Hey everyone, Chandler here again with another Thousand Sons review. This time we’re looking at the head honcho of sorcerers, Ahriman. For more analysis, battle reports, and tactics check out the Tactics Corner.
In the days when Prospero shined as a beacon of hope for the Imperium, a monument of Imperial achievement, Ahriman was one of the greatest of Magnus’ Thousand Sons eventually rising to the rank of Chief Librarian of the Legion and Captain of the Scarab Occult, the 1st Company (or Fellowship as they fashioned themselves.) His power is second only to the Crimson King himself within the legion. When the planet of Prospero was attacked by the Space Wolves following Magnus’ direct violation of the Emperor’s orders against using psychic powers, Ahriman led the forces on the planet as his Primarch resigned himself to Prospero’s fate and the Emperor’s decision.
After the fall of the Legion to Chaos, flesh changing mutations began running rampant among their troops, consequences of living in the Eye of Terror itself. Ahriman sought to undo the mutations and set about casting a ritual along with a few other sorcerers loyal to his cause. The ritual, which would become known as the Rubric of Ahriman did indeed stop the flesh altering mutations, but not as intended. Instead, every non-psychic member of the legion was instantly turned to dust. Their souls trapped within their bodies becoming nothing more than automatons and thus the Rubric Marines were born. Magnus, outraged by this, banished Ahirman and his cabal from the Planet of Sorcerers and from his Legion.
Overview: Ahriman is a HQ choice for Chaos Space Marines and can be taken within a Thousand Sons, Black Legion, or regular Chaos Space Marines Detachment. He has a fairly formidable statline being WS and BS 5 Str and Toughness 4 with 3 Wounds, Initiative 5 and 3 Attacks as well as a 3+ save from his power armor and a 4++ save from his Aura of Dark Glory and the Mark of Tzeentch. He is one of the most formidable psykers in the entire galaxy being Mastery Level 4.
Wargear: Ahriman comes with an Inferno Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades, the aforementioned Aura of Dark Glory and carries the Chaos Artefact, The Black Staff of Ahirman, being a normal Force Stave with the capability to allow Ahriman to fire the same witchfire power up to 3 times per Psychic Phase. He comes in at a whopping 230 points and for an additional 30 points can be upgraded to have a Disc of Tzeentch, giving him 1 extra Toughness and attack and making him a Jetbike unit.
His wargear is pretty stout, especially his Black Staff. Shooting Psychic Shriek 3 times in a row, for example, can be pretty devastating especially considering he can hit 3 different targets if he so chooses. The lack of a Spell Familiar makes it more difficult for him to get his powers off unlike say an Exalted Sorcerer, who has that option. Ahirman is most useful for a Thousand Sons army primarily due to his Warlord Trait, however.
Special Rules: Ahriman comes with a plethora of special rules including the dreaded Champion of Chaos rule, forcing him to issue and accept challenges when possible, Fearless, Independent Character, Mark of Tzeentch to improve his invulnerable by 1 as mentioned above, and Veterans of the Long War. As already mentioned, he is a Mastery Level 4 Psyker and can choose to generate his powers off of Biomancy, Daemonology (Malefic), Divination, Ectomancy, Geomortis, Heretech, Pyromancy, Sinistrum, Telekinesis, Telepathy and the compulsory Tzeentch table. That provides a lot of options, but essentially the same as the Exalted Sorcerer.
While he must take at least 1 power from the Tzeentch table, and gains the Firestorm Primaris due to chaos psychic focus, if he is included in a Thousand Sons Detachment, he can choose to roll all of his powers on the Tzeentch table, which isn’t a horrible option as it gives him the potential to know most of the powers off the tree. Casting Baleful Devolution or Doombolt multiple times through his Black Staff can make him pretty deadly. While you’re looking at losing a power doing so, it’s best to just take the rest of his powers off of Telepathy so you can get Psychic Shriek as this is without doubt the best Witchfire he can get and has the least risk of failing to cast being Warp Charge 1.
