Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The State of 40K - Imperial Knights and Pick 'n' Mix

It can't have escaped your notice that we'll be getting a new big model towards the end of the month in the form of the Imperial Knight. Now I'm sure all of those ad mech fans out there will be excited. For me the leak brings mixed emotions.

On the one hand I'm always excited about new models and new rules and I'd love to get an Imperial Knight to use with my Space Wolves and Dark Angels. The rules look interesting and frankly I think they're a bargain (points-wise at least) for a 6 HP SHW. It seems a lot of people don't share my view and seem to think they're overpriced but I really don't understand this. Perhaps their ranged weaponry isn't stellar but stripping 6 HP from a super heav model with a 4++ save (most of the time) is going to be tricky. Compare this to a Stompa, which also has a destroyer close combat weapon, and you can see how reasonable the price is. The Ork behemoth has 12 HP but (assuming there aren't meks inside) it has no real defence. The Knight on the other hand has that 4++ save which gives it effectively 12 HP most of the time. The Stompa undoubtedly has more firepower but with BS2 and Whirr-Click-Click there's the potential for failure. The big difference, and the sticking point for me, is that it appears you can take them as part of pretty much any Imperial army without them being Lords of War.

The fluff player in me has no issue with this. Why wouldn't a SM chapter master seek assistance from the mechanicum in the form of some Knights? There's no reason any Imperial army wouldn't field them (that I can think of anyway). This is always the way GW sell new units to us. They fluff comes first or so they'd have us believe. I can understand this too. To me there are two reasons why 40K is so successful, the stunning miniatures and the deep, rich backstory. That's what sets it apart from the other systems. It certainly isn't the competitive ruleset that has people coming back for more. Of course they want to sell us some models so that fluff comes in handy for them to persuade Imperial players to buy these new models. Sometimes the fluff is a bit of an own goal for them too. Tyranids not being able to take allies is the most obvious example. Makes sense from the fluff but not from a business sense. Still as I say, I'm excited about the Knight and getting to use one in my army.

On the other hand, I'm waiting for them to be abused. There's a part of me that's a competitive player so I'm not going to sit and whinge about the deathstars and other things considered dirty by the community at large. In fact, Knights, like other super heavies are a potential counter to a lot of the power lists out there. I have little problem with people taking the rules of the game and using them to full advantage. Of course, I find it dull to see so many people using the same thing and reducing a codex to a list of "must haves". It's the nature of the game though I'm afraid. Do I enjoy playing with or against deathstars? Nope. Would it stop me using them in a competitive environment. Possibly but the main thing for me is fun. If a list is boring to play with or against I don't care how good it is. Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

The issue I have with all of these releases is that they put me in a difficult position as a TO. The Imperial armies are increasingly allowed to play pick 'n' mix with whatever the hell they want to choose from half a dozen codices plus a pile of supplements, dataslates and Imperial Armour. The fluff player in me sighs when I think of Eldrad, Coteaz and Tigurius all fighting alongside each other with a Revenant in tow. It's great to have such a wealth of variety available but it's hardly a level playing field. I want to love the allies system but I can't persuade myself to run a list with allies very often. To me it makes players lazy. Is your army struggling to beat another race? Don't worry about trying to find a solution in your own codex, just throw in some crap from elsewhere to plug the holes. So as a TO do I ban a lot of these extra units and only allow units from a specified list of codices? I had no issue banning Escalation and Stronghold Assault but I don't want to start needing a list of "books" that are allowed or not.

Between now and Blog Wars 7 I'll be looking at all of the new releases closely and trying to keep on top of things. Let me know what you guys think though.


  1. Sadly when you understand that AV13 = Toughness 9 or Av12 = toughness 8, and with only a 4+ invun from one side it's no more survivable than a wraithknight which is nearly 100pts cheaper with better guns :(

    Love the mini, rules look a bit of a miss IMO. (Seriously heavy stubbers!?!?!)

    1. while normally you get no dakka our of the heavy stubber, the main guns are all blast weaponry, so no snapfire overwatch! but with a couple of stubbers you atleast have some "point defence" systems. infact, the 4++ really just makes it a skimmer with holofeilds/disruption pods of some sort. a lucky shot from a dedicated AT weapon will still horribly mess one up.

  2. A Space Marine Chaptermaster knows better than to trust the Mechanicum. They are not under his command and do not answer to him. The Mechanicum might just decide that those Knights are better used elsewhere protecting some technology find (or their butts) than wasted in use supporting some space marines who do not really respect the Machine God.

    1. Fair enough my fluff is a little off but my point is you can see why they might be in an Imperial army

  3. my understanding of it was that knights owe fealty to the mechanicus and in return get an annual supply of knight suits. the households themselves use the suits to herd grox, carnosaurs and the like for food which they give as tithe to the imperium. my fluff too is a bit rusty so someone correct me if this is off.

    don't envy you the job of TO in these uncertain times pal.

    1. As a Space Wolf player I can quite easily see some Wolf Lord capturing one from an enemy army and giving it a Space Wolf refit.

