Review of Codex: Thousand sons part 2

Arabviking is back with part 2 of his Thousand Sons review! If you missed part 1, check it out here. And as always, the Tactics Corner is full of informative reviews and tacticas.

Welcome back for part 2 of the review of the codex Thousand Sons. I am Arabviking, and I wish to formally thank everyone for the kind words and feedback that was left after the first part of the review. This time I will focus on the datasheets and units from the codex that have the <Thousand sons> keyword. The daemon datasheets in the codex has been well covered by other reviewers and will therefore not take unnecessary space to an already lengthy review. The third part of the codex will only cover lists with actual combos. Feel free to offer list ideas you already have cooking in that beat’s lab!

Rating system

For this review, I have once again 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.


Ahriman: The arch-sorcerer of Tzeentch himself, second-in command of the dusty thousand sons legion, Ahriman is an amazing character both in the luff and on the tabletop! Read the newest Black Legion novel to get some juicy details about the change that Ahriman has went through.

He is rocking at Chaos lord stats on a disc of Tzeentch (WS/BS 2+, 5W, 4++, 4 attacks) and wields an empowered force staff (flat 3 damage!), he also gives out that nice re-roll 1s to hit buff at 6″. But the reason you would take Ahriman is his ability to cast and deny three (!) psychic powers, icing on the cake is his +1 to cast and deny for all these powers. Ahzek Ahriman is truly one of the best psykers in the game, and was- and still should be used a lot in 8th edition chaos lists. You can make him your warlord for the 3++ save trait, but I recommend looking at other warlord traits to benefit your army in a different manner.

My usual setup for Ahriman is taking as many essential psychic powers as possible that is needed in a competetive list, such as Warptime, Glamouring of Tzeentch and Prescience to buff your deepstriking Tzaangors or other key units in your army. Don’t be afraid to use Ahriman as a beatstick, you can buff him up with Diabolic strength (+2S and +1A) and dish out two- or even three mortal wound psychic powers. He can do some real damage against objective holding marines, or toughness 3 equivalent troops. The only «nerf» I can see is his loss of re-roll invulnerable saves of 1 for himself and all T-son units around him.


Daemon prince of Tzeench: Truly the best Daemon prince of all codexs. Inbuilt 4++ invulnerable save, able to cast two powers instead of just one, and access to three (!) disciplines. The cost of this benefit is the lack of a Warp bolter option, which isn’t a bad trade-off at all. You have the option to give it wings, making it 180 points in total, that is the same price whatever you picked the sword, axe or even more malefic talons as your choice of melee weapons. Against a rhino, the axe will do about a single more wound than the two other options. I haven’t found that many units the sword does the job better, so I highly recommend always taking the two sets of malefic talons for good options against most targets in the game, 7 attacks at AP-2 and damage 2 is nothing to scoff at.
A T-son DP is kind of a mix of a sorcerer and a chaos lord, with some truly buffed up stats and melee prowess. You give yourself, and T-sons units within 6” of you re-roll 1s to hit, which makes it unlikely for you to miss any of your close combat attacks.

I kit out my Daemon princes with two sets of malefic talons (7 attacks..), wings and pick one or two powers from the discipline of Tzeentch. The gaze of fate (free-roll) and flickering flames (daemon, +1 to wound shooting attacks). The discipline of Dark hereticus also offers some nice options as always, with my favourites being Warptime for double-move, diabolic strength for +2 strength and +1 attack or a smite-like psychic power. Give the DP re-roll to charge, and option to advance and charge with the warlord trait as well, and you are truly a beast in close combat.

I think we will see lots of Thousand sons DPs in competitive lists, despite the new character rules from Chapter approved stopping them from protecting themselves.


Exalted Sorcerer: Also essentially a chaos lord with the option of being on a disc of Tzeentch, but with a 5++ save, and the ability to cast 2 and deny 1 psychic power per turn. With the new codex, they have gained access to Power swords (2 of them through the FAQ) and the plasma pistol.

This HQ is in an odd spot, for the price of 121 (141 with disc) you do get a discounted hybrid version of a chaos sorcerer and a chaos lord. But in a competitive list, you should always be using a Daemon prince with wings, and Ahriman (which only cost 166 on a disc), which leaves them at the 3rd HQ spot in a competitive list. If you only ever need an additional psyker, I recommend a Tzaangor shaman over the Exalted sorcerer in the elite slot, or a footslogging sorcerer for 99pts. I would have thought otherwise if the exalted sorcerers had the ability to deny 2 powers, or able to cast 3 powers, and/or the old ability of the beam of the silver tower from 7th edition. I would love if the Thousand sons community would prove me wrong, but right now I don’t see this model being used effectively outside more casual and narrative games.


Sorcerer: The thousand sons codex has now given this HQ the option to take an inferno pistol or a warpflame pistol. Added in that they now have access to discipline of Change as well as the Dark Hereticus discipline, which makes them superior to the CSM equivalent datasheet.

