Wrath of Magnus Review: HQ: Exalted Sorcerer

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Hey everyone, Chandler here. In this article we’re going to be taking a look at the new HQ choice for Chaos Space Marines and Thousand Sons; the Exalted Sorcerer.  For more reviews, analysis, and battle reports check out the Tactics Corner.

As warp storms tear through systems and the veil between space and time is broken the Lords of the Silver Towers emerge ready to reign down destruction upon their enemies.  The greatest of the Thousand Sons psykers, each an exile from a time long passed, the Exalted Sorcerers weave the most complex and destructive magic known to mankind.  And now these psychic powerhouses are ready to bring their devastating sorcerous abilities to table tops all over the world.

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Overview: The Exalted Sorcerer is a HQ choice for Chaos Space Marines armies as well as for the Thousand Sons legion.  He comes with the Mark of Tzeentch by default which limits his availability to some CSM armies.  When running a Legion themed army, using the rules in Traitor Legions, he can only be taken in Detachments of Black Legion or Thousand Sons.  If you’re not using these rules, however, he can be taken in any generic CSM Combined Arms Detachment.

His statline is pretty decent with WS and BS 5, Strength and Toughness 4, 3 Wounds, Initiative 5, 3 Attacks, Leadership 10, and a 3+/4++.

The extra wound goes a long way in the game to helping keep this guy alive. With 3 Attacks base, means he will sling 4 attacks with his extra close combat weapon and 5 on the charge with a Str 6 AP4 Force weapon. Weapon Skill 5 means he’ll hit most things on 3s as well.  He is only Toughness 4 though so a lucky shot from a meltagun or krak missile can end him, but that’s where the Disc comes in. More on that below.

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Wargear: He comes stock with an Inferno Bolt Pistol which is 12″ range Str 4 AP3, a Force Stave, Frag and Krak grenades (which is very nice considering Rubrics don’t have them), and an Aura of Dark Glory giving him a 4++ Invulnerable Save thanks to the Mark of Tzeentch.  His wargear options are somewhat limited in that he can only take items from the Chaos Rewards list or Chaos Artefacts.  His only option for mobility is a Disc of Tzeentch, so no mounting him on a bike or jump pack sadly.  Still, on a Disc he becomes Toughness 5 with 4 base attacks and the ability to move up to 36″ in a turn!

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Special Rules: This is where the Exalted Sorcerer shines against his regular Sorcerer counterpart. He comes with the much maligned Champion of Chaos rule, which will require him to issue and accept challenges when possible, Fearless, Independent Character, Psyker (Mastery Level 2), Mark of Tzeentch, and Veterans of the Long War.  That’s a pretty stout set of special rules.  Being Fearless is a huge benefit considering the regular codex Sorcerer is not.  Mastery Level 2 is nice and for 25 points you can upgrade to a Mastery Level 3.  Mark of Tzeentch is a bit limiting in that you always have to roll at least 1 power off of the Tzeentch Psychic power table, but considering the new table is actually quite good, that’s not much of a drawback.

Where the Mark limits him is in his availability to other armies.  Most of the Legion Detachments have special requirements of their units and, as stated above, only 3 of the Legions can incorporate an Exalted Sorcerer, and only Thousand Sons can do so within the “Decurion” style build we’ve come to love in 7th edition.   You could run a Black Legion detachment or simply generic Combined Arms Detachment and use the Exalted Sorcerer as a HQ option in those armies.  This guy was designed for Thousand Sons though, and when included in some of their Detachments it really enhances his capabilities.

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As a Psyker he can generate from the Tzeentch table as well as Biomancy, Daemonology (Malefic), Divination, Telepathy, Telekinesis, Pyromancy, as well as the new disciplines, Ectomancy, Geomortis, Heretech, and Sinistrum.  This is a much more broad set of disciplines as compared to the basic Sorcerer. Gaining access to Divination is amazing and is something that CSM lack in general. He is restricted in Daemonology however, in that he can only cast Malefic unlike the basic Sorcerer who can chose from either Maelfic or Sanctic (as of now).  The more broad choice of disciplines gives you plenty of options depending on the opponent making him even more dangerous than a normal codex Sorcerer.

