Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Codex Review: Black Templar Elites

After seeing the limits on our HQ and troop choices, the Elite section is a veritable supermarket of choices.  In actuality, we have five choices.  Only one is chapter specific in its own right, but the options provided for in this section of the codex are actually quite nice. 


To begin with, we will start with perhaps the most obscure choice in the list.  The lowly (read- awesome!) techmarine.  This guy really is an understated and underappreciated unit in a BT list.  He starts out at 70pt. and comes with a bolter, power weapon, signum, auspex, crusader seals, and a servo-arm (counts as a powerfist).  He has generic marine stats with the exception that he has two wounds and 2 attacks base. 

That is fairly nice to begin with, but let's take a look at what else makes this guy nice. He counts as an IC, so can join a squad which is a good thing as he can provide a ton of combat punch. Also, for +35pt. he can be given a full servo harness.  I totally recommend this. With the full harness, he gets artificer armor (2+ save), an extra servo-arm (granting another powerfist attack), a TL plasma pistol, and a flamer.  Both of the weapons can be fired, or he can fire one and a handheld weapon. So, with a full servo harness, bolter and power weapon, he has 2 power weapon attacks at I4 (3 on the charge) and 2 powerfist attacks.  Furthermore, our techmarine friend can choose equipment from the armory.  This means he has access to terminator honors (+1 attack) and other goodies.  I generally take my techmarine with the following setup:

techmarine- full servo harness, power weapon, storm shield, terminator honors- 135pt. 

This creates a fairly expensive elite choice, but he gets 3 attacks base (4 on the charge) and two powerfist attacks.  He can shoot both his flamer and TL plasma pistol before assaulting into combat.  He has a 2+/3++ save and can join a crusader squad to make them really mean. 

But wait there's more!  His "blessing of the omnissiah" rule allows him to repair damaged vehicles (not wrecked or exploded) on a 6 and he can reroll that dice roll if he has a full harness. 

On top of this, the techmarine can take a retinue of up to 4 servitors which include gun servitors, combat servitors, or technical servitors.  Gun servitors can take a multi-melta, heavy bolter, or plasma cannon (though only a single plasma cannon can be taken in a single retinue).  Combat servitors are equipped with a powerfist.  Technical servitors add +1 per servitor to the dice roll needed to repair vehicles.

Personally, I don't take the servitors as I like to put my techy in a crusader squad to buff them and he can't have a retinue and join a squad.  In the end, a techmarine is a very killy and fairly stout IC model that can be taken to lead a squad of crusaders in your army.  I play my techmarine when I play my MSU Templars as he plays like a third HQ choice and buffs up one of my razorback squads to make up for the deficit in models.

Sword Brethren

This is your crusader squad on steroids.  In reality, if the BT codex were upgraded, I would like to see this unit become the troop choice setup and a better unit become Sword Brethren.  Sword Brethren have the same stats as crusader initiates.  They become a bit nicer than crusaders in that they have more weapons options,  access to terminator honors, and special skills. 

Like crusaders we can give one model a heavy weapon and one model a special weapon.  Sword brethren have access to the same weapons as crusaders with the exception that in the heavy weapon selection along with a powerfist, one model can have a pair of lightning claws.  The pistol/power weapon option was then moved to the special weapon slot, meaning that this unit can really pack a solid close combat punch if needed.  As veterans, sword brethren also have access to terminators honors granting them +1A.  In addition, if a model has TH, they can take a storm shield for 10pt.  So, again, this unit can be tooled up to dish out and take pain if needed. 

The final thing that allows sword brethren to stand out are there special skills. These skills apply to the terminator sword brethren as well.  PA sword brethren must add one of these skills: furious charge, counter-attack, or infiltrate (but cannot take a vehicle option if they do infiltrate).  Again this helps to focus them on getting into the enemy lines and doing damage.  I personally would take furious charge.

Sword brethren can take a rhino or a razorback as transports.  I think rhinos are your most cost effective method since the unit is already so expensive.  Adding a 70-90pt. transport for a single gun isn't going to be a good use of your points. 

There are two basic variations that I seen commonly used with sword brethren: the alpha strike melta squad and the hitty squad. 

The alpha strike melta squad is simply a 5 man squad that takes a multi-melta, meltagun, and the infiltrate skill.  This allows them to be up close turn 1 to fire melta shots into enemy AV.  This rings in at 115pt for 5 models. 

The fighty squad rings in at significantly more, but again is probably more survivable than your typical crusader squad due to the ability to have furious charge and storm shields.  A squad of 5 with terminator honors, a powerfist, power weapon, and 2 storm shields riding in a rhino with EA and smoke totals out at 328 pt.  Again, if you get to this number of points, it is almost always better to take terminators.  However, if you are into MSU power armor units, this one will mess things up well. 