Take a sorcerer or two as HQ fillers of a supreme detachment or a battalion detachment if you need to fill out the 2nd HQ slot.


Sorcerer in Terminator armour: As the title says, you get a sorcerer in a terminatour armour, which gives him an additional wound, 2+ and a 5+ invulnerable save. He also has the inferno combi-bolter (AP-2 Storm bolter) for some additional dakka. What makes this HQ different from the other sorcerers is its ability to take a familiar that adds +1 to cast on his first psychic test each turn. Combo this with +1 to cast from the warlord trait, as well as the +2 from the T-son strategem for a +4 to cast on your first psychic power. Deep strike this big boy, buff him with 4+ to cast, switch one power to Infernal gateway, and Voila, on a 8+, you do D6 (D3 on cast less of 8) mortal wounds on each unit within 3″ of the closets model’s unit. You can also super smite on a 7+ for D6 mortal wounds.

I only give this model an Efficient rating as it requires a lot of resources and a list that builds around this strategy.



Rubric Marines: The Rubricae, reduced to dust by the «Rubric of Ahriman» curse, these walking dust-filled automatons in ornament power armour fearlessly walks towards their enemy, piercing flesh, armour and soul with baleful sorcerous bolts from their inferno bolters.

The Rubric marines are led by an aspiring sourcerer, rocks at chaos space marine statline, with 1 less in move, a 5+ invulnerable save and AP-2 bolters. Their dust filed bodies is represented by their «All is dust» special rules, which gives them a +1 to their armour and invulnerable save against damage 1 weapons. On the tabletop, that translates to them having a 2+ armor save against storm bolters, and a 4++ against non-overcharged plasma weapons. They also have the option to have a soulreaper cannon (heavy 4, S5, AP-3) for each 10 models in the unit, you can also swap out their inferno bolters for warpflamers (flamer with AP-2) at the mighty upgrade cost of 13 more points. The aspiring sourcerer is in effect a sergeant that can cast a single psychic power from the Change discipline or a nerfed version of the smite power.

The only potential competitive use of these guys that I can see, is lots of 5-man units for the cheap aspiring sorcerer (lots of psychic powers), or a 20-man unit that deep strikes down to lay down lots of inferno bolter fire or flames them away with warflamers. The first option requires about 400 points, the other is clocking in at above 600 points. Even with all the buffs that Tzeentch can muster, this «mini-deathstar» unit cannot deal enough firepower to justify their point cost.Their deep strike ability (strategem) can also be mitigated by scouts/nurgling/rangers equivalent, or just a cheap screen to stop you from firing 19d6 AP-2 flamer hits on your opponent. At least with the 5-man units, you can camp in terrain with objectives to get a +1 armour save against small arms fire, and dish out a psychic power every now and then. Just pray to Tzeentch (?) that you don´t roll perils of the warp on that aspiring sourcerer, then it is bye bye rubric marine squads…

There are some additional usage and trick as well with strategems from the codex, but it doesn’t change the fact that the rubric marines are an «elite» marine unit that are good at only killing elite-like units such as power armour infantry. It is still the weakest of the legion specific elite unit, the Noise marines are better at dakka, and the Khorne berzerkers crush everything in close combat. What the rubrics needs is the ability to ignore morale and a strategem that affects them specifically, which we didn’t get.

These models are simply amazing looking, and I truly wish they would fit better in the current meta of 40k. They are least better now than they were in 7th (4++, ap3 bolters for the price of two CSM), but I don’t think you will see much of them in competitive lists.


Tzaangors: The bestial hordes of goat-bird-like humans serve as the shock troop of the Thousand sons army. In flocks, they can hack down their enemy with their jagged blades in an attempt to gain the favour of Tzeentch himself.

The Tzaangor has a good statline for being a 7 point model, having a toughness of 4 and a 5+ invulernable save makes them quite survivable compared to chaos cultists. They have the option of either taking a chainsword and an autopistol, or Tzaangor blades. They can also take a Brayhorn for +1 to advance and charge for 10 points. Additionally, they re-roll all failed to hit rolls  against enemy characters. In many ways, the Tzaangors reminds me of Ork boyz, but with 1 less attack, and being more tough and prone to psychic power buffs (+1 to hit, +1 to wound, -1 to hit, +1 to invu saves).

If you are going to use Tzaangors, then I always recommend kitting them out with Tzaangor blades for the AP-1, as the autopistols will rarely ever get to do any real damage.

The best use of the Tzaangors are to deepstrike them with the Webway infiltration in 20-30 birdman size units, Warptime them 6 inches closer to your enemy, then buff them with the aforementioned psychic powers to see them wreck havoc on whatever they charge. Don’t forget to use the Cycle of Slaughter strategem to let you activate the Tzaangors in the fight phase an additional time at the end of the fight phase. A 2+ to hit, re-roll 1s, with +1 to wound AP-1 attacks are scary against many different units. They are also quite durable with T4, 4++, -1 to hit as well. If you do use a Mutalith Vortex Beast, do remember to buff them with either +1 strength, re-roll charge or an additional AP-1 effect on your melee weapons, pick whatever the situation requires.

