Space Marines Reviews: HQs Part 12: The Emperor’s Champion

emperors champion


The notorious Emperor’s Champion is on deck for review, let’s give him a look! As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more detailed analysis and videos!

The Emperor’s Champion is a cool concept: a Black Templar whom upon the eve of battle prays to the Emperor and receives a holy vision, becoming empowered with divine strength and given sacred weapons and armor. Does he back this up on the table top?




The Emperor’s Champion is well armored and a decent fighter but he has a HUGE drawback: he suffers from Chaos syndrome: having to go into challenges whenever possible. This coupled with his somewhat squishy nature and he is asking to get chewed up in combat. That said, he does pack a punch and can be good fun to use. If you couldn’t guess, this is a combat character first and last. He does provide a leadership buff to his unit but due to his nature don’t expect him to stick around for long to keep his unit buffed. He weighs in at a Thunderfire+40pts and in my mind, is a bit pricey for what you get.


  • Bolt Pistol (he must have stolen Helbrechts!)
  • Grenades
  • Armour of Faith: 2+/4++
  • Black Sword: Strength as user, AP2, Melee, Master-crafted. Not bad, like an old school Power Sword (ignoring armor) with a reroll. Not great as strength 4 with 2 base attacks is nothing to get excited about honestly, but not bad, either.

Special Rules:

  • IC
  • Fearless: Nice boost to his unit while he lasts.
  • Black Templars
  • Slayer of Champions: You must make or accept a challenge and furthermore, if you have more than one character in a combat able to challenge, he must be the one to do it. Ouch! That’s terrible! Even Chaos isn’t that bad. Further, the rule states that in a challenge you must choose one of two stances: Smite the Unclean: +2 Strength, weapon becomes 2 handed and unwieldy or Slay the Heretic: to wound rolls of 6 are Instant Death. This rule really, really hamstrings what would otherwise be a pretty decent model.


Yeah, so…he’s a combat character with a strength 4 weapon and base 2 attacks that has to make or take a challenge and further, he can’t have someone else step into his shoes for him… we need to say anything more? This guy is 100% a liability in a tournament list.

Haha, oh wait, we want an in-depth review? OK, let’s do it.

So, ignoring the fact that he is going to die in terrible challenges more often than not, and ignoring how annoying it is to not have control over your own models, and also ignoring how often you will do significantly less damage to your enemy in a challenge with a wimpy sarge that soaks all of your attacks keeping his squad mates safe, let’s talk about his other characteristics.

The Emperor’s Champion is a mediocre fighter while having been designed to be a combat character. A strength 4 weapon is sub-par, pure and simple. AP2 is cool sure, but in previous editions when all power swords were essentially AP2 you still rarely if ever saw them. They just don’t hit hard enough. On the charge this guy would do an average of 1.8 wounds to toughness 4 models, so…yeah. You average two dead Marines…..way to be, Bad Ass!

In a challenge, he gets rerolls to hit and rending per the BT Chapter Tactics which is nice and at I5 he will be great for killing Sargents in challenges and such as they have only a single wound (because you know, that is a really important task…). But even a Librarian with a Power Axe has him sweating as he stands decent odds of doing only a single wound and then getting gutted. Yes, he could get lucky and roll that 6 to wound but you can’t count on that and often he will die to sub-par combat characters that cost less points than he does under similar circumstances. If he opts to go +2 Strength and unwieldy he hits significantly harder and as long as he isn’t worried about also getting killed at the same or higher initiative step (the other guy lacks an AP2 weapon for instance), this is often the way to go. You lose an attack, but the increase in strength will typically more than make up for that.

He is decently resilient with a 2+ and 4++, that is solid and will help to keep him alive a little longer than normal. 2 wounds is nothing to jump up and down about, but with his very good armor it certainly does help. That 2+ is the best thing he’s got going as it gives him a chance against anyone with an AP3 weapon. However, as I have stated multiple times, MCs are so prevalent these days that a 2+ isn’t all that hot and one strength 8+ bump to the noggin and the Emperor’s Chump can kiss his ass goodbye. The kicker is that often, these big nasties will swing first, too. It’s Kharn syndrome but not hitting as hard as Kharn. =(

It is important to note that he makes his unit Fearless while he is in it. However, as he is always making and taking challenges and we play in a tournament meta where the assault units you do see tend to be vicious, typically far superior to an MEQ, so he is also going to be doing a lot of dying. Don’t count on him surviving the game to keep a unit Fearless for holding objectives, etc. Yes, it can and will happen but if he is doing what he is deigned to do: fight in challenges, he is going to be taking a lot of dirt naps. If you want to make a unit fearless, just get a Chaplain for less points that also buffs the entire unit.

He falls even more flat when you compare him to what you could be taking. A simple Captain with a Power Sword and Artificer Armor costs 15 less points and while he isn’t AP2, he has more attacks, more wounds, doesn’t have to challenge but still gets rerolls and rending to hit in them. Honestly, I would rather take the basic Captain, he’s the better model in a general since and you can always give him a Power Axe, or Fist or Maul, etc. Don’t even look at the Chapter Master, he is so much better than the Emperor’s Champion that it’s comical.

So in short, this guy is a D- character. I hate to be so negative honestly, but in competitive play he is a liability that will more often than not be points wasted and potentially game losing. While he has the potential for a glorious kill shot with his rending, Instant Death Black Sword in a challenge, math says he gets squished more often than not. For casual play? Yeah, he’s great fun and I can see him leading a fluffly Black Templars army. Competitively? A total turd.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!
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David Key
David Key
8 years ago

Wasn’t there a time when the EC was SUPER busted? Maybe when he first came out or something. Wish I could remember those rules.

8 years ago
Reply to  Reecius

He actually wasn’t all that great in 3rd. His power weapon was either 3 attacks at S5 or 2 attacks as a power fist and he only had 2 wounds. He was also required in every army no matter the points cost, but didn’t count as an HQ choice so you still had to buy another character. Another character that couldn’t take an Iron Halo since EC had it. He was the only one in the game that could challenge (worked much like it does now) but most ICs were better at killing him than he was at killing them.

No, the BT themselves with their crazy vows (well, vow, people only ever took the hit on 3+ vow) and hidden powerfists are what made the army so insane back then. EC died to a stiff breeze and often didn’t take out that much on his way down. I would also argue they were much better in early 3rd than they were in late/4th, before Trial Assault Rules made it so you couldn’t assault out of a rhino.

Captn Dees
8 years ago

He is quite the turd burglar.

Sigh BT, how I can’t figure out what the hell to do with you (other than make you space wolves…).

8 years ago

The EC is so lack-luster. I’m glad I no longer have to pay for him, and can use his points on more troops!

8 years ago

He used to be Str 6 AP2 at Initiative and gave your whole army Preferred Enemy. Kind of sad.

8 years ago
Reply to  Gordy

Yeah, I’m not sure why they felt the need to give him Unwieldy. He certainly wouldn’t be over-powered without it.

8 years ago

Having played BT since 2000 when I started … this is incredibly disappointing (All of the characters not the review). To be honest I’m more inclined to build up the EC as a Chapter Master and just equip a Power Sword / Artificer Armour. Even then he’s not great, but better than this!

8 years ago
Reply to  Reecius

They should IMO, Have left the EC at the same points as from the previous Codex (Pre-Vow Selection). In which case he’d be about right.

In the meantime I’ll rename “Slayer of Champions” to “Slayer of Sergeants” and remember to leave him at home.

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