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I have read on alot of forums that knights are weaker in the 8th edition, looking at them the only reason for this would be the steadfast rule that makes it harder to break units.
Is this the main reason they seem weaker or am I missing something else?
That is exactly right.
Before Steadfast, a unit of Knights could crash into a unit in hopes to break it with a low leadership test after combat. Now, Knights crash in, do big damage, but with Steadfast, the unit's leadership stays the same (and they'll usually get their leadership, just because) then, the Knights are tar-pitted up against a big unit IF they win the first round, which they shouldn't based on the unit getting attacks back and rank bonuses.
The best way to use knights is hammering flanks anyway, but crashing in headfirst used to be possible. Not anymore.
The good thing about High Elves, is that they are extremely fast, so our knights can still be useful, but only in assisting another unit by attacking the flanks in tandem.
Or, you could throw a Prince or Noble in with some Silver Helms and kit him out to kill. That still seems to work quite well with very good assisting units.
Here's a good thread on this kind of army, if you're interested:
Cavalry Prince Blog
Fantasy: High Elves 7000pts / Warriors of Chaos 6000pts. 40k: Eldar 5000pts / Chaos Marines 2500pts.
Also the adjustment in breaking ranks from taking US5 (3 cav models) to 2 complete ranks (10 cavalry models) means that even as flankers they are relatively ineffective, points wise at least.
The stat lines are still solid however, and with a bit of luck the adjustments to the rules will allow Silver helms to be moved back to core which makes a bit more sense (to me at least).
As well as this the effective charge range of infantry relative to cavalry was shifted, with DP charge onlybeing 5" or so more roughly
Another reason to down the cavalry is the fact that none of this was taken into account in their points values, especially in the case of High Elves with their 7th edition book.
Cavalry written in 7th edition are priced with the idea that they are going to charge in (usually getting the charge on virtue of being much faster than their infantry targets) go first because they charged (another 7th ed rule) destroy the front rank of enemy troops, and be free of any return strikes. Their goal in combat was to cause enough wounds to negate the enemy rank bonus, and then add enough salt to crack the unit's leadership and route them. Add their fast movement to the pursuit roll, and cavalry become an absolute powerhouse on the table.
7th edition games used Cavalry like airsupport in WW2. If there were enough units of cavalry present on each side, you wound up with these swirling dogfights across the table, where infantry were left to fight amongst themselves as terrain at best, and targets of opportunity at the very worst.
In 8th edition, the cavalry in 7th edition books are still paying for this massive potential, but they've had most of those cool effects stripped away. So now what we're left with is a very overpriced model, who is usually hardly more defended than their infantry counterparts. Add in that these poor knights are now faced with guaranteed attacks back, and the game has become a very hostile environment.
It might also be worth mentioning that High Elf cavalry were especially hard hit by the cavalry nerf.
First of all, we are an elite army, and our cavalry point costs are generally higher than that of other armies. Other armies don't have as high point costs on their other units as well, so they may get away with spending some points to create cavalry units that are actually useful.
Secondly, our knights have (had) no other role, generally speaking, than charging a flank or rear to try and break the enemy, while other cavalry might be able to survive head on charges, like Chaos Knights, actually have fire power, like Dark Riders or the Empire pistol knights, their names eludes me at the moment.
Thirdly, many armies have, or at least some of them, have cavalry units as core choices. This could encourage players to build armies around a couple of cavalry units, but in our case, we have to spend points on our core units, and any cavalry units have to compete against our essential, expensive elite infantry.
This wasn't supposed to be a rant, oh well...
5000p. High Elves
Ive just charged 5 Silver helms and a Noble into 15 Black Orcs, they killed one and all the Silverhelms got wiped out.
Great weapons really hurt knights makes mince meat of their armour
Ouch, rubber lances and paper armour, they really didnt prepare well. Similar things happens to my knights often.
Yet another reason is that charging is no longer as important as it was. In the last edition, cavalry would get to charge, strike first, and the enemy would not be able to strike back as long as the cavalry killed enough of them. High Elves get to strike fist anyway, but the point still stands. Cavalry is good at getting that charge in, and that was great when it mattered.
Warhammer Fantasy: Warriors of Chaos, High Elves
Warhammer 40k: Eldar, Space Marines, Orks