Start Competing: Black Templars Tactics

An article by    Competitive Play Gaming Warhammer 40k        0

A chapter embarked on a perpetual crusade for the Imperium, the Black Templars were formed following the end of the Horus Heresy when the Imperial Fists were forced to split their numbers. The core of the old legion remained in the new Imperial Fists Chapter, while the younger and less doctrinaire Marines formed the Crimson Fists. Left over were the most zealous brothers, who committed themselves to an eternal crusade against the Traitor Legions, forming the Black Templars. They were organized under the command of Sigismund, the chapter’s first High Marshal and Dorn’s own nominee for Emperor’s Champion. Unlike their former comrades in the Fists who adopted the Codex Astartes virtually in full, the Black Templars wanted no part of it, particularly the edict on the number of Marines in a Chapter. The Black Templars number in the thousands, rivalling a first founding Legion in size, spread across a number of crusades that reach across the galaxy and act as more or less independent units – though all ultimately under the control of the High Marshal of the Black Templars. First mentioned in the 2nd edition Codex: Ultramarines, the Black Templars were given the spotlight with the release of Warhammer 40k’s third edition, where they were put front and center on the cover of the 3rd edition box art and rulebook – one of the most iconic pieces of art in Warhammer. They didn’t receive proper rules until the release of Codex: Armageddon when they, along with the Salamanders, were given chapter rules of their own that established some of their more esoteric practices, such as the inclusion of neophytes in their squads and an emphasis on melee combat. Since then the Black Templars have been a major fixture in Warhammer 40k, receiving rules on an on-and-off basis including a full codex in 4th edition. More recently, the chapter received a “mini-supplement” with the release of Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury – which has largely re-appeared in the form of the Index they currently draw their rules from.

As always, we’re going to walk you through the options available to the Black Templars, drawing on their surprisingly extensive index options and their raft of special characters. Additionally, we’ve invited guest writer and Black Templars expert Ben Cherwien to help write this article. Ben’s a founding member of the Frozen North Gaming Club from Minneapolis, Minnesota and you may recognize his name from his impressive 2019 and 2020 seasons. He recently finished third at the Mid-MO Maelstrom event with Black Templars, his army of choice. Ben is also the founder of Advanced Warfare 40k, a fundamental and tactics coaching video podcast aimed at improving your tournament play. So a big thanks to Ben for lending his expertise in the “How to Play” and “Lists” sections.

Seriously this bangs. Thousands of people got into Warhammer based on this cover alone.

Chapter Overview

Although the Black Templars are an Imperial Fists successor for fluff purposes, they do not operate as such in the rules (and cannot use any rules from Codex Supplement: Imperial Fists), instead using their own rules as currently laid out in the 9th edition Index Astartes: Black Templars FAQ document. These give Black Templars their own stratagems, special characters, relics, warlord traits, and litanies, essentially giving them a full chapter treatment. As the Black Templars’ combat style tends to favor a melee-heavy approach, they’re much better suited for 9th edition than they were 8th, and as such are among the stronger Space Marine chapter options, although likely not as strong as White Scars or Space Wolves from a raw power standpoint.

Strengths

  • Melee Combat. The Black Templars have quite a few solid melee buffs, from their chapter doctrine helping make charges to their chapter doctrine giving them an added boost when fighting with regular troops to stratagems like Oaths of Honour letting a unit re-roll wound rolls on the turn it charges, Black Templars have some great tricks for boosting their melee output. Plus Tenacious Assault can trap units in melee combat with you, protecting your units and preventing an opponent from using a key unit you were able to touch.
  • Speed. Sure they’re not exactly White Scars on bikes, but the Black Templars have some great tricks for closing the distance between them and the opponent and putting their melee prowess to work. The Emperor’s Will gives them a big boost by letting a unit charge after Advancing, and Devout Push lets a unit get some free extra movement by piling in and moving 6″.
  • Custom Litanies. As a consolation prize for not being able to take psykers, the Black Templars have their own set of litanies that a chaplain can know instead of the ones in Codex: Space Marines. You can still take the Codex ones, but the custom litanies the Black Templars offer are pretty good, and bring a lot to the table. It’s a pretty good consolation prize!

