Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cerastus Knight-Lancer Impressions

Punish the flesh. Iron in mind and body. Hail the Machine!
The plastic Imperial Knight was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Games Workshop releases in a long time, but when the Imperial Knight Codex was released a week later, it was hard not to be a little disappointed when the book did not contain rules for additional Knight variants or weapon options.  I am happy to say that we did not have very long to brood over this, as no more than a month after its release, Forge World revealed their own Knight model to capitalize on the wealth of other less common Knight variants.  The Cerastus Knight-Lancer is their rendition of the rather comical looking Lancer from the Adeptus Titanicus/Space Marine days.  It even already has rules in the form of an entry in the third installment of the Horus Heresy Isstvan saga: Extermination.

An impressive looking shock lance for an even more imposing Knight.
The general leg and body structure of the Lancer is similar to plastic Knight, although all the Lancer parts are stretched and longer.  Interestingly, the Lancer’s legs have a pronounced kink at the knee that aligns it, at least visually, to the Warhound titan.  These legs are the most striking element of the model, making it tower over even the plastic Imperial Knight.  While I would have expected it to be taller and thinner than its plastic counterpart, I was not anticipating it being nearly twice the size.  In fact, one of the Lancer’s legs alone reaches up to the armoured cowl of the Paladin/Errant.  Although I have yet to see a size comparison, the Lancer is likely similar in size to Dreamforge’s Leviathan Crusader, which is currently sitting at an odd place to be used in 40k, too small to be a Warhound, but far too large to be an Knight Paladin/Errant.  So it may be a nice proxy for the Lancer (finally a use for the Crusader!), provided I replace one of the arms with their version of the powerfist (mauler claw).  Excitingly, the legs look quite poseable (unlike GW’s plastic one, which needs extensive work to reposition).  This flexibility might lead a lot of people to make ridiculously dynamic poses, ones that could threaten to make many Knights look more like they toppling over (a welcome challenge to overcome!).

If not for the paint, I would have almost guessed that Lancer was a 2x render that would later be shrunk down for general release, so dramatic is the size difference. 
The body of the Lancer is quite similar to the Paladin/Errant, just a bit taller with broader armor plates, giving it more of an insect-like appearance (like a roly poly… ha ha).  Its shoulderpads, while similar in design, are layered much like those of Tartaros terminators.  The exhaust system on the Lancer’s back is much smaller and streamlined than that seen on the Paladin/Errant. Its head is very unique, reminding me a bit of Subzero from the Mortal Kombat fame, with pronounced grilled armor plates on its cheeks.  It still has the ocular lenses, similar to the bare head of the plastic Knight, hidden behind the the Lancer’s vision slit.  Overall the head gives it a sinister mechanical look that is absent in the more knightly helms of the plastic version.  I believe I speak for all of us when I say I was a bit disappointed when I learned that the plastic Knight did not have a fully detailed interior/cockpit area.  Forge World rectified this oversight and sculpted the entire cockpit, bringing the Throne Mechanicum to life!

Glad to see they sculpted the interior; now we no longer have to stare longingly at the chair in Forge World's Thunderbolt fighter, dreaming up ways to acquire one for converting our own.
The Lancer only has a single weapon, the Cerastus shock lance.  And although it can be used as both a melee weapon or a gun (which can’t get destroyed thanks to the superheavy damage table which ignores weapon destroyed), it does not have the heavy stubbers like the Paladin/Errant (therefore, it cannot attempt to down flying monstrous creatures in a hail of machinegun fire).   The lance is quite powerful, with 6 AP2 str 7 concussive shots (only 18” range though).  Where it really shines however, is in close combat!  While it is similar to the Reaper chainsword (Str D, AP 2), it has a special rule called Swift Strike that give the Lancer a +1 bonus to Initiative the turn it charges.  This makes the Lancer no laughing matter in close combat, being able to perform 5 Str D concussive attacks at the Initiative of 5.  Better still, its version of the ion shield (Ion Gauntlet Shield) bestows it a 5++ save in close combat.

The Lancer's shield has a very interesting design, maintaining a shape like a traditional knightly shield, yet not filled in with adamantium and ceramite.
Forge World also revealed concept renderings of different Knight weapon options.  They showed a vulcan mega bolter as well as an inferno cannon (no turbo laser though...).  Both look fantastic, mimicking their larger warhound counterparts.  The ammunition belts on the mega bolter look particularly nice, broad and substantial, making it believable that it might actually work!  At this point, it is not clear if these are for the GW Knight, the Lancer, or both (I imagine it will be one or the other due to the vast difference in size between the two, however).  With the release of these alternate weapon systems on the horizon, I am a bit hesitant to assemble the gun arm of my plastic Knight, wanting to have the opportunity make it modular if the Forge World alternates are scaled properly.

Hopefully these renders are only just the beginning of new weapon options for both GW and FW's Knight models.
With a new Knight titan already on the horizon, I realize I need to step-up work on my plastic Knight.  The assembly has been a slow, but ultimately enjoyable.  I have really been taking my time to remove all the moldlines and sand down any seams created when gluing two halves together.  I still need to go back and use green stuff to fill gaps and ultimately decide on a pose for the model.  This first one is likely going to be pretty simple without any major conversions.  Adam and I have a second that we would like to complete afterwards that we plan to completely reposition the legs, following in the footsteps of JeffTibbetts with his Queen Bee Knight, over at the Bolter and Chainsword.