Finally, he has the Lord of the Silver Tower rule, which allows him to make a once per game Coruscating Beam shooting attack with unlimited range with Str 9 AP 2 Blast and Lance One Use Only.  Pretty handy for catching Infantry out of cover late in the game, or trying to deliver some damage to a high AV target like an Imperial Knight.

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Tactics: The Exalted Sorcerer can be a real beast under the right conditions, although quite expensive. After you mount him on a Disc, give him a Familiar, and increase his Mastery Level to 3 that’s 230 points and that’s without a Chaos Artefact!  As stated above, he can be taken in non Thousand Sons armies, but he really shines with his Rubric bros.  In a Grand Coven detachment he gains the Blessing of Tzeentch, improving his Invulnerable save by 1 when he is effected by a Blessing.  Casting Force can easily bump him up to a 3++.  He can also re-roll Perils results and can cast one more power than his Mastery Level would normally allow.  A Mastery Level 3 Exalted Sorcerer could potentially throw out 4 psychic powers a turn in a Grand Coven with re-rolls with a Spell Familiar.

Luckily the Blessing of Tzeentch extends to all Thousand Sons detachments, which means even outside of a Grand Coven he can gain the bonus.  Several other Formations make use of the Exalted Sorcerers in Wrath of Magnus (and subsequently Traitor Legions.)  When taken in a War Coven, for example, you can choose one of the disciplines between Biomancy, Pyromancy, Telepathy, Divination, and Telekinesis and all Exalted Sorcerers can harness warp charge when casting from the chosen tree on a 3+.  A couple of these taken in a War Cabal Formation with maximum units can give them re-rolls to their Invulnerable Saves as well, but again, it becomes incredibly pricey to do so.

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The Disc of Tzeentch is an absolute must have piece of Wargear in order to raise his Toughness to 5, making him less susceptible to Instant Death.  It also gives him the ability to turbo boost up to 24″ in the Shooting Phase as he becomes a Jetbike unit.  That can be handy as it still allows you to fire away several Witchfires or Maledictions then get him to safety behind line of sight blocking terrain or to hop him onto an objective.  Thousand Sons in general have severe mobility issues, so having the option to scoot around the table as needed is a nice bonus.  If you’re willing to invest the points into the Astral Grimoire, you can make his unit a Jump type as well so they can keep up with his speed.

So, is he worth it? I do believe so.  Especially when taken in Formations like the War Coven or in a War Cabal.  Moving him around with a squad of Rubrics and throwing Blessings such as Prescience, for example, is pretty awesome.  Like most things in the game, these guys are better when spammed.  Coruscating Beam is a pretty deadly ability considering the range is Unlimited.  Being able to drop 2-3 or more of these Str 9 AP2 blasts throughout the game during key moments when your opponent is caught off guard can have a significant impact on a match.  It’s a nice ability which supplements the Thousand Sons who as a whole struggle a bit against high AV targets and units with any kind of 2+ save.

One could even make a case for the War Coven with Exalted Sorcerers to replace the Cyclopia Cabal in power due to their extra durability and speed.  Not to mention the Treason of Tzeentch power which acts almost exactly as the Shroud of Deceit.  Tossing four of these guys with a group of KDK Flesh Hounds, for example, can make quite a formidable death star.  It is disappointing that they don’t have the option to take a Bike as that is probably the more reasonably priced option. Still, taking the Disc gives them an extra attack and 6 attacks on a charge with a Str 6 Force weapon is pretty strong.

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I primarily see these guys flying around in squads with Rubrics as ablative wounds while they deal massive damage with their Witchfires and Maledictions.  Meanwhile the Aspiring Sorcerer casts Force to buff the entire unit to a 3++.  To get the most out of these guys you must be careful on power selection.  Fortunately most of the psychic disciplines they can choose from give them options to deal with various threats. Facing off against Imperial Knights? Running most of them with Heretech powers might be the best option.  Taking on something like Battle Company with lots of bodies? Psychic Shrieks or various Tzeentch witchfires might be worth focusing on.