Weaknesses

  • No Psykers. While this isn’t the end of the world, not being able to take psykers isn’t exactly an upside and the utility of the Black Templars’ other rules does hinge a bit on the idea that they don’t really need them and can benefit more from taking Abhor the Witch. That may change if the pendulum swings back in the other direction and having psykers suddenly becomes more important.
  • Shooting. Black Templars shooting isn’t bad, but they don’t bring anything to the table to make it better, either.

Rules

Black Templars are a bit of an odd chapter. They don’t quite have a whole supplement and aren’t a regular successor, either. They had some rules of their own in Psychic Awakening: Faith and Fury, but those have been replaced by an Index update released alongside the Space Marine FAQs back in October (which largely replicates what was in PA). Otherwise, they use the new Codex: Space Marines.

Chapter Tactic: Righteous Zeal

You can re-roll Advance and charge rolls made for units with this tactic, and every time a model with this tactic would lose a wound as a result of a mortal wound, roll a D6; on a 5+ that wound is not lost. These are both strong abilities and while the ability to re-roll charge distances is a bit worse than the prior version that let you re-roll one or both dice, the addition of re-rolls on Advances does help make up for it a little. The net result is that Black Templars are just much more reliable when it comes to making charges and while the chapter can’t include Librarians, you’ll seldom even feel that downside anyways as 1. Marine librarians are more of a nice-to-have, particularly with Chaplains in the mix, 2. Not taking Librarians opens you up to take the Abhor the Witch secondary objective, and 3. the second part of the Chapter Tactic gives you decent protection against mortal wounds you might otherwise suffer as a result of not being able to deny as reliably (though you do have options there).

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. This is… well it’s OK. It’s a lot better in 9th edition now that Marines have Astartes chainswords that give them AP-1 melee attacks, as this rule will do its best work on Strength 4 attacks where you have a lower chance of wounding but can get a decent AP, which primarily means Astartes chainswords. The good news is that this got a lot better when Assault Intercessors were added to the Space Marines’ list of units, though on the whole it’s more like a nice added bonus than something you’ll really want to build around. It helps smooth out some of your combat variance, and rewards you for taking units that have a high volume of attacks.

Non-Codex Compliant Chapter

As one of the less-standard Space Marine chapters, the Black Templars have a few rules quirks to keep in mind. First and foremost, Black Templars don’t get Librarians. This is only a moderate blow: Librarians in 9th aren’t as useful as they were in 8th and the chapter gives you some other great tricks to make up for losing them. Additionally, Black Templars can’t take Chapter Champions from the Chapter Command rules – they get Emperor’s Champions instead (see Units, below).

 

Black Templar Lieutenant with Power Fist and Power Sword

Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Litanies of the Devout

A Black Templars Chaplain in a Black Templars Detachment (so no soup shenanigans for these) can choose to pick their litanies from this list instead of the standard table in Codex: Space Marines. They can’t learn litanies from more than one table. These are pretty good for the most part, and are worth considering as your only litanies. The top picks here are Litany of Divine Protection and Fires of Devotion, which are strong effects with broad use.

  1. Litany of Divine Protection. Pick a friendly Black Templars CORE or Character 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. It’s also pretty strong for the Chaplain himself, boosting their already considerable resilience – especially if he’s on a bike. A
  2. Psalm of Remorseless Persecution (Aura). Friendly Black Templars CORE and Character models within 6” re-roll 1s to wound when attacking with melee weapons. This is a decent boost, and it’s helpful to have on your faster Chaplain models for supporting units without having to bring along a Lieutenant to get the same bonus. B-
  3. Vow of Retribution (Aura). Subtract 2 from the Ld of enemy models in enemy units within 6” of this model. A -2 modifier is a pretty solid effect, and you can bump that up to a nasty -3 with the Fear Made Manifest Warlord trait plus give enemy units within 6″ -1 to their Combat Attrition tests. The Combat Attrition modifier is whatever, since Marines are largely immune to those modifiers, but throwing out -3 to leadership tests can really start to make things difficult for an opponent, where even units with a relatively high Ld can suddenly find themselves losing additional models after only suffering 1-2 casualties. It’s large enough to be relevant, but the effect isn’t powerful enough to build around. Still, more interesting than it used to be. C+
  4. Fires of Devotion. Pick a friendly Black Templars CORE or Character 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. This is pretty 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+
  5. Fervent Acclamation (Aura). Add 3” to the range of friendly Black Templars CORE or Character units’ aura abilities while they are within 6” of this model, to a maximum of 9″. Note that this Aura works on itself, extending its own range to 9”. It’s helpful for making Captain re-roll auras go farther, and because of its range, you can use it in concert with Psalm of Remorseless Persecution or Fires of Devotion if your Chaplain is a Master of Sanctity, or use it to boost your Vow of Retribution/Fear Made Manifest effects. This is a lot less useful than it used to be however, primarily because Chapter Masters lost their full re-roll Aura ability that made the best target for this. B-
  6. Oath of Glory. Pick a friendly Black Templars CORE or character unit within 6”. At the start of the Fight phase, if that unit is within Engagement Range of any enemy units, it fights first that phase. This is a decent ability to hand to some Intercessors to really punish your opponent for charging into your lines, and it has become much more helpful in 9th edition now that the non-active player gets to activate the first unit after chargers in a given turn. It’s better than it used to be, but it’s still not going to be your first choice. C+

