The 9th Edition Chaos Knights codex allows every army to include a Knight unit in your army… with a catch. After all, would it really be a Chaos army if you weren’t making tradeoffs with the Dark Gods to gain additional power?
First, we’re going to dive into the full rules behind this process. Next, we’re going to discuss the best ways to include a Knight with each Chaos faction. Finally, we’re going to provide some sample lists for you to get started with or inspire your own list writing. Let’s put on our spike-covered thinking caps and dive right in.
What Rules Do You Gain or Lose When Including a Knight in Your Army?
There’s a lot of confusing information out there about what rules you gain or lose when including a Knight unit in your army. Here’s a complete breakdown to help everyone understand how this works.
Using the “Fallen Hero” Rule to Soup a Knight into a Monofaction Army
- KEEP: Faction Secondaries from your main faction (i.e. access to The Long War in your Chaos Space Marine army or Spread The Sickness in your Death Guard army)
- KEEP: Monofaction rules for your main faction (i.e. Cabals for your Thousand Sons)
- KEEP: Access to Stratagems for your main army and stratagems for your Knights (i.e. you can use Unyielding Rage for -1 Damage in melee on your souped Chaos Knights)
- KEEP: Objective Secured on your War Dogs, and Objective Secured on any units in your main army that would have Objective Secured (i.e. in a Thousand Sons list with a Fallen Hero unit of War Dogs, your Rubric Marines, Tzaangors, Scarab Terminators, and War Dogs are all Objective Secured)
- KEEP: The ability to buy Favours Of The Dark Gods (i.e. you can upgrade an Abominant in a Thousand Sons army with the Blood Shield. Note that doing so will anger Tzeentch, and ensure you roll horribly on your Thousand Sons’ psychic tests all game. It’s in the rules.)
- KEEP: Fell Bonds on your Dreadblade unit (i.e. a unit of Executioners in a Death Guard army can gain the Loping Predators Fell Bond to advance and shoot)
- LOSE: 3CP for bringing your Knights in a Superheavy Auxiliary Detachment, even if you gave your Knights a God mark that matches the army (i.e. a Tzeentch Knight with Mirror Of Fates costs 3CP to bring in a Thousand Sons army because its <Tzeentch> keyword isn’t a faction keyword)
- LOSE: Any Dread Household strats, because your Knight must be a Dreadblade and Dreadblades can’t use Dread Household rules (NOTE: an exception is specifically made for House Korvax in Disciples of Be’lakor)
- LOSE: Traitoris Ambitions, because your Knight must be a Dreadblade and Dreadblades don’t gain Traitoris Ambitions (i.e. your Karnivores can’t get +1 Attack and +1 AP from Iconoclast)
- LOSE: Ability to buy any Warlord Traits or Relics on your Dreadblade Knights. Note that while you have would access to the relevant Stratagems, those Stratagems require you to have a Chaos Knights Warlord.
- LOSE: Character Knights, so no summoning Daemons or Heroic Interventions (unless you get HI through another rule, like the Favour that grants it). The rule that grants one Knight in each detachment the Character keyword requires a full Superheavy Detachment, not a Superheavy Auxiliary.
Note that two Chaos factions, Chaos Space Marines and Daemons, don’t have a 9th Edition codex yet. That means those armies don’t have mono-faction army-wide rules like Thousand Sons’ Cabal Points system yet, so the second point does not apply to them. This will change once those armies get their codices, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
What Changes if I Soup in Knights Normally, Instead of Using the “Fallen Heroes” Rule?
You don’t have to use the Fallen Heroes rule to add a Dreadblade to your otherwise mono-faction army. You can always choose to add a full Superheavy Detachment to your army, just like you can add a Patrol of Thousand Sons to your Death Guard and make it a soup army.
I won’t cover that too deeply in this article–most people are more interested in supplementing their army with a Knight unit, rather than running a 50/50 mix (or even running detachments from 3 different armies, like Chaos Space Marines + Thousand Sons + Chaos Knights!). If you choose to soup this way, here is what changes from the above list:
LOSE: Faction Secondaries (i.e. you lose Wrath Of Magnus for your Thousand Sons)
LOSE: Mono-faction rules (i.e. you lose your -1 Toughness Contagion for Death Guard, and you don’t gain Harbingers Of Dread for your Chaos Knights)
LOSE: Possibly more CP (it costs 6CP to bring a Superheavy Detachment in your army that includes any Titanic units, and you don’t get this fully refunded unless your Warlord is in that detachment and you have the right mix of units)
GAIN: Dread Household rules (i.e. your House Vetrix Knights gain the free rerolls, and access to the House Vetrix stratagem)
GAIN: A Character Knight (one Knight in your detachment gains the Character keyword because it is a Superheavy Detachment)
GAIN: Traitoris Ambitions (i.e. you can make all the units in your Chaos Knights detachment Infernal, and gain access to Daemonic Surges on those Knights)
There are lots of subtle rules interactions baked into the rules wording of the Chaos Knights rules section, so don’t worry if you missed some of these points at first. It’s a complicated codex!
