Warhammer 40,000 Gladius Relics of War – Machine Crusade Strategy Guide and Tips

Do you want a Knight Crusader by turn 70? Then by the Omnissiah, this guide is for you.

This is my Machine Crusade Strategy for the Adeptus Mechanicus with step-by-step instructions. Enjoy!

Strategy Overview

Are you tired of your Knight Crusaders arriving to battle when the game is already won? Do you want to watch your titans utterly demolish mid-game armies? In this guide. the disciples of the machine spirit will teach you how.

Skip to the Build Order section if you just want the step-by-step play.

If you are like me, the main reason you play the Adeptus Mechanicus is for the love of the Knight Crusaders. But they often arrive too late to be game-changing, especially if you already have several Skorpius Disintegrators on the field. I developed this build order with the sole goal of getting my Knight Crusaders out as fast as possible. Using this method, you can consistently produce your first titan by turn 70 and up to five by turn 100. That should be enough to crush any resistance you may encounter.

If you intend to use this strategy in PvP, be warned that you will be vulnerable to early-game rushes. All the way up to turn 50 you will be on the defense, just trying to survive. The same applies to solo or coop games against the AI in impossible difficulty. But after turn 50 you will be safe and guaranteed to win if you use your first titan strategically. Once I was mid-game attacked by an overwhelming Tyranid force and lost my capital city, but still won in the end. My first Titan left the manufactorum of the second city just in time, pushed them back, and incinerated their brood hives one by one. This worked because my Knight Crusader was supported by Kataphron destroyers and the right mix of support heroes. Let’s get into it.

Army Composition

Our two core units for this strategy will be the Kataphron Destroyer and the Knight Crusader. All other units will support these two, and by the Omnissiah, they will teach those heretics in their path to fear the wrath of the machine spirit.

Infantry: Kataphron Destroyers, Skitarii Vanguards

Armor: Knight Crusader

Support: Tech-Priest Manipulus, Skitarii Marshal, Cybernetica Datasmith, Tech-Priest Dominus

Scouts: Ironstrider Ballistarius, Fulgurite Electro-Priests,

Air: Archaeopter Stratoraptor (optional)

Early Game (Turn 1-39):

  • 2x Skitarii Vanguards
  • 1-2x Fulgurite Electro-Priests
  • 1x Datasmith Cybernetica


Mid-Game (Turn 40-69):

  • 2x Skitarii Vanguards
  • 2x Kataphron Destroyers
  • 2x Fulgurite Electro-Priests
  • 1x Datasmith Cybernetica
  • 1x Tech-Priest Manipulus

Beginning of the Machine Crusade:

Late-Game (70+)

  • 3+ Kataphron Destroyers
  • 3+ Knight Crusaders
  • 1x Skitarii Marshal
  • 1x Tech-Priest Dominus
  • 2+ Datasmith Cybernetica
  • 1x Tech-Priest Manipulus
  • 2-3x Ironstrider Ballistarius

Unit Roster:

Skitarii Vanguards: These will be our core unit for the first 50 turns. After that they are replaced by the Kataphron Destroyers. If you can help it, don’t build any additional vanguards and just rely on the two starting ones.

Kataphron Destroyers: These mechanized cyborgs are possibly the strongest infantry unit in the game. That is, if they are properly supported. Use these as your main line unit. They are critical to our strategy and are our hammer and the Knight Crusaders our anvil. With the right buffs, they will do more damage than our titans.

Knight Crusader: Our cybernetic implants spark with joy at their sight. Heavily armed and armored, they will crush our enemies and incinerate all resistance. Yes, they can be vulnerable to enemy behemoths like the T’au Stormsurge, but the key to our strategy is to field these in the late mid-game before our opponents get even close to having their own tier 9 or 10 units.

Tech-Priest Manipulus: First hero you should build. Heals all your other units. Keep him safe. Max out the heal and armor penetration skills before stun. Use stun only in emergencies (like a Tyranid mid-game push).

Skitarii Marshal: I usually don’t build him until turn 70 or after. Use him in combination with 2-3 Kataphron Destroyers to get their damage against cities in the 50+ range (combine his buffs with the Canticle spells).

Cybernetica Datasmith: Basic healer unit that should augment your Tech-Priests.

