Black Templars Crusader Squads are formed of zealots who wade into combat with bolter and blade! These units are comprised of both full fledged battle brothers, known as Initiates, and Black Templars in training, known as Neophytes who learn from their more experienced brothers.
Crusader Squads are one of the most flexible troop units in the game. They can be equipped to shoot, assault or a mix thereof. They are also uniquely available to the Black Templars and thus, use those Chapter Tactics. They come in at a bargain price point, 14pts for an Initiate, and 10pts for a Neophyte.
- 3+ on the Initiates, 4+ on the Neophytes.
- Bolt Pistol
- Options: the squad can have up to 10 Initiates and 10 Neophytes, but no more Neophytes than Initiates. Any model may swap their Bolter for a Chainsword, and Neophytes may take Shotguns. One Initiate may take a Heavy Weapon, Power Weapon or Power Fist, and another a Special Weapon. One model may be upgraded to a Sword Brother who can take melee, ranged weapons or Melta Bombs. The squad can take a Rhino, Razorback, Drop Pod or Land Raider Crusader as a dedicated transport.
Crusader Squads are first and foremost a flexible scoring unit. They have several unique advantages. For one, they can take specialized melee weapons on non-challengable characters in their units, which is great. You seldom see Power Fists, Axes, etc. on Sarges anymore as so often they simply get challenged by something that swings before them and squishes them. A Power Axe buried in the squad will often actually swing, and help to stack wounds on tough targets like MCs, or to take out a few infantry models. They can't Look Out Sir! on the downside, but I can live that that trade-off. Adamantium Will also provides great defense against psychic powers and Crusader makes these infantry units nice and speedy. Not having Combat Squads is a bummer, but not the end of the world.
You can build these guys so many different ways it's crazy. They can be built for assault, shooting, scoring, MSU, LRC spam, horde tactics, you name it. The unit has so many variables in it that can dramatically alter the way it plays that it is pretty crazy. With the ability to mix in cheaper Neophytes to beef the unit up and absorb casualties, you can invest points into melee, heavy and special weapons and be sure to get more out of them. Let's analyze this by unit build type to make it easier to digest.
Shooty Crusader Squad:
Ironically, the most well known version of the assault oriented (per the fluff) Crusader Squads in competitive circles has always been their shooting units. Well, they can still do it! The only Chapter still able to rock the 5 man Las/Plas squad since 4th ed, Black Templars can still flood the field with min/maxed, scoring, shooting units. As they can take a heavy and special weapon in units of 5, that is some efficient shooting. Of course these days, you do not have to go with Las and Plas, you can take any combo. I personally like the Multi Melta/Plasma combo. You can also add a few Neophytes too, if you want to beef up the unit with some meat shields. This unit provides a great backfield objective holder that can pop a vehicle or put wounds on MCs. It may not be as awesome as it was back in 4th, but it still adds some great utility at a very low price point.
Horde Crusader Squad:
This is the Crusader Squad the way the fluff intended it. A big, beefy unit of assault oriented Templars, coming right for ya! While this is not the most competitive way to run Crusaders in my opinion, it isn't terrible. With the Crusader USR they move at a respectable clip up the field, and with numbers, they can soak damage. You can take up to 20 total models in the unit, half Initiates and half Neophytes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of units in the game these days that can do absolutely massive amounts of wounds, and as such, having big units can actually be a detriment as you enable your opponent to hit maximum damage potential. A full unit of Missilesides, for example, will be licking its chops seeing a big, valuable unit like this to unload into. Any effect that impacts an entire unit, such as Misfortune, is also getting more bang for its buck against large units like this. Conversely, buffs also get more mileage by impacting more models.
On the flip side, if you get the assault off, these units can pack a wallop in assault. You could run a horde style Templar list with multiple, max units of Crusaders and have a lot of fun with them if not really posing a serious threat to competitive lists.
I would run these units full size, with a Flamer, Special Weapon and the Sword Borther Upgrade with Melta Bombs. He's there to fall on the sword if you fight a nasty assault Character, provide the awesome Melta Bombs, and to jump into reasonable challenges against single wound models where his rending, reroll misses attacks makes him actually fairly threatening without any additional points spent on upgrades. Throw in a character such as a Chapter Master or Chaplain and the unit can really deal some damage.
Land Raider Crusader Caddies:
One of the other cool uses for these guys is to spam out on LRCs. As they can take them as a dedicated transport, and the unit itself can be taken at the low price of 70pts, you can cram LRCs into your list. This provides you with a wall of AV14 which a lot of armies simply can't handle. It also keeps your scoring units nice and safe until it is time to jump out and grab objectives.
Alternatively you can pack the LRCs with units that actually have teeth. 15 models, some melee and special weapons, and you can pack a punch. Multiple units like this are almost always going to cross the table due to the protection of the LRC, and with Neophytes to soak wounds, you can reliably assault enemy units and do some damage to them. As above, a Character in this unit will really help them to pack a punch. Now, again, assault oriented Marine lists are simply inferior in the current meta due to the fact that so many enemy assault units are flat out better, but it is a fun way to play and quite true to the fluff.
The Well Rounded Crusaders:
This is my personal favorite way to play the unit. Due to the fact that you can shave points by padding the unit with Neophytes, Crusader Squads can pack in the same amount of goodies as a unit of Tactical Marines at a lower price point with only a minor loss in efficacy. That means you have more points left over for support units, which means a list that is more points efficient.
As an example: 5 Initiates, 5 Neophytes, Rhino or Drop Pod, Flamer, M.Melta, and P.Axe. That comes out to 185pts. An equivalent unit of Tactical Marines with a Flamer, M.Melta, and M.Bombs in a Rhino or Drop Pod would run you 195pts. Those are very similar units, and if you take 6 units, the Crusaders save you 60pts, which is a big chunk. You can forgo the Power Axe if you like, and save an additional 15pts per unit. Over 6 units that is 90pts, or a 150pt savings over Tacticals. That is significant and it means another unit on the field which gives you an advantage in pure offense as the BT player.
So there you have it! Black Templars Crusader Squads are flexible, fun scoring units that can function well in a themed list or a competitive list. And, don't forget, BTs can still take Tactical Marines or Scouts units too, if they want to.