Codex Supplement Black Templars – The Goonhammer Review

    Credit: Robert "TheChirurgeon" Jones

    Do you really like the Emperor? More than other Space Marines do? More than is maybe strictly healthy? Do you also like charging towards the Emperor’s foes with chainswords whirring and blessed gouts of promethium sowing terror amidst their ranks? Finally, do you like painting black power armour?

    If all of that sounds like you then good news – the Black Templars’ faith has finally been rewarded with a supplement of their own and it rules. Sporting some exceptional characters, great stratagems and some of the best customisation options and melee support out there, we think this book is going to make a big splash, and in this review we’re going to tell you why.

    Just before we do, special thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a review copy of the army box and codex – as well as this review this means we get to play with the new models, and we’ve got some of our best painters on the case as we speak, so guides coming soon!

    Why Play Black Templars?

    Black Templar Lieutenant with Power Fist and Power Sword
    Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

    Black Templars have three things that really help them stand out from the Space Marine pack. First up, if playing a melee-focused strategy is your jam there’s some fantastic support here – strong stratagems, an improved set of Litanies of the Devout and boosts for some of the Adeptus Astartes’ best melee units. Some of those boosts come in the form of the exceptional set of unit upgrades the Templars have access to – between their stratagems and the exciting new Relic Bearers option, they’ve got some of the best options out there for making your non-Character units punch above their weight. Finally, Templar Vows, this book’s replacement for a Super Doctrine, provide game-to-game customisation and include one incredible option with the kind of impact that makes you re-evaluate the whole Marine range in light of it. Whether you want your lovingly painted Crusade force to feel special and exciting on the tabletop or if you’re a die-hard competitive player who wants to tinker with a wealth of options, this book has got you covered.

    What’s in this Book?

    • Templar Vows, an exciting alternative to a super doctrine.
    • Fourteen stratagems, including some serious bangers.
    • A refreshed set of Litanies of the Devout, because psychic powers are for cowards.
    • Warlord Traits and Relics to upgrade your characters.
    • Relic Bearers, a new rule letting you buy upgrades for favoured models in your regular units.
    • A set of three secondary objectives for matched play games.
    • A Crusade section that lets your units swear holy oaths to the emperor and rewards them for completing them.
    • Datasheets providing rules for the newly Primaris heroes of the Templars.

    The Five Best Things About This Book

    • Uphold the Honour of the Emperor: The splashiest of the Templar Vows, providing one of the most exciting army-wide abilities in the whole edition.
    • Relic Bearers: The Templars points-based upgrade option is a massive winner, hitting the sweet spot of being interesting, broadly useful and powerful.
    • Helbrecht: Primaris Helbrecht is hilariously over the top, instantly one of the deadliest killers in the 41st millenium – as it should be.
    • Stratagems: There’s some real hot stuff here, with a modified (but still strong) version of Devout Push joined by some new friends.
    • Depth: Between the vows, Relic Bearers and a a second set of Litanies to play with there are a tonne of things you can do with this book, lots of which feel worthwhile.

    Where’s Crusade?

    As always, we’re going to focus on the Matched Play content in this book today, then cover Crusade in its own review on Tuesday, so if you want to find out whether the Templars can stay on brand by excelling at Crusading, check back then!

    The Rules

    Detachment Rules

    Templar Vows

    The Black Templars lack a superdoctrine in the style of the First Founding Chapters – instead, your reward for playing a pure Black Templars army is access to Templar Vows. These give all units with the Combat Doctrines ability a game-long bonus (none of these are restricted to a single Doctrine) at the cost of also taking on a Passion – a drawback that you’ll need to work around.

    Warhammer Community previewed these earlier in the week, showing off Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch and Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds:

    Source: Warhammer Community
    Source: Warhammer Community

    Rounding out the set are Suffer Not the Unclean to Live, and Uphold the Honour of the Emperor. Suffer Not is similar to the old Black Templars superdoctrine from the index, giving you auto-wounds on 6s to hit in melee against non-VEHICLE units, with the Passion requiring you to declare the nearest unengaged non-AIRCRAFT unit within 12” as a charge target if you’re making a charge – so if you want to run past some Cultists to charge into the Chaos Space Marine filth behind them, you better hope your unit can engage both, or that you have something to tie up the screen so that your big hitters can focus.

    Black Templars Scout Bikers. Credit: SRM

    Possibly the pick of the bunch, and the one that is likely to produce some interesting Black Templars builds, is Uphold the Honour of the Emperor. The Passion stops you from receiving the benefits of cover – but the Vow gives you a 5+ invulnerable save, as well as mini-Transhuman with unmodified rolls of 1 or 2 always failing to wound. That’s likely to be a very worthwhile trade, especially with the ever-popular Redemptor Dreadnoughts, which benefit heavily from gaining an invulnerable save.