Warlord Traits

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. You also have the option of taking Warlord Traits out of Codex: Space Marines as well (and you’ll likely choose to exercise that option, since these traits mostly are only OK – though pay attention toe Front-line Commander).

  1. Oathkeeper. The Warlord gets a 6” Heroic Intervention move and can perform an intervention if it is within 6” of an enemy unit horizontally and 5″ vertically. This is useful for catching opponents off-guard and forcing them to work around your Warlord with their charges. It’s a bit worse than it used to be since 9th edition lets you fight units that Heroically Intervene but it can still be a nasty trick. B-
  2. 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. The +1 actually makes taking it on Grimaldus interesting since it gives him two Deny the Witch attempts at +1 each. B+
  3. 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 melee threats. C
  4. Master of Arms. At the start of the Fight phase, if your warlord is within Engagement range of an enemy unit, they fight first that phase. More helpful in 9th edition, and nasty when combined with a Heroic Intervention. C+
  5. Inspirational Fighter (Aura). 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 AP 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
  6. Front-Line Commander (Aura). 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 melee-focused Black Templars character. Getting +1 to both Advance and Charge distances means you’re adding +2 when you do both with the Emperor’s Will Stratagem, and when combined with your natural re-rolls means you’ve got an army that can be remarkably consistent when it comes to closing long distances and getting stuck in with melee combatants. A

Credit: David Moss

Stratagems

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 and is pretty much always useful; nullifying anything on a 4+ is solid, and it’s something that Black Templars need to get around their lack of Librarians. The only downside is that it can’t affect psychic actions, so keep that in mind. A
  • Crusader Relics – 1CP The standard stratagem to give a relic to a sergeant, and this includes the option to arm a Sword Brother from a Crusader squad. Your relic options are the Witchseeker Bolts, Sword of Judgment, or the Skull of the Cacodominus. This is mostly just OK. The Skull of the Cacodominus is an interesting choice and the sword is decent but ultimately this isn’t really something you want to spend CP on. C
  • 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 immediately pile in, even if it isn’t currently in Engagement Range of any enemy units, and when it consolidates this turn it moves 6” instead of 3”. On its face this looks like a stratagem designed to help you get into melee with an entire squad. But in reality, this is free movement at the Start of the Fight phase, making it an incredibly useful Stratagem that enables all kinds of shenanigans. It gives Black Templars units essentially the ability to Heroically Intervene at any time, and it can be used if you aren’t anywhere near a combat to get extra movement toward an objective (though note that you still have to make a legal Pile In move and your models have to end up closer to the nearest enemy when you make these moves, but you’ll typically have some cheeky ways to do that). This Stratagem is a major focus for the Black Templars and how they play on the table. A+
  • Tenacious Assault – 2CP Use in the Movement phase, when an enemy Infantry unit without Fly within 1” of a Black Templars 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. It’s also much more useful in 9th edition, where trapping units is more difficult. 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 and it’s great on Vanguard Veterans and other Jump Pack units. A
  • 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. This is a good effect, but it’s less useful than it used to be since Scouts stayed at 1 wound and got shuffled off to the Elites slot. It’s good if you have them, but you’re not going to end up using it. B-
  • Vicious Riposte – 1CP Use in the Fight phase, when a Black Templars Infantry unit is chosen as the target of an attack. Until the end of the phase, whenever a model rolls an unmodified save roll of 6 for an attack allocated this unit, the attacking unit takes a mortal wound after resolving their attacks. This can be something that gets you value when you’re being hit by something with a lot of attacks that’s tough to wound or that may just end up wiping you out before you can fight – it can be solid for punishing Mortarion or the Nightbringer, for example. Note that you still roll saves even if the AP of an incoming attack would make them automatically fail; we just don’t typically do this in order to save time. B-
  • Shock and Awe – 1CP Use in the Charge phase. Pick a Black Templars Infantry unit that disembarked from a Land Raider Crusader this turn. 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 and taking away Overwatch matters much, much less than it used to. C