20-30 Tzaangors on 32mm bases cover a lot of space, so you have to practise how you can most effectively take advantage of the charge move, as well as the pile- in and consolidate move. Familiarise yourself with the rules and how optimise your movement during this phase, as it is crucial when you wish to steal your opponent´s objectives and maximise the amount of models that can attack in close combat. I see way too many players forgetting to pile in and consolidate 3 inches at every activation.

Stopping the Tzaangors from deepstriking effectively turn 1 isnt that difficult. So you have to design your list in such a way that you can survive and shoot away screen and infiltrating units, to clear of the way for you Tzaangors.


Chaos Cultists: Cheap troops that are there to screen your more important units from turn 1 assault or alpha strike armies. They can also stay behind and score objectives while your opponent focusses on shooting down bigger targets. Autoguns are the most reliable option to take for them. Toughness 3 and a 6+ armour isn’t that tough, but they do the job well enough for 4 points apiece. A big blob of 40 cultists can cover, screen and even surround most armies out there. If you wish to use the Tides of Traitor stratagem (respawn all cultists, “deep strike them 9” from any enemy units, and 6” within any board edge) then you need a pure CSM detachment in your army.

Take chaos cultists as your third or second troops after you have filled it up with Tzaangors.



Scarab Occult Terminators: Dusty terminators that are slightly more expensive than the CSM equivalent, but is tougher and comes with a sergeant that can cast a single power from the discipline of Change. Sharing the same rules as the rubriace with +1 to their saves against D1 weapons, as well as ignoring the -1 to hit with heavy weapons when moving. They have storm bolters at AP-2 and have the option of taking a single hellfire missile rack and a Soulreaper cannon/heavy warpflamer for every 5 models in the unit. They are also wielding Egyptian style power swords.

At the barebones cost of 207 pts for five models, it is quite a point-efficient unit that can deep strike, withstand lots of firepower, shoot 20 ap-2 shots and cast a single psychic power. With some additional buffs from strategems and psychic powers, you can easily remove Scouts, rangers or other equivalents from objectives. An optimal setup is probably to give the 5-man unit a Soulreaper cannon and a hellfire missile rack for 35 pts more in total.


Helbrute: “Even in death I serve” is something a Dreadnought would say, in contrast, a Helbrute would be screeching in pain and agony for the ill fate that the legion has bestowed upon him. Everyone should spend 5 minutes of their life to read the fluff part of the Helbrute for the Thousand sons, it is an interesting read.

The Helbrute share the same stats as its original and imperium counterpart (T7, 3+, BS/WS3+), with some minor differences. It also has the option of picking several different ranged and melee weapons, and can somewhat combine them as they wish. The biggest difference is the “Crazed” special rule which lets you shoot or fight in melee at the end of a phase in which you got wounded (effect only goes on a roll of a 6+). If it stood still, it can also fire or hit twice the nearest enemy unit, but it must have stood still in the previous movement phase.

For a Thousand sons list, I recommend the setup to be twin lascannon and a helbrute fist or power scourge. This gives you both an anti-tank option and the option to charge enemies that are near your backfield.
Sadly, our legion rules don’t affect the Helbrute in any way. We will hopefully get 40k rules for those sexy psyker dreadnoughts from Forgeworld soon enough!


Tzaangor Shaman: Essentially a Tzaangor version of a Sorcerer on a disc of Tzeentch with a discount (90 pts), with a 5++ save, and only access to the discipline of Change. It does however also offers a re-roll of a failed psychic test (once per game) and a +1 to hit to all Tzaangor units within 6” of him (included himself). This can be used in combination of Tzaangor deep strike bombs or buff the Tzaangor Enlightened geared with bows to auto-wound on 5’s, rather than on 6’s.

The Tzaangor shaman is truly a jack-of-all trades for the Thousand sons codex, he can cast a single power from the disciple of Change he is fast, buffs Tzaangors and is decent in cloce combat. As a psyker, he should always go for smiting or to buff the Tzaangors even more (-1 to hit or +1 to invul saves powers). With a single re-roll of a failed psychic test, he can truly be relied upon to buff/smite when he is needed to. Despite all of these powerful abilities, I still think you won’t need more than one or max two of him, as you already picking two Psykers from the HQ part of the army, a category I feel Tzaangor shamans should have been a part of in my honest opinion.

Take the Tzaangor shaman whenever you need a cheap and fast psyker, and/or when you need someone to buff your Tzaangors.