My work in progress Knight standing next to my Leviathan Crusader, armless as not to make the smaller titan jealous ;) 
As I have been working on my first Knight I have been considering what I wanted to do about the basing the model. My first thought was of Dragon Forge bases, having used many of their bases in the past, but figured it would likely be a while until they got around to releasing them with the Knight’s dimensions (considering it is the only model that uses it currently).  So you can imagine my surprise when I saw Dave Taylor had received a shipment of bases for the Knight sculpted by none other than Jeff Wilhelm of Dragon Forge Design!  Looking at their site, they have currently released 8 new bases for the Knights, spanning  a range of different locals including blasted desertscapes, ancient temples, and ruined cities. While they have a steep price tag ranging from $20-22.50, their quality is assured (thick, sturdy resin requiring little clean-up). Currently my favorites include the Badlands and Urban Rubble bases. Dave Taylor used the Urban Rubble bases to great effect on his first two Knights of House Coldshroud.

With the rules for the Cerastus Knight-Lancer already in print, I am sure the model will come up for preorder in Forge World’s site in the next week or two.  I am really curious to see the cost of it; it is sure to be exceedingly expensive, partially because it is Forge World, but also simply because it is so much bigger than the plastic Imperial Knight and therefore cannot take advantage of some of the plastic Knight parts (not a hybrid kit).  The model is likely to go a long way in making an army of Imperial Knights seem more like a real army (one with more than two unit entries), provided it gets printed in a future Imperial Armour book (and not just the 30k Horus Heresy).  Hopefully this is just the beginning for different Knight variants (Crusader perhaps?) and weapon options.  Time will tell I suppose.

- Eric Wier


  1. Those weapon renders look impressive.

    While I like that FW is on the front foot with bringing additional Knight equipment to market I'm not sold on the design differences to the GW offer. I would have liked to see something similar but different like what they have been doing with the Marine gunships.

    The size of this beast is staggering in that comparison shot.

    Very interested to see if they fill in the rest of the range. GW missed a trick putting only the two options in the codex.

  2. Yeah I really think GW missed the boat a bit with releasing a two entry codex. If it were not a stand alone codex, it would be fine, but not like this. I suppose it is nice that FW is doing something, because I feel it is extremely unlikely that GW will expand on the range.

    I feel if FW releases a Knight Crusader, they will be able to flex their own creative muscles a bit more then they did with the Lancer (since it is rather distinctive looking from the other Knights).

    1. my fear would be GW pushing out an e-update to the ipad users for the new variant rules which would disadvantage the printed book owners. I'd be even more annoyed if they used this as an opportunity to put out a data slate for the FW kit.

    2. Yeah... I could see something like that happening. They pump out so many these days it is hard to keep track of everything.

  3. Nice look at the model! I have to admit that I am torn on this issue, though, and here's why:

    On the one hand, the Cerastus Lancer is a cool model, as is the norm with the more impressive FW kits.

    On the other hand, I think this whole affair really seems like a bit of a missed opportunity: The GW plastic knight kit seems modular enough as is (consider the weapon arms: Those look like they were basically designed with different loadouts already in mind), plus it would probably have been a pretty viable base for a FW resin upgrade kit or two. Instead of that, we now get a completely new titan that is twice as tall, doesn't share the same base model, has additional detail that somehow seems to cheapen the (amazing) plastic Knight in hindsight (yeah, I am looking at you cockpit interior) and doesn't appear in the codex. Way to go, guys!

    All in all, it somehow seems like they didn't really think this through, at least not the first wave of releases. My verdict so far is this: The plastic Knight is still an amazing model, one of the most amazing models to come out of GW in the recent past, in fact. The Lancer will certainly have its fans, but the prospect of building a kit of this size from resin (instead of the more user friendly and more flexible plastic) is an absolute dealbreaker for me. And that's not even talking about the possible cost. And there's zero parts overlap between the two kits. Like I said, a cool model, but also lots and lots of missed opportunities -- what a shame!

    1. Yeah I certainly see it as a missed opportunity. I think the whole Chapterhouse case really affected how GW operates in a negative way. Instead of creating a flexible and creative codex, they streamline it down to a single model or two that they had the money to produce. Before they would add additional units and options, even if their current kits could not represent it, giving us opportunities to convert them and imagine them. Maybe GW would make a kit for it, but they did not have to. Now if they do not have a kit for it, it does not go in the book. GW made this fantastic Knight model and wanted to release it as quickly as possible, and in order to get the rules in people's hands they made a codex that only reflected the model (fearing that other companies would jump on the opportunity to make additional weapon arms if the option was there); which just comes off as rushed an incomplete. And then when we get a nice model like the Lancer, we cannot help but feel a little cheated.

      I also agree that the prospect of assembling such a large resin model is a bit of a nightmare... So many casting defects and warping...

  4. The FW knight looks amazing. I was not sold on the original GW knight to be honest, way too much hype I think. This lithe, sleek model with a dynamic pose is a lot more appealing than the "harumpf" pose GW's knight has.

    1. Yeah, I certainly am a fan of the new lancer; it has much more of a titan feel then the plastic Knight. The non-posable legs certainly was a disappointment, but I still like the model and feel it has a lot of character.