Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Crusades Part I

Revisions to the original Post have been made in light of the newest FAQ. These revisions will appear in red

It's time for me to answer a request from long ago and begin a series of Codex Reviews. I pondered long and hard about which codex I would start with, but ultimately I feel it makes a certain amount of sense to begin with one's own army. As you all know by now I am a Brother of the Black Templar, and so I will bring to you all the knowledge I have gathered from the codex, as well as an added bonus of the experiences I have had on the battlefield with this particular army. So let us begin.


A quick look into the Story of the army may help to get a bit of an idea on where we're going.

Long ago the Space Marines were crusaders who moved through the galaxy, taking the fight to the enemies of the Emperor and mankind. After the Horus Heresy, and the Breaking of the Legions by Robert Guilliman to the Chapters of the current age, the majority of the Space marines were to follow this new order known as the Codex Astartes. However, the Black Templars have never taken to these new rules, as they have continued to crusade over the last 10,000 years, fulfilling the initial role of the Space Marines; take the fight to the enemy, purge all who stand in the way or threaten the God Emperor's goal, and never retreat even in the face of impossible odds.

Looked on as the most zealous and fanatical of all "chapters" the Black Templar continue the teachings and wear the colors of their first High Marshal (The equivalent to a standard Chapter Master) Sigismund. Now the crusade is as strong as ever, spanning the width of the galaxy itself, with what would seem to be 5 to 6 thousand battle brothers strong, though there is no evidence to fully support this claim. Never the less, the crusades will continue until the vision of the Emperor comes to fruition, and the galaxy is under his watchful gaze.

So let's look under the special rules for the Army and see what goodies the most zealous of the God Emperor's finest receive.

"And they Shall Know No Fear..."
This rule works exactly the same as all other Marine armies out there. It turns sweeping advances to no retreat (which is of little importance do to another rule which makes them fearless in close combat) and allows them regroup even if under half strength (which comes in handy with those large crusader squads which I'll cover later).

Drop Pod Assault
This rule is NOT the same as other chapters. It simply says that units in the army may make use of Drop Pods. However, the army does not get the nifty trick of sending in half rounded up on the first turn. They simply arrive from reserves as normal. This hurts the use of the drop pod in this codex a little as they are stuck waiting for reserves instead of getting to close the gap early.

A side note, this army rule is what gives the Drop Pods the same rules as "Inertial Guidance System" which is not included in the Drop Pod's Profile.

Abhor the Witch
Such is the hate of the Black Templars for even the slightest mutation that psychers may not be taken anywhere in the codex, nor in any army that may be allied with the Templars. This rule does make an exception for Grey Knights (under the ideal that the Grey Knights share a knightly honor, or perhaps the idea that upsetting the inquisition is unwise). This rule makes perfect sense in regards to the fluff, and rarely becomes an issue.

I'll cover this part more on the review of the Emperor's Champion. There are 4 choices (some decent, and others amazing) to chose from. It is no secret that the usual is the one giving the army Preferred Enemy but there are in fact other options.

Mixed Armor
This rule has been removed from play as it does nothing to actually effect game play. Units that are comprised of different types of armor saves and the like have been redefined by the rules regarding wound allocation in the newest (5th edition) rule set.

Kill Them All
This rule is a dated rule that seems to have little value in the current addition. A GW FAQ states that they must still make the test for target priority. However, as that rule is no longer described or used in the new rules... it is a somewhat strange ruling from the FAQ. As an additional note, I am further baffled by this newest FAQ. It states that the last sentence which talks about Target priority is removed.

The rule simply states that non-vehicles suffer a -1 to their leadership when testing to see if they can fire at a unit other than the closest. Again as their is no more target priority, this rule is somewhat foggy in it's practical uses as a "rule."

No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear!
This rule makes the army fearless when they are in close combat. No honor can be found in running from glorious combat with the enemy, and none would bring disgrace to the chapter by running from their hated foes.

And now for the big one... This one rule alone makes me question many of those who say that Black Templars are weak (That's right, I'm looking at you BoLS)

Righteous Zeal
This states that if a unit suffered casualties in the shooting phase (even if only one brother was lost) the unit takes a moral test. If they fail, they fall back following the normal rules for retreating. If they pass, they may make a D6 inch movement towards the closest enemy.

