Warhammer 40,000 New Codex Supplement Black Templars Review and Army Set Unboxing – 40k 9th Edition
Codex Supplement Black Templars is the 4th of the new style 9th edition Codex Supplements designed to be used alongside the Warhammer 40,000 9th edition Space Marines Codex. Fans will be able to preorder the Black Templars Army Set today which includes 13 models (12 of which are brand new Black Templars models), a deck of Black Templars Stratagem and the lovely limited edition version of the Codex Supplement, allowing them to get their hands on the new Codex and miniatures several weeks ahead of the main release.
As expected, this 40k Codex Supplement is slightly smaller than the parent Codex Space Marines with a page count of 80 with about of a third of the book given over to lore and background, a small section containing images and painting references and then about half of the book dedicated to gaming content.
Below you will find our full review of the new Codex and Army Set contents. If you would prefer you can also check out our video review an unboxing of the Black Templars Army Set on YouTube below!
If you would like to support the site then why not order through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself 20% too!
Thank you to Games Workshop for sending Sprues and Brews a copy of the new Black Templars Army Set for us to review.
Pesentation and Lore
The first thing that strikes you about the new Black Templars Army Set and Codex is that amazing cover art! This particular image (the famous John Blanche Warhammer 40,000 3rd Edition cover art) has an incredible nostalgic effect on me and really takes me back to my early days in the hobby. The Codex itself is packed to the brim with excellent artwork, script like passages and heraldry providing ample inspiration for Black Templar hobbyists as they build, paint and develop their army. There is a great section on that most famous of war zones, Armagheddon, which chronicles the Black Templars’ exploits during that legendary conflict but perhaps my favourite bit of lore relates to the post-Indomitus era. There are several pages given over to this period of time detailing how the Black Templars have reacted to the opening of the Great Rift.
Models and Army Set Contents
If you’ve been following the recent Black Templar articles on Warhammer Community you’ll already have seen the images of the new Black Templars models that come included in the Army Set alongside the Codex Supplement itself. The Army Set itself is pretty good value for money as well, you’re pretty much getting the Datacards and that gorgeous Limited Edition John Blanche illustrated Codex for free, which is a great deal. Games Workshop also seem to be learning from past lessons regarding availability and scalpers with a Pre-order Weekend Promise meaning anyone who wants a copy of this set will be guaranteed to get one! You can find more information on that offering over at Warhammer Community but I think this is a great move by Games Workshop and mean those fans who especially want a Limited Edition copy of the Codex Supplement will be able to get one.
There are 13 models in the set, which includes the new Black Templars Marshall, Emperor’s Champion and Primaris Crusader Squad. You also get a Redemptor Dreadnought (the full multipart version). The first thing to note is that these are not ETB or snap-fit kits, these are all fully customisable multipart kits giving you a surprising amount of customisability in how you put them together.
The Marshall and Emperor’s Champion models come on separate sprues and whilst the Champion is the most ‘mono-pose’ of the set, with practically no flexibility in how you approach the build, the Marshall kit is excellent, including a choice of heads, primary and secondary weapons. The models are not difficult to assemble and both have a great silhouette when completed. They are stunning centre piece models for the set (with fantastic rules to boot!) and I am looking forward to painting them up.
The Primaris Crusader Squad is my favourite kit from the set though, allowing you to build 5 Primaris Initiates, 4 Primaris Neophytes and a Primaris Sword-Brother, all fully customisable with a variety of weapons including Auto Bolt Rifles, Astartes Chainswords, Pyreblasters (and Pyre Pistols) and more. Again these are multipart kits so you can mix and match arms, heads and pauldrons (with molded iconography) with the different torso/leg combinations (of which there are 5 pairs) to create a very varied looking unit. When I first saw pictures of the Primaris Neophytes I was not a fan of what looked like a fairly awkward and static pose but after clipping them from their sprue I was quite easily able to use the various combinations of arm and head to create more natural and dynamic looking models. You get two identical Primaris Crusader Squad sprues in box with enough parts to build 2 Neophytes and either 3 Initiates or 2 Initiates and a Sword-Brother. There are plenty of extra bits to adorn your warriors with such as purity seals, holy relics and ornaments. There are plenty of weapon options on the sprues, especially for the Sword-Brother (Power Sword, Axe and Fist for example). the only option missing from the is the Astartes Shotgun which looks like it will be made available via the upcoming Black Templars Upgrade box.
