A Thousand Sons: Codex review – Stratagems

I picked up my copy of the brand new Codex Heretic Astartes: Thousand Sons on release day and I’ve been reading it over and over again. To help myself understand it all I thought I’d do a review of it. You’re can tag along for the ride.

I thought I would start with benefits of bringing a Battleforged Thousand Sons army. And there are plenty of perks of bringing a Thousand Sons army. I am really stoked, I might as well admit that. When I look at the Codex I’ll try and have a positive approach to the book, talking about making everything as useful as you can with tips, tricks and whatnot. As per usual, the internet is full of disappointment and negativity. I get it, it’s easy getting sucked up in the negative and only focussing on that. But that’s a lazy approach in my opinion. Lazy but unfortunately quite rewarding. The internet thrives on negative emotion. So if you are looking for all that, well it shouldn’t be too hard to find elsewhere.

Bear in mind, I’m just an average player. I don’t have that savant like ability to see combos or layered synergies straight off the bat. Well, that all said and done let’s dive into the rabbit hole and see who deep it goes.

Before we’ll look at the details of the book let share some general impressions: The book resembles the Chaos Space Marines Codex, it is another Codex Heretic Astartes after all but beware, there are tweaks and changes where you might not expect them – wargear, rules or shared Stratagems. It feels like they put a little extra effort into the book rather than just copy paste shared stuff. It feels like a proper Thousand Sons Codex and not a Codex Supplement of past editions. And it feels strong and unique. One of my most favourite aspects of the book is all the possibilities presented when it comes to list building and strategies. You can play your Thousand Sons in many different ways, from magical might, to overwhelming midrange firepower, to close assault madness, and all of that is of course most welcome.

Stratagems of the Thousand Sons

There are 22 Stratagems available to a Battleforged Thousand Sons army. They are unlock by bringing a Thousand Sons Detachment.

I broken the Stratagems down and ordered them by when you can use them (by phase). I think this helps a lot. With 22 Stratagems we got a long way to go. Buckle up!


Webway Infiltration (1/3)

This is Stratagem is going to be an integral part of most Thousand Sons list. While the Stratagem isn’t new new, the Aeldari have the exact same one, it is just so useful for Thousand Sons. It allows you to Deep Strike one or two Thousand Sons Infantry units and with that we suddenly overcome our greatest weakness – the lack of mobility.

I will use it to drop a screening Cultists unit to protect my Scarab Occult Terminators from close combat and maybe a unit of Rubric Marines to add pressure on the enemy. Another prime candidate would of course be a big horde unit of Tzaangors.

Before the battle begins

Relics of the Thousand Sons (1/3)

The standard “add more relics” Stratagem that we see in every book. I can’t see myself bring two additional relics but one is more or less auto-include. Helm of the Third Eye is a great second relic as it will probably earn back its cost and more.

Inferno Bolts (1)

Pick a single Bolter type weapon on Thousand Sons Vehicle, that weapon is equipped with Inferno Bolts (the weapon gains Ap-2). Decent Stratagem as there’s not much to complain about when it comes to Inferno Bolt fire but the Stratagem is a bit lacklustre. I can’t see myself using this Stratagem very often.

Any phase

Soul Flare (1)

Use this Stratagem when a Thousand Sons Aspiring Sorcerer or Scarab Occult Sorcerer dies to make him go supernova. Enemy units within 6” take a Mortal Wound on a roll of 4+ (6+ for Vehicles and Characters). The Stratagem is circumstantial so it’s not something you bank on using but it’s a great trick to have up your sleeve.

The Flesh-Change (1)

This is how Tzeentch rewards his own – pick a Thousand Sons Infantry Character. The Flesh-Change overcome that Character and it is slain. Place a Chaos Spawn within 6” (no reinforcement points needed). Since you can place the Spawn within 1” of enemy unit (no restrictions on placement), I think that one of the best uses is to sacrifice a doomed Character to stop a enemy from advancing/charging or just tagging a scary shooting unit. Look at this Stratagem as a desperate last move.

