ArabViking brings us a Thousand Sons Codex review! Check the Tactics Corner for more great articles and reviews.
The rubricae and beastmen are once again ready to fight for the Crimson King! Now with access to their own strategems, warlord traits and their own psychic discipline, as well as the addition of models from the Age of Sigmar model line, the Thousand sons are ready to show that they are the best casters in the game (Eldar powers are still the best though) and offers a wide variety of synergy and combos within their own army and other <Chaos> armies! Look forward to deep striking Tzaangors that can wound your puny Toughness 4 models on a 2+, or warptime being cast with a +3 modifier and at 9” range!
For this review, I have shamelessly copied Reece´s rating system as it is the most straightforward system that I know of:
- Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
- Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combined up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
- Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.
Death to the false emperor: On every roll of 6+ in close combat, against an imperium unit, you get to do an additional attack. Combine it with + to hit and/or a strategem that works nicely against the fluffy Vikings chapter, to potentially generate even more extra attacks. Too bad the Tzaangors don´t have this rule. As it only works against Imperium units, I am going to give it a Situational rating.
Daemonic ritual: Stand still and summon forth daemons from the inner circles of hell! You are required to match the power level of the daemon datasheet entry on a 3d6 roll, and the summoned unit has to be wholly within 12” from the summoner and at least 9” away from any enemy units. You also have to not have moved during your own movement phase. This is not a risk-free tactic because if you roll any doubles, you suffer a mortal wound, trippel means you get d3 mortal wounds! As all of the datasheets have the Mark of Tzeentch, you can only summon daemons of Tzeentch, which is not a bad thing at all, as they are quite powerful now.
The best option here is to maybe summon Flamers for their ability to flame people 12” away, which can also target units in close combat due to the pistol rule. You could also summon a 20 man pink horror unit to shoot 60 (!) s3 shots or an exalted flamer for some anti-elite/heavy units.
As the Vortex beast boost all Tzeentch units (mark of Tzeentch or Tzeentch daemon are both affected), you can reliably boost the summoned unit´s strength modifier by 1, you can combo it further with a T-son daemon prince´s ability to buff daemon shooting weapons oôwith a +1 to wound roll, you are then wounding rhinos on 4´s, marines on 3´s, cultists on 2´s and my soul on 1´s….
This special rule is quite competitive, however, as it requires you to stand still, you will most likely only summon units on your turn 2, so be mindful of where you place your sorcerer on turn 1. If your enemy charges you on turn 1, then show him how much a unit of 6 flamers can do to his assault units! Competitive.
Brotherhood of sorcerers: The Thousand sons «chapter tactics» which adds 6” to all of your of psychic powers, no matter the discipline they use. That means you are smiting marines 24” or using death hex on Guilliman from mighty 18” away! You can also warptime Khorne berzerkers or Tzaangors 9” away! This is quite powerful and offers more possibilities for all your psykers to zap enemy units, debuff them, or buff your units far from the dangers of close combat. Competitive.
Disciples of Tzeentch: Good ol´ objective secured. Look out for Tzaangors stealing your objectives while they are smashing your face. Competitive.
Chaos space marine strategems: You get most of the generic ones that all Chaos space marine armies have access to. They are a bit too numerous to cover them all, but the most important one is the ability to cast an additional power (The great sorcerer), switch a power (Chaos familiar) and the +1 to wound on your shooting or melee attacks (veterans of the long war). The Daemonforge strategem is also nice, but it sadly doesn´t work on our beloved monster that is the Vortex beast, as it is not a vehicle, but functions as one nonetheless. Competitive.
Corrusating beam: If you warlord stood still, you can create a 1mm line that is 9” long, the two points must be visible to the warlord. Every unit that passes through the line suffers d3 mortal wounds on a 4+. If it is a character or a vehicle, then this occurs on a 6+ instead. This would have been an easy recommendation for me if it wasn´t for the fact that this is too random and it cost a whole 3 command points! Should have only cost 2CP or been more effective. This is obviously the closets to the beam from a silver tower power exalted sorcerer had in 7th edition, but it more limited and less useful. Situational.
Cabalistic focus: The official first stratagem of the Thousand Sons (Chapter approved), and what a debut it is! “Use this stratagem before attempting to cast a psychic power with a Thousand sons psyker from your army that is within 6” of two other friendly thousand sons psykers. You can add 2 to the psychic test”. Is your game dependent on that warptime getting – then now you have the option of increasing the probability. The only disadvantage is that you have to time and place 3 psykers nearby. In most of my games, it has been Ahriman, a Daemon prince of Tzeentch and a Tzaangor shaman. If anything, it gives you another option to cast psychic powers more reliably. Competitive.
