The Wraithknight is a massive Wraithbone war-construct, similar to but far more massive than Wraithguard or even the mighty Wraithlord. The left arm can mount either a Wraithcannon or a Scattershield, while the right arm can mount choose from either another Wraithcannon, a Suncannon, or a huge Ghostglaive. It also has shoulder-mounted secondary weapons, consisting of either a pair of Shuriken Cannons, Scatter Lasers, or Starcannons.
They are for the Eldar what the XV-104 Riptide and Dreadknight are to the Tau and Grey Knights, except less stupid in the case of the latter. It is an enormous model and a lethal one, making it a massive fire magnet in a more literal way than usual.
Like other wraithbone constructs, Wraithknights are animated by souls of dead Eldar. Wraithknights are special because they also have pilots; in particular, the pilot should, but not always, be the twin of the soul animating the machine. It seems that the designers must have been watching FAR too much Evangelion (Yes, the whole thing, including the movies) the night before designing the Wraithknight. Conversely, when in Saim-Hann colors as seen on the right and on the model's boxart, it takes its design cues straight from Space Runaway Ideon, down to the bright green spirit stone/Ide gauge.
A historical note: one of the GW staffers who worked on Codex Eldar: Craftworlds spake thusly:
The Wraithknights... well, that was a thing. The Eldar codex was designed at a time when we were told to make things a) exciting and interesting and b) reflect the narrative at all costs. So D-weapons, right? Because that's clearly what the weapons are. So we did it, and we tested them loads, and the points values shot up (I think the Wraithknight was about 450?). Then they went to review, and someone in a position of authority (who has since left) said "I love it, but don't increase any points values."
Because, obviously, that means people need fewer models, see?
So I said "Ok, so I'll put the rules back to how they were," and was told "no, keep them, just don't change the points values".
Makes me wince, just thinking about it.
In Previous editions
While its WS and BS were kind of meh (both 4), it's was a Jump Gargantuan Creature with S 10 and 5 attacks and I 5. It was impressive in defense but not too much: T8, 6 wounds and 3+ armour; also the option of a 5++ blinding anyone at 6" each time it saves this way, plus Feel No Pain.\
Wraithknights liked to get fortune to forever laugh at all small arms fire and turn a one in three chance to successfully invulnerable save to a one in half chance, concealed, and renewed, but sadly could not have their armor saves enhanced. Having said that, at the notoriously high T8 and being classified as a Gargantuan Creature, it was virtually immune to non-anti tank or opposing D-Strength weaponry (for the new kids on the block, if your model's toughness was twice or more than the value of the incoming attack's strength, those attacks straight up could not inflict wounds) and Poison was nearly useless against it. Plonk one on a skyshield and place fortune on it would allow you to sneer at the very concept of dying. Forewarning and Sanctuary used to be options, too.
The Codex Eldar: Craftworlds updated Wraithknights, which became 295-point Jump Gargantuan Creatures (cue outrage from everyone), and the Wraithcannon and Ghostglaive became Strength D. This is in contrast to Imperial Knights which cost 370 or 375 points a model and have only one Strength D weapon (the Reaper Chainsword) at the time. Eldar players celebrated, while everyone else was wondering what the hell GeeDubs was smoking to think that buffing an already overpowered unit further still could possibly be a good idea (- see above). On the bright side, this thing became a LoW, and has stayed there since. So in a Combined Arms Detachment, you would get a maximum of 1 in your list, but in the Craftworld Warhost detachment, you could have up to 12 for each Guardian Battlehost, one of which costs about 500 points base. MOTHER. FUCK.
When 8th Edition dropped, this thing took a huge and deserved (arguably necessary) beating with the nerf bat, both with the system change-up and Index/Codex. Everything can wound everything now, so Bolters and Lasguns and other small arms can finally do something to it if your opponent throws enough of them at it, and split fire is universal meaning your opponent can just point his lascannon holding Marine at it while his boltguns focus on the much squishier infantry. It lost its inherent Feel No Pain and immunity to Poisoned weapons since Gargantuan Creatures are no longer a thing, as well as its ability to deepstrike. Like anything with more than 10 wounds, the Wraithknight also now suffers from a degrading statline that renders it progressively less effective the more damaged it is. In addition, when the Index and original Codex dropped, this set you back over 500 points for the sword and board variant, and it has a very similar statline to an Imperial Knight, which is now cheaper. As of Chapter Approved 2019, GW realized that since it was nerfed it no longer warranted the 500+ point tag, and priced it a bit over 330 points for the Sword and Board variant.
