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Sunday, 16 August 2015

All is Dust: In Defence of the Thousand Sons


Thousand Sons rubric marines cop a lot of flak in the online community. Today I want to try to convince you that they're awesome and that you should always take them. Even if you don't play Chaos.

They're Pretty Awesome

The Thousand Sons were once a proud and powerful legion, fighting in the Great Crusade on behalf of the the Emperor and Mankind. However, their's is a tragic story of betrayal. Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons dedicated his life to the search for knowledge. This ultimately led him down the path of sorcery, seeking to unlock the secrets of the Warp, to aid his father in conquering the galaxy. His sons all had a latent psychic ability of some kind, using them to devastating effect in battle. 

At the Council of Nikaea Magnus was cast aside by his brothers and his father. Condemned by the other Primarchs for the use of psychic abilities; sorcery, a forbidden, dangerous practice that they each indulged within their own legions. Magnus and his legion were then betrayed by the Dark Gods, set upon by the Space Wolves, hell-bent on destroying the legion to punish them for breaking the Emperor's law. 

Lastly, Magnus was betrayed by Tzeentch. In the early days of the legion, Magnus made a pact with the capricious Changer of Ways. A terrible curse of mutation had sundered the legion, reducing them to only 1,000 in number (get it?!). In exchange for the stability of his warriors, Magnus sacrificed his eye, leaving him a cyclops. After the legion fled to the Warp in the wake of the attack on Prospero, their home planet, the flesh change once again took hold over the legion. At this time Ahriman, chief Librarian and second in command of the legion performed the Rubric. Hundreds, if not thousands, of the Thousand Sons' Librarians were killed, overwhelmed by the psychic confluence. Attempting to alleviate the legionnaires of the mutative curse, the spell destroyed the physical forms of all but the most powerful psykers in the legion, leaving them as animated suits of armour. Automatons.



Are They Any Good In-Game?

First off: the basics. You have to buy them at squad level. Minimum 5 (including Aspiring Sorcerer), maximum 20 (including Sorcerer). You get a basic marine's statline, a bolt gun, no grenades, no bolt pistol and no close combat weapons. The Aspiring Sorcerer gets a force weapon and a bolt pistol. All this for 23pts a pop. 

So far so terrible. 

But what else is hiding in this neat little package? For that, we have to look to the special wargear. 

Exhibit A: Aura of Dark Glory. This little puppy, combined with the Mark of Tzeentch as standard is what really makes this unit shine. That's a basic marine, at 3+/4++. Not too shabby, all things considered. This makes them a great 'camping' unit. They can sit on an objective, anywhere on the board and just tank shots all day long. I've used them to great effect as speed bumps as well. Tooled up close combat specialists will still struggle against a full unit packing a 4++, who still fight back with the same skills as your standard marines (not great, but not terrible). Their durability, however, won't relegate them to the backfield. Indeed, the backfield is a bit of a waste when you take into account their other great strength.

Exhibit B: Inferno Bolts. These are AP3 Bolt Shells. That means that most Marines, 'Crons, Orks, Guard, Tau and even those dickhead Eldar won't get an armour save against these bad boys. Get them nice and close in a Rhino or with some psychic shenanigans and Rapid Fire your way through the enemy with ease.  


Speaking of rapid firing, let's look at the Special Rules. The main utility for this unit used to be Slow and Purposeful. This used to mean being able to move while firing at full effect, with the penalty of always moving through difficult terrain. The changes to rapid fire weapons means that this has lost a bit of its use with these guys, but the change to the rule meaning that they no longer suffer the penalty to movement off-sets this to a degree. Now they can move their full 6" and fire their bolt guns, and then charge in the same turn. This makes them very dangerous at close range, being able to rapid fire (with a possible 39 shots) with their AP3 guns, and then charge in and mop up what's left. Sadly this rule prevents them from firing Overwatch, so you have to move them cleverly to make sure you can get the charge.

Other than that, they have Fearless, which is very handy. It means they are a very useful tarpit; the enemy has to wipe them out with their attacks, not being able to sweep them, even if winning the combat. They also have Veterans of the Long War. This rule has limited utility as it only comes into play against loyalist marines. But as marines are so common, it will come in handy more often than not. 

Tips and Tricks

Of note with Thousand Sons is that your squad champion is an Aspiring Sorcerer. This guy is a level 1 psyker with the Discipline of Tzeentch. He automatically gets the primaris power, as well as another randomly rolled power and Force. Here lies the sneaky trick for this unit. You get a warp charge die just by taking this unit in your army. Therefore, the unit really shines in a psyker-heavy force. Taking a Sorcerer with Mark of Tzeentch means they count as troops, so you can take a few squads to boost your warp charges and buff your main caster. The Aspiring Sorcerer is also a handy bloke to have as he has a Force Weapon and the ever useful 4++. This means that the pain-in-the-arse 'Champion of Chaos' rule isn't so bad. He has a decent chance of withstanding an attack and can then snipe out a character with Force, or just cut down sergeants with AP3. Then, if he wins the challenge, he gets a nice little buff from the Boon table. 



For me, the best thing about this unit is the lack of options. This might sound odd, but honestly, it makes life that much easier. You can take melta bombs if you're struggling with anti-tank, or you can give the unit an Icon for Soul Blaze. But, honestly, I wouldn't bother. These guys are great as a 'straight out of the box' option. I think the ideal way to use them is in a Psyker-heavy Tzeentch/Thousand Sons themed army. Take a Sorcerer with Mark of Tzeentch (either dirt cheap for the troop unlock or buffed up to Level 3 and gubbins), a MoT Level 3 Daemon Prince, and then MSU the Thousand Sons for durable, effective troops that just add to the Warp Charges. Sprinkle in some Daemonology to taste and then plug the gaps in your force (most likely a lack of bodies) with free Daemons.  You can protect the sorcerer with a cheap unit of ablative wounds Cultists. Get some fire support for anti-tank and a Heldrake or two to claim the skies and go nuts.

Pros:
  • Durable 3+/4++
  • Low AP
  • Reliable
  • Extra Warp Charges
  • Force
  • Fearless
Cons:
  • Expensive (points wise)
  • Old models (though there are some nice 3rd party kits out there)
  • Slow
  • No grenades or Overwatch limits their combat utility.


I'll be running a small force in a 1,000pt tourney
in the next few weeks, so we'll see how they go.

How do you rate the Thousand Sons?

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