So I did mention that I wouldn't go into 6th Edition rumors until it was in my hands, but there has been some stuff being released the past few days that has made me change my mind. Mostly because it has been either confirmed from multiple, reliable sources or from players who have proven to be reliable in the past (and put their reputation on the line when making such claims). Before I get into that, however, this is more a Part Two to the article I just wrote here. Take a look at that refresher before moving on below, as its important to have that topic front and center in your mind before considering the following.
Done? Hopefully you took the time to read that article, so that you remember why we don't do close combat very well in 5th Edition. Now that I've gotten you down a little bit, I'll give you a little upper! All is not doom and gloom for you stubborn close combat players out there. Let's get to the rumors shall we? Also see Nikephoros' thoughts on the topic.
The first one has to do with Armor Penetration (AP) and its role in close combat. All CCWs will be assigned an AP value and it will dramatically change how the game currently plays. From the looks of it, basic CCW's will be able to kill GEQ. Power weapons will have an AP 3. Power Fists and force weapons will have an AP 2. And then we have chain fists at an AP 1. No word on what rending/lightning claws will do, but I cannot imagine it'll be any better than a power weapon. This is a pretty significant, but how does it affect us?
Let's take a look at one of the core units in our army: the CML-Terminators. With the ability to take two CMLs per squad, in addition to Tank Hunters, these terminators are almost required in a list to provide decent AT firepower. For their points, they simply are the best in the business at what they do. No one can put out 4 "strength" 9 shots, in addition to 10 "strength" 5 shots, while wielding a 2+ save. In addition, their unique ability to switch from AT to AI firepower on the fly is near impossible to match. Plus, if it was needed, you could advance them forward into assault. Their 265 points is almost an after-thought when you considered their high-end potential in a game.
For the Black Templars player, this change means that a terminator no longer has to worry about nasty close combat units messing them up in assault. They will have no fear for the "mighty" power weapon. This is especially important for our dual-CML Terminator squads, as they have become a very necessary part of our success. Their main disadvantage was the fact that they didn't have an invulnerable save, which could be mitigated against shooting by being in cover. But once in close combat, the jig was up. Now you can advance without fear of pretty much anything besides TH/SS terminators, but then, we always tried to avoid those. The survivability of the terminator just got boosted dramatically, in a world where our games hinge on the effectiveness of those CML terminator squads.
It also boosts the capability of the assault terminator, bringing some viability back to non-TH/SS builds by giving them durability against dedicated-CC units. Will this play an effect on games, with units of terminators clogging up your opponent's nasty units? Time will tell, but for now, my prediction will be that they will find a place in more lists than before. In a vacuum (with AAC), this makes our terminators better than anyone else in the game when you consider the addition of veteran skills (i.e. Furious Charge). The only competitor being Vanilla SM due to their ability to field a Librarian with Null Zone/Gate of Infinity with the TH/SS squad. But we'd still have to worry about the lack of mobility, but I'll get back to this in a moment.
Unfortunately, don't expect Preferred Enemy to remain as it currently stands. Admittedly, it gave us a huge bonus in close combat and had our squads been able to efficiently take advantage of it, we might have been near unbeatable. While we couldn't, I don't think that GW will let it slip through again. Nevertheless, if Preferred Enemy does remain close to what it is now, we can expect to reap huge tallies with both sets of our terminators. There is a small worry about Tank Hunters being amended, but looking back on 3rd and 4th Edition, they really haven't changed it all that much over time.
In 6th Edition, assuming no other weird changes, I would expect that players begin to play very aggressively with their CML Terminator squads. Really, now there is little reason not to. The main reason for you to stay a good distance away just went to the wayside. You will still have to worry about low AP shooting, especially from melta, but aggressiveness doesn't mean stupidity. Use cover and advance towards tactical objectives.
As with Nikephoros, I fully expect players to expand from their 1-2 CML units to a 3rd. These will give the Black Templars a good measure of close combat competitiveness once again, as few enemies will be able to deal with them before they strike. That is huge. Opponents who ran straight at our terminators before, will actually think twice about it now. There is a certain level of satisfaction knowing that your opponent is scared of a hyper-efficient unit. YOUR hyper-efficient unit.
I would even go so far as to claim that the prevailing build that you will see from Black Templars will now be "Blackwing", with the two CML-Command squads and three CML-Terminator squads. They are viable builds now in 5th Edition, with the amount of firepower they can put out. But again, their weakness was close combat and protecting the few troops they could fit into the list. With the coming changes, close combat is no longer a worry and you can wade forward towards your opponent's objectives without fear. When your opponent has to get through a wall of terminators to get at your troops, killing them gets much more difficult.
One thing that should be mentioned is that while Terminators will find themselves kings, the standard marine with power weaponry will be left out to dry against most opponent's (i.e. MEQ). This will be especially true for our BT marines, as the power weapon right now is the most efficient way of killing models in CC. While they will still kill 3+ armor, you can expect your opponent's to be fielding way more terminators as well, negating their usefulness. Can this be mitigated somewhat by taking a power fist? Sure, but you still risk losing your dude before he strikes and he still only has a maximum of two attacks. On top of that, our Emperor's Champion loses most of his effectiveness against 2+ save opponents. Its a sad day indeed when this is the case, as he often was the sole shining star in close combat for us. He was even useful enough to go toe-to-toe against Terminators. That won't be the case in the future.
The other set of rumors happens to come from Stelek and his claim that Land Raiders will be making a big comeback. While he hasn't said how this will come to pass, he's not one to make stuff up. Nikephoros covered pretty much all the bases in his article, but just incase you haven't read it, I'll sum it up in a few words: Land Raiders now? Bad. Land Raiders in 6th Edition? Good.
As noted frequently, the main issue with Land Raiders (and variants) are their cost and the ease of your opponent at neutralizing them. Assuming what Stelek says is true, and LRs do start making their way back into play, then guess who can field the best of them? Yep, you guessed right. The Black Templars. With the ability to negate Lance weaponry, Land Raider Crusaders start to look like a very nice investment once again. Combine this with our resurgent Assault Terminators and we've got ourselves a very powerful combination. Or we could use these newly renewed Land Raiders to create a durable "box" for our Crusader squads in the objective game. The LRs will happily transport basic troops around the board at their leisure to contest/claim objectives or simply to claim your own objective. Add in 2-3 Land Raiders, toss in 3 CML Terminator squads, and we're off to the races. Imbalanced, maybe. But scary, especially if what Stelek claims is true. ;)
Like we saw when 5th Edition came around, and then with the BT FAQ, we're going to have to make some changes to adapt. We're losing some options for CC, but we're gaining others. This gives us a little revival of sorts once more, giving some new ideas and energy to an aging army. Hope you come along for the ride. :D