Relics

The Black Templars have their own relics, which in the Index doc are inexplicably referred to as Crusade Relics despite the fact that Crusade Relics everywhere else are a mechanically distinct thing. Games Workshop does this a lot, like when they named a secondary objective Abhor the Witch despite that already being the name of a Black Templars Stratagem.

  • The Crusader’s Helm. Add 3” to the model’s aura abilities (to a maximum of 12″). 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. C+
  • The Aurillian 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, they gain an Aura ability that gives friendly CORE and Character Black Templars within 3″ a 4+ invulnerable save. This is a huge defensive boost, and helpful for holding key objectives early in the game. A
  • Ancient Breviary. Chaplain only. When you roll for a litany for the bearer, you can roll 2D6 and discard the lowest result. This is very good and essentially eliminates the uncertainty that you may fail to inspire with a Litany at a crucial moment. Because Chaplains are going to be part of any Black Templars game plan, this is likely going to be one of the first relics you take. A
  • Skull of the Cacodominus. Once per battle, after a psychic power is manifested within 12”of the bearer, Roll a D6; on a 2+, the psyker suffers D3 mortal wounds after the power is resolved. A fun way to punish psykers but limited by being once per game and also the fact that psykers aren’t nearly as common in 9th edition. C
  • Sword of Judgment. Replaces a power sword. A S+1, AP-3, 3 damage weapon that’s a solid upgrade over a standard power sword and can help a character get there. B

Units

The Black Templars have five units specific to their chapter. They haven’t picked up any shiny new Primaris characters, but their three unique characters and two units provide some interesting and flavorful options, though most aren’t likely to see much competitive play.

High Marshal Helbrecht

High Marshall Helbrecht

High Marshall Helbrecht. Credit: Crampon “SRM” McLadyfingers

Helbrecht hasn’t changed too much with the release of Index Astartes for Black Templars: While his statline remained unchanged, his Sword of the High Marshals is now Strength +2 and does a flat 2 damage (instead of D3). It still gives Helbrecht +D3 attacks after charging or Heroically Intervening. His Combi-Melta has also been upgraded to reflect the new meltagun profile, and his Chapter Master and Aura abilities have been updated to only affect CORE and Character units like other Space Marine Chapter Masters. Helbrecht’s a solid option there with a 2+ armour save but his biggest value is his Crusade of Wrath aura, which gives CORE Black Templars units within 6″ +1 Strength. This is a huge bonus for something like Assault Intercessors or lightning claw veterans but only affecting CORE units means he can’t boost himself and so is still hitting at S6 with his melee attacks. Helbrecht’s biggest downside is being stuck walking, but you’ll primarily use him to drop his blessing on a unit before they tear across the table to fight something using The Emperor’s Will. He’s a decent option and his biggest upside is just being very efficiently priced for what he brings to the table as a force multiplier.

Helbrecht’s Warlord Trait that he has to take is Front-Line Commander, which is a great trait for him to have and makes a compelling case for why you can afford to just make him your Warlord.

The Emperor’s Champion

The Emperor's Champion

The Emperor’s Champion. Credit: Crimbus “SRM” McDong

The Black Templars’ replacement for a Chapter Champion, the Emperor’s Champion has come up 5 points in the Index but makes up for it by being deadlier than ever: His Black Sword is now S+3, AP-3, 2 damage and it still re-rolls wounds rolls against Monsters and Characters. Its Slayer of Champions rule has also been updated; it still allows you to re-roll all hit rolls against enemy characters in melee but now also grants you the ability to fight first, making the Emperor’s Champion a bit better when it comes to being charged or Heroically Intervening. His Skillful Parry rule gives incoming melee attacks -1 to hit him and helps protect him in those cases where you do need to Intervene into a charging unit and risk getting hit first and he’s still got Sigismund’s Honour to give him +1 Strength and Attacks while any enemy Characters are within Engagement Range, bumping him up to 6 S8 AP-3 2 damage attacks that re-roll all hits and wounds. That’s pretty nasty!

