Psychic Awakening is the 2nd major campaign event of 8th edition (Vigilus is the first) and is expected to run for quite some time. In the second book of the series, Faith & Fury, we’re receiving new rules for Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and the Black Templars. We’ve already covered the new CSM and Space Marines rules in parts 1 and 2 of our review series. In today’s review, we’re covering the new rules for the Black Templars Space Marines Chapter.
You could forgive Black Templar players for feeling left out by the recent Codex: Space Marines release. As one of the most popular factions of Space Marines since they became the poster boys in 3rd edition, receiving rules in the Armageddon Campaign Codex, it was surprising to see their support reduced to a single Chapter Trait in the new book. They were even omitted from the Imperial Fists Supplement, which as a successor to the chapter was a little surprising.
Well, now we know why. And Black Templar players need wait no longer–Faith & Fury gives Black Templars a supplement’s worth of rules specific to their legion, giving them custom Litanies (to replace the psychic powers they don’t have), Relics, Warlord Traits, Stratagems, and datasheets for their bespoke units.
But after 6 books of meta-warping rules for Space Marines, how do these late-comers in black stack up? Let’s dive in and find out.
The Black Templars are a chapter that focuses primarily around melee combat, though their shooting is no slouch. Though they entirely lack psychic powers, all of their unique abilities combo into an extremely threatening close assault force.
Chapter Tactic: Righteous Zeal
Let’s start here. As we covered in our review of Codex: Space Marines, Black Templars have the ability to re-roll any or all dice on charges and shrug off mortal wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. A solid pair of abilities for ensuring that Black Templars can blow through psychic screens and charge into enemy lines. Being able to re-roll one or both of the dice on the charge is especially good.
Knights of Sigismund
While the Assault Doctrine is active, when making an attack with a Black Templars model’s melee weapon against a non-VEHICLE model, if you charged or made a Heroic Intervention that turn, unmodified rolls of 6 to hit automatically scores a hit and wounds the target (do not roll to wound). This is a good ability for melee units, helping push through lower-strength attacks and creating additional efficiency. In practice, if you’re throwing 30 chainsword attacks at a unit of marines, this is good for an additional unsaved wound, on average. It’s going to do the most work on strength 4 attacks where you have a lower chance of wounding but decent AP. Which means power swords. Which is very flavorful, but not quite enough of a reason to try fitting a bunch into your lists.
What’s also important to note here is that Black Templars are an Imperial Fists Successor Chapter. This means, according to Codex Supplement: Imperial Fists, they get access to the rules in that book, so long as every unit in the army is either from the Black Templars, Imperial Fists, or another Imperial Fists successor chapter.
So, until this is changed in an FAQ, if your army is all Black Templars units, you not only get the Knights of Sigismund ability, but also Legacy of Dorn, and you get access to the Imperial Fists Warlord Traits and Stratagems (and also the Geomancy Discipline but well, you won’t be using that). So the Black Templars get to enjoy both Combat Doctrine bonuses during the Devastator and Assault Doctrines.
This is completely bonkers, and represents a very bad oversight on the part of the rules writers. There are a number of troubling combos that will result from this and the ability to have both sets of rules pushes Black Templar from “decent” to “these guys are gonna tear it up.”
Wings Note: I would be astonished if this isn’t cleared at least partially cleared up in an FAQ very quickly, so probably don’t get too excited. I’d expect a “doesn’t apply to Black Templars” rider to be added to Legacy of Down in the Fist book FAQ at the very least, and probably the rest of it shut down as well. The only bit I’m unsure about is stratagems – Black Templars are missing some “boilerplate” ones that every Marine army seems to get, and it will be a little weird if they end up having the least of any Marine faction. However, it would also be weird if they ended up having more than everyone else too, so I’m expecting them to go.
The Lost Librarius
Black Templars don’t get Librarians. This is a pretty big blow, given how useful Librarians can be. The upside is that they get a full set of six Chapter litanies.
You can’t use the Chapter Champion Stratagem on Black Templars units. That’s OK because you get the Emperor’s Champion (see below) instead.
The Black Templars have five units specific to their chapter. They didn’t pick up any shiny new primaris characters, but their three unique characters and two units provide some interesting and flavorful options, though they won’t find their way into every list.
