Hey there, Reece from www.FrontlineGaming.org to discuss a hot ticket topic: Black Templars and their place in the Competitive Meta.
Back when GW dropped the bomb that was the Black Templars/Deathwing (and yes, I said Deathwing, Dark Angels still stink) FAQ we saw a Renaissance of both armies, but particularly with Deathwing. That is probably due to the fact they are cheaper and easier to build, but I digress.
That FAQ made both armies viable again. Why doesn’t GW do this for other armies? I couldn’t say. But what I can say is that both of these old time books became competitive at the speed of FAQ.
I had a conversation with Darkwynn back when this happened, stating that Black Templars were now top tier. He disagreed…and has since played them to great effect in both the ETC, and recently winning the Feast of Blades—an invitational GT—with them. Dave Fay, a top notch tournament player from Southern California, has also been making waves with Black Templars. He made it to the finals of the Comikaze GT with his. I myself won Ard Boyz round 1 with a Black Templars list against some brutal IG and Grey Knight opponents and found them wanting in no area.
What makes them viable? The book as a whole is still out of whack with 5th ed, but they have a few key units and abilities that when utilized correctly, makes them easily capable of dealing with any other list.
First things first. The Emperor’s Champion. He is a great buy with just his basic kit, but army wide preferred enemy for 40pts? Wow. Yes please. That alone gives Black Templars a tremendous boost.
But that isn’t everything.
Righteous Zeal, a leadership check any time a unit of BTs takes one or more casualties, used to be a real down fall for Black Templars. With the changes to what a consolidation move is in 5th ed is, it really isn’t much now. They can now consolidate a fraction of an inch to effectively hold still if they do fail their check, or move the full distance rolled towards the enemy. It is only a benefit now for all intents and purposes.
Kill them All though, can still be a big factor as it causes you to occasionally not shoot at what you want to. This can be game changing, but taking a Marshall really helps to mitigate this as he grants all units his Leadership 10. Speaking of Marshals, he has access to the 4th ed style Armory, meaning you can build your own Marhsal to pretty impressive standards if you wish to. He can be given Eternal Warrior with an Adamantine Mantle, a bike, Storm Shield, etc. The Marshall brings a lot to a competitive Black Templars list.
Black Templars also get great deals on some units such as Land Speeder Typhoons, Ven Dreads, and Predators. Typhoons are a great buy at 90 points, which is what all other Marines pay, and at 70pts are amazing. Dave Fay runs 3 squads of 2-3, and these units are brutally good (I run 3 myself). With the ability to take on any targets on a mobile platform, Typhoons provide fire support and versatility.
Black Templars also get old school Venerable Dreadnoughts who have access to veteran abilities such as Tank Hunters. For 165 points, you can have a Ven Dread with a Missile Launcher and Twin Las Cannon plus tank hunters. That’s a Str10 and 9 shot every turn on a move and shoot platform. Nothing to shake a stick at.
They also get Predator Annihilators at the bargain basement price of 145 points. That’s 3 las cannons on an av13 chassis for 20 points less than standard marines. 3 of these and 3 Typhoons nets you a 120 point savings!
But, the real gem of this book is without doubt the Terminators. Their Assault Terminators can take veteran abilities for 3pts per model. For Assault Termies, this means Furious Assault, Preferred Enemy Lightening Claws and Thunder Hammers for only 43pts per model! Compare that with what any other Marine book has to pay to achieve the same result. They are also Feearless in combat, and break towards their enemy. That is a certifiable Deathstar unit.
But the real winner, in my eyes, is the dual Cylcone Missile Launcher, 5 man Tac Terminator squad with Tank Hunters. Holy Crap is this unit efficient. 265pts gets you arguably the best unit in the game. 4 move and shoot str 9 missiles or 4 frags, and 10 str5 Storm Bolter shots with 5 preferred enemy power fists (and don’t forget, Tank Hunters works in assault, too!). Wow. That is a unit that just adds so much to a list that it really is incredible.
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. The Black Templars have no Psyker defense (assuming everyone takes preferred enemy) and their troops struggle. The riddle to making Black Templars work, is overcoming their weaknesses in the Troops department.
There are several viable strategies. You can take the old school, 5-6 man Las Plas squads as they are cheap and provide some nice firepower. The downside, obviously, is that they are fragile and not very mobile.
You can put them in Rhinos to increase both their durability and mobility, but BT’s pay 50 pts per Rhino (but get x-tra armor for only 5pts). So, this begins to erode the savings you get on their underpriced items. I personally choose to go with the Twin Las Cannon Razorback, 5 man squad as this weighs in at 170pts per troop. This is only 20pts more than Space Wolves pay for the same unit, and 5pts more than Space Marines. Not too bad, and it provides a mobile scoring unit and more firepower with a unit that isn’t awful in HtH in a pinch.
The other choice is to take 10 man squads and kit them out for HtH a bit. Take 9, put them in a Rhino or Pod with the Emperor’s Champ, and you have a unit that is pretty good in assault, mobile and more durable for holding objectives.
Lastly, their Chaplains deserve mention. BT Chaplains are the old style type, that have a stat line on par with a modern Captain. They also grant the ability to always break towards the enemy of their choosing if they take a casualty, and they open up Cynobytes. Cynobytes are like Servitors, but they grant the ability to add 1” per model to the Righteous Zeal roll, meaning that your squads can break up to 9” towards the enemy! That makes foot Terminator units viable.
No matter which way you slice it, a truly competitive Templars unit will most likely be built from these elements. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but these are the bricks from which you can build a top tier Black Templars army and really surprise some people in the tournament scene.