So to start this off, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in Warhammer 40k, and why you chose the Black Templars.
Acebaur: Well I've been building and painting models since I was a kid, probably about 25 years now. I started with model planes as most kids do and then moved into model cars which I got quite serious with even entering a few competitions at the local hobby store. Some of my friends were into 40k and gave me a demo game. The one guy had Deathwing and they were nicely painted. I spent most of the demo game admiring the models lol. So after that I went to the store and looked at the different army books. This was in 4th edition so Black Templars had their own codex.
ML: Ah, so it was an anesthetics thing. Or were you drawn more to their rules?
Ace: Definitely aesthetics, I love Arthurian legend stuff so naturally I was drawn to them. One line in particular caught me. It was talking about the Sword Brethren: "they are the very image of a baroque warrior knight". I was sold. Closed the book and bought it lol.
ML: So you got hooked on the lore and have never turned back. How have you felt about the changes to the Black Templars lore over the past 19 years? Is there anything that really bothers you or that you really like?
Ace: Oof that's a loaded question if I ever heard one lol. Well I started around 2005, right in the middle of 4th edition. So 6th when they rolled us into Codex Space Marines was a shocker. They made a lot of really bad, in my opinion changes, to our fluff. Going from pure unadulterated hatred of psykers to "oh they're OK if they imperium and we just 'lost' our librarians" was probably one of the biggest punches in the gut. That and the Emperor God worship were two of the most egregious. One bit I actually did like was the change to the Emperor's Champion. He went from being super common and just having the best wargear the crusade could find to something special, unique and rare.
ML: I certainly agree with you there. Those changes were huge and caused quite a bit discontent within the Black Templars community, especially on the Bolter and Chainsword forum. Of which, as many know, you are part of the BT moderator team. Tell me about your experiences with B&C and your interaction with the community there. One would say being a moderator is a tough job.
Ace: It can be, those were some rough times to be sure. I've been a mod for the Templar forum for about 8 years now and I am very thankful for the B&C, it is a great community and I have made some great friends from it over the years. I feel like it's one of the best places to come and discuss 40k on the internet.
ML: Do any particular people, conversations, or events stick out to you?
Ace: Yeah the ETL is always a fun event, as well as the BT expansion events we did pretty regularly. As for people I've met quite a few through Facebook by groups that I didn't know were also B&C members, yourself included. So that's been nice being able to chat in real time and bounce ideas off each other.
ML: Okay, time to get to the meat. Haha. I am sure you're excited for this. Tell me, how do you believe the Black Templars should wage war on the battlefield?
Ace: In glorious close combat of course! Haha, that's actually changed for me over the years.
ML: Surely, I had nothing to do with that. Haha.
Ace: Back in 4th when having pure CC mattered, BT players(myself included) got very wrapped up in this idea that bolters = bad and pistols and ccw = good. But even the 4th Ed codex says that they are armed primarily with the holy bolter. And yeah, haha you definitely had an influence on bucking that trend. I think for a lot of us. Ideally for me, I think Templars prefer close range warfare, using everything they have available to them and then finish them in close combat. So things like bolters, land raider crusaders, storm bolters, even drop pods with massed devastator fire from like grav or heavy bolters are very Templar to me. Things I think they'd avoid would be long range devastators and snipers. Leaving the long range weapons to the tanks is okay. There's a great quote from one of the Soul Drinkers novels that I think sums it up perfectly: "A Space Marine was safest at the very heart of the battle, face-to-face with his enemy where his armour, weapons, physical strength and valour were magnified and the resolve of his enemy could be shattered."
ML: I think that is a great quote that does a good job of describing the end goal of the Black Templars: destroying the last of the enemy in close quarters. You mentioned that you started off as a pure close combat list builder and evolved into a more balanced play-style. Have you found success in this change? Or was it cosmetic? Would you say that because you've made these changes, you are more of a competitive player now than you are a casual, lore-driven player? Have received any blow-back from other BT players for your list building choices? How about the use of the more controversial units released in recent years: the Primaris marines? What are your thoughts on them?
