Unleashing The Dogs Of War: Chaos Knights Tournament Report

Today we head into the most twisted corner of the warp that Warphammer has ever visited: The hateful world of Chaos Knights.

Chaos Knights are one of the most thematic and fun armies in the entire game. I have no idea why I waited until 10th Edition to build my personal collection beyond 3 War Dogs to use as allies and start running this as one of my main armies, but I’m just glad I’ve finally seen the light. Chaos Knights are an army I’m going to give just as much playtesting and attention in my content as Chaos Space Marines and Daemons going forward. This writeup is about the July Fight Club Open, and I’ll have more tournament reports with Chaos Knights available as I attend more events. This will eventually culminate in a full guide to playing Chaos Knights once I’ve had a chance to sufficiently playtest every idea I can come up with.

But first, I’ve got a gripe to share with you. Specifically, a gripe I have with a large part of the Chaos Knights fanbase. Pull up a corrupted throne mechanicum and sit down. I’ve been hearing a ton of negativity about Chaos Knights. In turn, you need to hear this.

Please stop viewing everything about your army through the lense of Imperial Knights.

Are Imperial Knights stronger than Chaos Knights? Yes. Follow-up question… who cares? There’s always going to be an army that is stronger than yours. Imperial Knights are too strong, and need a nerf, rather than Chaos Knights needing a buff to reach their level. I do not want Chaos Knights to be as good as current Imperial Knights. I do not want any army to be as good as current Imperial Knights, or Eldar, or GSC.

I’ve seen tons of players say that Chaos Knights are a weak army. Let me make one thing clear, right here at the start: that is absurd. I’ll see discussions where a Votann player complains about how awful their army is, and then an AdMech player piles in to complain about how awful their army is, and then a Chaos Knights player will jump in and say their army is just as bad. Get your ass out of there, you absolutely do not belong.

Chaos Knights are only bad if you compare them directly to Imperial Knights, not the other 20+ armies in the game. Chaos Knights have equal or favored matchups into basically every army in the game besides the “In the nerf crosshairs” tier of Eldar/GSC/Boring Knights/Custodes/Thousand Sons.

Our army has its own set of unique and extremely powerful tools. Focus on mastering those. I’ll obviously more about how to do that in this article and in a later full guide to playing Chaos Knights, but I want to set the tone right here at the start. This tournament report is not going to complain about what Chaos Knights do not have. We’re going to focus on all the awesome things they do have.

Before we jump into the game recaps, please note three important things:

  • The TO Brandon Roddy did an amazing job running the event, and I have to give everyone involved props for a well done event. The mood was light, the opponents were all friendly, and things kept moving without delays.
  • BCP is only displaying the winner’s score, not the loser’s score, so the losing score in each game comes from memory.
  • Opponent lists are summaries. If an opponent’s list doesn’t add up to 2000 points, I just forgot to add some minor units.

Tournament Results

I’ll spoil the final result so you know what to expect: I finished 11th out of 65 players at the Major. Did I want to do better? Sure. Am I disappointed in the results? Not at all. This was a completely stacked field in terms of both busted lists and really strong players.

If you are sick and tired of reading about Eldar, I’ve got some bad news. They are featured in 3 games here. I remember attending a GT when the Ork buggy indirect fire list was dominating, and managed to face that 3 out of 4 rounds. I’ve got a knack for finding the most toxic part of the meta and just bashing my face into it over and over again for your amusement. It is a good pain.

If you are sick and tired of reading about Eldar, I’ve also got some good news: I beat them in 2 out of 3 games. Chaos Knights had a 17% winrate into Eldar before this weekend, so I’ve done my part to bring that up.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let’s dive into what you really came to Warphammer for: A breakdown of a new competitive Chaos list, and how it matched up with a variety of strong armies.

My Chaos Knights List

  • Khorne’s Talon
    • Stalker: Melta, Claw, Havoc Launcher (Warlord)
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Brigand: Havoc Launcher
    • Karnivore: Havoc Launcher
    • Karnivore: Havoc Launcher
    • Huntsman: Meltagun
  • Chaos Daemon Allies (500 points. Yes, exactly 500 points.)
    • 3 Nurglings
    • 5 Flesh Hounds
    • Changeling
    • 3 Flamers
    • Skull Cannon
    • Burning Chariot

Here is the most important thing to understand about Chaos Knights: They are a fast, fragile finesse army disguised as a stat check army.

