I face this same problem Berzul, and am curious what units people use to tackle the big boys that aren't big boys themselves. I have a few games in my escalation league coming up where I know I will face Knights. I've built a list using 5 inceptors dropping in with a Master and LT with jump packs. (I have no Primaris other than the Inceptors...). I run a RW list primarily, and this was as far as I was willing to push using models without bikes (other than my battalion scouts). My alternative list adds 2 HB/AC speeders with a HB/TML speeder in place of the Inceptors. I run Sammy and Talonmaster with a Dark Shroud, 6BK's, 2 bike squads of 5 with 2 Melta guns each in my standard list, so hoping the extra volume will be enough to get him down to a lower stat line. I also run a Libby on a bike for aversion. Maybe my 2 Dark Talons with their vortex cannons and hurricanes can plink some wounds off too. Though the hurricanes are usually used on infantry first that aren't in cover.
Alternatives would be the Hellblasters in force with Azrael, overcharging and WotDA the heck out of them!! Volumes of 3 dmg weapons trying to break through that Invul Save!!
First of all, I feel your pain. I’m really sorry. Fighting against knights is a deeply frustrating experience, in general, but especially for a Space Marine army. I don’t know if we’re the worst against them, but we are certainly low on the scale (except blood angels, sometimes, with the right support, etc). I learned a lot of nasty, unpleasant lessons about how to best deal with knights last year. This is all before chapter approved and vigilus, so some of the below will be easier now, especially for the Ravenwing.
The above advice (volume of plasma fire) is the only thing that's really worked for me. It doesn’t kill a knight, but it can hurt it enough to bracket it (assuming they aren’t using the house trait that lets them ignore being bracketed). And actually make it possible to take the thing down before it kills enough of your stuff to functionally win the game. Volume of fire is the only way to beat them outside of close combat (which we functionally can't do in a way that's at all effective), and Weapons of the Dark Age means that our massed, 3 damage plasma is the best bet because it's so reliable. The same trick works with a mob of black knights. The trick with both is getting them into range. The other way there is with plasma inceptors. I (thankfully) haven't had to deal with one since chapter approved and vigilus dropped. Black Knights would be able to hit on 2's after Sammael uses signal the attack, and could roll 1's so without overheating.
All three sources of plasma death bombs have weaknesses.
1. All of them need character and other kinds of support, some more than others. It's usually the expensive kind.
First of all, all of them need a darkshroud right next to them.
For the Hellblaster blob, they need Azrael, a lieutenant, and a company ancient. An apothecary can also help.
The Ravenwing Black Knight bomb needs Sammael and a Talonmaster. I haven't found the Apothecary to be worth his enormous expense, unfortunately.
The Inceptors need to drop with a Jump master, bare minimum, and you want a lieutenant, too, I think.
2. They all have issues with range.
The hellblasters can shoot from 30, but really need to get to rapid fire to get enough volume of fire to put some hurt on it. They have to footslog it, and because of this I eventually decided that one squad of hellblasters isn't really enough, because enough of one will die getting to range to lose the massed shots necessary. Even with Azrael and a darkshroud, they're still T4.
The Black Knights have the standard Black Knight issue: they move 20' (I am assuming you are using the speed of the raven on them, which you definitely should if you bring a giant 8-10 bike squad) and can only shoot 18'. You're going to have trouble getting them into range consistently before they all die, especially with good screening by your opponent. They're T5, so are a little more sturdy than hellblasters, but they're still pretty flimsy.
The inceptors can deep strike, which is awesome for protecting them. The 18 inch range, however, means that they might not actually be able to get within shooting range on turn 2 when they drop if the opponent still has enough deepstrike screening left on the board. Do not plan to have any inceptors left alive after one turn of your opponent shooting at them. This is how just goes with inceptors, generally, but especially DA plasma inceptors. They're 6, T5 2 wound models that can pour out damage. They're easy to kill and can ruin your opponent's whole army, focus firing them to oblivion is a fairly simple no brainer. I have had some luck kitting out the master who drops in with them as a smash captain, and sometimes it works if he can get in to finish the knight off. Not totally reliable, though, and it really helps to have someone eat the overwatch. 9” charges aren’t great.
If I had to guess, the best bet is going to be Ravenwing. They got so much stronger with the Vigilus Detachment, and they can still get up the board pretty well. Plus, they have backup from Sammael and a Talonmaster, plus whatever else you bring. I actually use a bunch of anti-tank landspeeders, but there are other options. The two HQs can actually put some hurt on a knight in CC if you give the talonmaster the Monster Slayer of Caliban. Not enough to do a ton, but they might be able to finish one off. Just make sure you use either the eye of the unseen or Mind Worm on the thing somehow. You don’t want to chance the knight interrupting combat against those two.
The other thing to help is to whittle them down a little with mortal wound output. The easiest is a Devastator squad using hellfire shells, the signum, and the cherub gets your 2d3 mortal wounds that hit on 2s and reroll their own 1s from the chapter tactic. Smite is also good here if you can make sure the knight is the closest model, but that’s tricky.
The other approach (and combining both approaches is probably best) is to reduce their effectiveness. I almost always run a jump pack librarian to keep up with my ravenwing blob. Knights are pretty vulnerable to powers like Aversion and Mind Wipe, which are both what I usually take anyway.
Last year I was running The Lion and the Wolf a lot, always with a jump Rune Priest. Tempest’s Wrath is just as great as Aversion, as it’s the same power. Living Lightning is great all around, and helps with mortal wound output. Additionally, the +1 leadership buff from the duel makes it easier to get mind wipe off.
If you can get both powers off, you’ve put the knight at 5+ BS/WS, and 6+ BS at anything in the darkshroud bubble.
The way that you’re “supposed” to be able to kill a knight is in melee. Deathwing Knights are pretty strong at this, but the 9” charge makes them far too unreliable for this to work. If they fail the charge and the reroll (which will happen most of the time), the knight can usually just walk out of effective charge range, and you’re left with 180ish points of deadweight that didn’t show up until turn 2 and may not do anything until turn 3 or 4, if at all.
The real answer is that knights are really frustrating to play against for Space Marines (or for anyone, really). But DA do have a few tricks that most marines don’t, so the best bet is to try to maximize them as best you can.
Other advice I’d add for things that could work post-Vigilus and CA:
- I don’t know what kind of missions you’re playing, but some of the new eternal war missions from chapter approved could actually be pretty bad for knights.
- I don’t know how cheesy the lists your opponents run are, but Sammael and the Talonmaster are actually FANTASTIC at shredding (more or less) an entire guard squad in one round of shooting. Keep him from getting those VPs as best you can and try to win on points.
I hope some of this helped. Good luck, and let us know if any of this works, or if you find an idea we haven’t thought of it. God knows I could use some help beating these things.