Ace: Weirdly in 4th and even 5th to an extent it was viable to be CC only. Not anymore unless you are like Nids or Orks and they win through numbers. Something marines can't really do. I have found some improvement in my games for sure. Though I should say that I'm finally getting an actually decent amount of games in, compared to 7th when I barely played at all. Still a work in progress though lol. Definitely more competitive than I previously was though. I'd still say I'm lore driven though, there are limitations that I impose on myself for lore reasons. There are definitely some folks who dont like the idea of Primaris because they don't really have dedicated melee units. It was something that was hard for me to accept too. Mainly because I don't like the primaris lore on how they came to be, felt really shoehorned to me. I think I realized that units like incursors are actually really great and fluffy in a Templar list. They have solid melee, can get first turn charges, and you can use the crusader helm on them turn one. If charging into combat with 2 ccw on first turn in the assault doctrine isn't Templar, then I dunno what is lol.
ML: Ah, so a competitive player with self-imposed limitations. It will be interesting to see some of those in the coming article series when we take a look at your army lists. Looking at your opponents, do you get out to tournaments? Or do you have a gaming group that you play with? If the latter, are they competitive players?
Ace: I don't play in tournaments, I find them too draining and I'm not wanting to really play at thst level of competition. It would mean making sacrifices to my lore limitations that I'm not willing to make. Plus I prefer to play with people I know. My play group is probably about the same as me. They are competitive but not to the point of trying to cheese out their lists. My play group is probably about the same as me. They are competitive but not to the point of trying to cheese out their lists.
ML: Lol! I feel a punchline in there. What does your play group play?
Ace: Haha yeah probably! We have a pretty good mix. Most of us have more than one army, but we have a few different chapters of space marine, Death Guard, orks, nids, and IG.
ML: Oh, so you have broken the faith of the Black Templars and gone to the Witch, Mutant, Heretic, or Xenos? Suffer not the xenos psyker kittens!
Ace: Gonna out me huh? Lol, yeah I did recently buy into Necrons. At least they don't have psykers right?
ML: Haha. I had to. ;) Ouch, low-blow since you know that I've expanded into Harlequins/Ynnari. lol!
ML: Just a couple more questions for you. What is your favorite Black Templars unit and how do you use them in your games?
Ace: Ooh tough question. Pretty much anything that smashes face in close combat. :D Vanguard Vets and assault terminators are definitely up there. There's something classic about a marine smashing face with a thunder hammer lol. The LRC is one of my favorites too, such an iconic tank. I like that power swords and storm shields are actually viable now, really classic.
ML: Do you have a favorite stratagem or relic, either from the Space Marine codex or from PA 2: Faith & Fury?
Ace: Yeah Devout Push and The Emperor's Will are hilariously good for us. Solves a lot of problems with getting our zealous brothers into combat. For relics, we have so many good ones, nice for a change eh? Probably the crusader helm or the Witchseeker bolts are very useful.
ML: I know, right? I feel like the competitive community is under appreciating how good some of the things from Faith & Fury are, and therefore, how competitive the Black Templars can be. I think it would only take just a few more players to be able to attend GT's to start bringing some light to some of the shenanigans the BT can pull off.
Ace: There's actually very little that is bad in Faith and Fury, but I think part of the problem is that the community feels(and rightfully so) that it's like half of a supplement when we were promised full support from GW. Some people can't let that go. I've decided it's not worth my time to worry about it and just focus on the stuff we do have.
ML: I agree. No use getting up in arms about it. Best to learn to make use of everything we have access to and be the best player you can with that. Well, I got to thank you for answering my questions for the past couple of hours. I am excited to see where Acebaur's Travels goes. For the next article, I'd love to see your favorite Black Templars list and some analysis behind your choices. But to finish off today, is there anything else you would like to say to the greater BT community out there?
Ace: The Crusade is Eternal brothers, we are the Black Templars, victory is its own reward!