Overall the quality of the new models is great, the chains, tabards and ornamental details really stand them apart from the Indomitus Primaris range. As a bonus your also left with enough spare weapons and bits to customise some of those old Indomitus Assault Intercessors you may still have lying around!
Included in the box you’ll also find a sheet of Black Templars transfers and deck of Black Templars Statagem cards alongside the assembly instructions. The transfers themselves are great, with both infantry and vehicle markings provided for and a variety of kill markings, campagin badges and tilt shield heraldry.
In line with other 9th edition Codexes and Supplements, the rules section of the book starts with a very useful colour coded contents page, allowing the reader to quickly locate a specific section. I’ll take a closer look at each section below. This section of the book is intended to be used in conjuntion with the main Codex Space Marines. There are a lot of references to rules in the main book but hopefully this should not cause too much hassle during a game thanks to the handy Index and Glossary in the new 9th edition Codexes.
First up in this section are the new Detachment Abilities. Just like other Space Marines Codex supplements, the first thing the book makes clear is that a Black Templars Detachment is also an Adeptus Astartes Detachment and therefore gains the relevant abilities as descibed in the parent Codex Space Marines namely Company Command and their Chapter Tactic “Righteous Zeal” (which allows Black Templar units to re-roll Advance and Charge Rolls in addition to gaining a 5+ ‘FNP’ save against mortal wounds).
Black Templars units also get access to a new “Templar Vows” mechanic which act as the equivalent to other Chapters ‘Super Doctrine’ rules. At the end of the “Read Mission Briefing” step a Black Templars player can select a single Templar Vow to be in effect.
Each Templar Vow grants a unique bonus to units in you army as well as a drawback. Unlike the Grey Knight’s Tides mechanic there is no way to change the Templar Vow once it is has been selected (ok, there is one way to add a second Templar Vow for a unit…more on this later) so you must think carefully about which one you choose and which will be best suited in the battle to come. That said the Templar Vows themselves are pretty good and my inititial impression is that there is no ‘obvious’ pick. So, let’s take a closer look.
Suffer Not the Unclean to Live
This Vow acts like the now redundant Knights of Sigismund ability, making melee hit rolls of 6 auto wound against non-vehicle units. This is a pretty good vow against opponents with high toughness, such as Death Guard, Tyranids and even Orks to some extent with their new toughness of 5. Black Templars have access to great AP on their melee weapons, with many of their units able to take lots of them allowing you to maximise the high AP damage you get through. Black Templars units also get a lot of attacks, with different ways to add more and benefit from re-rolls meaning you can really go fishing for those sixes.
The drawback (or “Passion”) is that a unit must declare the closest un-engaged enemy unit (excluding Aircraft) as the target for their charge. A clever opponent may be able to abuse this weakness, protecting their vulnerable units behind a screen however I would not worry too much. Black Templars unit relatively fast compared to other Space Marine armies and should be able to position themselves to open up the targets they need to reach.
Uphold the Honour of the Emperor
A good option to take against most opponents, this Vow grants a 5+ invulnerable save to all Black Templars units in addition to a mini Transhuman Physiology buff, meaning your units can only be wounded on a 3+ regardless of the abilities that the enemy model or weapon has! This set of buffs are good on every model in your army but especially useful on Dreadnoughts and Tanks who can now shrug off attacks from even the strongest of weapons! Redemptor Dreadnoughts with a 5+ invulnerable save, a 5+ mortal wound save and the inherent damage reduction from their Duty Eternal rule are a force to be reckoned with in a Black Templars army.
