TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2022, Part 14: GHO and LSO Prep

Hello again, Dear Reader! Time has been slipping away from me quite rapidly these days, reducing my ability to follow up on my previous article in a timely fashion. In my last outing, I attended the June Asgard RTT, lost a game (and a bet) to Carmine’s Custodes, and finished 3rd, with an additional best painted award for my trouble. Fun times. That was also my last Nachmund game – now it’s on to Nephilim! But first, let’s talk hobby.

Hobby Prep for the GHO US Narrative

One of the big things we’re trying to do for the US Goonhammer Open Narrative event is have a bunch of fortifications ready for players to use on specific asymmetric missions. So I’ve been painting fortifications. A lot of fortifications. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

In total, the list of items I’m sending up to Maryland for the event is:

  • 6 bunkers
  • 8 wall of martyr trench lines
  • 3 gun emplacements
  • 3 aegis defence lines
  • 5 quad guns
  • 5 icarus lascannons
  • 1 void shield
  • 1 Firestorm Redoubt

When those arrive, they’ll be joining another set of trench lines, 2 more bunkers, 2 bastions, a fortress of redemption, and a plasma obliterator. The idea here is to have a large pool of free fortifications for defenders to use in missions that require it, such as the “Planetfall” mission that kicks off the campaign. Defenders get free fortifications and attackers get preliminary bombardments to soften those defenses. Also, some of the fortifications can shoot at other tables.

On top of that, I’m painting two Ridgehaulers for a special mission during the campaign in which players attempt to hit the supply lines of one of the defenders. I want one of the Ridgehaulers to be carrying a tank of some kind (instead of just another crate), which meant making one. Fortunately, I have a couple of mechanicus incinerators lying around from Kill Team Nachmund that I can use for this. I can just saw these in half and stitch them back together.

A bit of green stuff in the gaps and a coat of leadbelcher primer later and I’m pretty happy with how this turned out – looks pretty natural, and the size is about right. All ready to go on the Fury Road mission I’m writing.

Testing Out the Black Legion

With the new Codex Chaos Space Marines finally out, I believe my time with Thousand Sons is quickly approaching its end. I’ve been hankering to return to the standard legions of Chaos for a while, and I wasn’t entirely sure which army I wanted to bring. So I decided to whip up a quick list of Chaos Space Marines to try out the Black Legion. Here’s what I ended up running:

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [89 PL, , 1,695pts] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ HQ [16 PL, -3CP, 295pts] +

Lord Discordant on Helstalker [10 PL, -2CP, 190pts]: 2. Indomitable, Aspiring Lord [-1CP], Baleflamer, Mark of Tzeentch [1 PL, 15pts], Techno-virus injector

Master of Possession [6 PL, -1CP, 105pts]: 5. Trusted War-leader, Aspiring Lord [-1CP], Chaos Undivided, Pact of Flesh, Warp Marked

+ Troops [10 PL, 190pts] +

Cultist Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ cultist firearm [45pts]: 9x Cultist firearm, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion [5pts]
. . Autopistol and brutal assault weapon

Cultist Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ cultist firearm [45pts]: 9x Cultist firearm, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion [5pts]
. . Autopistol and brutal assault weapon

Legionaries [6 PL, 90pts]: Chaos Undivided
. Aspiring Champion [18pts]: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. 4x Marine w/ astartes chainsword [72pts]: 4x Astartes chainsword, 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

+ Elites [33 PL, 625pts] +

Chaos Terminator Squad [19 PL, 345pts]: Mark of Khorne [1 PL, 15pts]
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Accursed weapon
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Accursed weapon
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Terminator Champion [33pts]: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter, Trophies of the Long War; Black Rune of Damnation [-1 CP]

Possessed [14 PL, 280pts]: Possessed Champion [28pts]
. 9x Possessed [252pts]: 9x Hideous mutations

+ Heavy Support [30 PL, 585pts] +

Chaos Vindicator [7 PL, 140pts]: Vindicator siege shield [10pts]

Forgefiend [8 PL, 175pts]: 2x Heavy hades autocannons [50pts], Ectoplasma cannon [15pts]

Obliterators [15 PL, 270pts]
. 3x Obliterator [15 PL, 270pts]: 3x Crushing fists, 3x Fleshmetal guns

++ Supreme Command Detachment +3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [15 PL, 2CP, 300pts] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ Primarch | Daemon Primarch | Supreme Commander [15 PL, -1CP, 300pts] +