The biggest downside to the Emperor’s Champion is something that used to be a benefit: As an HQ choice, he eats up a valuable slot that you might need for another character. He’s also a bit slow, forced to walk across the table or be put in a transport, so you’ll want to plan around how you’ll actually get him into combat if you decide to take him. If you give him a Warlord Trait it has to be Oathkeeper, which gives him a 6″ Heroic Intervention move that’s pretty fitting for what he wants to do.

Chaplain Grimaldus

Chaplain Grimaldus

Chaplain Grimaldus. Credit: Campbell “SRM” McGillicuddy

Grimaldus is an interesting option here. He’s a Chaplain who comes with a built-in Deny the Witch attempt per turn with his Devout Purity rule and he knows and can chant two litanies per turn despite not being a Master of Sanctity, a keyword he lost from Faith and Fury. We’re not sure if this is an oversight (it probably is), but the net result is that you can include both Grimaldus and a Master of Sanctity (until this gets fixed via errata or an FAQ, anyways), letting you take Grimaldus with two litanies from either set and another chaplain with jump pack or on bike with two litanies from the other set. That’s a pretty nasty pair, though the downside is that you have no way of improving your chances of reciting a litany with Grimaldus, making him a bit more of a gamble when it comes to which effects you’ll get off. Grimaldus’ required Warlord Trait is Epitome of Piety, which is on the whole decent, but you’re better off going with Helbrecht as your Warlord or someone else you can give Front-Line Commander to.

Grimaldus went up 5 points in 9th edition and hasn’t changed price in the Index, making him a real steal for his points cost. He used to be a phenomenal option in Black Templars lists that could get away with a footslogging chaplain… then the Primaris Chaplain on Bike was released and suddenly Marines had access to an incredibly durable, fast melee beater who could become a Master of Sanctity to double-chant litanies and Grimaldus’ value plummeted. It’s not all bad though, especially if you’re trying to go double double litany chaplains, but most of the time your go-to move is going to be the bike chaplain or, failing that, a jump pack chaplain, since either option gives you better movement and positioning to get into place with their litanies.

Cenobyte Servitors

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, but more importantly friendly Black Templars get to ignore mortal wounds while they’re within 6” of the unit on a 4+. At 20 points for the entire unit, they’re practically free as a screening unit. And they’re worth your time to take, because they’re INFANTRY models who are more than capable of performing actions like Deploy Scramblers or Raise the Banners High. So worst-case, they score you points on secondaries nearly for free or your opponent has to waste time and resources shooting at them. It’s win-win.

Crusader Squad

Still a bit of an odd unit, Crusader Squads mix 1 Sword Brother champion with 4-9 Initiates – standard Tactical Marines – and 0-10 Neophytes – the equivalent of Scouts for the Black Templars. True to form, Neophytes have 1 wound and a 4+ armor save, making them more like cheap ablative wounds for the squad’s other models. Crusader Squads have a few of things going for them overall:

  • The first is that the update to Astartes chainswords (which Initiates can take) makes them a bit more viable as an obsec unit that can get stuck into melee, and they really benefit from the Chapter Doctrine (which favors chainswords)
  • Their ability to go to 20 models is a plus in 9th edition, where large objective-holding units can have real value. Marines’ immunity to combat attrition modifiers helps with this as well
  • The Paired Combatants rule gives Neophytes in the squad the ability to re-roll hit rolls of 1 in melee while it contains as many Initiates as Neophytes, giving them built-in Captain aura re-rolls as long as you aren’t losing Initiates (which, why would that even be happening?), and incentivizes you to take Neophytes and fight with them. Note that, for inexplicable reasons, the Sword Brother does not count as an Initiate, so if you go 20 models, you won’t be getting re-rolls until a Neophyte dies.
  • The squad has the MELTA BOMBS keyword, giving them access to the Melta Bomb Stratagem in a pinch

These are some interesting upsides, and you can also give one model a better weapon if the squad is 9 or fewer models for some reason. On the downside, they’re a foot-slogging melee unit, and those don’t have a ton of utility. They’re a little bit more viable in 9th edition as transports have become more viable, so you can drop a squad of 10 of them in a Rhino and have a unit that’s OK, but on the whole you’re going to get more value out of Vanguard Veterans as melee threats and you’ll get more utility out of small squads of Assault Intercessors, who bring more attacks to the table and just as many wounds with fewer models, plus those can go in Impulsors. Ultimately Crusader Squads are better than they were at the end of 8th edition but still more of a fluffy choice than a competitive one. You can make a unit or two of them work in something that’s RTT-competitive, but leave them at home for serious lists.

