Unit Spotlight: Karnivore 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

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, this particular brand of War Dog brings a slew of high strength, high damage, and high accuracy melee attacks into the fight as well as a decent amount of horde clearing weapons.

Why Karnivores?

Karnivores are among the fastest models that Chaos armies have access to, with a whopping 14″ MOV characteristic. They also count, as all War Dogs do, as five bodies with Objective Secured when it comes to taking control of objectives.

Given their incredibly kill hungry nature – five attacks at S10 or 12, AP 3 or 4 and damage 3 or d3+3 – this means they want to be pushing forward on flanks, breaking apart elite units or tanks, and then standing in a place and being very difficult to kill.

These models are the ideal answer to scenario problems for slower armies that want to move up the table but are hampered by low movement speeds or for armies that have a lack of access to S9 and higher melee attacks against things like – ironically – Chaos Knights or other tanky factions.

They also get a Diabolus Heavy Stubber, which for a free weapon is a pretty decent little four shot gun at S5, AP 0, D1.

Chaos Factions that Probably Love Karnivores: Death Guard, Knights

Death Guard have some problems with primary. Specifically, a huge portion of the army is MOV 5 without a whole lot of ways to speed that up. They have okay secondary options, and reasonable melee and shooting, but they really need something fast to get up early and take objectives so that the rest of the army can catch up.

A Karnivore escorting Mortarion up to an objective means that the opposing army has to make some tough targeting choices and that Mortarion can hold the objective against a regular sized unit of Marines which he normally cannot do.

Chaos Knights lack a lot of accurate melee attacks in the other War Dog chassis, and as Karnivores have the most attacks and the most accurate and flexible profiles, bringing a couple of Karnivores in lists with 10 or more War Dogs is almost a given.

Chaos Factions that Probably Like Karnivores: Thousand Sons

Thousand Sons don’t have the same problems with speed Death Guard have due to their ability to teleport units around the table. However, they don’t have a ton of Damage 3 and higher weapons and rely on Mortal Wounds to deal with most hard targets.

Though Thousand Sons almost certainly like Brigands better, they can get some good use out of fast, obsec models that hit harder than the rest of the faction in melee.

Chaos Factions that Probably Pass on Karnivores: Everything Else

Normal CSM factions tend to want for shooting and shred things in melee, and World Eaters doubly so.

Daemons are fantastic close combat specialists, but lack ranged firepower. They’d rather spend points on workhorse infantry or on models with range superiority than on Karnivores.


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 Karnivores take really well.

Frenzied Invaders: This Fell Bond gives the Karnivores exploding sixes in combat, which kind of makes up for the lack of the Iconoclast bonus that they would normally get. With AP -4 being sufficient in most cases now thanks to Armor of Contempt going away, this brings a Karnivore up to standard for most armies on most charges.

Hellforged Construction: This is basically ramshackle, or -1 damage against S7 and lower attacks. This will help keep the Karnivores alive against the plethora of D2 shooting out there, and also make the average melee attack against them significantly worse. I might consider this in Chaos Knights even if playing against a lot of Custodes.

BioMechanical Fusion: This gives the dreadblade unit access to Daemonic Surges, which can be pretty neat into some matchups. Transhuman, +1 to wound with a weapon, or +3 movement are all things that can situationally be brilliant for the Karnivore.

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 five are worth considering for Karnivores.

Beguiling Majesty: The baseline version of this favour gives the bearer -1 to hit and wound in combat – already very strong – and then the unlocked version gives it a six inch aura of “enemy models get -1 attack”. It also marks the model Slaanesh, which can give it access to more attacks against big units thanks to the Murderbliss Stratagem.

Blood Shield: Old faithful here, this Favour lets you ignore invulnerable saves once per game. If you kill five wounds of stuff, it lets you do it again. With AP -4 attacks, this means that many characters get to just save on 6s, and some don’t get any saves at all (looking at you Mortarion). This is a powerful ability, but it also puts a gigantic target on the bearer’s head so use at your own discretion.

Throne Mechanicum of Skulls: This gives re-roll charges to the bearer baseline, and unlocks to give them exploding sixes in combat. If you’ve already chosen Frenzied Invaders as your Fell Bond, this can give the model double exploding sixes which can be really silly about once a game statistically if it makes attacks every round.

Cursed Rune of Fate: The baseline version of this favour kind of sucks, giving the bearer the ability to do a mortal wound to its attacker on every save of a six. That said, it unlocks to a 4+ Invulnerable Save flat out, which is really strong on a model that wants to be in combat constantly. I prefer Beguiling Majesty over this in most circumstances, but I’ve also seen this be really strong.

Aura of Corruption: The Nurgle mark we all know and love, Aura of Corruption is a 6″ aura of -1 strength which unlocks to an aura of -1 toughness as well. Additionally, this gives the bearer access to the Nurgle stratagem to count as full wounds for bracketing purposes, which can be big late game.

This is mostly really strong if you can unlock it early and then use your now much more scary guns to blast down enemy models, but it makes it so that this guy can wound T7 on 2s as well which isn’t nothing.


Karnivores are premiere melee beatsticks with good speed and objective secured. They are designed to get up the table quickly and fight other models, and they have a suite of rules to accomplish that goal. For Death Guard and Chaos Knights, I think these are slam dunk models, but even Thousand Sons might consider throwing a couple on the table and seeing what it does to their games.

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