Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 10: High Marshal Helbrecht


Next up: High Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars! As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more good info!

Helbrecht of the Black Templars is up on deck, and ready for review! The Xenophobic leader of the Knights in Spaaaaaace! is described as a peerless fighter that slayed a Daemon Prince with just his combat blade. Can he match those feats on the tabletop?




Helbrecht is described as a combat powerhouse, however in reality he is anything but. He sure as hell isn’t going to be killing a Daemon Prince with a combat blade unless that Daemon Prince just got run over by a Land Raider, is blind in one eye and lame in both arms! Helbrecht is also a force multiplier with his special ability but it is not always the easiest ability to use, much like Ultramarine Chapter Tactics. Helbrecht is also slow, and for some reason, does not have Orbital Bombardment as the other Chapter Masters do. He is also not very cheap for what you get, weighing in at 20pts under two Thunderfire Cannons.


  • 2+
  • 4++
  • Grenades
  • Combi-Melta
  • Sword of the High Marshals: Master-crafted Power Sword, +D3 attacks on the charge instead of +1.

Special Rules:

  • IC
  • Black Templars
  • Crusade of Wrath: Once per game he gives all Black Templars units with the CTs Hatred and Fleet. That is pretty dang good.
  • Warlord: Sword of the Imperium: One per game he and his unit gain Furious Charge. Pretty good, actually.


Well, to put it mildly, Helbrecht doesn’t impress me that much. He sure as shit better hope he never catches Ghaz per his fluff, to fight in glorious single combat as that won’t end well for the old boy! Ghas would be picking his teeth with the Sword of the High Marshals after a single round of combat.

Helbrecht is a combat character that really isn’t that good in combat. A Power Sword is pretty crummy. Yes he can once per game gain Furious Charge, Hatred and Fleet, but that is not going to help him in a fight with an opponent that has a 2+. Yes, in a challenge he does gain rerolls to hit and Rending, but that isn’t going to help when a Monstrous Creature smashes him at In9 or he is facing someone with a 2+ and more than 1 wound. As all BTs, he does have Crusader and Adamantium Will which are really useful. On the charge he can get 7 strength 5, AP3 attacks with rerolls to hit, plus rending if he is in a challenge. He can also blast someone with his Combi-melta for a big kill on occasion. Not bad, but he can only pull that all off once per game whereas every other round of combat he is mediocre at best. And why doesn’t he have a flippin Bolt Pistol, by the way? And there is where he falls flat: compare him to a generic Chapter Master.

The generic Chapter Master can do almost everything Helbrecht does, better. Let’s look at a straight comparison: a CM with Artificer Armor, Power Fist and Combi-Weapon. That comes in at 15 points less than Helbrecht. In that comparison, there is none. Helbrecht is clearly better for the points. He really is good against anything lacking a high initiative str 8+ attack or a 2+ save. His abilities are far better than that 15 point difference…but who cares? Not many folks are going to run their CM that way unless they do it for fluff reasons. To be fair, you need to compare him to what he is actually competing with: Captain Kill ’em All.

A Chapter Master on a bike with the Shield Eternal, Artificer Armor and weapon of your choice, typically a Fist or Hammer. That is a model that can fight damn near anything head to head and still gains rerolls and rending in a challenge where Helbrecht is vulnerable to anything that is 2+ and/or has strength 8+ attacks. The CM doesn’t have those limitations and is MUCH faster to boot. Oh yeah, and Bikes as troops. Helbrecht can be quite good but in general terms is going to often be a liability where the Chapter Master almost never will. Oh yeah, and this Chapter Master, for whatever reason, remembered to bring his cell phone to radio in that Orbital Bombardment.

So we know Helbrecht isn’t a good enough combatant to really warrant his points when compared to what you could be taking in that slot. That’s what we call opportunity cost. He isn’t bad, just not as good. That said, what if you do want to take him? How do you make him work?

Helbrecht then becomes his special abilities. BTs are designed to be run in big units on foot per their fluff and Helbrecht helps with that by giving all of the BTs Fleet and Hatred for a critical turn. Nice. That is a very powerful ability, however, don’t forget you are working with a MEQ stat line which is a liability in and of itself. They just aren’t that good in combat. When faced with Daemons, Xenos and such that swing first, ignore your armor and often cost less points, you are just not going to get much return on investment with an assault oriented marine list. That isn’t to say they can’t win at all, just that it’s hard as hell in the context of a tournament meta. So what if you have Fleet and rerolls to hit in the first round of combat if you get slaughtered before you swing? May as well take Tactical Marines who still blow up tanks as well, still beat up weak infantry almost as well but are scoring units and can shoot more effectively. Crusader squads bridge that gap fairly well and can hit hard, it just isn’t something to build a list around, IMO, if your goal is a TAC tournament list.

Not to be entirely negative, if you play against lots of other MEQs, or do not play against many Nids, Daemons, MCs, or Eldar/Dark Eldar assault units this power will work quite well and help you to consistently get the charge and win combat. So in that context it is awesome. In the current tournament meta though, it isn’t going to amount to much. The assault units we usually do see will typically walk right through a unit of Marines like they weren’t there.

A list with Helbrecht at the helm that will work quite well though, is 30 Hammernators. They with Adamantium Will, Crusader and army wide Hatred and Fleet for a turn is REALLY good. That would be damn fun, too! They can survive heavy fire, Heldrakes, Riptides, etc. and then smack the piss out of what they touch when they get across the table, too. His abilities really do help that style of list out a lot, but then you have to ask the ever present question: is that better than a total badass Biker CM? That Biker can get a unit of Hammernators into combat fast by daisey chaining them behind him, and hits so much harder. No, he doesn’t boost your army for a single assault phase, but he is better in every single round of combat.