    The other interesting thing about these is their flexibility; you pick which one is active at the end of the “Read Mission Briefing” step, which means they can be changed from game to game and therefore you can pick whichever one you most need in a particular match-up. Staring down some Thousand Sons? Pick Abhor the Witch and tear them down in glorious melee. Up against a wall of AP-4 Drukhari dark lances? It’s time to Uphold the Honour of the Emperor with a cool 5+ invulnerable. It’s a really neat way to be able to tailor your army a little to what’s across the table. You also don’t have to pick one – the ability is “can” – so in the extremely unlikely event that none of the bonuses are useful and all the drawbacks look too steep, you can just skip on them for the game.

    Wings: Uphold the Honour of the Emperor is awesome, and feels like it should absolutely shape how Templars play on the table, especially given the strong combos with popular Marine units like Redemptors, and how much of an upgrade it is on everything with a hull that doesn’t have a native invulnerable save. It’s not quite free for them, as they do lose the ability to benefit from Dense, but it’s an incredibly worthwhile trade.

    Elsewhere, I do like that there are some units where this isn’t strict upside – the semi-transhuman isn’t nothing (great if your opponent is trying to pop your footsloggers with dark lances) but units like Bladeguard and Assault Terminators (both well supported by this book) probably lose out by not being able to combine their storm shields with Light Cover. That’s not going to stop people using this and using it enthusiastically – ultimately being able to stick a 5+ invulnerable on Redemptors, Attack Bikes and other nasties is too good for there not to be a build around it – but I do think credit is due for making the decisions much more interesting than some other swingy effects.

    Stratagems

    Despite not having a full supplement, Templars have been performing surprisingly well until now off the power of a few of their Stratagems, most notably Devout Push and Tenacious Assault. The good news is that strong stratagems is still going to be a big part of their gameplay – while both the two previous standouts have been toned down, the new version of Devout Push is still great, and there’s a bunch of new cool stuff here.

    Source: Warhammer Community

    Let’s start with Devout Push, previously the lynchpin of Black Templars’ strategy. Warhammer Community went ahead and spoiled this one, so you may have already seen it, but it’s still worth discussing in detail. First the bad news; it no longer lets you pile into a combat you weren’t already in. The new version happens at the start of the Fight Phase and now lets you either pile in if you’re already engaged (helpful for stopping your opponent’s pile-in plans) or make a Normal Move of up to 3”. Luckily, the latter mode has gained some flexibility to compensate for not being able to bypass the charge phase. When you use it on a unit, it now has to end the move either closer to the nearest enemy unit or closer to the nearest objective. That instantly adds some utility – you can use this in your opponent’s turn to creep within range of an objective, or with some careful positioning use it as a pseudo Fire and Fade for shooty infantry – popping out from a ruin containing an objective, popping off some shots, then diving back in, and as a Normal Move you can even use it to embark in a transport if you so desire. On tables with very sharply delineated Obscuring blocks like the GW roadshow terrain this is even easier, and can even be used on Dreadnoughts (since this is now locked to CORE). Finally, the requirement is only that the unit end up closer to the nearest objective or enemy unit, not every model, so you get a bit more flexibility on precise positioning than you would with a Pile In. It’s no longer Templars’ One Weird Trick For Doing Everything, but still very useful – out of phase movement is always a great trick to have up your sleeve.

    Being able to creep onto an objective is also a great combo with one of the standout new stratagems, Strength of Conviction. For one CP, in your command phase, a CORE unit gains Objective Secured until the start of your next command phase. This is incredible – handing out ObSec is always good, and the timing on this means that when you have to choose to activate it you’ll have perfect information as to whether it’s going to add to your scoring in the moment. Using it to mess with your opponent’s scoring takes a bit more planning, but if you’re about to send your Bladeguard or Vanguard Veterans off to mess with your opponent’s stuff it can be very worth pulling the trigger on this.

    A bit pricier but also great is Bombastic Delivery. For 2CP this lets one of your Chaplains both automatically recite one of their litanies this Command phase and use one extra litany – so essentially you get to fire off the Litany of Hate in addition to ensuring your most important one for the turn lands. Chaplains are great, Templars give them a bunch of extra utility, and this is a great tool for them – good stuff.

    Elsewhere for stuff you use during the game, there’s a new trick to give your flame weapons Blast, Neophytes can amp up their shotguns to damage 2 and there’s one more new trick in the form of For the Emperor’s Honour. This is a slightly toned down version of Angel’s Sacrifice from Blood Angels, allowing you to force an enemy CHARACTER to fight one of yours. While less good than the Blood Angels version, it combos extremely well with the powerful new Tannhauser’s Bones relic, so should still be a clutch trick plenty of the time.

