Chapter Approved 2018 - Thousand Sons

Competition, December 15, 2018

Chapter Approved is out and I’ve got a write up on everything you’ll find inside.

See my pre-Chapter Approved write up of Winners/Losers from this update

The Dust Has Settled

Chapter Approved is officially out and we need a quick run down on how this is going to affect Thousand Sons. Let’s take a quick tour through what’s changed and how they will likely change the Thousand Sons armies we see on the table.

Points Updates

There were a lot of points updates in this year’s Chapter Approved, not just for Thousand Sons. Across the game many units that were seeing low use have been given significant discounts to try and adjust the balance of the game. This isn’t going to fix the problem for everyone, including the elephant in the room (Power Armor), but it should lead to some more variety in a lot of places.

In fact, the amount of point reduction doled out has lead me to use my own personal rule of thumb that if a unit did not receive a point reduction, it was in effect nerfed. Ahriman, Daemon Princes, and Magnus all fall into this category if you think about it.

The good news is, we see some discounts for our Rubric Marines and Scarab Occult Terminators but, will it be enough?

Significant Updates

First of all, here are the units available to Thousand Sons that have seen significant reductions in points (more than 15 points), not including war gear. These are just the base costs for the unit.

Key Reductions

Sorcerer in Terminator Armor - as I mentioned in my winners and losers post this guy was one of the key updates we saw in this round of updates. His reduction was so much that with a Familiar, he is cheaper than an Exalted Sorcerer. Chances are we’ll be seeing this guy in a lot more lists as one of the key HQ choices.

Daemon Engines - all of the Daemon Engines have been given steep point reductions, including the Mutalith, which is what of our key support models to assault units. Of these, the Forgefiend is probably the only one who will likely not see much increase in use due to hitting on 4s (5s if it moves). Meanwhile, the Mauler and Mutalith will be that much cheaper for you now, both having great rules on the table currently. The Mutalith especially is almost and auto-include now if you run Tzaangors.

Contemptors - not everyone runs Forgeworld units, but they exist and are totally legal to take in your Thousand Sons army. In Chapter Approved these guys received some massive point breaks dropping them into a very attractive point slot between Helbrutes and Predators. I think we’ll see a lot of these guys with Butcher Cannons (also cheaper) running around with the men of dust.

Unlikely to Change

Land Raiders, Forgefiends, Heldrakes, Drop Pods all have some type of issue with their role or function rather than just being over-priced. Take the Forgefiend for example, it was overpriced like it’s melee brother the Maulerfiend. The issue is that the Forgefiend only has a BS of 4+ and suffers the penalty for moving and shooting heavy weapons. This means, just to continue hitting on 4+ you need to buff him with Prescience or Blasphemous Machines or both if you decide to move him. Thats not good at all.

Heldrakes, also suffering from being overpriced, would have been quite a bit more attractive in this round of updates had they not completely changed the FLY rules in BIG FAQ 2. But even if we pretend the old rules are still in place, the all-in price for a Heldrake still sits north of 160pts. Sure, you’re paying a premium or some great movement but is it really worth the points for D6 Auto-hitting S6 shots? Probably not.

Of note from the rest of the folks in the pile of significant reductions, Land Raiders and Drop Pods are still waiting for coach to put them in. It’s not really clear what role either of these are supposed to play a game where cheaper transports exist and using deepstrike has been nerfed with every core update to the game.

Other Point Changes

Next up are the rest of the point changes, which were not as steep as the ones we just covered. Still, many of these will have significant impacts on the structure of Thousand Sons lists going forward.

Key Changes

Cultists - this is the big one everyone is talking about, as they have gone up in price. We’re likely going to see many of the lists that involved spamming as many Cultists as you could go away. As you add more and more of these guys to your army, it adds up, where even the smallest change possible (like in this case) can have serious impacts to the rest of the army.

Thousand Sons will likely feel a pinch from this rather than a full blown punch to the gut like Chaos Space Marines. The reason is that Thousand Sons lack the stratagems to really make strong use of these guys. Typically, they fill out a slot in a Battalion troop requirement where the point impact will be very minimal.

The bottom line is Cultists are still good on the table. The price going up simply means we see less of them.

Sorcerers - an unexpected reduction for sure, but a welcome one none the less. Getting a little bit of the edge taken off, Sorcerers will remain the cheapest HQ option Thousand Sons have, continuing to see lots of use as their basic profile is still super solid. Two casts, access to two disciplines, and all you give up is the re-roll 1s to hit aura found only on the Exalted Sorcerer

Rubric Marines - these guys are now in a battle with Plague Marines for the top notch Marine in Chaos Space Marine armies. You’ll now be able to field a basic 5-man squad of Dust Boys for under 100pts, which is great for sure. Is it enough to solve the issues with them and any other Power Armor units in the game? No, but we should be thankful for a point reduction.

Here’s the thing, Rubric Marines had great rules when the Index came out. So too did Tactical Marines and their cousins throughout the game. The problem came along with other armies gaining cheap access to multi-damage weaponry, meaning it’s everywhere focker, and that sort of defeats the real in-game advantage you get to taking the more expensive and lower count option. In many cases you’re better off just taking the cheapest option you an to fill out your detachment requirement and Thousand Sons, which one of the most compelling options in contrast, may still be in that situation.

Scarab Occult Terminators - if Rubric Marines are barely usable, these guys are pretty much staying on the bench. They suffer from the exact same issue highlighted above but cost exceptionally more in points. The plan here from GW is probably to throw a bone with a little point drop and begin game planning on what changes will fix Terminators in the game in 9th edition. The changes to basic Power Armor units is likely to cascade into Terminators so, changing one in isolation will be tough.

Helbrutes - let’s get back to our awesome news on point reductions and talk about the Helrute. He’s been a popular option for folks who like to get a cheap gun platform on the table. Well, he’s getting even cheaper, with reductions to not only his base cost, but to both of the most popular weapon options for him - the Twin Lascannon and Missile Launcher.

As we saw this guy in plenty of armies, we’re probably going to see a trio of them become much more common. Personally, I like the options of getting a Fist or Power Scourge on one to make use of him in assault. The Crazed rule can really start to stack up the more often you have a chance to use it, which is a unique advantage to taking the Plasma Cannon, which you guessed it, got a point reduction.