Fast attack:

Tzaangor Enlightened: Tzaangors on discs of Tzeentch that wields either a Divine spear or a Fatecaster bow. With the same statline as a regular Tzaangor, but with an additional wound, leadership, 12” move and an extra attack. This unit has quite the potential of being a unit that can harrass and pick off small units reliably. Both the bow and spear are at Strength 5 AP-1 and damage 1, with the bow being assault 2 and 24”.  The unit can be taken in unit size of 3-9.

What makes the unit truly shine is its “Guided by fate” rule, any to hit roll of 6+ automatically wounds the target (saves has to be done as normally). As most of us are aware, these kinds of effects combos well with + to hit modifiers, which in this instance be done either via the Tzaangor shaman and/or Prescience. Combined with both of the buffs, you will be wounding all the targets in the game on a 4+ (!) take that you silly WARHOUND!!

This unit is hard to truly judge its level of competitive use, as it can do damage effectively, but are dependent on other units. A couple of small units won’t kill that much, but what if you had enough money to buy like 78 of them? Hmm, then we might be talking about true level of shooting effectiveness.. (BTW someone at a team tournament did actually use 78 of them…).


Chaos Spawn: A Chaos spawn is a creature being mutated beyond recognition and has been the fate of many worshippers of chaos that didn’t achieve Daemon prince status. It is a bizarre creature that aimlessy runs towards the enemy, slashing away with its tentacles, claws and whatever else might be growing out of them. The tabletop model rightly represents this description, it is a tough (T5) close combat unit that has random amount of attacks and special effect every time they strike. As other daemon units, they hit on 4+, but that is easily mitigated with AP-2 and D2 profile of their weapon.

What the T-sons offers this unit is the ability to pick the special rule you need at the particular moment (AP-4, +2 attacks or re-roll to wound rolls) for 1 command point. You also get to re-roll the amount of random attacks you get. As this stratagem applies to <Tzeentch chaos spawn>, I feel an allied detachment of Chaos Daemon Tzeentch that can deep strike has the best synergy. As the T-sons cannot deep strike non-infantry units, I don’t see how the Chaos spawn can survive running towards the enemy unit with just a 5+ armour save (yes, they don’t have an inulnerable save).


Heavy support:

Mutalith Vortex Beast: The MVB is the most surprising addition to the arsenal of the Thousand sons, it offers a special kind of utility Tzeentch keyworded armies and are decent in close combat and as a mortal wounds delivery. The beast rocks at 14 wounds, Toughness 7 and a 4+ and 5++ save. It resembles a lot of the daemon engines with its 4+ to hit in close combat and degrading profile. With S7 and 4 attacks when unwounded, it can either hit with its Betentacled maw (S-user, AP-1, D1, 3 attacks per attack) or the Enormous claws (S-user, AP-2, D2). You should always be using the Bententacled maw as it on average does more wounds on both high toughness and weak units. Sadly, the Daemonforge stratagem does not work the MBV; as it is a monster and not a vehicle.

The high point of the MVB is its ability to buff Tzeentch units, dish out mortal wounds against your enemy, as well as it exploding on a 6 for d6 mortal wounds for every friendly and enemy unit within 6”.
You activate Mutalith Vortex power at the start of your shooting phase, and you have the option to either pick or randomly choose a power from the table below. No matter the choice, you have to pass a roll of 2+ (or 3+ or 4+ if it is wounded). However, if you do pick the random option, you can roll twice on the table. For competitive use, I would always recommend picking your own power. You also have the option of using the Baleful Vortex stratagem to get an additional (but random) effect from the table, even if you already picked it, and you don’t have to pass the 2+ dice roll to get it.

What the MVB offers to the Thousand sons, specifically, is the option of buffing Tzaangors, Daemon princes and other <Tzeentch> keyworded units with +1 strength, re-roll charge or AP-1 to its melee weapons. The problem is the the random nature of the power, which makes it a bit unreliable, which means you should use at least two, or even three MVB to get a guaranteed buff or two to your assault units. This requires more playtesting on my part, but I think a competitive Thousand sons list currently doesn’t need a MVB to do well, but it is nice to have one in a list. If not for anything else other than seeing you opponent be surprised how much mortal wounds it can dish out by exploding…..


Chaos Daemon vehicles (Maulerfiend/Defiler/Forgefiend): The chaos daemon vehicles offers different rules and special weapons that most vehicles don’t have access to. All of them have an in-built 5+ invulnerable save, they get a wound back on the start of your game turn, and they all have the daemon keyword, which lets you buff them with strategems and psychic powers that only affect daemons. They also all hit on 4+ (BS/WS), with a degrading profile as they take damage, which is somewhat mitigated with the Daemonforge strategem for 1 command point, this can however only be used on 1 daemon vehicle per phase, so you cannot buff two different forgefiends in the same phase. These vehicles are in short durable units that needs strategems or buffs to be able to be efficient on the battlefield. I am very saddened that my list with 4 maulerfiends, 1 forgefiend and 2 heldrakes are profoundly weaker with the loss of the -1 to hit by the Changeling.

