Warhammer 40k 8th edition Thousand Sons unit guide

By | 07/16/2018

Over on Reddit there is a sub called r/ThousandSons, which I am a regular visitor to. One of the mods, called Alizarium, has a wonderful Thousand Sons guide. They have allowed me to post it up here for general consumption. I will be breaking it into two parts due to its size. Please do note, there is a lot of reading to this but very much worth it.

For the second part covering Warlord traits, psychic powers and stratagems click here.

Now over to Alizarium:

8th edition Thousand Sons unit guide

It doesn’t matter what I say, by the way, if you like something, play it, this is more of coming from a competitive angle. When I say competitive I do not necessarily mean facing down the Top Tier list du jour in the Finals of LVO. That does not reflect what 99.9% of people are playing for when they play Warhammer 40k. With this advice, after the Thousand Sons

and Daemon Codex, I do firmly believe that there are a variety of builds that can let you Top 4 or win any local or regional tournament. Of course player skill always matters, and all metas are different too. Finally, this is just my opinion after playing games, if you disagree, that is cool.

For each unit I will give a score between 1 and 5, with:

  1. Don’t play it, there are better options.

  2. It’s not the worst option, but your list may suffer against high end competition.

  3. Average, you will be ok if you play this, especially if you can outplay your opponent.

  4. Above average, perfectly fine choice.

  5. Auto Include, just play it if you want to increase your chances to win…..

I will also give a role as best I can, like anti-heavy, etc.

I am doing Thousand Sons and Tzeentch Daemons at the same time, as I feel they are linked in game and in lore. The rating assume they are in a detachment by themselves for their abilities but the ratings are relative. A 4 TS model would compare to a 4 Daemon model assuming equal sized support. For example, a Herald could be amazing with a lot of Daemons around him but useless next to a bunch of Rubric Marines. Also, this will be long enough so I am not putting in forge world models in this series of posts.

Let’s get to it!


Ahriman – Support – 5
I do have a soft spot for this model, but it is hard to argue against a few more points for 3 powers and 3 denies at +1 to cast. His buff was changed to be reroll hit rolls of 1, which to me is better than rerolling 1 for invulnerable saves in most situations. He, like most psykers, is a good source of mortal wound output. As far as disc or not goes, either is fine in my option, but I prefer to have a disc (and mobility in general) on my psykers so they can be exactly where they need to be to cast where they need to cast.

That being said, no disc is a perfectly fine option, especially if you need some points to squeeze something into a list or if you just wanted to Webway him, as his buff actually matters more now in my opinion. With a lot of our spells requiring high rolls and the new smite rule, anything that can add to cast rolls is very wanted. His Warlord Trait is a 3+ invulnerable save, which makes him fairly survivable considering it is hard to target him. If you want an Exalted Sorcerer, take Ahriman

first, as he is just so much more awesome for a few more points…..

Exalted Sorcerer – Support – 3
Similar to Ahriman, so what I said about him applies, just a little worse. He only casts 2 powers and denies 1. His buff is now more useful as well, which helps make a case over a generic Sorcerer. Gets a boost for being able to take a relic. Can now take dual power swords, which will at the very least took awesome….

Sorcerer – Support – 2
Again, this is similar to Ahriman and the Exalted Sorcerer, so all the above applies. A little cheaper than the Exalted Sorcerer

but you lose the Reroll to hit rolls of 1 buff, he is BS/WS 3 instead of 2 like the Exalted, and one less wound. There may be a better way to cut 17 points from your list, so I would just go with an Exalted Sorcerer (plus they look cooler and can take a disc).
Thousand Sons Sorcerer Lord

Sorcerer in Terminator Armor – Support – 4
Can now take a familiar, which is awesome. +1 too cast on the first psychic test you take is nice, especially when combined with the Warlord trait that adds +1 to psychic tests. Can deep strike as well, which combos nicely with the Webway stratagem to give those units some support. For my playstyle (alpha strike heavy, it’s fluffy right?), this guy is a 5 rating, as I rarely go a game without one.

I think we all know the go to Warptime a deep striking unit. With the Codex, gained other support options of a defensive nature as well. Obviously, if you make this guy your Warlord, be careful about positioning all of your units to prevent him from getting targeted down. I am going to stress again the usefulness of +2 to cast (1st test) and +1 to cast. This helps with the high casting costs of many of our spells and offsets some of the new Smite rule.

Daemon Prince – Support/Melee Anti-Heavy – 5
Oh boy, these guys. They were already good for all chaos players. Ours get even better.

FOR THE SAME COST, we get a 4++ and being able to cast 2 Psychic Powers (and from all 3 trees). They are still un-targetable characters. His buff is less special now that Ahriman and Exalted Sorcerers do the same thing, but his still affects any Daemons in your list (cough, Pink Horrors…). There are some nice Warlord Traits as well, like getting a 3++ or advance and charge, with reroll to charge, which is amazing. I still prefer the Talons option personally as I like the extra attacks, but honestly, any of the options are OK.