Other Notable Units

In addition to the Black Templars’ bespoke units, there are also a few other units that merit special consideration in Black Templars armies.

Chaplains

Chaplains have a place in most, if not all, Space Marines armies but they’re especially noteworthy in Black Templars armies, where access to the Chapter’s custom Litanies really buys you a lot of unique value. You’ll almost always want to consider taking a Master of Sanctity so you can double-bless, and the Ancient Breviary drops your chances of failing to inspire with litanies to just over 11% (from 33%) without requiring that you devote a Warlord Trait to your Chaplain to do so, freeing them up to take other options.

Assault Intercessors

The biggest beneficiaries of the Black Templars’ Chapter Doctrine, Assault Intercessors combine a large number of attacks with AP-1 chainswords to produce an obsec unit that doubles as a nasty melee threat. With the Assault Doctrine active a squad of 5 can push out an average of 6 unsaved wounds per turn against marine targets before other buffs are applied, and they’ll tear through anything with lighter armor. They’re a good unit to consider as a Troops choice if you want to save CP by going with a Battalion.

Vanguard Veterans

Vanguard Veterans are useful in any melee-focused Space Marine army, where arming them with a lightning claw and storm shield creates a durable melee unit that can be an absolute blender as they roll through with 4 attacks each on the charge. In a Black Templars army you can use Will of the Emperor and the Chapter Tactic to propel them across the board, giving them an average threat range of 22″+ with the free re-rolls and you can get that even higher if you throw in something like Crucible of Hate. Just be sure to have your Chapter Master give them re-rolls before they fly off.

Playing Black Templars

For some additional insight, we’ve enlisted Black Templars expert Ben Cherwien to talk about his experiences playing the faction. In 2019 Ben finished the year ranked 20th in the ITC and so far this year is ranked 6th– largely propelled by his success with his Black Templars. To date he has finished in the Iron Halo and Mid-Mo Maelstrom events at 2nd and 3rd respectively, and has a number of smaller event wins. We cannot think of anyone better qualified to discuss the faction and how they play right now. High Marshal, take it away!

Ben: High Marshal Cherwien (self-proclaimed) here to help you join the eternal crusade of the Black Templars against heretics and filthy xenos! I’ve been playing the boys in black since before they had their own rules pamphlet in the war for Armageddon book. With the release of the new Space Marine codex and the Black Templars Index they finally have their own complete set of rules and stratagems after years of being stuck at the back of Codex: Space Marines. All these tools have allowed me to shape the list into a single vanguard detachment focused on precision strikes with loads of durability to take advantage of the 9th edition GT mission set.

Before I dive into my list and what makes the faction tick, let us go over how the Black Templars function in this edition and how to best to use their different stratagems, warlord traits, and relics. In planning any list, I think the following should be strongly considered:

  • Litanies of the Devout: Unique to Black Templar and something that underpins the army’s prowess with abilities like the Litany of Divine Protection for a 5+ feel-no-pain or Fires of Devotion for +1 attack on the charge. I recommend that each list include both litanies whether that means taking two Chaplains or a Master of Sanctity (I currently run a Primaris Chaplain on a bike).
  • Ancient Breviary: The litanies are important and so this is the relic of choice. Important, but the fact that it’s a relic and not a Warlord Trait is even more important – it frees you up from having to take Wise Orator on your Master of Sanctity, so you can give your Chaplain a different Warlord Trait like Rites of War.
  • The Crusader’s Helm is a super versatile relic; not only does it allow something to be in Assault Doctrine any turn you need but it also adds range to auras which is SUPER useful on things like apothecaries (a “must take” unit for every Marine faction).
  • Finally the last thing to round out your pregame preparations is to have a source of Chapter Master re-rolls so you can make full use the speed you get out of rerolling Advances and using the Will of the Emperor Stratagem to advance and charge. By this I mean that this unit will quickly outrun your characters and can’t stay chained to them, so it helps to have a re-roll effect that can be applied in your Command Phase and will stay active after they run off to kill things. I suggest Helbrecht for this role as you will not find a better character at his points cost.