  4. "It's great to have such a wealth of variety available but it's hardly a level playing field"

    this is, I think, essentially the problem. While I like the idea of the allies system it is far too focussed on the 4ish factions the games developers prefer and leaves everyone else out in the cold.

    Tyranids get absolutely nothing. Dark Eldar, well you better like Eldar because you get nothing else. Even Necrons who started out 6th in a good place with 4 Allies of Convenience are starting to get left behind.

    I think the easiest thing, as a TO, to promote fun for all players is make every army Allies of Convenience with everyone else (yes even Nids). It's hell on fluff (but so are SM + Tau BBs when when SM + Guard are only AoC) but it cuts down on the Battle Brothers Cheese while evening out the options for all players.

    We did that at TournamentOP in Calgary last summer and it was really effective. I took Tyranids and Necrons with all Crypteks and wrote a fluffy backstory where the Necron technomages were experimenting with a combination of Null Field Matrix and Mind Shackle Scarab tech to try and turn the Nids in to a weapon. I had a set of extra rules that my opponent could choose to let me use where the Crypteks counted as Synapse creatures but if they were all killed my Nids treated the rest of the Necron army that was left as enemies and had to attack them if they were the closest units.

  5. Despite the Allies Matrix I rarely ever think about incorporating it. You should have a tourney where there are no allies (including the new Dataslates). Just to keep things pure and to see how good some players really are. No gimmicks plucked in from other codices or races.

    1. Yup THIS! I love the allies system but it would be a nice mix-up to remove them once in a while. In a tournament environment they are almost always used to make a unfeasable death-star.

      I'm really pleased to see Imperial Knights though! Loved them since my introduction to the hoby with the Epic system from the mid nineties. Gets my hopes up for a mechanicum codex in the not too distant future.

    2. I really agree with this, allies are great for homehammer games but seem to be making competitive environments just cut and paste (more than ever).

      It's been said all over the net but using one codex with all it's pro's and cons contributes hugely to the skill of the game. A beast pack is a powerful unit but it's just too easy to add in farseers for the re-roll. And the same with the baron in a seer star, there are many other examples.

      This next point is purely selfish. I have been to a few tournaments in the UK, independents and throne of skulls. I play fluffy, spammy lists which suits my OCD nature :). Now I only go to tournies to get a concentrated gaming fix as I struggle for a regular game. What I have seen the allies (and dataslates etc) do is increase the gap between the top few guys in an event willing to keep up with the meta and latest superdeathstar and the rest of us languishing in mid table at best.

      IMO if we went mono codex the gap would narrow. I do absolutely understand that the same guys maximising multi source lists would continue to maximise but the gap between them and the mono dex hobbyist would imo narrow.

      That said I don't want to piss in anybodies chips. Maybe a range of different tournies would please everybody and inform future supply and demand for rules/comp etc.

    3. I think a better rout would be a mono FoC... Still allow allies (I would treat Inquisition as allies, no free slots), but leave the FoC at its normal (mono codex) size so that there are tougher choices, and less room for spam.

      As for LoW/Fort/Formation I would roll them into one shared slot, and only one (No Titan on a Skyshield crap)... So for me I would make the FoC this for all lists, allies or not, like this.

    4. The problem with only mono codex is ScreamerStar is a mono codex powerhouse, so that won't solve much. Allies at least offer variety to the CheezeStar idea... Lesser of the two evils I know :/

    5. Paves the way for the Eldar or Tau rape.

  6. i think im probably pro the knights overall. from the pics ive seen they look cool. in terms of rules im just not sure? id be interested to see some suggestions - i dont think everybody being AoC is a good idea - for me part of the "tax" of being an imperial player is that i cant take big monsters (though thats not a major point i suppose.)

    id suggest saying to people prehaps something like "2 sources only". Ie Inquistion Dataslate and Space wolves OR SW + Knights but not Space marine, tau and Inquistion. The crux here would be - are stonghold and escalation different beasts? should it be 2 sources plus fortifications, no d weapons?

    OR, does "anything goes" cancel out superheavies and big forts (eg farsight bomb with tiggy balances out a baneblade) or are they seperate? personally, they both frustrate me. i want to be able to play the complete rules out of the rulebook, and i want to have fun. i would suspect that doing either of those things is more difficult with either of those books, thou havent experienced it personally.

  7. Personally I don't mind the knights. They are great looking models and I'd surely enjoy see them being fielded. As I play friendly games most of the time, I don't worry much about (possibly) hard units, as sharing some drinks and having a great time is the main goal. :-)

    Banning some units (or books) will help to a degree to level the playing field. But as we all know, the difference in the power levels of each codex is rather big. Only having units being picked from one codex isn't helping that much in my opinion.
    What I really like though is the approach the LBK-mallen.document provides. It offers comp points depending on units and the spam of them. As far as I can tell it would help level the playing field. You can still field deathstars, but are limited in the rest of your army selection, as you can only take so many other hard units.

    Alex you could test some of the lists from past BlogWars and check either if the top lists are within a given restriction of points or how the ranking would be, if the one with a lower value would get the difference as extra points.

    That's just an idea, but it could be a help.



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