Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Codex Review: Black Templar HQs

You might have caught my tongue in cheek reference to our HQ selection in my last post.  Black Templars have a realtively small selection of HQ choices, one of which is a mandatory choice.  Our three main HQs are the Emeperor's Champion, Marshal, and Chaplain (Master of Sanctity).  The Marshal and MoS both have a downgraded version as well, Castellan and Reclusiarch respectively.  Correspondingly, both the Marshal and MoS have access to command squads, but these are taken as a retinue and the HQ cannot be separated from them unless they are killed or the squad is killed.  That out of the way, let's take a look at our choices.

The Emperor's Champion

This guy has the word "Beatstick" written all over him.  His job is to buff the army and to kill stuff, both of which he is reasonably good at.  You want this guy, but you also need this guy.  He is a mandatory HQ selection for a BT army.  Luckily, he doesn't take up an HQ slot, so you can still take two other HQ choices if you would like.  The old EC rings in at 90pt. base and has quite a solid stat line including regular marine stats with WS6 and I5.  His equipment and rules are where he really starts to get going though.  He comes with the armor of the faith, the black sword, terminator honors (figured into his statline), a bolt pistol, crusader seals, and frag and krak grenades. The armor of the faith is artificer armor with the additional buff that he gets a 4++ in combat.  Not too shabby.  The black sword is a power sword that confers +2 strength meaning he also gets the +1A for having a bolt pistol.  I can see this changing to a relic blade in a new codex, but this combo gives him 3 attacks base. 

His rules are interesting.  The first being the major factor in the army.  The Champion has to take a vow that affects the entire army and each one costs.  They are: Accept any Challenge, No Matter the Odds (50pt.), Uphold the honor of the Emperor (10pt.), Suffer not the Unclean to Live (35pt.), and Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch (20pt.). 

Here is a quick synopsis of each vow:
1) Accept any challenge gives preferred enemy to all power armor models and dreadnoughts in the army.  This is amazing and though it is a hefty price tag, it is worth taking.  It makes our units beasts in combat.  The drawback is that you have to assault an enemy unit if you can.  Fortunately, you can work around this if you include a bolter or two in your units since when you fire a bolter, you can't assault. Nice.

2) Uphold the Honor gives a 6++ all the time and the army is immune to pinning, BUT they cannot take cover saves.  Not worth it.  With cover being so prevalent in 5th, it is a joke to consider this one. 

3) Suffer not allows power armor and dreads to gain 1 more point of strength at the cost of a point of initiative in combat.  So, power armor models are S5 but I3.  Dreads are S11 but I3.  The real issue with this comes in two forms.  1) Lower initiative means you will take more wounds in many cases as you will be striking simultaneously or last.  2) This cannot stack with furious charge.  It would be worth considering if it did as you could have S6 lightning claw terminators or S6 sword brethren.  Unfortunately, you can't so I wouldn't take it. You have plenty of places to add furious charge through veteran skills.

4) Abhor, Destroy gives everyone a D6" consolidation move before the game starts which is made towards the nearest psyker (imagine this against GK), and on a 5+ units with this rule nullify psychic powers aimed at them.  This is somewhat decent with some of the psyker heavy armies out there, but there is a lot of gray area involved.  What about things like sanctuary that aren't targetted at models specifically but affect them?  In a pinch this is my runner up. 

Basically, you want to take Accept any Challenge.  It is the stongest vow and offers the ability to play shennanigans with your to-hit rolls.  If you want to stay locked in combat to avoid shooting in your opponent's turn, reroll your hits and keep your misses to limit wounds.  If you want to go for a wipe out, reroll misses.  It is a nice ability and makes Black Templars really reliable in combat. 

Finally, the Champion has to make an automatic free move in combat to be put in base to base contact with ICs.  This means he will be your ace in the hole for trying to assassinate characters.  It also means he runs a lot of risk being put into contact with ICs who might be able to smash him down easily.  With only 2 wounds, this can be a liability. 

So, there's your EC.  If the vows were included in his price, he would be a rockstar!  Unfortunately, they aren't but you still want to take army-wide preferred enemy, so it doesn't bother me that much.  I love this guy.


I will talk about these two guys together as they have the same stats with the exception that the Castellan has -1W and -1LD.  These guys are your generic leadership characters.  They provide one important feature to your army.  They provide their leadership through the "Rites of Battle" rule to the entire army.  This helps your army to pass those pesky kill'em all and righteous zeal rolls that occur all the time.  With army-wide LD10 and 9 respectively, your marines become much more reliable when making morale tests. 

Onto the equipment.  Oddly enough, Marshals and Castellans come with no weapons!  You have to pay 1 point for a bolter, bolt pistol, or CCW.  I find that hilarious. 