His warlord trait, Master of Deception, allows you to give him and up to 3 non-vehicle units the Infiltrate special rule. This is probably the most important thing about Ahirman besides his Black Staff ability. Thousand Sons suffer tremendously from being slow on the table. Getting close to the enemy is a struggle sometimes for this army and having a character in the detachment that can grant those Rubrics and Scarab Occult Terminators the ability to Infiltrate without having to roll for it randomly goes a long way in fixing some of their mobility issues.
Additionally, if taken in a Thousand Sons Detachment, he gains the benefit of the Blessing of Tzeentch, which improves his Invulnerable save by 1 when affected by a Blessing psychic power, potentially getting him down to a 3++ save which really helps in keeping him alive on the table.
Tactics: Ahriman is costly, but what you get from him can be pretty beneficial. Master of Deception alone makes him a decent addition in any Thousand Sons army. Casting multiple Psychic Shrieks, as stated, can have devastating affects on the table. The Disc is an absolute must have to get that Toughness up to 5. Ahriman doesn’t have Eternal Warrior and thus can easily be insta killed if forced into a challenge with a character. Sure, he can possibly gain Endurance off of Biomancy, but you have to fish for that power and you’re going to want to roll off Telepathy most of the time with him. The Disc makes it more difficult to insta gib him and also increases his mobility from 6-12″ a turn to up to 36″ a turn.
His biggest downside compared to the Exalted Sorcerer, as mentioned, is his inability to take a Spell Familiar to re-roll failed Psychic Tests. That said there are ways to mitigate that. If taken in the Ahriman’s Exiles Formation, he can manifest his powers on a 3+, but the Formation also requires at least 3 more Exalted Sorcerers, each able to do the same thing if within 18″ of him. It enhances their psychic potential by a tremendous amount but at around 950 points, that is a significant investment in your army.
Additionally he can be taken in a Sekhmet Conclave, along with at least 3 Scarab Occult Terminator squads and if within 6″ of at least 2 other units, his Toughness is improved by 1. He can also be taken in a War Cabal, which, when maxed out with units, will allow him to re-roll his failed saving throws of 1 as well as granting his units the ability to re-roll 1s to hit if he manifests a power in one of the units. All of these can serve as components of a Grand Coven Detachment, which will allow him, and any other Psykers in the Detachment, to re-roll Perils of the Warp results on the Perils table and manifest one additional psychic power per turn.
When using Ahriman, be cautious with Infiltrating him too close to the enemy, especially very hard targets right away. While his ability to cast 3 Psychic Shrieks a turn is amazing, you don’t want him tied into an assault on Turn 1 or 2 as it will really limit his potential for most of the game. This guy needs to be able to move around and blast things from his staff. His weapon can cause Instant Death in combat, but at AP4 that will be difficult to pull off quickly against most things he might find himself tied up with. The fact that he is also Fearless means he can’t get out of a combat if he can’t hurt something, like say an Imperial Knight or another AV 13 walker.
The fact that he can Infiltrate helps mitigate an opponent’s deployment as you can place him after your opponent has placed most of their army down. Throw him down on a weak flank with some Rubrics or Terminators and let him go to work, or keep him in reserve and outflank where needed later on.
The biggest drawback to Ahriman, as with most Thousand Sons units, is his point cost. It is difficult to build a list featuring him in an effective role simply because the price point is so high. Thousand Sons are the definition of an elite army in general and model count will be at a tremendously low number. Speed is another factor and as we all know, in 7th edition, mobility is king. While on a disc he is more than capable of scooting around the table, most units you would attach him to are not fast enough to keep up with him, thus slowing him down.
Is he an auto-include in a Thousand Sons army? I would say no. Master of Deception is amazing, yes, but his inability to re-roll failed Psychic Tests just makes him more of a burden than a boon to your army. And while it can be mitigated as I mentioned above, the cost to do so is just way too high. Yes he can deal some significant damage in the psychic phase, but is he worth nearly 300 points to do so? That is hard to justify. Ahirman on a disc is just 35 points cheaper than a basic Eldar Wraithknight. That’s a hard pill to swallow.
Overall I think Ahirman’s rules have a lot of character and definitely reflect his fluff well on the table top, but with that insanely high point cost for a character that is not Eternal Warrior, I would say he’s a pass really. In an army that is already struggling with points costs, there are more efficient and cheaper options available to consider Ahriman as anything close to competitive.
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