Weapon-wise, the Destroyer rule is kaput as of the end of 7th, no more bypassing Invulnerable Saves with them this edition. The Heavy Wraithcannons are still S16 AP-4 d6 damage and have the assault rule. the Titanic Ghost Glaive gives you only four attacks at S16 AP-4 doing 6 damage each. Unfortunately, by using its titanic wraithbone feet you instead get 12 attacks at is base strength of 8 with AP-2 and d3 damage a piece, which is statistically better against everything other than T9 and above units (essentially, it's only useful against other titans).
The Wraithknight, for all intents and purposes, is still struggling to properly get back on its feet after the shinning it took in 8th edition. While it's still not as expensive as it originally was when 8th first started, it still took another point bump to 325 before weapons are loaded onto it, however has now been lowered to 315, with no point reductions on any such weapons. An indirect buff towards monsters in general now allows the Wraithknight to fire all of its weapons while it's in melee combat, but the likelihood of a surviving, non-Titanic unit just charged by a Wraithknight that will willingly elect to remain in melee combat until your next shooting phase is ludicrously minuscule. Their primary competition, the Imperial Knight, continues to outclass Wraithknights in virtually every non-melee regard and will continue to do so effortlessly unless Wraithknights get an arguably needed tune-up in the 9th Edition codex Eldar will eventually receive.
That's not to say they're useless. Wraithknights are still an extremely deadly force to field in the right circumstances and can perform if properly supported. That said, for the investment needed just to field one (which is now 3 CP for the single LoW slot plus the point cost of the WK), you likely won't be seeing a very compelling reason to take one of them in lieu of a couple Fire Prisms.
Note that while Wraithknights are extremely tough, each army usually has at least one way of beating it. As a general rule, if you're somehow not up against the Iyanden Craftworld, and if you cannot kill it in one shot, you can try and take as many wounds off of it as possible to degrade its statline, making it perform poorly as the battle drags on:
- IG/AM: Lascannon spam out the ass, as well as ratlings to shoot for the mortal wounds. Alternatively, if you're willing to sacrifice the HS slots, Rapier Laser Destroyers, which are lascannons on crack.
- SM/DA: Grav Spam out the ass. Hellfire Rounds still work, just wound on 6s vs 2+. Codex marines with 3 las-preds can take one down in one turn of shooting on average (they damn well better; they cost more and still die to return fire). Alternatively, just drop Guilliman next to a gunline of Hellblasters with the Heavy Incinerators. His re-roll all failed hits and wounds aura combined with the S9 supercharge should do the job nicely.
- Space Wolves: Throw a squad of Wulfen with Thunder Hammer/Storm Shields at it. Seriously. Death Frenzy still works even if the Knight removes a model with a 6 on the destroyer table, and at S10 the Wulfin will lay on the saves. (Assuming the wulfen live long enough to close in).
- Sisters of Battle: Ironically, one of the most underused armies might be best against the Wraithknight in the form of Exorcists. Strength 8 AP 1 at 48" can whittle the Wraithknight down over the course of the game. Granted it's Heavy d6, so probably take an entire gunline of these things. And grab a squad of Dominions armed with Meltas in an Immolator with its own Multi-Melta. Give every Battle Sister squad and their Immolators Meltas as well. MELTAS FOR EVERYONE.
- Chaos Daemons: Daemon Prince of Nurgle with Balesword and either fleshbane reward or iron arm. Skarbrand also works wonders since his Warlord trait is Instant Death, and has Fleshbane attacks at WS10/I10. Alternatively, both Bloodthirsters and Keepers can outpace it in combat, while the Bloodthirster has AP2 and ID and Keeper has Rending. Lord of Change can just pepper it with psychic attacks the entire game too. Wrath of Magnus update: Magnus can kill it with one or two D hits (and everything else caught by the Gaze of Magnus beam), cast ID spell and transform it to the Unnamable Thing or force your own Wraithguard to Destroy it. Did I mention that he needs no line of sight for screwing your Wraithknight? Wraithknight has much less chances to win in melee due to lower WS, I and the lack of EW (Magnus has a force weapon) but look out for a sword-Wraith.
- Death Guard: Throw Mortarion at it. He will eat it for breakfast every single time. Also, did I mention drown it in Mortal wounds from the many ways DG can generate them?