Overall, the Exalted Sorcerer is a much better option than even a Mastery Level 3 generic Sorcerer.  They are simply more versatile than their basic counterparts and have the added bonus of being Fearless and access to Divination powers.  Casting Perfect Timing while in a group of Rubrics can suddenly make that a pretty terrifying unit.  Throwing down Misfortune making all of those AP3 shots also Rending can clear infantry pretty quickly as well.  Psychic armies in general can be challenging to run, but with enough practice using them, I believe Exalted Sorcerers can have a significant impact in the game.  So mount up those Discs and get ready to reign warp fire down upon your foes!

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About Chandler

Sometimes I play 40k. Sometimes I drink beer. Oftentimes I do both. I host an annual ITC Grand Tournament, Come the Apocalypse GT, as well as a podcast called Come the Apocalypse - a Warhammer 40k Podcast which you can find on iTunes or the Google Play Music store.

22 Responses to “Wrath of Magnus Review: HQ: Exalted Sorcerer”

  1. Drachnyen December 22, 2016 7:38 am
    #

    Great Article!

    My 2 cents: Exalted Sorcerers are expensive and should be used sparingly.

    If you are only looking for a psyker, then standard sorcerer is more cost efficient

    Heres a cost comparision:

    Chaos Sorcerer: Mark of Tzentch, Aura of dark glory, Level 3 Psyker, Spell Familiar : 155 points
    Exalted Sorcerer: Level 3 psyker with Spell familiar: 200 points

    Its a 45 points difference between them!

    Sure, exalted sorcerers are better but also more expensive.
    Just make sure to know the role of your sorcerer before selecting between the 2.

    __

    Neat Tip: Put a Sigil of corruption on the chaos sorcerer and he gets a 3++ invulnerable base and 2++ when a blessing is cast. Thank you Tzeentch!

    • Chandler December 22, 2016 8:01 am
      #

      There is some debate about that 2++. As the Mark of Tzeentch says a unit’s invulnerable cannot be improved beyond a 3++. Some say it cannot be improved beyond that with the Mark alone, while others contend that RAW no buff can make it go below a 3++ at all. I tend to rule on the side of caution with this and say it cannot go below a 3++ period. At least until GW clarifies it (if they ever do).

      And thanks for reading! Yes the basic sorcerers are cheaper and a bit more versatile in terms of being able to take a bike, still have access to Sanctic powers, etc. but the Exalted gets you an extra wound, higher BS, Fearless, and Mark is built in and must be taken. Also access to Divination. Plus the once per game blast. There are pros and cons to each I agree. Just depends on how you want to run them

      • Drachnyen December 22, 2016 8:26 am
        #

        But it’s the mark of Tzeentch that has that limitation.
        Not the Thousand sons blessing bonus.

        The “mark of tzeentch” improves the invulnerable save +1 up to 3++ max.

        In my previous example : the chaos sorcerer had a 4++. Because he takes the mark of Tzeentch, his basic save becomes 3++.

        At this point we are in line with the rules for mark of tzeentch (max 3++)

        From this point on, other rules that modify invulnerable saves are valid.

        So the Thousand sons blessing bonus (which does. It have a max) would then apply

        • Chandler December 22, 2016 8:41 am
          #

          Right. I follow your logic on how to get it there. I’m saying it’s unclear if it works that way lol. I tend to go with the side of caution in my games, but I’d be happy if they said you could drop it to a 2++ in some kind of clarification.

          • Threllen December 22, 2016 9:46 am
            #

            Like Blight says, I don’t think you can just do some arm-waving and say that the order you do the addition changes things.

            The MoT itself cannot improve an invul past 3++. So if you have a sigil, MoT, and a blessing on you – there’s no way to get to 2++ without using the Mark as part of the equation.