Abaddon the Despoiler [15 PL, -1CP, 300pts]: 3. Merciless Overseer, 5. Eternal Vendetta, 6. Paragon of Hatred, Stratagem: Warlord Trait [-1CP]


The list starts on only 2 CP but I was pretty confident I could both get some of that back using Trusted War-Leader and also it just wouldn’t matter given I was still learning the army’s stratagems anyways and could stand to have less to work with. The general idea here is to have the Terminators hold the middle, possibly with Abaddon, while the Possessed and Obliterators are more mobile threats. In retrospect, a full unit of 10 Possessed was a bonkers idea, and something I wouldn’t do again in the future. The Forgefiend isn’t particularly good but I had one painted.

It’s not an optimized list but at this point that’s OK – I’m mostly trying out a bunch of things and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Game 1: vs. Dan’s Chaos Knights

The Black Legion take on Dan’s Chaos Knights

Ah, my old enemy. Dan’s running Chaos Knights, with two big knights – an Abominant and a Desecrator – plus a host of War Dogs. We’re playing on the mission Data-Scry Salvage. This one goes pretty well for me – I take Engage on All Fronts, Bring it Down, and Despoil Dominions. I win the first turn roll-off and use it to swing around Dan’s flank and capture an objective. My goal is to pick off the War Dogs and generally leave his nigh-unkillable Abominant be. Sure his big knights are nasty but if I can take out 4-5 war dogs on a hold 2/hold 3 map he’s basically dead on primary alone.

This goes pretty well and I’m able to rapidly outpace him on primary while slowing him down, then I take out the Abominant and Despoiler anyways.

Result: Win, 96-40

Here’s what Dan had to say about his list and the game:

Hello again!

With the GHO Narrative coming up soon, I decided it best to keep on getting practice with these big spiky robots, and Rob was happy to oblige with some games. I won’t say too much here that I didn’t already touch on last time: the list has two big knights for durability and then seven war dogs for mobility elements.

In my practice games outside of Rob, I’ve cooled off quite a bit on the prospect of running two big knights. I think that puts my army in the worst of both worlds for Chaos Knight playstyle: I lack the mobility of a list with only one big and at least ten War Dogs, and I lack the sheer durability that a three big knight army can bring. Depending on how these games go, I may switch to the one big knight approach and drop the Abominant, who’s not quite as dangerous or provides as much utility as my Desecrator does, and then go wider on the War Dogs.

Game 2: vs. Erik’s Craftworlds

My second practice game of the day is against my other common sparring partner, Erik. He doesn’t get enough credit, but I firmly believe that Erik is one of the best players in the Houston area and playing against him is always a treat. It’s a frustrating treat however, as he usually finds some way to beat me with his elf bullshit and today is no exception.

In the wake of changes to Hail of Doom and the secondaries, Erik has refined his list, changing it from a custom Craftworld to Ulthwe, and jettisoning his Webway gate in order to get more value out of the Hidden Path secondary objective. Now he’s sporting a pair of Fire Prisms, two units of 10 dire avengers, Asurmen, Eldrad, some Howling banshees and striking scorpions, some warlocks, some rangers, and an Avatar of Khaine.

The mission here is The Scouring and it immediately becomes clear to me that secondary objectives are going to be a problem. Unlike the previous mission, where I could count on Bring it Down for easy points and Engage on All Fronts where I could deploy in three separate table quarters, here I’m faced with a long walk across the table if I want to get wholly 6″ inside a given table quarter. That’s not good, and Erik’s list just doesn’t want to even cross midfield, instead attempting to lock me out all game with the ruins and pick off units that walk into his killzones. I lose the possessed to some early over-aggressive moves but manage to staunch the bleeding with the Obliterators and I keep bringing them back to do damage.

Result: Loss, 84-87

Ultimately this ended up being a very close game but things turned Erik’s way on turn 4 and I couldn’t close out. A big part of this was just having really bad secondary objectives to work with – something I’ll address in a moment.

