We’ve had the Chaos Knight Codex for a couple of weeks now, and the more I theory craft with the codex the more interesting combinations of Warlord Traits, Relics, Favours of the Dark Gods, and Stratagems that I find to be excited about. I thought I would share a few of these here, and hopefully find even more through discussion with the community! This article covers my first combination of rules that I lovingly call “Stompy Rampager”.
Let’s get started.
Mortal Wound Bomb Stompy Rampager
One of the things that Chaos Knights can really struggle with is killing characters – or units – of good invulnerable save models. We’ve limited attacks with high (ish) AP most of the time, so good saves are the bane of our existence.
Now, the easy option for this is to slap Blood Shield on something and go nuts, but that only works once (ish) per game and with Armour of Contempt, +1 to saves, and more floating around it can still make it so that enemy models don’t necessarily instantly die as we would like.
Enter this sweet little ensemble:
Knight Rampager (Any Iconoclast House)
– Knight Diabolus (Warlord Trait)
– The Gauntlet of Ascension (Relic)
– Blood Shield/Beguiling Majesty/Cursed Rune of Fate (Favour of the Dark Gods)
Break Their Lines (1 CP Stratagem)
Crushed Like Vermin (1 CP Stratagem)
The Break Down
First, the Knight Rampager stats that matter are WS 2+ and 5 attacks base. Being a MOV 12 model also helps quite a bit, and there is a good argument for using a CP to give him the additional Warlord Trait Eager for the Kill +1 to charges.
Being an Iconoclast Knight gives +1 attack and an additional AP on the charge. The AP isn’t really relevant to what we want to do with this particular load out, but it’s good to have for the sweep profile of the melee weapons. With that we are up to six attacks.
Knight Diabolus gives the big guy another attack and re-rolls of 1 on hit rolls. We’re up to seven attacks base now.
Next we come to the very conditional part of this setup. The Gauntlet of Ascension gives the knight an additional attack and strength each time it kills a CHARACTER model with the weapon. There aren’t a ton of games in which this is going to come up, but it’s possible if the opposing side has a very “get in your face” kind of character to bait it out with some War Dogs and then kill it with the Rampager for an additional attack.
“Think we’re gonna make it Bob?” “I dunno Dave, our track record isn’t great against Aeldari.”
We’re going to tweak this somewhat with the two stratagems outlined above. First, Break Their Lines gives the model +1 to hit rolls if it charged this turn. This only matters because the second stratagem – Crushed Like Vermin – subtracts 1 from the hit roll. It also makes each attack with the Titanic Feet deal an automatic 2 mortal wounds for each hit made and then ends the attack sequence.
If the stars align, we end up with a model that makes 7 attacks on the charge, hitting on 2s, rerolling 1s for somewhere between six and seven hits on average. Each one of these hits deals 2 mortal wounds, for a whopping 12 to 14 Mortal Wounds possible (and even higher if you kill a character first) in one fight phase.
Where would we want this? Well, first of all this is extremely useful as a turn over turn option into non-monster, non-vehicle infantry with high invulnerable saves or damage reduction. The Deathguard Terminators come to mind as particularly important targets for this, as a normal Rampager.
Let’s have a look at the expected output of the Rampagers baseline attacks assuming 7 attacks, 6s generate 2 extra hits on the charge against Deathguard Terminators and compare them to the stomping feet plan.
All of these calculations were done via https://www.unitcrunch.com at 50,000 simulation depth.
Let’s interpret this a bit.
The Warpstrike Gauntlet does slightly better than the Chainsword, with the Strike Profile doing 21 damage in 3 wounds – or 3 dead Terminators – and the Sweep Profile doing 12 damage with 6 wounds (also 3 dead Terminators).
The Chainsword Strike profile also does enough to kill 3 Terminators with both its Strike and its Sweep, though just barely with the Sweep (-1 Damage plays havoc with damage 2 weapons). By contrast, the TItanic Feet do 14 Mortal Wounds on average, or 4 dead Terminators with one left on 1 wound. An extra Terminator can be the difference between surviving the crack back or getting obliterated, and can also stack with the Harbinger of Dread abilities to make that morale check failed much more reliably.
“But you can just use the Blood Shield!” I hear you cry.
Well…yes, you could. However, being shackled to the Blood Shield makes the Rampager much less able to survive more than one round of combat when compared with something like Beguiling Majesty reducing enemy attacks, hit rolls, and wound rolls by one or Cursed Rune of Fate giving him a 4+ Invulnerable save after crashing through the ranks of enemy models with this trick.
The other extremely useful case for this loadout is killing multiple character models. Allocating Titanic Feet attacks against multiple 4 or 5 wound characters can allow for fairly reliable ways to kill two or three in a single charge.
Finally, with how prevalent Aeldari are at the moment, this stratagem pair can allow Knights to ignore things like Luck of the Laughing God or the ubiquitous 6+ Invulnerable saves that the various flavors of Craftworlds can employ.
EDIT: As a very kind person on reddit pointed out, I totally forgot to include a use case for when Blood Shield is typically irrelevant – transhuman. There are a ton of models out there that Chaos Knights just aren’t allowed to wound on a 2 or 3 damage roll, which is a problem because the main schtick of most Chaos Knight weaponry is a relatively low number of shots that wound on 2s or 3s. These mortal wounds completely get around that problem by ignoring the wound roll entirely.
Let’s look at this attack profile again against Terminators with a 2+ save, 4+ Invulnerable save, Armor of Contempt, and Transhuman added on.
Now, the Warpstrike Gauntlet fares the worst thanks to its lower number of attacks – only two terminators dead there – with the sweep profile moving to “barely kills 3” range.
The Chain Sword fairs somewhat better, which surprises me since I would have expected them to be the same as the Claw, but it still only kills 3 Terminators consistently across the 50,000 simulations. Its Sweep attack – now contending with transhuman instead of -1 damage – does significantly better than before with 3.5 dead Terminators in play.
The Titanic Feet still win out, however, with 4 dead Terminators and two wounds to a fifth being quite consistent across the range.
An option for the Rampager to increase its consistency in this particular build is to put it in House Herpetrax and spend a CP to give it the Herpetrax Warlord Trait “Bow to None”. This both makes it harder for enemy tricks to reduce the charge distances, but also lets you ignore the penalty to hit that the Crushed Like Vermin Stratagem inflicts on the big knight. This makes it much easier to use the ability multiple times per game, as the CP expenditure each time is halved for an up front cost of 1 CP and slightly less flexibility in list building.
Another option is to give a Knight Desecrator this same load out. With the only major differences between the two chassis being +2 MOV and +1 Attack on the Rampager (for this interaction), it might be worth it for some lists to bring in a Desecrator instead for its potential ranged contributions throughout the game. This can also allow it to unlock its Favour of the Dark God before going into close combat in later turns.
The Chaos Knights Codex allows for unparalleled customization of the big guys, with the option to craft a very focused knight for any occasion. The Mortal Wound Bomb is just one of the many crazy ideas I’ve got floating around, so stay tuned for next time when we talk about the opposite end of the spectrum – an Unkillable (ish) Abominant!