Ironstrider Ballistarius: I use these as scouts and to hunt down fleeing enemies. I tend to build these in between my Knight Crusaders and only after the first titan is on the field.

Fulgurite Electro-Priests: Early game scouts. Use them to augment your vanguards and help defend your cities until the Kataphron Destroyers arrive. Their main value is in keeping you alive for the first 50 turns. Yes, these can be skipped, but only if you are certain your opponent will not try to rush you. Playing against Very Hard AI or below I sometimes skip building them.

Archaeopter Stratoraptor: They fill a similar role as the Ironstriders. Scouting and hunting down injured enemies. In combination with your titans twin-linked flak (tier 10 research) they become useful against enemy flyers. You may not need them at all. Most opponents can be crushed with your Kataphrons and Crusaders before there is a need for building any air units.

First City Placement

This strategy works best if you found your first city next to a Ruins of Vaul outpost. Use your Skitarii to explore the starting area. It is worth spending the first 2-3 turns moving your Datasmith to such an outpost if you did not start next to one. Picking a different starting outpost is fine but will delay your first Knight Crusader by about 10 turns.

Here we are spending an extra turn to found our first city next to the Ruins of Vaul.

Different starting locations require slightly different build orders. The one I provide in the next section is based on a volcanic start next to a Ruins of Vaul outpost. Desert/savanna/grasslands/tundra will vary slightly, but not much. Arctic can give you a huge bonus to research but slows your early game economy.

Ruins of Vaul + consistent Power Surge on research tile: Expect to complete the Knight Crusader tech at turn 63 and produce your first titan on turn 70 (following my build order).

Arctic + Ruins of Vaul + Power Surge: You can complete the Knight Crusader tech as early as turn 54 with this starting setup. However, because you will lack ore in this terrain it still took me until turn 70 to get the first Knight Crusader finished. You will want to build an ore mine early and skip out on the fourth librarium if you start in the arctic. I think it is possible to get a knight out around turn 60 with this setup but I would have to optimize my build order just for this rare setup.

If you are fighting against Orks or Tyranids I recommend a food producing outpost and heavy infantry focus to survive their early game rushes. Your first titan will then arrive around turn 90 but at least you are still alive. Your economy will be superior to theirs at that point and there is little they can do about 3-5 Knight Crusaders combined with your heavy infantry.

Build Order

Turn 1: Found your capital city next to a Ruins of Vaul outpost.

  • Build: Expand tile on a 20% research hex.
  • Research pick: Thermo-Exchange Efficiency

Comments: I know it is tempting to build a Librarium right away, but the Adeptus Mechanicus will benefit a lot more from having a dedicated hex for your libraries. We will need the HQ building slots for the sub-cloister. Do not use your power surge yet. This first city will become your research and hero center and later on a resource hub. Our first research should only take 5 turns because of the Ruins of Vaul bonus.

Turn 3:

  • Build: Librarium Omnis on the new tile.

Turn 6:

  • Research pick: Manufactorum Cybernetica

Comment: Use your starting vanguards to scout for a suitable second city location. You will want food (20%+ bonus) for this site. Capture 2-3 outposts but don’t put your vanguards at risk. We won’t be building more units anytime soon.

Turn 7:

  • Build: Expand tile to the Ruins of Vaul outpost, adding the 20% bonus to your city.

Turn 8:

  • Power Surge: Use on the research tile. It will go into effect next turn, in combination with your newly acquired 20% bonus.

Turn 9:

  • Build: Second Librarium Omnis on research tile.

Research pick: Sub-Cloister.

Turn 12: We should now have 34 research (Two librariums, power surge, +20% from outpost)

  • Build: Sub-Cloister on HQ hex.
  • Research pick: Tech-Priest Manipulus

Comment: You can also dedicate a new tile for the sub-cloister, but that will add two turns to your first Knight Crusader. This is only worth it if you expect a very long game. such as battling Impossible AIs. Building it on the HQ hex works fine and does not incur a significant malus.

Turn 14:

  • Research pick: Adjacency Integration.
  • Power Surge: Use on the research tile.

Turn 18:

  • Build: Third Librarium on research tile.
  • Research pick: Lucian Specialization.
  • Recruit: Cybernetica Datasmith.

