Hey, everyone. Chandler here with a look at everyone’s favorite boys of dust, Thousand Sons Rubric Marines. For more reviews, analysis and battle reports check out the Tactics Corner.
Years after Magnus and the Thousand Sons escaped into the Eye of Terror to the Planet of Sorcerers that Tzeentch had prepared for them, the arch-wizard Ahriman and a few of his closest allies sought to end the mutations that had been plaguing their Legion troops. In doing so, Ahriman cast a spell later known as the Rubric of Ahriman, which managed to cease the mutations by destroying the physical bodies of his non-psyker troops literally turning them into dust in their power armor. Thus the Rubric Marines of the Thousand Sons were born. Ahriman would pay a significant price for this act being cast into exile from the Legion by Magnus, their troops little more than automations at this point. Such is the price when you bargain with unpredictable entities of the Warp.
Overview: Rubric Marines have the same statline as a basic Tactical Marine with the exception of Leadership 10. Their “champion” is replaced by the Aspiring Sorcerer, a Mastery Level 1 Psyker. They are incredibly expensive coming in at over twice the points of a basic Chaos Space Marine Squad, but with quite a few extra rules added on top.
Wargear: Each model except, the Aspiring Sorcerer, is equipped with an Inferno Boltgun and an Aura of Dark Glory. The Inferno Boltgun is the same as any other boltgun only it fires AP3 rounds, which is a pretty solid weapon for wiping out light infantry. The Aura of Dark Glory grants the squad a 5++ which combined with the Mark of Tzeentch gives them all a 4++ Invulnerable Save, which his quite nice. The Aspiring Sorcerer comes equipped stock with a Force Stave with no way to switch it out as well as an Inferno Bolt Pistol which is an AP3 Bolt Pistol.
For an additional 7 points each, you can replace the Rubric’s Inferno Boltgun with a warpflamer, which is a STR 4 AP4 flamer weapon with Warpflame, which requires a unit that has suffered an unsaved wound to take a Toughness test. If they fail they suffer an additional D3 wounds with no armor or cover saves allowed, but if the test is passed (and often it will be) they gain Feel No Pain of 6+, or +1 to their Feel No Pain if they already have it. Additionally, this stacks each time they have to take such a test.
If the squad of Rubrics numbers 10 models, one of them can replace their Inferno Boltgun with a Soulreaper Cannon which is just like an Assault Cannon only STR 5 AP3. This is an odd choice considering Tzeentch’s magic number is 9. Taking into account the points cost of this unit, to take a ten man unit with a Soulreaper Cannon is nearly 300 points, which is far too expensive for a unit that can die just as easily to bolter fire as a Chaos Space Marine squad.
The Aspiring Sorcerer can replace his Inferno Bolt Pistol with a Warpflame Pistol which is the same as a Hand Flamer only AP5. Additionally he can take melta bombs and buy a gift of mutation, allowing you a pre-game roll on the Chaos Boon Table.
The unit may take an Icon of Flame for 15 points, which gives all of their Inferno weapons the Soul Blaze special rule. Not a terrible option, but considering the price point of this squad, hardly a must take. Finally, the squad can take a Chaos Rhino as a dedicated transport.
One thing to note about Rubrics is that they do not come with Frag or Krak grenades which can be a huge burden for this squad as usually they will swing at Initiative 1 if they charge a unit through terrain.
Special Rules: While they are nearly twice the points of a normal Chaos Space Marines squad, the Rubric Marines come with quite a few special rules. The squad is Fearless so you’ll never have to worry about taking a Morale or Pinning test, which is nice. Sometimes this can be a burden for some shooty units as it prevents you from going to ground, but Rubrics don’t rely on cover saves because of their built-in Invulnerables, so it is less of a concern. They are Slow and Purposeful, which has both it’s advantages and disadvantages. First, you can still fire your Rapid Fire or Heavy weapons and assault, but you are unable to perform a Sweeping Advance or Run in the Shooting Phase. The inability to Run can be critical when you absolutely need to get onto an objective.
The entire unit comes with the Mark of Tzeentch granting them a +1 to their Invulnerable Saves, as mentioned before, and if taken in a Thousand Sons detachment, gain access to the Blessing of Tzeentch, giving them a further +1 to the Invulnerable if under the affect of a Blessing Psychic Power. Since the Aspiring Sorcerer knows the Force power, this is usually pretty easy to pull off and when this unit has a 3++ going, they become insanely durable and hard to remove.