Chaos Knights don’t want to build around shooting enemies off the board, or tanking all their damage. We want to build around bullying Primary with our blisteringly fast OC8 War Dogs, and using the threat of our damage to make it difficult for opponents to interact with our gameplan. The funny thing is that with Chaos Knights, I am hiding from my opponent way more than they are from me. I ended up almost literally tabled in several of my wins, while my opponents in those games had 500+ points left on the table.

We have possibly the best stratagem in the entire game: Knights Of Shade. For 1CP, we can move 2 War Dogs through terrain and enemy models. This is absolutely wild. In an edition where Fly became basically useless for large models, our War Dogs have become basically the fastest units in the game on terrain heavy boards. If you’re not using this literally every single turn, I promise you that you’re missing some plays in your games.

The first time I read Knights Of Shade, I remember thinking “oh neat, this is really good”. Now that I’ve played with it more and more, I think it’s completely faction defining, and singlehandedly propels Chaos Knights into A Tier.

Another huge hidden benefit of Chaos Knights is our Indirect Fire. Every single War Dog besides Huntsman and Executioners can take a Havoc Launcher for free now. With a D6 S5 AP0 D1 profile, it doesn’t seem that threatening. But those Havoc Launchers really contribute to our gameplan over 5 turns. We don’t need to table opponents, just dislodge enough of their objective holders (or battleshock them) on objectives to completely bully their Primary. Havoc Launchers are also weirdly effective into power armour now that 3+ saves can’t be brought to a 2+ save by cover against an AP0 attack. We kill 3.5 Desolation Marines a turn on average with our Havoc Launchers. Is that a lot? No. Is that a significant reduction in their damage output, and surprisingly high for an army that isn’t thought of as an indirect fire army? Hell yeah. Havoc Launchers are also a great tool into GSC. Between Havoc Launchers and Chaincannons, I can confidently say that CK are better than IK into GSC. If GSC were as popular as Eldar, CK would be thought of as an awesome counter-meta pick.

Let’s talk about the (lack of) elephant in the room: I ran 0 large chassis, instead choosing to bring as many War Dogs as I could. This was mainly because of Knights Of Shade. I wanted to be able to move 2 units every turn through terrain, not be limited to one. I think a big Knight with the Panopoly Of Cursed Knights can be strong, especially a Desecrator or Tyrant. But that playstyle is a bit too “kill the opponent or lose” for my liking. Getting weird is more fun.

Battleshock Is Useless, Right?

It’s not entirely accurate to say Battleshock didn’t matter, but its a lot more accurate than I would like.

The ability to force nearby enemies to take Battleshock tests when they are below Starting Strength did feel meaningful. There were a few times that opponents couldn’t do actions with units because they failed battleshock, or had to burn a CP to avoid my Pterrorshades, or were -1 to Hit my War Dogs. But on the whole, our faction abilities are definitely on the weak end.

Battleshock being a minor rule isn’t that big a deal for Chaos Knights. Really. Just like Night Lords lists in 8th and 9th Edition, the Leadership shenanigans are just a cool side feature, not a key part of your gameplan. I would happily get rid of every rule relating to Battleshock as long as we got to keep Knights Of Shade and the Brigand and Karnivore datasheets.

If GW wants battleshock to be a real part of 10th Edition games, we need one of these 3 changes implemented that I’ve been thinking about:

  1. Insane Bravery is used before they know the result of the battleshock test, not afterwards. This is the most elegant change in my opinion.
  2. Battleshock Tests happen before all forms of CP generation at the very start of the command phase, so they won’t always have a CP available for Insane Bravery unless they intentionally save one up.
  3. Insane Bravery goes to 2CP. At 1CP, especially when facing an opponent like Chaos Knights that has rules which trigger off of battleshock, opponents will use it every time it is relevant without having to think. This is the least elegant, but would be the most impactful.

To Daemon, or Not to Daemon?

Being able to bring your choice of Daemons is incredibly powerful, and one of the best reasons to run Chaos Knights.

I’m going to talk about every Daemon unit I brought, why I brought it, and how it performed in practice.