Turn 21:

  • Research pick: Dogma Metalica.
  • Power Surge: Use on the research tile.
  • Turn 22: We should now have 50 research.
  • Build: Expand to new tile with an ore bonus.

Turn 24:

  • Build: (First City) Ore mine on the new tile.
  • Research pick: Stygian Enlightenment.

Comment: Your Datasmith should be done. Adjust your rally point to the direction you want to found your second city, that should save a turn. Secure the area with your vanguards and move your datasmith to the location.

Turn 26: Found your second city.

  • Build: (Second City) In your newly founded city, build a Genetor Caropraedium on your HQ hex.

Comment: This may take you a few turns longer but should be done by turn 30 at the very latest. Even with the loyalty malus, we should now have 52 research. Try not to found it on rocks as we will want to have four building slots.

Major Milestone: Second City (this will become our Titan Forge)

Turn 27:

  • Research pick: Grainan Protocols.
  • Power Surge: Use on the research tile.
  • Recruit: Fulgurite Electro-Priests.

Turn 28:

  • Build: (First City) Expand towards a tile with an energy bonus (if available).

Turn 29:

  • Research pick: Hammer of Wrath.

Turn 30:

  • Build: (First City) Energy building on the new tile.

Turn 32:

  • Build: (Second City) Expand tile to a food bonus hex (or at least food neutral).

Comment: Your barracks (Genetor Caropraedium) should be done now. Only if you really need to, recruit a new Skitarii Vanguard unit. Ideally you can save the 15 food for the Tech-Priest in a few turns.

Turn 33:

  • Research pick: Benediction of Omniscience.
  • Power Surge: Skip if you need to save influence for the Tech-Priest.

Turn 34:

  • Build: (First City) 4th Librarium.
  • Build: (Second City) Food building on the new tile.
  • Recruit: (First City) Tech-Priest Manipulus

Turn 36:

  • Power Surge: On research tile.

Turn 37:

  • Build: (Second City) 2nd Genetor Caropraedium in HQ hex.
  • Research pick: Hub Fab.

Comment: We are going back a few tiers to grab Hub Fab now that we need it in our capital. Should only take 1 turn with our current research.

Turn 38:

  • Research pick: Kataphron Destroyers.

Turn 39:

  • Build: (First City) Hub Fab on HQ hex.

Turn 42:

  • Research pick: Reclamation Protocols.
  • Recruit: (First City) 2nd Fulgurite Electro-Priests.
  • Recruit: (Second City) Kataphron Destroyers.

Comment: Your Tech-Priest should be done. Since it is turn 40, he should be level 2. Give him the heal and armor penetration skills. Only spent a point on stun if you are being overrun in a mid-game push. You should still have your two vanguards and soon two Electro-Priests and your first Kataphrons. Together with your Tech-Priest serving as healer, this small force should be able to defend your cities against all but the most skilled opponents. Against AI you should have no trouble even on Very Hard or above. Remember, our goal right now is survival until our Titan arrives. Only 30 more turns to go. You can pick a different tech as needed, but I like the pop growth one to help feed my economy in the late game. Together with our new Hub Fab in the capital this is a nice combo.

Turn 43:

  • Build: (Second City) 2nd food building in the food tile.

Turn 47:

  • Build: (First City) Expand to new tile (for our loyalty building, so resource bonuses don’t matter).
  • Build: (Second City) Expand to new tile (for our loyalty building, so resource bonuses don’t matter).
  • Research pick: Progenitor Cradle.

Turn 49:

  • Build: (First City) Progenitor Cradle in the new tile.
  • Build: (Second City) Progenitor Cradle in the new tile.
  • Research pick: Solar Reflectors.

Turn 50:

  • Recruit: (Second City) 2nd Kataphron Destroyers.

Comment: Our forces stand ready to defend and await the arrival of the Knight Crusader for our Titan Assault. Now, I tend to skirmish on my borders to gain my Tech-Priest some experience but do so at your own risk. I once went and destroyed a nearby enemy city with this current army composition (2 vanguards, 2 kataphrons, 2 electro-priests + 1 manipulus) with relative ease, just for some Tyranids to swoop in from the other side of the map and destroy my capital. Luckily, since we will be building our Knight Crusader in our second city, we can still win even if that happens.

