It should go without saying to readers of Oops New Army: Necron Edition and Oops New Army: Tyranid Edition that I have A Problem. I think the issue might be that I have lots of plans that I promise myself I’ll do “one day”. But once you decide you will do something in the future, it becomes very easy to say yes to little things now. Once you’ve started you might as well carry on. My Imperial Knights/Guard army is a testament to this.
This “Oops New Army” is an even bigger Oops than normal, since it is in fact two armies, Imperial Knights and Imperial Guard. This article I’ll be mainly focussing on the Knights, and next time I’ll talk some more about the Guard.
Giant Robots Are Cool. I suspect most Giant Robot lovers started out with some variant of Gundam, but for me my mechaphilia all starts with watching Full Metal Panic! (the explanation mark is apparently a required part of the title). Alongside a lot of anime staples like teenage high-school protagonists and unreasonable nonsense they had a core concept of battle mecha integrated into the near future military alongside tanks, attack helicopters, cruise missiles and the like.
Setting the giant robots against a very familiar backdrop does far more to show off how cool they are, in my opinion, than having them floating around in space shooting lasers at each other. Likewise, the main reason I haven't fallen hard for Adeptus Titanicus is that there’s nothing but Giant Robots. If GW ever releases Epic again I’ll be totally screwed*.
If you’ve read Mark’s posthumous post, you’ll know he left behind a lot of unused kits. As any Ork player knows, all kits are Ork kits. In helping his widow dispose of it, a lot of them were bought by the rest of us, to save the effort of putting it on eBay. One of the first and easiest things to sort was a box of Armigers. I had always planned to get some Knights one day, so I took them in.
- Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines
|Glymja, Armiger Warglaive, piloted by Vei Touki Vestrfjall|
Painting up an Armiger was fun, and a good way to try out the colour scheme and painting techniques, but it doesn’t do much on its own. Short on ideas and pressured for a decision, I asked for a full sized Imperial Knight for my birthday. It sat around for a while, but eventually got finished just before my next birthday. After that, another Armiger swiftly followed and I had a small Lance of my own, keen to take to the field.
Vapnburtha, Armiger Helverin, piloted by Vei Danr Vestrfjall
Whilst GW considers a pure Knight army to be balanced and fine, we at the Bunker don’t really consider it to be very fun to regularly play against. It’s a strongly skewed army that most fluffy and narrative armies will have a lot of units just standing around being fairly useless. I could (and hope to) bring my Lance to be part of some big Apocalypse scale game sometime, but mostly we’re playing Crusade at the moment, so I wanted to get them on the table on their own. My solution was to put together some Guard infantry with the intention of having the Knights replace the armour normally present in a Guard army, resulting in a fairly balanced army.
Of course as the Guard side expanded, I quickly found that they were at least as, if not more, fun than the Knights, and the idea of being able to use the Guard on their own came up and well wouldn’t you know it but Mark had a few Lemans Russ still on the sprue that needed a good home…
In one year this army has gone from not existing to 2,700 points built and painted. That said, just as we got a new Guard Codex and lots of lovely new models, GW dropped 10th edition and reset everything. The downside of having a lot of armies is how hard it is to get up to speed with them again when things change. For now in 10th edition I am concentrating on playing Necrons (because of all the Index subfactions for my various armies theirs is the only one that suits my own army) and Raven Guard (because they’ll have a real Codex and get to be themselves soon). I am expecting a big resurgence in interest the next time Codex Guard comes around.
For my Knight house, I wanted to lean towards the more practical end of the spectrum. I’m speaking about gigantic robots, so I use the word “practical” very loosely here. I played with a lot of ideas in my head and settled on plain metal and natural colours.
For the ‘skeleton’ and trim would be the same aged metal effect I used for my Necrons. Poor design language of course, since those two armies are built from quite different materials, but I won’t be using them both on the same table at the same time, so I figure it doesn’t matter.
The heraldic colours are Castellan Green and Adeptus Mechanicus Grey (alas poor Codex Grey! I knew him, Horatio). I’d never suggest they were in any way meaningful camouflage, but they do represent the pine trees and rocky mountains of their homeworld Skogheim.
Typically I plan a paint scheme for maximum speed, but whilst the metal is a nice and easy spray, wash, drybrush combo, overall the Knights are painted to my highest standard. Edge highlights, pin washes, chipping and dirt and mud and the full shebang. Knights are the pinnacle of centrepiece models, if there’s anything worth putting maximum effort into it’s an Imperial Knight model.
|Lovingly chipped paintwork and muddy toes, the signs of dedication.|
Model wise I knew I didn’t want too many. A couple of Questoris and a handful of Armigers to escort them. I simply don’t like the Dominus class Knights, they simply have an unusable number of weapon systems. How does one pilot use seven different weapons at once?