- Khorne Daemonkin: Fling a Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage with Strength D axe at it. Note that if it's a sword-Wraith (for some reason) the Wraith might actually win, striking first and hitting with a D weapon of its own. No longer a thing in 8th Edition.
- Eldar: You already have a WK. If you're still playing 7th edition, just take one of your own. In 8th? They are nowhere as fearsome as before, a squad of Wraithguard will easily drop a Wraithknight to its knees at a fraction of the cost; spend a command point to put them in reserve and drop them right in front of it when the time is right. Dark Reapers are also an excellent choice; their good range and consistent damage can easily chunk a Wraithknight a peg or two down their degrading statline. Support platforms offer cheap access to the standard D-Cannon, which also have the benefit of being able to fire on the Wraithknight out of LoS in relative safety. Fire Prisms, though much more threatened by Wraithcannons than your infantry-based options, can easily burn through a Wraithknight with their Lance profiles, especially if two or three use the Linked Fire stratagem to re-roll hit and wound rolls. Hell, if you're feeling ballsy, a couple Wraithlords with Ghostglaives can run up and shin the damn thing with their S9 melee attacks.
- Dark Eldar: Ally with Eldar and get a Wraithknight of your own or just spam poison shots with Splinter racks for flavour. Only wounding on 6's, but you can stack a lot of them.
- Tau: Kroot/Drone sniper spam out the ass, as even though they wound on 6s those 6s are still AP2. Alternatively Stormsurge D-Missles are quite capable of removing a Wraithknignt in one turn assuming you have the markerlights. These tactics are much less effective if the Wraithknight has the sword and shield, but then again you were going to get absolutely mauled in assault anyway and at max the Wraithknight can kill only one unit per turn (Kroot conga lines work wonders here).
- Tyranids: In 7th Edition? You had the worst options for dealing with it, other than spamming five Flying Hive Tyrants, but who the hell would have those lying around. 8th Edition makes it slightly easier because now you can tie it up in 1 turn with a horde of Kraken Genestealers with Adrenal glands. 80 attacks hitting on 3+ (2+ if next to BroodLord), and 6s to wound not only doing AP-4 wounds, but flat 2 damage as well. Roll 12 sixes and you've killed it in one round. Alternatively, spam mortal wounds at it using Neurothropes, Tyrants, the Broodlord, and Spore Mine launchers. Also, Venom Cannons are no longer complete jokes, and heavy Venom Cannons do d3 damage. If you can throw enough thornback Carnifexes at it, they will eventually knock it down.
- Blood Angels: In 7th edition there was a balls-to-the-wall combo you could do. Bring Mephiston, cast his special power and force (worst case scenario you'll have a 75% of each), you'll be wounding him on 2+ (hit him on 2+ with luck) and inflict instant death (therefore denying the 5+ FNP, which cannot be taken when ID is involved, regardless of T or EW), as a Gargantuan Creature, Wraithknights suffer D3 wounds from Instant death so it will take at least 2 hits. But given that, statistically, you can get 4 wounds (5 with Transfixing gaze) and the Knight only has a 5++ (and only the CC variant, so the other is dead meat too), it's not that hard. Sure, you need luck to pull this maneuver but by the emperor you'll be brofisted by everyone should this happen. 8th Edition? Throw Smash Captain Slamguinius at it, seriously.
- Chaos Space Marines: Lascannon spam out the ass from Obliterators, Havocs, and Predators. New supplement books update the Tzeentch discipline giving your one power to insta-kill Wraithknight and replacing with The Unspeakable One and another one to kill with your opponent's distortion weapons. Traitor Legions supplement allows you to grab some Warpsmith-centered formations which make your Oblits and Daemon Engines to produce more Dakka.
- Necrons: Destroyer spam out the ass to get past armor saves. Heavy Destroyers will work better due to their higher strength weapons. The nightbringer or void Dragon will also do wonders, with the former's scythe going straight through all of the wraithknight's saves, and the later's damage bonus to vehicles will make good work of the wraithknight.
- Orks: Tankbustas out the ass, Mek Guns, Lootas, Shokk Attack Guns... let's face it, you're going to need guns. All the guns. Especially since this thing will probably instantly vaporize your transports and can, for the most part, easily keep its distance from your slower melee units. All Mobs must have as many Rokkit Launchas as they can. FIRE EVERYTHING and drown it in shots. If you actually manage to get your clutch melee units into contact with this thing you're probably some kind of god damned genius.
