Saturday, November 13, 2010
The Crusades Part IV
Welcome back to Part IV of my look into the Black Templar's codex. Today we are going to look into the troop section, and see just what makes this unit tick. I'll throw some information, some tactics, and even a quick comparison in on this unit, as it is one of my favorite troop choices in the game. So lets get to it.
Being one of the most basic and most essential parts of every army, the troop section is built on the principle of filling the space between the other units on the board. However, while they are considered troops, and in some cases need help from other units (leadership for instance), the Black Templar's excel in this category in my opinion. The odd thing about this observation is that they have very little options here; 1 to be precise. But that one option is fanominally versatile.
The Crusader Squad
Lets lay down the basics. The Squad starts as a 5 man unit of Initiates (Space Marines), and may purchase up to 5 additional Initiates at 16 points per model. In addition, due to the way in which neophytes in this army are trained, they are added to the squad as well. For every initiate you have in the sqaud, you may add one Neophyte (Scout). This means you may take as many Neophytes as Initiates up to a maximum of 20 men strong. This alone allows for great flexibility.
For instance, If you are looking to save points here and there, you could opt to run neophytes instead of Initiates. As they are 6 points a model less, these changes can add up quickly at get you the points you require for upgrades, units, etc. Or you could use a 5 /5 squad to get the bolstered numbers of models in the squad while saving points simultaneously. I use this trick on a ranged squad with Plasma Gun and Plasma Cannon... it allows me to take additional bodies to keep from putting wounds on my important plasma members while still saving points for other units that move forward and need to points more.
Finally there is the big option, and big is being used literally here. The "Blob Squad" as we affectionately call it around here is what the Templar can do that no other marines can do. As you can have an identical number of Initiates and neophytes, you may run 10 of each and have a base 20 man strong squad. After adding additional wargear (my suggestion is Power Fist and Meltagun and the frags) you sit at 305 points. for a 20 man unit with a PF and MG, that's a bargain. Add a chaplain to this to make them fearless and zeal faster towards any enemy unit, and you have a vicious unit hitting the board. This is my favorite option as it is a unique unit build for this codex, and it's a hard unit to crack.
I'll get to this more when I cover the special characters, but if you are running multiple Blob Squads, I recommend Grimaldus hands down. His unique rules and abilities are great for helping multiple squads, and for his points he's a steal to help multiple Blobs at once. One great chaplain aiding 3 20 man units is not only efficient, it's amazing.
Now on to their Wargear. The Initiates have Boltguns, which can be traded for a Bolt Pistol and Close Combat Weapon for the low, low price of free! This is nice as it in itself allows the unit to do either ranged or close quarters fighting for the same cost. Likewise, the Neophytes may be armed with Combat Shotguns (remember these are the older ones) which can also be swapped for Bolt Pistol and CCW for free. Now the other neat trick here is that they may be used on a by model basis. This means you can have a few members with Boltguns and others with pistol/CCW. Although this is nifty, I can't say I really recommend it unless you are building to be well rounded. I have seen players pop out, rapid fire Boltgun, then be just fine in the assault. Either way you equal out to the same attacks. This is where the versitility is great as it fits any play style the player is looking for.
Now a unit can't have pure positive so I will give you the few downsides they have. First and foremost they have no grenades base. Starting at 16 per initiate / 10 per neophyte points, they then have to buy frags at 1 point per, and I can't suggest the 2 points per kraks. This makes them 17/11 base before wargear which is already a little steep. Now squads based on range fighting may save the points here, but if you plan to assault, it's nice to have these... but never mandatory. Player's choice here.
Secondly, there is no sergeant in this squad. this means no leadership bolstering built into the squad as most armies have. However, look to the HQ's to help here. But this issue lends a hand with the next issue...
finally, we may only ever purchase 2 additional weapons. We get a special weapon, and then our choice of either a heavy or a melee weapon (power weapon/fist). I'm ok with this as it forces units to build a little for what they want to do. Yes we may not be as well rounded in some ways as other codex marines, however in this army, we'll make do. So where does the lack of sergeant come in here? If you look, we may get that power weapon or fist, but it is on a normal marine, and therefore it losses that bonus attack the sergeants gain from their Term. Honors. So on the charge we have 3 power weapon attacks, or 2 power fist attacks. Now granted we will usually have Preferred Enemy to help us make those lack of attacks be more accurate, but it is something that should be considered.
Now again these issues can be a bit of a pain, as running out of older codex can be sometimes. However, I can attest to the power of this one unit alone in the Black Templars army. I will argue that with it's options, the army rules, and the tactics available, they still have some of the most varied, and useful abilities to offer the army. And remember, they are a scoring unit. A lot of times those internet lists will dictate taking less scoring units to field more of those special units. However, this unit makes a great choice to just hit the enemy lines, and hit it hard. I have seen Crusader Squads hit the lines together and obliterate all that stand in their way based on 3 attacks per model on a large scale.
So lets do a quick comparison based on other assault marine units. My immediate look was at Blood Angels. Now without any other units to bolster either (No Chaplains, Priests, etc.) They have the same weapons (with the addition of Grenades and Jump Packs) at 18 points per. Now of course we don't have kraks, but I rarely see that become a major issue, but for 1 point less we have the frags. So the big difference is the leadership and the Jump Pack... but is there a difference.
A Blood Angel Assault Marine will have a 12" move, with a potential 6" run/assault. so effectively an 18" threat range.
A Black Templar will move 6" and run assault 6". So without any help they have a lesser movement. But with built in rules, if they are shot (which is generally the answer to stop an assaulting unit) they can move up to 6" with a re-roll if seals are taken. making them able to reach the same possible range.
Of course Blood Angels have a 1/6 chance to have Red Thirst, which is helpful, so without aid, they have a slight edge, but on the battlefield, even a priest and assault squad will have trouble with a full 20 man unit, and even more so if there is a chaplain or the Emperor's Champion with them.
All in all, I have to say I really have to tip my helmet to this unit. Great look, great tactics, amazingly reliable, and all while filling mandatory slots. This codex does have more mandatory unit requirements than most, and while options are limited in many ways, they are limited to units that are worth their points. The Crusader Squad is no different.
So that's the one troop choice we have. I look forward to see what you may think of this unit. What do you think of this unit compared to similar troop units? I plan to cover the Fast Attack portion in Part V, so until then...
To all you lurking readers, I invite you to join in on conversations. Jump in and give your two cents. We may not be BoLS, but we love to see your comments. I hope to see more from you guys in the future :).