‘We do not need saving,’ spat the man. ‘We do not want saving. You are a devil, one of the fallen angels, and the Stormlord’s retribution will be mighty when His fire turns on you and your faithless sons.’
‘I almost feel sorry for you,’ said Magnus. ‘You have been fed banal lies and told it was golden truth.’
‘No, for I have seen the truth. When death takes me, I will be numbered among the blessed.’
‘You think death will be your salvation?’
‘I know it will be.’
‘Then I am doing you a favour,’ said Magnus, and snapped the man’s neck.
Let’s take a quick journey back to late 2019. A bright eyed Mike Pestilens has travelled down to Virginia with his friend Chris, and is excited to play in his first GT ever. He knew very little about competitive play, but he knew he liked wizards and wanted to bring lots of magic. To fulfill that goal, he wrote a list with just way, way, way too many Psykers. The list was utter nonsense, bringing 3 detachments with the maximum amount of Psykers in each detachment. The centerpiece was Magnus, who in the wild world of 8th Edition could co-exist in a detachment with Ahriman and two other Sorcerers. A Lord of Change with the Impossible Robe headlined the Daemons detachment, while a Malignant Plaguecaster brought 3 Plagueburst Crawlers along with him to screen everyone else.
To protect Magnus, I brought the Changeling. Being able to use the Changeling’s aura on Magnus was a bit of a janky interaction, but one I was happy to take advantage of while it remained legal. Surely the Changeling would have gotten new rules by, say, May 2022, and I had to use this interaction before the next Daemons codex removed it.
I decided it was time to get back to my wargaming roots. A 16 person RTT provided the perfect excuse to try out some of the Thousand Sons lists I had been writing since the Armour Of Contempt update. I couldn’t decide between my Cult of Time and Cult of Duplicity lists (or my Thousand Sons + Alpha Legion soup list which has just been crushing everyone in testing), so I decided to go with the one I had the most paint on.
On to the list!
SANITY IS FOR THE WEAK!
- Thousand Sons Supreme Command Detachment
- Magnus The Red
- Cult of Duplicity Battalion
- Ahriman on Disk: Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Glamour of Tzeentch, Weaver of Fates
- Exalted Sorceror: Doombolt, Temporal Surge, Athenaean Scrolls
- Infernal Master: Empyric Guidance, Egwhatever’s Orrery, Master Misinformator
- 1 x 5 Rubric Marines: Icon of Flame, Bolters, Temporal Surge
- 2 x 10 Cultists
- 2 x 10 Scarab Occult Terminators: Presage, Doombolt
- Reinforcement Points: 105
It’s no secret that Scarab Occult Terminators are strong right now. Their defensive profile matches up well with many of the threats in the game right now. Their firepower (especially when buffed) is very strong into many of the strongest armies. They are great at both skirmishing at range and bullying areas of the board, and you can’t go wrong starting with 20 in any Thousand Sons list you’re writing.
But you don’t care about that battalion! You want to know about the summoning points and Magnus. So let’s dive a bit deeper into the thinking behind those.
Let’s start with Magnus. He definitely had a counter synergy with the rest of the list. The rest of the list was durable units that could be Obscured, while Magnus is a huge liability and glass cannon unless he gets a perfect matchup. The one positive aspect of Magnus is that he gives you complete domination in the psychic phase. It’s impossible for opponents to get a key damage power through when you have a 3d6 + 2 rerolling deny.
Every time the meta shifts away from long range firepower, I consider bringing Magnus off my shelf because of how strong he is as a Psyker. With T’au the only common army that can nuke him the second he shows up, now is as good a time as any to run him. I just accept I am often starting with 6 CP instead of 9 to reserve him if they have lots of 36″+ firepower.
The summoning points are my unique twist. I think people are massively sleeping on summoning options in Thousand Sons lists. One of the main interactions in this list was someone summoning a Changeling to give Magnus a feel-no-pain on the turn he comes in from reserves, but there is a lot more cool stuff you can do. The flexibility to just drop down a massive horde of Brimstone Horrors when you need to soak up Maleceptor mortals is a great option to have, as is being able to drop Furies onto midfield objectives. Thousand Sons in their codex have units that are fast, and units that are Infantry, but not both.
You can choose your psychic power when you summon a Changeling or Changecaster, which gives you some cool options. I usually go for Gaze of Fate so I can get a bunch of rerolls when stacked with the prayer for a free reroll, but fishing for +1 Toughness on Magnus with Boon Of Change is also a neat option. You can also choose to summon the right Tzeentch Daemon damage power for the situation.
I’m not saying summoning in Thousand Sons lists is going to flip the meta on its head, but I encourage you to at least try it and think about ways you could use it. One of my Cult of Time lists goes way heavier on summoning, and it’s consistently performed well for me into very tough armies.
Round 1: Parker’s Imperial Guard (W, 97-40)
Secondaries: Bring It Down (15), Stranglehold (12), Stranglehold (15)
I’ve played Parker before, and we always have a good time. He’s got a cool Napoleonic vibe going for his custom Guard regiment. The centerpiece for him this time was an awesome converted Baneblade, which featured the new GW antenna installation to make it look like a command vehicle.
In terms of how the game played out, just being honest, it was Guard with a Baneblade. There was only one way it could really go. I knew that literally the only things in his list that could hurt my Scarabs were his two Demolisher tanks, so I teleported one Scarab squad and redeployed/warptimed the other to get angles and kill one and bracket the other right away.
