40K Tactics: Chaos Cerastus Knight Castigator
I’m back to talk about a favorite amongst some 40K types, the Knight Castigator! Salty John and Goatboy can’t be wrong, can they? If you like some shooting, some fighting, and a whole lot of flexibility for a bargain cost, check it out!
Danny from TFG Radio here,
- Castigator Bolt Cannon – 36” Heavy 16 S6 AP-2 D2
- Tempest Warblade – S14 AP-3 D3 melee. Make 2 hit rolls per attack
- Titanic Feet – S8 AP-2 Dd3 melee weapon. Make 3 to hit rolls per attack
- Ion Shield – 5++ Invulnerable save against ranged attacks.
- Explodes – When this model dies, roll a D6. On a 6, it explodes and each unit within 2d6” suffers d6 mortal wounds.
- Super-Heavy Walker – This model can shoot and charge after it Falls Back. When Falling Back, it can move across enemy INFANTRY models and SWARM models as if they were not there, but must end its move 1” away from enemy models. This model does not suffer the penalty for moving and firing Heavy Weapons. This model does not receive the benefit of cover to its saving throws unless at least half of the model is obscured.
Chaos Knight Castigator Basics
The Castigator is a multi-threat attacker that focuses on quantity more than quality, but when you are a Knight, even your quantity has better quality than others. As the Castigator is a Cerastus chassis, you get the bonus of a 14” movement and 27 wounds, making it pretty damn beefy. Consider that you get this for 430 points. Yes, that’s right, 430 points, a full 170 points cheaper than a Tyrant with Conflagration Cannon for 1 less wound and move movement. The movement here is important as the Castigator is a killer in two phases, so being able to get good angles or set up charges is crucial to their success. As a shooting platform, the Castigator pumps out an impressive amount of shots for one gun, and at its base, it is a Primaris killer. With -2AP and flat damage 2, every failed save is a dead Primaris, and against lighter vehicles, the Castigator will shred those just as well. Even against hordes that rely on a Feel No Pain style save to last like Leviathan Gants, Plaguebearers, or Orks with Painboyz, the damage 2 means it is quite a bit harder to ignore damage as making 2 6s (or 5s) is not so easy. With S6, most hard targets are relatively safe, but through sheer volume of fire, you can force enough saves to do some moderate damage if need be. 36” range isn’t really that long, but it is more than enough in most deployments, and if you need to, with 14” base movement, you can fall back and skirt its outer ranges if facing off against a heavy melee threat or push forward if need be.
In melee, a Castigator is more about putting out a lot of flat 3 damage rather than landing the big hits. The Castigator is not ideal for taking on any other superheavy, but it excels at taking out elite infantry like Custodes, Aggressors, or Bullgryn. With 8 attacks with the sword, chances are you are wounding on 2s, and forcing invulnerable saves (or if they don’t have one like Aggressors, forcing a 6+ save). While most hard targets have an invulnerable, one failed save translates to one dead model, so losing 2-3 in a single volley can be devastating. Against true hordes, you always have stomps if you want 12 attacks. Against a medium vehicle like a dreadnought or transport, the sword is more than enough, but don’t expect a Castigator to take on a super-heavy threat.
Ambition here really changes the math, so you need to decide how you want to play the Castigator. If you want to maximize the number of attacks that the Castigator does in melee, then Iconoclast is the way to go. With +1 attack and AP in melee, the Castigator starts pumping out 10 swings with the sword at AP-4, which shreds just about anything short of a super-heavy. Even then, with that many attacks and maybe Trail of Destruction, any Super-heavy without an invulnerable save in melee is going to feel the pain. Iconoclast also gives you access to Vow of Carnage, which allows you to super-charge the Castigator. With 16 shots, against a horde army, you can easily start to stack up the kills and generating even more attacks. Even getting just 2 more attacks with Iconoclast means that the sword is going to obliterate just about anything or you get even more super-stomps to throw out. You can dance around the edge of your range for a turn or 2 and by the time you fully commit, your Castigator is now throwing out 14-16 sword attacks or 21-24 stomps. Especially if you are planning to use the Castigator as your turn 3 push, the Veil is not a bad idea to keep it alive and healthy longer with a 4++ to shooting.