    Black Templars Assault Terminators. Credit: SRM

    Many of the existing stratagems get some chopping and changing here too. Tenacious Assault is probably the biggest loser, as it gets toned down to only work on 4+ and not affect FLY units, in line with similar abilities. It’s a shame, but you’ll absolutely still pop it some of the time. The Emperor’s WIll gets more of a sidegrade – no more Advance and Charge from it, but it now lets you shoot Rapid Fire weapons after advancing and ignore the Assault penalty, making that half of the effect much more meaningful. Assault Centurions look like they could be moderately real in this chapter, and this works super well with their hurricane bolters. On that note – Shock and Awe gets perhaps the most exciting change of the lot, now allowing units in a Land Raider Crusader to disembark after it makes a Normal Move. They cannot make further moves in that phase but they can still charge, so if you want to throw a unit of Centurions into your opponent’s face (the whole package with a 5+ invuln from Uphold no less) you can. It may not tear up the tournament scene, but it’s a trick with the level of power that it makes including the units involved genuinely exciting and that rules.

    Do you know what else rules? Upgrading stuff. Black Templars get the two standard supplement upgrades of double Warlord Traits and handing out a relic to a sergeant, and the latter is particularly interesting here because one of the options is the Sword of Judgement, a cheeky S7 D3 power sword that goes great on Vanguard Veteran sergeants or Sword Brothers alike. Joining them and unique to the Templars is a final incredibly cool thing to round this section out – Champion of the Feast. This lets you upgrade one Sergeant or Sword Brother in your army to be a stone cold killer, gaining an extra attack, extra point of weapon skill and extra wound. Obviously fantastic on the crunchier sergeant options out there like Bladeguard or (again) Centurions, and even more exciting because it can be combined with either the Sword of Judgement or a Relic Bearers upgrade to seed an absolute murder machine into one of your units. It’s a very, very cool thing to finish with, and a great way to bring some of the energy of late-stage Crusade sergeants into matched play.

    Overall, this section feels like a winner – Templars were deeply dependent on a small number of tricks before, and they now get a much more balanced suite of stuff to play with, rounded off by some great upgrades. The only thing this maybe feels like it’s missing is an Advance/Charge – because Devout Push could essentially do this before they’re going from two to zero. There’s enough great stuff in this supplement that the Chapter will be just fine, but that’s maybe one thing they could have kept.

    Warlord Traits

    Black Templars Techmarine, Apothecary, and Castellan. Credit: SRM

    Warlord traits have generally stayed pretty similar or seen mild improvements from the Index versions, and are largely fine (if maybe not as exciting as some of the awesome stuff here).

    Completely unchanged, Epitome of Piety still gives you a boosted deny and Oathkeeper still provides a 6” heroic. Rather awesomely, the Emperor’s Champion no longer has to take that one (he can take any other from this list) as the effect of Oathkeeper is built in to his datasheet. Inspirational Fighter also stays mostly the same (giving extra AP to nearby units on 6s to wound in melee) but now explicitly stacks with the Assault Doctrine, which is obviously nice. It’s probably still a bit marginal, but if you want to do some sort of comedy Crusader spam list it might be worth a look.

    If you do want to make your most holy warrior your commander that makes Paragon of Fury pretty appealing – this now lets you roll a d6 for each enemy model within engagement range after you charge and do a mortal on a 5+ and grants +1S, which gets his attack modes to S8 and S9, good break points. He already Fights First when duelling characters, but other brave heroes might benefit from Master of Arms, providing both Fight First and an extra attack. Now that you can double dip on your warlord, if you want a merciless killer then comboing this with Imperium’s Sword is quite the thing.

    Finally, Front-Line Commander gets a minor re-work, providing the character themselves with +1 to advances and charges and +1 to anyone charging into a unit they’re engaged with. This is still Helbrecht’s trait, so he needs to be getting stuck in if he wants to inspire his buddies into battle. Luckily, that is not something you’re going to mind doing even slightly.

    Definitely some utility here overall, but you’re probably looking at Codex Marines options first then coming to these after a lot of the time.

    Relics

    Another section here with a strong mixture of returning favourites and new toys. Both the Ancient Breviary (Chaplains roll 2d6 and discard the lowest when trying to recite a litany) and the Crusader’s Helm return essentially unchanged (the Helm gets longer range on its Assault Doctrine buff), and since those were the ones people were using before, that’s a great start! As mentioned earlier, the Sword of Judgement has received a glow-up, jumping to a mighty S+3 and keeping its D3, making it a lethal toy to hand out to a power sword sergeant somewhere.

    The Skull of the Cacodominus has seen a bigger update, and is vastly better at its job of ruining Psykers’ days as a result. This now has a static effect of giving Psykers within 12” -1 to cast and perils on any double, and once per game in the opponent’s psychic phase you can reveal it to give an additional -1 within 18”. Wide-ranging -2 to cast is a massive headache for Grey Knights and even starts to give Thousand Sons some pause, so if those books are terrorising your metagame, this is for you.