Honestly, though, you probably want to tool this guy for close combat and assault.  For that reason, you want two things, reliable defense and nasty combat power.  With the new FAQ, a reasonable solution is evident.  Take artificer armor, terminator honors, a lightning claw, and a storm shield.  This yields a model with a 2+/3++, 5 attacks on the charge, and rerolls to hit and wound.  This setup comes in at 155pt. for the Marshal and 140pt for the Castellan.  You can't beat it for reliable kills in combat.  For additional fun, give him a holy orb of antioch, which is basically a small blast weapon that always wounds on 2+ at AP3.  Talk about marine killing potential.  Watch whole units melt away between the hand grenade and his combat attacks. Be aware that this is my preferred setup and not the only one.  It all depends on preference.

Another option to consider is the adamantine mantle which allows a character to be immune to ID at the cost of 35pt.  This is kind of pricey when you already have a 3++ save, but may help out when soaking high strength shots and attacks. 

I really like the Marshal as he brings with him good combat potential and army-wide leadership buffs.  I generally run mine in a command squad which I will talk about below. 

Master of Sanctity/Reclusiarch

These two guys share the same relationship as the Marshal and Castellan do with the Reclusiarch having -1W and -1LD compared to the MoS. 

Chaplains are kind of ambiguous to me.  They have some rules that sound good but don't help most Templar armies. These guys share similar stats to Marshals and Castellans, namely WS5 and I5.  Chaplains stand out due to their rules.  Let's go through those:
1) Unmatched Zeal- They make the unit they join fearless and they can negate the negative of righteous zeal by allowing their unit to righteous zeal towards any unit, not just the closest.  This can be a great help in keeping that money maker unit on course. 

2) Litanies of Hate- Completely useless if you take the Accept any Challenge vow.  It allows the chappy's squad to reroll hits in the first round of combat.  AAC allows rerolls every round. 

That said, chaplains are fairly sturdy with a 3+/4++ built in to their cost.  They also come stock with a power weapon.  You can always buff the chaplain up with artificer armor, adamantine mantle, and other goodies as well.  I like using a TDA Chaplain with my Assault terminators as he tends to keep them moving towards the units I want to kill.

Chaplains do have one unique piece of equipment available to them, cenobyte servitors.  These are models taken with the chaplain and for every one you have, you get an additional +1" to your righteous zeal moves up to a max of 3 servitors.  This can be really nice if you want to take a huge footslogging squad.  Being able to move forward up to 9" in your opponents' turn is nice, but watch out for traps set up to pull you in.  Luckily, the chaplain can mitigate these due to his unmatched zeal rule. 

Chaplains are cool models and fluffy, but I think I would take a Marshal or Castellan over them unless I was trying out a Templar horde.

Command Squads

Command Squads open up some interesting options for templars.  First, they allow you to take multiple special weapons in a squad.  This is impossible for your crusader squads.  Second, they count as a retinue which means your marshal, castellan, MoS, or reclusiarch can't be singled out while in a command squad.  He also can't leave it. Third, command squads can take veteran skills and they pass those skills on to the HQ choice attached to them.  This means you can add furious charge, infiltrate, or tank hunters to multiple units in your army.  Fourth, they can take an apothecary which grants access to FNP for a squad.

Command squads provide a super killy option for Templars, but at a cost.  If you start adding terminator honors, veteran skills, special weapons, combat weapons, transports, etc., the price skyrockets.  I tend to keep my command squads small and in power armor.  I usually buy an apothecary, champion, and put terminator honors on the sargeant.  This gives me two additional models with power weapon options.  Finally, I give out 2 meltaguns and the furious charge skill.  This makes a pretty nasty squad that can deal with most threats.  If you combine it with the Marshall I mentioned above, their won't be many units that can stand up to it.

There is also the option for a command squad to take a banner or holy relic (reclusiam command squad only), but I find this option too pricey for the benefit.   

Terminator command squads just aren't that great for one principle reason.  You can't take assault options for them.  They are tactical terminators.  So, unless you want to run a missile spam list, I would leave this unit at home. 

Of interest, a chaplain can be attached to a command squad as part of it and not count as a separate HQ choice, so with this option, a Black Templar army can include a staggering 7 HQ choices in 3 slots (one freebie for the EC). Not practical, but certainly fun sounding. 

To wrap up, The Emperor's Champion is a must, but also a must-have.  He is simply great for what he brings.  I always take AAC for the preferred enemy army-wide. Marshals and Castellans are also desireable for their combat options and army-wide leadership ability.  Chaplains are fun and nice to have, but I don't think they compare to the benefits provided by the other HQ choices.  Finally, if you take a command squad, think hard about it's role.  Generally, I find that they make great beatstick units that you can throw forward in objective missions without fear and they possess enough combat threat to handle all but the most elite (hammernators) infantry. 

Next up I will have a short post up about our one and only troop choice, the crusader squad.  Stay tuned.

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

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

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1 comment:

Jamie2112 said...

What do you think of what 6th ed has done to the Templars? Especially now hat AAC has been nerfed to just give rage. Does that lead to any major unit changes?

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