Warpflame gargoyles: Every enemy unit within 3” of a thousand sons vehicles (not Helbrute or Heldrake) at the start of the fight phase, gets d3 mortal wounds on a 4+. If the enemy unit is a character or a vehicle, then this occurs on a 6+. Quite situational, and sadly does not work on the fastest vehicle that is the Heldrake. Use this when your rhino or Maulerfiend is surrounded by lots of enemy units. Efficient.
Sorcerous pact: You roll 4d6 instead of 3d6 when you wish to use the daemonic ritual rule. You also don’t suffer any mortal wounds on any doubles or trippel rolled. In most cases, you won’t need this, and I would rather just gamble on the summoning going off, and then use a re-roll die stratagem for the same cost if you do roll really crappy. Still, it gives you an almost guaranteed summoning, use when necessary. Competitive.
Boon of Tzeentch: Copy-pasted from the CSM codex. Nice for narrative games, but too situational and random for competitive play. Situational.
Webway infiltration: Use this stratagem during your deployment. You can set up a single thousand sons infantry in the webway instead of the placing it on the battlefield. You can spend 3 command points to do this to an additional T-son infantry unit. Any number of units in the webway can emerge at the end of the movement phase on the battlefield that is more than 9” away from any enemy units. You can only use this stratagem once per battle.
This is what truly makes the codex shine in my honest opinion. I love my rubric marines and Tzaangors, and being able to “deep strike” one or two big squads of them gives you many tactical options. You can easily deep strike 30 Tzaangors on turn 1 or 2, then warptime them 6” closer to the enemy unit. You can also deep strike 20 rubric marines with 19 ap-2 flamers and do the same (that will cost you about 600 pts of your army though…). You should always at least deep strike one unit with this stratagem. Just note that your enemy will most likely have scouts/nurglings/eldar rangers- equivalent stopping you from doing this kind of shenanigans turn 1. Competitive.
Soul flare: When an aspiring sorcerer or a scarab occult sorcerer from your army is slain. Before removing the model, roll a d6 for each enemy unit within 6” of that model, subtract 2 of the roll if the enemy unit is a vehicle or a character. On a 4+, that unit being rolled for suffers a mortal wound. A bit costly and random, but a nice little trick to use if the situation does occur. Situational.
Fated mutation: You get to pick the Mutated beyond reason result instead of rolling for your Tzeentch chaos spawn. You also get to re-roll the number of attacks for each chaos spawn until the end of the phase. Again, nice when the situation occurs, but shouldn’t be used on a single chaos spawn unit (unless you are desperate). Situational.
Vengeance for Prospero: Use this stratagem when you target a <Space Wolves> unit in the fight phase with your <Thousand sons> unit. Death to the false emperor triggers on a 4+, rather than just a 6+. We already destroyed their home planet, might as well beat a dead wolf while we are at it? Just know that the Space wolves will most likely get the same stratagem against us. If you do face a SW army, use this stratagem. Situational.
The flesh change: Use this stratagem at the start of any phase, turn your thousand sons infantry character into a chaos spawn of Tzeentch. This chaos spawn must be placed within 6” of the character. The character counts as slain and therefore does not deny “slay the warlord” objective. This stratagem can be quite a “Gotcha” on your opponent, use this when your sorcerer or Ahriman is low on wounds, or just got charged and won’t survive the combat that will ensue. Just be wary that the charging unit is still allowed to pile up 3” during their activation. You can also just spawn right on top of an objective that you couldn’t reach before. Efficient.
Inferno bolts: Give a single combi-bolter, combi-melta, combi-flamer, heavy bolter or twin heavy bolter of a Thousand sons vehicle ap -2 on the bolter “part” of the weapon. You have to use this stratagem before the battle begins. If you are going to use this, then don’t bother with anything else but the twin heavy bolter on a land raider. You should also use your command points on something else. Situational.
Baleful Vortex: Use this stratagem after a Mutalith Vortex Beast from your army has resolved their Muthalith Vortex Power. Roll a D6 to randomly select a power from the Mutalith Vortex Power table, that power immediately goes into effect, even if it was already picked or randomly chosen before. This power is also automatically successful and thus does not require a dice roll.
