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Assault Terminators in the Black Templars army are pretty damn epic and fits completely into the perceived fluff of a close combat-oriented chapter. Not to mention, they are all kinds of cool. Putting them on the board just makes you feel like: "BAM! Take that! Fearz0r me!" Then we expect our opponents to lay over and die. When they don't, and then beat us, we are left wondering what the hell happened.
The fact of the matter is that anything those terminators charge will die. Its pretty much one of the few guarantees in the Warhammer 40k game. Add in the 2011 BT FAQ and they also gained improved durability with their new Storm Shields. So what is the problem? The truth of the matter is that those "amazing" Assault Terminators need to stay in your gaming case. They just don't do what you wanted them to do for a cheap enough price. And that really is the kicker. This unit is cost-prohibitive for most armies.
What are you talking about Laeroth? They are only 215 points with Furious Charge! Well, you are half right on that front. But the question remains: How are you going to get them into combat? Unless you're using a full squad of TH/SS terminators who can survive a full turn of shooting, you need to have a Land Raider Crusader to transport you dudes where you want to go. The minimum points cost for something like that? 483 points per squad. In 2000 points, that is a full 1/4th of your army. Oh, wait. You need two units to be effective? Now we're looking at problems. However, before we get into the reasons why we're avoiding this unit, I want to briefly discuss the pros for using them in your army.
Let's start with the fact that these guys hit like a truck in close combat. Most people go with the prescribed 5-man unit (3x LC, 2x TH/SS). That is going to wreck some stuff. On the charge against MEQ (with AAC and Furious Charge), you'll kill 11.75 models. Not too bad.
What else do they do? Don't worry, I'm getting there. Because these guys do pretty much annihilate anything they charge, they create a very large threat bubble for your opponent. If deploying second, your opponent is likely to deploy as far away from them as possible. During the battle, they are likely to put a great deal of attention into stopping you from reaching something valuable in their army. That could be via shooting, bubblewrap, or movement blocking. Regardless, you are forcing your opponent to react to your actions on the battlefield and you might be able to take advantage of that capability.
That threat can also be used to in the other direction as well. By leaving those Terminators close to your other forces, you have an excellent counter-assault unit that your opponent won't want to have anything to do with. Because these guys are relatively durable (if you took the 2x TH/SS), they can play the bubblewrap role very well. So that is pretty much it. They kill things very well and produce insane amounts of threat.
Now, getting back to the whole reason this article exists: the cons. And there are a great many. Let's get started shall we? *cracks knuckles*
First, the unit itself is pretty expensive. 215 points is not exactly cheap. Which would be fine if you knew that the unit would survive to reach combat every game. Unfortunately, they don't have quite enough durability to get there in enough numbers to make a difference. It is likely that it'll get eaten by shooting or assault long before it gets where it needs to. This is further exuberated by the "slow" nature of the terminator. They are, for all intents and purposes, basic infantry and move as such (Righteous Zeal helps, but you don't want to lose any from your 5-man unit). That means vehicles will quickly outpace them, especially if they are Fast. That is a problem if you want to get into combat!
This unit also lacks Frag Grenades, which is a huge problem. Because your opponent isn't stupid (I hope), they'll be parked in cover waiting for you to charge in. Then your high initiative from Furious Charge will be wasted. You'll be forced to wait for the opponent to strike and who knows how many losses you might incur?
Fortunately, there is a solution for those problems. The Land Raider Crusader. It gives you protection against the elements, gives you mobility, and you have Frag Grenades charging out of the vehicle. Awesome. What is the catch? You're stuck with another 268 points (with smoke launchers) to transport your terminators to battle. That is a grand total of 483 points. Wow.
Wait, what? There's more? Do you know how easy it is to simply send a cheap Rhino charging forward at full speed to block a Land Raider? If done properly, which isn't hard, the Land Raider can be indefinitely stalled from ever reaching the vulnerable parts of your opponent's army. You don't even have to kill it! However, most of the time, those cheap Rhinos (or any transport) are packed with melta-wielding troops that cost barely anything. Guess who's Land Raider just got killed? :(
So this means that our army need to have at least two of these units in armies of 1850 points or more to ensure that at least one unit survives to reach the enemy. Otherwise, the solo unit will simply get neutralized during the game. And this isn't even counting the armies that can shoot them from across the board on turn one and kill them (i.e. Tau and Tyranids)!
As you can imagine, having nearly 1k points of your army filled with 10 terminators and 2 LRCs isn't giving you a whole lot of room for much else. You still have to fit in the Emperor's Champion and the troops! Once that's finished, you'll not have much room for anything else. Low troop numbers, very little long-range weaponry (if any), and next to no support for your rock army. So how is this a good unit to take in a balanced army?
If you're thinking that the cons outweigh the pros, then you're correct. I wish I didn't have to say it myself, but I cannot submit to the status quo. The fact of the matter is that when a new player asks what (s)he should buy when starting their BT army, most players immediately say Assault Terminators. I challenge that theory. Assault Terminators are viable in a very select few armies and situations. I presented one such army list earlier in the article. However, in most army lists, they do not fit.
Do not waste your money on the Assault Terminators right now. There are much better things to spend your money on right now in this army. I know they are awesome. Buy and paint them if you wish, but do not put them in your army unless you absolutely love them that much. It is unfortunate, but a list is not truly competitive if a terminator/LRC combo exists in it. The threat it creates on the battlefield does not cover the handicap you give the rest of your forces when you included them.
So if you already purchased some terminators, keep them in your case and watch as you win more games. I may be the bearer of bad news. You may not like what I say...but deep down, you know what I say is true. Do not deny the little voice inside of you. Keep the Tactical Dreadnought Armor safe on the Eternal Crusader, until they are of more use to us. :P