Helbrecht also jives quite well with multiple Crusader units in Land Raider Crusaders increasing the odds of getting the charge off with units in LRCs and then boosting damage with Hatred. Again, you are simply working within the limitations of Space Marines themselves so just be aware of that. It’s not fun to buy, build and paint a combat army and then find yourself in a game against another combat army that quite simply outclasses you, point for point. If you do want to play this style list though, Helbrecht buffs your units for that big charge quite well.

In summation, Helbrecht is a C character. He isn’t bad, he can be quite good, he just often will be points wasted which is why I think you will rarely if ever see him in a tournament list.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

20 Responses to “Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 10: High Marshal Helbrecht”

  1. Black Blow Fly September 23, 2013 5:44 pm

    Good review. I agree with your assessment .

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 23, 2013 6:06 pm

      Tank you, sir.

  2. Kannonfodder September 23, 2013 7:14 pm

    I love the idea of Helbrecht, but yeah he is a bit underwhelming. Versus other marine armies he is a beast, as he and a heap of other templars come smashing out of a landraider with all of his one-time boosts. If his sword was AP2, or he had eternal warrior he would be a top notch choice.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 23, 2013 7:55 pm

      Yeah, you said it. If he had EW and an AP2 weapon, he would be beastly. As he stands though, he is pretty meh.

  3. David Key September 23, 2013 8:53 pm

    I am not sure. I agree with what you say about marine assault armies, but I do think the BTs allow you to take mobs which is something that other SMs do not have. Even against something that seems stupid, like… say… charging 20 seekers of slaanesh. Do the math, the initiates mostly bite it, but then the seekers get wiped in return, and that is not even counting Helbrechets ability. IDK. MIght suck still, but meat shields for marines are something unexplored IMO.

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 23, 2013 9:31 pm

      Seekers should almost always get the assault, and I have run the marine hordes BT before, it isn’t that hot, honestly. I could be wrong for sure, but IME it hasn’t been all that impressive.

  4. Son of Dorn September 23, 2013 9:35 pm

    Seems for a competitive list you could build a chapter master out and use Helbrecht’s model with some BT chapter tactics, then use his real rules in friendly games. 🙂

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 24, 2013 8:37 am

      I think that is a really good compromise, actually.

  5. Cruzcontrol39 September 23, 2013 10:19 pm

    When I see a space marine assault army in fron of me… I smile and say brast them! Lol… Yeah they suck… There is only one guy that plays them around here because he is stubborn and doesn’t want to change…

  6. tony September 24, 2013 2:12 am

    well, gw hates Black Templars, and Black Templar players. That’s why. hmp!

    *Son of Dorn
    That’s what I did to my newly painted Helbrecht! hehe…

    I hate you

  7. CaptKaruthors September 24, 2013 6:44 am

    I dunno. You can put 100 marines on the table easily with crusader squads. That’s a lot of marines to chew through before they hit your lines. With the special rules they can all get across the table fairly easily. :shrug:

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 24, 2013 8:36 am

      I hate to sound so negative, and I don’t want to imply that they absolutely can’t work, it’s just that as a guy that tried for years to make assault oriented Space Marines competitive, it never, ever worked for me. Tyranids, Daemons (especially Daemons) and lots of Eldar units just ate me for breakfast. They are statistically superior and designed to kill Marines. That said, I am sure there are folks who can make them work, but in a true take all comers tournament list they are just too vulnerable to bad match-ups, IMO.

      • Black Blow Fly September 24, 2013 5:27 pm

        Blood Angels were a top tier army back with the third edition codex… All good things come to an end though.

        I think the new codex can have a strong melee component… Especially with White Scars and the reduction in points for bikers.

        CSM with daemons can also be an excellent assault army – one of the best currently. I only find eldar to be annoying due to their amazing speed and mobility.

        The meta is overly focused on shooting which the rules do support but that in turn has made melee such a game winner. It just takes a lot more skill IMO.

        • Reecius
          Reecius September 24, 2013 5:56 pm

          I agree, and I find that a good assault army will beat a shooty army, particularly armies like Tau and Eldar.

          Assault armies work, you just need adequate terrain and as you said, skill.

          • BBF September 25, 2013 9:07 am

            Yes ample terrain is necessary indeed !

  8. CaptKaruthors September 24, 2013 6:45 am

    I’d also equip them all or most of them with bolters so they can bolter down anything that they don’t want to fight in CC.

  9. Corbeau September 24, 2013 2:50 pm

    I simply like to say that it is hard to compare a force multplier HQ to a combat beatstick HQ. We should do a comparisson to another force multiplier, as they are much more complex to explain and by the same reasonning discover the combos end tricks they give. ( A beatstick is simply gonna wreck face!, a force multiplier can help with all the other facets of the game…)

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 24, 2013 6:10 pm

      Yeah, that is a good point, they serve different roles, but I feel that his once a game ability doesn’t really qualify him as a true force multiplier, he seems built more for combat, but he just falls flat a bit. That said, as you point out, his ability when it works is REALLY good. It is hard to compare him to the other force multiplier characters. Calgar is the only one with sort of the same deal but Calgar is miles better in both categories.

  10. Corbeau September 25, 2013 1:07 pm

    We should check with an orc player how important getting fleet once per game is…

    • Reecius
      Reecius September 25, 2013 1:18 pm

      Not at all saying it isn’t good, it is , it’s very good, just that the bigger problem that Marines themselves just aren’t that great in assault. It’s awesome that they fleet and get hatred for a turn, 100% true, and it is a big help, but it doesn’t make much difference when they still get cut down in combat. Orks can soak big casualties, Marines cannot.