This effectively means you either get to do a 3rd random power from one single Vortex beast in a round, or you can get a random power after selecting one power yourself. If you already have two beasts activating their portals in your army, then this might not be the best stratagem to use. You have a 2/6 chance of dealing mortal wounds, 3/6 of buffing a Tzeentch unit or 1/6 of reducing the LD of an enemy unit or You should, however, always take the “pick your own power” option. Efficient.
Cycle of slaughter: At the end of the fight phase, pick a Tzaangor unit from your army – that unit can fight an additional time. If I haven’t revealed myself as such, I am a huge fanboy of Tzaangors. With buffs, they can easily be one of the beast alpha strike close combat units in the game. Being able to fight twice is always strong, just don’t use this stratagem when they are unbuffed or facing a tough vehicle. Competitive.
The saddest things about these warlord traits are that neither Ahriman or Magnus gets to pick their own trait. I think in most cases either your Daemon prince of Tzeentch or a sorcerer in terminator armour would be your number 1 pick as a warlord. (Magnus always gets shot off and Ahriman has a boring warlord trait.
Arrogance of Aeons: Your warlord can re-roll deny the witch tests. Not too shabby, but there are better ones. Ahriman and Magnus already deny powers on a +1 or +2 already, so this feels a tiny bit redundant. Efficient.
Undying form: Reduce all damage suffered by your Warlord by 1 (to a minimum of 1). A copy-paste of the Necron warlord trait from Chapter Approved. A bit situational, but it can save your Warlord from dying to multi-damage weapons in the shooting or fighting phase. But ask yourself this, why is your warlord that exposed or facing an unwinning opponent, to begin with? Effective.
Aetherstride: Ahh, ye old warlord trait of Magnus the red. The time when you made all the ground around you difficult terrain, and dangerous terrain when they got to close. The memories… Ohh, now it gives your warlord the ability to advance and charge in the same turn, you can also re-roll failed charge rolls. Take that World Eaters! (they have to take a warlord trait and a relic slot to do the same!). Give it to your beatstick of a Daemon prince and wreck havoc! Competitive.
Lord of the forbidden lore: Your Warlord knows an additional psychic power. This is the one Magnus got if you pick him as a warlord. This trait can be nicely combined with the “Tzeentch familiar” stratagem that lets you cast an additional power. I don’t think you would use this on anyone else but Magnus with his +2 to cast, he would be able to give him -1 to hit, +1 invul save, smite then maybe a death hex or warptime. Just pray that he gets to cast all these powers before your opponent starts shooting at him… I also think High magister is a better trait to pick for a non-Magnus warlord. Efficient.
Otherworldly prescience: Improves your warlord’s invulnerable save by 1, to a maximum of 3++. Golly jee GW, first, you take our re-roll 1s of invul saves, now it is a max of 3+?!?! (Don’t worry, I don’t want the famous screamer deathstar to return either, the restriction is quite reasonable). Ahriman gets this by default, and it works quite well on him and all of the other HQs you can pick in the codex. I myself would just rather rely on psychic powers to do the same job. Efficient.
High magister: Add 1 to the warlord’s psychic tests. Now we are talking! Grab a terminator sorcerer, give him this trait and stick him close to Ahriman and a cheap psyker (Shaman or rubric psyker) for a +2 to cast stratagem effect, and you will be casting powers at a mighty +4! For every other non-named psykers, you are looking at a 3+ to cast. I think this is my favourite and “go-to” warlord trait for a t-sons army. Pick a Daemon prince of Tzeentch and Ahriman, and they will both be casting quite reliably. Competitive.
Sorcerous arcana (relics):
Helm of the third eye: This relic grants you a command point on a 5+ whenever your opponent uses a strategem. Meaning you can only get 1 command point regardless of the cost of the strategem that the opponent used. As far as I know, this is the only CSM relic that grants such a benefit. Still, I feel this is a great second relic for 1 command point that you pick after you know which opponent you face in a tournament. Competitive.
Dark matter crystal: The bearer or a friendly thousand sons unit within 12” of the bearer can be, at the end of the movement phase, be removed from the table and be placed again more than 9” away from any enemy units. In ADDITION, this does not count as a fall back move. Hello, charge and re-charge Tzaangors! Don´t get too overjoyed though, you can only use this bad boy once per game. This is a must have relic in most lists that have a thousand sons detachment, just make sure you either have a character worth teleporting, or a T-son unit that needs help getting close to fire or charge (more on that on part 2 of the review). Competitive.
