Friday, March 2, 2012

The Random Element and Black Templar Strengths and Weaknesses

It's no mystery that games of chance rely on randomness to provide challenge and loss-reward relationships.  If there were no randomness, casinos across the world would be out of business.  Games like 40k, Warmahordes, and even Monopoly all rely on the use of the random element to provide an additional layer to their gaming experience.  However, from a competitive perspective, strength lies in consistency.  You don't want unexpected scenarios to arise.  You want your army to operate reliably, have redundancy, and to cancel out ill effects that can be placed on it. The best way to do this is to build armies with redundancy in them and to also play units and models that rely less on the dice.  This can be done by working in rules that forgo the use of dice or provide rerolls.

So, as I wrote my previous post about Terminator Command Squads, I began to think of the strengths and weaknesses that Black Templars have in regards to randomness and reliability. They have both.  Suprisingly, for an old codex, there are some distinct advantages to the army that make it dangerous even in today's metagame.  At the same time, there are some glaring weaknesses to the army.  How they play out and how you handle them determines your success in a very real way.

Let's get started by presenting some strengths. 
1) The biggest strength this army has comes in the form of army-wide preferred enemy provide by the Emperor's Champion.  Templars hit most things on 3+ and being able to reroll fails (and sometimes successes) allows them to be devestatingly effective and reliable in combat.  Rerolling takes their to-hit rate from 66% to 88% successful.  This is a huge benefit, but also being able to reroll hits to turn them into misses does the same thing.  This effectively turns a BT model's successful to-hit rate from 66% to 44%.  Against armies like Tau, IG, and Eldar (both kinds) this can save a squad from a punishing round of ranged counterattacks. 

2) Fearless in combat is also a strength in my opinion.  Many don't like it because it means once a unit is in combat, it is committed, either to success or to death.  To me this means that I won't flee from combat.  How ugly is it in when you see a Draigo-wing paladin star gets beaten in combat and escorted off the board.  Being fearless in combat means that you will never have to worry about even outpacing your pursuers and getting escorted off the board.

3) Easy redundancy amongst units is possible as well.  BT are fairly unique now in that they can take min siz units of models and still get a full compliment of heavy, special, and combat weapons.  This makes min-maxing easier to accomplish and means that we can actually put a decent focus on ranged attack if we need do.  2 cyclones in a 5 man terminator squad or a missile launcher and plasma gun in a 5 man crusader squad yield good returns at range and allow more units to be fielded.  We do pay a heavy tax on our vehicles though as everything but typhoon speeders are more expensive than other marine varients.

Unfortunately though, there are weaknesses in the BT codex.  There are quite a few in fact, but they can be negated if planned for.

1) Righteous zeal can be a pain.  It was intended to get our marines across the table quickly, but unfortunately means that in many cases we could end up running away from a single casualty.  When it is good, it's good, but bad dice can ruin a game for you in regards to this. On top of that, when you RZ, you have to move towards the nearest unit to you, which means it is possible to be kited along if you aren't careful.  Luckily the wording of the rule states that it is done like a consolidation move, so you don't have to move the entire distance, just up to it as a max.  There are two obvious answers to how to solve this problem in my mind.  The first is to buy a commander.  His rites of battle rule means that his LD10 is spread across the table and will mean there is very little chance that a righteous zeal move will be failed.  He also has other uses which will be given later.  I think he is your best option.  The other would only fix a single unit. If you have that nasty rock unit that you don't want running away, put a chaplain with them.  He grants fearless so you will auto-pass RZ rolls, but even better, he allows you to RZ towards any enemy unit in sight which neutralizes his unit being kited in the wrong direction. You can even pick a unit across the board as long as you can see it. This is handy.  Of course, the final solution to RZ is to keep your units in transports for as long as possible so they don't have to take RZ moves.

2) Kill 'Em All is another rule that really causes issues.  Again, a quirky 4th ed. rule that remains valid in the current ruleset, so we have to live with it. Whenever a BT infantry unit wants to shoot, it has to take a LD test at -1 to be able to select its target, otherwise it shoots at the closest thing.  That means on average we are testing on 7s.  Solution: Enter the commander again, his Rites of Battle gives all BT an effective LD10 so they are taking tests on a 9.  Not geat, but much better than 7.  Of course, this test only has to be taken if you choose to shoot or if you are trying to shoot at something other than the unit/model closest to you.  If you are trying to melta a tank, if will more than likely be the closest thing to you and in many situations, the only guns you will shoot will be bolt pistols before you assault, so again, you are looking at the closest models. Ultimately, this is for a list like missile spam.  You want to make sure that you have that commander to offset the negatives for the rule. 

Randomness occurs.  You can't get totally away from it in 40k.  It's just not possible.  If you don't want randomness, play chess or checkers.  Whenever there are dice, there will be the random element.  However, you can easily negate a lot of these things if you plan out your lists well and if you add elements to your army that bolster your strengths. 

Some Battle Reports:
Space Wolf Razorspam vs. Horde Orks- a Vassal Report
Sanguinary v. Grey Knights
Vulkan Ain't No Joke
Did you find this article useful? Subscribe to Gone to Ground for more great updates.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...