I also want to touch on a few finer points of the Black Templars that I think make them a dominant force. I cannot stress enough how important and central Devout Push is for the Templars. For 1 CP you can rearrange the board to your liking both on your and your opponent’s turns. I could spend all day finding scenarios where Devout Push could come into play, but I’ll cover some of the bigger, more obvious ones and then let you imagine more!

  • Jumping onto an objective you couldn’t reach in the Movement phase (maybe you didn’t roll high enough when Advancing)
  • Engage an enemy that came and contested your objective but did not engage you – with the 3” pile in and within 1” Engagement Range you effectively have a 3.99” heroic intervention
  • You can make a Fall Back move with a unit in combat but stay within 3.99” of the enemy, allowing you to shoot the enemy with other units, and if it is still alive, you can then choose to Devout Push back into combat.
  • Use Devout Push to move into table quarters to score points for the Engage on All Fronts secondary objective
  • Often overlooked is the 6” consolidate the Stratagem gives; this makes wrapping things much easier

I could go on and on but those are the big game turners I feel make the most mileage out of Devout Push. Tenacious Assault and Vicious Riposte are also two very solid stratagems that can combo well with Devout Push. Side note: if you use Tenacious Assault on someone using Desperate Breakout, they instead get stuck and are unable to Fall Back (no, they aren’t destroyed, it’s in the FAQ). Vicious Riposte allows your big tough unit to take down hordes faster with mortal wound generation so as not to get stuck in and is also useful when dealing with something tough that has a lot of attacks. Finally, they come with a 4+ nullify psychic powers stratagem which is really handy at key moments like when your opponent rolls hot and gets that d6 mortal super-smite.

I hope this has been insightful into the inner workings of the Black Templar and that I’ll see you joining the crusade!

 

Lists

We featured Ben Cherwien’s 3rd place Black Templars in a Competitive Innovations in 9th article following the event, but it’s worth talking about in detail here and having Ben tell you more about how it works.

Ben Cherwien’s Black Templars (Mid-MO Maelstrom)

++ Vanguard Detachment -3CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Black Templars) [100 PL, 1,998pts, 6CP] ++

Crusader Relics [-1CP] Hero of the Chapter [-2 CP]

HQ: High Marshal Helbrecht [8 PL, 155pts]: Warlord
HQ: Primaris Chaplain on Bike [7 PL, 150pts, -1CP]: 1. Litany of Divine Protection, 4. Fires of Devotion, Ancient Breviary, Chapter Command: Master of Sanctity, Fortress of Resolve, Litany of Hate, Rites of War, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter

EL: Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts] x3
EL: Bladeguard Veteran Squad [5 PL, 105pts] x3
EL: Cenobyte Servitors [1 PL, 20pts] . 3x Cenobyte Servitor: 3x Close Combat Weapon
EL: Primaris Apothecary [5 PL, 105pts, -1CP]: Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, The Crusader’s Helm
EL: Terminator Assault Squad [18 PL, 349pts]: Teleport Homer, 7x Terminator w/THSS: 7x Storm shield, 7x Thunder hammer, Terminator Sergeant w/Thunder Hammer + Storm Shield
EL: Vanguard Veteran Squad [14 PL, 229pts]: Jump Pack: 7x Lightning Claw + Storm Shield, Veteran Sgt w/Power Fist + Storm Shield

FA: Attack Bike Squad [6 PL, 165pts] . Attack Bike: Multi-melta x2
FA: Inceptor Squad [12 PL, 250pts]: 4x Inceptor, Inceptor Sergeant, Plasma Exterminator x2

HS: Eradicator Squad [12 PL, 240pts]: Melta rifle: 5x Eradicator: 5x Bolt pistol
HS: Whirlwind [7 PL, 125pts]: Whirlwind castellan launcher

++ Total: [100 PL, 6CP, 1,998pts] ++

The Standout features

  • Note that due to timing, the Black Templars’ Chapter Doctrine, Knights of Sigismund, was not available when this event happened
  • A slightly smaller Terminator block is joined by a claw/shield Vanguard Veteran squad to add a mobile melee threat.
  • Who needs Troops when you have Rites of War?
  • The ubiquitous Bike Chaplain and Chief Apothecary help keep the list swinging at optimal efficiency.
  • Ranged options are shuffled around in-line with the best options from the updated Codex.

