Welcome back to another Chaos Knights Combo Analysis! If you missed our first one where we take a look at the Mortal Wounds Rampager Bomb, you might want to check it out if you enjoy this article and want some more suggestions for Chaos Knight load outs.
Whereas last time we covered a unique way to boost the offensive potential of a Knight Rampager against some of the more common problems for Chaos Knights (Lots of Invuln saves across many bodies, Transhuman, etc.), this time we are going to talk about the Knight some say cannot be killed.
Now to be clear, that’s definitely an exaggeration, as everything in Warhammer 40k can be destroyed, but as Chaos Knights have never had a truly durable unit before this, it’s exciting to be able to put something massively hard to kill on the table.
THE UNKILLABLE ABOMINANT
No preamble necessary for this beast, let’s look at the breakdown.
Knight Abominant (House Herpetrax)
– Knight Diabolus (Warlord Trait)
– Aura of Terror (Warlord Trait)
– Veil of Medrengard (Relic)
– Blessing of the Dark Master (Favour of the Dark Gods)
– Spells: Vortex Terrors and Winds of the Warp
THE BREAK DOWN
The Knight Abominant’s baseline stats are frankly pretty bad for an Abhorrent-Class Knight. Every stat is the same on this model as the Rampager and the Desecrator except two. It’s WS is only a 3+ compared to their 2+, and its Attacks Characteristic is only 3 compared to their 5 and 4 respectively. It also costs 30 extra points.
It is, however, a Psyker with two casts and a single deny – which is very good – and this is the start of what makes it special.
First, and slightly less importantly, Vortex Terrors goes off on a 5 and lets you pick any unit within 18” to give -1 Leadership and a unique debuff. Every time that unit tries to shoot or attack, they must make a Dread Test (roll 2d6 against their leadership with a result higher than their leadership being a fail). If they fail the Dread Test, their Weapon and Ballistics Skills are both reduced by 1 for the remainder of the phase.
This wording is very important, as reducing WS and BS stacks with a -1 to hit – something that Knights can actually apply pretty easily now.
The second, and much more important spell is Winds of the Warp. If it succeeds on a six, the Knight gets a 5+ Feel No Pain on itself until the beginning of your next Psychic Phase. If it succeeds on an 8 or higher, every War Dog within 6” also gets a 6+ Feel No Pain until the beginning of your next Psychic Phase.
Most things with a 5+ Feel No Pain have somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 and less wounds – looking at you Mortarian you great big outlier you – but this is going to be on a model with 28 wounds at the start of the game thanks to House Herpetrax, and that gets extraordinarily silly very quickly when combined with the other abilities we can bring around.
The next item on the list here is the Favour of the Dark Gods we have chosen for this beast. Blessing of the Dark Master is a Chaos Undivided favour which gives the knight bearing it the ability to turn off enemy rerolls of hit, wound, and damage against it right off the bat. This is an incredibly potent rule on a model with so many wounds and Toughness 8, as one of the most reliable ways to take a Knight down is to throw a ton of rerollable chaff shots at it. These can be fishing for Auto Wounds or Mortal Wounds on sixes, ways to increase Damage and AP with certain rolls, etc, and with those rules Knights tend to go down fairly quickly.
The second half of the favour unlocks after the Abominant has destroyed 10 wounds or more of enemy models. (Note: It doesn’t have to DO all ten wounds, so if it picks off the last few wounds from an enemy tank with 10+ wounds in the shooting phase this unlocks instantly). Once it has accomplished that mission, enemy models now never hit it on unmodified hit rolls of 1, 2, or 3. This sort of “transhuman to hit” is fairly unique in the game and incredibly potent. Lots of attacks that go into big models like a Chaos Knight are hitting on 2s or 3s with rerolls, and the Abominant just gets to blanket turn those off.
With this favour active, the Abominant is making Strength 8 attacks miss half the time, and wound half the time for a total of 1/4 going through to its saves on average.