With all that cleared up, let’s dive into how you can get the most out of souping a Fallen Heroes Knight into your Chaos army.
How to Get The Most Out of Your Knight
Every Chaos army has different considerations to make when adding a Knight to your army. I’ll give it to you straight before we dive into the details: It’s generally not worth it to add a Knight to your main army. It can be a great choice for your particular list and playstyle, and you can definitely make really strong lists with a souped Knight included. It’s just going to be really important to figure out what you’re hoping to get out of the Knight unit in your list.
One important principle to keep in mind is that as Dreadblades, you’re not going to be able to give your Knights lots of the boosts they would get from Iconoclast/infernal or the Dread Household rules or Relics/Warlord Traits. A lot of the strength is going to be in the raw datasheets, so it’s really important you bring the datasheets that will do the job you want them to do.
Because of that, it’s going to be a lot better to bring Knights that are kitted out fully for melee or fully for shooting instead of both. Karnivores and Brigands are going to be great soup options, as well as Executioners if you’re taking a Fell Bond to get their AP over the hump.
Units like Stalkers and Huntsmen aren’t going to soup nearly as well, because their melee is rather weak unless you can make them Iconoclast. Karnivores have strong enough melee to still hit like trucks with their base datasheet, but Stalker and Huntsmen melee is really disappointing outside of Iconoclast.
Any Knight has access to the Mirror Of Fates upgrade, which gives you a 5+ chance to gain a CP each time an opponent spends their own CP. This is a great idea to stick on one of the War Dogs if you’re bringing a unit of 3. You’ll roughly refund the cost of bringing the Knight detachment over the course of the game, and it is close to mandatory for any CP heavy factions. As great as Mirror Of Fates is, you shouldn’t take it if you’re bringing a single big Knight. You need to bring one of the strong defensive buffs (or spicy offensive buffs if you’re feeling risky), because the big Knights aren’t worth it just with their datasheet alone.
Let’s discuss which Fell Bonds to select for your Knights. Bold Tyrants and Precision Cruelty are both incredible picks if you’re bringing a ranged unit. Precision Cruelty for +1AP and +1 Damage on 6’s to wound is probably a bit better on average, but having to slowroll variable damage into multi-wound units is enough of a headache that I would just bring Bold Tyrants.
Dark Forging for super sniping stubbers is sneaky good, but requires a critical mass of stubbers that you just won’t get from a single Knight unit. Frenzied Attacks is the clear pick for melee builds, as exploding 6’s is an amazing ability whenever you can get it easily and saves you from having to spend 2CP on the equivalent strat.
In Disciples Of Be’lakor, you gain access to the House Korvax household bond. This gives you a single Harbingers Of Doom ability even if your army isn’t a full Chaos Knights army. That means that turns 4 and 5, your War Dogs will be ObSec and turn off enemy ObSec, guaranteeing that you flip objectives. You’ll be giving your opponent 0’s or 4’s on Primary turns 4 and 5. Have some fun with this.
Note: The Fallen Hero and House Korvax in Disciples of Be’lakor say you gain access to stratagems and relics, but the stratagems to add relics and warlord traits aren’t usable because they require a Chaos Knights Warlord. While this is probably something that will be FAQ’d, I’m going to err on the side of caution and not buy any relics of traits until we get confirmation one way or another.
Disciples of Be’lakor
“Will you be adding an Abominant to your Disciples?” has probably been the question I’ve been asked most over the last month, so let’s start there.
My first instinct was immediately no. The strength of Disciples of Be’lakor is teleporting and mobile Infantry. Spending lots of points and CP on Knights just gives them somewhere to efficiently point their anti-tank weaponry.
I started playing around with this idea, and am slowly coming around to the idea of 3 Karnivores. There’s an awesome synergy with the Disciples of Be’lakor stratagem Legion Of Shadow. For 1 CP, a Disciples of Be’lakor unit can move and/or charge through enemy models. House Korvax has a 2CP stratagem to do the same for 2 War Dogs. This means if you bring a unit of 3 War Dogs, all of them can move and/or charge through enemy models. That is really cool on a 14″ moving unit that can feast in melee. Don’t forget that Disciples of Be’lakor specifically specifies they keep their Infernal benefits. That means you can have 3 17″ moving melee units that can move through models and/or terrain. That’s no joke.
A larger Knight with Blessing Of The Dark Prince will lean into the army-wide no rerolls synergy, but just isn’t adding anything you need. You can make it absurdly durable with Blessing Of Be’lakor to change damage of an incoming shot to 0, at least.
Be’lakor is already a tax that drags down Disciples Of Be’lakor–don’t make it any worse by bringing a big Knight as well. A hyper-mobile unit of Karnivores to contest the midfield seems like a much better use of resources.
Once Chaos Space Marines get a new codex and some datasheets that can function on their own, I’ll be a lot more excited about a Knight in Disciples. Instead of just relying on board control lists that are 99% Daemons, maybe Disciples will shift towards killier CSM-heavy lists.