These guys pretty much always put in work and you rarely be sad to have one in your list. I take the wings most of the time, as this game is all about mobility, but if you need to save 24 points, he still moves 8” (be careful that you also lose the Fly keyword). Ahriman and one of these is a nice way to fill the HQ slots of a Battalion while also adding some anti-heavy that will be hard to shoot off the table. If you are feeling crazy, Supreme Command Detachment of 3 Princes. Bonus that he can chose from the Tzeentch Daemon psychic tree (Spoiler Alert, Gaze of Fate is nice…).

I am not making a section for the Chaos Daemons version of the Daemon Prince, just take this one….

Thousand Sons Demon Prince

Changecaster, Fluxmaster, and Fateskimmer – Support – 4
Many of the new Tzeentch Daemon powers are nice, and this is a cheap way to access them. FINALLY, their Strength buff is useful because they changed the Tzeentch Daemon shooting attacks to be STR User so this affects their shooting attacks. This turned one of the most useless buffs in the game to one of the better ones. With the buffs to Flamers and Screamers this gets even better. This turns a unit of pinks into assault 2 (or 3) bolters.

As far as which version to use it depends on what you want to keep up with (though the Chariot is much more durable). A foot Herald is great for babysitting Pinks. A disc Herald is ideal for Flamers (+1 to wound power is nice here). A Chariot Herald is best for Screamers, though as I said this one is much more durable overall. In addition, if you have a pure Tzeentch Daemon

Detachment (you do, don’t you…) he gains the Loci buff that is a 6” bubble of close combat shenanigans, possible reducing the incoming damage against him or any other daemons around him (keep in mind this also includes any Thousand Sons models that are also daemons).

Kairos Fateweaver

– Support/ Melee Anti-Heavy – 2
One of my favorite characters in Warhammer lore. Awesome story, he is well written on some stories and audio dramas. Awesome model too. There was a points decrease, which is appreciated. He is surprisingly good in melee for damage, but degrades fast. Pyschic monster who casts and denies 3 powers at +2 to cast like Magnus and knows all 6 powers from the Tzeentch Discipline, which is nice to have.

Also, this gives you a second Mortal Wound Power that can target a character. He can also buff Magnus with a power. As an added bonus, not to be overlooked, he gives his leadership of 10 to all other Tzeentch Daemons around him. He also gives +d3 command points if you are willing to make him your warlord, but that is dangerous to do. However, the Daemon codex stratagems are good and expensive, so this helps with it. The danger is slightly mitigated by the fact that he can be deployed via deep strike now (for 2 CP) so your opponent cannot alpha strike him. See the Loci buff above as well.

Note that Thousand Sons gaining access to the Daemons of Tzeentch psychic tree lowers the usefulness of this model to me.

Lord of Change – Support/Melee Anti-Heavy – 3
See above. Similar to Kairos except you lose the d3 bonus Command Points, 1 STR, and 1 power and deny in exchange for 40 points for your list and more attacks as he degrades. Most of the things I said about Kairos apply here too. The regular Lord of Change got a huge upgrade in the fact that he can take relics.

You should make a Herald or the Changeling

your Warlord probably so they cannot be targeted. That unlocks Daemon relics though. Give this guy The Impossible Robe and he gets much more durable, with a 3+ Invulnerable save and a last ditch reroll. Note that Thousand Sons gaining access to the Daemons of Tzeentch psychic tree lowers the usefulness of this model to me.

The Blue Scribes – Support – 3
This guy is pretty nice. He will always cast one random power from the Tzeentch Discipline that cannot be denied. The Tzeentch Discipline got some new powers that are nice. That -1 to opponent’s psychic tests is pretty great too, the stealing is even better. Getting lucky and taking away a psychic power that the opponent would be counting on is nice. After stealing a power you can cast 2 powers (one random from Tzeentch Discipline and Smite) for a turn. This unit is solid for the points and I wouldn’t judge anyone for playing it. The random nature of this model

is what is keeping it from scoring higher for me though. Added note, they are hilarious in the stories they are in.

The Changeling – Support – 4
Well, here we go. Losing one of the best buffs in the entire game is unfortunate. He was either going to lose the buff or go way up in points. Personally, I am glad they went this route. He no longer gives -1 to hit, which admittedly was too strong for the points, and now gives a 6+ Feel No Pain. This is slightly worse statistically against damage 1 weapons and strictly worse for higher damage weapons. The buff was mainly to be used on your infantry anyways, so they will more than likely be getting shot with damage 1 weapons.

The second reason the buff was so great was that it helped Magnus

survive the opponent’s alpha strike.

It looks like one off the Thousand Sons new spells gives -1 to be hit, which, assuming it works on Magnus, does help explain why they went the route of removing the Changeling’s buff even if the power needs to cast to be up. So, really it comes down the same as it ever was, the more Daemons you have in your list, the better the buff is. Reducing the incoming damage first turn is as important as always, as is protecting your objective holders.

The Changeling

still fills this roll for a cheap points cost. Heralds certainly got better but their buff does not stack. For an extra 20 points or so you might as well add some survivability in your list as well. I would keep him at a 5, but keep in mind you need to have more daemons in your list to make it worth it (specifically infantry ones and not big models) than it used to be. I do run more daemons than most I think so this usually applies to me. Your mileage may vary. It is certainly not the end of the world as many said when the change was leaked.