Speaking of saves, the other piece of excellent defensive tech this model has is the Veil of Medrengard, a Relic that gives it a 4+ Invulnerable save against ranged attacks and a 6+ Invulnerable save against melee attacks. With this on it, the fully kitted out Knight is now only taking 1/8 of the Strength 8 attacks being thrown at it which is a laughably small number.
Further, the Warlord Trait Aura of Terror gives enemy models making Dread Tests and Morale Checks within Dread Range (usually 12”) roll an extra die and discard the lowest. This is relevant for a number of important rules.
First, Gheist Storm, the round 2 Darkness path in the Harbingers of Dread pathways forces enemy models charging to make a dread test and if they fail, their charge distances are halved. It also messes with shooting, forcing a failed Dread Test unit to shoot the nearest Chaos Knight, but we will talk about that later.
Adding an additional d6 and dropping the lowest adds an effective 1.6 to the result on average. If we consult Anydice.com, we see that this really changes the math of rolling certain numbers.
First, let’s look at the regular 2d6 curve.
The important break points here are 8 and 9, as many models in the game are leadership 8 or 9. With the Harbingers of Dread reducing leadership by one, that means in order to fail a Dread Test a leadership 8 unit has to roll an 8 on 2d6 and a leadership 9 unit has to roll a 9 on 2d6.
As we can see, an 8 on 2d6 happens just about 40% of the time – not bad but not reliable – and a 9 happens just shy of 30% of the time. This means that if some leadership 8 units go for a charge, slightly more than half of them will make their normal charge and the rest will not across the game.
However, if we compare that to the 3d6 drop the lowest curve, we get some very different results.
Suddenly, a leadership 8 unit is failing their Dread Test about 70% of the time, and a leadership 9 unit fails it over half the time. It’s hard to quantify what this jump in survivability means for the Knight Abominant with Aura of Terror because each of these percentages is so variable and depends hugely on what is happening in the game for context. A unit that needs to make a six inch charge and fails the Dread Test is a much different thing than a unit that needs a 3 inch charge and fails a Dread Test. Similarly, most units that fail a Dread Test and need a 7 inch charge simply cannot successfully make that charge now as they would need 14” of movement to complete it properly.
Suffice to say that this is a pretty massive bump in survivability if coupled with good positioning. Let’s take a leadership 9 unit as our baseline here and then presume they need to make a 7 inch charge.
50% of the time, that charge just fails because they fail their Dread Test. Then another 50% ish of the time, they fail that charge since a 7 on 2d6 is just over 50% to succeed. Between these two, that unit now has a 25% chance to succeed at a 7 inch charge. There will be some games where they’ll make it, but there will be many more where they won’t and the Abominant won’t get touched.
The other half of the Gheist Storm ability which requires units that fail Dread Tests to shoot the closest Knight can force enemy models closer to a random War Dog to shoot at it over the Abominant, although as we’ll discuss in the Application section of this article we mostly want the enemy to have to shoot at the Abominant.
The second reason dread tests can be important is the Pterrorshades Stratagem that forces an enemy unit to make a Dread Test in the morale phase, and then take wounds equal to the amount the roll exceeded the leadership of the unit. This can semi-reliably do another couple of mortal wounds against nearly dead units, and that can keep the Abominant (and the rest of your army) completely safe from whatever it was. Dead models don’t tend to get to hurt you back the next turn.
The second Warlord Trait – Knight Diabolus – is there to make the Abominant a bit killier in Melee because a 470 point model needs to be able to kill things in melee, and also because this guy is going to participate in most of the fight phases across the game so they should be as packed as possible.
Quick note on House Herpetrax here – it’s really easy to discount how much 4 extra wounds improves the tankiness of this model, but as we will see in a second it’s actually dramatically different in what it takes to kill the thing.
One final note here – Chaos Knights now have a Stratagem that reduces incoming melee damage by 1 for each attack that the Abominant can and will pop on itself when things do get into combat with it quite often.
We’re going to rely heavily on www.unitcrunch.com for this section, as it is the absolute best probability calculator for 40k out there.
