The Goonhammer Review: The 10th Edition Black Templars Index

While you’ve got your Oath of Moment, that’s not why you’re here. You’re here because oaths aren’t momentary, they’re eternal. You’re here because you believe in the ABC principle – Always Be Crusading. Black Templars are the knightly flavor of “Space Marines who chop good” while also being unambiguously some of the cruelest and most barbaric warriors the Imperium has to offer. 

Black Templars. Credit: SRM

Before we begin we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a review copy of the Index for review purposes.

Faction Rule

Black Templars are Space Marines, which means they share the Oath of Moment faction rule. At the start of your Command Phase, you pick an enemy unit, and get to reroll hits and wounds against it. Identify what you want dead, and help it shuffle off its mortal coil. It’s a solid faction rule, and so long as you can prioritize the right targets, it should help you every turn.

Detachment Rules

Like all non-standard Marines, Templars can choose to take a Gladius Task Force instead of their own detachment. This review focuses on their specific detachment.

Detachment Ability

If you’re playing Black Templars, you get to use the Righteous Crusaders detachment rule. In classic Templar fashion, this detachment restricts you from taking any Psykers whatsoever. You also can’t take any variant of Gladiator, Repulsor, or Impulsor from the standard Space Marines index, but must take the Black Templar variants – more on those later. Most excitingly, you get access to the four Templar Vows, chosen at the start of the first battle round. Much like in previous editions, you choose one and it applies to any Adeptus Astartes models in your army for the entire game.

  • Suffer Not the Unclean to Live: Melee weapons gain the Lethal Hits ability. That means any 6+ to hit in melee automatically wounds, great for taking against an army with a lot of higher toughness units. This even works on vehicles and monsters, which is huge. 
  • Uphold the Honor of the Emperor: Units gain a 6+ Feel No Pain and Leadership of 5+, this is your de facto tanky vow, and generally a very safe bet.
  • Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch: You get a 4+ Invulnerable save against Psychic attacks and melee weapons gain the Anti-Psyker 4+ rule. This causes Critical Wounds against Psykers on a 4+, which is very cute, but unless you’re going against Thousand Sons or Grey Knights specifically, you likely won’t be using this one.
  • Accept any Challenge, No Matter the Odds: Melee weapons gain Sustained Hits 1. It’s simple and to the point, you’re just gonna spit out extra melee attacks on Critical Hits in combat. If you’re up against a horde, this is a good one, and there are some ways to make those Crits go off on 5+, but we’ll get there later. 


Black Templar Intecessors
Black Templar Intecessors. Credit: Pendulin

There are 6 Stratagems to use here, largely focused on units in melee. Fervent Acclamation is an extremely useful one, letting a character activate an additional Vow for a turn. You could suddenly turn your Crusader Squad into a blender, or take the otherwise highly situational Abhor the Witch Vow and take out your opponent’s key Psyker. No Escape lets you lock down an opposing unit you’ve tied up in melee, forcing a Desperate Escape test or preventing them from falling back altogether on a 4+. If you’ve taken Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds, that becomes a 3+. This is a great stratagem that has only gotten better since its 9th edition incarnation. Devout Push has changed into something akin to the old Templar rules from 4th, where if a unit has taken shooting casualties, they can move towards the opposing unit in your opponent’s shooting phase. Your unit can move D6” closer to the unit that shot it, or a full 6” towards that unit or a Psyker if you have Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch active. Moving in your opponent’s turn can be extremely powerful, and this might be what lets a midfield unit cap an objective or just let your guys get closer to your opponent even faster. Armour of Contempt is unchanged from the Space Marine index, simply debuffing the AP of enemy attacks on a unit by 1 for a phase. This is a solid defensive buff that is never unwelcome, and you’ll likely find a use for it every game. It would be useful to use against our next stratagem, Crusader’s Wrath, which buffs the AP of melee attacks of a unit by 1 for a turn. If Suffer Not the Unclean to Live is active, the Strength of those attacks is increased by 1 as well. When you really want something dead, this’ll do it. Lastly, we have Vicious Riposte, which gives a unit a fight on death ability on a 4+, or a 3+ if you took Uphold the Honor of the Emperor. It only applies in melee, but is a great counter if you’re about to lose one of your own close combat powerhouse units to something that got the drop on them. 