    In terms of new stuff, there’s a nasty relic power axe, a hilariously over the top combi-flamer in Breath of the Throne and two ways to make your heroes extra swole to finish up. The Aquila Immortalis is neat, giving a model an extra point of toughness and an attack, but it’s Tannhauser’s Bones, hiding at the end of the section, that really shines. Stealing a trick from the Sororitas, this changes the damage of any attack allocated to the bearer to a flat D1. Dark Lance? D1. Reaper Chainsword? D1. Volcano Cannon? Buddy you better believe that’s going to D1. Stick this on a Bike Chaplain and enjoy ramming him into your opponent’s characters and activating For the Emperor’s Honour all day, is our advice.

    Relic Bearers

    Black Templars Assault Marines. Credit: SRM

    But wait, there’s more! As long as your army contains a Chaplain (and if it doesn’t, we have questions) you gain access to an additional source of upgrades, this time for your basic units, in Relic Bearers. You can purchase one of these for each INFANTRY or BIKER unit in your army, and each one can only be taken once. When you purchase one, you pick a model in the unit to gain the relevant ability, and the unit gains the RELIC BEARERS keyword (which only actually matters in Crusade).

    Good news Black Templars players – these are priced to move (all ranging from 10-20pts) and absolutely rule. Warhammer Community showed off the Holy Orb, but that’s only the start of the goodies in here.

    On the offence, there are two big winners here – Sigismund’s Seal and the Fist of Balthus. The former is the priciest of the lot but also super powerful, letting you choose an enemy unit at the start of the battle and give the entire unit full hit and wound re-rolls against it in melee. If you need your Bladeguard to punk a whole entire Knight this is for you. The Fist of Balthus is a more incidental upgrade, but a very strong one – for a mere 10pts, it upgrades a power fist to be D3 with no hit penalty, which is quite the thing to seed into a VanVet unit.

    Those are certainly neat, but it’s the two defensive tricks (both running you 15pts) that really stand out here and are likely going to be staples of Templar lists (alongside the Orb, which rules). The Icon of Heinmann is first up, allowing the bearer to ignore AP-1 and AP-2. Phenomenal on anything with a baseline 2+ save, meaning it’s great seeded into a Bladeguard or VanVet unit, and spicy on Terminators. Anyone who’s played against the Reactive Countermeasures upgrade in Tau should be well aware of how annoying this can be, and it’s super cool to have access to. The other option, the Crux Obsidian, is honestly just as exciting when used correctly, providing -1D to the bearer. Obviously the more wounds you have the better, and this is again cool on Bladeguard, and also funny on an Assault Centurion. This one is quite plausibly worth dropping on whichever model you’ve upgraded with Champion of the Feast, because who doesn’t want a Centurion Squad lead by a Dreadnought who walks like a man? You can also do stuff like dropping this on an attack bike to provide some serious ablative durability, and it’s generically great when handed out to Eradicators or Inceptors too.

    The two defensive options and the Holy Orb are all bargains that should be in the conversation for the vast majority of Templar lists that get built, and the other options here certainly aren’t bad, making this section a smash hit.

    Litanies of the Devout

    Black Templars Chaplains. Credit: SRM

    Like in the Index, the Black Templars get their own suite of litanies for their Chaplains to know. Grimaldus must pick from these ones, but regular Chaplains can pick from either these or the regular Litanies of Battle from Codex: Space Marines.

    The Litanies in this book mostly have the same names in the same order as the Index, with only the Vow of Retribution disappearing in favour of the new Plea of Deliverance. The Plea now works like the Chorus of Spiritual Fortitude from the Adepta Sororitas book, cancelling any psychic powers affecting a unit and making them unable to be affected by any further ones until your next Command phase.

    Divine Protection and Fires of Devotion are unchanged (which is great news, as they were heavily used), but the other three have all undergone significant revision. Possibly the coolest is Oath of Glory, which is now a self-buff similar to the Mantra of Strength from the base Codex, granting the Chaplain +1 Strength, fights first, and the ability to score 2 additional hits for every 6 to hit in melee. If your goal for your Chaplain is to get him in and start breaking heads, this will give him a big leg up in doing that (though that does mean you can no longer hand out Fight First to other units from these, so make sure to bring a Holy Orb for a critical turn).

    Bringing the new Vows into play from another angle is Fervent Acclamation, which now lets you pick a CORE or CHARACTER unit within 6” and give it another Vow, on top of the one you already chose. Finally there’s the Psalm of Remorseless Persecution, which now gives a CORE (and importantly, not CHARACTER) unit within 6” the ability to do a mortal wound on a 6 to wound in melee, up to a maximum of 6. Something like a big pack of Vanguard Veterans can throw out the weight of attacks to maximise this, allowing them to punch up into targets that would normally be a bit beyond their reach. Because of Uphold, you can probably afford to sneak a few double claw models into your VanVet squads, and this lets them absolutely flatten stuff.