The drawback here is that your units are not able to benefit from cover against enemy attacks. This has more impact for your infantry models as you’ll really need to weigh the pros and cons of a 5+ invulnerable save against a potential +1 save or -1 to hit. That said if your army contains multiple Dreadnoughts or Tanks I think you’ll get a lot of milage out of this Templar Vow.
Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch
This vow is only useful if there is at least one enemy Psyker in your opponent’s army, granting you a +3″ movement bonus during the first turn and a flat re-roll 1 to wound in melee when targeting enemy Psyker models. A lot of armies do have access to Psykers so this will be a candiate for selection in many games to be fair and, in combination with the Righteous Zeal bonuses, allow you to make those turn one charges should that be your game plan. I think an army consisting of mostly Firstborn Astartes could be quite effective with this vow as they are perhaps the most mobile of the forces at your disposal. Vanguard Veterans with Jump Packs, Sword Brethren and Terminators in a Landraider Crusader etc. With this Vow and clever use of your Black Templars Stratagems you should be able to crash into your opponent’s lines in turn 1!
The drawback here is that your units cannot perform actions if they are within 18″ of an enemy Psyker. I’m not sure you’ll need to worry too much about this drawback though as with the right selection of Secondaries you can mitiaget the effects but certainly something to think about if you’re playing against Grey Knights or Thousand Sons.
Accept Any Challenge, No Matter the Odds
A pretty straight forward and effective Vow allowing your army to benefit from the Assault Doctrine and Shock Assault in every round combat. The advantages of +1 attack and AP2 with your basic Astartes Chainsword every time you fight is easy enought to see, and you can further augment the bonus via various Chaplain Litanies and Stratagems granting extra attacks, exploding hits and even fighting twice with your Assault Intercessor Squads. I can see a Terminator heavy army really benefitting from this Vow, allowing them to maximise the AP of their Stormbolters whilst still benefiting from the AP bonus once they charge in!
The drawback of not being able to fall back is worth keeping in mind though. Falling back is not something you often plan in advance but can sometimes be a game defining decision you have to take mid-battle, perhaps to contest an objective or allow an allied unit to fire upon a target. I can foresee this drawback having more influence on battle results than any other if I’m honest.
So that’s all of the Templar Vows and overall I think there are some great choices for players to make before the game begins. It’s worth noting at this point that there is a Litany which allows a unit to benefit from a second Vow during a game (with AAC,NMtO being a good candiate) and Primaris Sword Brethren have a cool rule “Vow-sworn Brothers” which means they never suffer the drawback. This means you can use these units to work around some of the drawbacks, such as charging those units that may not be the closest or taking advantage of cover!
There are 16 unique Stratagems in the Codex once again split into different categories. I’ll cover a few of the highlights below.
Devout Push (Battle Tactic – 1CP) – Used at the start of the Fight Phase this allows an unegaged Core or Character unit to make a 3″ move towards the closest enemy unit or objective OR allows an engaged Core or Character unit to make a pile in move. Extra out of band movement is always a useful trick to have and this stratagem allows a unit to move, then make a D6″ advance (with reroll) plus move another 6″ across both yours and your opponent’s Fight Phases in one round!
Vicious Reposte (Battle Tactic -1CP) – This Strategem combos quite nicely with the Psalm of Remorseless Persecution Litany allowing a Core unit to deal a substantial amount of mortal wounds in combat. The Stratagem itself causes a model to deal a mortal wound to an enemy unit on 5+ before when it is destroyed (up to a maximum of 6 mortal wounds). Can be used to great effect on units containing cheap Neophytes and in combination with the aforementioned Litany to deal up to 12 mortal wounds during a Fight Phase
Heir of Sigismund (Requisition – 1CP) – This Strategem allows you to give your Warlord two Traits! One of them must be from the Black Templars Warlord Traits list but I can see some amazing combinations for use on your Marshalls or Emperor’s Champions! Champion of Humanity and Master of Arms on an Emperor’s Champion means you’re getting 8 x S8 AP-4 Damage 3 attacks with +1 to hit and wound and full re-rolls against enemy characters (whilst fighting first of course!)
