Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (2024)

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (1)

In this article series we’re taking a look at the vehicle options available to each faction, looking at what they can do on the table, and talking about when and how to field them. For the Thousand Sons we’re also including Magnus, Daemon Princes, and the Mutalith Vortex Beast. You can find our Competitive Faction Focus article on the Thousand Sons here.

The Thousand Sons took quite a beating with the point changes in the Q3 dataslate, losing 2-3 units from most of their armies and the ability to meaningfully take multiple Mutalith Vortex Beasts. As a faction they already tended to rely more on their infantry and allied daemons, and so little changed with regard to their use of vehicles. That said, there are still a couple of units in their vehicles/monsters list worth considering, and circ*mstances in which they might make your list.

There are a lot of vehicles in this list which also show up in Codex: Chaos Space Marines. For the most part, they’re worse across the board here, as they all lack the ability to take a mark of Chaos and benefit from Dark Pacts as a way to boost their damage output. This also means they don’t have the ability to get re-rolls to hit and wound with Profane Zeal that units with the Mark of Chaos Undivided do so when you’re wondering why all the same units are fine in CSM but not good enough for Thousand Sons, that’s a big factor.

The other big challenge with most of the vehicles in the Thousand Sons army list is that they don’t contribute Cabal Points to your cause. This means if you’re taking one or more you’re weakening your army elsewhere, typically taking away its ability to Doombolt and Twist of Fate every turn, especially once you’ve lost a unit or two. That’s a major part of your offensive output, and so any vehicle or monster you add to your list without Cabal of Sorcerers needs to help make up for that. This was made worse by the Q3 point changes, which have made points so tight that taking a borderline unit is a luxury you just can’t afford.

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Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (2)

Magnus the Red

The Daemon Primarch of the Thousand Sons got a big points hike in the Q3 dataslate but he’s still an extremely powerful and necessary component in successful Thousand Sons lists. Magnus is extremely fast despite his size – 14″ Movement with FLY – and tough to boot, clocking in at T11, 16W, and a 2+/4++ save. And he’ll need all of that because he’s a big target and a priority for opponents.

Let’s start with Magnus’ abilities. He comes withDeep Strike, Deadly Demise D6, and Cabal of Sorcerers 4, which is about on par for the faction’s “1 Cabal Point per 100 points” rate on characters and units. He has two Datasheet abilities:

  • Lord of the Planet of the Sorcerers (Aura)is an Aura ability that gives friendly Thousand Sons Psyker units within 6″ +1 to Hit and Wound rolls on their Psychic Attacks. This is a huge boost to powers like the Infernal Master’s Screamer Invocation (especially if you paid to upgrade it via an Enhancement to be S7/D2) and, more importantly, inferno combi-bolters being powered up with Ensorcelled Infusionto be S5 and PSYCHIC. Suddenly having a unit of Terminators throwing out 40 AP-1 shots that hit on 2s and re-roll 1s (thanks to a Terminator Sorcerer) and wound on 2s against T4 targets can be absolutely devastating, or they can punch up effectively against vehicles.
  • Crimson Kinglets Magnus pick one of three abilities at the start of each battle round. Note that this is battle round, as one of the abilities is defensive:
    • Impossible Form (Psychic)gives incoming non-Psychic attacks -1 Damage.
    • Treason of Tzeentch (Psychic)lets you pick an enemy unit visible to Magnus and within 24″ at the start of your opponent’s Shooting phase. Their ranged weapons gain HAZARDOUS for a phase.
    • Time Flux (Aura, Psychic)gives friendly Thousand Sons units within 6″ +2 to their Move characteristic.

Realistically you’re never using that middle ability. You’re either going to be going with -1 damage on incoming attacks to protect Magnus when you need to keep him around or you’re going to use Time flux to get extra movement on all your units, and of those two Time Flux is a much more powerful effect – extra movement is huge when you’re working with lots of marines who only move 5″ normally and giving Magnus or nearby vehicles (or the Mutalith) +2″ of Movement gives them some real threat range when you need it.

But do you need Magnus getting in close? Well, probably – the big guy has a pretty impressive arsenal to work with. Let’s talk about Magnus’ weapons – he’s got two ranged attacks he can throw out every Shooting phase. These are both PSYCHIC attacks, so note that he’ll give himself +1 to hit and wound with them. That’s great for shrugging off any effects that might give him -1 to hit, and means that these will punch up when it comes to wounding. Also note that they’ll either Have Lethal Hits, Sustained Hits 1, or Devastating Wounds thanks to your chosen Detachment Bonus – this makes Magnus one of the best targets for the Devastating Sorcery Stratagem.