Lords of War
Magnus – Mobile Anti-Heavy – 5
Still a 5, but definitely close to a 4 now, but that is more to say about the current meta than Magnus

himself. Magnus IS the Thousand Sons for all intents and purposes, in lore and in game. So, in the codex some things were changed. He went up 30 points. His Aura was changed, losing the reroll invulnerable saves of 1 and gaining rerolling psychic tests of 1. He now ignores peril wounds on a 2+. His super smite is now 12+. Ok, let’s talk about these changes. He went up 30 points, and we all knew he was going up, and 30 points is less than what I thought even factoring in the changes. For what he can do, this worth the price if used correctly.

Losing the reroll of 1 is unfortunate, but if we are honest with ourselves, 3++ on an 18 wound model rerolling 1s is a little much. Small price to pay for keeping Weaver of Fates, and gaining a -1 to hit power and a heal spell…..

If you have used Magnus since the codex, you will have noticed that rerolling psychic rolls of 1 in a 9” aura is pretty awesome. For a lot of the game, if he survives, he may be on his own. But turn 1, before you Warptime (if needed), you can reroll 1s for most of your psykers, greatly helping your powers go off. He ignores wounds suffered from Perils on a 2+, amazing and very welcome indeed.

The raising of his Smite roll was something I thought they would do up to 11+, but the 12+ is not surprising with his natural +2 to cast and the stratagem to add +2 available. Another bonus is he has 3 trees to pick from, letting you diversify the powers in your list.

All in all, he is still the beast he always was, and you still must get every point possible out of him every turn. Sure, if you go second, there are a few lists that can wipe him off the board before your powers are up (those are probably top table tournament lists, and most people do not play that level), but those will probably get nerfed sometime soon (cough, Dark Reapers). In addition, the more the meta shifts to having more models on the table, the less anti-heavy threats there will be to deal with him.

Troops, Dedicated Transports, and Flyers


thousand sons rubicae troops

Rubric Marines – Anti-Infantry – 4
Got a nerf in that we need to take 10m squad to take a Soul Reaper Cannon

(SRC). Got a buff in that the sorcerer can cast a real psychic power. It is a wash really. You lose a couple points of damage from the SRC but gain a mortal wound or two from Tzeentch’s Firestorm or (possibly better) a support power to help your army. Think of it this way, for about 100 points, you get 1 psychic power and 4-9 inferno bolt shots (via rapid fire/pistol range), with 5 wounds and a 3+/5++. Having a Troop choice that is capable of supporting your army while holding objectives and dishing out some damage over the course of the game is pretty nice to have.

Another note now is that we have the Webway stratagem that can put these in your opponent’s face.

Unfortunately the change to warptime made flamer squads a no go. MSU (Multiple Small Units) is a much better choice for these guys. You are very unlikely to lose any expensive models to Morale, and your opponent will see them as less of a threat. The SRC is not worth losing expensive models to a Morale test. With this in mind, if you want to take a 10m squad of Rubric Marines with a SRC, you should just take a 5m squad of Scarab Occult Terminators instead. For 18 more points you gain deep strike potential, 2+ armor save, and a Helfyre Missile Rack over 10 Rubric Marines.

This is still a unit that is very much worth taking, just take it more for the psychic power with some damage output from a Troops choice, as opposed to a couple of extra damage from a SRC.

Tzaangors – Melee and Screening Unit – 5
These guys here…..After using the 10 I owned from Age of Sigmar in one game, I went and bought 2 more boxes, and that was before the codex. By the way, buy the Age of Sigmar box as you will save $5 because you will not need the pistols. They are 3 more points than Cultists, but they are tougher (T4 vs T3 with a 5+ Invulnerable save vs a 6+ armor save), faster (add one to advance and charge rolls, always pay the 10 points if you run a big blob) and more deadly (-1 AP, in case you didn’t realize earlier, always take the Blades instead of chainsword and pistol). I already liked them and they get a lot of help from the Codex.

Thousands Sons tzaangors

The first thing is that you can deep strike a blob of 30 (or two blobs of 30…) of them with the Webway stratagem and dark matter crystal. This means that even after the turn 1 deep strike change on an 8+ charge roll (with the Brayhorn) you will be charging turn 1 with the unit starting on the table with the DMC with the follow up unit on turn 2 on a 8+ via the webway. This will destroy and/or tie up multiple units if spread out or can utterly annihilate a couple of units if more concentrated.

It should also be noted that Tzaangors

are also excellent in smaller units of 10-15, dealing lethal damage to backline units if saved for that roll. We get the Shaman as a buffing option of adding +1 to their hit rolls, either running with them up the table or just advancing into range of a deep striking unit of Tzaangors. We also get a stratagem that lets them fight twice for only 2 Command Points, which is a bargain for that effect. 1-3 Command points and/or a DMC to put a lot of Tzaangors in your opponent’s face starting on turn 1 will be a common play going forward.