Sometimes in the early rounds of a tournament you reach a situation where there is a clear mismatch in terms of lists and competitive goals for the event. When a situation like that happens, the most important thing is for both players to keep their spirits up and have fun hanging out in ways that aren’t directly tied to the game. While Guard weren’t the matchup I wanted in terms of seeking the hardest tests possible, I’m always happy to play Parker and commend him for showing up with Guard at this point in 9th Edition.
Round 2: Taylor’s House Raven (W, 88-48)
Secondaries: Bring It Down (15), Stranglehold (12), Psychic Interrogation (6)
With the dataslate update restoring mono-Knight lists’ objective control tricks, Knights are back to being an army you need to at least consider when writing your lists.
The MVPs of this game were the Scarab Occult Terminators. I thought I had just gotten lucky during the game, but was a bit shocked to find out later how good the math of Thousand Sons into Knights was. With Twist of Fate to strip invulns from the Knights, a block of Terminators with the buffs averages 23 Wounds to a Knight chassis. Add in the fact you can pour all that damage through one-way obscuring mirrors and throw out a ton of Mortal Wounds, and you have a recipe for a very favorable matchup. I just had to use Cultists and Rubrics to move block gaps in terrain for a turn or two to buy time, and the game played itself from there. I’m actually confused now how Thousand Sons can ever actually lose to Knights unless the Thousand Sons player majorly misplays the game.
My biggest mistake was taking Psychic Interrogation. I had killed all 3 Characters by turn 2, so was unable to score that Secondary any more. I couldn’t leave a Knight alive to farm Interrogation, because for 1CP they can act at full bracket and could randomly spike big damage into me.
It’s always cool to see Knights on the table and I know Taylor has been playing them for a long time, so I look forward to playing his new list once they get their new codex.
Round 3: Tim’s Ulthwe with Dark Harlequins Support (W, 75-40)
Secondaries: Banners (9), Wrath of Magnus (9), Psychic Interrogation (6)
Before I get into the details of this competitive matchup, I need you to stop and appreciate the freehand on my opponent’s minis. I mean seriously, just look at this pic! None of it is transfers, Tim painted it all himself.
Tim’s list was a mix of the meta Eldar and Harlequins list with his own twist. He had some Swooping Hawks, some psykers, some bikes, two Harlequins transports with some Troupes and a melee character in them, and other supporting units. Tim’s twist was to add a Lynx, a flat 3 damage hover tank that benefits a lot from the Ulthwe reroll and mortal wound protection. While it never had a single turn where it shredded me, the Lynx consistently did reliable damage downfield and more than earned its points back by the end.
I really wanted to go second in this game so I would always know how many kills I needed to score Wrath of Magnus. With only a couple Psykers, I knew he was going to need them casting buffs instead of smiting me so I felt very confident in that Secondary. Psychic Interrogation seems like a bit of an odd pick into Eldar, but he had no deny bonuses and I felt confident with my casting bonuses and ability to make a cast undeniable. I ended up not scoring Psychic Interrogation on the first two turns because he had his Characters tucked in the back and I would have had to overextend. The flip side was that he had taken Psychic Interrogation, and if I wasn’t scoring it then he likely wasn’t scoring well on it either and I was okay with that.
I got to use one of my favorite little Thousand Sons tricks this game; I cast 4 Smites and then used Cabal Points to auto-cast the next Smite on a 9 and return a destroyed Terminator in front of the squad. Getting diet Cult of Time feels great when you’re also getting the mobility of Cult of Duplicity.
I reserved Magnus this game, and was unsure about that decision in hindsight. There really wasn’t that much long range anti-tank in my opponent’s list outside of the Lynx, which would do an acceptable level of damage. Magnus did wreak some havoc out of reserves, mowing down some pesky Swooping Hawks with psychic powers and then clearing off an objective next turn with his mobility and damage.
Tim did a good job denying my damage early. I was hitting on 4’s regardless of Presage all game because of combinations of innate -1’s to Hit/Dense Cover/Lightning Fast Reflexes. I played very conservatively because I knew he would have difficulty digging my Terminators out of cover with his 1 damage shooting, so I could pick and choose my spots. He eventually whittled down my Terminators and killed off all 20 by turn 4, but the firepower that had required meant Magnus was running around unscathed at the end bullying objectives. We ran out of time and didn’t get to play turn 5 unfortunately, but I was going to max my Primary and have another effective turn of psychic secondaries.
I really enjoyed this list. It’s easy to view an army like Thousand Sons as “solved” because all anyone wants to focus on is the Scarabs. While they’re legitimately great, don’t be afraid to experiment with your own variations. Throw in something like summoning points, Magnus, or soup options and see how well it works out for you.
If creative competitive lists are your style, I’d love to work with you on making your fun or weird Chaos idea into a competitive list or provide some direction to your collection. If you’re interested in supporting the growth of Warphammer and quality 40K writing, feel free to check out Patreon.com/Warphammer and join the team. Additional benefits and coaching are available.
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Published: May 3rd, 2022. Last Updated: May 3rd, 2022.
This Post Has 3 Comments
When I’ve been running pure Thousand Sons I’ve quickly found a favourite secondary in Mutate Landscape. Especially when paired with stranglehold. What was your thought process for picking Psychic interrogation against the Knights? Or Avoiding Mutate all together?
And as for your Alpha Legion list, What are you infiltrating at the start of the battle, If anything? Or were you using them to hold back-field objectives with the durability buff?
Great read and love to hear about big red on the table…. I’d love to hear some insight into Alpha Legion/Thousand Sons lists as I’ve been looking into more soup recently
Hell of a paint job from Tim!