            I don’t think you can say “well if I just add the mark first then that improves it to 3 and it’s really the blessing that improves it to 2.” At the end of the day you’re still factoring in the mark in order to reach that 2+ which it says is not allowed.

            I’m totally ok with giving a unit a 2++ if it has enough buffs that it doesn’t even need the mark to get there, but not if you’re just trying to add in a different order.

        • Blight December 22, 2016 9:08 am
          #

          The order that you claim the rules takes place in doesn’t exist. There is no order to it.
          Addition and subtraction happen at the same time in 40k as per the BRB and the FAQ. So the mark of Tzeentch will always stop working if the save gets past 3++ bringing it back down to 3++. There is no point it is locked in. If you can find a way to get +2 to your invuln save you’ll have a 2++ but mark of Tzeentch can’t get you there.

          • Fagerlund December 23, 2016 3:42 am
            #

            It’s funny how we see this keep popping up ever since the days of the landing pad. No! Stop! Let it go already!

  2. abusepuppy December 22, 2016 8:15 am
    #

    Fearless, the extra wound, and access to Divination are what you’re really paying for; the Coruscating Beam is a nice bonus, but it’s no Orbital Strike. The fact that theExalted Sorc is forced to have the Mark of Tzeentch is actually a pretty significant disadvantage, as it limits his power generation- Tzeentch isn’t a _bad_ discipline (anymore), but if you’re fishing for Invisibility or Iron Arm it is obnoxious to have to “waste” one of your powers on it. Similarly, Chaos Psychic Focus is severely inferior to Psychic Focus most of the time- getting Prescience or Psychic Shriek for free is much preferable to- ugh- Firestorm of Tzeentch, which is one of the worst powers in the game.

    Exalted Sorcerers are _expensive_. A Normal Sorc clocks in around 125 most of the time for ML3 + Spell Familiar; paying a minimum of 35 points more than that for a model that starts off with inferior casting can be quite painful. However, since they are available in some excellent formations (Rehati War Sect among them) and have some advantages over the basic one, it’s not as if you won’t see them on the table.

    • Chandler December 22, 2016 8:22 am
      #

      Yeah having to take Firestorm hurts…bad. That is just such an awful power. It is extraordinarily situational and often times doesn’t pay off at all. There are just better powers to spend warp charge on. I would like to see that requirement to take the Primaris for the discipline go away eventually. The greatest human psykers in the galaxy shouldn’t be hamstrung to being forced to take one of the shittiest powers out there. That makes no sense.

      • beau December 22, 2016 8:56 am
        #

        Firestorm is really only for cultists and IG blobs.

        • abusepuppy December 22, 2016 9:23 am
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          I wish it were good enough to be a tool against blob units. Firestorm is sometimes _worse than a Frag Grenade_, which is just an unbelievable feat for something you have to invest actual resources into.

          I have never seen a situation where casting Firestorm was the “right” choice for a psyker.

    • Threllen December 22, 2016 9:50 am
      #

      Any time you are forced to roll on a Chaos God table with a Sorcerer you are at a significant disadvantage – unless you wanted to roll everything on that table.

      The worst part about 1k sons, Emperor’s Children, and Death Guard formations is that their sorcerers are pretty awful unless you’re going for god powers.

      An unmarked ML3 sorcerer can get 4 powers from one of the book tables (including the new CSM powers). If you grab a crimson slaughter detachment you can even grab an ML3 sorcerer who can take the divination tree.

      A marked ML3 sorcerer is forced to roll once on his table, gets chaos psychic focus, and then can only roll up to two times on any other table. Makes it way harder to fish for powers you want.

      • abusepuppy December 22, 2016 10:03 pm
        #

        I think that Nurgle is a pretty solid table, and Slaanesh at least has a primaris with some debuffs built in. But yeah, being a Marked psyker is worse than not.

  3. MagicJuggler December 22, 2016 9:22 am
    #

    To invoke the spirit of Stelek, regarding an upgraded Exalted Sorcerer: Costs like a Land Raider. Hits like a Vyper.