They also come with the Veterans of the Long War special rule, giving them Hatred against Space Marine armies. The Aspiring Sorcerer, as mentioned before is a Mastery Level 1 Psyker, but can only roll for a single power off of the Tzeentch Discipline, which with the newly updated table, is not so bad really. Finally, the Sorcerer comes with the dreaded Champion of Chaos rule, which means he must always issue and accept Challenges in combat, which can be quite annoying.
Tactics: Rubric Marines are one of those awesome looking units that you want to play, but find yourself never really being able to justify using in your lists because of their price point. It’s rare you’re ever going to get as much use out of them as their cost demands, but they can still be quite nasty on the table. The Soulreaper Cannon and the warpflamers are nice upgrades for the unit, but Chaos, and more specifically Thousand Sons players, have been screaming for years to give them access to the ability to upgrade them with an AP2 weapon such as a Plasma Gun or even a Melta. Instead we get two rather lackluster upgrades. The Soulreaper Cannon is just too expensive to bring and the Warpflamers cost 7 points per model and can easily grant your opponent a bonus in Feel No Pain. When playing 40k it’s best not to bring equipment that can boost your opponent’s ability to survive on the table. I advise skipping on the weapons upgrades altogether.
Rubrics on their own are rather underwhelming in general, but when given support by the army they can be quite brutal. The War Cabal, which I have written about here, makes nice use of them with special rules allowing you to re-roll To-Hit rolls of 1 if an attached Psyker successfully casts a power. And if you bring the max squads in the Formation you get to re-roll failed saves of 1, which with a unit full of 3++ saves can be quite good. Ahriman is another good option to take as he comes with the Master of Deception Warlord Trait allowing you to Infiltrate D3 Infantry units at the start of the game. Rubrics become quite scary to an opponent when they are Infiltrated in key positions on the table or can come in via Outflank off a table edge.
I have found the best way to use Rubrics is by keeping them at minimum squad size. The only upgrade worth taking is a melta bomb on the Aspiring Sorcerer. Because this unit is Fearless they can’t make use of the Our Weapons Are Useless special rule if they get tied into combat with an AV13 or higher walker. They have no way to leave the combat and without the melta bomb, no way to hurt it either. For 5 points, your Aspiring Sorcerer gets an option that can possibly drop a high AV walker and get you out of the combat. Definitely worth taking whenever possible.
Chaos Rhinos make nice choices for the unit because of the overall lack of speed, but I find that with the Astral Grimoire relic on a character, Rubrics become less dependent on Rhinos to get them up the field. Prior to Wrath of Magnus and Traitor Legions I would have always recommended a Rhino for these boys, but since the update, it is no longer the must take that it was. The Blessing of Tzeentch can give you the survivability to allow you to move across the board without being so dependent on cover for saves, and the Grimoire, as I mentioned, helps make them pretty mobile.
The Aspiring Sorcerer is only Mastery Level 1 and as such can only cast a single power, which should usually always be Force to unlock the Blessing of Tzeentch. If taken in a Grand Coven, however, they gain the bonus of being able to cast a second power, which is quite nice. Often, however, you’ll find that your other Sorcerers will be burning through dice casting spells, so you won’t get to use it often, but the option is still there.
Should you be using these units in your games? I would say only if you plan on playing a Grand Coven detachment with a War Cabal. Otherwise, they are hardly worth the point investment without the help of the Formation benefits. A Thousand Sons CAD is probably better off running either Chaos Cultists or Tzaangors over Rubrics really. If you do bring them, then you certainly want to pay the upgrade on one of your Sorcerers for the Astral Grimoire as stated above. That said, in a Thousand Sons detachment they can make for decent ablative wounds for your Exalted Sorcerers simply because they can easily get that 3++ making them pretty difficult to remove and their bolter fire can shred enemy units. Null deploying drop pod armies are a popular choice in the meta now and for good reason, but quite often these units will be exposed out of cover when they drop in making them easy to shred apart with Inferno Bolters and psychic powers.
Bottom line: Rubric Marines are extremely overcosted, but in the right conditions can have a pretty significant impact in your games, especially in a Grand Coven detachment in a War Cabal. They are extremely durable, but are just as weak against mass fire as a Chaos Space Marine squad.
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