Close combat is a thing of the past.  A dying breed of army, inferior to the gun-toting variety.  "What?  Are you smoking something?"  I can feel the critics now.  Burning holes in my plastic Space Marines.  Doesn't matter, you cannot fight this fact.  A great many will deny what is truth, but perhaps one day, they'll see the light.

Got your attention didn't I?  Good.  First of all, I'm not saying that close combat as a whole is dead.  It is still an effective way of destroying your opponents.  Generally speaking, close combat is a living and breathing beast.  In other armies.  Armies that don't say Black Templars on their codex (or Tau, Necrons, Witch Hunters, and Dark Angels).  What?  Blasphemy right?  I'm the king of BT controversy after all.  Let's get something straight.  I started Black Templars when they were released in Codex Armageddon years ago.  They had the feel, theme, and skill at close combat that I wanted in my Space Marines.  I still love the same things.  I want to be able to play close combat armies with the Black Templars.

What are you getting at Laeroth?  The point is, between the changes to 5th Edition and our outdated codex, our options are extremely limited in what we can do with close combat armies and compete on the board.  Many of these armies amount to trick "rock" armies (e.g. Dual-Terminator LRC lists), but some make good attempts at balance.  But are they really competitive?  Not really.  Let's look at the problems we have.  Assume we've taken the 'Accept Any Challenge' vow.

Assault Terminators are expensive as hell and ultimately require LRCs to transport them to where they need to go.  If you don't take more than one unit, they are easily neutralized by your opponent.  I don't think I need to go into why here do I?  That expense gives you very little room to play around for the rest of your army.  But guess what?  You have to fit in two troops units and the EC.  At MINIMUM, you're looking at 450 points for those three things and the troops are going to be pretty basic.  If you are shooting for the more useful shooting or CC-support Crusader squads, you just jumped that price up at least another 100-150 points.  And your scoring units are exceptionally easy to kill with only the two.  You can see where I'm going with that.  So Assault Terminators are out of competitive armies.

What about basic Sword Brethren?  They have a veteran skill, have access to terminator honors and some pretty nice combat weapons.  The problem is, if you buff these guys out, they start approaching the price of terminators but lack the durability that terminators have.  By now, everyone should know how easy it is to torrent down a single unit of marines.  Especially when targeted early in the game.  Poof!  There goes your 300 point investment.  So we need to keep them cheap.  Dang, that causes another problem.  They aren't effective at close combat!  In the end, Sword Brethren doesn't do much more than a Crusader squad does anyway, except that its not scoring in 5th Edition.  Big problem.  Sword Brethren are out.

Assault Marines.  Oh god.  Where to start with these guys.  Perhaps the lack of power weapons?  22 points a pop and you'd think we'd get more than one power weapon/power fist in a supposed close combat army.  Now, we used to be able to use them as effective assassination/tarpit units in 4th Edition because they are so mobile, but that has all changed now.  The difference is every army you'll be facing (barring Tyranids) has plenty of firepower to quickly and effectively eliminate your small Assault Marine unit.  True line of sight hurts boys and girls.  "But...but...but...my squads are bigger than 5 guys!  They'll survive to get to close combat!"  Why on Earth are you spending all of your precious points on an unit with no power weapons?  That can never embark a transport for protection?  That is ALWAYS exposed to incoming fire?  That doesn't deep strike accurately?  That isn't affected by Righteous Zeal?  I'm not sure either.  :/

So that leaves our Crusader squads.  The unit itself is quite good, because it has lots of variations and the ability to field special/heavy weapons at the squad size minimum.  It also has the ability to add in Neophytes to eat wounds, which is important with the wound allocation rules.  So what is the problem here?  Can you guess?  Its a common theme.  To arm them "effectively" for CC, you're looking at a minimum 225+ point expense (mine comes to 231 points).  That is a full 10-man unit, complete with a couple Neophytes, meltagun, and power fist.  Remember, we're fearless in close combat so we need to be able to kill walkers so the power fist is almost always necessary for these large squads.  Unfortunately, the guy only has a base one attack.  Unless you're charging, he's going to do pretty blah.  We need more power weapons in the squad.  Another theme.  AAC simply cannot do all of the work for us.  Its only real effective on the charge, with a full unit.  Even then, we're only going to kill ~4 MEQ (assuming no losses).  Lame.  Efficiency sharply drops when we start losing guys and the ability to kill units dwindles with them.  You pretty much need to buy a power weapon wielding HQ to run around with them, costing you even MORE points.