  • Gaze of Magnusis a 24″ range PSYCHIC shot that does 3D3 attacks, hitting on a 2+ with S9 AP-2, 3 damage and Devastating Wounds. This is a solid reason to give your army Sustained Hits for a turn, as being able to power out an extra Devastating Wound or two with the gaze is a huge benefit.
  • Firestorm of Tzeentchon the other hand offers a bigger benefit if you picked Devastating Wounds, throwing out D6+3 S5 AP-1 2-damage shots with Blast. Not amazing, but a fine gun with some solid shots that also gets +1 to hit/wound and can be nasty if you’re fishing for devastating wounds with Devastating Sorcery.

Magnus is one of the army’s best shooting units, but he’s also one of your best melee threats. His Blade of Magnus has two modes – the Sweep Mode gives you 14 attacks hitting on 2+ at S8 AP-1, 1 damage, while the Strike mode gives 7 attacks at 2+, S16, AP-3, 3 damage with Devastating Wounds. And both are Psychic, so they also get +1 to hit and wound and if you’re on Sustained Hits with the Strike you’re liable to get an extra hit or two to work with. That Magnus can FLY is also relevant, as he’s fast enough to fully clear enemy units to then charge more vulnerable targets, and can also punch a non-Hover plane out of the sky in the rare situation where that arises.

Magnus is just an incredible unit. He’s fast, he can hit hard, he has great OC (6) and acts as a solid force multiplier. If you’re building a Thousand Sons list for competitive play you need Magnus as your jumping off point; even at 440 points he’s just that good.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (3)

Mutalith Vortex Beast

Probably the second-most important unit in the list, and the only non-VEHICLE. Once a unit you’d take multiples of in a Thousand Sons list, the Mutalith now is more a one-of, but a one-of you reallywant to have along for the ride. As a body, the Mutalith is pretty fast – 10″ movement, and moderately tough – T10, 13W, and a 4+/5++ save backed with a 5+ Feel No Pain – with a very solid melee profile (15 S7 AP0 attacks for its maw or 5 S9 AP-2 4 damage attacks from claws) and a ranged attack with three different modes that are all pretty solid depending the target you want to go after. The three ranged options you have are a 24″ D6+3 shot Blast weapon that hits at S9 AP-2, 2 damage – great for taking out medium and heavy infantry – a high-powered 1-shot S18 AP-4 D6+6 damage shot with Devastating Wounds for going after vehicles, and a 12″ 2D6 Shot S6 AP-1 ignores cover torrent shot for some extra overwatch nonsense. Those are three very attractive weapon profiles though tragically none have the PSYCHIC tag attached to them to make them combo with Magnus.

Where the Mutalith really shines is its abilities. It has two – the most important of these isImmaterial Aura,which lets friendly Psyker units within 6″ double the range on their Rituals. That means 36″ Doombolts and Twists of Fate, and that’s a huge and important boost, in particular making Doombolt even better for hunting enemy Lone Operatives. It lets you play much more defensively, keeping a comfortable distance from enemies you’d rather not end up in melee with as you blast them to death with mortal wounds. Speaking of which, the Mutalith’s other ability is no slouch, either – Mutating Vortexgoes off at the end of your Movement phase, having you roll a D6 for each enemy unit within 6″ of your Mutalith. On a 2-3 that unit takes 1 mortal wound, on a 4-5 they take D3, and on a 6 they take D6. After that, each enemy unit in range of this ability (regardless of whether they suffered any wounds) has to take a Battle-shock test. This is a very solid way to get out some extra mortal wounds, and makes the Mutalith even more dangerous if it gets close.

Ultimately the Mutalith just does a lot of really great things the Thousand Sons want – it can fight well in melee, it can push out mortal wounds, it can shoot things, and it makes Rituals better. Its only downside is being a bit expensive at 165 and unusually vulnerable to mid-tier weapons thanks to only having a 4+ base save – the Feel No Pain means it takes a while to kill, but you aren’t going to laugh off massed AP-1/2 firepower in cover like some units.

