Unit Spotlight: Executioner Dreadblades – a Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Tactica

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Chaos Knight codex is the Fallen Hero section of the detachment abilities.

If this Detachment is a Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment that contains one Dreadblade unit, until the end of the battle, that unit gains the Agent of Chaos keyword. Only one Dreadblade unit from your army can have this keyword

The inclusion of a Dreadblade Agent of Chaos unit from your army does not prevent CHAOS units in your army from using any rules that require every model from your army to have the same keyword (e.g. Contagions of Nurgle, Cabbalistic Rituals, etc.).

9th Edition Chaos Knights Codex, pg. 55
We get to be on the same team this time guys! Isn’t that exciting?

I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat – bringing a Dreadblade Titanic Knight is almost certainly a bad idea competitively. They’re expensive, have a relatively bad damage output to points ratio, cannot be obscured, do not have objective secured, and can only be in one place on the table.

Similarly, paying 3 CP to bring a single War Dog is a bad idea.

But, 3 CP and about 450 points to bring three War Dogs? That’s an idea I can get behind.

Edit: With Arks of Omen, most Chaos Factions should be able to bring a detachment of Chaos Knights for ZERO CP. This makes every single positive more relevant and makes all of the cost concerns go away.

Why Would Other Factions Want War Dogs?

This is an important question, and it has several dimensions to its answer.

First, War Dogs always count as 5 models for contesting objectives and have objective secured. Normally, Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachments do not get detachment rules, but the 9th Edition Chaos Knights codex overrides this (pg. 55).

Second, War Dogs are fast. The slowest of them are MOV 12, and there are MOV 14 variants.

Third, War Dogs are T7 with 12 wounds, which can add a bit of diversity to your armies’ defensive profiles. There are only so many high value attacks in a list, and with Chaos armies tending to have a glut of other scary, hard to remove options (Terminators, Greater Daemons, DeathGuard: the Faction, Scarab Occult boys), something like that is a nice addition to the mix.

Finally, War Dogs have excellent ranged output variations, and frankly most of the rest of the Chaos armies are lacking in great shooting choices (exceptions exist, as always).

Why Executioners?

Executioners rapidly became one of, if not my favorite, War Dog variation when I started playing with them. Like the average other War Dogs, it’s a MOV 12, T7 Vehicle with 12 wounds and a 3+ WS and BS.

Unlike the other variants, it comes with the absolutely phenomenal War Dog Autocannon.

60″Heavy 2d37-23

This is a highly versatile gun, and it comes with two of them! Making an average of 8 Damage 3 attacks per shooting phase is pretty spicy, and AP -2 is kind of the minimum you can comfortably leave home with these days.

These guys are fantastic for sitting in the back field drawing lines across most of the table (the longest diagonal on a Strike Force mission is 74.4 inches long) and blasting things while holding deployment objectives and screening for deep striking enemy models.

As the game gets later and things get a little safer, they can start moving up the table with significant speed and hold midline objectives while the melee forces surge forward. They can also sneak onto enemy points in the very late game to deny primary.

One big happy Chaos Family

Chaos Factions that probably love Executioners: Chaos Space Marines, Daemons, Chaos Knights, World Eaters

Chaos Space Marines are great at killing stuff in combat and shooting things with medium ranged guns like bolters. They’ve got some higher damage options – plasma Havocs and some of their vehicles – but they don’t really have a consistent ranged output platform. (Yes, Emperor’s Children break this pattern). Executioners could unlock some very interesting new archetypes for CSM, and also complement the “here’s my Terminators, deal with them” approach that has been very successful also.

Daemon shooting is basically Flamers, which are significantly less strong than they were prior to their nerf and much less good at fighting elite infantry like Terminators than the Executioner would be. Daemons also don’t love leaving workhorse units on the back objectives, and the Executioner loves to be back there scoring points while he blasts things off the table.

Chaos Knights need something to babysit backline objectives, and Executioners are perfect for that role. They also fill the gap between damage one shots and thermal spears. I love running two in any list I’m playing.

World Eaters’ shooting is basically non-existent, and spending points on models that sit on home objectives and do nothing feels bad. Executioners are the perfect models for an army that can already tank break in melee like bosses, and might want to deal with opposing elite infantry with invulnerable saves or fight first or fight on death before commiting melee forces to handle it.