  • The Changeling
    • Reasons: Mandatory choice. Use it to hold objectives from artillery with its Lone Operative rule and require opponents to overcommit if they want to try to kill it. It can also be a cheap deepstriking secondary unit that’s hard to screen because of its small base. He’s also very effective at trolling opponents by existing midboard and making them hesitant to move any shooting units near him.
    • Results: 11/10, superstar unit, would not leave home without.
  • Nurglings
    • Reasons: Forward deploy to create a safe pocket to deploy my Knights behind against GSC, do early Actions on objectives, potentially deepstrike. If my opponent deploys very shooty units on the line, I can deploy my Nurglings right in front of it and have an easy charge to tie it up if I go first.
    • Results: Did exactly what I needed. Could easily bring more.
  • Flesh Hounds
    • Reason: Use 12″ move to do an early action or get to objectives, use their long bases to screen, moveblock, charge chaff
      • It’s also funny to have actual Dogs hanging out by your War Dogs, and that’s worth 10-15 VP right there
    • Results: Did exactly what I needed. Perfect Chaos Knight ally
  • Flamers
    • Reason: Use 9″ move to do an early action or get to objectives, screen, deepstrike for secondaries, chip wounds off chaff
    • Result: Preferred the Hounds, but Flamers did fine
  • Burning Chariot
    • Reason: Here is where we get spicy. Any unit hit by a Burning Chariot doesn’t get cover, including cover from shots made by my Chaos Knights. This was my answer to deathstars like a Terminator blob touching cover, popping Armour Of Contempt, and saving against my Chaincannons on a 2+
    • Result: This interaction never meaningfully came up. The only “deathstar” I faced was Wraithguard, and my solution was to avoid them, not shoot them. I couldn’t kill the Custodians even without cover. 135 points is also very expensive. I’m thinking hard about dropping this for the Blue Scribes and 1 unit of Flesh Hounds. In another meta, the Burning Chariot will get another look.
  • Skull Cannon
    • Reason: Force battleshock on units hit by it, and hit them with Pterrorshades afterwards.
    • Result: It’s gun did basically no wounds all event, and I never got to use Pterrorshades after hitting them with a Skull Cannon. The funny thing was that its durability was actually the most valuable part of the datasheet, as well as tieing up opponents and randomly plinking damage off of enemies in melee. A unit of Plague Drones actually would have served a very similar role. I’ll keep trying the Skull cannon for now, but its on the hot seat.

With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into the games!

Round 1: Luke’s Space Marines (W, 78-65)

Luke’s List: Repulsor, 10 Hellblasters with Bolter Discipline Lieutenant, 2x Gladiator Lancers, 2x Inceptors, Drop Pod, 2x Devastators with mostly Grav, Scouts, Infiltrators with Phobos Librarian, a 10 Sternguard hammer, and Shrike

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Take And Hold, Chilling Rain, Search And Destroy (Quarters Deployment)

Luke and I played before at the last major I attended in Colorado, where his Drukhari ran over my Emperor’s Children. I knew he was a strong player but also a great opponent, and we both knew we were in for a good game.

When I saw his list, I’ll admit I was a bit worried. The Lancers were effective anti-tank at a much longer range than my 24″, and the Hellblaster brick is brutal to interact with. Sternguard can nuke a War Dog out of reserves with Oaths Of Moment helping proc dev wounds.

Luke’s in-game decision making was perfect, but he made two big mistakes with the Player Placed Terrain that I believe cost him the game. He got first drop, and placed a ruin with the bottom floor closed on the midfield objective. This was actually much more beneficial to me than him. He literally only had one unit with OC higher than 8, meaning he got 0 benefit from having a unit hiding on the midfield objective because I could keep toeing War Dogs onto that objective to deny him Primary. He should have kept the midfield objective open so he could keep blasting off whatever I put on that objective, and focused on keeping the objective closest to him safe. I used my 2nd drop (events using FLG rules let the player dropping terrain second drop two consecutive pieces) to place a crate that prevented his nearest objective from being obscured, and place obscuring terrain on my own middle objective. I effectively had 3 objectives I could hold safely to his 1. He also placed his best piece of obscuring terrain to cover his back objective. This wasn’t necessary, and actually made it tougher for him to draw angles to shoot me. Because his Infiltrators with the Phobos Librarian can’t be shot from >12″ away, he could literally leave his own objective uncovered and use that piece to stage his Repulsor with Hellblasters closer to me.

This is a super common mistake that many players will make early in 10th Edition. With so many literally un-targetable Lone Operative-type units out there, you don’t always need to have any terrain on your back objective. In some matchups, you can use whatever terrain you would have had on your back objective in a more offensive role.