Making it my own
When initially planning my Knights I had a lot of different ideas. For a while I was very set on making a Freeblade Lance, with every Knight coming from a different House. But at the same time I started reading a few Knights books (the only one I’d say is actually a good book is Assassinorum: Kingmaker) I got into the idea of fleshing out a Knight House (quite often the thought was “how I could do this better”).
I spent a long time mulling over the ideas, and eventually it was all distilled out into House Ulfir. You can read a bit more about them here, should you be interested, but the most basic summary is that they have a wolf as their symbol and believe in unity, loyalty and everyone knowing their place. I use the House Hawkshroud rules, but not their incredibly garish colour scheme.
It was important to me that my Knights be struggling. If a powerful and dominating Knight house loses a battle it’s probably because they underestimated their foe and should have sent more Knights. If a valiant underdog House loses a battle it’s because they sent all they could despite the odds and tried their best as honour demands. It’s these little thoughts that keep the feel-bads at bay in a game when you should expect to lose about half your battles.
To that end House Ulfir, loyal as they are, answered Cadia’s call for aid against the 13th Black Crusade. They sent their Exalted Court, and the bulk of their power. Four Knights returned, evacuating alongside survivors of the Cadian 177th Mechanised, Cadian 53rd Armoured and 3030th Imperial Navy Fighter Wing. The surviving Knights are led by the High Justice, sole surviving member of the Exalted Court and veteran war hero.
Back on Skogheim, a new High King has been crowned, young and untested. Whilst he has sent out a replacement ship and support staff, somehow the young King keeps finding reasons the battered Knights must divert on their long journey home. Some say he’s using his few experienced military assets as well as he can to uphold the honour of House Ulfir, but others whisper that he’s just trying to keep a political rival away, or maybe even get her killed.
Whilst I do love the Knights models, I certainly don’t consider them without flaw, and for such a major investment and centrepiece models I was willing to fully commit to making them perfect. Maximum effort!
First on my hit-list, I’ve never loved the cruciform feet. It’s such a classic of Warhammer design language, present from extremely early days of 40k design and visible on many varieties of Imperial walkers, but I’ve never really liked it. The Warhound titan however… there's a beauty. There are a lot of shops that sell 3rd party bits for Imperial Knights and I found what I was looking for on Iron Wolf Minis.
Shipping from the US is not cheap so I wanted to do a single shop and be done. With that in mind, I bought two sets of feet for Questoris knights and three for Armigers. At the time I just had the one Armiger, but it just made financial sense…
They also do some lovely more ornate shoulder pads with wolf detailing on them, which I decided would be perfect for marking out the Baron. The patterning on the right shoulder looks to me like the patterning of the heraldry of a Master of Justice, so that got added into the lore too (later when the 9th edition Codex dropped I was rewarded for this choice with extra rules).
There were plenty of other wolf themed options, as you might expect from a store called “Iron Wolf”, but I have learned well from the Space Wolves’ fall from grace. They are Imperial Knights with a wolf shaped logo, that’s all, I’m not trying to build robot wolves here.
Next up, the legs. Again, the Warhound titan is my idol here (maybe one day I'll find myself writing “Oops New Army: One Titan Edition,” I have a proven track record of poor willpower) and I much prefer the digitigrade form to the stiff plantigrade pose of the default kit. Taro Modelmaker helped me out here, with an extra piece designed to extend the leg.
Whilst they are advertised as working with Questoris, I believe they are better designed for Dominus. This was quite an extreme modelling challenge to get everything lined up neatly and, importantly, strong. I ended up inserting several thin layers of bent plasticard to pad out to the correct depth and ran multiple long pins through each joint.
Finally (I did say, maximum effort! Even though this is an accidental side project. I don’t make good life choices ok?) I am also not a huge fan of the melee weapons. The Thunderstrike Gauntlet is ok, but the Reaper Chainsword… it’s more like a very short ranged karate chop. Same goes for the Warglaive’s Reaper Chain-cleaver.
There’s some lore about how they aren’t really intended as weapons, but are actually industrial tools used by the very earliest Dark Age of Technology settlers in the STC walkers, but if in the next 20,000 years they learned to put armour plates and guns on the Knights, they can learn to make real melee weapons too.
