October 2020 FAQ Update Review – Black Templars

In advance of the upcoming release of Codex: Space Marines and as promised, Games Workshop dropped a massive FAQ update on us today (remember when we said fifteen books needed FAQs? Turns out it was more). There’s a lot to digest, so we’re poring over every word of the updates and noting what’s changed and our thoughts on what it means for the faction. In this article we’re looking at Black Templars and the changes to their rules from Faith and Fury.

Black Templars have been pretty quiet on the competitive scene until extremely recently, with Ben Cherwien navigating them to a second place finish at the Iron Halo major. With a new Codex hitting the scene on Saturday, the Templars rules from Faith and Fury get an update pass along with everyone elses, ensuring that anyone hoping to emulate their recent successes should be ready to go as soon as their book arrives. Let’s get into it.

What’s Changed?

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

Chapter Rules

The magnitude of changes for the Templars is relatively small. Their rules are some of the more recent out there, and unlike Dark Angels, Blood Angels and Wolves there’s no exercise required to reconcile the duplication of stratagems between their Psychic Awakening and the Codex. The new FAQ updates the following:

  • Stratagems get their wording updated to meet the new standards. Most importantly, Devout Push is conclusively confirmed to currently be working as intended, keeping all the nasty movement shenanigans it enables firmly on the table. The only other oddity here is that The Emperor’s Will needs a minor further wording tweak, needing to permit a unit equipped with pistols to be chosen to shoot after advancing (though the intent is super clear, so I would assume people will play it as intended till it gets one).
  • Litanies of the Devout are updated to specify CORE or CHARACTER, in line with all other litanies. Relevant ones also become Auras, and Oath of Glory gets the standard fight first wording. They’re functionally unchanged beyond that.
  • Warlord Traits get some changes to bring them in-line with new standards:
    • Oathkeeper is updated so that it includes the 5″ vertical distance for Heroic Interventions.
    • Master of Arms gets the standard fight first wording.
    • Front-Line Commander and Inspirational FIghter both now apply to CORE only. This obviously makes Front-Line Commander in particular a bit less good, as it can’t power up the character with it.
  • Relics are a mix:
    • The Aurelian Shroud becomes CORE and CHARACTER only.
    • The Crusader’s Helm doesn’tstill being able to target any Black Templars unit.
    • Witchseeker Bolts need a further change, they still refer to “closest target” rather than Look Out Sir.
    • The Sword of Judgement oddly doesn’t go up to S+2, staying S+1. Since most other special power weapons gained a point, this might get another look.
    • The rest stay unchanged.
  • Knights of Sigismund appears to be completely removed, so your hit rolls of 6 won’t be auto-wounding in melee during the Assault Doctine. It appears that the sons of Dorn aren’t believers in having bonuses.


High Marshall Helbrecht

High Marshall Helbrecht
High Marshall Helbrecht. Credit: SRM

Helbrecht picks up the following standard changes:

  • Chapter Master picks up the new wording, selecting one unit per turn.
  • He gains Rites of Battle to compensate.
  • The melta half of his combi-melta gains the new bonus damage at half range.

In addition, for his specific abilities:

  • Crusade of Wrath now affects CORE only. This takes his own strength down by a point but…
  • The Sword of the High Marshalls changes to S+2, compensating for the above, and is also now flat damage 2.

His cost is unchanged, and Helbrect ain’t going anywhere from Templar lists, since pretty much all their key units are CORE.

The Emperor’s Champion

The Emperor’s Champion gets a couple of notable buffs:

  • The Black Sword changes to S+3 (and flat damage 2), which in combination with Sigismund’s Honour (unchanged except for keying off engagement range now), lets him strike at an eye-watering S8 against enemy characters.
  • Slayer of Champions is upgraded to make him fight first if he starts the fight phase in engagement range of any enemy CHARACTERS in addition to its existing effect.

You pay a very reasonable five extra points for this glow up, which seems entirely fair.

Chaplain Grimaldus

Credit: SRM

Chaplain Grimaldus, oddly, is not a Master of Sanctity any more, potentially opening up the option of taking one of those too. That could be a mistake, but might mean the Bike Chaplain proves quite the lure for BT players. Beyond that, his Unmatched Zeal and Spiritual Leader abilities both change to only affect CORE, the former mildly dialing down the counter-charge threat that Templar characters provide.

Cenobyte Servitors

These become a flat 20pts, but the good news is that their Relic of Helsreach still affects all Black Templars units.

Crusader Squads

The Initiates in these go up to 2W and 18pts, in line with Tactical Squads. Their free option to take a chainsword instead of their bolter gets upgrade to a heftier Astartes chainsword, which is a nice boost to their capabilities, but the really interesting thing here is keywords. The unit gets the MELTA BOMB keyword in general (in-line with Tacticals), but if you add any Neophytes the unit also gains SMOKE SCREEN, letting them use the Smokescreen stratagem to gain -1 to hit against themselves for a phase. While on balance you probably still want spicier options, a unit of 9 Initiates and one Neophyte is one of the more cost-effective ways you can throw down a lot of ObSec wounds and pile on a bit of durability.


Imperial Space Marine
Imperial Space Marine. Credit: SRM

Honestly? Not much. What successful Black Templars lists we have seen are overwhelmingly made up of CORE units, and the advent of 3W Assault Terminators to combine with all of the tools in their supplement feels like a more than reasonable trade from a small number of buffs now not applying to the characters. Melee Marine death stars look better than ever in the Chapters that can keep them mobile, and Black Templars very much still can, so things look promising. Losing the auto-wound is a bit painful, but it wasn’t quite enough to be completely built around, and hopefully is just an omission that’ll be fixed soon.

Wrap Up

More of these are coming as fast as we can write them. In what order you ask? You’ll have to just wait and find out, because we do not in any way know.