Space Marines Reviews: High Chaplain Grimaldus

Reecius here again with another review, this time: Grimaldus of the Black Templars!

As always, check out Frontline Gaming for more in depth, unit-by-unit reviews of the Space Marine codex.

Grimaldus is the stoic, never-say-die High Chaplain of the Black Templars and a tough koot in a fight, surviving the collapse of a building on his noggin and still coming back for more. Let’s take a look at his stats and see if he is as resilient on the table-top as he is in the fluff.

Overview

Grimaldus is a nice blend of combat character and force multiplier. Used correctly, he can be very good although like his brother in arms, Helbrecht, he is always going to be held to the standard of the generic Chapter Master he competes with. He is also not cheap at all, weighing at the cost of 2 generic Chaplains + 5 pts. As with all other non-EW, toughness 4 based models, he is susceptible to getting insta-gibbed quite easily in the current meta and his foot speed is also a limiting factor.

Wargear:

  • 3+
  • 4++
  • Power Maul
  • Grenades
  • Master Crafted Plasma Pistol. Nice little bonus damage, possible light/medium vehicle killer.
  • Cenobyte Servitors x 3: weighing in at 10pts a pop, and allowing you to add 2 more, these guys give all friendly Black Templars units (with the Chapter Tactics) a 6++. That is so situationally good that I would probably not take them in anything but a for fun list.
Special Rules:
  • ATSKNF
  • IC
  • Black Templars
  • It Will Not Die
  • Zealot (Fearless and Hatred USRs)
  • Unmatched Zeal: all friendly Black Templars within 6″ gain Zealot. Pretty snazzy but with a painfully small radius.
  • Warlord: Rites of War: Friendly Space Marines units within 12″ his his Ld for Morale checks. A very good warlord trait, IMO, only limited by its range.
Grimaldus Tactics

Grimaldus is one of those characters I want to like but just can’t get past his hefty points cost. I think that is really his Achilles Heal as he is otherwise pretty decent. He rocks a Chaplain profile with an extra attack and wound.
Clearly, Grimaldus is meant to be run in the Black Templars foot horde with all of his various aura abilities. He gives nearby units Zealot which is really good, but a 6″ radius is rough. While in theory you could get a lot of mileage out of this power with clever model positioning, however in practice, you will be lucky to get 2 units with it. Being bunched up leaves you susceptible to the proliferation of templates and blasts that both ignore cover and are AP3 or better these days. Plus, the simple need to move to disparate sections of the board during the course of play means you will not be able to count on this ability for more than his unit in most cases. I do not think that 12″ on this ability would have been at all too much for a character that is relatively easily killed off. More on that later. 
He also can, for a price, give nearby units of Black Templars (but only those with the Chapter Tactics, so no vehicles) a 6++. This is one of those benefits that is just not consistent enough for a high price point, IMO, especially when the Cenobytes themselves are easily killed off. Yes, it can help, and if your dice are hot it will drive your opponent nuts, but in most cases it will not justify its expense. Plus, it means he is in a unit with these wimpy guys and not in a unit of Terminators or Crusader squads. Sort of counter-productive, really and exposes him to destruction all the more. He can leave them to go off and do his own thing, but despite that I still feel they really aren’t worth the points cost when they are easily destroyed. I suppose shots at them are shots not at the rest of the army, but I still feel they are not worthwhile. 
His Warlord trait is also a radius ability and also pretty solid, spreading his Ld 10 love around. A 12″ radius is a huge advantage over 6″ but the question is again – how do you cover as much territory as possible while not getting him blasted?
A vehicle helps a ton and as auras work from inside of a vehicle, this makes them even more appealing. As he is a combat character of moderate ability, you probably won’t want to use a Rhino as that hinders him in that regard (although it does provide a decent shell for the Cynobytes). An LRC of some sort is best, and the big footprint of the vehicle is even better. However, as we all know, those are spendy tanks. If you want to run Grimaldus though, an LRC is a good bet as it extends his buffs over the largest possible area while allowing him to stay safe and also assault where needed. The real question though is, should you even bother?
In the Balance
Grimaldus is really expensive as previously stated. He doesn’t really hit all that hard, though. A Power Maul is nice with high strength attacks (much better than a Power Sword, IMO) and in a challenge he gets rerolls (if he doesn’t already due to Hatred) and rending, which is nice, but it will hardly level the playing field when you find yourself fighting a 2+ save model or nasty MC of some kind. He also suffers the same vulnerability to instant death as any non-EW, T4 character, and that is a real liability with all of the crazy Monstrous Creatures running around the game these days. An errant Krak missile or high strength barrage weapon and he’s done for. For those reasons his increased durability through an extra wound and It Will Not Die is nice, but really not that amazing as they are all for naught when he suffers instant death. However, if you do find yourself waist deep in Orks or something similar, that bonus will be really nice. Just watch out for the Nob’s Klaw!
Comparing him to a generic Chaplain, he is certainly significantly better and can have a big impact on the game under the right circumstances but it will be situational at best and your opponent can shut it all down simply by spreading out and forcing you to divide your forces. Then, his cool buffs are wasted and his high price point is nothing more than a liability. Honestly though, who’s taking Chaplains anyway? Space Marine assault units aren’t bad at all, but they aren’t consistently good enough to survive in the meta we play in now where most folks are packing maximum heat and those who do take assault units are taking absolutely deadly units that can typically obliterate MEQs. Plus, as always, he must be compared to what he will actually be competing with: Chapter Master Super D00d of Face Punching. 
Buffing a unit with Zealot can make them just savage, but when you assault an enemy unit that swings first, and mulches Marines by the handful with either a 2+ (possibly with a reroll) and/or crazy high toughness, it just doesn’t work. I hate to bash on assault oriented Marine armies, please prove me wrong if you can, but we’ve tried it over and over and it flat out stinks in our experience. As I have said over and again, the only dedicated assault units we’ve gotten to work consistently in the Marine book are the old trusty Hammernators. The Chapter Master on the other hand, while not necessarily buffing the entire unit, is beating the piss out of damn near anything and not dying, which is huge. He allows the rest of the boys to actually swing where massed Marines can do some work, and you don’t have to run and hide from real combat threats with his as you do with characters like Grimaldus. 
The Final Rub
In summary I feel that Grimaldus is just too expensive for what you get and as such, is not likely to be seen at a tournament but that he can be fun, and a great addition to a Black Templars horde list in a casual setting.

So, agree, or disagree – is even trying to go assault Marines (and the Chaplains to go with them) a Fool’s Errand in 6th? 

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