Yes, nerd rage. That thing that never quite goes away and is often accompanied by cries of "BETRAYAL." The Star Wars prequels triggered it, the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies triggered it, and most recently Games Workshop has sent off a wave of anger and discontent through the hobby.
But before we really get into the rage about the Black Templars that I've seen, I want to talk about my own experience with this feeling so that you can understand where I'm coming from. It was 2010, I'd come home from my second tour in Iraq and was getting back into Warhammer 40,000 again. When I'd left for Iraq my army had been Tyranids, and they were fun as the 4th Edition rules let me run nice massive waves of Gaunts (I really loved having a carpet of them on the board). But in my time away the game had changed, Tyranids got an update and the army had lost the rules that made it fun and there was no sign of a Tervigon in sight to give me any of that feeling back, so I moved on.
This eventually brought me to, at the time, almost forgotten codex called Codex: Witch Hunters. And I was enthralled with this idea of an army of strong willed women who could, to be frank, be so badass. So I started an army focused around the Sisters of Battle. And while I admit I wasn't winning very many games, they were fun. So of course when I heard that they were getting updated I was ecstatic. We had one camp saying that they'd get a White Dwarf codex, and another saying they were getting the real thing. And I was in it for that real codex. I was excited that they could be getting an update. I'd never been playing at a time when my army got updated before.
As we all know, they didn't get it. They got two magazines in August and September 2011 that detailed their rules and stripped a lot of options and wargear out of the army. I know I'm not alone when I say that I wasn't happy. I was venomous about the ordeal for a while. And at the same time there were a lot of reactions that where writing the book off as useless, no good, too limited, and so on.
But in the end I kept playing them. In fact, I kept playing them all the way until July 2013 when I decided that while I loved the army, the lack of unit options to bring to the table to do something different with was starting to crush me creatively. So I brought them to an Apocalypse game (which the Imperium won) and now they reside in their case until they get new models.
So why am I saying all this? Well firstly, my initial reaction about the codex was wrong. A lot of us were wrong about it. It was a good, solid book. It didn't have a lot of wide options and the wargear was limited, but it played well enough and I had a blast. Near the end of 5th my Sisters had netted 17 wins, 13 ties, and 1 loss (and then I started mucking about with my list trying to explore the less stellar options and that loss count went up pretty fast). I even took Repentia in my list, a unit that I was told (by the Internet no less) was useless in 5th edition, and I'd repeatably heard was never going to amount to anything. They never did me wrong though, and often killed 2-3 times their points value in a single game, often consisting of multiple units. And I had fun. Real, honest to goodness, cross my heart and hope to die FUN.
And that's my point. A codex can't be judge by rumors, and it can't be judged by the first couple games. It'll take a little time to really settle into a groove and find what works best for you.
And right now I'm seeing a lot of Black Templar players who aren't willing to give it a chance. So let's talk about why I think these reactions are not worth half the hatred and vitriol I've been seeing posted. I'm going to break these down into sections with nice little headers.
Black Templars aren't a close combat army anymore!You're right. They're not. And it wasn't 6th Edition that did them in. If anything it was 5th Edition that had killed the supremecy of the Black Templar-Face-Punching-Army. You see, during that time the meta had kept shifting until the point came that the most serious, and competitive players were rarely, if ever, fielding the Black Tide army anymore, and had instead been playing a stripped down version of Codex: Space Marines with less wargear, less options and a lot of problems. Long gone were the days of taking 20 man Crusader Squads and crushing one's foe and here were 10 Initiates with Bolters (well 8 with Bolters and 1 with a Meltagun and maybe 1 with a Powerfist) often in a Rhino or a Drop Pod. The Bolters prevented them from being forced to charged, and if they were shot at they'd often go to ground to hold their position in cover or on an objective instead of running forward into the range of the enemy's other weapons.
In short, the days of the close combat Templar army had died.
That's not the only reason things changed though. 3rd Edition, that is the same edition Codex: Armageddon came out and the Black Templars were "born" is to blame as well. It had been rushed out the door, hardly dressed and created large problems in how the game was run. With longer movement ranges, shorter shooting ranges and brand new assault rules the shooting dominant game of 2nd Edition crumbled. Close combat could steam roll through entire armies and the pure Assault Army was born.
This was eventually fixed with some changes in 4th, and later 5th, but the age of the pure Assault Army is gone. Now in 6th we find that these units are no longer able to control the board through the power of their close combat prowess but instead by being employed tactically, and carefully. Used to route the weakened, and remove the entrenched, these units are no longer being designed to effortlessly crush the enemy lines but to work as defensive units, or to be employed with tact and skill instead of a quick and early engagement with the opposing force to turn the tides in one's favor early in the game.