The Maulerfiend is always the first units to be on the frontline during a siege by chaos, as they are warhounds of metal and flesh that can climb up the walls of mighty fortresses to clear a path for their allies in combat.
The model itself is quite gorgeous and also have a fair statline for their point cost (about 140+), with T7, 12 wounds 10» move and a 3+ save. The model always comes with its fists that do flat 3 damage with strength 12 and AP -3. You then have the option of either taking Magma cutters (pistol 6, S8 AP-4, D3) or Lasher tendrils (6 additional attacks in close combat at S6, AP-2 D2). If you wish to use Maulerfiends in your list, then I recommend taking at least two of them with Lasher tendrils, so that at least one of them gets into close combat during the game. Remember to use the warpflame gargoyles for a chance of doing mortal wounds to your enemy, as well as the daemonforge for the increased chance to hit and wound your enemy. Focus on higher toughness and wound models/units to maximize the damage your Maulerfiend can do to your enemy.


The Forgefiend is the dakka variant of the Maulerfiend with 2 less inches in movement, but has the ability to either take two hades autocannons ( 36”Heavy 4, S8, AP-1 D2 for 1 autocannon) or two sets of Ectoplasma cannon (24” Heavy D3, S7, AP-3 D3 for 1 cannon). You also have the option to either take Damon jaws (cheapest option) or an additional ectoplasma cannon. The most sufficient Forgefiend setup I have seen, is 3 of them with hades autocannons with Abbaddon for re-roll all failed to hit. For the Thousand sons, there are better ways to get some shooty tank-like units. As a cool of a model it is, it isn’t competetive for its points (177) even with Daemonforge, +1 to hit and +1 to wound, imho.


The Defiler rocks at additional 2 wounds, and has a plethora of weapon options, both close combat- and range weapons. Far too many to cover all of them in details.
The model has received several point cost reductions over the newest releases, and it might now be a viable option to bring one of the bad boys to the table. At its cheapest, you get a big daemonic vehicle with a battle cannon (anti-tank), reaper autocannon (anti-elite) and a heavy twin flamer (screen remover) for 189 points. The most Dakka output would be by giving it a combi-weapon and replacing its autocannon with a twin lascannon (even more anti-tank), that will cost you about 240+ points.

Whatever you go full dakka or the melee variant of the Defiler, it is a model that is highly dependent on strategems and even psychic powers to be efficient, which means it is taking resources and focus away from other stuff that you can buff and support. I think the setup that will make you most happy with the damage output of the model is to replace the twin-heavy flamer with the Defiler scourge (incase he needs to engage something in close combat) and give it the hardest and longest range dakka you can give him. At full health, you can buff with +1 to hit (Prescience), +1 to wound (Flickering flames) and of course daemonforge for all the nice dakka.


Chaos Vehicles (Vindicator/Predator/Land Raider): These chaos variants of the Imperium vehicles are in the codex (imho) to give pure Thousand sons armies anti-armour options that don’t rely on close combat or mortal wounds.

The Vindicator is a survivable vehicle with its toughness 8 and 11 wounds, but the low range of 24” and “heavy D3” shot of its Demolisher cannon makes this is a bit of an unreliable shooty vehicle. I think the removal of the blast markers hit this model too hard. If you do plan on taking a whooping three of them then you can at least take advantage of “Linebreaker bombardment” stratagem to be able to deal 3d3 mortal wounds on all units within 3” of a point on the battlefield that is within and visible to all three of the vindicators.


We have finally gotten the point cost of the Chaos predator down to the CSM: codex level, and it just might offer the most point efficient anti-armour vehicle in the codex. I recommend taking 3 Chaos Predators, 2 with Predator autocannons (1 with twin lascannon) and lascannon sponsors. The heavy bolter sponsors don’t do enough dakka, and the predator autocannons are there so that your predators can be more efficient against armies that have lots of invulnerable saves or has lots of models but few armoured targets. With three Chaos predators, you can take advantage of the “Killshot stratagem” (requires minimum 3 chaos preds) to gain +1 to wound and damage rolls against units that have keyword <monster> or <vehicle>. Just remember to have some sort of “Distraction carnifex” so that losing that one chaos predator turn 1 doesn’t weaken your list considerably.


The chaos land raider offers a high armoured transport (toughness 8, 16 wounds and a 2+ save) that can shoot four lascannons and a twin-heavy bolter without any minus to hit due movement. As the Thousand son’s codex has the option to deep strike and warptime most units, I feel the LR doesn’t quite offer this codex that many options as other armies. A buffed up LR (+1 to hit, re-roll 1’s) can with some luck kill something as big as a fire raptor, but when it’s shooting can be stopped with a single scout model (or worse, A CULTIST MODEL!) due to being close combat, I have a hard time recommending this to a T-sons army. The LR has the classic problem of trying to achieve everything, it wishes to be a transport, an anti-tank shooting platform and durable against most weapons in the game.  For a minimum of 356 points, plus the transported models inside, it is a lot of eggs in one basket. If you do wish to use a land raider competitively, then I highly recommend the Forgeworld model, Land raider Proteus. It is more costly, but you get a more durable, more shooty, more transport-y land raider that can leave close combat and still shoot.