Simple, but add in the benefits the army has to alter this, and I'll show you why this makes all the difference.

First, you can take crusader seals or take a model that has them to re-roll the amount moved on the Zeal.

You may also add a Marshal to make the army Leadership 10 via Rites of Battle (why does that rule sound so familiar :D) But the true benefit here comes from chaplains. First and foremost they make their unit fearless, and so they auto-pass the test to zeal (as it is a moral test). Second, they allow the unit to zeal towards any enemy unit, not simply the closest. And third, you may take up to 3 cenobite servitors who add 1 to the zeal movement roll for ever servitor alive. Keep in mind that may exceed 6 (to a potential of 9 inches).

This makes the unit incredibly fast if even one member is lost, and gives the army (usually based on assault) a great answer to the assault based army's usual problem, being shot. Generally if you kill enough, assault units are hindered in their ability to work. However, in this army, you generally have one round of shooting at them. Couple this with the zeal move, the larger than average squads (I'll get to later) and the usual Preferred Enemy rule, and it's all a mixture of death and victory for the Templars.

Now given the assault nature of this army, you can really do some damage to other armies (including the enemy assault armies, in a great way to practically guarantee the charge for yourself. Place a chaplain with a unit, and now you can zeal towards anything. If the enemy is over 6" when their assault phase comes up, you're fine as it is, but say they aren't. Now you are worried they will assault you. So all you have to do is wait for those casualties to hit, then zeal towards another unit in a different direction, and pull out of that 6 inch mark.

The rule is vague at best, but this allows for us to capitalize on this. You must end closer to the nominated unit, and the move is identical to a consolidate which reads "you may move up to the amount rolled." This means we can move a smidgen of an inch if we don't want to get assaulted ourselves, or all the way to close that gap asap. Also remember that you can use this to get close to other units while simultaneously getting closer to the nominated unit. So long as you end the move closer to the nominated unit, you have done what you need. This rule makes the army incredibly capable of closing the gap in an quick and efficient manner.

Now, there is one major side effect all of this has on the army. It is still running a fourth edition mind set, and while this can offer some great advantages in some places... it has one crippling weakness. the Point costs are generally pretty steep. An average member of this army is 16 base, and has no grenades. Thus you must spend the 1 point per model to give frag grenades, and the idea of giving 2 point per model kraks is never something I suggest. So with quick math, that's 17 points a guy, plus additional wargear later. Rhino transports start at 50 points and require a few more points to make them go (the 3 for smoke launchers, and 5 for the extra armor) making them 8 points more a pop than the comparable extra armored rhinos from other codexes. So there are some downsides to the army, but all in all I feel they are severely outweighed by the good.

So that is where I will leave Part I. in part II, I'll cover the unit selections from Head to tail, giving my advice on the selections, and showing what the army is capable of. Until next time,



  1. Because it is in a forth format, most of the units have a bit more customization.

    They will however, have no points for anything els if you go to town with them.

  2. In regards to the Drop Pods, in my experience the Drop Pod Assault half pods in first turn is actually more of a drawback if you're running a heavy/full pod army. I'd much rather have regular reserves.

    With regular SM and say 8 pods, you get 4 turn one, then probably 2 turn two (4+), probably 1 turn three (3+) and the last 1 turn 4 (2+). You get an initial big landing, but then you peter out. If you're building to take advantage of the strike-first nature of the pods, you need targets, and enemies reserving is an easy way to avoid your turn one strike.

    In contrast with regular Reserves and the same 8 pods, you should get 4 turn two (4+), then probably 2 (possibly 3) turn three and the remaining 1-2 turn four. You tend to come in much more tightly time-wise, and the enemy can't avoid you as easily through Reserves of their own.

    The main advantage IMO to the current SM version is that you get to choose that first wave, enabling you to build more focused units if desired. And when doing only one or two pods, getting one in early for disruption and another in later as backup wherever needed is good. But for full-pod armies, I'd rather have regular Reserves.