This is, surprisingly, a losing board state

Evaluating Codex: CSM and Black Legion

Alright so with some practice games under my belt and another read-through of the book, how do I feel about the various units and rules the faction is working with? Here’s where my head is currently at:

  • Abaddon’s a must-take in Black Legion, but possibly a liability anywhere else. In fact, I’m generally of the mind that the hoopla over him is overblown. Don’t get me wrong – he’s very, very good, but he’s a melee-only threat that’s just very hard to kill, and he only moves 6″ per turn. It’s a little too easy to run around him, and while he’s been good in the games I’ve played with and against him, he also hasn’t really turned the game. Plus, the army is full of great melee threats, such as…
  • The Lord Discordant is the best unit in the book. There’s so much versatility to this guy and he can just be an absolute beast in melee. I like him a lot and can’t imagine running a chaos marines list that doesn’t include a Lord Discordant right now.
  • Chaos Space Marine Secondaries are really bad. Like, put a hard ceiling on the faction bad. There’s no way to sugarcoat this – the secondary options for CSM suck. Rise to Glory is probably the best of the non-legion secondaries, and it depends heavily on you killing specific units with your characters. For some reason, most of the legion secondaries – black legion included – are Shadow Operations, meaning they replace Raise the Banners/Retrieve Nachmund Data, two reliable, decent scoring secondaries that the faction is already good at, making these secondaries a lateral move at best most of the time. On top of that, CSM are just not good at doing psychic actions since the army only has HQ psykers and the one you’ll take – the Master of Possession – needs to be casting powers every turn, not doing Interrogation. The net result is that CSM lists struggle to score points, particularly outside of the 3-4 legions that have OK secondaries, and this likely caps the faction as a tier 3 player right now. Which is real tough.
  • Chosen are a great deal. A 25-point, 3-wound power sword model is a hell of a deal and I’ve been more impressed with Chosen in the games I’ve seen them than possessed or terminators.
  • Taking 10 models of Possessed in one unit was a mistake. Next time I’d do 2×5. More mobility and also it helps me avoid the extremely painful situation of losing Possessed to morale, which happened in my game against Dan’s knights.

Making Decisions for LSO

With only a week until list submission, I needed to make a decision at this point for the Lone Star Open – do I stick with Thousand Sons, a tier-2 army that I’m pretty comfortable with, or make the jump to CSM, which I’m going to do at some point anyways? On the one hand, CSM had some cool stuff going for them, and I really want to play with my Abaddon model. On the other hand, I’ve only had a few games with them and am nowhere near the comfort level I’d want to be at for a big event like the Lone Star Open. Plus, I still had some hobby work to do there and I’m waiting on the Possessed models to release. So I figured I’d stick to Thousand Sons.

Even sticking to Thousand Sons has some questions that need answers, however – as I covered in the Faction Focus article, the Thousand Sons got several point drops and adjustments that change how the faction plays. I’d need to reconfigure the army a bit to come up with something competitively viable, and ideally I’d test that and finalize it before the lists were due.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Building a Nephilim Thousand Sons List

Building a Thousand Sons list these days generally goes one way: You start with 20 Scarab Terminators, 3 units of Rubrics, an Infernal Master and two of Ahriman/Exalted Sorcerer/Daemon Prince. That leaves you with about 500 points to spend, so the question is how you’re going to fill those out. My initial goal was to try and plug that hole with something I’d already painted. At first, I thought I’d try Magnus. Magnus is a big threat and while you can’t hide him, he’s a value add in some matchups, like Tyranids, Custodes, and other Thousand Sons. his ability to just completely shithouse things with mortal wounds is a big bonus, and he’s a capable melee threat. But in some matchups he’ll just get instantly and immediately vaporized and that’s an issue.

Game 3: vs. Dan’s Chaos Knights

Squaring up against Chaos Knights again

So I got in another game against Dan’s Chaos Knights. Dan’s usually good for the occasional weekday game and that’s super helpful. I even offered to feed the guy. This time around we were playing Recover the Relics and I won the first turn roll-off. I then proceeded to try and tell Dan he could go first anyways, but he also wanted to practice going second. This game was kind of hilarious – Magnus dropped in and killed two war dogs T1, which then promptly exploded (Dan’s units explode 80% of the time at my house), doing some mortals to the Despoiler. Then the Despoiler and the Abominant shot him off the table.

On the whole, the game was a rout – taking out Dan’s flank early hurt him bad, and I killed off most of the war dogs on rounds 1-2. Chaos Knights with an Abominant are a nice little treat for Thousand Sons, who get to “switch on” some of their better rules with little risk.