- Harlequins: see the harlequin tactics for full info but solitaires are the ultimate knight/riptide/wraith knight etc. killers, because as they flail around hitting them on fives the solitaire auto wounds/glances on a 6 to hit, which with 8-12 attacks this can happen pretty reliably.
- Skitarii: 20 Secutarii Peltasts using flechettes, coupled with Misfortune, will kill it in a single volley, no questions asked. Rad carbines also work wonders, auto-wounding on 6's and causing 2 wounds each time. Couple with misfortune to taste.
- Genestealer Cults: Surprisingly one of the better armies for confronting a Wraith Knight. Almost everyone in your army has Rending in Close Combat (6s are auto-wounds regardless of toughness at AP2), and the Cult Ambush rule allows you to potentially lock it down turn 1. Be warned, you will face massive casualties, even if you luck out with the rends. This goes double if the Wraithknight took the Suncannon/Shield or the Sword-and-board cobmo, since it will have another line of defense in the form of invulnerable saves. In 8th edition you now have Aberrants and the Abominant character, treat WraithKnights like you do Imperial Knights and stack all the strength modifiers you need to kill it.
- Grey Knights: 8th edition? Mortal wound spam like your life depends on it...which it does. Then again nearly everything you have access to does multiple wounds and possesses reliable AP for what they normally have access to. Or throw Dreadknights at the damn thing till its paste. 7th edition on the other hand you have more options. Powers allow for some nasty fun, not to mention sanctic giving you access to your own D strength attack. Everything, even your Dreadknights have force available. Its possible to kill one with a ten man squad of purifiers armed with falchions. Powered up with hammer hand and force. The match is unforgiving, but possible. If anything 8th was more in the WRs favor in this case.
Or you can just ignore that handicap and kill the real enemy units. It's an overpriced cousin of Imperial knights, but it lacks the absurdly overpowered houses, has no particularly relevant stratagems, can't take relics or warlord traits and has very limited access to healing support. In a tragic twist of fate, even Spiritseers struggle to support them, as the only psychic powers that can directly affect Wraithknights anymore are the Guide and Fortune powers from the Farseer's runes of fate. In a sense it's a knight that is weaker and more expensive at the same time. If your opponent added it to their army list consider getting a couple hundred points courtesy handicap presented to you.
If anyone thought that there cannot be anything more OP than a Eldar Wraithknight, then these people were wrong.
Introduced by Forge World, the Skathach Wraithknights are even rarer than the vanilla Wraithknights, and equally more powerful as it is rare, the Skathach were designed to travel the Webway and exterminate everyone and everything that isn't Eldar and who has the balls to trespass into the never-ending pathways.
Skathach Wraithknights are powerful ranged units thanks to their weapons of choices. They can either choose Deathshroud Cannons or Inferno Lances. The first is probably the largest Monofilament Weapon in the Eldar arsenal that is designed to leave gore and carnage whenever a Skathach shoots, while the latter is the evolution of Fire Dragon Fusion Guns and Lances but much more devastating due to their sizes. Both weapons are always mounted on these Wraith-Constructs in pairs for maximum efficiency.
Apart of weapons, the Skathach are additionally equipped with Webway Shunt Generators. Very complex pieces of Eldar technology that allow them to enter and exit the Webway at will.
Much like the original variant, the crunch in 8th edition knee-capped these guys severely. They have two advantages over a regular Wraithknight; they can still teleport on and off the tabletop as you need and they can more freely mix and match their main weapon loadouts as you see fit. That's about where the good news ends, because at 480 points minimum, they are exorbitantly priced for the amount of firepower they bring. Their Deathshroud cannons did not take kindly to the loss of templates; the dispersed profile only hitting a maximum of 6 models if the dice gods blessed your rolls accordingly. The focused profile is slightly better due to it automatically hitting with 2d6 shots, but the reduced range, strength, AP and damage make the change negligible against anything with a half-decent save. The Inferno Lances made out better in the new edition, but they spike your Wraithknight to a staggering 540 points. Considering the inferno lances share the same strength, damage and AP as a regular fusion gun, it becomes much less appealing when you consider how many Fire Dragons and Wave Serpents you could buy for the same price. They are still quite big and scary looking however, and their stomp attacks will thoroughly ruin the day of any infantry unlucky enough not to be carrying storm shields.