That is a huge threat your opponent must deal with and may divert a lot of firepower from your larger threats. Conversely, if against your opponent you need more screening, you can hold them back to assist. Be sure to save 2CP for the Auto-Pass Moral Stratagem if you need it though as Leadership is this unit’s main weakness. For the price of 10 Rucrics with an SRC, you can get 30 Tzaangors with a Brayhorn. This is a great way to add bodies to our lists, and they get more done than cultists offensively.

The odds of me building a list without a blob of 30 of these is very low, but if you are just wanting cheap objective babysitters……..

Chaos Cultists – Objective Holders and Screening Unit – 3
Perfectly reasonable to have some of these in your list, though as I said I prefer Tzaangors. They serve the screening and objective holding part of the Tzaangors very well for the points. When you need a backfield objective held because you cannot place the objective near your opponent’s area (I will do an Objective article in the future), they will serve that purpose admirably. They also serve the purpose of filling out Troops slots in Battalions well. We cannot use the stratagems and Legion Traits that make them more than that unless you run a detachment from another Legion (not a bad choice btw).

If you are using pure Thousand Sons, then these become a 4. If you are running a Chaos Daemon detachment too, just take Brimstones…..

Pink Horrors – Screening Unit, Objective Holder, and Anti-Infantry – 4
Pink horrors got a huge boost from the Daemon Codex, both by virtue of their own buffs but also from the nerfing of other units. They still have a 4+ Invulnerable Save. Thanks to the Herald change, they can have a Strength 4 assault 2 shooting attack. If you have 20 or more Pink Horrors (note that you can have say 10 Brimstones

to pad the total for cheaper or just 30 Pinks) it is assault 3. That is a pretty cheap Sonic Blaster lol (though they do get cover saves, unlike a Sonic Blaster). Hitting on 4’s sucks though, just like always, but 90 shots is 90 shots….Point for point these guys are pretty good now.

We need bodies on the table and these guys and Tzaangors help immensely with that while also providing some offensive power as well(note you can keep some reserve points to summon some blues and brims to keep your 30 attacks and just keep on holding that objective). The smite change will certainly hurt them, but with all of the other mortal wound powers available to Tzeentch Daemons and Thousand Sons with the new codex, having your Pinks cast Smite is less important. Note that a unit of 20 can be deep struck for only 1CP.

Blue Horrors – Screening Unit and Objective Holder – 2
They are still relegated to split duty…

Brimstone Horrors – Screening Unit and Objective Holder – 4
Well we knew this wouldn’t last. Even after the points increase they were still far too strong. A 4+ invulnerable save, we all have to admit, is way too good on a 3 point model. However, a 6+ invulnerable save on a 3 point model is still nice, ask any player that uses cultists if they would like a 6++. While certainly not as broken as it once was (opponents would rarely even shoot at Brims, especially with the Changeling near them), a 6++ and a 6+++ (Changeling) is pretty strong for a 3 point model, making brimstones still one of the best objective holders in the game.

As an added bonus, they are easy to hide in ruins making it impossible for your opponent to even target them because they cannot get Line of Sight to them. All that being said, they are still the cheapest way to fill out a battalion or patrol (sometimes you just want to unlock those stratagems or Flamers), and as such, are still often an auto include. They do have some competition in Pink Horrors now though….

Dedicated Transports

Thousand Sons Rhino

Chaos Rhino – Transport – 3
Well this is an average 3 for a very good reason. Its usefulness is based on what it is transporting and if that unit even needs transporting which may vary. They got so much better this edition, so even at 72 points they can be worth it. Let’s roll through the choices that we could be transporting shall we. Chaos Cultists….no… Tzaangors, well like I said, if they are shooting them then that is a win for us anyways, so no for me on this as well. Rubrics, well here is the crux of the matter. I can see this being an option for transport. As I said, I typically have more urgent needs than Rubrics for my opponent to take care of, so they are rarely a high priority, even outside a transport.

Also, Rhinos

are MUCH better for an assault army, to get their troops across the table and into assault. Rubrics, needless to say are not an assault unit. This is my other problem with rubrics in a Rhino, you will lose at least 1 turn shooting and mini-smiting. Rubrics are not in need of a transport that badly. That being said, if you do not own Magnus or are not running anything else that draws a lot of attention, you might have to put your Rubrics in a transport even if it is just to survive turn 1.

Also, I realize Rhinos also increase the Rubric’s mobility by a ton, but we can Webway them now and Dark Matter Crystal them. All of that was to say this….use Rhinos if you want/need to, it just depends on the environment that you play in and what you use. Personally, with the lists I’ve used, I never felt the need to do it again after trying it once. I will admit though, the Warpflame Gargoyle stratagem is cheeky with a Rhino and makes me want to play them a little more…


Heldrake – Highly Mobile Lockdown/Harassment Unit – 3
I was initially very high on the Heldrake

. I have since lowered my opinion on it. It is good now no doubt and it serves a valuable purpose, in theory…Its purpose is to get to your opponent and lock down their biggest threat by charging it and/or harass their army with a bale flamer (never take the other gun btw…). Here is the problem, remember what I said about needing screening units, well most people know that by now (recall these posts are from a competitive standpoint) and will have their things you want to have locked down properly screened from being charged by the Heldrake and being locked in combat, which leaves you to take a Baleflamer shot at it which can only do so much.
Thousands Sons helldrake

That being said, sometimes the screening unit itself is helpful to have locked in combat. On a side note, when charging the Heldrake into a large unit, always do it at the side of the unit, juuust inside 1” away. This will make it to where they can only pile in a few models (essentially everything within about 6” from the Heldrake’s base). This leaves us as being a harassment unit. Fly around the whole game and, if they don’t kill it, doing 2-3 wounds on average to something with the flamer and 4 attacks on something. I feel it is merely average, and I think those points are better spent elsewhere.