Movement phase

Sorcerous Pact (1)

When you are about to preform a Daemonic Ritual spend one CP to roll 4d6. 4d6 got an average roll of 14. Wow, that’s great! But wait there’s more, you cannot suffer Mortal Wounds for rolling doubles or triples. This makes summoning extremely reliable and completely viable strategy for Thousand Sons. If you set a side 200 something reinforcement points you can bring on a big unit of Horrors to flood the board with bodies, Flamers to ease a unit or Screamers for a very fast CC threat. And that’s without having to pick Codex Chaos Daemons. Great Stratagem and of course staple for any summoning list.

Psychic phase

The Great Sorcerer (1)

This Stratagem allows you to cast one additional Psychic Power. Not a spell that you’ve already cast though. Just one more than you normally can manifest. Not bad but very situational, there will undoubtedly be times when an extra power would help you. Sometimes a lot. A few more mind bullets to finish off a unit for example. But still that’s one CP not being spent on stuff like Veterans of the Long War.

Cabalistic Focus (1)

Cursing an enemy unit with something as devastating as Death Hex is potentially game winning. It’s for these moments that you have this Stratagem. Get +2 on your Psychic test if you are close to two more Psykers (not hard in this army). You can quite easily get +3 and even +4 if you tool up correctly. This is one of those Stratagems you can build you army and strategies around. It’s a good Stratagem.

Chaos Familiar (1)

Spend 1CP to exchange a Psychic Power already you know for a new one. Ok, a first it doesn’t sound that spectacular but then it hits you. Pick any spell, from any discipline. This gives your Sorcerers instant access to the Discipline of Tzeentch. Still not that great, you say. Well, have one of your Aspiring Sorcerers drop Smite and take Gaze of Fate instead. Every turn you get a free Command Re-roll (ok, not quite since you have to make the reroll in your turn). That’s just plain amazing.

Shooting phase

Linebreaker Bombardment (1)

This Stratagem is shared across all Astartes, both Loyalist and Traitors. It is powerful but requires a substantial investment in points. If you have three Vindicators close to each other you use this Stratagem instead of shooting. Pick a point within 24” all units within 3” of that point suffer 3d3 Mortal Wounds on a 4+ (5+ for Characters and 3+ for hordes).

This isn’t a shooting attack so you can Move and Advance during the Movement phase for extra range. The problem is that this Stratagem requires that you either take first turn or else you need to bring at least four Vindicators for a little redundancy. Having only three Vindicators leaves you too vulnerable. Those Vindicators will draw a lot of fire.

Fire Frenzy (1)

Stand still with your Helbrute and fire twice. Second round of fire at the closes visible enemy unit. Placement of you Helbrute is essential here. Excellent Stratagem if you bring Lascannon and Missile Launcher Helbrutes. Personally I think Thousand Sons need assault Helbrutes more than more shooting. That said, you can’t really complain about this Stratagem.

Daemonforged (1)

This is Veterans of the Long War for Thousand Sons Daemon Engines cranked up to eleven. The Stratagem give you reroll to hit and reroll to wound for a Daemon Engine in either the Shooting or Fight phase. The damage output for your Daemon Engines will skyrocket when using this Stratagem. It’s an all star Stratagem – my Forgefiend loves it.

Coruscating Beam (3)

Your Thousand Sons Warlord uses his Silver Tower to punish enemy gunlines cramped up units. Instead of shooting pick two visible points 9” apart and draw a line between them. Any unit beneath the line suffer d3 Mortal Wounds on a 4+ (5+ for Characters). The potential damage output isn’t bad. Once per game only. But at 3CP you’ll probably never use it.

Killshot (1)

The other universal Astartes Stratagem. Killshot gives your Predators a boost against Vehicles and Monsters (+1 to you to wound and damage rolls) You need theee Predators close together (6”) and much like Linebreaker Bombardment you might want to bring four tanks for redundancy. Pretty good Stratagem but it not so flexible as it requires that your list is built around it.