    Secondary Objectives

    Just three Secondary Objectives here, all with suitably death metal names – exemplified by the first, Bathe Your Blade in the Blood of Your Foe. Sitting in Purge the Enemy, this works identically to the Blood Angels’ Blade of Sanguinius, letting you set up the kind of Warlord fight which is normally a bad idea in the competitive arena but can be a good idea if you think your guy is going to win and score 15pts for doing so.

    In Battlefield Supremacy we have Allow Not the Worship of Unclean Idols, with a juicy 4VP on offer to do what is, basically, Shock Assault from Codex: Space Marines, with the extra rider that you have to have one of your Chaplains in range of the objective you flipped. If your plan includes multiple Chaplains who are likely to be pitching in on the front lines, great; if not, you’re likely to find this a bit of an uphill battle, and objectives like these have a tendency to sound easier than they actually are.

    Rounding out the selection is Carry Out Your Vows in No Mercy, No Respite, which has an interesting split component – you can earn up to 12VP, at a rate of 4 per battle round, if the number of enemy units destroyed by melee attacks by your Black Templars units is greater than the number of units in your army that were destroyed, by whatever means your opponent manages it. It’s an interesting tension; your opponent has the upper hand in terms of getting the kills, but you can score big just by doing what you were probably already planning to do, hit them in the face as hard as possible in melee, and it’s perfectly possible to max in just 3 turns.

    The other part is an end-game objective worth 3VP, and your objective changes depending on which Vow you chose. These are thematically-linked, so Suffer Not the Unclean gives you 3VP for killing the enemy Warlord in melee with one of your characters, while Abhor the Witch gives you 3VP for killing any enemy psyker character. Uphold is possibly the most straightforward – you just need a Black Templars INFANTRY (not characters) unit above half strength to finish the game in the enemy deployment zone, while Accept Any Challenge rewards you for killing either lots of enemy models or really tough ones, earning 3VP for destroying either a 20+ model unit or a 20+ wound one.

    The Units

    HQ

    Black Templars Marshals. Credit: SRM

    There’s only three actual datasheets in here for HQs, for High Marshal Helbrecht, Chaplain Grimaldus, and the Emperor’s Champion. If you’re wondering where the Marshal and Castellan you’ve seen previewed are hiding, they’re tucked in the front of the Datasheets section under “Additional Wargear Options”, which allows you to pick unique weapon options to represent them – a Primaris Captain, as a Marshal, can take a combo of an auto-flamer or plasma pistol and a master-crafted power sword or axe, while a Primaris Lieutenant with heavy bolt pistol/auto-plasma and chainsword or master-crafted power sword represents a Castellan. Despite some mixed messages from Warhammer Community on Twitter, these are purely options for the Primaris models – if you want to call your Firstborn guys a Marshal or Castellan you are free to do so, it has no rules impact, but they don’t get any unique choices.

    Auto-plasmas and auto-flamers, incidentally, are exactly what they sound like – combi-weapons that combine an auto bolt rifle with a plasma gun or flamer. These are just the regular kind, no fancy Primaris versions.

    Putting the slightly clunky upgrade options aside, let’s take a look at the full-size datasheets. Helbrecht immediately comes out swinging – he’s gone up to a mighty eight wounds (more than Dante, Azrael, or Logan Grimnar), as well as having a 2+ save. If you’re a Black Templars player, though, you’re not really looking for defence – on the offence, he brings his combi-melta Ferocity, with a Strength 5 bolt rifle profile and a melta profile which always does D6+2 damage, while his Sword of the High Marshals has either a one-handed profile which lets him make 2 hit rolls (for a casual 14 attacks on the charge) at S6 AP-3 D1, or a two-handed profile which is effectively an old-style thunder hammer. He also retains the Crusade of Wrath aura, which gives BLACK TEMPLARS CORE within 6” +1 Strength. We shouldn’t forget his attendant thralls, either – he gets a bonus two attacks with their mighty fists at S3 AP0 D1. Truly fearsome. Overall he’s competitively priced at 160pts, so if you’re keen to use his awesome new model he’s not going to make you regret it.

    Also going rules-heavy is the new Chaplain Grimaldus. His stats are pretty ordinary for a Primaris Chaplain, as is his wargear – a regular plasma pistol and an artificer crozius, which is just an extra point of AP. He’s also now a Master of Sanctity, so no more doubling up on those, Templars players.

    So why do you take him? Well, he’s Devout and can therefore deny a psychic power once per turn, and also has Indomitable Resolve so when he dies he can stand back up again on a 4+ with 3 wounds – one timely heal away from being back to full strength. The key benefits come from his Cenobyte Servitors, though – there’s three of them, which now form a little unit with him instead of splitting off on their own, and each one carries a relic giving variously D3+3” for Advance rolls by nearby CORE or CHARACTERS instead of D6”, a 6” aura to let CORE or CHARACTERs ignore wounds on a 6+, and +1 to litanies for Grimaldus. This creates an interesting tension a bit like the Triumph of St Katherine – you must kill Cenobytes first, and they’re only 1 wound models with a 4+ save, so they’re pretty easy to kill (though the unit as a whole benefits from Look Out Sir! similarly to Celestine) – and as they die, you start losing the abilities they bring. While they die to almost any hit, they can be super useful if your opponent is trying to snipe Grimaldus out with a big gun, as they’ll still eat a whole entire meltagun shot on the way to the Emperor’s side.