Again, I want to emphasize that Luke played a perfect game after terrain deployment. But I knew the terrain gave me enough of a Primary advantage so I just had to recklessly hammer his Primary score as hard as I could early and he just wouldn’t be able to score enough points. He almost literally tabled me, to his credit. I ended the game with 1 wounded Karnivore using Knights Of Shade to limp backwards through a wall. I like to imagine that Karnivore was viciously pulling on its leash and barking at the enemy as the Dark Gods yanked it back home to safety.

On a related note, let me drop a trick for anyone struggling with an opponent’s Hellblaster brick. You can target the entire unit if you’re in range of one model, but they can only shoot you back if models are in range on a per-model basis. If you have 24″ guns, shoot them from 23.9″ away from the Helllblaster closest to you. If that’s not possible, shoot them from angles where you can only see one or two models in the unit.

Highlight: A Karnivore moving through Luke’s midfield ruin to charge his Repulsor and rip it apart

Lowlight: 3 Flesh Hounds charging 5 remaining Sternguard, killing 0, and dying to the punch back

Round 2: Travis’s Custodes (L, 75-50)

Travis’s List: 3x 5 or 6-man Bricks of Guard with Spears, Big Warden brick, Trajann, 2x Blade Champions, Shield Captain, 2 x 2 Terminators, 2 x Exaction Squads, Eversor Assassin

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Sites Of Power, Chilling Rain, Hammer And Anvil

Cool Guardian Spear Custodes. Would be a shame if it ended up in Argel Tal’s hands.

Travis was a very easy-going opponent, and we had a friendly game from start to finish.

One of my strengths as a player is I’m very realistic about the matchup before the game. In this matchup, I knew my Karnivores were useless. It is impossible for them to interact with the Custodes, as they’ll just use a stratagem to fights first and easily wipe it before it fights. So in this matchup, they just turned into very expensive screens. With my Karnivores being useless, all of my Havoc Launchers being useless, and my meltas being partially useless because Custodes players just don’t fail invuln saves, I was basically relying on 900 points of Brigands to kill a Custodes army. Brigands are amazing, but that’s a lot more than they can handle.

I was also worried because Sites Of Power is based around holding 3 tightly bunched midfield objectives with Characters. Custodes love this mission. I do want to point out to everyone else that Sites Of Power needs you to have Character models on objectives, not Character units. Don’t let armies like GSC score extra points because one Neophyte is on the objective from a unit with a Nexos in it. Travis played that rule perfectly, I’m just bringing this up as a PSA for everone else.

The Custodes put over 900 points in deepstrike. He used Rapid Ingress (and the threat of Rapid Ingress) very well to apply pressure. Blocks of Custodian Guard with a Blade Champion that can Rapid Ingress in and then advance and charge the following turn are such a powerful tool.

Travis played very well and deserved the win, but we just couldn’t get anything going. On turn 2 he double Rapid Ingressed 2 bricks, and pushed up 2 bricks that were hiding on the board. I killed 6 models, which was fine, albeit disappointing. The following turn he made some charges, we lost 2 War Dogs, and had a chance to get blasting again. Unfortunately we just completely whiffed, as none of our melta shots could make it through their invulns. Custodes just do that to you sometimes. The following turn we got flooded with Custodes and the game was over.

I missed a play to Rapid Ingress some Nurglings on his turn 2 so I had a screen further up the the board on his turn 3. I’m not even sure I would call it a mistake to not do it, more that it would have been a really great play if I had seen it at the time. I think my play with the Chaos Knights part of the army was really strong all tournament, but there are little nuances to using the Daemons that I’m going to keep learning as I get more reps.

I’m sure Chaos Knights can beat Custodes, but it won’t be with this list on this mission. Going to give that matchup more thought, because having his army just walk straight through mine was tough to watch.

Highlight: Stalker using its Character keyword and the Epic Challenge stratagem to charge and kill a Blade Champion in a squad of Guardians

Lowlight: Killing 1 or 2 models on turn 3

Round 3: Christian’s Aeldari (W, 72-60)

Christian’s List: 3 Fire Prisms, 2 D-Cannons, some Rangers, Yncarne, 2 x 2 Skyweavers with Haywire, Harlequin Trouple blob with durability buffs

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Purge The Foe, Chilling Rain, Crucible Of Battle

Christian had such great energy. This was a very relaxed game from start to finish. He mentioned that he has played Eldar for a long time but was newer to the competitive scene around here, so I wanted to make sure he had a fun game. Couldn’t have asked for a better opponent!