Chaos Space Marines
Knights aren’t a great pairing for current Chaos Space Marine lists because CSM need all the CP they can get. Souping a Knight unit in is not just costing you 400-500 points, but also an entire round of 10 Emperor’s Children Terminators firing their melta twice and then auto-charging in.
Frankly Chaos Space Marines have a codex coming around the corner, so I’m not going to spend much time on this section. Make sure you’re having fun with whatever you’re running and focus on getting your models painted before the book drops.
Knights are coming at a great time for Death Guard. Their lists were getting a bit stale, and they needed a shot in the arm badly.
I’m really getting behind a unit of War Dogs in a Death Guard list. I think Death Guard players have gotten fixated on some really bad lists (Death Guard Terminators are legitimately bad units), and they should be pivoting towards mobility and summoning. A list focused around stuff like Possessed, Daemon Engines, Plague Marines in Rhinos, and/or summoning could really benefit from some War Dogs to provide mobile ObSec. A list like that will score way more points than people expect from Death Guard, deny opponent’s scoring, and keep people from entering the midfield.
The Hellforged Construction Fell Bond for -1 Damage against most weapons is best in a Death Guard list, where you largely blanket their 2D weapons from having any good targets. If you want to be thematic, the Putrid Carapace is a fun and strong combo with Hellforged Construction. All of their 2 Damage weapons that have Strength less than 8 become 1 Damage, and thus you get +1 to your saves against them. It’s still better to bring Blessing Of The Dark Master, of course. But it’s a strong and thematic option that also gives you the option to operate on top bracket, which is a big boost to a shooty Knight Tyrant build.
Thousand Sons have a really cool synergy they can run with a big Knight. Their Infernal Master can take a prayer to reroll any dice. If you’re running Blessing Of The Dark Master on your big Knight, then you have access to the stratagem to stand back up on a 4+ when your Knight dies because of your Pantheon Undivided keyword. Being able to reroll the die to get back up is huge, and helps you get value out of that stratagem. Thousand Sons don’t really need what an Abominant provides, but it’s certainly a solid pick to give you some very durable midfield control. You could also take the prayer to turn off cover on an opposing unit if you aren’t bringing a big Knight. Getting effectively AP4 Executioners or Brigands is fantastic.
Shooting War Dogs seem like a really nice fit with a Cult of Duplicity list. The list will be all about getting angles and pouring in volumes of quality firepower. You can teleport your Thousand Sons, send War Dogs back into Reserves to come back the following turn if you don’t have good angles that turn. Warpborne Stalker also feels like a good pick to lean into the mobility of the army and keep getting angles late in the game. And because Thousand Sons have a cheap cabal to generate CP, you don’t have to take Mirror of Fates and free up some points for other Favours.
The more I think about this list, the more I want to play it. Let’s move on to the lists, where I’ll be sure to include a Thousand Sons list.
Brawling Disciples of Be’lakor
I wouldn’t run Knights in my Disciples list, but that’s largely due to my personal playstyle preference. Looking at this list objectively, it’s hard to deny that it will hit hard and play the mission well. Players that have been doing well with Disciples will rack up wins with this style of list.
- Daemons Battalion
- 30 Bloodletter Bomb
- 25 Pink Horrors with Icon and Instrument
- 10 Daemonettes
- 3 Nurglings
- 3 units of Furies
- Chaos Space Marines Auxiliary Detachment
- Master of Possession
- Chaos Knights Superheavy Auxiliary: House Korvax
- War Dog Karnivore
- War Dog Karnivore
- War Dog Karnivore
- 168 Reinforcement Points
Mobile Thousand Sons
This list can punish the midboard, it can get angles in creative ways to do reliable damage, and it plays Secondaries well. I’m going to be playtesting this concept hard over the next few weeks.
- Thousand Sons Battalion: Cult of Duplicity
- Exalted Sorceror
- Infernal Master
- 5 Rubric Marines
- 5 Rubric Marines
- 5 Rubric Marines with Warpflamers and Doombolt
- 5 Rubric Marines with Warpflamers and Doombolt
- 10 Scarab Terminators with Soulreapers and Missiles
- 5 Chaos Spawn
- 5 Chaos Spawn
- Chaos Knights Superheavy Auxiliary: Bold Tyrants
- War Dog Brigand, Undivided-Warpborne Stalker
- War Dog Brigand
- War Dog Brigand
If creative competitive lists are your style, I’d love to work with you on making your fun or weird Chaos idea into a competitive list or provide some direction to your collection. If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer and quality 40K writing, feel free to check out Patreon.com/Warphammer and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available. If you play Chaos Space Marines and are waiting until the new codex, you could always sign up to support the site now and save up for a few lists and coaching calls once the new codex comes out.
This Chaos Knights codex is an absolute blast to play, and I’m looking forward to continue playtesting and making more great content about this awesome faction.
As always, have fun, stay safe, and may the Dark Gods bless your rolls.