Abhor the Witch (Strategic Ploy – 1CP) – The Black Templars, despite having no access to Librarians, have great Psychic defences further augmented by this Stratagem which allows you to deny a Psychic Power on a 4+ after you may have attempted to deny it normally! Couple this with their inherent mortal wound shrug and multitude of relics, traits and abilities that hinder the opponents ability to manifest power makes Black Templars an incredibly frustrating opponent to face for armies such as Eldar and Grey Knights.
Shock and Awe (Strategic Ploy – 1CP) – Dust off your Land Raider Crusaders! This stratagem allows a unit to disembark from a Crusader after it has moved! Load it full of Terminators and you’re almost guaranteed to get a charge against any target! With the right Vow in play an opponent has now got a toughness 8 2+/5++/5+++( vs mortal wounds) battle tank and whole bunch of Terminators right in their face!
The next section of the book is the Army Rules sections, covering Litanies of the Devout, Warlord Traits, Relics and the Black Templars unique Relic Bearers rules.
Litanies of the Devout
Black Templars Chaplains have access to the general Litany of Hate from Codex Space Marines and have the option to select from those presented in this book…and there is a great selection!
Litany of Devine Protection
A great Litany that grants a 5+ wound shrug to a nearby Core or Character unit. This, in combination with certain Vows and Relics can make a Black Templars unit incredibly resilient. It combos quite nicely with the Tannhauser’s Bones Relic which can be used to reduce all incoming damage to 1! I’d love to build a Chaplain Biker with this Litany and Relic!
Psalm of Remorseless Persecution
I mentioned this briefly earlier in the article, it allows a nearby Core unit to inflict a mortal wound on a wound roll of 6 in melee (to a max of 6 mortal wounds). There are lots of ways to add additional attacks in a Black Templars army so you should expect to achieve the maximum of 6 mortal wounds each time this Litany is used.
Plea of Deliverence
Another tool in the Black Templars Psychic repitoire! This flat out negates the effects of an enemy Psychic Power on a nearby Core or Character unit allowing you to keep your key units free from enemy debuffs at critical moments.
Fires of Devotion
A simple but effective litany granting an additional +1 attack on top of Shock Assault. Can be used to target both Core and Character units (Helbrecht himself is a good candidate!) and synergises with most of the other buffs and bonuses available to the Black Templars.
This is a very useful Litany that allows a Core or Character unit to gain the effects of a different Templar Vow on top the one chosen at the start of the battle. Note you’ll also suffer the drawback which makes Primaris Sword Brethen a good target for this Litany. Being able to combine effects such as 5+ invulnerable save and auto wounds at the same time can turn the Primaris Sword Brethren into surprisingly powerful melee units!
Oath of Glory
A self-buffing Litany for the Chaplain, increasing his strength characteristic and providing an exploding hits bonus. It also allows the Chaplain to fight first. Chaplains are solid units in Black Templars and you can make some really nasty builds by stacking the Warlord Traits and adding Relics.
Black Templars players get 6 Warlord Traits to choose from. There are some nice options here including several which provide bonuses for nearby units too which is alway nice to see.
Epitome of Piety
This allows your Warlord to attempt a Deny the Witch with a +1 modifier. Grimaldus has this trait and can attempt two Deny the Witch tests. There are Stratagems and Relics which grant further attempts meaning that for an army with no Librarians you’re pretty resilient to Psychic Powers.