A note though, with the influx of Rangers, Scouts, and the like too deny deep striking, opponents are leaving more space than ever to get a Heldrake into combat to lock down a unit, so the stock on these may be on the upswing, time will tell.

Heavy Support

Mutalith Vortex Beast

– Melee Support/Anti-Infantry – 4
An unexpected surprise inclusion in the army, but a welcome one. I have always loved this model and it is nice to see it on the tabletop. If you are running an a few melee units in your army (Tzaangors are melee right?) then one of these is very handy to have. It is very low points for a 14 wound model, heals one wound a turn, with a 4+/5++. It is WS4 which you know my opinion on, but at least this has an option for a 12 attack weapon profile, which I think should always be used. The reason to take this however is its unique table.

At the start of the shooting phase, you can either chose one of six powers or roll randomly and get 2 of them. Two of them output mortal wounds, one is an enemy moral debuff, and the others are melee buffs. Even if you deep strike some melee units this can, if put at the front of your deployment zone, usually advance and reach one of the units with its 9” (18” when wounded) buffs.

If not, it can probably Infernal Gaze (one of the powers, but works on the closest unit). The powers go off on a 2+ when unwounded, down to a 4+ when fully wounded. The range doubles on all powers when it leaves its top tier of wounds, but you take a mortal wound when you roll a 1 to see if your powers go off.

This is not a bad choice in any list as it is fairly cheap for the body and can Infernal Gaze while moving up the board, then do mortal wounds to all enemy units around it once it gets there. Note that is not casting that power so it can also be cast by your sorcerers. As stated, it really shines in a list with a couple melee units on the field as all 3 melee buffs are quite good, and if you need to you can select 1 if you really need it instead of rolling randomly.

There is also a stratagem that lets you get another random power, for a total of 3 if you rolled for all of them, or pick one and get 1 random. Note that all of the powers stack, either from a single Beast or from multiple ones.

Chaos Land Raider – Transport/Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 2
Anti-Heavy or Anti-Infantry depending on how it is equipped. As far as transporting goes, everything I said about Rhinos applies here. Note that our terminators are not really assault terminators so they would rather just deepstrike and shoot anyways, so they do not need a transport. As far as a weapons platform, it is just too expensive and if you cannot screen it properly it will get locked down.

Given the current environment people are packing a lot of anti-heavy so it will definitely die easier than you think. Also, things that their BS goes down as it takes damage can be unfortunate. Being so easily locked down is the bad part though. Like the rating says, there are just way better options, especially for the points. Cheeky with the new Warpflame Gargoyle, just less cheeky than a Rhino.

Thousand Sons Predators

Chaos Predator – Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 4
Same as the land raider, you must screen this or it will get locked down. Also, even more than the land raider, it will die faster than you think (also degrading BS). However, it is MUCH more point efficient than the land raider. This is a great and versatile option for us since we cannot take Havocs. Equipping it with a Predator Autocannon and two Heavy Bolters will make it murder infantry. Equipping it with a Twin Lascannon and two Lascannons it will put a hurting on heavy targets.

I would recommend not mixing those two roles, personally, even with splitfire.

Being so cheap, this will put a lot of pressure on your opponent (especially if you take more than one, have Magnus, etc) as to what to shoot at. Taking 3 unlocks the +1 to wound and +1 to damage rolls stratagem. Three with all Lascannons are pushing 600 points so that may be a bit much. Three with Predator Cannon and Heavy bolters will benefit from the +1 to wound but will not benefit from the +1 to damage roll (there is no roll to benefit). However it is much cheaper. An all-around solid choice, but going up to 3 for the stratagem is certainly debatable.

Chaos Vindicator – Anti-Heavy – 2
Same as above, screen it or it will suck, dies faster than you think, and degrading BS. In addition, the d3 shots on the main gun can be unfortunate. Strength 10 unfortunately rarely matters on the things you will be shooting at (i.e. you will wound on 3 regardless). It got a points decrease in Chapter Approved but in my opinion not enough to offset rolling that 1 for the number of shots……let me know if they have been good for you in the comments below and why (and don’t say it is because you always roll a 3 for the shots lol).

Defiler – Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 3
This is such an odd unit. It wants to assault, but it has so many guns. Normally that would not be that bad, but they are heavy weapons….on a BS 4 model….that doesn’t ignore heavy firing restrictions….that degrades its BS as it takes damage. You can either go for equipping as many heavy weapons as you can and hang back and shoot (better options still for the points, but it is close now…looking at you Helbrute).

Thousand Sons Defiler Scorpion Conversion

You can also go melee and take a Scourge, and a combi-melta for fun (Maulerfiend is better…). It is still a confused daemon. Going melee with incidental shooting is probably the best option, but I still think there are better ways to spend those points.