High Marshal Helbrecht
Helbrecht hasn’t changed since his datasheet re-release two months ago, with one important exception. He’s still got the same Combi-Melta and the Sword of the High Marshals giving him S+1, AP-3 and D3 Damage with an extra D3 attacks in the turn he charges. The good news is that he’s got an updated Chapter Master re-roll aura, making him a much better force multiplier, and closes out with the Angels of Death rule and an Iron Halo. His big value though is the Crusade of Wrath special rule, which gives friendly Black Templars within 6” +1 to their Strength characteristic.
Helbrecht’s got a strong aura ability, but he’s severely limited by the fact that he’s stuck walking, and also the Sword of the High Marshals, hitting at only Strength 6, just isn’t very good despite the extra attacks. His best value is boosting nearby Templars units to S5 or nearby Thunder hammers to S10 but your challenge will be getting him there. However, as a cost-efficient way of putting a Chapter Master on the board, saving your precious CP for juicy character upgrades, he’ll probably still see plenty of play in Black Templar lists.
The Emperor’s Champion
The Emperor’s Champion did get a boost from the updated datasheets, gaining an extra Attack and the Skillful Parry Special rule, which gives enemy attackers -1 to hit when attacking him with melee weapons. It’s a useful boost for when he gets dug in and with 7 Attacks that re-roll hits and wounds against Characters at S7 on the charge, he can do some real damage if he can connect with a character in melee. He pairs well with Helbrecht, who pushes him up to S8 against characters, but he’s also not the most mobile fighter, which will be a recurring challenge for Black Templars characters. He’s a lot of killing power for his cost though, and unlike a Chapter Champion (which he “replaces”) he fills an HQ slot, making him very helpful for list building.
Grimaldus also got an update in Faith & Fury from his revised datasheet, gaining three major buffs:
- His Crozius is now S+2, AP-2, 2 damage
- He gained the Devout Puritan special rule, which lets him attempt to Deny a single psychic power in the opponent’s Psychic phase as if he were a Psyker.
- He’s now a Master of Sanctity, knowing two other litanies from either the Litanies of Battle or the LItanies of the Devout in addition to the Litany of Hate, and he can manifest two of them per battle round.
These are all great improvements, making Grimaldus a much stronger fighter and bringing him in-line with the other character Chaplains. Getting two litanies without the CP investment is a big upside, and allows you to throw out both Litany of Divine Protection and Psalm of Remorseless Persecution in the same turn. He’s also still got his aura allowing Black Templars units within 6″ to make an additional attack after making a hit roll of unmodified 6, making him a melee force multiplier if he gets stuck in.
Finally, don’t sleep on his ability to deny — it’s a very strong upside for a faction that doesn’t have the ability to field psykers and if you’re running Black Templars, you’re going to want Grimaldus in every list for this and his double-litany ability. At 90 points, he’s only a little more than a standard Chaplain and the trade of 18 points for 1 CP saved is a fine trade-off before you consider his other two abilities. The only downside is that he doesn’t have a Jump Pack.
Jack’s note: This guy really should make it into almost every Black Templar list. With access to a pair of Litanies from either (or both) the Litanies of Battle and Litanies of the Devout, he can provide a solid buff that combos off Legacy of Dorn for some of your first-turn shooting, then pivot to providing some combat buffs as the game goes on, all while denying psychic powers for hardly more than a regular chaplain. If you take him as your warlord his mandatory trait is Epitome of Piety, which gives him a second deny.
Wings Note: Even leaving aside the probable vanishing of Legacy of Dorn, this guy is just an outrageous steal for the cost and you should never leave him on the bench.
These guys haven’t changed much since their last datasheet update; They now no longer take up a detachment slot if you are running Grimaldus. They get a boost to their WS and Ld within 6” of Grimaldus and friendly Black Templars automatically pass get to ignore mortal wounds taken while they’re within 6” of the unit on a 4+. Slightly better than auto-passing morale, and at 6 points for the entire unit, they’re practically free as a screening unit.
Crusader Squads also got a boost from their recent datasheet update, gaining the Paired Combatants special rule, which gives Neophytes the ability to re-roll hit rolls of 1 as long as you’ve got as many Initiates as Neophytes in the squad. A nice little boost that gives you a reason to consider running Initiates alongside your Neophytes.