Paragon of Fury
Grants a flat +1 strength characterstic bonus and allows the Warlord to inflict some splash mortal wound damage after charging into combat. Potentially quite nice on an Emperor’s Champion to make him strength 9 in combat with his blade, able to wound Knights and Daemon Primarchs on a 3+ with his AP-4 Damage 3 blade (re-rolling his hits and wounds of course!)
Master of Arms
Grants an additional attack to the Warlord and allows them to fight first. I can see this being useful when taken on an Emperor’s Champion, allowing them to reach 8 attacks on the charge (with the right buffs in place!
This is a great choice for a Marshall or Chaplain accompanying an Assault Intercessor or Primaris Sword Brethren unit, adding an Aura effect that grants an additional of AP-1 to nearby Core unit’s melee attacks. Couple this with the correct Templar Vow and your Astartes Chainswords are at a permanent AP-3!
This is also a great choice for the aforementioned Marshall or Chaplain (remember they can take two Warlord Traits). This Aura effect adds +1 to all Advance and Charge rolls for this model. If they do make it into combat, any Core unit that also charges that unit gets the +1 charge roll bonus too!
Similar to other Warlord Traits, this one just buffs the Heroic Intervention range of the Warlord. Can be used to catch an opponent off guard and in combination with the Devout Push Stratagem to catapult a Character across the board!
The first thing to state is that this book is packed full of Relics, with a total of 22 available for Matched Play and an additional 7 for Crusade. Some of the Relics are only availble to specific units using the new Relic Bearers rules which I’ll look at later in the review. I’ll first cover the generic Relic options here, focussing on my highlights.
One additional point to make here is that the Codex suggets you make use of the upcoming Black Templars Upgrade Frame to represent the different Relics found in this section. For those that enjoy hobbying and particular the Crusade system this is a great bonus and can really add some character to your army.
The Crusaders Helm
There are some great Aura effects in the Black Templars Codex and being able to extend them by 3″ is fantastic. But that’s not all, this Helm also means a single nearby Core unit counts as having the Assault Doctrine active! Great if you plan on making those turn 1 or 2 charges!
The Aurillian Shroud
A once per battle Relic which can be activated to grant a small 4+ invulnerable save Aura effect for nearby Core units. Useful in certain situations and great choice for support characters who may be accompanying your units into dangerous firepower.
I think this is my favourite Relic in the book and can already see it being taken on Chaplain Bikers or Marshalls in my lists. It has the amazing effect of reducing the damage characteristic of all incoming attacks against the bearer to 1! Charge this guy into the meanest model in your opponent’s army and then activate the “For the Emperor’s Honour!” Stratagem, forcing your opponent to put all of their high damage attacks into this model whilst your fellow Crusader units get safely stuck in with their chainswords and power weapons. Combo it with a 5+ FNP and a 4+ invulnerable save and you should be able to protect your more vulnerable units whilst enaged with Daemon Primarchs and the like!
Now we come to the Relic Bearers rules which allow each Black Templars Infantry and Bike unit (excluding Characters) to equip a unique Relic of their own. These Relics vary from providing individual bonuses to the model carrying it or the entire unit itself. There are 8 to choose from, each with thier own points cost and you cannot duplicate them across your army.
Light of Emperor’s Grace
This Relic can be used to further confound your opponent’s Psyker models, granting a 12″ Aura which debuffs enemy Psychic Tests. It also grants a +1 Leadership bonus which is a nice bonus.
This is a cool Relic which allows you to mark an enemy unit for death at the start of the battle. The unit bearing this Relic can then re-roll all hits and wounds in melee against that unit. A great choice for Terminators or Primaris Sword Brethren who you’ll be wanting to send against the opponent’s key units.
I’ll cover the Chapter Approved section of the book here. An army of Black Templars can select one from a choice of Three unique Black Templars Secondary Objectives to use in a Matched Play game.