Let’s start off with the simplest change, adding a clause for no rerolls of hit, wound or damage against the Abominant thanks to Blessing of the Dark Master.
I’m assuming that the Melta shots are being taken from more than 12″ away for all of these calculations. I will make a note of how much extra damage the close range would have done after each example though.
Let’s take six melta attacks from Eradicators with rerolling hit rolls.
Around 5 damage dealt on average, which is very respectable. It’s also worth noting that in this scenario the attacker often can reroll one low damage roll which can influence things.
Within half range, the damage dealt becomes 7.3.
Next, let’s consider the nightmare scenario where they get to reroll hits and wound rolls.
This bumps up the damage to around 7. Note that Veil of Medrengard is doing some serious work already as a 4+ Invulnerable Save is significantly better than a 5+.
Within half range for extra damage, these guns now do 11.
Now, let’s take that same situation and remove the option to reroll at all.
Down to 3 or 4 damage, tops. Within half range, the shots would do between 5 and 6 damage.
What this means is it takes somewhere around 24 full reroll Meltas to kill a Herpetrax Knight with a 4+ Invulnerable Save (about 16 within half range for +2 damage), 35 to kill one with rerolling only hits (23 or 24 within half range), and 48 to kill one with no rerolls at all (28 to 35 within half range). Against some armies with the kinds of rerolls access that makes Meltas and other tank weapons into true nightmares, the Abominant can be literally 100% harder to kill at range than another kind of Knight with nothing but Veil of Medrengard and Blessing of the Dark Master.
Now, let’s stack the potential for a 5+ Feel No Pain on top of the lack of rerolls.
This takes the average damage from an Eradicator squad down to just over 2. In other words, the Abominant with Winds of the Warp active needs just about 80 Melta shots to take it down. (This same unit in half range does around 4 damage with the same number of shots, so approximately 40 shots required in half range.)
Random other fun graphs. Left side is AP0 Bolter shots. You need 1150 to kill this thing. Right side is AP-1 or higher Bolter shots. You only need 750 of those
Good Question! A lot of people have complained that their Abominant tends to do very little in their games.
That’s perfectly alright (and this setup can get work done in combat just fine, more on that in a second).
Consider for a moment that if the Abominant is at the front of the army forcing enemy models to shoot it a large percentage of the time, the other 1500 points of your list get to spend 2+ turns doing whatever they want with far fewer consequences than they would normally face.
In almost all of my games with this big guy, he leads from the front – and he’s only died three times in over 20 games with the new codex.
Here are some example shots:
In each of these games, the Abominant leads the charge, lets the rest of the army get some work done, and then stomps on the chaff remaining once the scary things have been dealt with by the massed ranged and melee output that Knights can all bring to the table now.
Finally, I just want to chat about the output briefly. On paper, this is a very underwhelming model – and at range it definitely is. However, once it gets to charge something, it’s actually got pretty decent offensive stats against a variety of profiles.
Against Terminators (T4, 2+ save, 4+ Invuln), the Abominant is pretty happy to munch down around 5 of them, maybe even a cheeky sixth if it’s already taken a damage or two.
Against regular marines, he’s even better (though the damage from his attack gets a little wasted). He’ll kill nine or more of them with his charge, plenty to wipe the average squad and take an objective.
And against a T7 Vehicle with a 4+ Invulnerable Save, he’s going to break a 12 wound model in half more often than not.
And yes, there are profiles he will struggle with and places that he will not shine offensively. However, considering we’re mostly bringing this model to be a bullet sponge and a board bully, his ability to kill things is a nice bonus on the top.
I’ve been really enjoying a Knight Abominant in my lists, and he tends to make my opponents’ games much more difficult than they would like. He’s tanky, he’s fast, and he’s a blast to play.
Have you tried out an Abominant? What other load outs have been doing well for you? What’s your guy managed to live through? (Mine tanked an entire Salamander lists ranged output without bracketing recently).
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!
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