Black Templars Marshal in Terminator Armor. Credit: SRM

Each of the four Enhancements available interact with a specific Vow. There’s nothing keeping you from taking any combination of Enhancement and Vow, but it’s cool that you can reinforce the abilities and narrative of a given Enhancement based on which Vow you take. There’s four to pick from – Perdition’s Edge, Tännhauser’s Bones, Witchseeker Bolts, and Sigismund’s Seal. Perdition’s Edge is a straightforward buff to your character’s melee weapons, upping the Strength and AP by 1. If you’ve taken the Suffer Not the Unclean to Live vow, they also get an extra Attack. It’s an easy pick and one you’ll always find a use for. Witchseeker Bolts give the character’s ranged weapons Precision, Anti-Psyker 4+, and Devastating Wounds. If you’re in the Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch Vow, it also rerolls hits and wounds against Psykers. Marine characters seldom have ranged weapons of note, but it’s flavorful. Sigismund’s Seal on its own isn’t that noteworthy, simply giving +1 Attack to its bearer. However, if Accept any Challenge, No Matter the Odds is active, melee attacks of the bearer and any unit they’re attached to of 5+ score Critical Hits. Depending on what unit they’re attached to, this could be a buckwild force multiplier. Last, we have Tännhauser’s Bones, which halves the damage taken of any attack on its bearer. This is already great for turning your character into a walking tank, but if Uphold the Honor of the Emperor is your vow, the bearer and the unit they’re attached to gain a 5+ Feel No Pain. The way these all interact with vows are huge, and while you can absolutely take any combo of Enhancements and Vows, it’s worth considering how your choices interact at army construction.


Templars have access to nearly the full roster of standard Space Marine options, save for a few. It bears repeating that they cannot have any Psykers in their army, and they get their own versions of many vehicles that are identical save for the addition of multimeltas. We have more comprehensive coverage of Codex Marines elsewhere, so here I’m just going to highlight some Templar-specific units. 

Five Coolest Units

High Marshal Helbrecht. Credit: SRM

  • High Marshal Helbrecht: While Helbrecht took a hit in the durability department, he’s as dangerous as ever. The Sword of the High Marshals can still alternate between a heavy hitting Damage 3 affair or a 12 attack blender, but he also hands out some great buffs. A flat +1 Strength to any melee weapons in a unit he’s attached to is already great, also giving them Critical Hits on a 5+. Pair that with the Lethal Hits or Sustained Hits on Crits that the two Templar melee Vows give you, and suddenly you’re pulling an absolutely nasty combo from whatever schmucks Helbrecht is running with. The cherry on top is his High Marshal ability, which just spits out a bunch of Mortal Wounds at the start of the Fight phase. That might be what you need to finish off a wounded unit before devoting your attacks elsewhere, or just pushing through a few easy wounds on a tough target. It’s a wild ability, and one more tool in this extremely useful character’s belt.
  • Chaplain Grimaldus: Grimey himself is a pretty standard Chaplain, but a little more durable with a 5+ Feel No Pain and a slightly better Crozius. However, instead of the +1 to Wound in melee that Litanies of Hate grants, his Litany of the Devout ability gives his unit full to hit rerolls in melee. This can combo really well into either of the two choppy Vows. What makes this even better are Grimaldus’ Cenobyte Servitors, who each turn can grant a further bonus to a unit. They can crank up the durability of a unit by granting a 5+ Feel No Pain, improve the AP of their melee weapons by 1, or even let a unit run and charge. These guys are an incredible force multiplier, and Grimaldus himself is no slouch. Throw them into a huge brick of Crusaders and go nuts. Speaking of…
  • Primaris Crusaders: This is why you’re here, isn’t it? They have a Scouts 6” ability, meaning that before the first turn begins, you can move them up to 6” to either get closer to your opponent’s line, better screen your own, or do a bit of cheeky redeploying. They lose this ability if a character without the Scouts ability joins the unit, but on its own this ability is fantastic. It also applies to any Dedicated Transport they ride in. In addition, they retain the old Templar reroll to charge and advance rolls, so these guys are going to get where you need them extremely fast. They can be geared up into a dedicated melee unit or a unit bristling with anti infantry firepower, and it’s worth playing around with the weapon options across multiple units. Any characters who can join Intercessor squads can pal around with them, so you have a load of options from the standard Marine list as well.
  • Primaris Sword Brethren: Finally, they have rules as good as their models. Their weapon options have been streamlined into a generic Master Crafted Power weapon option, which itself is already an upgrade over their previous equipment. They also gain a wound each, making them more durable than their rank and file counterparts. Most importantly, each Fight phase they can choose to up the Damage or Attacks of their melee weapons by 1, giving them huge utility to either clear out hordes or heavier infantry. As they come in bricks of 5 or 10, you can easily pull the 9th edition move of putting 5 dudes and a character in an Impulsor and getting to work. A Castellan giving this squad Lethal Hits would be particularly nasty. 
  • Not exactly “Cool” but one thing I want to note here are Marshals and Castellans. These two units are nominally the same as Primaris Captains and Primaris Lieutenants, respectively, with some ever so slightly different wargear options. However, it is worth noting that they can’t be attached to all of the same squads. For instance, a Marshal can’t attach to a unit of Bladeguard, while a Primaris Captain can. It’s funky and weird and I don’t love it.