Thousand Sons Daemon Prince

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As with the other Chaos marine factions, the Thousand Sons have Daemon Princes in two varieties – Winged and on foot. The foot version is the more useful of the two, and likewise the more expensive of the two options despite being slower – clocking in at 195 to the Winged variant’s 180. The Daemon Prince gives you a somewhat fragile body for a monster – T10, 2+ Save, 10 wounds with 7″ Movement, and contributes two Cabal points to your Rituals. What he brings to the table is being a solid melee fighter and two relevant abilities:

  • The Daemon Prince has a Psychic melee attack with a sweep and a strike mode. In Strike mode it has 6 attacks at S8 AP-2, 3 damage. This is just OK until you add in the Devastating Wounds benefit from your Detachment, and with a boost from Magnus can punch up pretty well.
  • His first ability,The Weave of Fate,lets you give a friendly unit of Rubrics or Scarabs within 6″ PRECISION for a phase once per battle. This is situational but potentially powerful, and can be helpful for taking out key targets like Spiritseers, Technomancers, Trajann, or Abaddon – though note you’ll have to actually kill the target to make doing this worthwhile, and for tougher targets that’ll take more than five warpflamers.
  • His other ability,Glamour of Tzeentch,gives friendly Thousand Sons units within 6″ of him the Stealth ability. This is extremely good, and pretty much 70% of the reason to take this model. -1 to be hit isn’t going to make up for bad deployment, but it can be a solid boost in survivability that your units that keeps them on the table one extra turn.

All of this combines to make the Daemon Prince a borderline unit. Unfortunately points in the list are just a little too tight right now and he doesn’t quite make the cut, though he was before the Q3 dataslate. You can still build an OK list with him in it, but you’re likely going to regret not taking other, smaller options just to have more characters to work with. If he had a good Psychic ranged attack it might be enough to get him over the hump but as-is he’s going to be cut for something else.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (4)

Thousand Sons Daemon Prince with Wings

The winged version of the Daemon Prince is faster and has Fly, but only comes with T9 and different, less useful abilities.Sorcererous Firelets you pick a unit you move over after making a Normal move and roll 9D6. For each 6 you do a mortal (average: 1.5).Aetherstridelets you pick up the Winged DP at the end of your opponent’s turn if he’s not in Engagement Range and Deep Strike him in your following Movement phase. That’s pretty nifty but neither of these is good enough to make taking this guy worth it and his movement shenanigans make him the more expensive variant.

Thousand Sons Defiler

There’s nothing special about the Thousand Sons Defiler, who still costs way too many points since you have to pay for both mediocre ranged firepowerandmediocre melee prowess. While it does have a few decently high-strength shots, it doesn’t do anything to synergize with the rest of your army and so isn’t worth bringing in your lists. You’re better off taking another Mutalith.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (5)

Thousand Sons Forgefiend

Another borderline unit, the Thousand Sons Forgefiend has a neat, unique ability… that you’ll just wish was the same as the one on the CSM Forgefiend. The Forgefiend is an 8″ vehicle with T10 and 12 Wounds and comes with an Ectoplasma cannon (you’ll never take the jaws) and a pair of either Hades Autocannons or Ectoplasma Cannons. These are solid weapons, though the better pick are the Ectoplasma Cannons, thanks to being AP-3. This gives a plasma Forgefiend 3D3 S10 AP-3 3 damage shots at 36″, which is pretty solid, even if you can’t turn them into Devastating Wounds or reroll them all. The benefit you *do* get isBlazing Salvoes,which lets you pick one unit hit by this model in the Shooting phase and until the start of your next turn that unit is suppressed, getting -1 to its hit rolls.

All of that’s not bad, but it’s not good enough to make the Forgefiend worth using, either. This guy is far from the must-take of his CSM cousin, and more a fun novelty who is better off replaced by a Mutalith.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (6)

Thousand Sons Helbrute

The Thousand Sons Helbrute is a standard Chaos Helbrute who comes with theArcane Knowledge Amidst Babbling Insanity (Aura)ability, which gives you 1 Cabal Point each time a Ritual is done by a friendly Psyker within 9″. That can amount to an extra 1-2 Cabal Points per turn, which is helpful… but not necessarily as helpful as just having 1-2 more cabal points from a character you take instead. That said, the Helbrute can pack an OK gun (twin lascannon), and a helbrute fist or hammer to give you a tiny amount of melee threat you won’t otherwise get, and it comes with a 5+ invulnerable save you don’t normally see on Helbrutes, just in case you need to survive the occasional melta shot. Helbrutes show up every now and then but usually don’t make the cut.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (7)

