Codex Black Templars: The Crusade Rules Review

With the release of Codex Supplement: Black Templars we’ve finally rounded out the list of “missing marine supplements” and moved on to wondering when the original six 8th edition supplements will get a 9th edition makeover. Like the other supplements that came before it, the BT supplement gives us new Crusade rules, allowing players to run their own crusades and accumulate relics and Good Boy Points while scouring the galaxy of the Emperor’s foes. While we’ve already covered the book’s matched play rules today we’re looking at those Crusade rules and how they might play in your local campaign.



The Emperor’s Champion and High Marshal Helbrecht. Credit: SRM

The Black Templars will be kicking off their Crusade with only three Agendas to choose from but the first of these – Fulfil Your Vows – is technically four Agendas in one. Depending on whichever Templar Vow you choose at the start of the game, the way in which you gain experience is different. Running up against Thousand Sons and using the Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch vow? Every time they destroy a Psyker unit, gain one tally mark (two for Psyker Characters), and at the end of the battle gain 1xp for every tally mark you ended up with. Taking Uphold the Honour of the Emperor? Just survive the battle and be in the enemy’s deployment zone at the end of the game for 1-2xp per unit. Chewing through hordes of minions? Accept any Challenge, No Matter the Odds rewards you for crushing those larger squads of gribbles with 1xp for 11+ sized squads and 2xp for 21+ sized squads. Lastly, Suffer Not the Unclean to Live is targeted at Character and Monster. Except for Uphold, each one caps out at a maximum of 3xp per squad.

First Hand Experience is for the fresh faced newbies of your Crusade, your scouts and Neophytes will gain 2xp if you choose this Agenda but only if they manage to help control an objective AND destroy an enemy unit.

Reconsecration is your fairly generic Relic recovery Agenda, opponent chooses an objective, you need to get there and perform an action, free relic and 3xp blah blah blah.

Beanith: I’m one the fence with this one, I’m not a fan of specifically targeted Agendas generally but these are still broad enough to be usable in most games. I’d be tempted to run Uphold the Honour of the Emperor and run hell for leather into the enemy deployment zone every game if it wasn’t for all those pesky victory and Oath conditions. With Accept any Challenge, I was originally mistaking Starting Strength for Power level and was wondering what monster is running around Crusade games with Knights… note to self Crusade with Knights.

SRM: First Hand Experience is extremely cool, thematic, and hard to pull off. Too many ifs, ands, and also buts involved to reliably get that one. The vow-based ones are cool if highly situational. Unless you are across the table from Thousand Sons or Grey Knights, your average army is gonna give up like 2 experience points for Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch. Also situational is Accept any Challenge, No Matter the Odds since big horde units aren’t exactly the norm. Good cases can be made for Suffer not the Unclean to Live though, especially with how many cheap characters and monsters you can jam into xenos armies these days. My cannonball-smooth brain really likes Uphold the Honor of the Emperor though, which shouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to attain. Your army will want to be all up in their grill anyway, and the 5++ should help keep your dudes around long enough to get it.


Black Templars Dreadnoughts. Credit: SRM


A Crusade force cannot start with any units upgraded to be Relic Bearers but you can instead use the Relic Bearers Requisition which allows you to use the Relic Bearer upgrades once your Infantry or Biker squads have a level under their belt/chains. This really lets you trick out your units with some neat stuff.

Holy Intervention, or what is clearly The Coward’s Requisition, allows you to fulfil a section of your current Oath of Crusade (covered later in this article) for a set number of Requisition points and the looks of scorn and disappointment from High Marshal Helbrecht, Chaplain Grimaldus, the Emperor’s Champion and possibly your mother once someone explains to her why Beanith is upset over your game of toy soldiers.

Beanith: I have views

SRM: If you take Holy Intervention you are a rank failure of a Black Templar player. What kind of coward leading an army of Crusaders in a Crusade fails to take the opportunity to go on said crusade? Relic Bearers is pretty great though, and if you’ve read our Black Templars codex review you should have an idea of just how much of a game changer those relics can be.

Assuming you don’t have the Emperor’s Champion in your Order of Battle, Visions from the Emperor takes any of your characters and just straight up replaces them with the Emperor’s Champ, keeping the same amount of experience, and gains the appropriate number of Battle Honors for its rank. And if it had a Warlord trait, well you get to replace that for free as well. Only downside is you will lose any Relics that the character had equipped at the time. Your Lieutenant is underperforming and has a few too many battle scars? Bosh, one vision later and they’re waving around a big sword and being useful again.

The Marshal’s Chosen is the final Requisition on hand taking up almost half of the page and is one of the more awesome narrative elements that you can add to your Crusade Roster that we have seen. The TLDR breakdown is that you’ve decided that Neophytes in a Crusader Squad can be trusted with sharp objects and they get given their big boy pants. If you were to use this on a Primaris Crusader Squad for example, the Initiates go on to become a unit of Sword Brethren and the Neophytes become a unit of either Intercessors or Assault Intercessors. Both units keep the same amount of experience, battle honours and battle scars.