The fact of the matter is, mechanization is king.  But I'm willing to make a bolder statement.  Redundancy is "god".  That usually means MSU or a great many of one type of unit.  CC-oriented BT lists can usually only afford to get 3, MAYBE 4, Crusader squads.  3 or 4 sub-par CC squads.  Is anyone else seeing a problem here?  That is not true redundancy.  But I'll tell you what they are.  Easily dealt with units.  3 or 4 units can have their transports neutralized easily across the board by long range weaponry.  3 or 4 units can barely kill speed bump units and usually won't kill tarpits (i.e. Dark Eldar Wyches).  That isn't even counting an accidental fall back via Righteous Zeal.  And they certainly will have a difficult time killing harder targets.  Then we come to real close combat units like TH/SS terminators, DE Beastmaster packs, DE Incubi, Sanguinary Guard, Thunderwolf Cavalry, etc.  Or even any Grey Knight unit with their force weapons (roll over and die if they are armed with Halberds).  Then our Crusader squads are gone faster than women in dude-funk filled games stores.

What is my point?  The point is we need to get over our pre-conceived notions that Black Templars "do" close combat.  Unfortunately, they simply don't anymore.  At least not in the normal fashion.  The BT suck at it.  We, as a community, need to get over it.  I talked a little bit about this in my "Making CC work for the BT" article series.  I've found that the only way that we can make CC effective for us is if we're using it in a secondary fashion.  Close combat cannot be the focus of the list.  Using MSU crusader squads as a counter-assault element?  Sure.  It works because those units are cheap, you can put lots of power weapons on the board for nearly the same points cost for half as many full-sized crusader squads.  If you lose one?  Big deal.  A squad got tied up in an assault?  Big deal.  You've got lots of little units to cover your objectives or contest others.  You've got redundancy.  If Plan A fails, guess what?  You had the foresight to have a Plan B (i.e. close combat).  Good job.  :D

So if you're going to a tournament, or want to win your games, do not leave your guns at home.  Make sure that each and every one of those bolters are full of bolt ammunition.  Charge those las-cells and stock up on missiles.  The enemy will have to feel your wrath from a distance for another 6 months or so.  Its a sad situation we're in, but its not hopeless.  Learn to read the writing on the wall, adapt, and start winning again.  ;)


 


Comments

Th!rdeye
06/29/2011 12:30am

Amen sir.

I hate to see Templars being just above C:SM in CC effectiveness. But it will be so until we get our 5th (or 6th?) Edition update. Until then accept that the words "Competitive" "Black Templar" and "Close Combat" will never be true when used together... :*(

I ran a similar list to your MSU LasBack CC MSU spam. I shot and shot and shot, and slowly took the enemy out. Then as i saw his army crippled and me only losing 4 Terminators; i realized.....

I HAVE CRUSADER SQUADS IN MY LASBACKS!

Nice surprise to have that duality and another to not need them to cripple my opponent.

And this gun line of FastLasBacks feels right. Nothing like imagining a line of Lascannons and heavy-weapon-strapped Terminators firing their deadly salvos before moving in to mop up what ever survived said barrage. That says Black Templar to me.

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BroLo
06/29/2011 4:31am

I'm glad to say I disagree with you Laeroth... and that doesn't happen very often.

I'm not saying that a CC-variant is the BEST build we have, but it's certainly a viable one. I almost ALWAYS take a unit of assault terminators and they almost always play a significant part in the game.

It shocks me that you can say that Assault Terminators are out of competitive armies.

Maybe you've been out of the CC game too long. ;)

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Trignama
06/29/2011 6:25am

Aftere my last trip to the gaming store this weekend with my cousin and friends, I think I realized this to be true ML. I got a game in against a chaos player, who ran 4 squads of plauge marines. I charged 2 of his squads with 2 of mine, one led by a Marshal, the other led by the EC. Well, I couldn't kill the squads off fast enough and he had this crazy good IC character with a terminator retinue come in and rip my face off..... not fun.

Then of course you read what happened to me against my cousins new Grey Knights. I'm really thinking of razorback spamming now, and going for the MSU approach and rely more on shooting than anything else to take down my enemy. Then multi charge his squads off of objectives. I hate hate hate to admit this, but I think you are right........