    Wings: Grimaldus is very cool and I’m sure will see a good amount of play, since quite apart from anything else he stacks with Uphold to provide Redemptors with a total of a 5++/6+++, which is quite something. There is a tension, however, that the BT litanies are probably less good for supporting a gunline than generic ones, and Grimaldus does now lock you out of having a Bike Master of Sanctity rolling around. He can still amp up some more mobile units and fire them off to do some mischief, and his auras are really good, so overall seems strong, but there are probably other builds you try too.

    Rounding out the three is the Emperor’s Champion, in fresh Primaris form. The Black Sword gets back its classic choice of either a sweeping blow or thrusting strike – the former at S7 AP3 D2, the latter at Sx2 AP-4 D3 but also -1 to hit. The Armour of Faith and his Skilful Parry rule remain as they ever were, but Sigismund’s Heir replaces Sigismund’s Honour and now grants re-roll hits and wounds against enemy characters, while the new Martial Superiority gives the Champion fight first if he’s in Engagement Range with enemy characters – even if he doesn’t target them. For 100pts, that’s a decent character-killing package, though whether you strictly need that with the rest of the good stuff in here is debatable.

    Troops

    Black Templars Neophytes. Credit: SRM

    Two entries here now, because Crusaders come in both small and large varieties. Tragic news for anyone who has been enjoying 17pt Crusaders – GW have noticed this and they’re now much more closely Tactical Marines with some different options  and the ability to take ablative scouts. If you want to run classic Black Templar units then go wild, and being able to swap out to Astartes Chainswords is still cool, but they’re not must-takes.

    Primaris Crusaders are the new kids on the block and they’re very cool, while again maybe not being mandatory units. To build a unit of these you have to take at least five Initiates, a Sword Brother and four Neophytes. The latter are considerably meatier than – the only thing that’s different about them compared to Initiates stats-wise is a 4+ save and Ld6, and while their ranged weapons are a bit weaker (they get bolt carbines rather than auto bolt rifles, and basic bolt pistols instead of heavy), if you go melee with them they get the same Astartes chainswords as their big brothers. If there’s a niche for this unit that’s where it’s going to come from – this is the cheapest way to throw down a lot of Primaris melee attacks and bodies. Combo that with the Uphold and Litany of Divine Protection and you can turn these into a gigantic slab of 5++/5+++ ObSec wounds to try and dominate the table for around 350pts (plus whatever you spend on upgrades), compatible with Transhuman Physiology and there’s maybe something there? Honestly that’s what we love about this book – there are so many things you could try that at least look plausible, and going big with Primaris Crusaders is one of them.

    Elites

    Sword Brethren are an odd unit. They’re melee Primaris veterans and have some astoundingly cool models, but that comes at a terrible price – they’ve been bitten by the curse of the model-linked equipment options. As a result, you have to take a weird hodge-podge of melee weapons if you’re buying fancy toys for them, making them hard to specialise, and the price point they end up sitting in is awkwardly between Assault Intercessors and the vastly more lethal Bladeguard, and they risk being not reliably enough better than the former and not cheaper enough than the latter.

    Ironically, the best use for these might be hiding behind a wall back in your deployment zone – they have the special Vow-sword Bladesmen ability, which lets them ignore the Passion of your vows, and come at a minimum unit size of 4 (so are 88pts bare bones). That is narrowly cheaper than taking some Assault Intercessors, and they can still benefit from Cover when Uphold is active, so maaaaybe, but far from mandatory. Otherwise, you can definitely set them up to be pretty effective volume attackers for  Psalm of Remorseless Persecution, but there are plenty of other ways to achieve that.

    Vehicle Upgrades

    As well as character options, the Datasheets section also includes the Black Templars Armoury, which enables you to take a multi-melta upgrade on Primaris vehicles (i.e. Impulsors, Gladiators, and Repulsors). This will run you 20pts, which isn’t cheap, but if you were lacking multi-meltas in your life then throwing one on an Impulsor is certainly an option you can choose. Bearing in mind that you can have a 5+ invulnerable save on those for free with Uphold the Honour of the Emperor, spending your shield dome points on one of these instead might well work out.