The game has moved beyond 3rd Edition's "Fantasy in Space" game play and into being a different game, one that is honestly (at least in my opinion) more fitting of the science fiction setting. We still have epic clashes of swords and armor, but now they're honestly more special as the players have to plan to make those clashes happen.
They took all the rules that made Black Templars special!Honestly, no they didn't. They took all the rules that no one was really using any more and in the current edition you'd be punished for using.
Vows - You had to pay for these on top of the price of your mandatory Emperor's Champion. That was not good. The other problem was that two of them were basically considered "useless". And now two of them look to be army traits, granting the army's HQs re-rolls and rending in challenges (Accept All Challenges, No Matter the Cost) and Adamantium Will (which is in essence Abhor the Witch, Destroy the Witch). So Vows weren't lost, but have become free rules to benefit the army instead.
Righteous Zeal - If you recall, there was a rule I said people were playing around by going to ground to help them keep those objectives. This was that rule. The loss of this rule, while it means the Black Templars can't cross the board as quickly, means that they can more effectively play the mission. In the long run, while losing this rule means the army is slower crossing the board if they want to punch things but it means the army has gained the ability to better play the game in 6th Edition.
Abhor the Witch - This rule didn't go anywhere really. Templars can't take Librarians. So that's a good chunk of fluff that's still there.
No Pity! No Remorse! No Fear! - Unless Black Templars turn out to have more Chapter Tactics rules, this one is gone. Yes, they're no longer Fearless. However, they still have And They Shall No Fear which means that they still can't be swept in close combat, and if they break they can regroup, get a regroup move and then act normally. Honestly this isn't a bad deal as Fearless' best thing was keeping Templars from being swept if combat if things went south on them.
They took all my wargear!I honestly hope no one has serious cried this out into the night since reading some of the rumors we've had so far. But I've seen complaints to this effect so we should honestly look at this seriously. Let's run down the list of things I've seen complaints about shall we?
Adamantime Mantle - Gone due to the game moving away from every army having easy access to Eternal Warrior. There seems to be a way to get Eternal Warrior in the new book anyways, so this is a wash honestly.
Blessed Hull - Honestly this really shouldn't have been a surprise. A wargear option that existed to negate the ability of lance weapons. That went out of style in codexes a while ago. This was a no brainer.
Crusader Seals - You re-rolled your Righteous Zeal move with these. Seeing as almost no one wanted to make that move anymore (so they could hold objectives and actually win the game) this being lost is kind of a wash.
Machine Spirit on all Tanks - I'm sorry, but there was no honest way anyone could argue that this was an option that was going to stay. Seriously, this was long since gone.
Other Stuff - Frankly, we don't even know what's all in the new book yet. For all we know Helbrecht has the Holy Orb with him as a relic. We just need to wait and see what comes out next.
What was Gained - Okay, get your hands on the Space Marine codex. Now ignore the Special Characters (which you can't take outside of allies it seems in your army) and the Librarian. You see everything else in there? You get all of that. You can take all of that in your army now. What's not to like about all that! You also get all the new stuff the codex is getting too. Your unit selection just doubled, if not TRIPLED.
EVERYTHING IS RUINED FOREVER!And this is why I told my story about when I too felt this feeling. Nothing is ruined. No seriously, nothing is ruined. Now I get it. I really do. The last codex was written in 3rd and published in 4th and this is the first time since that book was printed that the Black Templars have gotten updated and it's a strange and scary time for anyone who hasn't been through an army update. Feelings are flying, knees are jerking and frankly it all looks pretty bad.
Believe me when I say that it's not. Black Templars were in a bad place for a long time. Their rules were out of date and didn't even come close to supporting what was seen as the "Black Templar play style", a play style that the game has moved away from in favor of armies that balance shooting and close combat, or build a solid plan around shooting over close combat. The game isn't Fantasy in Space anymore, and we really need to stop pretending that it is. The feel of it is different, the rules are different, even the balance of the game is different.
The new rules aren't "ruining" the Black Templars. They're updating them. Re-balancing them into this current rule set and making them a viable army again. Sure they're not longer a supreme Assault Army, but with the way the game is moving no one will be. Even Bloodletters need fire support from at least a cannon to ensure their assaults are not only successful but as devastating as they should be and they're the manifestation of bloodshed and war!
So I say, give the new army a chance. Because if the Black Templars really mean that much to you, then the rules aren't what really what personifies them but instead it's the way the lore reads and how you play them that matters. As long as their played like the die-hard Space Crusaders who don't take any guff from anyone then they're no less Black Templars than they were before.