I give the LR model a better rating than the Vindicator, simply because I know the LR can at least do something in a game, well as the Vindicator will most likely not do much in an average game.



Chaos Rhino: Ahh, the classic chassis, protecting your precious models from shooting since 2nd edition. With T7, 3+ armour save and 10 wounds, you can reliably expect that most of your rhinos will survive a round of shooting. The Chaos rhino’s role is mainly to transport your infantry models fast and to protect them from shooting attacks. It is wise to use a couple of these transports to protect your precious rubric marines (or Tzaangors/Cultists) to an objective midfield of the table. You can also gamble on them exploding when they are surrounded by several of the opponent’s units).

The Thousand sons’ codex offers two additional tactic options for the Chaos rhino: 1) You can use the Warpflame gargoyles stratagem to give all friendly and enemy units d3 mortal wounds on a 4+ (roll for each unit, characters and vehicles are hit on 6+). 2) You can also give a single bolt-like weapon AP -2 if you do wish. I personally would recommend keeping the Chaos Rhino as cheap as possible, or give it an additional combi-bolter if you can spare the points.

Don’t forget that your rhino can heal one wound on a 6+ at the start of each of your turn, I always forget to do that myself…



Heldrake: Unlike the Death Guard, the Thousand sons do get to keep this flying daemon machine turkey, and what an awesome model it is! The thousand sons however do not grant anything special to the Heldrake, as sadly the Warpflame gargoyles specifically do not apply to him/her/it.

If you do plan on using the machine daemon-dragon in your list, I recommend doing so with an additional Heldrake and/or along with Magnus the red to really force your opponent on dealing with these fast and flying targets that can stop their artillery or tanks from shooting at you. Remember to use the Daemonforge stratagem to give them re-roll all failed to hit and wound rolls, aswell as buffing them with +1 to wound with the Flickering flames psychic power. The Heldrakes are in short, well-costed, very fast, and can tie up a lot of different units. Just don’t expect it will be killing a lot of stuff.

Also remember that the Heldrake, all though it is technically a “flyer”, it is not an airplane, and does not get the “Hard to hit” ability (-1 to hit in the shooting phase) as other “airplanes” do.


Lord of war:

Magnus the Red: The Crimson King, one-eyed cyclops and the bane and horror of many armies during 8th edition. Magnus was and is still is a target that needs to be shutdown asap due to his tremendous power and ability to wreck most targets in the game. Magnus stands tall and mighty with Toughness 7 and 18 wounds, can fly up to 16”, wounds 99% of the units in the game on a 2+ with his 7 attacks (!) and can cast and deny three whole powers on a 2+, when not severely wounded.

The changes to the Crimson king from the index to the codex is as follows: He now costs 30 pts more, his 2d6 smite now goes off on an 11 or more to cast instead of a 10 or more, he has been granted a 2+ to ignore perils of the warp and has gained access to the Discipline of Tzeentch psychic table. The most important change is however, the loss of re-roll invulnerable saves of 1 for himself and his allies within 9”, he has instead, gained a re-roll of 1’s to cast of psychic powers. I personally think that these changes has crippled Magnus’ ability to survive long enough to do anything in a competitive setting.

The changes to Magnus is quite within reason, he was a bit undercosted for his use, compared to his brother (Mortarion), and he was used a bit too often for my taste. Magnus also had the tendency to take such a big chunk of your army list, that you had to invest in units to protect him (old Changeling), or you were forced to take other “distraction carnifexes” to somewhat force your opponent to shoot at other stuff than Magnus. The new Magnus the red is less survivable against alpha strike shooting, but if you do start turn 1, then the 3++ and -1 to hit (close combat and shooting!) granted from psychic powers will force your opponent to use all their shooting resources to get take him down. Sadly the -1 to hit power does not mitigate Dark Reaper shooting, which does hurt a lot.

If you do plan on taking the primarch of the Thousand sons, then I recommend giving him psychic powers that best takes advantage of his +2 to cast. If you have enough Daemon princes that will “run” after Magnus to support him, then focus on giving him offensive abilities such as “Infernal Gateway” (or Doombolt if you prefer WC8 over WC9), “Bolt of change”, “Gift of Chaos” and “Death Hex”.  I have chosen these powers to take advantage of Magnus’ +6” range and +2 cast.
If you do not plan to support Magnus via other psykers, then I feel it is a must to take all the powers that buff him, such as the -1 to hit power, +1 to invul saves, warptime for double move and the 4th power that fits the opponent you are facing (however, smite with Magnus is always good).