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Neophyte Bob
06/29/2011 8:15am

@BroLo
ML isn't saying that BT assault termies aren't good. They are one of the best cc units in the game. But they are hellishly expensive and what you get is one heavy tank and 5 guys with one wound each. They are very likely to kill anything they hit but they can only hit one or two units a turn. This leaves the rest of the enemy army free to do what it likes. Likely this will be to block your termies or ToF them to death. 6 lucky shots can kill the whole lot. Or worse to kill your weak troops and take objectives costing you the game.
To use a rock unit like this in a competitive army you need at least two of them to stop them being blocked or avoided easily and that leaves you little points to add covering fire for them, or troops and 5th ed is all about the troops.
Additionally there is so much cheap melta about that landraiders and termies are pretty trivial to kill for many armies.

An example with shooting units:
Say army X can field a super unit with 10 missile launcher guys for 500pts. Each turn they will kill one enemy unit. However the enemy has 10 to 15 units. Problem. You can't kill enough of them over the game and the ones you don't shoot each turn are free to go about their business. Worse one cheap fast cc unit can tie them up for the rest of the game.
Instead if we take 10 units each with one missile launcher for about the same point cost. They can focus on one unit for the same effect or spread out to suppress several units. Further we don't care if some of them get killed - the rest can shoot on. In addition each unit can have it's own rhino to hide / zoom about in.

This is why MSU works. BT just can't do that with small CC units as they aren't effective enough for the cost and even stacked up they can't deal with dedicated cc units, walkers, MCs, etc with any speed or ease. The shooting version can.

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3dgreg
06/29/2011 11:31am

Agree with thirdeye. I recently played a game vs necrons, where my crusader squads never got out of their transports. My dreads, preds, and landspeeders were doing all the work. My opponent conceded the game in turn 4 when he realized I still had a whopping 32 crusaders just sitting around waiting to smash something.

I really think the BT's are a great hybrid army now...hybrid as in you use the crusader squads as CC support, and concentrate on long ranged anti tank firepower with the rest.

As such my current list has 5 TL- Lascannons (3 dreads and 2 razorbacks), 6 normal lascannons (preds), and 3 autocannons. All backed up by 32 crusaders with an emp champ. (Melta/PF on rhinos, Flamer/PF on razors)

As such I've now adjusted my list to have an excessive amount of lascannons.

2 TL-las on the razorbacks
2

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EliasMacale
06/29/2011 12:25pm

See, the more I work with Black Templars, the more I see this, and it kind of makes me sad. I put a unit of Assault Terminators in my list, give them a LRC, and then realize that for a bit more I could get two units of Tank Hunting Terminator units with 2x CMLs each, and when weighing the units against each other, it's hard to say no to 8 S9 Missile Launcher shots.

I look at assault marines, and see too many points for too little return. Same with bikes. It's totally bumming me out, because I like CC Black Templars, but I know that if I want to be seriously competitive till we get a new book, I'm going to have to suck it up.

I don't regret playing black templars, but our old book makes me wish I had a Blood Angels army to play when I want to chop things.

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06/29/2011 1:25pm

Don't get me wrong, the truth makes me super sad-face. I love me some close combat and I would love if I could build armies for the BT that did CC consistently well. I just have found over many, many, many of my own games as well as many, many, many battle reports...that we simply cannot rely on it anymore. There are too many things out there, especially in the newer codices, that easily counter our "good" CC stuff.

So we have to consider that. Is good actually good? Or simply good in a vacuum and not against everything else out there? A gang leader may be king of his block, but when you toss him in the middle of a jungle, you quickly find out that he isn't so great. I really hate to say it, but we're the transplanted gang leader and we are struggling to survive in a hostile environment.

The fact of the matter is: I don't like to lose. Its not WAAC. I simply want to win the games I play. And as such, I won't teach players things that I've found myself to be ineffective in the pursuit of victory. It is why I adapted and changed my tactics several years ago (i.e. BT gunlines). And I've been doing very well since. I caught HELL from everyone for doing what I did. But I still trucked on, promoting, analyzing, explaining. Anything and everything I could to get the word out. It wasn't easy and I had a very large amount of opponents. It created a bad rep for myself with a large chunk of the B&C community. But if I look around, seeing how these ideas have slowly caught on and have taken hold, hearing success stories against even the strongest 5th Edition codices...I know that I wasn't wrong.