To be honest, as the third game of the day, this is largely a blur in my memory. I remember my focus was on placing War Dogs on objectives at angles where only 1 or 2 Fire Prisms could see them, which makes it very swingy if he tries to shoot me off. I also tried to focus on killing his high OC and making it a game of whether his Fire Prisms could beat my invulns. The Havoc Launchers were also huge, whittling down his Skyweavers. The Skyweavers got one turn of nuking a War Dog with mortal wounds, but we promptly drowned them in volume fire and didn’t have to deal with them again.

I definitely got helped by good Tactical Card draws. The Huntsman had arrived from strategic reserves turn 2 and 2 turns later, was tied up in melee with a Fire Prism in his deployment zone. I drew Capture Enemy Outpost, and was able to score 8 points by just falling back onto his objective.

I remember being weirdly impressed by the Harlequin blob with Ynnari support characters. With -1 to Wound, 5+++ Feel No Pain, and the ability to resurrect d3 models, I had to ignore them and try to out-OC their objective instead of trying to kill them. I don’t know how good this actually is because I don’t know how much investment it required, but I was very impressed playing against it.

This was one game where I keenly felt it was beneficial to be Chaos Knights instead of Imperial Knights. Having all those Havoc Launchers to kill Harlequin jetbikes before they mortal wounded me to death was very valuable.

Round 4: Zach’s Aeldari (W, 63-50)

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: 10 Wraithguard, Rangers with Illyic, 3 D-Cannons, 3 War Walkers, some fast skimmers with Bright Lances, some Guardians, some Characters, Vyper, 10 Spadow Spectres, Swooping Hawks

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Supply Drop, Chilling Rain, Search And Destroy

Look at these goofy little fellas. How scary could they be?

Zach was a very friendly opponent, and we played a very smooth game from start to finish. I’ll have some thoughts on his army in a second, but I want to make it very clear that I would happily play him again regardless of his army or list. Any issue I have with his list is with GW, not the player running an army he likes at a competitive event.

My honest reaction to seeing in the morning that I was paired into this list was disappointment. It seemed not only like a foregone conclusion, but also a list that would be miserable experience to play against (again, want to make it very clear that none of this had anything to do with Zach personally). I had to consider whether I wanted to go drive 30 minutes, lose in 15 minutes, and then wait 3 hours until my next game after the lunch break. I posted in the Warphammer discord to see what people thought. I have to give credit to my friend Kit for helping me adjust my mindset. He agreed with me that it was a very unfavorable matchup, but reminded me that crazy stuff can happen. I’ve always been the type to try to encourage others to stay positive, so this was what I needed to hear. I got all of my salt out ahead of time, and (hopefully) gave Zach a great experience at the table.

Hey, you. Do you also want encouragement and advice from the most knowledgeable and positive 40K communities out there? Join the Warphammer discord today! https://discord.gg/ffyeBYVx

The 10 Wraithguard brick is my absolute least favorite experience in 40K. Whomever wrote this disgusting datasheet needs to rethink what they want a 40K game to look like. Between Phantasm, the ability to guarantee 2 6’s in a phase, and the ability to shoot when they are targeted once per round, they’re just miserable to play against. There are two nuances that take them from strong to obnoxious: The fact they can shoot back at other units, not just the ones that shot them, and the fact that their melta type guns are Pistols. This means that if you charge them, they’ll happily blast you point blank. The way to play around units that can shoot you in your turn is pre-measure and hit them from mostly safe angles, but Phantasm throws that largely out the window. If you premeasure to shoot them from 18.1″ so they can’t blast you back, they just Phantasm closer. If you line up multiple units to guarantee the kill, you get to shoot one and then they blow up the others with Guide and fate dice and dev wounds. It genuinely blew my mind to find out they cost 31 points. This is a crime against the 40K community. I’m not saying they are unbeatable of course–I did end up winning this game–but it’s just such a brutal headache.

Anyway, let’s talk about the actual game. I deployed very defensively, and fortunately the Eldar had to go first. He killed one War Dog. In return, I got to blasting. I really felt the beneft of the Fate Dice nerf, as he had to roll all but 1 invuln and my chaincannons and melta lances did serious work. I killed a Vyper, 1 War Walker, a D-Cannon, and chipped some wounds off of the skimmers, and picked up a few Shadow Spectres with my Havoc Launchers. We got off to a great start, helped by dice and Knights Of Shade to get angles.