Overall, I feel that sword brethren are outperformed in combat potential by assault terminators and in cost efficiency by crusader squads, so unfortunately, these guys rarely make the cut.

Sword Brethren Terminators

These are your run-of-the-mill tactical terminators. They differ from other codexes in that each squad, regardless of number, has access to two heavy weapons: assault cannons, heavy flamers, or cyclone missile launchers.  That is wonderful as you don't have to invest 10 models worth of points to get the two weapons out of one slot.  This also makes sword brethren terminators tempting in a Templar MSU missile spam setup.  The terminators can also take chainfists on any number of models.

Like other sword brethren models, these terminators have access special skills.  They can add the furious charge or tank hunters rules.  These guys are ideally setup to be tank hunters.  The assault cannons and cyclone missile launchers allow them to take out most AV with ease when combined with the +1 to pen rolls.  That allows for the option to have essentially 8 S7 rending shots or 4 S9 missile shots when firing either weapon respectively at armor.  This is nice output for a 5 man squad.  They can provide a significant boost to your ranged attack, but there is one caveat, kill'em all. Yep, they have to pass that stupid leadership test at -1LD to shoot at a target of their choice.  So, if you want to take these guys, make sure you have a marshal or pray that their leadership 9(8) passes more often than not or they lose a lot of potential. 

You can transport terminators in a land raider crusader, but since they aren't assault specialists, I think your best transport method would be deepstriking.  To insure that deepstriking goes well, I would put a homer on an HQ choice and move him forward. Once they drop in, let them open up on their best AV target.  Conversely, you could just walk them on the board and shoot as most of the heavy weapons have decent range. You should be able to shoot turn 1with few problems, unless playing dawn of war.

With the new FAQ allowing BT cyclones to be heavy 2, these guys have risen considerably in my estimation.  I might take a single squad to bolster my shooting, but the real cream of the crop is next.

Sword Brethren Assault Terminators

Easily. The. Best. These terminators are the best terminators in the game.  Though they are equipped like all other terminators now (lightning claws or thunder hammer and storm shields), they are just a cut above the rest.  Honestly, if I could figure out how to take multiple units of these guys while still keep my troop numbers up, I would.  With the AAC vow, they are rerolling all hits, always.  They can take special skills as well (tank hunters or furious charge), though you will only want to take furious charge.  Imagine 5 furious charge, AAC lightning claw terminators.  That is 20 attacks when they assault that reroll to-hit and to-wound.  On top of that, they are striking at S5 and I5.  Not even hammernator will have an easy time with that. 

Of course, most prudent players will tell you to deploy terminators in a mix of lightning claws and thunder hammers.  I am beginning to see a problem with that.  Thunder hammers don't benefit from furious charge like lightning claws do and lightning claws aren't as survivable as thunder hammers. I personally have started deploying units of all lightning claws or all thunder hammers, usually putting the claws in an LRC and deepstriking thunder hammers off of a homer.  This has worked out well for me and poses quite a bit of threat to my opponents.  Really, the choice of combination or not is up to you, but you will most definitely want to take furious charge on them. 

The LRC is actually a really decent option for these guys.  It gives them mobility, increased threat range, and grenades.  That is nice.  All of this while providing a dangerous tank as well, that doesn't take up a force org slot. 

This is the unit you want in a templar army.  They are simply beastly.  Nothing compares to them due to being able to reroll all hits. That combined with furious charge is simply amazing.  For certain take one unit.  If possible take two.


These are the runners up for best elite slot.  Again, there isn't anything fancy about these guys. In fact, they have fewer options than the newer chapters, mainly not being able to take autocannons.  That said, the best option if you are taking a dread is to upgrade it to venerable (you can only take a single venerable dread in a BT army) and then give it a special skill.  Only venerables can take specials skills. If you have a venerable, take him as a tank hunter.  Give him a lascannon minimum and at max give him the missile launcher as well.  I say minimum because having the DCCW can still be a nice option on a venerable.  Then give him the tank hunter special rule.  Sit back in cover and paste tanks for the entire game.  Use the venerable reroll and cover to keep him alive longer and annoy your opponent to no end.  If he gets close with infantry squads, don't be afraid to charge in and hold them up if they don't have powerfists, if they do, you may need some other intervention.  Oh...don't forget smoke launchers on this guy in case he needs to leave cover. 

Ultimately, I would take one dread in an army and it would be a venerable with tank hunters.

So, there are our stellar elite units.  They are easily the best part of the army.  In general terms, it is an easy choice.  You want assault terminators and a ven dread.  If you want some additional flavor, you can add the other units, but nothing will earn its points back like these two choices. 

Next up, we will very briefly cover fast slots.

If you missed it, here is the articles before this one in the series:
Codex Review: Black Templar Troop

And here is the next articles in the series:
Codex Review: Black Templar Fast Choices

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