Making Adjustments

I just really didn’t like Magnus in the army. Beyond just him not working with Wrath of Magnus, I didn’t like how he took important casts away from other psykers, or forced me into Smites with them in order to be able to cast useful things himself – saving him for last in order to take advantage of his easy smites too often left me saying “well shit, there’s nothing good left to cast,” which isn’t ideal.

That said, taking Magnus out left me with a big hole to fill. Going back to what I’d painted, I decided to try filling that with a Leviathan and a Mutalith Vortex Beast, plus an unpainted Tzaangor Shaman I’d have time to paint for LSO.

Game 4: vs. Russell Tassin’s Black Legion

Deployment vs. Russell

Russell is a prominent Chaos player who I’ve wanted to play against for a long time. As the top Black Legion player in the ITC last year, he pioneered a number of great lists and piloted them to impressive finishes at a time when the faction was largely dead, and I’ve written about his lists several times in different Start Competing articles. We’ve been trying to get games in for months now, but something has always come up. However we’re both going to the Lone Star Open and so the day before list submission, we were finally able to get together for a game.

The Mission: Tide of Conviction

Russell’s running black legion, with this list:

Russell's List - Click to Expand

++ Supreme Command Detachment +3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [15 PL, 300pts, 2CP] ++

Legion: Black Legion

Abaddon the Despoiler [15 PL, 300pts, -1CP]: 3. Merciless Overseer, 5. Eternal Vendetta, 6. Paragon of Hatred, Stratagem: Warlord Trait

++ Battalion Detachment -3CP (Chaos – Chaos Space Marines) [91 PL, 1,700pts, -2CP] ++

Legion: Black Legion

+ HQ +

Daemon Prince with Wings [11 PL, 180pts, -2CP]: 1. Flames of Spite, Aspiring Lord, Gifts of Chaos, Hellforged sword, Infernal Gaze, Intoxicating Elixir, Mark of Slaanesh, Wings

Lord Discordant on Helstalker [10 PL, 190pts, -2CP]: 4. Soul-eater, Aspiring Lord, Baleflamer, Gorget of Eternal Hate, Mark of Slaanesh, Stratagem: Relic, Techno-virus injector

Master of Possession [7 PL, 120pts]: Mark of Tzeentch, Mutated Invigoration, Pact of Flesh

+ Troops +

Cultist Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ cultist firearm: 9x Cultist firearm, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion
. . Autopistol and brutal assault weapon

Cultist Mob [2 PL, 50pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon: 9x Autopistol, 9x Brutal assault weapon, 9x Frag & Krak grenades
. Cultist Champion
. . Autopistol and brutal assault weapon

Legionaries [6 PL, 90pts]: Chaos Undivided
. Aspiring Champion: Astartes chainsword, Boltgun
. 4x Marine w/ boltgun: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

+ Elites +

Chaos Terminator Squad [19 PL, 375pts, -1CP]: Mark of Slaanesh
. Chaos Terminator: Chainfist, Combi-melta
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-melta
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-melta
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Chaos Terminator: Accursed weapon, Combi-bolter
. Terminator Champion: Black Rune of Damnation, Chainfist, Combi-melta, Trophies of the Long War

Chosen [15 PL, 275pts]: Chaos Icon, Mark of Slaanesh
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen: Bolt pistol, Boltgun
. Chosen Champion: Boltgun, Plasma pistol

Possessed [7 PL, 140pts]: Possessed Champion
. 4x Possessed: 4x Hideous mutations

Possessed [7 PL, 140pts]: Possessed Champion
. 4x Possessed: 4x Hideous mutations

+ Fast Attack +

Chaos Bikers [5 PL, 90pts]: Chaos Undivided
. Biker Champion: Astartes chainsword
. 2x Chaos Biker w/ astartes chainsword: 2x Astartes chainsword, 2x Combi-bolter, 2x Frag & Krak grenades

++ Total: [106 PL, 2,000pts] ++

Russell’s list starts on 0 CP but is leaning heavily on some strong datasheets. After deployment I’m pretty sure I want to go second against it, if only to force Russell out into the open with his units so I can respond by shooting them apart.

