Space Marines Reviews: Troops Part 3: Crusader Squads

Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to break down Crusader Squads! As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more great articles and videos.

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.
  • Bolter
  • Bolt Pistol
  • Grenades
  • 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.
Special Rules:
  • Chapter Tactics: Black Templars

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.


About Reecius

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

27 Responses to “Space Marines Reviews: Troops Part 3: Crusader Squads”

  1. Fagerlund April 10, 2014 1:58 am #

    The above converts pretty well to Chaos with Chosen as troops. It’s more expensive and not quite as flexible, but the principle is pretty much the same. I tend to run them with a Power Axe and 2 meltas in squads of 7-10 in a Rhino w Havoc Launcher and Dirge Caster. Not a top list for sure, but certainly good enough to give your friends a challenge.

    • Reecius April 10, 2014 7:36 am #

      Yeah, Chosen can be awesome if not for their lack of Morale defense and the stupid Champion of Chaos rule.

      • Fagerlund April 10, 2014 7:46 am #

        Yeah… that’s why I take the Champion naked (or with melta bombs) and run them with a Lord. Both problems solved! \o/

        • Reecius April 10, 2014 8:25 am #

          Until the Lord gets killed in combat and the unit gets run down =(

          Stupid Chaos! haha

      • Adam April 10, 2014 8:29 am #

        Man, I’m really not sure where chaos touched you, show us on the doll… I can honestly count on one hand the number of times where the Champion of Chaos rule has caused me any problems, and I’ve only played CSM since the new book came out! For that matter, the lack of ATSKNF has helped me about as often as it’s hurt. :-/

        • Reecius April 10, 2014 8:39 am #

          When we played I made both your squads of CSMs break and fall back! haha, it was funny as it was like clockwork. Damn never every time I play them, I find my sarge lose a challenge, die, and the unit gets run down. Chaos has the shittiest troops in the game, IMO, bar none. I wish it weren’t so, but like you said, they touched me in bad places and I am scarred as a result! =P

          • Adam April 10, 2014 9:37 am

            I may have been a little drunk, so I only vaguely remember the details of that game.

          • Reecius April 10, 2014 10:32 am

            Lol, fair play! But yeah, it was funny as hell, they kept failing morale checks and running away, haha!

            Oh, and congratz on the engagement, stud!

          • Adam April 10, 2014 10:46 am

            Haha, well marines could keep failing morale checks too, and thanks dude!

            PS – Once I get my 3rd knight finished, I’ll have to come beat your silly scout face in. 🙂

          • Reecius April 10, 2014 12:32 pm

            Scout Power!

            But, Marines rally and act as normal, poor Chaos can’t move far, snap fires and can’t assault =(

  2. Aidobmac April 10, 2014 4:11 am #

    unfortunately when it comes to convincing I think you made a better case with the scouts yesterday. It is sad to see that black Templar initiates are just wannabe versions of the original marine, and likewise neophytes are wannabe original scouts.

    although the horde version of the squad does sound really fun, I could see that one being useful just by having it flanked by other threats instead of just more horde squads. maybe something like one 20 man unit, with 4 min-max las-plas(or your choice) squads, and then maybe some cool units like bikes and assault marines to take the pressure off the horde unit.

    • Reecius April 10, 2014 7:37 am #

      I have tried all of the above units and they all do work quite well, actually. Especially the well rounded unit, you would be surprised how good it actually is. Give it a try!

  3. Infinite Freedom April 10, 2014 8:45 am #

    I’d go with 3 10 man squads with a 50/50 mix, sword brothers, melta gun, in crusaders and then a 4th crusader with a Chapter Master in arty armor, shield eternal, thunder hammer and then a six man squad of honor guard.

    • Reecius April 10, 2014 10:32 am #

      That sounds like a unit that would do some work!

  4. anonymou5 April 10, 2014 1:37 pm #

    My buddy Andrew has a “black tide” list using maxed out Crusader squads. I honestly think it’s a tournament winning list, but he doesn’t run it at tournies because and I quote “I like my back too much” It’s pretty hilarious though. I believe it’s 2 Chapter Masters, 120 Marines, a Rune Priest, and like two Thunderfires or something. Just swamps the board in T4

    Crusader squads are waaay faster than people recognize too, so it swamps the board quickly.