CC-oriented armies will always be my preferred playstyle. But I love my Black Templars even more. I won't give up our awesome chapter just to fulfill my desires. The BT are my baby and I will never give them up. I've learned to deal with the fact that I cannot play them as I want. For many players, close combat is what they wanted out of the BT. That is why I cannot, will not endorse an archetype that will not do consistently well in competitive play. I would rather have players know what they are getting themselves into when they start the BT, than buy a bunch of stuff and find out they can't win. Because those players will often quit. If they know what they're getting into ahead of time, then they at least have the opportunity to look for another army. The game cannot afford less players.

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Trignama
06/29/2011 1:40pm

Well said ML and besides I don't feel we are going to have to put up with this for long, we'll have a new dex within a year and then I'm sure we will be right back on the front lines where we belong. Until then, charge up the power cells on those las cannons boys!

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06/29/2011 1:53pm

@ BroLo

Good! I don't want anyone that reads Implausible Nature to be mindless. I want players to decide for themselves, not do something simply because I said so. But all I can do to facilitate this, is to publish the reasons for my opinion. Without that, my ideas have zero credibility. And in the age of the competitive blogs, someone will quickly call bullshit.

It hurts me to say it BroLo, but they simply are. They are priced out of that competitiveness. For the points we have to pay to use them, they are too easy to neutralize. Movement blocking, cheap and plentiful melta, bubble-wrapping, or refused flank deployments. All are ways to effectively take this unit out of the game. :(

If we had a way to get them to close combat quickly and safely, without the LRC or the unreliability of Deep Strike, then hell yeah. I'd be all over them. Until they are, we are simply forced to use them as counter-assault elements in our forces. Bubble-wrap. :O

@ Everyone

I don't claim that my lists are the only way of playing the BT. There are probably thousands of variations to the lists I've put out. While I hyper-optimize my lists, I do have a certain level of bias and preference in my unit choices. Where I may opt out of a Vindicator for a Predator, for example, doesn't necessarily mean the Vindicator is bad.

I build my lists to be able to win. They have all the elements that are required to succeed against most opponents. But more than that, they are built to suit me. That does not mean that you can copy and paste and do well with them. As with anything, experience is extremely important. Putting your own twist on lists is highly recommended. Then the list is yours, not mine. But even if you don't change anything and choose to use one of my lists, learn to make it yours by playing it. Learn everything there is about the army until you are intimately aware of how it will play. Then guess what? That army is yours.

I build lists to give inspiration. To show players how I do things to be successful. Some players like to simply use them, and that is fine. That is one of the reasons they are posted. But just make sure that you take pride in what you're playing with, because ultimately, you're the one that has to play the game. :)

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06/29/2011 1:58pm

With AACNMTO we become a cut above the regular Marine and it can be devastating. The bane of our Assault Terminators is not their cost, after all 215 points for five plus Furious Assault is nothing, it is the cost of the Land Raider that prices them up too much.

Using them as a countercharge or bubblewrap unit isn't a bad thing because it must be respected, but they are vulnerable to ICs with multiple power weapon attacks if they don't get the charge.

Win by CC? Not as a plan, although I have had some memorable games where my Assault Terminators cut loose in the enemy who shot when I was too close and got a casualty. With a good RZ roll, I managed to pull off the dreaded 18" charge and it was brutality manifest. For the rest of our troops, it is lack of power weapons which turns us into basically getting some bolter shot equivalents with a better chance to hit with an enemy that has a chance to hit back. Shooting them down is much better.







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BigDunc
06/29/2011 2:48pm

When people think CC-BT, what are you picturing? Is it the LRC+Rhino rush? If so, then I agree with ML, that approach is dead and the development of MSU lists is the killer.

However if you are picturing CC-BT in all forms (bubblewrap, defensive, basically in a supportive role) as being antiquated and ineffective, then I definitely don't agree. We still have bite in CC we just can't expect smashing face with a LRC full of Termies to be effective. We have to play smarter.

I don't think the shift must necessarily be away from CC to a completely gunline approach, but rather a shift in how to better utilize our CC abilities with the understanding that we can't be shy about taking big f'ing weapons.

Now that LRs are out of fashion maybe I should start using them.

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Marshal Wilhelm
06/30/2011 5:21am

I fairly much agree with Laeroth on this.