My Secondaries

  • Wrath of Magnus
  • Psychic Interrogation
  • Engage on All Fronts

Russell’s Secondaries

  • Rise to Glory
  • Despoil Dominions
  • The Long War

Russell’s run into the same problem I’ve had as Black Legion – terrible secondary objectives. He can’t take Abhor thanks to the Master of Possession and so he’s left with a real bad set of objectives to pick from. My goal will be to stay out of melee for as long as possible and whittle down his forces before they come crashing in. I don’t love Engage here and taking it is probably a mistake, since I want to play more defensively – I just don’t have any other options I particularly like to replace it. Banners might have been better, all things considered.

I want to go second this time but instead I get the first turn and that means being a bit more aggressive. There’s plenty of room on Russell’s flank here to work and so that’s what I go for – my thinking is that I can cripple his Terminators and create a distraction he has to address that’ll catch him out of position and force him to the side with both units of Terminators. I Crystal a unit of Scarabs to his flank and Facade an Exalted Sorcerer over there, then open up. The psychic phase goes horribly – I score 1 mortal wound, but I’m able to kill 7 terminators in the shooting phase. Tragically, they pass their Leadership test, and it’s over to Russell. It’s not great, and I was really hoping to get the entire unit but sometimes the dice are like that.

Then on Russell’s turn I realize I’ve made a horrible mistake.

See this ruin the Terminators are standing behind? I thought this ruin was impenetrable – you’d have to walk over or around it. That’s how we generally play it.

The Terminators cower away from gunfire

But Russell – a bit more acquainted with FLG terrain rules – knows much better than I do on this. That box is a ruin and he can put models on the first floor – it’s effectively a “magic box” that infantry can move into and through without being seen. So while I’m foolishly thinking Abaddon’s path to my Scarabs looks like this:

In reality, it’s this, and I’m in immediate danger of a charge.

I wasn’t thinking about this at all and in retrospect I am extremely glad I played Russell and he reminded me of this – I’ve spent too much time playing on GW layouts and would have gone into LSO completely ignorant of this until it was used on me in a real game. As it is, Russell will not only use the ruin to make an Overwatch-free charge with Abaddon, he’ll use the building to hide Possessed and Terminators all game, making me repeatedly pay for the mistake. This is a good time to learn this lesson!

Abaddon crashes into my Terminators and, as you might expect, wrecks them, taking out 8 models. They in return completely eat shit on their attacks and do no damage back. Russell also moves up his cultists for a charge to try and screen Abaddon the following turn.

I teleport the terminators away and go to work trying to retaliate, and I’m able to wipe out the Cultists – though my dice in this psychic phase are abysmal. The highlight of the game comes when, on an early cast, I roll a 12 on Smite, and opt to perils in exchange for the super smite. Russell tells me that I have to re-roll, because, and I quote “super-smites are always 1 mortal wound.”

“No,” I smugly reply, “that’s just superstition. Watch me roll this 5+ and ice the squad.”

I do not need to tell you what happened next.

ill-fated one-on-one combat

I end up having to spend a smite cast with my Terminators, which keeps them from being able to double move and charge Abaddon. This leaves them with a 9″ charge, but I’ve got Glimpse of Eternity to help make that one easier with a re-roll one/both. I get Abaddon down to 3 wounds, then fail that charge, scoring only an 8. As my Exalted Sorcerer was unable to get out of Intervention range, he makes the charge in a last-ditch attempt to get through a single wound. He does not. Abaddon easily kills the Sorcerer and moves on. He’ll die next turn when my Tzaangor Shaman survives his attacks and pops him on the noggin with a force staff.

At this point Russell is playing too conservatively and I tell him as much – he’s hiding his Possessed and Lord Discordant for fear they’ll be shot up but if he doesn’t do anything with them they’re as good as dead anyways. He presses forward with his Daemon Prince and Lord Discordant and makes me regret that, dropping 12 wounds on a Leviathan that was completely unable to make any 4+ saves, and putting 0 on the Mutalith. He also wiped out the Rubrics when they failed all their saves, which was brutally unlucky for my guys since I needed to keep one of them to hold the objective – now it’s contested and I’m down to 4 points on primary.

This isn’t a good sign

I get a little luck on my turn however – the Leviathan, which whiffed all of its fist and volkite attacks – gets off a single meltagun hit, which I CP re-roll on the DP to cause 7 damage, before the Mutalith finishes him off with mortal wounds to everything within 9″. At this point however, things are looking bleak – I’ve got possessed crashing into my lines and depleting my forces, and I’m getting blanked on Primaries thanks to this being a hold 2/hold 3 mission. I’m winning the secondary battle but it’s not sustainable and I’m going to start losing Engage when Russell kills more of my units so it’s a losing battle from here. I’ll end up scoring all 15 for Interrogation and 11 on Wrath of Magnus but only 6 on Engage – that was my big mistake. Meanwhile Russell will beat me soundly on primary objectives – 45 to 12 – and it helps that this particular mission gives him primary and secondary points for killing units on objectives. Had one of my Rubrics survived the DP, this is a drastically different game, but that’s just how it goes.

