In this month’s exemplary battle for the Horus Heresy we look back on an old story of the Thousand Sons, drawing on ancient lore from… November 2021. The XVth Legion has always been a fan favourite, so let’s dive in and find out exactly what Magnus did wrong this time.
The story this month is simple, drawn from only five sentences in a timeline from White Dwarf 470. Axandria IV was one of the first worlds brought into compliance by Magnus the Red, and served as a pillar of what the Thousand Sons hoped to achieve in this brave new world, with libraries and centres of learning built in the style of Prospero. Following the Burning of Prospero and the shattering of their Legion, the planet operated as a place for wayward legionnaires to regroup and draw their strength together. This, naturally, could not stand, and Malcador the Sigilite dispatched a second censure fleet to break this final redoubt of the Thousand Sons and ensure the destruction of any forbidden knowledge horded. The story here covers the breaking of the Sinsilantia, the largest pyramid fortress upon the planet, and shows the Numerologist Cabals leading psychically powered automata and using their strategic might to delay the Imperium’s finest. Through psychic trickery, shenanigans, and good old fashioned plot armour the Thousand Sons are triumphant, bearing away the secrets once stored within their pyramid and leaving the Loyalists owners of a dead and broken world. There’s really not much to the story; it’s decently written, but we have no heroes or villains, only a tepid expansion of a throwaway White Dwarf paragraph. Andy Hoare admitted the difficulties in finding exemplary battles for a Legion already demolished by the time the Heresy starts, but it’s still disappointing to not learn anything new about the XVth.
Thousand Sons Numerologist Cabal
We’ve encountered members of the Order of Ruin several times in the Heresy so far, including Ignis (instrumental in the Traitor’s successes during Solar War) and depictions of their ties to the Mechanicum in Inferno. On the tabletop, they’re an Elites choice, which hurts a bit as the Thousand Sons already have four Legion specific Elite units, containing a Numerologist and four to nine Life Ward bodyguards. The Numerologist has a Centurion’s statline but one less attack and no refractor field, but gains a Servo-arm and Achean force-axe, while the Life Wards are simple Despoiler marines. Most of the Numerologist’s options are the same as a Techmarine, though you can take a Cyber-familiar for 15 points (never do this – he doesn’t have an Invulnerable Save from another source, so that 6++ isn’t going to safe you). One Life Ward can take a Nuncio Vox (potentially neat, as you’ll be parked near vehicles which could include template weapons), an Augury Scanner (much less useful, since you don’t have much firepower in this unit for Interceptor and will probably be hiding away so won’t impact Infiltrate), and one may take either a Volkite Caliver or Rotor Cannon for… some reason.
Look, you’re not taking this unit to do damage. They have almost no ranged potential, and nothing spicy in close combat that a normal Despoiler squad wouldn’t have. You’re taking these to make your other shooting units terrifying. Instead of being able to select a Minor Arcana as normal, the Numerologist has the Psy-synchronicity psychic power. If you pass the Psychic check, you get a geo-locator beacon, allowing you to reroll all failed Reserves and, much more importantly, two friendly units within 6” of the Numberologist gain +1 to BS. Coupled with his Servo-arm, the Numerologist should be hiding up the back of your army next to tanks, reducing the chance of your Kratos, Sicarans and other heavy armour missing by half. Failing the check means you take Perils of the Warp, but hey, that’s what the Life Ward is there for, to soak up that damage.
Speaking of Life Wards, they grant the Life Warded special rule, meaning you can never allocate a wound to the Numerologist while one is alive, regardless of any enemy special rules. This is vital, because that little bubble of +1BS is going to start drawing a lot of fire, especially in an edition with Nemesis Bolters as scary as they are. The only exception is if the Numerologist accepts a Challenge but, if he refuses, your opponent can’t stop one of your models fighting, which is nice. Gotta keep that book nerd alive some how!
Another neat option is to walk them behind a unit of Castellax-Achea Automata loaded to bear with as much Asphyx as they can handle. Those robots can pump out a lot of Shredding firepower…
Breakout from the Sinsilanita Legendary Mission
A simple Age of Darkness sized game this week, 2500 – 3000 points recommended on a 6’x4’ board with Clash of the Line deployment (triangles coming in from short table edges). It’s an… odd board, with buildings and ruins being deployed within 6” of the board edge outside the Attacker’s territory, leaving almost all of the table bare other than rubble, bunches and barricades. Sure, Axandria IV has been levelled, but this is going to hurt walking into a shooting heavy army. The Defender can’t use Reserves, and neither side can Infiltrate outside of their deployment zone.
There’s a couple of other oddities here, with this clearly being a first edition scenario reskinned for a new game – the rules around determining Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers have changed, but the wording and rules for the old version are used here. Ignore it; it’s a relic of a darker time.
Two objectives are placed, one by each player, within 10” of the centre of the board, with each worth 5 VP to the attacker and 3 VP to the Defender, with the Defender also scoring 1 VP for each Attacking unit slain. This is… really, really tough for the Attacker, to be honest. Assuming each side holds an objective, the Defender only has to destroy three units to win; not exactly a challenge in a game as brutal as the Horus Heresy. I know these scenarios have a winner defined by history and the setting, but it’s rarely fun to walk into a game knowing you’ve lost before the game begins.
The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.
This is a really solid unit. For 130 points (probably going to 180 to get a few more ablative wounds in), the ability to hand out +1 BS to two different units can be nasty; sure, you could buy a Predator for that, but the forge multiplication of getting that bonus exactly where you need for the situation you find yourself in shouldn’t be underestimated. The story is bland and the Legendary Mission is perfunctory and forgettable, but this is an excellent addition to the XVth Legion’s arsenal.