    Getting a 3+ re-rolling 1s would be nice. The problem remains that torrent of fire is still ultimately what kills them. 230 points is almost 3 Scatpacks, and it’s more than 3 Broadsides. Treason is nice until you face extreme MSU, and the new powers haven’t really helped handle that.

    Most the discussion around the Exalted Sorcerer revolves around getting Divination, but the question is why? For the same cost a basic Exalted Sorcerer with Familiar and Meltabombs, you can grab a Daemon CAD with a Herald with Paradox and 22 Blue Horrors. Or a basic ally detachment with more upgrades. For less cost than an upgraded Exalted, you can run 3 Heralds Anarchic on Disc.

    And why do you want Divination so much anyway? Forewarning? The 1k Sons already have Blessing of Tzeentch, so any blessing gives them a 3++ anyway. Perfect Timing? Geomortis does it better, and you can even target a different unit.

    The Exalted Sorcerer is trash. To add insult to injury, he suffers from the same nerf the Rubric Aspiring Sorcerer has where he can’t even choose what kind of Force Weapon he has, so unless you fork extra for (the admittedly boss) Seer’s Bane, the basic Marine gets armor saves against you!

    • abusepuppy December 22, 2016 9:27 am
      #

      >The problem remains that torrent of fire is still ultimately what kills them.

      Realistically speaking, Exalts are always want to be either buried in a tough unit (Zombies, artillery, etc) or hiding behind terrain where they can’t be shot. If you are getting pummeled by Scat Bikes, something has already gone terribly wrong for you.

      >Most the discussion around the Exalted Sorcerer revolves around getting Divination, but the question is why?

      The Exalt can join allied squads is the main reason. Renegades are a very powerful army, and Prescience can turn their artillery pieces into even more efficient murder machines than they start out as- plus they can do summoning duties to help deal with Renegades’ mobility problem. Heralds are great units, but they are much more vulnerable to being killed than an Exalt is.

      (There’s also the aforementioned issue of formations that use them, such as the Rehati War Sect. Harnessing on a 3+ and bringing Magnus to the party is a pretty solid deal.)

  4. MagicJuggler December 22, 2016 10:19 am
    #

    Isn’t most Renegades and Heretics shooting twin-linked anyway, at least other than the Earthshaker Battery? Rapiers are twin-linked, and they get budget Quad Mortars, Wyverns, and Griffons. For something like that, a minimum CAD of, say, Night Lords gives you Stealth for your zombie blobs (or you could fire a Medusa with Curze’s Orb if you’re feeling cheeky) and you get 3 rolls on Geomortis for 110 points, instead of 2 for 175.

    • Threllen December 22, 2016 10:42 am
      #

      If all you want is divination you can get it much cheaper anyway with the Crimson Slaughter supplement. One of the relics is a spell familiar that also gives you access to the divination tree (and it’s only 10 pts more than a standard spell familiar). So if all you really want is Divination for R&H and you don’t want to bring daemons – grab a CS sorcerer in an Allied detachment.

      • abusepuppy December 22, 2016 10:05 pm
        #

        As long as you only want one guy, yeah- but the advantage of Exalts is that you can take multiple of them, and can pair them with other relics (which CS can’t)- the Astral Grimoire is very nice for zombies.

    • abusepuppy December 22, 2016 10:04 pm
      #

      Quad Mortars, one of the mainstays of Renegades, are not twin-linked.

  5. CJ December 22, 2016 11:37 am
    #

    Sadly, Word Bearers cannot take Exalted sorcerers. No units that come with a mark. So its TSOns, Black Legion or Vanilla (Crimson Slaughter and Red Corsairs say Hi!)

    • Chandler December 22, 2016 11:54 am
      #

      You are correct. Sorry. It has been fixed. Also I’m not sure Crimson Slaughter can take the Exalted Sorc because he comes with Vets of the Long War.

      • CJ December 22, 2016 12:14 pm
        #

        Ah yeah. Well they can take a divination sorceror anyway, so I doubt they’ll mind.