Hey everyone, Chandler here. With the release of Wrath of Magnus and subsequently Traitor Legions, the sons of the Crimson King have returned with a vengeance. Today we’re going to take a look at the new War Cabal formation for Thousand Sons. For more analysis, tactics articles, and reviews check out the Tactics Corner.
Chaos Space Marines players the world over are rejoicing at the release of new rules for the Traitor Legions and with good reason. Some of the added buffs and new Legion benefits make Chaos Space Marines viable again. Thousand Sons in particular have several new units, Formations and Detachments available which enhance their army beyond the simple Rubric Marines from the codex. Rubrics have always been a staple for Thousand Sons players and the new War Cabal gives them some nice benefits.
Overview: The War Cabal is a Thousand Sons Formation available in both the Wrath of Magnus and Traitor Legions supplements. In addition to being a stand alone Formation, it can be taken as a Core choice in a Grand Coven Detachment. It is composed of the following:
- 1 either Ahriman, Daemon Prince, Exalted Sorcerer, Sorcerer
- 1-3 either Exalted Sorcerers or Sorcerers
- 1-3 units of Rubric Marines
- 1-3 units of Scarab Occult Terminators
Special Rules: The Formation comes with two special rules including Favoured of Tzeentch which allows you to re-roll failed saving throws of 1 if the Formation has the maximum number of units. That can be a pretty strong benefit, but unfortunately, like most of the Thousand Sons formations, the price point is very high. At absolute bare bones cost with no upgrades, to gain the benefit of Favoured of Tzeentch it will cost right at 1500 points! That is taking 4 basic Mastery Level 1 Sorcerers with the required Mark of Tzeentch, 3 units of Rubrics, and 3 units of Terminators.
Oracular Guidance lets a unit re-roll all to hit rolls of 1 for any unit containing a Psyker when he successfully manifests a power until the start of your next Psychic Phase. That is a pretty strong buff considering all of these units come with a sorcerer attached. Re-rolling 1s in both shooting, close combat and throughout your opponent’s turn can be pretty significant.
Additionally, because this is a Thousand Sons Formation, all units able to take Veterans of the Long War must do so at no additional cost and all Sorcerers and Daemon Princes must be upgraded with the Mark of Tzeentch or Daemon of Tzeentch. Units with Veterans of the Long War also benefit from the Blessing of Tzeentch allowing them to gain a +1 to their Invulnerable Saves when they are effected by a Blessing psychic power. That’s pretty strong and makes these units incredibly durable which is a nice offset given the points cost for most of them. The Sorcerers also get the option to choose to roll all their powers from the Tzeentch table rather than up to half.
If you take this Formation as a Core choice in a Grand Coven Detachment, you also gain the ability to re-roll Perils results when you cast a Psychic power and the ability to cast 1 more Psychic power than your unit’s Mastery Level allows.
Tactics: Running a War Cabal with maximum units can make this Formation pretty resilient and deadly to any enemy with 3+ armor or higher. These units can sling some massive firepower all at AP3 potentially re-rolling 1s to-hit and saving throws of 1. Since all of these units come with Invulnerable saves combined with Mark and Blessing of Tzeentch means you can have several units rocking 3++ invulnerables re-rolling 1s making them hard to take off the table, which is great considering the significant point investment.
The War Cabal can dominate the psychic phase as well. At minimum you’re looking at 13 warp dice before rolling in a bare bones War Cabal with maximum units! Increase the Mastery Levels on these basic Sorcerers and you can be rolling up to 17 warp charge before dice. That is more than enough to rival even some Chaos Daemon builds. And again, when taken in a Grand Coven Detachment, you’re gaining the ability to cast more Psychic powers per turn.
The key to getting the most out of the Formation is to ensure your units spread those Blessings around. Fortunately every unit in the War Cabal will have the Force power which will be an easy way to buff those Invulnerables. Scarab Occult Terminator Sorcerers have access to Divination meaning you can always be sure they can have Prescience to throw around also. Additionally, a lot of the new psychic disciplines have plenty of Blessings available. Earthly Anathema from the Geomortis Discipline, for example, really makes these units deadly as it can give Ignores Cover and the ability to ignore line of sight. That can be pretty devastating when firing Ap3 weapons that re-roll 1s to-hit!
This army really shines by making the most of devastating Witchfire powers and Maledictions. The new Tzeentch power table is pretty awesome with a lot of new powers such as Baleful Devolution and Treason of Tzeentch. Your opponent will cringe as you take over his Gravcannon Devastators and blast his own units away, for example.
Mobility is a serious issue in this Formation. Terminators are naturally slow and Rubrics have Slow and Purposeful making them unable to Run should you need to do so. This can be offset a bit by taking the Astral Grimoire relic which allows the bearer or a single infantry unit within 12″ to gain the Jump unit type until the end of the Movement phase. Generally speaking, however, these units are extremely slow and will struggle against armies that can outmaneuver them, such as Eldar. Ahriman could be taken as the Warlord in this Formation giving Infiltrate to some of the units, allowing them to also Outflank from Reserves, but again Ahriman is a big point sink.
High armor vehicles, such as Imperial Knights, and 2+ Armor or Cover save units can also cause some problems. A lot of this can be mitigated via Witchfire Psychic Powers like Psychic Shriek and other similar powers that ignore armor saves. The Heretech Discipline is a nice option for Sorcerers when facing off against those Imperial Knights or other nasty vehicle units as there are several witchfires that have Haywire or other such abilities which strip hull points off of tanks and walkers.
Close Combat is another area where the army struggles. You can throw Force Axes on those Sorcerers to give them a nice AP2 weapon with Instant Death when Force is active and having a 3++ save potentially re-rolling 1s gives them quite a bit of durability since they’ll be swinging at initiative 1 with them. Walkers are another hard unit to crack for Thousand Sons as they don’t come with grenades so will struggle against them and because they are Fearless they cannot use the Our Weapons are Useless rule to get away. Equipping the Aspiring Sorcerer with a melta bomb isn’t a bad idea, and a Force Stave at least gives them the ability to possibly hurt most Walkers in the game at STR 6. Generally speaking they are fairly weak as a whole in close combat, however with their durability they can be good at tarpitting pesky assault units that don’t have Hit and Run. Terminators come with some pretty devastating firepower, but all of them come equipped with Power Swords with no way to upgrade beyond that, making them useless against anything other than light infantry or power armored marines.
Overall, the War Cabal has a lot of great potential and certainly makes Rubric Marines much better than before. This Formation isn’t a game changer, but it certainly gives those Thousand Sons armies a pretty big boost. The key to making it work is power selection and making the most of the Psychic phase. You really have to know what you’re up against in order to select the right Psychic powers to make the difference. The army is slow, but has some pretty amazing durability which is easily accessible army wide. Can this army hang with a lot of top tier builds like Battle Company or Daemonic Incursions? Maybe depending on the missions and power selections. Generally speaking, however, it will struggle against highly mobile armies because it simply doesn’t have the speed to keep up with them.
The War Cabal has some nice flavor appropriate to the Thousand Sons Legion focusing on dominating the Psychic Phase. These truly are the most powerful non-xenos psykers in the lore and the new buffs really make them shine on the table as well. I know I am excited to see all of the new Legions rules and Detachments in action!
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