Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Crusades Part II

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

Welcome to part II of my look into the Black Templars codex. Last time we covered the back story as well as the special rules for this unique army. Today I'll look into the unit selection from the HQ selection of the codex, and offer both description and uses for each one. So let's get to it.

This army is one that works on the idea of synergy in a lot of ways. For the most part, I have describe marine armies as being full of stand alone units. This means that each unit is self sufficient and able to hold it's own alone, while other armies require other units to aid them (i.e. Imperial Guardsmen - Command Squads, Tau Fire Warriors - Pathfinders, etc.) And while the units in this army are in fact marines, they have little abilities to help with the leadership aspect. This is where the HQ's come in. They provide various abilities to help the army with leadership (and with Righteous Zeal causes us to make tests with even one death, it helps substantially).

Additionally, without the sergeants in each squad, we lose some on the attack characteristics of our power weapon/fists. However, since we don't have to take full squads in order to gain special weapons (I'll get to this later), we can place the HQ's with squads with little consequence. So what options do we have?

The Emperor's Champion
This guy is what makes the army for us. in games of 750 points or more, he's a mandatory unit that takes up no HQ slots... that being said he's worth every point. He has a stat line which rivals most characters of the new edition even from early 4th. (Can't wait to see the stats and rules for him in the 5th ed. BT codex!) He comes standard with a 2+ armor save as well as a 4+ invulnerable in close combat. He wields the Black sword which is basically a relic blade which allows for a duel armed bonus, however as he is one attack short on the stat line from the comparable marine captain, it is pretty much the same thing (3 attacks base, with 4 on the charge).

He has no options to his wargear, which is a little sad, but with his built in frags, bolt pistol, and crusader seals he really needs not but enemies to kill. He does have one set of options though, and that is what Vow to take. There are 4 to chose from, each with a different point value, but the last one stands out above all in my opinion:

Suffer Not the Unclean to Live
Gain a +1 S, but suffer a -1 I as it takes time to gather this holy strength. Remember to use normal I value for sweeping advances and other I tests. However, the S bonus does not stack with other similar bonuses (i.e. Furious Charge).

This is a nifty one, and I like it to a point, but compared to other bonuses, and it's lack of stacking with the Black Templars Veteran Skill Furious Charge, I'd have to give it a thumbs down.

Uphold the Honour of the Emperor
You may never claim cover, but all units gain a 6+ invulnerable, and may never be pinned.

Now while and invulnerable save on everyone sounds great, it's only a 6+ and in 5th cover is just amazingly useful; and pinning is rarely an issue with a usually Leadership 10 or fearless army (getting to those perks in just a second).

All in all, thumbs down for this one.

Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch
Before the game starts, BT units (including vehicles) may make a free Righteous Zeal move towards the nearest visible enemy unit, but only if there is an enemy psycher. In addition, any psychic powers which target the army are nullified on a 5+. This is amazingly useful as this is the only real psychic defense built into the army, however, it only really works if there is psychic powers being used by the enemy, and thus is sometimes worthless.

Thumbs up and down to this one, but compared to the next (and pseudo-standard one) way down.

Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds
If a BT unit may charge an enemy, it must do so, but the army has Preferred Enemy against anything they are fighting. In an assault army this is a must, especially with the way Preferred Enemy works to give the re-roll now. I have had units go from 2 hits to 15 out of 20 rolls once... it is a great way to make this army go.

Two thumbs and both big toes way up to this one.

Please note that all vows work on Initiates (Marines) and Dreadnoughts, but not the Neophytes (scouts).

The Marshal
Your standard melee bamf, these guys take the roll of captain in the army. With complete access to the Armory (with options like the Holy Orb, and Terminator Honors, this is a major perk) and a decent stat line, these guys will doe everything you need on the front line. Now they do not start with anything save crusader seals, so that access to the armory is a necessity, however the starting cost is only 80 so it accommodates for this fact. But the big reason to take this option is for the "Rites."