Five Biggest changes from 9th

Black Templar Land Raider Crusader and Tartaros Terminator Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • Vows have changed significantly, and no longer have drawbacks like they did in 9th. Uphold the Honor of the Emperor isn’t quite the no-brainer it was in a post-Armor of Contempt 9th edition, and the ability to give an extra vow to a unit for a turn with Fervent Acclamation is huge. The choppy Vows are far more viable with all their character interactions, but Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch will likely remain kinda crummy forever.
  • Devout Push. This Stratagem was extremely powerful, letting you get a free pile in move, throwing some dudes on an objective, or otherwise finding good uses for out of phase movement. The specifics have changed, but it will still be an extremely useful stratagem.
  • No faction-wide saves against Mortal Wounds, no faction-wide rerolls to charge. That 5+ save came in handy frequently, and without it, Templars might be hurting a bit more than they used to. In a post-Smite world, we’ll see how much it matters. Bigger than that were the rerolls to charging and advancing that all Templars had, which let them get to the fight reliably. Crusaders still retain this ability, and once they get there the whole army should hit even harder than before, but it’ll take some getting used ot. 
  • Hordes are in. The amount of stacking abilities and rules that interact with Vows you can put on regular joes really makes me think that big blocks of dudes on foot with support characters is going to be the way to go. 
  • At a more gamewide level, a ton of cruft is just gone. In 9th edition you had access to a couple dozen relics combined from the Templars and Space Marines lists, the Templar-specific Relic Bearers upgrades, Marine, Templar, and Phobos Marine Warlord Traits, 12 different Chaplain prayers, and around 50 stratagems between the two codices. Now we’ve got 4 enhancements, 6 stratagems, and some armywide abilities. There is so much less to consider here, and while some may lament the loss of that sheer amount of stuff, I’d much rather have the “all killer, no filler” approach we have here. RIP to the Fist of Balthus and the Flakk Missile Stratagem, I guess.

Templars are fascinating because they have all the same options in their arsenal as typical Marines, but with even more (especially sharp) toys to play with. You can run a Marine army painted black with Uphold the Honor of the Emperor and suddenly you have a more durable version of an existing army. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ve been given a choose your own adventure novel here, and buddy, you can find a more interesting ending than that. Picture bricks of Crusaders backed up by characters steadily marching up the field while Impulsors ferry Sword Brethen into the fray, with Templarized Gladiators providing support fire. Think of a horde of Crusaders and Phobos Marines Scouting up the board, backed up by a second wave of Bladeguard and Dreadnooughts before the Terminators drop in. What about an armored column of Land Raider Crusaders, packed to the gills with melee troops trundling up the table? Lethal and Sustained Hits are popping off everywhere, and you’re going to be rolling bucketfuls of dice every turn. This is a maximalist Space Marine army, and the only thing they lost in the trade were Psykers. Who needs those nerds anyway?

Wrap Up

Black Templars Castellan - Credit: Colin Ward
Black Templars Castellan – Credit: Colin Ward

There is, of course, only so much that can be gleaned from Index cards in a vacuum – so many of these abilities and units sound incredible, but there’s likely something else out there which will send them straight into the dumpster. As a Templar player of some years, I’m feeling great about this Index, and am curious how it will be expanded upon in a future Codex release. The Templar flavor is there, and there is a significant philosophical transition at work here. Where once you were given one of every tool for any given situation, resulting in a bloated selection of potentially useful rules and abilities, now you have just a handful of far more versatile options that you can intentionally build around. You can spec hard into trying to get as many Lethal or Sustained Hits as possible, try to make the most durable army you can, or use any combination of rules and abilities to get your army where it needs to go quickly. Templars can easily be seen as a one-trick pony, but that’s ignoring the fact that they have an entire stable behind them with the Space Marines codex. 

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