Ben: The list is built on a single vanguard detachment that keys off two particularly important HQs that drive the functionality. The warlord is High Marshal Helbrect who provides the chapter master rerolls and carries the front-line commander trait for increased mobility. He also provides some added utility with a 6” aura of +1 strength but this is secondary to the other two buffs. The second key is a Primaris Chaplain on bike with the Ancient Breviary relic and the Rites of Battle warlord trait (hero of the chapter to unlock). At 7 wounds with a 20” advance this guy is a must take in every list I make. He can support any part of the battlefield with litanies and rights of war and is incredibly durable. He is the reason why  I can shockingly avoid taking any troops in this list. With the chaplain able to zip around and give objective secured to anything, core or character, and coupled with the ability to devout push into any contesting unit with more melee-focused units I have plenty of board control without troops. This makes the elites slot is by far the best role within any Black Templars list and I completely fill these in my lists. Without taking Chaplain Grimaldus (Reclusiarch, that’s his title, use it…) the Cenobyte Servitors offer the cheapest way to get a single unit capable of doing actions, but they also offer a 4+ ignore mortal wounds in a 6” bubble making them the easiest 20 point take in the list. Bladeguard are my next choice due to their survivability with a 2+/4++ and 3 wounds which make them ideal for covering outside objectives while also being powerful in close combat. The last two units are by far the most important with an 8-man storm-and-board terminator squad and an 8-man vanguard vets squad with 5 claws and 3 power fists (fist on the sarg). The terminators get the divine protection usually and sit at the front of my army to ward off any scouts/infiltrators while the vanguard vets play the role of flanker and try to disrupt enemy lines/objectives. In the fast attack slots I run a three man multi-melta attack bike squad and 5 plasma inceptors. EVERY SINGLE MARINE LIST NEEDS PLASMA INCEPTORS and yes, they are that good. Lastly a 6-man eradicator squad for more melta and a Whirlwind to round out against other melee matches using the Suppressive Fire stratagem.

Updating This List

While the Chapter Doctrine isn’t the biggest deal, having it available does change things a little bit for Black Templars, and incentivizes the use of Assault Intercessors. In light of that, here’s the list Ben is considering for upcoming events.

++ Black Templars Battalion Detachment (-3 CP)

Crusader Relics -1 CP
Hero of the Chapter -2 CP

HQ: High Marshal Helbrecht, WARLORD
HQ: Primaris Chaplain on Bike: 1. Litany of Divine Protection, 4. Fires of Devotion, Ancient Breviary, Chapter Command: Master of Sanctity, Fortress of Resolve, Litany of Hate, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter: Rites of War

Troops: Assault Intercessor Squad x5
Troops: Assault Intercessor Squad x5
Troops: Incursors x5

EL: Cenobyte Servitors x3
EL: Company Veterans: Space Marine Veteran w/Lightning Claw, Storm Shield, Veteran Sergeant w/Lightning Claw, Storm Shield
EL: Company Veterans: Space Marine Veteran w/Astartes Chainsword, Storm Shield, Veteran Sergeant w/Lightning Claw, Storm Shield

EL: Primaris Apothecary, Chief Apothecary, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter, The Crusader’s Helm
EL: Terminator Assault Squad: 4x Terminator with Storm Shield + Thunder Hammer, 5x Terminator w/2 Lightning Claws, Veteran Sergeant w/Thunder Hammer + Storm Shield
EL: Vanguard Veteran Squad w/Jump Pack: 9x Lightning Claw + Storm Shield, Veteran Sergeant w/2 Lightning Claws

FA: Attack Bike Squad: 3x Multi-Melta
FA: Attack Bike Squad: 2x Multi-Melta
FA: Inceptors x5 w/Plasma

++ 1,995 Points ++

The Standout features

  • Trading out the Bladeguard for more Terminators and Vanguard Vets
  • Losing the Whirlwind and Eradicators for more Attack Bikes and the addition of Troops
  • Two small squads of Company Veterans to run around and pick up Secondary Objectives

Where to Read More

Click here to return to our larger guide on Codex Space Marines. If you have any questions or feedback, shoot us an email at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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