Forgefiend – Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 3
Not the worst weapons platform, but always be wary of BS 4, as it will end up breaking your heart lol. Degrading BS as well. The stratagem certainly helps mitigate this. I have always thought their guns were a bit odd. The Auto Cannon is STR 8 which is nice, but the AP -1 is very lackluster given the target you would want from a STR 8 weapon, as is the damage at 2. The Ectoplasm one is STR 7 with AP -3 and d3 damage.

Vehicles are not a great target even with the rerolls, and we certainly have better anti-infantry options, which puts this guy in a rough place. Like the 3 rating says, you will be ok if you play this but be aware there are certainly better options.

Maulerfiend – Melee Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 4

The Forgefiend’s

melee brother. For the points he is a fairly scary assault option in an army that lacks many scary assault options. Fast, 10 attacks total when unwounded, T7. Unfortunately, he is WS 4, so what I said of BS 4 applies, it will break your heart sometimes. Fortunately, his WS does not degrade, which is nice.

Overall not a bad assault choice for us, especially for the points. Filling a role (Heavy Melee) that we lack (Magnus and DPs not withstanding) pushes this from a 3 to a 4 for me. The new stratagems from the Codex solidify this 4 rating. The reroll all hits and wounds help mitigate the poor WS and the Warpflame Gargoyle stratagem is funny, but can be super scary if you roll well in the right circumstances.

Burning Chariot – Mobile Anti-Infantry/Anti-Heavy – 3
Solid option here for the points. Moves 14” with BS 3. Has two firing modes, a STR 5 AP2 D1 flamer, or Heavy 3 STR 9 AP 4 D d3 mini lascannon with 18” range. The upgrade to 3 shots instead of d3 is a very welcome change. Versatility is always good. Not the worst in melee, but avoid it unless you just really need to tie something down.

It has the fly keyword so it can retreat and fire if need be. Benefits from the Herald STR buff. Unlike the Herald on Chariot, for some reason this is not a character. In general, take an Exalted Flamer

instead, unless you just need it to fill a heavy support slot.

Soul Grinder – Anti-Heavy – 3
The Daemon Codex did help some. It had its Phlegm Bombardment go from d3 to d6 shots. The +1 to wound rolls can mitigate some of the 4+ BS. A few of the stratagems are also great with this guy. I will test it further but all of the arguments against the defiler apply here.

Elites and Fast Attack


Tzaangor Shaman – Support – 5
After the smite change was finalized and the Thousand Sons were made immune to it, this guy gets jumped up to a 5. Not only can he buff your Tzaangors

, but he is also now a cheap source of smite. Too bad you can only take 3….

Can cast 1 psychic power and deny 1 and comes with a disc. Main reason to take this guy is the buff he provides Tzaangor units around him. It adds 1 to their hit rolls. Note that this does benefit Enlightened more given their thing of auto-wounding on a 6+, but even troop Tzaangors benefit from hitting on a 2+. Depending on how many Tzaangors you have that can benefit, this is a 5 rating. I kept the overall rating a 5 because it may not be necessary to run this guy if you are just deep striking some troop Tzaangors far ahead of your army.

If you are running a couple units of Skyfires then this guy is a must have though.

Thousand Sons Hellbrute

Helbrute – Anti-Heavy/Anti-Infantry – 4
Solid Weapons platform for the points. Can be kitted out to fit your needs as far as anti-infantry or heavy. I think for us the Twin Lascannon and Missile Launcher is best, since we already have a lot of anti-infantry at our disposal. You can get two Helbrutes

kitted out that way for half the cost of a Land Raider with more shots, though it will be less durable obviously.

It has BS 3 and does not degrade as it takes damage. 48” range with the above loadout it can sit back on an objective if need be and stay out of danger hopefully. It will often not get shot at a lot since it is less threatening at first glance than your other stuff.

They changed the Crazed rule for the better, as now it is just an added bonus sometimes. Overall, this is a solid choice for us. It will nearly always do work. We have the Stratagem now that lets you shoot twice if you shoot at the closest enemy target. This is better for an anti-infantry loadout as most opponents will not put their heavy stuff in a position for you to get this off. Obviously, some of the FW dreadnaughts are better, but remember I am keeping FW out of these guides (plus I hate resin…). May all of your Crazed rolls be a 6….

Scarab Occult Terminators

– Anti-Infantry – 3
Losing the ability to deep strike in the opponent’s face turn 1 really hurts. I still think they can be an OK distraction carnifex, but for now, Tzaangors are just better for the points in that role. Also, I fully expect all power armor and terminator armor units to get point a points decrease in the next Chapter Approved (12/18) so I will revisit this unit then.
Thousands Sons Scarab Occult

As i said, I think they are best used now as a great distraction carnifex. If you are not familiar, this is a unit that your opponent might not see as the best target for them to shoot at but if they ignore it, it will cause a fair amount of damage to their army/plan.

They are useful in a variety of ways given their deep strike potential. They can just come down and help clear out your opponent’s screening units so the rest of your stuff can get to the real meat of your opponent’s army, or they can punish your opponent for leaving their rear or flank objective holders vulnerable. Whatever you do, DO NOT put them up against your opponent’s heavy hitters or tough units.