- All the following relics are weapons that can only be used by sorcerers (with or without terminator armour) and the exalted
Seer’s bane: Replace a force or power sword. Gives you an AP -3 damage D3 sword that also doubles your strength when you either target a psyker or an enemy unit that contains a model with a leadership 9 or better. It is okay, you will be wounding units on 2’s or 3’s depending on tough they are. Ahriman does the job better with his Damage 3 force staff. Situational.
Coruscator: Replaces the inferno bolt pistol. It becomes a pistol 3 with strength 4, AP -2 and D3 damage. It is quite okay, but the two non-weapon relics are so much better, this relic won’t do much in an actual game. Situational.
Athenean scrolls: The gift we got from Chapter Approved! Whenever the bearer of the relic rolls any double for their psychic test, the power cannot be denied. You still risk “the Perils of the warp” rule as normal. Quite nice, when it does go into effect, however, you will probably not roll that many doubles. Situational.
The prismatic staff: Replaces the force staff, with a staff that is identical in every way, except that you are now allowed to shoot and charge after you fell back from close combat. Still, this does not beat the two non-weapon relics, but I can at least see some merit and situations where this could be useful. If you are playing a “pure” thousand sons army, then this would be my third pick, or if you rather not roll for extra Command points, take this one over “Helm of the third eye”. Efficient.
This codex has access to a mighty three different psychic disciplines: Discipline of Change, Dark hereticus discipline and the Discipline of Tzeentch. Access to these different disciplines varies widely among the psykers in the codex, summarized shortly:
- The Daemon prince and Magnus the red have access to all three disciplines.
- Ahiman, the exalted sorcerers and the sorcerers have access to the Hereticus and Change discipline.
- The «sergeants» of the rubric marines and scarab occult terminators only have access to the discipline of change, which is a fair trade-off considering you longer pay extra points for them in the squad anymore.
With Ahriman and Magnus the red that has inbuilt bonuses to cast powers, as well as the warlord trait and strategem that boost to cast with a mighty +2, you can really dish out powers with much more reliability than other armies. You can achieve a +4 to cast with a terminator sorcerer on their first psychic power to cast in a turn if he/she/it is the warlord and you use the +2 to cast strategem, quite the nice guarantee to achieve that warptime or doombolt that you want to go off in a turn.
With the addition and access to the Tzeentch discipline, you have more variety and options to a list that doesn´t have a chaos daemon detachment. Whatever you cast powers from the discipline as a daemon prince or the Crimson king, you should always pick the Gaze of fate and Flickering flames powers.
Boon of change (WC7): Pick a friendly Tzeentch daemon unit within 18” of the psyker and a roll D3. Consult the table for which characteristic buff the unit will gain for next psychic phase. So you get a random buff, either +1 Toughness, +1 Strength or +1 Attack. Tzaangors are sadly not daemons… This is however not without merit, but the buff is random, and most likely needs a re-roll to get the benefit you wish. If you have lots of psykers in your army, then maybe can be your 5th power to cast, maybe you will get lucky and are able to increase the summoned unit’s strength, or even increasing Magnus’ toughness by 1. Efficient.
Bolt of change (WC9): Select an enemy unit that is within 18” and visible to the psyker. That unit suffers D3 mortal wounds. If a character was slain by Bolt of change, then you get to add a Chaos spawn within 1” of the slain character before it is removed. High warp charge required makes this not a must pick. Could be effective against wounded character to kill them off, but then you should just pick another mortal wound power that also deals d3 mortal wounds. Efficient.
Gaze of fate (WC6): You can re-roll a single later during your turn. Simply amazing, easy to cast, way worth to use every turn and should be included in all competitive lists of Thousand sons armies. Competitive.
Treason of Tzeentch (WC8): Select an enemy character within 18” and visible to the psyker (cannot be the enemy warlord) and roll 2d6. If the result is greater than the targeted character’s leadership, then you treat that model as a friendly model during the shooting and fight phase. At the end of the fight phase, does the character revert to an enemy model. Remember when this power worked on units? Yeah, I miss those days… Anyways, the 2d6 to beat an enemy’s leadership is not that reliable (about 27% chance to get off), so you are dependent on a re-roll stratagem. With the added + 6” to the power with T-sons, this might have some merit of using, it is certainly a “Hail Mary”, and if you get it off on a powerful character, you can cause some severe damage. Efficient.