Chaos Factions that like Executioners: Death Guard

Death Guard have a couple of great shooting platforms – the Plagueburst Crawler and Myphitic Blight Hauler – but they’re both medium ish ranged options and very swingy with a limited number of shots. Contagions of Nurgle transforms the humble War Dog Autocannon into a truly nightmare worthy weapon, but it’s very difficult to compete with just playing more Plague Marines, especially when Death Guard mostly need help getting onto objectives faster. There are better War Dogs for this faction, but they wouldn’t hate playing with Executioners.

Chaos Factions that probably hard pass on Executioners: Thousand Sons

Thousand Sons have a bunch of AP -2 ranged weapons already, and their plan for tanks is “die to mortal wounds please”. Thousand Sons can struggle to get onto points when they aren’t playing the Tzeentch Flamers (and again, I expect these are getting point hikes soon which may make them less attractive), but unlike Death Guard this faction has consistent “ranged” output that makes them want Executioners even less.


Chaos Knights have a ton of ways to customize their models, but as Agents of Chaos Dreadblades there are only two that really matter. The first is the Fell Bond, which is the “chapter” bonus that your models get. The second is something called a Favour of the Dark Gods, which is a bonus that only applies to one model in the unit and gets better as that model kills things.

Fell Bonds

There are about two dozen Fell Bonds to choose from, and they can all be found on pages 64 and 65 of the Chaos Knights codex. I’m going to spotlight three that I think the Executioners take to really well.

Honorable Mention – Bold Tyrants: A rather simple one, this just gives the models an additional AP when targeting models within 18 inches. AP -3 is much better than AP -2, and there will often be targets within range. That said, these are range 60 guns that we care about here, so this is an honorable mention.

Warp Vision: This Fell bond is simple, but extremely deadly. In a nutshell, this Fell Bond lets the models with it ignore light cover on their targets. This is great on GW open terrain and not bad in general as the majority of boards tend to have lots of cover on them.

Loping Predators: This Fell Bond lets your models advance and count as remaining stationary during the shooting phase. This can let the Executioners transition from backline zone holders to midline support very easily.

Precision Cruelty: Each wound roll of a 6 gains an additional AP and damage. This is a very powerful rule, and combined with a particular Favour (Mirror of Fates, see below) can lead to some blow out shooting phases for Executioners. AP -3 and Damage 4 is nothing to sneeze at.

Worthy Offerings: +1 to hit Characters, Monsters, and Vehicles is a very powerful rule. There are a lot of T7 and below models in these categories, and this makes the Executioners into extraordinarily accurate models when targeting these. I rate this slightly lower on Executioners than I do on Brigands (article coming soon), but it is still an excellent Fell Bond.

What is my purpose?
You sit on the back point and shoot things from a distance.
Heeeeeck yeah.
Favours of the Dark Gods

These are model specific bonuses, and you can only take one per unit. This means that only one of the three War Dogs you bring will get the bonus.

Each Favour comes with a baseline ability, and then a secondary effect which unlocks when enough things are killed by the bearer.

There are 18 of these, and I think that two are worth considering for Executioners.

Mirror of Fate: This Favour says that every time an opponent spends a CP, roll a d6. On a 5+, you get a CP back. For 15 points, this is a steal. Note that if your opponent spends 2 CP on a stratagem, you roll 2d6. When the model kills enough things (5 wounds worth for Executioners), you get to turn a hit, wound, or save roll into a six after seeing the roll once per round. This combines really nicely with Precision Cruelty above. I think this is an absurdly strong pair of effects, and would be my go to in most lists.

Subjugator Machine Spirit: This Favour is a bit different. The bearer can fall back or advance and count as remaining stationary until the end of the shooting phase. This is an incredibly powerful rule, as tying up purely ranged War Dogs in melee is a viable strategy, and being able to ignore that particular strategy on one of them is excellent. The secondary effect allows the bearer to charge after advancing or falling back. Frankly this part doesn’t matter in 99% of cases, because Executioners’ melee output is abysmal.


Executioners are fantastic long range support options for most of the Chaos factions. They have a nice set of guns, some really good customization options, and are good value for their points. If you are playing anything but Thousand Sons, they’re worth a serious look.

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