Bathe Your Blade in the Blood of Your Foe (Purge the Enemy)
A very thematic Secondary which could put your opponent on the back foot a bit. At the start of the game you pick one of your Characters to issue a challenge which your opponent must accept with one of their own. If your opponent’s Character is destroyed during the game you’re awarded 5 victory points, with an additional 10 available if you destroyed it in melee and with your chosen Character. It could cause your opponent to play in a more reserved manner with one of thier own units or risk forfeiting 15 victory points.
Allow Not the Worship of Unclean Idols (Battlefield Supremacy) –
Not the most simple of Secondaries to achieve in my opinion. You’re awarded 4 victory points a turn if you’re able to claim an objective previously held by the enemy at the start of the round AND you have a Character unit within range of that objective. Could be quite tricky to maximise the victory points from this objective depending on the opponent and mission.
Carry Out Your Vows (No Mercy, No Respite)
This is an interesting Secondary Objective that ties in with your chosen Templar Vow and has two components. The progressive component can award you 4 victory points a round (to a max of 12) if you manage to destroy more enemy units with melee attacks than the number of Black Templar units destroyed that round. The end game component awards an additional 3 victory points based on a condition that varies depending on what Templar Vow you chose. For example if Suffer Not the Unclean to Live Templar Vow was chosen you would need to have destroyed the opponent’s Warlord in combat with a Black Templar’s Character. I think depending on the Vow you choose this Secondary could be quite viable.
The Crusade Rules section is next, but I’ll come back to this at the end. Next we’ll head straight to the Datasheets section and have a closer look.
Just before the Datasheets themselves there is a single page which provides a description of some of the unique Black Templars wargear and armoury options. It’s here where you can see additional options for arming your Marshalls and Castellans (Primaris Captains and Primaris Lieutenants respectively). These rules allow you to arm such models in line with their new plastic miniatures.
In addition, the Multi-Melta that comes included on the Black Templars Upgrade Frame can be given to the Gladiator varients, Impulsor and Replusor varients in place of their Ironhail Stubber. I’m already considering a pair of Gladiator Valients with 3 Multi-Meltas (and a 5+ invulnerable save of course!).
High Marshall Helbrecht
The High Marshall himself has crossed the Rubicon and has an amazing new model! On top of that he has a pretty amazing new set of rules too. Surprising cheap at 160 Helbrecht has a comparible statline to Marneus Calgar (but much much cheaper). He provides the usual Chapter Master buffs but also increases the strength of nearby Core units by 1. His weapons though are fantastic, starting with the combi Melta/Bolt-Rifle allowing him to threaten both infantry and tanks at range. Then we get to his Sword of the High Marshalls which has two profiles which he has to choose from each time he makes an attack. He can either make a Sx2, AP-3, Damage 3 two-handed attack (not bad when you can quite easily get Helbrecht up to 8 attacks) or a sweeping one-handed attack which doubles the number of attacks at S+2 AP-3 Damage 1. Helbrecht is a flexible unit able to deal with infantry or vehicles/monsters with his blade.
The Hero of Helsreach also returns with a great new miniature and great new new Datasheet. Grimaldus shares a similar statline to his regular Chaplain counterparts albeit with a better Crozius. His retinue of servitors also bestow some cool abilities on Grimaldus (which are not impacted by the destruction of said servitors strangely enough). The Banner of the Fallen Crusaders allows nearby Core and Character units to Advance D3+3″ instead of 6″ meaning you’ll have no trouble crossing the battlefield. The Remnant of the Fallen Temple grants a 6+ wound shrug to nearby Core and Character units and finally the Scepptre of Annointing lets Grimaldus add +1 to his roll when attempting to inspire a Litany.
That’s not all though, he can also attempt to Deny the Witch (twice if he is your Warlord) and finally he stands back up again on a 4+ with 3 wounds remaining at the end of a phase in which he was destroyed (once per battle).