Beanith: I love all three of these Requisitions, the fourth is clearly a test to weed out the unworthy, where the righteous winner will be showered with praise; the loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore.

The narrative hooks that Marshal’s Chosen and Visions from the Emperor bring to the game are fantastic and I would love to see more of this in future content.

SRM: I like Visions from the Emperor as a way to trade out a shitty character for an extremely cool one, and it reinforces the background of the Emperor’s Champion in a way regular Matched Play games can’t. The Marshal’s Chosen levelling up one of your Crusader squads into new units also rules and reflects the background perfectly. This is what Crusade is all about!


Black Templars Terminators. Credit: SRM

Battle Traits

Crusader Squad Units have access to three. Exceptional Mentors grants re-rolls on wound rolls of 1 so long as an Initiate is alive. Faithful Squires gives re-rolls on hit rolls of 1 so long as a Neophyte is alive. Lastly, Unbreakable Faith lets one model in the unit regain a wound in the command phase and boosts their Leadership by 1 when they’re at half strength.

There are two possible Battle Traits for your Chaplains, Voice of the Emperor makes you sing his praise that much louder increasing his litany range by 6”. Exceptional Recital lets you remember the second verse and add +1 to the inspiring roll.

The catch-all category for veteran units has a whopping 6 traits that apply to Bladeguard, Sword Brethren, Core Terminators, and Vanguard Veterans. Strength from Conviction rewards you for having a Chaplain in your force (you should anyway) and gives the unit +1 Strength when they’re affected by one of the Litanies of the Devout. Selfless Martyrs adds 1 to the Attacks and Leadership characteristics of a unit that is below starting strength. This is markedly better than the Crusader trait that wants you to take casualties, since you only need to lose one dude to get this going. Blades of the Emperor gives your dudes exploding 6s in assault when they’re affected by one of the Litanies of the Devout, making for some mean potential combos. Illustrious Tutors is cute, giving your veteran unit a captain-style aura to grant rerolls of 1 to any Scout or Neophyte models nearby. Peerless Duelists is a flat +1 WS which isn’t exciting but is pretty goddamn good. Lastly there’s Zealous Intervention, giving your unit the Heroic Intervention rule.

SRM: The Crusader ones are pretty neat. Always-on Lieutenant or Captain buffs so long as an Initiate or Neophyte are alive (respectively) is a solid effectiveness boost that will let your big mob of devout idiots rush ahead where they want to be. The last of these, Unbreakable Faith, is interesting and precisely the kind of rule I will forget if I ever roll it up. Either Priest one is great to have for the biker Chaplain you will invariably have in your force, and you can have some wild combos with the veteran traits that trigger on Litanies. The veteran traits run the gamut from always-useful stat increases to flavorful and situational like the reroll aura to Scouts. I can’t imagine many people are taking them at the moment. I like Zealous Intervention a lot though; anything that means more of your dudes can cut up their dudes is good in my book.

Beanith: I’m a little iffy on the Crusader battle traits with the upgrades only affecting half of the squad which is slightly annoying but it’s also a fantastic piece of fluff so I’ll allow it… and no doubt forget to use it anyway. The catch all category is filled with awesome upgrades and I could quite possibly see myself trying to cram as many of these onto a squad as it grows throughout the campaign.


Chaplain Grimaldus. Credit: SRM

Oaths of Crusade

This is the real meat of the Crusade section – you know it’s good when it has to have an example boxout to tell you how to use it. You take an oath, which involves choosing a Deed, Foe, Condition, and Situation, in that order. For each you complete, you get a reward. They also yield greater rewards the further along the chain they go. You also can’t give up on the oath until you’ve completed it, which lets you channel Crusade Bravery Mode.

Deeds are largely pretty simple affairs, but not likely to be anything you’ll complete in a single game. These can range from winning so many games to scoring so many victory points. Foes are specific types of enemies, such as vehicles, Troops choices, Warlords and so on, and killing a certain number of those. Conditions are specific things you need to make sure don’t happen, such as losing your Warlord or deployment zone objective. Lastly, Situations require you to play certain types of games, such as ones where you are the defender or against so many different kinds of armies. So, an Oath of Crusade might be:

In the name of the immortal Emperor, I hereby vow to bring down the enemy’s outposts and slay the enemy’s leaders without hesitation regardless of what assails us.

Aside from being a great name for a pretentious post-hardcore act, means that you have to:

  • Win 6 combat patrol/incursion games
  • Destroy 4 enemy Warlords with your own Warlord in melee
  • Have all of your surviving units end the game in your opponent’s deployment zone in 3 battles
  • Play in 4 different theaters of war

Once you accomplish all of those, you will get rewards ranging from parts of relics to massive experience gains for your entire army.