As a unit, Crusader Squads give you a some utility, allowing you to add Neophytes to your starting 5 Initiates. Tactically, Crusade Squads don’t pack much in the way of ranged firepower, so you’re either using them to fill detachments and sit on objectives, where Scouts do the job more cheaply, or to act as a large combat unit.
- At 11 points per model and with a 4+ save, Neophytes are basically Scouts with worse Ld that have to tag along in a bigger squad. Re-rolling 1s to hit when you have equal numbers of Initiates makes them more deadly than Initiates when given a Combat Knife, so you’ll have to manage your casualties carefully when getting stuck in with them.
- At 13 points per model, Initiates are basically more expensive Tactical marines, where you’re paying for some additional weapon versatility (the ability to take a pistol and Chainsword and to throw in some power swords and fists instead of special/heavy weapons.
Crusader Squads are pretty bad, being foot-slogging melee-focused non-Primaris marines. They’re essentially a vestigial limb at this point, the remnants of a once-useful thing now in the process of disappearing through natural evolution. The “theory” behind this unit would be to use Neophytes as ablative wounds for the more valuable Initiates, but ablative wounds that are only 2pts less than the main event and are squishier don’t really have much place. Ultimately this is a cool and flavourful unit but what it really needed out of this upgrade was a way to work some Intercessors or Vanguard marines in, giving you some better value-tanking capabilities.
Litanies of the Devout
A Black Templars Chaplain in a Black Templars Detachment (so no soup Supreme Command shenanigans for these) can choose to pick their litanies from this list instead of the standard table and can’t learn litanies from more than one table. These are pretty good for the most part.
- Litany of Divine Protection. Pick a friendly Black Templars unit within 6”. When a model in that unit would lose a wound, roll a D6 and on a 5+ they don’t lose the wound. Giving any unit a 5+ FNP save is very strong, boosting the effective number of wounds in the unit by 50%, and it’s dynamite on vehicles. A
- Psalm of Remorseless Persecution. Friendly Black Templars models within 6” re-roll 1s to wound when attacking with melee weapons.
Note: we had this wrong in the initial version of this article. It’s massively worse as this version because you can just use a Lieutenant and save your litany slot for more exciting stuff. C+
- Vow of Retribution. Subtract 2 from the Ld of enemy models in enemy units within 6”. This just doesn’t matter often enough to make it worth taking, especially when you have options that will just help you kill more models and little to combo off of with this. D
- Fires of Devotion. Pick a friendly Black Templars unit within 6”. If that unit makes a charge or Heroic Intervention this turn, add 1 to its Attacks characteristic until the end of the turn. Also strong, and a great way to turn up a unit’s ability to throw out damage. With regard to whether you want this or the Psalm of Remorseless Persecution, note that for most units and targets, Fervent Acclamation is better, and creates more value the smaller the number of Attacks the targeted unit has. B
- Fervent Acclamation. Add 3” to the range of friendly Black Templars’ units’ aura abilities while they are within 6” of this model. I believe this works on itself, extending its range to 9”. Helpful for making Chapter Master re-roll auras go farther, and because of its range, you can use it in concert with Psalm or Firesif your Chaplain is a Master of Sanctity. A
Wings Note: I’d have this at B, it’s useful-ish but I’d rather spend my slot on more buffs.
- Oath of Glory. Pick a friendly Black Templars unit within 6”. That unit always fights first, even if it didn’t charge. If enemy units charged or also have this ability, alternate as normal. This is a decent ability to hand to some Intercessors to really punish your opponent for charging into your lines, but having to plan it out so early makes it more of a deterrent than an actual mechanic you’ll use on its merits. B
Wings Note: C from me. “Fights first” has been a mess all edition, and setting this up at the start of the Battle Round so your opponent can plan around it makes this a weak version of the effect.
A Black Templars warlord has access to this unique set of warlord traits, focused on their prowess in melee combat and providing a little more invaluable psychic defense. Remember that as the Black Templars are an Imperial Fists successor chapter you (currently) also have access to that set of warlord traits, and can combine Black Templar and Imperial Fist traits on one character with the Sentinel of Terra stratagem.