Terminators are shock troops, which means they are meant to pick on weaker units that cannot efficiently take them on (feel free to shoot the missile rack at a heavy target though). They can be a pretty good prescience target, especially if they are going to charge that turn too (Prescience will affect shooting and melee). Be careful not to charge into a fight that could tie up your unit for multiple turns (unless you know you will be charged anyways in the opponent’s turn, then you should charge just to fight first).

This unit can be a great target for Veterans of the Long War as well, depending on the situation. Also, if you are planning on taking a 10m unit of Rubric Marines, you should just take a 5m unit of this instead. For 18 more points, you get built-in deep strike, a 2+ armor save, and a Helfyre Missile Rack. Last bit of advice, chose your landing spot carefully, as this unit is slow. You need a good reason to put them on, say, the far right side of the table. It may very well take you 2 turns to get into shooting range again depending on where the opponents goes.

Exalted Flamer

– Anti-Infantry/Anti-Heavy – 4
A very nice, and versatile unit here. For a fairly cheap price you get a Flamer (8” d6 auto hits STR 5 AP 2 D1) or a mini lascannon (18” Heavy 3 STR 9 AP 4 D D3). This on a 10” move fly keyword model that, critically, is a character that cannot be targeted because it has less than 10 wounds (4). That character keyword as always is fantastic. Each gun on their own would be nice, but to be able to choose at will for the situation and list in front of you is very nice. The lascannon shot went from d3 shots to straight 3 shots, which is fantastic.

These can also be affected by a nearby Herald model to boost the strength of all of the options, though it does not benefit it too much (STR 6 for the flamer and STR 10 for the lascannon will very rarely change what you need to roll to wound. Be warned however, even though this has a 10” move, which is nice, for the most part it is limited to the speed of your screening units keeping him safe.

That being said, having that 10” move to strike out if it is time to flame something is nice to have. Ideally, once in range, you want to not move if you are using the lascannon shot as it will cause you to hit on a 4+ if you move because this does not ignore the heavy penalty. Hitting on a 4+ though is not the end of the world given how cheap he is and he will probably live most of the game (even though he went up 20 points). In a pure Tzeentch daemon list, this would probably be a 5 since it is your only ranged anti-heavy option. For us, we have other options but this is still a solid choice given its versatility.

Note that if you position your forward units that are moving fast up the table (Magnus, maybe terminators, etc) then it is possible with good positioning and forward thinking to move these forward of their screening units to be able to get in lascannon range. Be sure to account for your opponent’s movement options in their turn as well when factoring if the Exalted Flamer could be the closest unit for your opponent to shoot at. Overall, again, this is a solid choice with its versatility, but if you really need to burn the house down…..


– Mobile Anti-Infantry – 5
I love these guys. Given the current meta, and the way most missions are (Warzone for example, infantry are required for objectives in some way for every missions), there are a fair amount of models on the table, though obviously your meta may vary. I personally have not made a list without some of these in a while, especially for my area. This is a great flamer platform for the cost. 12” move with the fly and infantry keyword, 2 wounds, 4+ invulnerable save, and can be affected by the Changeling.

The weapon itself is fantastic now (12” STR 4 AP 1 D1). I do not need to tell you how good a 12” flamer is, especially on a 12” movement model. Plus, they now benefit from a Herald nearby (probably on a disc) putting their flamer to STR 5. If that weren’t enough, you can now Deep Strike a unit of these guys. I feel as though I do not need to say how good a 12” flamer is on a unit that can deep strike… Do not forget you can divide up the number of shots if you need to avoid overkill.

Flamers (this unit not the general term…) are surprisingly effective against all but the toughest target. They will cause a fair amount of damage to anything that isn’t T8. Even though it is not the best target for them, they can cause a lot of damage to things that are T5-7, as they auto hit and still just need a 5+ to wound.

Now with the Daemon Codex they can be targeted by a psychic power (from that Disc Herald from before…) that gives them a +1 to their WOUND rolls. +1 to wound rolls are fantastic (I have a friend that plays Blood Angels, I have been on the receiving end), increasing their threat against tougher target and making them even more reliable at mowing through hordes of dudes.

The -1 AP means that they are lowering the save of their target as well. Obviously, the best targets are medium to large units of infantry that are T4 or lower (T5 with a Herald nearby), as they will melt the whole unit or a large part of it, hopefully the rest will run. The moral of the story is that they are never useless against any list. In fact, against a lot of lists they will be the best unit that you have (and a good opponent will know this). I have never regretted taking these and I think you will not either. As you can see, the elite slot is kind of good for us.

Fortunately, that is the highest number of slots other than troops in a Battalion so even in one detachment you can fit a lot of elites. Also, this is a good choice for the 3++ stratagem, especially a full unit. Obviously, if your meta is full of heavy armored stuff, take something else instead.