That’s all well and good, but Zach was set up to completely destroy me on the following turn. His Wraithgaurd stepped forward onto the midfield objective and prepared to easily blow up 2 nearby War Dogs, in addition to his other shooting which would kill 2 War Dogs. This was going to be just too much damage for me to overcome.

But always remember one thing: The Chaos Gods’ gifts are so beautiful, and so bountiful. Give them your soul, and they will provide for you.

Zach goes into his shooting phase. As I mentioned to him I would do when he moved the Wraithguard out, my Changeling selects the Wraithguard for his Mischief And Confusion ability. I prepare to roll a dice to determine the fate of the game. On a 6, those Wraithguard won’t be able to shoot this phase. On any other roll, I lose the game.

The Wraithguard line up their guns, and prepare to blow my War Dogs into slag. But wait, I think I hear something. By God, that’s Tzeentch’s music!





Zach and I both agreed that if I don’t spike that 6, the game is over. But that’s why you play the game. Put yourself in a position to win if you get good dice, and sometimes you’ll get the dice you need.

The second I rolled that 6 I remember thinking “Wait, I can actually win this game” and focused on executing my gameplan perfectly from there. Zach played a very strong game, but having 2 more War Dogs than I should have gave me just enough stuff to limp into the final turn with an insurmountable points lead. I was literally tabled down to my Skull Cannon while he had 9 Wraithguard and 2 D-Cannon and his Rangers and his Guardians, but we were able to hang on and win on points.

Zach was a great sport despite the Changeling absolutely trolling him, and I’d be happy to play against him any time.

Highlight: The Changeling putting the Wraithguard to sleep.

Lowlight: Wraithguard charging a War Dog, forcing me to mke my mandatory kick attacks and then shooting me because I technically attacked them. Have I mentioned how much I hate this datasheet?

Round 5: Zaak’s Aeldari (L, 95-40)

Zaak’s List: 30 Howling Banshees, a brick of Custodian Guard led by Trajann, 3 Mutalith Vortex Beasts, and a Castellan

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Scorched Earth, Chilling Rain, Dawn Of War

Before I write anything about this game, I want to compliment Zaak on being a great opponent. I know he’s a strong player, and would be happy to play him again anytime. Nothing in this section is meant to take anything away from his play.

With that out of the way: A third straight game vs Eldar in a 6-round event? Please tell me how many Cultists I have to sacrifice before the event to avoid this fate again, and I’ll do it. Part of the issue with Eldar is that even if you beat them, they are so mentally draining to deal with. Between Phantasm and very strong Overwatch with Indirect Fire and Wraithguard, every turn of yours is a mental slog where you have to pre-measure and account for every single tiny implication of every move. I just didn’t want to deal with the layers of Eldar bullshit for a third straight game. As a result, on some level I think I just internally conceded before the battle started. I wish I had faced Zaak as my first or only Eldar opponent so I would have come into the game fresher.

In hindsight, I would have had a completely different strategy. I deployed cagey. I counted before deployment how many War Dogs I could hide, deploying those all of those hidden and Strategic Reserving the rest.

I should have deepstruck absolutely nothing, started my entire army on the line, and gone all-in on gambling for first turn. I wouldn’t kill much on turn 1 and would lose some amount of War Dogs (probably 3-5) turn 1, but could then get angles on his anti-tank the following turn and hope to high roll and blow everything up. And sometimes, you just spike all your invulns for a turn against Fire Prisms and lose way less than you should. Looking at the list with a fresher mind, Zaak’s list sacrificed some of the extinction level firepower of other Eldar lists for more utility. I should have just played like a simple-minded caveman and viewed dice luck as my main path to victory.

Battle Points scored was like the 4th tiebreaker in the standings. It basically didn’t matter at all. If I lose, losing 100-70 or 100-10 is completely irrelevant. I should have deployed in a way that gives me a better chance of winning going first and effectively just concede if I went second (not literally, but probably conclude its not worth continuing to play after a turn or two).

Handshakes were offered, we figured out a reasonable score, and on to the next game.

Highlight: My Nurgling making his Solitaire -1 to Hit on my Skull cannon? Completely rekt him. Surprised Zaak didn’t immediately concede.

Lowlight: Remembering my lifespan is very, very finite. I’ll never be able to experience close to everything life has to offer. All I can do is try my best to live a rich life and put myself in a position to have meaningful experiences. And despite that, I somehow managed to double dip on the experience of watching Wraithguard Phantasm away from me. I have no one but myself to blame for how I spend my time.