SRM: This system is overwrought, arcane, thematic and cool as hell. I like having long term goals for a campaign, many of which will be counter to what a specific scenario’s objective is. The only thing you’ll need to be mindful of is figuring out what will work best in your scene – if you’re only playing against 3 people, obviously don’t take the one that requires you to fight 5 different armies for instance.

Beanith: Goonhammer house rule, Oath of Crusade must be recited in full out loud in character before each game. Addendum SRM has to wear all of his medals

SRM: You say that like I ever take them off

Beanith: Forget playing Monopoly with Drukhari and Build-a-Bear with the Admech, this is a masterpiece of why Crusade is the best way to play Warhammer. Thematic and with long term goals, you have some fantastic narrative hooks in which to grow the story of your Crusade Roster.


Black Templars Chaplains. Credit: SRM

Reclaimed Relics

We mentioned Relic Pieces earlier, and here is where they come to play. Each of these relics requires you to collect certain parts which are rewards from your oaths. To make up for the roundabout way relics are acquired for Black Templars, many of these are extremely fucking good.

Hands of the Pious quite literally owns bones. It gives a Chaplain access to all of the Litanies of the Devout or turns a non-Chaplain into a mini-Chaplain and lets them issue litanies of their own.

Sceptre of Fallen Empires has a rare Aura ability that effects enemy units: once per game enemy units within 6” of the relic bearer have -1 to hit. If there’s about to be a throwdown between your enemy’s heavy hitters and your own, this is some great insurance to keep your dudes safe.

Sword of the Lost Crusader is a potent offensive and defensive weapon, with a rock solid S+2 AP-3 D2 profile that causes enemy models to hit at -1 in melee. It makes your character more survivable while also being a great weapon in its own right.

The Penitent’s Roar is a Pistol 2 S5 AP-3 D2 pistol that causes Mortal Wounds on wound rolls of 6. It also ignores Look Out, Sir which makes for a hilarious pocket sniper rifle. Pistols as relics are never the strongest, but this is a solid one if you’re grading on that curve.


Black Templars Sword Brethren. Credit: SRM

Crusade Relics

If you’re not content with just collecting bits to rebuild your Relics, you also have access to three more Relics that come pre-assembled for your convenience.

Shackles of the Faithful lets the relic bearer ignore all hit and wound modifiers. In a world where those cap out at -1 that’s not as much of a game changer as it would have been before, but it’s handy.

Thronelight Lantern is a lamp that hates psykers. -1 to cast within 12” is rounded out with a once per game ability to cause a single psyker unit to have -1 to hit in melee for a turn. Knocking a Kill Rig or a unit of Grey Knights down a peg for a turn could be extremely useful.

The Black Sword of Sigismund is the Legendary Relic of the bunch, and while it doesn’t have any fancy tricks it will make short work of most anything you point it at. S+3 AP-5 D3 is a wild profile and will cut through anything without a decent invuln save.

SRM: I can’t think of a relic here that isn’t thematic or at the very least good, save for maybe the Penitent’s Roar. Hands of the Pious and The Black Sword of Sigismund are dope as hell, and the amount of hit modifiers being tossed out are kinda nuts. I also like the idea that your Marshal could become The Emperor’s Champion, giving up Sigismund’s Black Sword to have a store brand Black Sword. I don’t know why you ever would, but it’s funny to me in a dad joke sort of way.

Beanith: Sorry, I was busy giggling at the idea of Crusaders playing Spotlight with the Thronelight Lantern. The Reclaimed Relics are suitably awesome and are gated behind some very tricky Oath conditions that you’ll need to complete before getting your hands on them (and then chaining to said hands). The Shackles and Lantern are kinda meh but still have their uses. I would have liked to have seen more Melee relics options but that just me being fussy.


Final Thoughts

SRM: Some Crusade sections feel a little phoned in, but boy howdy this is not one of them. While the Agendas aren’t my favorite, the Oath system kicks ass and is so fluffy it hurts. The relics, especially the ones you need to collect pieces for, are fun and dripping with the flavor of Templars, Black. Most importantly, this Crusade section has a name generator with two D66 tables in it. Any Crusade section without one is absolutely missing out, and if that includes your codex, I’m sorry your army isn’t as cool as mine. I’m just happy that the dudes who are all about going on literal millennia-spanning crusades and have access to not one but three units with “crusader” in the name are actually good at the whole Crusade thing.

Beanith: My Ork Crusade Roster is suitably nervous right now but I shall remain strong and stay the course… at least until I’ve finished painting them and then all bets are off (Why did I go infantry heavy?). No doubt I’ll be facing them soon in my current Crusade Campaign and I look forward to seeing what cool Oaths and storylines they come up with. These Crusade sections just keep getting better and better (if you ignore the Grey Knights that is). This certainly makes up for the crushing disappointing Path to Glory dreck we got lumbered with in AoS.

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