Fast Attack

Tzaangor Enlightened

with Spears/Pistols and Chainswords – Mobile Melee Anti-Infantry – 3
First things first, take the spears. Cheap for a 2 wound model to be sure. They will do some damage if they get into combat. They are relying on a 5++ to get them across the table, and unfortunately, cannot deep strike using the Webway stratagem. Certainly not the worst melee unit for the points (they are pretty fast and cheap after all), but there is a better way……

Enlightened with Fatecaster Bows

– Mobile Anti-Infantry/Harassment – 5
Wow, a nice addition for us here. For a long time in 8th edition people complained about the fast attack slot not being useful without armor facings, etc. Well between the Death Guard’s Blight Crawler and these guys, GW has finally made some fast attackers that matter. These guys are amazing. They are cheap for what they do. Unlike their melee brothers, they do not need to zoom across the table to you to attack you. A 36” (36+d6” if needed) threat range is nice indeed.

They are 2 wounds a piece and are still rocking a 5++ but will be annoying your opponent from turn 1. This is probably the best harassment unit in the game.

A unit of 6-9 (I like 2 or 3 units of 6) really isn’t what your opponent wants to be shooting at, but they are kind of required to really, otherwise these guys will zoom around claiming objectives while killing all of their infantry (and hopefully objective holders) and then putting wounds on their tough stuff. A unit of 6 is about 100 points. Even if your opponent shoots them off the table you are not down a lot of points. If they ignore them they will more than make their points up fast. Keep a Shaman near them if at all possible as he increases their damage output a fair amount. These guys are also a great Prescience target.

With a shaman near them, and Prescience they are hitting on 2+ with all 4+ rolls auto-wounding. Dirty little secret though, they are also not terrible in melee, considering how great of a shooting unit they are. They will get 2 attacks a piece (3 for the leader) with essentially a chainsword (think of it as built in to their profile) and the same auto-wounding shenanigans as shooting. Don’t put them into a dedicated melee unit, but if you need to charge a few remaining tactical marines, you will come out on top, especially buffed with Prescience and/or a Shaman.

Chaos Spawn – Anti-Infantry/Anti-Heavy – 3

Thousands Sons spawn conversion

I was going to say a 2 for these guys because of what they are on paper, but I asked my friend that uses them more, and he said to put them at a 1….moving on….

Chaos Furies – Anti-Infantry – 1
Moving on before Tzeentch comes back, don’t take them. But they are fast right? Hey Tzeentch, did you hear that GW is making Aetaos’rau’keres 1500 points. WHAT! That is a FW model, they have no right to point my prized Daemon back into the Warp. I will show them!!! Good, that will keep him busy so we can finish this thing. I guess I can talk about these too. You know what, no, just no……


– Highly Mobile Anti-Infantry – 4
Well, these guys sure are fast, at a whopping 16” move. Given that, in general, we can be a slower army, they do give you a way to reach out and touch someone, getting in the opponent’s back field and wreaking havoc, possibly gaining you Linebreaker on their own. They are no longer fighting with pillows, yay. The change to make all 3 attacks the bite attack is amazing. Though, as always WS 4+ is unfortunate. They are fairly durable at least, with 2 wounds and a 4+ invulnerable save. Given the direction that missions are moving towards, the game is even more about mobility than ever, so this could very well be a 5, and would certainly be if it hit on a 3+.

They also did another thing I wanted, they made the move over mortal wound ability not require an advance. You can move over your target if there is room to cause some free mortal wounds or just tack on some free mortal wounds to a unit you had to move over to get to your target. They always benefited from the Herald’s Strength buff, and that is still true, just be sure to use a Herald on Chariot to keep up. The Loci effect on the Herald will also help the Screamers greatly. Also, this is a good choice for the 3++ stratagem, especially a full unit.

Well that brings us to the end of the units. As always, I hope that this helps someone and that you enjoyed reading them. In the next post we go over Warlord Traits, Relics, Psychic Powers, and Stratagems. Now I am going to get out of here before Tzeentch comes back….


Thousand Eyes: Well what did folks think? Personally I got a lot of of the guide and r/ThousandSons in generally. Click here for part two of the Thousand Sons unit guide.

5 thoughts on “Warhammer 40k 8th edition Thousand Sons unit guide

  1. Westrider

    Pretty good breakdown overall. I also get really frustrated by the Daemon Engines being WS/BS4+, and being required to take the really expensive guns on the Defiler and Soul Grinder.

    I feel like Predators also got kind of nerfed by the Rule of 3, since it’s no longer possible to build in redundancy for Killshot by bringing a fourth along.

    One thing I would note is that Rhinos should pretty much always be 74 Points, not 72. That extra Combi-Bolter is such great value.

    1. Rory (Stepping Between Games)

      I really wish demon engines were better, so very much. I would bring a whole army of them if I could.

      Three predators ate dangerous enough and I think forcing your opponents to focus on one can be worth it. Someone with better luck than me might get first turn for once and all.

      Agreed on the Rhino.

      1. Westrider

        Yeah, Predators are still good. It just turns Killshot into a gamble rather than a strategy.

          1. Westrider

            Predators still aren’t quite back to where they were when I fell in love with them, but they’re pretty good these days. I’m not even sure how many I have across my various Factions. Probably 8-10 total. I ran a trio once right after the CSM Codex came out, and they really did a number on a Knight with Killshot.

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