Round 6: Brian’s Tyranids (W, 73-45)

Brian’s List: Board Control based around small units of Gant variants, with an Exocrine, Tyrannofex, Old One with his Carnifex Buddies, and the Swarmlord providing some punch

Primary Mission/Mission Rule/Deployment: Vital Ground, Chilling Rain, Crucible Of Battle

Do you remember that I said at the start that Chaos Knights are a finesse army, not a stat check army?

Sometimes you end up facing an army that views mass Toughness 10 as an insurmountable obstacle, and you get to live a carefree stat-checking life for a game.

I knew Tyranids had serious anti-armour problems. I straight up told Brian that I was going to disrespect his shooting and play like he didn’t have any guns. If I fucked around and found out, so be it. Spoiler alert: I fucked around, and never ended up finding out.

My Brigands moving through and around terrain to get angles absolutely slaughtered his little bugs. When the Carnifex and Old One Eye tried to reclaim the center, our melta lances slaughtered them too. My dice took up their pent up fury about Eldar on the poor bugs, with my meltas basically autohitting and autowounding all game.

Brian was a fun opponent and great sport despite the war crimes unfolding in front of us. He smartly identified after the game that he needed more “stuff”, and I agree. Nids are underrated and not bad, but they need to focus hard on their strengths. They can either go big or go small effectively, but going for an even split leaves you much less effective in either direction. Brian made some nice plays, and I look forward to playing against a new version of his list in the future.

Highlights: My Brigands swarming his Carnifexes and Old One Eye as soon as they crossed midfield and sending their biomass straight into the Warp with AP5, d6+4 damage guns.

Lowlights: Lictors being incredibly annoying to kill

Final Thoughts

Even when the meta is in a rough spot (and make no mistake, the competitive game is being held back by the 4 or 5 broken armies at the top), there’s no harm in getting out there and rolling dice. In the worst case scenario, your game will end early and you have more time to catch up with friends. In the best case scenario, the Dark Gods will reward your devotion with clutch dice and help you power through matchups that the 40K community believes is unwinnable. There are few better feelings in the game. And for the love of everything wargaming, please don’t be salty or rude towards your opponents because of GW’s balancing decisions. They didn’t write the rules. Your own army will eventually be the one that everyone complains about, so just focus on playing your best until then.

No one plays perfectly, and there are always going to be mistakes for you to take advantage of. They might be micro mistakes that you won’t notice, but I promise you that your opponent’s mistakes are there. Just try to always be less un-perfect than your opponent, and you’ve always got a chance.

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13 thoughts on “Unleashing The Dogs Of War: Chaos Knights Tournament Report”

  1. Excellent write up and great insight into how the faction plays. Looking forward to more of these articles.

    1. As a ck guy who saw his world eaters victimized by scout spam, I went and got 3 nurglings to ally into my csm and ck… I don’t know what the nuance is for a mid game play but not having scouts just walk to my line and pen me in a crucial moment is beautiful.

  2. I think the army list for Round 5 is off…
    Here is what I see: “Zaak’s List: 30 Howling Banshees, a brick of Custodian Guard led by Trajann, 3 Mutalith Vortex Beasts, and a Castellan”

  3. Nice write up. I’m not sorry I’ve missed the opening of 10th by traveling to Alaska all summer….but, heading south soon. Gotta put my Knights of Chaos back on the table or start that new Deamon Army or BOTH! Just going through all the rules and starting TTS reps learning 10th shenanigans.

    “40K Nomad”

  4. Just found this site. Really good read. Custodes seem a pain to move, but I thought you could not use a strat twice in the same phase without an ability? Was it with a shield captain? What would you different against them? Also interested about your daemon takes…

  5. Great write-up Mike. Quick question – if you had to play one of the bigger knights in place of a few war dogs, which would you choose? Desecrator or castigator maybe? I’m going to run a similar list to yours but want one bigger knight, even if it’s suboptimal.

    1. Apologies for just seeing this to approve it and reply (everyone’s first comment has to be approved to make sure it’s not a bot)!

      The Desecrator does some real work, between it’s great aura for Brigands and other shooty War Dogs, passable melee (and great Tank Shock!), and potentially great anti-tank shooting if the dice are on your side.

      Definitely go with the Desecrator if you want a big Knight!

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