Blasphemous Machines (1)

Pick a Vehicle that moved in the Moving Phase, you can ignore penalties for moving and firing Heavy weapons or advancing and firing Assault weapons. It’s not bad at all. More mobility never hurt nobody.

Veterans of the Long War (1)

You know it, you love it (or hate it, depending if you are on the receiving side or not). Veterans of the Long War is probably the single best Stratagem in the entire game. Pick a Thousand Sons Infantry unit, that unit get +1 to any to wound rolls in that phase. Suddenly your Inferno Bolters wound T7 stuff on a 4+ and big blobs of autogun Cultists wreak screening units. This Stratagem is game winning. And the best part, you can use it first in the Shooting phase and then again in the Fight phase or even in the enemy’s Fight phase.

Baleful Vortex (1)

A Stratagem for your new and shiny Mutalith Vortex Beast. After it used its Vortex power, roll a d6 and automatically manifest that power too. Might be useful.

Fight phase

Daemonforged (1)

Same as above.

Warpflame Gargoyles (1)

Pick a Thousand Sons vehicle (not Helbrute nor Heldrake), roll a d6 for each units within 3” and on 4+ (6+ for Characters and Vehicles) the unit suffer d3 Mortal Wounds. Sure it is circumstantial but it can be a game changer. Too bad that you can’t use it on Heldrakes. Maulerfiends are your go to option I guess.

Veterans of the Long War (1)

Same as above.

Boon of Tzeentch (1)

This is the CSM Boon of Mutation slightly tweaked for Thousand Sons. If you kill a Character, Vehicle or Monster in the Fight Phase with a Character, Tzeentch bless/curse you. Roll 2d6, worst case you turn into a Spawn. Most things are really great, but why waste CP on this even you can access the Boon table with a Psychic Power.

Fated Mutation (1)

Tzeentch loves your Spawn. Spend a CP to pick what Mutation to use in the Fight Phase and reroll your number of attacks too. Not bad at all and this Stratagem makes me want run loads and loads of Spawn.

Vengeance for Prospero (1)

We hate the Space Wolves really very much, you see. With this Stratagem you trigger Death to the False Emperor on a 4+ rather 6+ when fighting Space Wolves. Extremely useful for units like Scarab Occult Terminators or Tzaangors.

Cycle of Slaughter (2)

Lets wrap this up with a real killer Stratagem, pick a Tzaangor unit at the end of the Fight Phase, that unit can fight again. Boom! So good. Tzaangors have lots of decent attacks (S4, Ap-1), can bring big units cheap and add one to their charge roll. What’s not to like?


Oh my, that was a lot words. I think I stop here for now. Next time I’ll take a look at the rest of the rules for Battleforged Thousand Sons armies.

Please drop a comment and let me know what you think.

10 thoughts on “A Thousand Sons: Codex review – Stratagems

  1. Great write-up. I just got my book yesterday but haven’t yet cracked the shrink wrap. Not that I’m in a hurry to do so right now since I’m knee-deep in Nurgle Daemons, but still, my TS have been waiting to come out for many editions now, and I think 8th is when they’ll make a proper painted debut!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thousand Sons have been my favourite faction since I got back into Warhammer some 10-12 years ago. With a new (and absolutely brilliant) range of minis and now finally a Codex of our own. No wonder I got a bit caught up.

      Glad you like the write-up. There are plenty of great stuff in the book. You won’t be disappointed.


  2. Man, I find this sort of stuff really daunting… I’ve barely looked at new 40k, so it’s all very unfamiliar to me, but it sounds like they have done a great job in giving the TS some real flavour! Any chance of a report when you get to take yours for a spin?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love new 40k. It is by far the best edition yet. Even if they reuse a lot of design elements from the different books they still manage to keep the flavour of each faction intact.

      Once I get my game on I’ll be sure to do a write up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting read. I haven’t looked at the codex yet, so I enjoyed this. Much of it seems similar to other codices, but they do seem to have given it some Thousand Sons flavor too.

    Liked by 1 person

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