The Emperor’s Champion
The assassin of enemy Characters and Monsters, the Emperor’s Champion has all the rules and kit he needs to go to toe to toe with the most feasome of opponents! A bucket load of attacks with an impressive sword that again has two profiles, either a S+3 AP-3 Damage 2. or Sx2 AP-4 Damage 3 (with -1 to hit). He gets re-rolls to hit and wound against Characters, fights first against Characters and has a boosted Heroic Intervention range. He has a 4+ invulnerable save and a built in -1 to hit debuff in combat so is quite tanky (considering it’s easy to add a 5+ FNP save to him as well). Unfortunetly you can’t take any Relics for him but you are able to stack two Walord Traits to further improve his combat prowess.
Primaris Crusader Squad
An Iconic Black Templars unit give a Primaris refresh. These have the standard Primaris statline with the Neophytes having -1 Ld and Sv. They have a great selection of wargear options from Auto Bolt-Rifles, Astartes Shotguns, Chainswords and the new Pyreblaster/pistol. The Sword Brother can take additional options such as Power Fist or Axe as well. What’s great about this unit is you can take up to 20 models, granting access to multiple wargear options (5 Power Fists for example). Such a shame they can’t fit in a Land Raider though.
This is your basic Firstborn version of the Crusader Squad. It lacks the Pyreblaster/pistol and Auto Bolt-Rifle options but is able to take up to two heavy weapons depending on the squad size. This unit also has the Smokescreen keyword whilst it contains Neophytes allowing it to make use of the Smokescreen Stratagem. Not sure why this rule is missing from the Primaris Crusader Squad, perhaps they value their Primaris Neophytes better.
Primaris Sword Brethren
This Datasheet brings back memories of the trusty Veterans of old allowing you to build have a very flexible loadout in a single squad of up to 10 Primaries Sword Brothers. They each have the usual veteran statline with a whole raft of melee wargear options including Thunder Hammers and Lighting Claws. I actually think the stock Astartes Chainsword is a great option for these guys, especially with the various Templar Vows and buffs that can be bestowed on them. Remember as well that this unit does not suffer the drawback for the selected Templar Vow.
Finally we reach the section that I’ve been most looking forward to, the Crusade section. As befits a Space Marines Chapter whose warrios have been crusading for the last 10,000 years, the Black Templars Crusades rules are packed full of character and theme! Games Workshop for the most part have been creating some really fantastic Crusade content (check out the Dark Eldar or Adepta Sororitas books for a particularly good set of Crusade rules) and they do not relent here! If, like us, you’re a fan of Crusade you are in a for a treat. I’ll start by looking at the Agendas, Requisitions and Battle Traits before moving on to the main sections of the Crusade rules, namely Oaths of Crusade, Reclaimed Relics and the Crusade Relics themselves.
The Black Templars Codex contains three Agendas for you to use in your narrative games and they are all great in my opinion. One has you focussing on fulfulling your Templar Vows, granting additional experience to those units that fulfil certain criteria in line with the chosen vow. A second has you tracking down a lost Relic over the course of a game, granting a bunch of experience to the Character that locates it and even allowing you to equip said Relic in your next game! Finally we have my favourite agenda which sees rewards your Crusader squads if they are able to successfully mentor their Neophytes over the course of game. I can picture the Initiates telling the Neophytes where to stand and giving them advice in the heat of battle on how best to land blows!
Requisition wise Black Templars get access to four unique options, with options allowing you to promote Crusader Squads into full blows Intercessor, Tactical and Sword Brethren equivalents. You can bestow additional Relics and even promote an individual to an Emperor’s Champion. I especially like the Holy Intervention Requisition though that ties into the Oaths of Crusade mechanic which I’ll come onto shortly.
As expected we also get a Black Templars specific table of Battle Traits allowing you to upgrade different units in your army but enough already, let’s dive into the Oaths of Crusade rules!