    Other Units of Note

    Black Templars provide particularly strong support for all of the following:

    • Redemptor Dreadnoughts – anything that gives these an invuln rules, and with Devout Push and Strength of Conviction to use as well, expect to see these in most lists.
    • Bladeguard. Sure they don’t need an invuln added, but being able to upgrade them with either Champion of the Feast or Relic Bearers upgrades rules.
    • Vanguard Veterans. Pretty much same again, with the added bonus of being ideal delivery mechanisms for Psalm of Remorseless Persecution.
    • Attack Bikes. As any Ravenwing player will tell you, Attack Bikes and an invulnerable save are a pretty iconic duo, and being able to give one in the unit -1D with the Crux Obsidian is incredible.
    • Assault Centurions. Whenever you see an upgrade you should be thinking “what’s the nastiest thing I can put this on”, and since none of the upgrades in this book are CORE locked, Assault Cents are the answer.

    Our Thoughts

    How They’ll Play

    Violently. Black Templars are still all about getting in the opponent’s face and brutally stomping them, probably with a powerful Redemptor-backed second wave. All the upgrades they have available mean that, more than other Marines, they can tinker with their units to make them particularly suited to specific targets, allowing them to send deadly thrusts into the midst of their opponents forces. They’re also a real pain to defeat in a contest of board control too thanks to the power of Devout Push and Strength of Conviction – if Templars get near your objectives then you’re in real trouble. Backing that up, what ranged units they choose to field are going to be particularly indomitable thanks to their faith in the Emperor, as manifested via a 5+ invulnerable save. Add on a bunch of cool options for making brave heroes, including one of the nastiest Chapter Masters out there, and a dark horse option of going horde with Primaris Crusaders and you’ve got an army that’s definitely planning to hit you hard in melee, but has a lot of choice in how exactly they do it.

    Hot Takes

    Liam

    My first impression of the book is that it’s really cool. Templars have had a bit of a twilight existence in 40k, sometimes getting their own full Codex and sometimes being Sir Not Appearing In This Wargame, and the Supplement model feels like it’s a natural fit for them, letting all their cool stuff be foregrounded at once.

    Speaking of cool stuff, Helbrecht’s new model is awesome, and his rules live up to it; he’s a beefy 8-wound boy and he hits like a train when he reaches combat. Whether he makes it in competitive lists depends on whether that melee potential can be realised, but GW have at least had a very good go at making it worth trying, and in a rare bit of foresight his default Warlord trait is a good one, so you can even go ahead and make him your actual-factual Warlord if you want to without lumbering yourself with something pointless.

    Leaning into the Templars’ thing with a more melee-focused set of Litanies is also great, and they’re pretty much all an improvement from the prior versions, with a more interesting set of effects, and a neat link to the Vows – also great, and an interesting vector for trying stuff out that you might not expect from Black Templars since the 5+ invulnerable from Uphold the Honour of the Emperor does a lot to improve the anaemic defences of Space Marine vehicles.

    For low points, I’m pretty lukewarm on the new Primaris Sword Brethren, which feel like they’re trapped between Assault Intercessors (or even Veteran Intercessors!) at the low end and Bladeguard Veterans at the high end. This is the exact kind of unit that I call completely wrong and everyone ends up running 30 of, but on paper they look like a bit of a nothing, with lacklustre offence and unremarkable defence. Their datasheet also suffers from Kommando Syndrome, where their kit has a ton of cool bits in and the new rules philosophy of “only give them what’s in the kit” means you have to negotiate 12 bullet points to figure out whether one or two guys can have lightning claws.

    Ultimately, whether Black Templars light up the tournament scene depends on how much their extra stuff can juice the slightly underwhelming core that is Codex: Space Marines. Anything that hands out an army-wide 5+ invulnerable save seems like it’s on to something, though Black Templars lack the kind of shooting tools that other codexes offer to Dreadnoughts that have made for some ferocious Iron Hands/Ultramarines/Deathwatch builds recently. That said, Index Templars have been doing well on their own terms, and while Devout Push getting changed is going to kick the legs out from their current playstyle a bit, they get a lot of new stuff to make up for it; it’ll be interesting to see if they can make it count.

    Wings

    Yeah so first up I’m going to echo what Liam said – this book absolutely rules and is everything a Marine Supplement should be. Templars players have had to be patient, but the wait was worth it – this supplement joins Sisters, Thousand Sons and Death Guard as a fantastic example of 9th Edition design trends done right. There’s power, cool unique stuff that no one else gets, and a bunch of things that are clearly powerful but with enough constraints on them that you have to think about how to build them into lists. I do suspect that lists using Uphold the Honour of the Emperor are going to stand out, but there are other things you can do here, and real tradeoffs between the various decisions you have to make.

    Unlike Liam, however, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say this book is competitively strong, because it checks all the boxes that make a Marine army great – good Redemptor support, good Chaplain support, movement/ObSec tricks and a few ways to build some super powered characters/upgraded units. They’re also in a similar position to Thousand Sons where chucking out wide-ranging 5+ invulnerable saves is a big old wild card, potentially making a bunch of units that are normally firmly 6/10 actually good. I am confident there’s tournament winning power in here, but enough places it can come from that we’re going to see some cycles of iteration while people figure out which of the wild things you can do with this are optimal.

