As I have done previously, let’s take a dive into the new Thousands Sons book with a specific eye towards the new Crusade rules. The Ork codex was quite well crafted, though some of the mechanics felt incomplete, let’s see how this book compares.
Where the Orks had the interesting and complex contest of leadership mechanic, the Thousands Sons have the Chaos Boon table. This is a table of upgrades any character (except daemons and those with Exalted Mutation) can take in lieu of another battle honor. The table varies from somewhat useful (i.e. +3″ movement) to mediocre (+1 A). Honestly I found this to be quite dull. A few of the options are Tzeentch-focus but most seem generically chaos-y. Disappointingly, none of the options seem to different then other upgrades you get via the generic crusade tables. I would have liked the option to get a bonus in addition to another battle honor (though you can do this with an agenda) when leveling up but with the chance of getting unhelpful mutations or even spawndom.
Arcana Points are the special army currency and are used to buy relics and spells. You can get them from selecting a few specific agendas (but only if you win) or completing a few specific tasks. If you have a good game it shouldn’t be too difficult to generate at least 6. Sadly you can only use them on a few relics and spells.
Agendas and Requisitions
Moving on from the milquetoast Boon Table, the agendas seem to be this book’s strong point. While there aren’t any clear heavy experience-generating options, their agendas focus more on buffing your crusade roster as a whole which is refreshing. “Pursuit of Knowledge” is an agenda that can net you additional Chaos Boons, Malefic Rituals can give you more Requisition Points and “Arcana Long Buried” gives you more Arcana Points. The only clear loser is “Wrath of the Sorcerers” which gives one unit 2 exp and no other benefit. While it may be easier to target then “Lord of the Warp” it doesn’t seem to have a clear use.
Overall the requisitions are interesting but mainly feel generically chaos-y rather then specific to the Thousand Sons. You get options to turn characters into Daemon Princes or Spawn, though I think it is way to easy to ascend as you can do it after a single battle if you are smart and save up your requisitions. Really, the only Thousand Sons requisition that feels thematic is the ability to give Rubrics and Scarab Occult the option to auto-pass out-of-action tests.
Battle Traits and Relics
Here is where some of the crazier combos begin to “manifest”. The Thousand Sons Battle Traits are okay with none being all that great but their Psychic Fortitudes (upgrades) are really fun. Thrallmaster gives friendly Thousand Son units within range the ability to know all psychic powers that the bearer knows which can greatly enhance the efficiency of your spell-casting. The other two fortitudes are decent (gain extra Cabal points and targeted smites) but are hurt by being once per game.
Ironically, the Thousand Sons don’t get a super relic but do gain the option to purchase relic spells. These can only be bought with Arcana Points which is a little disappointing and you are limited to only one relic or spell which is different from the normal distributions (though it does slow down the absolute murder train of a character you can build). Most of the relics are “meh” but the spells are quite decent. One can inflict up to 5 mortal wounds and will heal you for each one inflicted, another gives you the ability to Doom an enemy unit, finally the top tier one allows you to hand out Trans-Human to a friendly Arcana Astartes unit (pairs well with dreadnoughts).
Honestly I am a little disappointed in this book. Where the Ork codex had rules that influenced how you conducted the campaign the Thousand Sons are much more bland. There are some similar attempts made in this codex to encourage players to do specific actions but once you play a few battles you can run out of models to use Arcana Points on. Additionally, I feel a lot of the upgrades feel more generic rather then faction specific. One good thing this codex provides is a blue print for a generic Chaos set of crusade rules to tide players over until that book is released.
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