Hey, everyone. Chandler back again with another look at Wrath of Magnus. This time we’ll be looking over the Thousand Sons brand of sorcerer cabal, the War Coven Formation. For more reviews, analysis, and tactica check out the Tactics Corner.
From their great Silver Towers, the Exalted Sorcerers descend upon their foes bringing on manifestations of warp destruction to any who stand in their way. In the days of old, before the fall, these cabals were organized into various cults on Prospero, each specializing in a particular form of Sorcery. From the masters of psychic enhancement of the Pavoni to the masters of mind manipulation in the Athanaeans, each of these Sorcerers in their respective Cults were exceptional in their craft. The War Coven Formation in the Thousand Sons highlights these cults allowing you to harness their power on the table top in your games of Warhammer 40,000.
The War Coven is a Thousand Sons Formation composed of the following units:
- 1 of either a Daemon Prince, Exalted Sorcerer, or Sorcerer
- 3-9 either Exalted Sorcerers or Sorcerers
They have the much maligned Favoured of Tzeentch special rule, allowing you to re-roll failed saving throws of 1 when the Formation is taken with the maximum amount of units. In addition they have the Prosperine Cult special rule which allows you to pick a particular psychic discipline from Biomancy, Divination, Pyromancy, Telekinesis, and Telepathy allowing units in the Formation to successfully manifest warp charge on a 3+ when attempting to cast from their chosen discipline.
Because they are a Thousand Sons Formation, it means that all the units must have either the Mark of Tzeentch or Daemon of Tzeentch special rules. They also gain the benefit of Veterans of the Long War for free and can benefit from the Blessing of Tzeentch ability allowing them to gain a +1 to their Invulnerable Saves when under the effect of a Blessing psychic power. Finally, all of the psykers in this Formation can choose to roll all of their powers off of the Tzeentch discipline in Wrath of Magnus and Traitor Legions.
While it’s important to note that the Formation special rules allows you to harness warp charge on a 3+ in the chosen discipline, it does not give basic Sorcerers access to that discipline (such as Divination which regular CSM Sorcerers and Daemon Princes cannot take).
Additionally the War Coven can be chosen as an Auxiliary choice in a Grand Coven Detachment.
Thousand Sons demand a lot of psychic dice. This is, after all, an army of Psykers. The War Coven allows you to bring quite a bit of extra warp charge to the table, albeit very costly. That said, this Formation is very flexible and can do a number of things for your army. The key is to focus on a particular discipline to make the most out of their Prosperine Cult rule. Personally, I find that running 4 Sorcerers on bikes with ML 3 and Spell Familiars is the most efficient way to run the Formation. You don’t get to use the Divination cult as you’ll need Exalted Sorcerers for that, but by focusing on either Biomancy or Telepathy, you can create a pretty solid unit. These Sorcerers come in at 175 points each, and it’s not a bad idea to give one of them the Astral Grimoire if using them within a Thousand Sons detachment as you can build a pretty formidable mini-star with these guys and say a unit of Scarab Occult Terminators. One can even make an argument that they are pretty good when taken alongside Khorne Flesh Hounds from Khorne Daemonkin, aka the Cabal Star, as it has come to be known.
If you run a 4 man biker squad as a War Coven, it will cost around 700 points, which is 120 points more than a Cyclopia Cabal with the same number of models. That’s a pretty significant increase in points, however the War Coven Sorcerers have a few advantages over the typical Cabal setup. For starters, the Sorcerers in this setup will be rocking a 4++ and usually a 3++ when they cast their blessings as opposed to the typical Cabal Star setup which has no invulnerable save at all usually. As everyone knows, Endurance is your one critical power to make the Flesh Hounds work, and the War Coven can manifest it much easier on a 3+ with the Biomancy cult. Considering it is warp charge 2, that can be pretty significant.