Once again Taro had me covered, with Knight scale melee weapons for both Armiger and Questoris, and fully posable hands to hold them. Whilst not quite as tricky as the knees, this is still what I would consider an expert kit, as you’re working with resin and posing individual finger joints. The end result though… worth the effort!
|The axe is counted as a Thunderstrike Gauntlet, I have a sword in the works for my next Knight which will count as the Reaper Chainsword.|
|Sverthsegg, Armiger Warglaive, piloted by Vei Bjartr Vestrfjall|
I also converted the Sir Hekthur model into Yarl Rúna Vestrfjall on foot. I haven't found a use for her yet, but I think it could be fun to play a surprise assault mission where the enemy has to prevent her from reaching her Knight. I’ve drafted up some simple rules for her using the Tempestor Prime stats.
|Jafnather Yarl Rúna Vestrfjall|
I’m in the process of building my second Questoris knight, but this time I’m using the Chaos Knight as a base, mixed with some Imperial parts from eBay. This will give me the digitigrade legs I want much more easily, and mean my two big knights have very different poses.
Crusading with Knights
To be honest, it’s quite hard work if you want to make sure your friends have fun too. 9th edition Crusade armies always start small, beginning with just 1,000 points in the full order of battle, but often your early games may be smaller, 500 or 750 has been quite common within our group. You don’t get a lot of Knight in a game like that, and at small sizes I think Knights are not at all well balanced. Three Armigers are surprisingly puny on their own, whereas a single Questoris will probably kill a unit per turn, shrug off most return fire, and still lose on points.
As discussed at the start, I wanted a mixed army, and I stand by that as the most fun way for my opponents to play with me. The end result is an army that is incredibly thirsty for Requisition Points, as for every Knight I added I wanted to add a similar amount of Guard.
Sadly the unique 9th edition Crusade “Questsworn” mechanics for Knights tie into the monofaction rules they have. This means that for Crusade you have to do a lot of bookkeeping that you’re not getting most of the benefits from. Nevertheless I persevered, I chose my Quest for my Questsworn and used the Code Chivalric to earn Honour which turned into Glory and then gained a Quality and looked through the options (there are a lot of special Nouns in this book).
They’re a bit of a mixed bag. Some of them seem pretty limp compared to the others and you’d be disappointed to roll them (especially as a 2 Crusade Point upgrade) but others are terrifyingly good when slapped on a Knight. -1 to hit in melee and once per game Fight Next (and you still have the Stratagem when you want it too). Or -1 Damage and once per game ignore one failed save.
Ultimately they feel to me like a bad-feels generator, either for me or my opponent. So with the blessing of the other Bunkerites, I just ditched the whole mechanic. I loved what they were going for, but it was a huge amount of bookkeeping for results that I didn’t feel would actually make the game any more fun. Although that subset of Crusade players who enjoy making the most incredibly broken combinations will undoubtedly have had a field day.
|Striiguth, Knight Errant, piloted by Jafnather Yarl Rúna Vestrfjall|
Even without the Questsworn mechanic, I’ve had a huge amount of fun with my Knights in Crusade. Having a few highly storied units works very well for the format, and I’m very pleased that just before 9th ended I got enough XP on one of my Armigers to attempt the Ritual of Becoming, which he passed, and gain a new Questoris Knight. All somewhat irrelevant now rules-wise, but it’s all for the narrative.
9th is dead, long live 10th. But with the death of 9th, so too we see the end of soup as we knew it. From now on souping Knights with Guard means just adding a single big Knight or up to three Armigers. Curiously there is no allowance for more in larger games as with Agents of the Imperium. It’s nice and simple though, the previous rules were ridiculously arcane with different combinations taxing you big chunks of CP. We shall have to see how it goes once I get them back on the table.
My next Questoris is built and ready to paint, so when the new Codex appears on the horizon I suspect my hobby butterfly will flit back to the biggest boys.
Up Next: The Chaff
Next time we’ll take a look at the valiant Guardsmen fighting alongside the Knights of House Ulfir.
*I wrote that before GW dropped “Legiones Imperialis”, so congrats to GW for releasing Epic in a way I could resist. I’m not really interested in playing Horus Heresy, I don’t like a lot of the models and no-one else in the Bunker wants to play it, but I was still tempted… (Charlie: honestly if it wasn't set in the Heresy, you and me would be playing a lot of Epic. Absolute own goal from GW).