    • Reecius April 10, 2014 2:47 pm #

      I have tried it with 40 marines, but never 120. That is interesting.

      • anonymou5 April 10, 2014 3:53 pm #

        Yeah, six full Crusader squads is 1440 points. Plenty of room for the supporting pieces of your choice. Pretty insane.

        • Reecius April 10, 2014 5:48 pm #

          I have the models for that, that is not a bad idea, actually. With Crusader they are pretty quick. That many marines will put an ass whipping down on most things, plus give you board control. Toss in some Inquisition Support, or, Dark Angels for Azrael to make one unit truly beefcake!

          Ork Marines!

          • TinBane April 10, 2014 7:36 pm

            I might try it with my chaos marines 😛

          • anonymou5 April 10, 2014 8:02 pm

            You have to bring the Stallion the Mounts the World

      • Prindlehaven April 11, 2014 1:42 am #

        Reecius obviously has the back muscles of an ork nob.

        -plays orks
        -plays IG
        -likes the idea of moving around 120 marines

        • Reecius April 11, 2014 7:43 am #

          Lol! I just like infantry heavy armies, and always have. I’m a masochist!

    • Dankrobber April 10, 2014 11:04 pm #

      That… sounds… epic

  5. Km April 12, 2014 5:33 am #

    Whenever i’ve used these guys i find 10 in a drop pod with bp/ccw and melta gun offer a serious threat as the enemy is forced to shoot them as they can assault squishy scoring units on turn 2, and they can take a pop at a tank turn 1

  6. Trignama April 16, 2014 2:00 pm #

    I like the evaluation! I am a Templar player through and through (only army I have ever owned/played with since 3rd Edition) and I have to say that at first I hated being rolled into the new dex, but as I’ve had time to grow with it I’m enjoying it more and more!

    I really like the breakdown I see going on here, pretty good stuff! I have never used the “Balanced” squad however, I may want to give that a shot. Would you arm the neophytes with close combat weapons or with shotguns? I feel in a set up like that the shotguns would work best. The squad wants to be close anyway due to having a flamer, and the added shots before you either assault, or for use in overwatch, would really help thin a unit out a bit and make it a bit easier for you in the assault!

    Crusaders in Crusaders is the way I love to play the Templars. If only using one unit I always throw a chaplain in with them. If going all out that way, Helbrecht is your man!

    Do you think you can ever do a battle report featuring the Templars? I would love to see how they perform in the hands of someone as good as you! Besides Templars get no love anymore anyway and I think it would be great to get them some exposure!

    Thanks for the write up here Reecius.

    P.S. Those gaming mats you made are pure gold dude, I absolutely LOVE mine!

    • Reecius April 16, 2014 2:40 pm #

      Hey Trignama, thanks for the remarks! Yeah, Templars are good fun. I will have to get a bat rep with them in, that is a good idea. I want to try the horde out, see if it can hang.

      And for the Balanced Squad, you can go any version of the Scouts. Assault, Shotty or Bolter, it just depends. Shotguns may be the best though, as you noted, that works well jumping out of the Rhino/Pod or before assault.

      Templars are good now, for sure. People underestimate them.

      • Trignama April 16, 2014 4:16 pm #

        I’ve done the horde, albeit not in the most competitive manner. I really feel as though you just want to go as basic as possible with them. Investing points in power weapons/specials/sword brethren and the like I feel would be better used for more supporting units.

        I typically however don’t follow my own advice! I do like to a do a 50/50 mix with them though. For every one of them you set up for assault, rock another 20 with bolters and a plasmagun. The duo work really well together actually. Bolters can shoot enemy infantry ur CC blobs are scared of, ur CC blobs chew up assault units your Bolter toting crusaders don’t want to get tied up with. One cool thing too is if you get the horde blobs into combat remember those krak grenades! (Especially the bolter dudes) it’s funny when a prince hits a bolter blob, eats a ton of overwatch shooting, then gets attacked by 15+ krak grenades 😉

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