That's right, Rights of Battle hits the field with the Marshal, making every unit in the army so long as he lives, able to use his leadership (10). This is a great perk, as the standard units have no way to increase their leadership for that crossing. Remember all BT units are fearless in CC, so it won't matter there, but it is useful when it comes time to pass a zeal test. I urge the use of this HQ in the case you are running rhino rush, or any build that uses a lot of units. I also recommend putting him with a standard troops choice to bolster their ability to kill. However, if they start with a veteran unit, he may purchase a veteran skill which can be helpful giving him I and S 5 if he takes Furious Charge, or perhaps Tank Hunters, however I recommend the former.

All in all these guys offer a solid commander for the army.

The Master of Sanctity
Now these guys are my favorite, Chaplains with the ability to take the front lines to the enemy of the Emperor with all due hast. They come with a power weapon (crozious) and a 4+ invulnerable save (rosarious) standard, and still have access to the armory to increase their kill ratio.

They make the unit they join fearless at all times, and when they zeal they can make the move towards any enemy unit rather than just the closest. In addition, they may purchase up to 3 cenobite servitors to increase the zeal move by 1 per servitor alive (to a max of 9") and serve as surplus wounds once the gap has been closed. They also have the classic Litanies of Hate. This means good news for those Neophytes who don't have the Preferred Enemy perk from the Champion.

Now, these guys to me are best suited for the Blob Squads. Those are the foot based (or crusader based) units that number around 15 to 20 strong. The Chaplain and 3 cenobites make for a 24 man squad potentially, which I have used to great effect. Not to say they can't work well in smaller squads, but to fully gain from the rules they offer, I strongly urge the use of a larger squad with them.

Now before moving on, I will mention that each the Marshal and the Master of Sanctity have cheaper alternatives (The Castellan and Reclusiarch respectively) however, I rarely use them as the small points difference is a bargain in the bolster to the stats (as well with the Marshall having Rites with a leadership value of 10 vs the Castellan's 9). I always suggest the more potent of the two unless you are dying, and I mean DYING! for points somewhere.

Now the units above make good use to any army for a leadership buff. The following units are still good, and serve a purpose, but I still urge the use of at least one of the above units to help the army in the Ld department.

The Sword Brethren Terminator Command Squad
A mouthful and a decent option. This is a 4 man terminator squad (can be bolstered to a 10 man squad) with the standard shooting pattern allotted to them. They may take up to two heavy weapons and they have a built in sergeant, which is a rarity to the army. He alone has access to the armory, and that is always a good thing, but with only 1 wound he's a little weak compared to other actual standalone choices as a commander.

I have seen beautiful use made of this unit with the assault cannons and the Tank Hunters Veteran Skill. I suggest a smaller size base so they can be a cheap and effective key strike unit.

I'd say they are not a bad choice. I myself do not use them, but I can see their uses.

The Command Squad
Now before I start, I'll say this unit is a guilty pleasure of mine. It is a group of 4-9 standard marines that serve as a similar unit to the Command Terminators. However, they have a million and one options including the ability to take specialist models (like the sergeant, company champion, standard bearer, and apothecary [who now is invaluable as he adds the Feel No Pain rule to the unit]). This unit is expensive with no questions asked... but if you're willing to spend the points, and play them well, they'll annihilate a good deal in themselves.

No Joke, took this unit with Helbrecht (who allows them to add up to 5 neophytes) and that unit alone crushed a 5th edition 1750 Tyranid army which was in a crescent moon shape in 1 ROUND of combat... not even a full turn; I assaulted, and killed the army on my assault. Steven, if you're out there... I love ya man.

Now again, they are EXPENSIVE. My usual unit consisting of Helbrecht, the squad, the neophytes, the upgrades, and the Crusader they rode in on runs around 880 points. I can't say it's efficient, but when it works... look out.

And with that we've wrapped up the HQ choices for the army, and I must say there isn't a bad choice among them. They all serve a purpose (and sometimes more) while being great syngerizer bunnies to the army. Look to part III to cover the Elites and the Troops (or in this case Troop) sections of the codex. Until next time,


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