TL;DR: Magnus got slightly more expensive, lost his re-roll 1s of invulnerable saves, but gained re-roll 1’s to psychic tests, access to Discipline of Tzeentch and ignores perils of the warp on a 2+. With no way to give him -1 to hit or the ability to deep strike before an alpha strike army hits turn 1, I cannot recommend Magnus the Red to a competitive list. In any other setting, I would call Magnus competitive and a must-have in your list.

And please don’t be “that guy” who brings Magnus in a 1000 pts game or a casual game, talk with your opponent’s first. Tournaments are of course different. 😉


That was all folks! Keep checking this website for part 3 of this review! I will create a couple of lists that fits all levels of the game (narrative, competitive, ETC, ITC and casual games), I would love to hear about potential combos that I haven’t figured out myself!


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

19 Responses to “Review of Codex: Thousand sons part 2”

  1. Reecius February 22, 2018 8:31 am #

    Great review, Arabviking! Can’t wait to see these guys on the table.

  2. Sad Rubric Spammer February 22, 2018 10:37 am #

    Nice Review.

    One thing I saw theory crafted was a core list of Tzeentch Daemons with a Heavy Support Detachment of a TS Daemon Prince and some Vortex Beasts for buffs and Stratagem access. I personally hope this is viable because it would hopefully shift some of the soup lists towards more of a “three course meal” list.

    Also I’m not sure you can do this now, but at the end of 7th you could buy small forests pieces for 10 pts from Planetary Onslaught. I’m not sure if those got ported over with the rest of the terrain rules or if it works in ITC, but that could let you buy cover for Rubrics and sit it next to an objective. I know it’s a stretch, but most of the buffs are for melee and Tzaangor so you kinda have to stretch for rubrics to be useful.

    • Reecius February 22, 2018 11:05 am #

      I think Rubrics can be quite good, personally. I use a unit of 10 Sternguard in my Marine list with Special Issue Bolters and they are awesome. Every game, they are one of my best units.

      Rubrics can do the same thing, deep-strike in, hit just as hard or harder, and are tougher to kill for only a few more points per model.

      That said, I think one unit of 10+ is the way to go, not taking lots of units of them, but I 100% think you can make them not only work but work well.

      • Sad Rubric Spammer February 22, 2018 11:34 am #

        I agree, but I’ve been spamming Rubrics since around 5th, so it’s hard for me to deal with the sudden shift of Rubrics being the core(all) of the army to the focus on Tzaangor and melee buffs.

        I like the book a lot but it feels off putting that they are ignoring support for the older units, either because they want to sell new stuff or they aren’t sure what or how to add support for Rubrics. And since it’s my main army it feels sort of personal (even though it isn’t, it’s just business.)

        And if all else fails and I can’t run Rubric Spam reliable, well there is always Horus Heresy, with their lost technology of Initiative and Blast Templates!

        • Reecius February 22, 2018 1:24 pm #

          I like the positive attitude!

  3. Amof February 22, 2018 12:31 pm #

    My biggest issue with Rubrics is SoT do what they do even better. Hopefully they get a little point tweak in March.

  4. mortetvie February 22, 2018 10:04 pm #

    I use a unit of 20 with 17 Warpflamers, 1 Warpflame Pistol on the Sorcerer and 2x Soulreaper cannons to great effect. This is why the Terminator Sorcerer is so good for this set-up and I’d label it in the competitive setting, getting a potential +4 to cast on Warptime to get the Rubrics in range (which can advance and still shoot their flamers just fine) is clutch. With VoTLW this unit does work and with buffs it is a pain to take down.

    Incidentally, does ITC plan on having Death Guard/Thousand Sons as their own faction like the other stand-alone Space Marine chapters?

    • Ytook February 23, 2018 3:46 am #

      Obviously I’m not an official source but if I remember correctly in the Signals before last they said they would be their own factions. Codex = ITC faction going forward 🙂

  5. dantejrl February 23, 2018 8:53 am #

    great article as always : very detailed and relevant.

    i tested 20 rubrics with 19 flamers and 1 little :
    yes, it’s very expensive but it can be profitable if, after deep strike and warp time, i burn 3-4 targets (4-5 flamers on each target).

    Moreover, i did a great and funny “konga line” to take objectives : my opponent didn’t like lol

    However, to stop a transports assault, it’s very hard without predators!
    for me, it’s the only one unit who can counter “metal boxes” because i prefer use lot of funny spells instead spam smites to destroy 1 rhino ^^

    • Reecius February 23, 2018 9:42 am #

      Yeah, I toyed with the idea of the all flamer unit, too! Sounds really fun but if you don’t get Warp Time off…you’re in deep trouble.