If you want more versatility and more ranged power, Infernal is a great choice. Pumping up the cannon to S7 and Damage 3 makes the Castigator a far scarier ranged threat that suddenly has the pop to kill all but the heaviest targets at range. At base profile, a Castigator is unlikely to do much to a heavy vehicle (like a Repulsor or Tank Commander) with average damage being 7.11 wounds caused. If you enhance the cannon, then you get 10.667 average wounds, a healthy increase that makes it not too far out of averages to one shot a Tank Commander, and welp, if you go full bore and throw in trail of destruction, now you are up to 14.22 wounds caused, enough to kill a Tank Commander or severely cripple a Repulsor chassis. While resource intensive, this gives you a lot of ranged threat on a model that also has respectable melee output against a variety of targets. If you want to just rocket the Castigator forward, boosting for Speed makes the first turn charge quite easy, and if you do manage to get the extra movement from say Dreadblading Demonic Vigor, you can actually realistically get 2 different Knights into the front lines on turn 1 as an 18” movement, +1 to charge Castigator doesn’t need Full Tilt to advance and charge if your opponent deploys on the line. Even if you are just rolling randomly to only take the 1 mortal wound, any of the boosts helps you, so you can let the Dark Gods decide how you want to use the Castigator that turn.
Dreadblading is of course a good idea here unless you are desperate for one of the Ambition only relics. Daemonic Vigor is an outstanding choice as the Castigator directly benefits from any of the possibilities. Path to Glory can also be helpful if you are facing a lot of characters, particularly melee ones as the Castigator can become a great character killer. If you are planning to be a bit cagey and not commit the Castigator early, Galvanized Hull is good for ignoring -1 AP weaponry. In terms of relics, well, it depends on how you want to run the Castigator. The Helm of Warpsight makes the Castigator a flyer-killer, but other shooting platforms probably benefit more. Khornate Target is outstanding if you are sending the Castigator at elite infantry like Custodes or Terminators where you can force them to save on 6s rather than a 4++ (or 3++), and each failed save is a dead model. If going against hordes, particularly if Iconoclast with Vow of Carnage, having Galvanized Hull and the Nurgle Plate makes the Castigator a ruthless killer against low value melee units. Really, the Castigator is a versatile platform that can do a lot of work depending on how you build it.
Because it is so cheap, if you just want a Knight to act as a major threat, a Castigator and 2 Moirax Wardogs with Lightning Locks is a cheap (for Knights) detachment that gets you a whole lot of S6 shooting plus the potential melee threat of the Castigator, all with plenty of points for whatever else your chaotic heart desires. A Castigator also pairs well with 2 Double-Thermal Despoilers as this nets you 6 CPs, a lot of T8 wounds, and a lot of ranged threat with some melee prowess to boot, all while having enough points left over for a healthy battalion of something else. You can also go real crazy and just take 3 of them, which may not be ideal, but it would look heckin’ cool on the table.
So why isn’t this Knight dominating the meta? Well, that’s more to do with Knights than anything else. Despite all its tricks and angles, it is still a Knight, meaning it can be move blocked easily, it can’t go into ruins, and it can’t traverse the board at will. A canny opponent can keep the Castigator from doing what it needs to do. The Castigator also doesn’t help with the mirror match as it is ill-suited to taking on other Knights, so in those matchups, it isn’t pulling weight the way other Knights would. It also doesn’t have access to any out of Line of Sight shooting, so infantry can easily hide from it. Since this game is so lethal at range, you also have to worry about being alpha-struck off the board on Turn 1. As it is a split role, it doesn’t offer the amazing, overpowering offensive ability in either shooting or assault, and sometimes that’s what you need more than anything. Lastly, it can be a CP intensive model as it really shines with Trail of Destruction, Full Tilt, and Vows, so it is going to eat up a lot of precious CP that Knights aren’t ideal at generating on their own. All that said, the Castigator, particularly for its price point, is one of the best options that Chaos Knights have.
90/100 – A competitive list built around Chaos Knights should always consider the Castigator. It has so much flexibility for such a low cost that it should be one of the first Knights that you consider. Thanks as always for reading, and if you went to SoCal, I hope you had a blast. I sure did. I’ll see you all next Sunday, and hey, TFG Radio is doing a contest, so maybe give it a listen, try to win some cool stuff.
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