In February, my much loved PF Mg squads of ten in a Rhino killed little but Guard, Kroot and Tau. Against the other Templar player I fought, it took ages to get through his men.
Just last weekend, I played GK, whose halberds would have mauled any Crusaders I sent their way. Then I play two Deldar lists. Both of these would have fled from the LR + Termies combo, Lancing the LR and even if that failed, fleeing to the four winds away from the Termies. I am not sure Crusaders in Rhinos could have caught them, to be honest. Against the Wolves, who I played last, the Hammernators would have been grand, but Crusaders would have just been mugged by the better specced Wolves.

It is funny, part of the reason I chose Templars was because I think Tacticals are so lame. Here I am using 5 man Tac squads, lol. But at least we get a Heavy and Special with just 5 men ^^,

I cannot see making Termies + LR work against Eldars or Tau, tbh. And considering that, in my case, that is nearly a third of your points struggling to connect with the foe, I would need a major rethink of tactics. Though I am partial to Darkseer's use of the LR Phobos and shooty Wolf Guard combo, but he only recommends that at greater than 1500 pts....

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07/01/2011 4:28pm

@ Bigdunc

I'm not suggesting that everyone just start playing gunline lists. There are a great many ways to play the Black Templars, and we know that some are better than others. It is just my opinion that the gunline is the best option if you intend to do well competitively.

But doing a gunline certainly isn't the only way. BT Drop Pods do well, as does variants of the PotMS MSU list. Even some hybrid lists do pretty well. But one thing that all of those lists have in common? None of them focus primarily on CC to win games. And yes, I meant any form or combination of the LRC/Rhino-rush with Crusaders, Terminators, or whatever else.

We have to think outside the box and use our CC-abilities in such a fashion that they are not essential to the function of the list. You mentioned a few of them: bubble-wrap, MSU counter-attacking units, or defensively. As you said, we cannot be afraid to pull out those big guns anymore if we want to win.

@ Marshal Wilhelm

You support my point perfectly. There simply is not enough things left in the game at which we're proficient at killing. Against similarly geared units (i.e. Grey Hunters, BA Assault Squads, Tactical squads), it'll take us ages to kill enough of those squads to win a combat. And if we take casualties? The unit is almost worthless to us in a CC role the rest of the game.

Close combat is now about shock and awe. Inflicting huge damage on the unit your charging, so if you don't kill them outright, you'll certainly cause them to fall back and take minimal damage in return. The Black Templars only have this in the form of Assault Terminators, but their cost with the LRC is prohibitive enough to take them out of viability. :(

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Roman
08/25/2011 2:33pm

You know... now that I think about it, even though I love picturing BT as the most powerful cc army when it gets its new dex, I realised that I HATED getting shot all the time it takes me to get into cc, and getting into cc and realising some noob assault termie vanilla list pwn the army in cc.

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Cryptfire
05/01/2012 6:28am

It's tough to have to admit that most of what you've outlined is indeed correct from a tournament perspective, Laeroth. Hybrid lists or full gunlines are where the victories lie. Here's hoping that our next codex endows us with some seriously viable CC orientated list options, because let's face it, every BT player longs to hack and slash in CC rather than dakka dakka from distance, it's downright cowardly! Sigismund would not be amused...

In my more casual games, I've recently had some great success with my specialised Assault Termie Squad packed into a LRC. I say 'specialised' because they're led by one of my HQ choices, a Terminator Reclusiarch Chaplain with dual thunder hammers. I mean, who doesn't want a model packing 5 thunder hammer attacks on the charge with re-rolls to hit? Sure he's expensive, but he's a CC juggernaught and is heaps of fun to play. He also looks absolutely terrifying.

Let's try not forget after all that when we aren't talking about ultra-competitive tournament lists, that a full CC fluff army played against a friend in a casual manner can still win, and you'll have huge fun playing it regardless of the outcome. I tend to really enjoy the all-or-nothing nature of a CC rush list. Either I get to you and you get your face ripped off, or I go down in a hail of gunfire. I certainly wouldn't take the risk during tournament play though!

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05/01/2012 4:10pm

Most of what I say is geared towards competitive play, with this article being no different. However, against specific armies, the same can be said too. For example, Grey Knights are simply going to toss our salad in close combat whether both players are playing a fun list or not. :(

I fully endorse players using the armies they have fun with. That isn't what I take issue with. The problem occurs when someone claims that "My Godly Assault Army" is amazing, but it really isn't. This article was my attempt at trying to educate players on why we cannot rely on close combat anymore if we want to win consistently. Even if Sigismund would frown at us, he'd rather have the battle won. ;)

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