Result: Loss, 54-89

Russell played a hell of a game and I learned some extremely valuable lessons from him, particularly as it relates to terrain and player-placed terrain. I’m still unconvinced that the Black Legion aren’t hamstrung by secondary choices – 89 feels as close to his cap as he could get for that mission, and that’s not good – but Russell’s a great player and I won’t be shocked if he finishes in the top 4 at the Lone Star Open. I’m eager to get another game in against him in the future.

Finalizing the List

OK, so those two games were incredibly useful for figuring out what did and didn’t work. Let’s do some quick notes:

What Worked

  • The Tzaangor Shaman. That dude is an all-star. Fast, reliable casting for Psychic Interrogation, and in a pinch he can be good on Wrath of Magnus too. Good to have in the list and really helps shore up my secondary game.
  • Wrath of Magnus. It’s more bookkeeping than I’d like and it works better going second, but I can easily make sure it’s 10+ points per game when it’s on the table.
  • The Leviathan. I am really fond of that big metal idiot. There are probably better options, but he’s always provided enough value to be worth taking, even if it means popping a Daemon Prince in this case.

What Didn’t Work

  • Magnus. I just don’t like how he plays on Wrath of Magnus, which is hilariously ironic, but beyond that his ability to get murdered in a single turn if I don’t get hot on 4+ saves is really not good.
  • The Mutalith Vortex Beast. As much as I love that betentacled idiot, he’s big and not quite fast nor durable enough and I kind of don’t need more mortal wounds that require line of sight. If he had WS 3+ he’d be in the list but as-is, I think he’s better off out of the army at the moment.
  • The Forgefiend. I painted one up before Armour of Contempt with a plan to do two and now I’m probably not going to paint the second (and may move it to a different army). He’s just not providing enough value, particularly when War Dog Executioners exist. Boy, do I miss being able to take those without spending half my starting CP.
  • Engage on All Fronts. This one is really tough to make work, and it’s just kind of a bad secondary for me generally if I’m not on a map starting me in 3 table quarters. I need more bodies for it and more ways to score Shadow Ops.

The Final List

Based on that, here’s where I ended up:

++ Battalion Detachment 0CP (Chaos – Thousand Sons) [103 PL, 3CP, 19 Cabal Points, 1,998pts] ++

Cults of the Legion: Cult of Duplicity

+ HQ [19 PL, -2CP, 8 Cabal Points, 350pts] +

Ahriman [8 PL, 3 Cabal Points, 160pts]: 11. Tzeentch’s Firestorm, 12. Twist of Fate, 21. Presage

Exalted Sorcerer [6 PL, -1CP, 3 Cabal Points, 100pts]: 12. Glamour of Tzeentch, 13. Doombolt, Inferno Bolt Pistol, Master Misinformator, Stratagem: Warlord Trait [-1CP], Warlord

Infernal Master [5 PL, -1CP, 2 Cabal Points, 90pts]: 11. Gaze of Hate, 5. Glimpse of Eternity, 6. Malefic Maelstrom, Stratagem: Relic [-1CP], Umbralefic Crystal

+ Troops [24 PL, 8 Cabal Points, 442pts] +

Rubric Marines [6 PL, 2 Cabal Points, 117pts]: Icon of Flame [1 Cabal Points]
. Aspiring Sorcerer [1 Cabal Points, 21pts]: 32. Pyric Flux, Warpflame pistol
. 4x Rubric Marine w/ warpflamer [96pts]: 4x Warpflamer [12pts]

Rubric Marines [6 PL, 2 Cabal Points, 105pts]: Icon of Flame [1 Cabal Points]
. Aspiring Sorcerer [1 Cabal Points, 21pts]: 22. Weaver of Fates, Inferno Bolt Pistol
. 4x Rubric Marine w/ inferno boltgun [84pts]: 4x Inferno boltgun