- Oathkeeper. The Warlord gets a 6” Heroic Intervention move and can intervene from 6” away. Useful for catching opponents off-guard and forcing them to include your warlord in their charges. B-
- Epitome of Piety. Your warlord can attempt to deny 1 psychic power in each of your opponent’s psychic phases as if he were a Psyker and when he attempts to deny, add 1 to the total. Very helpful for preventing key powers from going off and a monofaction Templars army just won’t have access to many denials otherwise. B+
Wings Note: The fact that this gives +1 actually makes taking it on Grimaldus somewhat interesting, as it gives him two +1 denies. However, Black Templars are super constrained on traits by not being able to use Chapter Champion so it might not get there.
- Paragon of Fury. After the warlord makes a charge move, for each enemy unit within 1” of the warlord roll a D6; on a 2+ that model takes a mortal wound. A neat way to get an extra mortal wound or two but limited in its scope and there are better options given that you can make some ferocious Black Templars Smash Captains. C
- Master of Arms. Your warlord always fights first in the fight phase, even if they didn’t charge. If another unit has a similar ability or charged, alternate as usual. Helpful for making opponents regret charging you, and nasty when combined with a Heroic Intervention. B
Wings Note: Better when you can intervene, but still only a C+ from me
- Inspirational Fighter. When friendly Black Templars units within 6” of this warlord roll an unmodified wound roll of 6 for attacks with melee weapons, improve the weapon’s by 1. Useful for helping push through additional damage on your melee attacks, but doesn’t really combo well with the Chapter Doctrine, where your auto-wounding attacks can’t get the bonus. B
- Front-Line Commander. Add 1 to the Advance and Charge distances of friendly Black Templars units within 6”. This is the clear favorite of the list, and the trait that’s going to get you the most utility, particularly on a Black Templars Smash Captain. Getting +1 to your charge distances makes charging out of Deep Strike much more palatable, and passing that on to a friendly unit is great. A
These continue to dip slightly into anti-psyker abilities to make up for the complete lack of librarians, but mainly focus on melee power. At the worst these stratagems are merely decent, most of them being absolutely good.
- Abhor the Witch – 1CP During the Psychic phase you can use this stratagem to negate a psychic power on a D6 roll of a 4+. This is a great power to have; nullifying anything on a 4+ is solid, and it’s something that Black Templars need to get around their lack of Librarians. A
- Crusader Relics – 1CP The standard stratagem to give a relic to a sergeant,including a Sword Brother from a Crusader squad. B
- Devout Push – 1CP Use at the start of the Fight phase and pick a Black Templars Infantry or Biker unit. Until the end of the phase, that unit can pile in 6” instead of 3”. Very useful extra movement for finding your way into another combat after you’ve already wiped a unit out. A
- Tenacious Assault – 2CP Use in the Movement phase, when an enemy Infantry unit without Fly within 1” of a Black Templar infantry unit attempts to Fall Back. Roll a D6; on a 2+, it can’t fall back this turn. This is exceptional, and being able to trap units not only keeps them around to get murdered but also protects your units from being shot to death. A
- The Emperor’s Will – 1CP Use in the Movement phase, when a Black Templars Infantry unit Advances. Until the end of the turn, models in that unit can still shoot with pistol weapons and can still charge. This is very helpful for closing long gaps with your foot-slogging combat units, allowing you to close big distances in one go. Combos very well with the Front-Line Commander Warlord Trait. B+
- Oaths of Honour – 1CP Use in the Fight phase and pick a Black Templars Scout unit from your army that made a charge move or was charged. For the rest of the phase, that unit can re-roll wound rolls for attacks with melee weapons. A
Wings Note: This is fine and all but I’d only have it as a B, I can’t see myself spending precious CP on it very often.