Presented in the Codex are four fairly large lists of Deeds, Foes, Conditions and Situations from which you can build an Oath of Crusade. You can make your Oath of Crusade as simple or complex as you wish, and you’re rewarded appropriately. For example you may wish to declare a short crusade initially and so pick just a Deed and Foe from the tables so that your Oath of Crusade is :-
“In the name of the Immortal Emperor, I hearby vow to shatter the holdings of the enemy and strike down the greatest of beasts!”
This Oath contains a single Deed (“...shatter the holdings of the enemy…”) and a single Foe (“….and strike down the greatest of beasts”...).
Should you wish you could also add a Condition and then a Situation to make the Oath both more difficult to fulfil but also more rewarding. Each section of the Oath of Crusade has it’s own unique requirement and reward. The Deed shown above requires that your army wins four Strike Force or Onslaught battles and rewards you with a single Relic piece, the Shackles of the Penitent’s Roar! (more on Relic pieces shortly). The Foe shown above requires that you destroy at least 8 enemy monsters and rewards each Black Templars unit on your Order of Battle with experience once completed. Note you must complete each section of your Oath of Crusade before you can claim the individual rewards and start a new Oath of Crusade.
As mentioned above, some Oath sections reward specific Relic pieces which can be collected over the course of one or more individual crusades. There are four such Relics to which these pieces belong and if you can collect each component Relic piece you’re able to reconstruct them and give them to a unit on your Order of Battle. Some of these Relics are quite impressive but will take a substantial amount of games to unlock and so gives your force a sense of purpose and something to work towards.
Overall I have to say these are probably the best set of Crusade rules we’ve seen to date. They provide plenty inspiration for your battles and also a sort of MMO style reputation grind to work towards over the course of a Crusade. The idea of declaring Oaths of Crusades in a loud booming voice to my opponent whilst I deploy my Black Templars to the battlefield is just the kind of Warhammer I enjoy most! Great job Games Workshop, please keep this quality of Crusade content coming!
So, what are my final impressions of both the new Codex Suppliement Black Templars and of the Army Set itself? Well firstly I have to say I am really impressed with the quality of the new miniatures that make up the Army Set itself. The scuplters have done a fantastic job of overlaying the character of the Black Templars Chapter to the Primaris Space Marines line. The variety of wargear, heads, pauldrons and all the little details and relics provided on the individual sprues is great for those hobbysist that like to go the extra mile during the build process and will result in a very impressive and distinctive looking army. I can’t wait to see the Sword Brethren and Character miniatures due for release in the near future. The Army Set itself is pretty good value for money as well, you’re pretty much getting the Datacards and that gorgeous Limited Edition John Blanche illustrated Codex for free, which is a great deal. Games Workshop also seem to be learning from past lessons regarding availability and scalpers with a Pre-order Weekend Promise meaning anyone who wants a copy of this set will be guaranteed to get one! You can find more information on that offering over at Warhammer Community but I think this is a great move by Games Workshop and mean those fans who especially want a Limited Edition copy of the Codex Supplement will be able to get one.
What about the Codex Supplement itself? From a gaming perspective it provides a fun set of rules and mechanics for the Black Templars and there are certainly some powerful synergies between the different Templar Vows and Chaplain Litanies. I think Black Templars armies will play very differently to those of other Space Marines, leaning more into powerful meleeCharacter units backed up by several squads of fast moving melee armed units although I can also see Black Templars making good use of Gladiators and Redemptors too! It’s hard to say how they will fare in the current meta but I think a Black Templars army will be very tough and fast, able to confound enemy Psykers and big Deathstar type damaging Characters and then deal a surprisingly strong blow once they get up close. Fans of Crusade and narrative games will find plenty to enjoy here, with so much theme and lore dripping through the different rules and mechanics! Like I said earlier this is arguably the best Crusade content we’ve seen in a 9th edition Codex so far and really sets the bar high for those that will follow.
Suffer not the Unclean to live.
Uphold the Honour of the Emperor.
Abhor the witch, Destroy the witch.
Accept Any challenge, no matter the odds.
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a copy of the Black Templars Army Set for review purposes