Rubric Marines [6 PL, 2 Cabal Points, 110pts]: Icon of Flame [1 Cabal Points]
. Aspiring Sorcerer [1 Cabal Points, 21pts]: 31. Empyric Guidance, Inferno Bolt Pistol
. 3x Rubric Marine w/ inferno boltgun [63pts]: 3x Inferno boltgun
. Rubric Marine w/ soulreaper cannon [26pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]

Rubric Marines [6 PL, 2 Cabal Points, 110pts]: Icon of Flame [1 Cabal Points]
. Aspiring Sorcerer [1 Cabal Points, 21pts]: 21. Temporal Manipulation, Inferno Bolt Pistol
. 3x Rubric Marine w/ inferno boltgun [63pts]: 3x Inferno boltgun
. Rubric Marine w/ soulreaper cannon [26pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]

+ Elites [58 PL, -1CP, 3 Cabal Points, 1,160pts] +

Chaos Leviathan Dreadnought [13 PL, -1CP, 220pts]: Grav-flux bombard, Leviathan siege claw and meltagun
. Two twin volkite calivers

Scarab Occult Terminators [20 PL, 1 Cabal Points, 430pts]: 2x Hellfyre missile rack [20pts]
. Scarab Occult Sorcerer [1 Cabal Points, 40pts]: 23. Temporal Surge, Inferno combi-bolter
. 7x Terminator [280pts]: 7x Inferno combi-bolter, 7x Prosperine khopesh
. Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [45pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]
. Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [45pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]

Scarab Occult Terminators [21 PL, 1 Cabal Points, 440pts]: 2x Hellfyre missile rack [20pts]
. Scarab Occult Sorcerer [1 PL, 1 Cabal Points, 50pts]: 23. Temporal Surge, Inferno combi-bolter, Rites of Coalescence [1 PL, 10pts]
. 7x Terminator [280pts]: 7x Inferno combi-bolter, 7x Prosperine khopesh
. Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [45pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]
. Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon [45pts]: Soulreaper cannon [5pts]

Tzaangor Shaman [4 PL, 1 Cabal Points, 70pts]: 31. Cacodaemonic Curse

+ Fast Attack [2 PL, 46pts] +

Chaos Spawn [2 PL, 46pts]
. 2x Chaos Spawn [2 PL, 46pts]: 2x Hideous mutations


Ultimately I went with one more unit of Rubrics, and added some additional Soulreaper cannons into the mix to eat up the remaining points. This gives me more ObSec bodies to hold objectives, gives me more casts and Cabal Points – I’m on 19 now to start – and makes it easier to score both Engage on All Fronts and Raise the Banners High, while also helping me out a bit on Wrath of Magnus, should I need to go that route. I really, really wanted to fit in a third Spawn but just couldn’t make the points work so the single unit of two will mostly work as screening and harassment. If I come back to this army I may consider paring down the Leviathan for another Spawn and either more Rubrics or a different vehicle threat, but right now this feels pretty good to me.

Of course, the problem was I needed to paint some stuff…

The Last-Minute Hobby Marathon

So while I had a good plan in place for the army, once I clicked “Submit” on my list I realized I still needed to paint quite a few things to actually field it.

Ok, Ok. Everything’s Fine. This is Fine.

In total, the list was:

  • One Tzaangor Shaman, about 50% done
  • One Soulreaper Cannon Rubric, about 50% done
  • Four Warpflamer Rubrics, in various degrees of done-ness
  • One Aspiring Sorcerer, 20% done
  • Two Icon of Flame Rubrics, about 30% done

In total, it was all doable, but quite a bit of work and I was hunched over my painting desk late on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday finishing guys off. Overall I was able to finish them all without sacrificing any of the army quality.

This ended up being a great motivation to push through some final barriers on my Thousand Sons, and now I’m maybe 10-15 models off from completing the army and just being done with them as a project, which is great. They’ve been an incredible pain in the ass to paint but very rewarding and I’m happy to be done with them.

Here’s the final army shot:

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Next Time: The Lone Star Open

With all that out of the way, the only thing left now is to attend the event. I’m driving up with the missus tonight – this year it dropped down to a more sensible six-round event – and I’m hoping for a 4-2 finish if I can manage it. This may likely be the final hurrah of my Thousand Sons, but we’ll see. my next update will recap the event itself, and then I’ll likely have another article about furious painting for the GHO US in a few weeks. Until then, wish me luck.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at