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s fantastic – even though it’s a much smaller tome, this book has a lot of the same energy as the Drukhari codex (in a good way). You’re presented with a wealth of super cool options, the book clearly wants you to try lots of them out, and they all look fun. I realise Drukhari comparisons may put some peoples hackles up, but Drukhari upgrade and customisation energy on top of a slightly more modest suite of datasheets (as the Marine codex provides) is pretty much the sweet spot where fun and power intersect. I do think this book is instantly one of the best Marine options, but in our brave new world of AdMech, Orks and Drukhari that’s absolutely where these need to be aimed, and I hope that similar upgrades for the 8th Edition supplements are in the pipe. All-in-all, top marks!

    Army Lists

    Wings: Two from me here, one as an attempt at a “serious” build, one doing something far sillier that Templars makes me want to try. You have been warned

    The Extremely Serious Crusade of Brother Gallant

    HQ

    Helbrecht – 160
    Grimaldus, Litany of Divine Protection, Psalm of Remorseless Persecution – 140
    Primaris Chaplain on BIke, Warlord, Rites of War, Heir of Sigismund – Oathkeeper, Tannhauser’s Bones, Canticle of Hate – 115, 1CP

    Troops

    Infiltrators – 120
    Infiltrators – 120
    Crusaders with chainswords – 90

    Elites

    5 Bladeguard Veterans, Champion of the Feast, Icon of Heinmann (on a regular) – 190, 1CP
    5 Vanguard Veterans, jump packs, sergeant with Sword of Judgement (Revered Repositories) and shield, 2x claw/shield, 2x double claw, Holy Orb – 161, 1CP
    5 Vanguard Veterans, jump packs, sergeant with Fist of Balthus and shield, 2x claw/shield, 2x double claw – 159
    Redemptor Dreadnought, plasma, onslaught, fragstorm, icarus – 185
    Redemptor Dreadnought, plasma, onslaught, fragstorm, icarus – 185
    2 Company Veterans, shields/chainswords – 48

    Fast Attack

    3 Attack Bikes, multi-meltas, Crux Obsidian – 195

    Dedicated Transport

    Impulsor, multi-melta – 130

    1998pts, 9CP

    This list is on the plan A of using Uphold, but against opponents with limited ranged threat would definitely consider switching to one of the other vows as appropriate, as the up-close threats all sport invulns. The list packs in a trio of hyper-deadly melee units, with the VanVets in particular planning to get souped up with Psalm to flatten almost everything, and each sporting a sergeant with a deadly D3 weapon to take down the nastiest stuff out there. Shooting wise, Attack Bikes with Helbrecht’s buff and -1D on the first one that starts taking damage rule, and a pair of Redemptors chilling out in Grimaldus’ aura provide a powerful mixture of horde flattening and late game melee brutality. Finally, I’ve included a Chaplain loaded with what I think is one of the most powerful character combos the book offers – the combo of a 6” heroic, ObSec and being incredibly hard to kill is a big problem for many opponents.

    The Comedy Crusade of Brother Goofus, the Dreadnought Who Walks Like Unto a Man

    Black Templars Land Raider Crusader. Credit: SRM

    HQ

    Helbrecht – 160
    Primaris Master of Sanctity on Bike, Recitation of Focus, Mantra of Strength,Rites of War, Ancient Breviary – 140, 1CP
    Primaris Master of the Forge, March of the Ancients, Heir of Sigismund – Epitome of Piety – 100, 1CP

    Troops

    Incursors – 105
    Incursors – 105
    Crusaders with chainswords – 90

    Elites

    4x Centurion Assault Squad, bolters and flamers, Champion of the Feast, Crux Obsidian (on sergeant) – 275, 1CP
    Redemptor Dreadnought, plasma, onslaught, fragstorm, icarus – 185
    Redemptor Dreadnought, plasma, onslaught, fragstorm, icarus – 185
    Redemptor Dreadnought, plasma, onslaught, fragstorm – 180
    5 Vanguard Veterans, jump packs, sergeant with Sword of Judgement (Revered Repositories) and shield, 2x claw/shield, 2x double claw, Holy Orb – 161, 1CP
    2 Company Veterans, shields/chainswords – 48

    Heavy Support

    Land Raider Crusader – 265

    1999pts, 8CP

    I will not be taking questions at this time. Complaints are to be directed to Brother Goofus, the 5W -1D Centurion whose Land Raider is even now wheeling him into battle. Cower, foes of the Emperor

    Wrap Up

    Black Templars rule, and this book both rewards players who’ve got lovingly crafted armies of them and provides competitive Marine players another powerful option to try out. We love it, and we’ll have plenty more content about it across our columns next week, including the Crusade review. Comments, questions and suggestions to contact@goonhammer.com as ever.