Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Unforgiven: Black Knights

'One warrior usually suffices.'
The recent release of the new Dark Angels codex has gotten me to start thinking more about the future of my Deathwing army.  With the changes made to Deathwing Assault, I can no longer have a full army of Terminators teleport onto the field on turn one, making a strictly terminator army less feasible.  On the other hand, they did make the Ravenwing more viable than ever, allowing you to reroll your jink saves, while maintaining their ability to assist the Deathwing at arriving on target via deep strike.  These benefits convinced me to pull out a Ravenwing Black Knights’ box that I purchased over two and a half years ago (when the last version of their codex was released), and see what I could do with them.

From the moment I saw the Black Knights, I was a fan of them.  The primary thing that stood out to me was their wonderful looking power armor. The heavy gloved look of their arms, coupled with the fact that they were cast attached to their handlebars just looks really sharp.  Best of all, however, are their heads.  Each is a homage back to the days of Rogue Trader, with “beakie” style helmets with the characteristic horizontal slits in the nose, mirroring the classic John Sibbick art depicting the heroic last stand of the Crimson Fists.  In fact, I liked the helmets so much that I used those that came in the box to make some Alpha Legion Astartes, requiring me to order some replacements to build the Knights, ha ha.  Although only subtly changed, the bikes have also been improved from their 2nd edition counterparts, primarily due to better casting techniques/computer sculpting.  Little things like the redesigned exhaust pipes and the eagle fashioned prow of the bike go a long way towards making the bikes look more modern.  The inclusion of saddlebags, holsters, and ammunition pouches also make the bikes look more practical, and the tool of a skilled rider.

The Black Knight box comes with a cool bolt pistol with a sensible drum magazine.

The reason the Knights sat in a box for so long was because I did not know what I wanted to do with their corvus hammers.  Like most GW weapons, the ones included in the kit are simply too big.  They are so large, in fact, that I ended up using some of the hammer heads to convert thunder hammers for some Deathwing terminators (although too big for a normal marine, I feel they work well for terminator armor, and they are far smaller than the ridiculous stock terminator hammers).  After looking around in my bits box, I discovered that the muzzle shroud on the kroot rifle was a reasonable size.  The final conversion ended up being pretty simple, essentially mounting the shroud on the top of haft and using green stuff to fill in some gaps and the muzzle ports.

I decided to use normal Space Marine shoulder pads, in addition to trimming off some of the RW iconography, because it gives the models a sleeker, subdued look. 

After creating the hammers, the only other notable thing I did was trim off a lot of needless/gaudy iconography and detail.  This included shaving away most of the Ravenwing symbols on their heads, holsters, and some of the more flamboyant stuff on their legs.  I also removed the awkward looking icons that were placed directly in front of the riders face on the handlebars, freeing up their vision.  I spent a while trying to pose the riders in natural ways, trying to avoid overly outstretched arms or anything that would be impractical while riding a motorcycle at breakneck speeds.  Pinning proved to be invaluable for this, allowing me to attach the different arms without gluing them, to see how they looked.  I positioned all of their heads facing forward (or slightly tilted) because each of the bike’s handlebars are straight, suggesting they are simply driving forward at a furious pace.

The inclusion of multiple saddle bags and bolt pistol holsters really helps make the Knights look like veterans that spend nearly every waking hour on their bikes.

All told, the Black Knights were a pretty simple project, with relatively little conversionwork needed.  I am happy with how the hammers turned out, and feel they are much more reasonable now.  I am excited to try them, as well as some other Ravenwing, in a game or two in the near future.  If nothing else, it should add a little variety to my terminator-centered armies of the past!

-Eric Wier


  1. They look great. The reduced hammers work very well

    1. I am glad you like them! I am pleased that the hammers now do not overshadow the marines' armor. I wanted that warriors themselves to look menacing, rather then relying on their weapons.

  2. Nice work on those hammers.

    i did not realize that the bikes were so different, but you are right, they are certainly improved. And I may need to get some of those arms...

    1. Thanks! The kit does come with a lot of different arms that are suitable for different poses while on a bike. This coupled with the improved bikes, makes it a very worthwhile box set.