    • ArabViking February 23, 2018 12:00 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback! :3

      I tried something similiar when 8th dropped, Alpha legion rubrics with 19 flamers, the IG gunline stopped it with 8 pts acolytes ;_;

      When it does go off, it is quite cool, but the lack of ignore morale hurts them a bit.

  6. WestRider February 23, 2018 10:52 am #

    In the Chaos Spawn section, you talk about taking some in a Tzeentch Daemon Detachment to bring in using Denizens of the Warp. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work, because Spawn don’t have the Daemon keyword, so A) they stop the Detachment from qualifying as Tzeentch Daemons, and B) they aren’t eligible for the Denizens of the Warp Stratagem.

    Honestly, I’m kind of bummed about Spawn in general these days. They took a big hit to their movement, and have trouble getting Cover. Pretty much reduces them to being used as singletons to unlock a Brigade and camp Objectives.

    • ArabViking February 23, 2018 11:58 am #

      Yeah, their role has been reduced significantly. I guess they can also kill deep striking assault units quite well though? I am seeing the rise of sanguinary guard..

      I guess with the thousand sons, there are numerous ways to create spawn from your own, and enemy´s character, too bad we often have to save points for it..

    • Dan February 28, 2018 3:36 am #

      The stratagem makes them quite decent in a squad of 5, but mobility is an issue.

      Brigade is filled better by min squads of enlightened with bows. for only 18 pts more you get a lot more harassing capability at 24″ range (36″ with movement), faster movement for objective grabbing, more wounds and and invul save and still decent combat.

    • abusepuppy February 28, 2018 4:37 am #

      I’m not generally thrilled with units of Spawn, but I find them to be decent. They have an armor save all the time now (rather than just in close combat when you randomly roll it up) and are small enough to get cover reasonably easily, even if they aren’t infantry for some reason. But their attacks are surprisingly dangerous, with AP-2 and Dmg2 natively, and that can catch a lot of people off guard. Plow one into a unit of Primaris, Terminators, or Bikes and someone is in for a rude surprise.

      • WestRider March 4, 2018 1:51 pm #

        I do like their offensive stats still. I just kind of miss them being able to keep pace with Bikes and Flesh Hounds and such.

  7. ArabViking February 23, 2018 11:53 am #

    Hey guys, thanks for all the feedback and responses.
    I made two errors, and a small contracdition in the review.
    1) Infernal gateway goes off on the model and the surrounding units via the model, not the unit as I said in the review under terminator sorcerer.
    2) Chaos spawn cannot be taken in a daemon detachment.

    The contradiction was in my Magnus statement, I meant to say that Magnus the red is no longer a must-have in a competive list, but he will do well if you get turn 1 and all the psychic power buffs off.

  8. Drew February 25, 2018 8:13 am #

    I worry that Rubric Marine squads are being seriously undersold. The nature of AP in 8th doesn’t preclude them from killing non-elite infantry units. The -2 of their bolt weapons will apply to everything they shoot at. An argument could be made that having them fire at guardsmen or a tank would be an inefficient use of the points that you pay for them, but the situation on the tabletop is often one where you are not presented with the target you would like to have and must take the targets of opportunity or import on a turn to turn basis.

    But the Inferno Bolters are only half of the coin. Rubric Marines have the distinction of being the only Cult unit that has both increased offensive capability but also increased defensive stats as well. The All is Dust rule combined with Favored of Tzeentch and stacked with a Cover bonus makes Rubric Marines a distinctly unappealing target. What should your opponent shoot at them? They will have a 2+ save against the vast majority of small arms fire, but even against heavier weapons they will still have some kind of save, and if your opponent is firing their heavier equipment at your Rubric Marines then it is likely sparing your vehicles, daemon princes or other models from their attention. The need to fire weapons that do multiple wounds on a unit consisting entirely of single wound models in order to break their flat +1 to all saves also forces your opponent into an inefficient scenario.

    An Obj.Sec. unit of just ten Thousand Sons with no upgrades sitting on an objective in cover is not something that can be shifted lightly and will probably require much more resources for your opponent to remove than you invested. Compare them to Sternguard; for only around thirty points more you gain a 5+ invulnerable save, +1 to all saves vs damage 1 weapons and in-built psychic/melee support in the form of a Sorcerer armed with a Force Weapon.

    Anyway, these are just my opinions and anecdotes. I respect your opinion ArabViking and I look forward to reading more! Great job so far!

    • Arabviking February 27, 2018 4:06 pm #

      Hey man. Thanks for the nice comment and insight.
      I was maybe a bit harsh on the rubrics.

      I do think, in all fairness, a Terminator squad does the same job, but better. For 40 pts a modell you get the price of 2 rubrics, 2W, 2+ save and force swords in close combat. The terminator are point wise more vulnerable to multi damage weapon. But on the other hand, you have free deep strike, easier rapid-fire range and more durable against small arms fire.they only thing they lack is spamming warp flamers, which are way too expensive right now :/

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