There are a couple of drawbacks to using them in this setup as well. You’re not going to get as many rolls on Biomancy to get Endurance as you would with a Cabal. Because of the Mark of Tzeentch, which requires they roll at least one power off the Tzeentch discipline, you’ll have only 2 rolls on Biomancy per psyker in a War Coven as opposed to up to 3 per psyker in the Cabal (usually because the Cabal is unmarked as it should be.) Another drawback being you can’t throw in the Khorne Juggerlord here as he has a Mark of Khorne and cannot go in a unit with the War Coven units. This can be mitigated by simply taking a Herald on Juggernaut instead, or perhaps a beefy biker lord with Mark of Tzeentch and a fist/claw combo from another detachment.
You’ll also lose out on Shroud of Deceit, which is pretty substantial, however there is a good chance you’ll roll up Treason of Tzeentch on the powers, which is very similar to Shroud.
Alternatively, you can place these guys in different units giving them buffs or beefing their close combat ability with powers such as Warp Speed and Iron Arm. If running a list that doesn’t include Flesh Hounds, it might be a good idea to throw the Astral Grimoire in your list, as mentioned above, so you can give units like Scarab Occult Termies the jump type in the Movement phase.
Telepathy is, of course, an amazing discipline with plenty of blessings to throw around to get your units the Blessing of Tzeentch and perhaps the most reliable and arguably the best Primaris Witchfire in Psychic Shriek. In this setup you’re looking for Invisibility of course, which on top of being a Blessing will give your already hard to kill units even more survivability. Casting on a 3+ makes getting Invisibility off that much easier, which is important since, as mentioned above with Endurance, it is warp charge 2. Shrouding is another great one to shoot for as it can give multiple units the Blessing of Tzeentch if they are within 6″. I don’t really have to go on about this discipline as most people are very familiar with how good it is in general.
If you want to focus on Divination, you’ll need to bring Exalted Sorcerers as they are the only units within the Formation that have access to the discipline. Exalted Sorcerers are just incredibly costly and when forced to bring 3 or 4 or them at least, the cost may outweigh the reward. Still getting powers such as Prescience off on a unit firing AP3 bolters can be nasty, as can powers such as Perfect Timing which can get around those pesky cover saves. Misfortune can then make all those attacks Rending as well. If you plan to run this version of the Formation, I highly recommend paying for Discs as it is well worth it for the extra toughness and speed, making the Exalted Sorcerers very difficult to take out with their 3 wounds and 3++ saves they’ll have most of the game.
Running 3-4 of these guys in a Flesh Hound unit can have devastating effects, especially when you roll up Cursed Earth with Malefic for the Hounds granting them a 3++ save. Since they have that extra wound it’s a bit easier to mitigate the inevitable Perils from casting off Daemonology. A unit of Flesh Hounds with a 3++, with re-rolls to hits and possibly Rending attacks can be quite deadly. Again, probably not the most efficient use of their points though as it will cost a fortune to run this Formation with Exalted Sorcerers.
Using them with Magnus:
Magnus is a ML5 psyker, and he demands a lot of psychic dice. If you’re using him in a Grand Coven, and don’t want to dish out the points for the Rehati War Sect, the War Coven can be a great way to give him some relatively cheap warp charge (as Thousand Sons go anyway) as well as fill in that obligatory Auxiliary requirement. In this setup running them with just barebones ML 1 Sorcerers with Mark of Tzeentch will cost 300 points and give you 4 extra dice to your pool. 300 points seems like a lot, but the bulk of your remaining points beyond them and Magnus will be spent on buffing up that War Cabal Core choice to take as many units as possible. It also allows those Sorcerers from the War Coven to cast 2 powers at Mastery Level 1 letting you spread out Force blessings to your units.
Overall, the War Coven is a pretty flexible, if not somewhat costly formation to run. It gives you quite a few psychic dice which can be really important in fueling those powers and the ability to cast from the Cult disciplines on a 3+ can be a big boost, especially with Spell Familiars on top, which is mandatory I think for any CSM psychic based army. I’m not sure it’s ready to replace the Cyclopia Cabal in terms of what it can do for an army, but it has more flexibility in terms of what you can do with it than the Cabal does in my opinion.
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