Thousand Sons Heldrake

My poor, sweet idiot child. The Heldrake is the faction’s lone Aircraft (though it can Hover), and comes with your choice of a Baleflamer (12″ D6+3 shots at S6 AP-1 2d with Ignores Cover and Torrent) or Hades Autocannon (36″ 6 shots, S8 AP-1 2 damage). It can also fight in Melee, to some extent, where it has 5 attacks which hit at S7 AP-1 2 damage but with Anti-Fly 2+ and Devastating Wounds, making it hilariously OK at killing Jump Infantry.

The Thousand Sons Heldrake’s ability isFlame-Wreathed –after it ends Normal move you can pick one enemy unit it moved over and until the end of the turn that unit cannot have the benefit of Cover. This is mostly interesting for Scarab Occult Terminators and Bolter rubrics, whose AP-1 inferno bolters will most benefit from it, or for Forgefiends, but you aren’t likely to take the latter. It’s pretty much wasted if you’re going heavy on Warpflamers with your Rubrics.

With Stormravens and Stormhawks suddenly showing up in Marine lists again it can be tempting to see the Heldrake as suddenly worth taking a flier on (ha ha), but ultimately the big turkey doesn’t do enough on the table to merit its points cost. You’d need some crazy luck to land all five wounds on a Stormhawk Interceptor and even when you’re living that dream you’ve just thrown your Heldrake at a unit that costs 35 fewer points. If the Heldrake came down in cost by about 40 points it’d be worth a discussion but probably still only showing up as a one-of at best.

Thousand Sons Land Raider

Thousand Sons Land Raiders are just chaos land raiders, albeit ones with inferno combi-bolters and inferno combi-weapons on top. They move 10″, come with a 2+ save and 16 wounds, can hold 12 models or 6 terminators, and you can declare a Charge after disembarking out of them. Given your army really does not want to be blasting forward and charging, that’s mostly a wasted ability, and only carrying 6 terminators means they aren’t great for the large block of Scarabs strategy some lists opt for. At 240 points, Land Raiders just eat up too much of your army’s precious points and don’t bring much to the table Thousand Sons armies need – the best they can offer is four lascannon shots.

Thousand Sons Maulerfiend

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The Melee version of the Forgefiend comes with a solid melee profile (fists do 6 attacks at S14, AP-2 and D6+1 damage), and 10″ movement, but ultimately costs about the same as a Mutalith, who does the melee part nearly as well while also having shooting, mortal wounds, and buffing nearby psykers.

The Thousand Sons have two predator variants – the anti-vehicle Annihilator and the anti-infantry Desctructor. The Annihilator comes with a twin-linked lascannon on its turret and the ability to re-roll damage rolls of 1 against Vehicles and Monsters. The Destructor comes with a 4-shot, 3-damage, Rapid Fire 2 autocannon and it improves its AP by 1 (to -2) when shooting at Infantry targets. Predators are pretty mobile (10″ movement) but otherwise the firepower isn’t really what you’re looking for.

The Thousand Sons Rhino is pretty much your standard Rhino, plus the ability to take inferno combi-bolters and weapons. Otherwise it’s a 12″ transport that holds up to 12 guys. One Rhino shows up in almost every list, giving your Rubricae some protection from Nightspinners and Whirlwinds, along with the ability to stage mid-board (or shoot soulreaper cannons or psychic shots out of the Firing Deck). Some particularly Rubric-heavy builds take two, though that’s less common than in other Chaos factions.

The Thousand Sons can take Vindicators. They’re solid little T11 2+ save tanks with nasty guns but without the damage output boosts and re-rolls they get in Chaos Space Marines they’re just not good enough to see play here.

The Thousand Sons get a lot of mileage out of Magnus and the Mutalith, with the occasional Rhino and Helbrute showing up in successful lists. Ultimately the rest of the faction’s vehicles just don’t do enough to merit inclusion in most lists while also curtailing your Cabal points just through their inclusion. There are still a few fringe plays for the likes of Forgefiends and Vindicators if you’re feeling adventurous, but those are more fun than super-competitive.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us atcontact@goonhammer.com.

Unit Focus: Thousand Sons Vehicles and Monsters (2024)
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