Turn 53:

  • Build: (Second City) Expand to new tile for ore (this will be for our manufactorum).
  • Research pick: Scriptorium Ordinates (we want this for our Titans).

Turn 54:

  • Power Surge: On our food field in the second city. We are pushing our food and energy upkeep to their limits right now.

Turn 55:

  • Build: (First City) Expand to new tile for energy (energy neutral or better).
  • Build: (Second City) Build a Manufactorum Cybernetica on the new tile.

Turn 58:

  • Build: (First City) Energy building on the new tile.
  • Research pick: Knight Crusaders

Comment: With our current research (58) this should take five turns to finish. Our manufactorum is being built at the same time. You could also recruit a third Kataphron, but I would only do so if you lost any as we can’t afford the food upkeep right now.

Turn 61:

  • Build: (Second City) Build a second Manufactorum Cybernetica on the same tile.
  • Power Surge: On the Manufactorum (if you want to save a turn on the titan)

Turn 63:

  • Build: (First City) 2nd Progenitor Cradle in the same tile as the first.
  • Build: (Second City) Reduce your population in the barracks (Genetor Caropraedium) by one as we should be at 7 pop required now. This will save another turn for the titan.
  • Research pick: Skitarii Marshal.
  • Recruit: (First City) Datasmith
  • Recruit: (Second City) Crusader Knight (at last!)

Turn 70: Our first titan has arrived. Following this guide, you should have enough ore left to build the second one right away. Our assault force is ready. For the Omnissiah!

Titan Assault

We now have 2 Kataphron Destroyers, 2 Skitarii Vanguards, 2 Electro-Priests, a Tech-Priest Manipulus, and a Knight Crusader. With this assault force you should be able to fight your way to the nearest enemy city and crush the enemies of the Omnissiah.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to expand our economy and will found a third city for extra resources. Doing so, we should have 5 Knight Crusaders with supporting Kataphrons and Ironstriders plus heroes on the field by turn 100.

How to use this strategy: Scout with your Ironstriders first. Once you find an enemy city, move in with your Anvil Force, vanquish units, then move in your Hammer force and destroy it. Follow up with your support units and heal. Repeat. We want to destroy our opponent’s economy with our first titan assault or at least seriously damage it. It is a similar idea to a Tyranid mid-game push, just with a small force of late-game units. Ideally before the enemy has theirs on the field.

Anvil Force: Group one to three Knight Crusaders with a Tech-Priest Dominus. They will benefit from your heroes buffs to vehicles. In addition to the Canticles of the Omnissiah buffs, this will allow you to soak up enemy overwatch attacks with your titans and then vanquish enemy heavy vehicles.

Hammer Force: Group two to three Kataphron Destroyers with your Skitarii Marshal. This hero gives them incredible buffs. Combine these with the Canticles and you can inflict upwards of 98 damage to a city per turn with a single Kataphron (I did have a damage artifact). On average you should be getting around 50 damage per turn to a city with this setup.

Turn 56: Mid-game skirmish with the Necrons. Kataphron able to destroy Canoptek with one hit.

Turn 74: First two titans defend our cities.

Turn 86: Kataphron supported by Skitarii Marshall against heretics.

Turn 100: Kataphron damage output to T’au HQ.

But what about the Skorpius Disintegrators or Dunecrawlers?

There are better strategies for the Adeptus Mechanicus for ranked matching which more often than not involve the Skorpius tank as their main vehicle instead of the Knight Crusader. I simply prefer the titans and therefore base my strategy on them. A Knight Crusader has a greater demoralizing effect on a human player on turn 70 than a Skorpius at 50. This is worth something if you can get your enemy to go on the defensive and allow you to keep pushing your economy to the max for a late-game stand-off. The Adeptus Mechanicus economy can become a behemoth if the adjacency bonuses are maxed. Go for the Skorpius if you want to try and win in the mid-game. For huge maps or impossible AI opponents, I will always prefer the Knight Crusader.

Please post any questions or feedback in the comments and I will get to those. Thank you for reading!

This guide about was written by Arkabanjo. You can visit the original publication from this link. If you have any concern about this guide, please don't hesitate to reach us here.