- Vicious Riposte – 1CP Use in the Fight phase, when a Black Templars Infantry unit is the target of an attack. Until the end of the phase, whenever a model rolls an unmodified roll of 1 to hit this unit, they take a mortal wound after resolving their attacks. A
Wings Note: This varies wildly in usefulness and can be incredible, but I don’t quite see it as an A overall, more like a B. Against Orks or Daemons specifically it goes up in value a lot, as they pack buckets of attacks and limited re-rolls, but most units that do a lot of melee fighting are re-rolling 1s at least, massively tuning this down. The one nice thing about this is that the timing places it after your opponent has piled in
- Shock and Awe – 1CP Use in the Charge phase. PIck a Black Templars Infantry unit that disembarked from a Land Raider Crusader. Until the end of the turn, enemy units can’t Overwatch that unit and when resolving hits against it, subtract 1 from the hit roll. A really cool way to protect a big squad piling out of a Land Raider Crusader, but not good enough to make Crusaders worth taking. A
Jack note: I would probably rank this as a B instead. The most useful unit to pile out of a Land Raider Crusader is probably a brick of assault centurions, and they’re durable enough that turning off overwatch isn’t tremendously valuable (unless you’re playing against T’au). It also faces the serious problem of requiring a Land Raider Crusader in your list.
In addition to these relics, the Black Templars also get access to the Special-Issue Wargear in the Imperial Fists Codex Supplement, and you can use the Champion of Blades Stratagem to get an Imperial Fists relic.
- The Crusader’s Helm. Add 3” to the model’s aura abilities. Also, at the start of your Movement phase, pick a Black Templars unit with the Combat Doctrines ability within 6” of this model. Until your next Movement phase, the Assault Doctrine is active for that unit, replacing the current doctrine. This is a great way to circumvent the turn 3 restriction that prevents you from achieving your full potential with combat units. A
- Witchseeker Bolts. Goes with a bolt weapon and you can shoot these instead of its normal ammo. You only get one attack, but the attack can target a PSYKER CHARACTER even if it’s not the closest model. Also a hit on a Psyker causes an extra D3 mortal wounds. Helpful for taking out high-profile psyker targets. B
- The Aurellian Shroud. Once per battle at the start of the battle round, a model with this relic can activate it. If they do, until the end of the battle round, models in friendly Black Templars units have a 4+ invulnerable save while within 3” of the relic. A
- Ancient Breviary. Chaplain only. When you roll for a litany for the bearer, you can roll 2D6 and discard the lowest result. A
- Skull of the Cacodaemons. Once per battle, after a psychic power is manifest within 12”of the bearer, Roll a D6; on a 2+, the psyker suffers D3 mortal wounds after the power is resolved. Great way to punish psykers. B
Wings Note: Once per battle makes this a C from me, doesn’t do nearly enough over some of the other spice here
- Sword of Judgment. Replaces a power sword. A S+1, AP-3, D3 weapon that’s a solid upgrade over a standard power sword and can help a character get there. B
The Black Templars end up being a fantastic, and unexpectedly well-rounded, chapter. Although they don’t have any librarians of their own, they make up for it with a couple different ways to deny a psychic power, and their own set of Litanies to fill in the same type of effects. As a bonus to that, chaplains are cheaper than librarians, and litanies are often a more reliable cast than psychic powers. They don’t have the sheer offensive melee punch of the White Scars, but make up for it by combining two different doctrines by cribbing from the Imperial Fists (well, for now anyways). That first turn of Devastator Doctrine + Legacy of Dorn firepower is perfect to crack open a couple tanks or transports, opening them up to charges from your infantry forces. Black Templars are still probably not going to drag the meta in a new direction, as they don’t have a truly compelling option against the Iron Hands fighter wing, but these rules more than make up for the wait Black Templars players have had after not being included in the Imperial Fists book.
That said, all of this is contingent on the Black Templars keeping some or all of the Imperial Fists rules. I think they’ll keep Stratagems and Special-Issue Wargear at least, but it seems unlikely they’ll continue to enjoy Legacy of Dorn forever.
James “One_Wing” Grover
I’m a lot less optimistic about Black Templars keeping access to the Fist rules, and overall I think they end up on the weaker end of the Marine spectrum. There are some great rules here and nobody playing Black Templars should be unhappy with them, but I can’t see meta-chasing tournament lists looking at this and taking them over White Scars or Raven Guard – they’re a melee focused Marine army but their mobility tricks are weaker than those available to either of the First Founding chapters.
Next Time: The Story
We’ve now taken a look at all three parts of the rules content of Psychic Awakening II: Faith and Fury. Join us next time as we drill down into the story of what all these marines have been doing and what, if anything, it means for the overall 40k narrative moving forward. And as always if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, hit us up in the comments below, via our Facebook Page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.