Flickering flames (WC5): Pick a friendly Tzeentch daemon unit within 18” of the psyker, add 1 to the wound rolls for that unit’s shooting weapons. A great power to use on your summoned units, such as pink horrors and flamers! They can also bolster daemon engines. Use this power along with Gaze of fate in your list whenever you bring a daemon prince. Competitive.
Infernal gateway (WC8): Identify the nearest model of the psyker that is visible and within 12” of the psyker. That unit and every unit (friendly or enemy) within 3” of the unit suffers d3 mortal wounds. If you cast this power at warp charge 12, then each unit suffers d6 mortal wounds instead. This power can be quite effective if you are able to position the psyker well. To get the d6 mortal wounds does require a lot of resources, but it still won’t be guaranteed. Combine some warlord traits and strategems for a 3+ to cast, and you have a 27% chance to do d6 mortal wounds to an army that is clumped up. Another “Hail Mary” of the army, but don’t rely on it going off to win the game. Efficient.
The Hereticus discipline has already been covered a lot by other reviewers of the Chaos space marine codex. What T-sons codex offers for that discipline is that they can more easily cast them, and the added +6” to all powers make them that much more potent. Whatever it is to get your units closer to your enemy (Warptime), boosting them (Prescience, Diabolic strength), blasting them from afar (Infernal gaze and Gift of Chaos) or removing their invulnerable save (Death hex). Competitive.
Discipline of Change:
The new discipline, which is only accessible by thousand sons keyword psykers, have quite the wide range of powers. Some better than others. All the psykers in the book have access to these powers.
Tzeentch firestorm (WC7): Select an enemy unit within 18” and visible to the caster, roll 9 dice, for every roll of 6, the enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This is a fluffy and cool power, but I can hardly call it competitive, as it is has a high warp charge to cast, and is too random. On average you will be dishing out 1 or 2 mortal wounds. What it does do well, is offer another mortal wound delivery in your army, and you don´t have to pick the nearest model visible to the caster. This will probably be an army´s 6th or 7th choice of power. Situational.
Boon of mutation (WC7): Select a friendly non-daemon thousand sons character within 3” of the caster. Roll 2d6 and consult the chart on the Boon of Tzeentch strategem to see what effect powers the character for the rest of the game. The fact that it cannot affect Daemon princes or Magnus bums me out a bit, but it is understandable why they didn´t allow us. Meaning you will probably only use this power on Ahriman, an exalted sorcerer or the puny sorcerer. Ahriman is quite the beast in close combat, but there is another less risky way of buffing your character, whatever it be close combat (Diabolic strength) or survivability (Weaver of fates and/or Glamour of Tzeentch). You also risk your character becoming a spawn (boo!) or a daemon prince (yay! But if it is Ahriman, not yay!) Situational.
Glamour of Tzeentch (WC7): Pick one thousand sons unit within 18”, enemies targeting the unit gets a -1 to hit. Use it on Tzaangors or a squad of Rubric marines to make them even more durable. If you still wish to use Magnus then this would also greatly increase his survivability Competitive.
Doombolt (WC9): Select an enemy unit that is within 18” of the psyker and visible to him, that units suffer D3 mortal, and their move characteristics are halved during their movement phase. They also cannot advance. Efficient.
Temporial manipulation (WC6): Select a friendly thousand sons model within 12” of the psyker, that model immediately heals D3 wounds. A nice way to heal your bigger things such as Magnus, daemon vehicles, the Vortex beast or characters. I would pick this power for your lesser psykers in the army, such as a Tzaangor shaman, or a Sergeant in your rubric or terminator squad. Situational.
Weaver of fates (WC6): Works the same as the CSM power that has the same name. It is just limited to a thousand sons unit, rather than a Tzeentch Heretic astartes unit. Which means you cannot use both of them in the same psychic phase. It grants either a 5+ invulnerable save, or it increases your invulnerable save by 1. This offers more survivability to all your units in your army, if you give it to the rubric marines, they have a 3++ against damage 1 weapons. A nice combo I have used myself is giving all of these buffs to a single huge Tzaangor unit. A T4 4++ -1 to hit unit in close combat is nothing to scoff at. You can also show your true prowess as a tactical genius by giving it to Magnus himself! Competitive.
That’s all folks! See you next time for part 2, where I will go through every datasheet and provide what I perceive as competitive lists. I will also show how the codex should be renamed… codex: Tzaangors!
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