Monday, September 13, 2010

Adapt or Die: Black Templar Troops in 5th Edition

I’d like to talk about 40k for a change today, and Black Templars in specific.  And if you will excuse me for further specificity, I’d like to talk about Crusader Squads.  I think it goes without saying that Templars are behind the power curve compared to modern Marine codices.  With that said, there are some things that they still do extremely well, and most people know what those things are already, too.

Where I see the most fail, however, is in the troops selection.  Crusader squads are extremely limited in the weapon load-out they can take, and this limitation restricts their possible battlefield roles.  Additionally, they don’t have sergeants, so Powerfists on a character with 1 attack are most useless.  To make matters worse, a Power Weapon/Fist comes at the expense of a heavy weapon.  So what’s possible?  I’m only going to focus on mech and drop pods squads since the 20 man units are relegated to complete fluff bunnies.

The standard mech loadout you’ll see on the internet is 10 Initiates in a Rhino with a Power Fist, Meltagun, bolt pistols, and close combat weapons.  This, incidentally, is the fluff bunny approved mech Crusader squad.  This squad is clearly meant to be a close combat power house when combined with Accept Any Challenge.  One small problem: they suck at close combat. 

I know unit by unit comparisons are flawed, but let’s take a look at the typical troop choices they will be running into and how they stack up.  Plague Marines, they lose.  Grey Hunters, they lose.  30 strong Ork Boyz, they lose.  Blood Angels in a priest bubble, they lose.  Necron Warriors, they lose.  The only things they beat: Fire Warriors, Dire Avengers, Guard Veterans, Termagaunts and so on, can be beat in close combat by a normal Space Marine Tactical Squad.  So they are more expensive than a tactical squad, and only marginally more effective than a Tactical Squad.  Clearly, you cannot expect Crusader squads set up like this to do any heavy lifting for you in close combat.  Since there are match ups where they can win in close combat they win enough to fool non-analytical people into thinking they are good.  It’s only when you play in a tournament and they get owned by Grey Hunters, Orks Boyz, and Blood Angel assault squads do you start to realize that they are not elite combat entities any longer.

Not being able to take 2 meltas, and having expensive Rhinos, plus the per model cost of Accept Any Challenge, makes the squads simply too expensive to be competitive.  Can any other load out make them more competitive in close combat?  Nope.  Sorry, fluff bunnies, Black Templar Crusader Squads have to shoot to win.  Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to shoot to win that they can do effectively, not counting using inducted troops.

The first option are drop pod troops.  Luckily, Templars still use the old drop pod assault rules so they won’t come in turn one and your opponent can’t use reserves to deny you targets.  10 Initiates with meltagun and Powerfist in a pod is slightly more expensive than Smurfs can do, but significantly more useful.  And on the plus side, they do still hit harder in close combat than normal marines.   I’d say the cheaper cost and better firepower of grey hunters is well balanced by the old drop pod rules.  I dare say that an all Drop Pod Templar list will fare significantly better than Wolves or Vulkan Smurfs, or Daemons against all comers.

The second option is razorspam.  Templar razorbacks are much more expensive than anyone elses’.  Not a problem because of another relic of old rules: they can take 5 man squads with heavy weapon and special weapon.  This cheap access to firepower mitigates the overpriced razorbacks.  In lists under 2,000 points, use Missile Launcher and Flamer.  In lists 2,000 and over, go Las/Plas.  On a per weapon basis, you can squeeze more ranged firepower into a BT razorspam list out of the troops selection than any other marine lists.  Really, the biggest drawback is that you can only take TL Lascannon razorbacks.  If we could take Las/plas razorbacks for the same points it would be golden, but alas we have to live with what we have.

I know it kills all the Templar fluff bunnies to hear that they have to run 5 man las/plas units or all Drop Pods to be effective, but when it comes to using old codices: adapt or die.


  1. If you're going to write good articles like this, you need to advertise more or send me a link to put up on 3++.

    I agree with you on most points. It hurts to turn BT into shooty beasts, but it has to be done to be competitive in most lists.

    I do have to disagree on las/plas squads only being viable above 2k... but it depends on the list.

  2. This was an absolutely crucial read for me. I've had some serious BT lust going on for a good month or more- and it's for my first army. I absolutely would not have known this without this write up.

    Thanks much!