath and how many units can stand up to that?
A TH/SS squad of terminators will put out 15 S8 AP2 attacks on the charge but they're doing so at intiative 1 and WS4. Personally I'd rather have the DWKs in that situation. So far we've also ignored the Precision Strikes and Bane of the Traitor. The former will help pick out that power fist which can hurt the knights but the latter is obviously very situational. The problem might be that the knights are too good in combat and will therefore be out in the open in your opponent's turn. Whilst their T5 thing will help keep them alive they'll still succumb to weight of fire almost as easily as normal terminators. The key then is proper use of Smite mode. Not much is going to kill them in combat very easily with their 2+/3++ so timing Smith correctly is key. If you're facing an MC with AP2 attacks then probably better to try and kill him off quick so Smite right up. If you're fighting something softer it might be better to Smite in the second round to come out in your opponent's turn.
The obvious problem, and its the same for all combat terminators, is that they're going to spend a turn as sitting ducks when they drop in. Thanks to Teleport Homers you should be able to get them in close but it isn't impossible for units to move away and then fire at them from a safe distance. Again, the shield wall will help but appropriate selection of insertion point is crucial. Choosing your target is also key. You really want to be putting them up against something vital to your opponent, otherwise you're wasting them.
So when compared to TH/SS terminators they probably win out but that's obviously overlooking the fact that regular terminators have ranged weapons. Trouble is, they don't exactly pack a major punch. Sure an assault cannon, plasma, cyclone or even heavy flamer can be useful in the right place at the right time but they are far from devastating, even when twin-linked after deep strike. Ultimately they're only effective if you're taking a lot of them. Small squads of regular terminators are pretty easy to deal with so you need a whole pile of them to really cause your opponent problems.
What use is a single squad of slightly tougher terminators in an otherwise ravenwing list then? Well as I've talked about before with thunderwolves and other similar units is their ability to distract. Like thunderwolves your opponent ignores them at their peril. You can't allow them to walk through your army. This means they either try to gun them down, forsaking shooting other things or they tarpit them with something. The point is they have to do something. They might not be scoring but they can't be left alone. Despite their high cost they certainly make your list more interesting. Don't be as quick to dismiss them as other people seem to be.