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How to Play Thousand Sons in Warhammer 40k

6 Minute Read
Apr 4 2024

Today take a look at some basics of how to play and get started with Warhammer 40K’s Traitorous Sorcerers – the Thousand Sons in 10th Edition.

The Thousand Sons are the arcane Chaos Space Marines of Warhammer 40K. The Thousand Sons consist of covens of powerful Sorcerers and their automaton Rubric Marine followers, as well as a cadre of esoteric support elements, from braying Tzaangors to monstrous Daemon Engines.

So below we will offer some tips on how to play Thousand Sons and get started with the army.

Who Are The Thousand Sons?

The Thousand Sons were the XV Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Magnus, or Magnus the Red. The Legion turned traitor during the Horus Heresy. For a time it appeared that Tzeentch protected the Thousand Sons from the corruption and fragmentation that most of the other Traitor Legions underwent. But eventually the Legion went through a crisis of mutation and de-evolution, seemingly at the wish of their patron-God. Aghast at this development, their Chief Sorcerer, Ahriman, cast a powerful spell designed to render the Thousand Sons immune to the warping effects of Chaos. While the spell succeeded in this goal, it had an unforseen horrific consequence. The “Rubric of Ahriman” transforming the mutated Thousand Sons into little more than mystically animated suits of armor barely capable of  sentience beyond that of mere automata.

With the only surviving cognisant members being those incredibly strong in heretical psychic powers, the Thousand Sons are now a legion of armured ghosts led by the damned.

Why Play Thousand Sons

Thousand Sons are an interesting faction of Chaos Space Marines. Unlike most armies, Thousand Sons do a great deal of their damage in the Psychic Phase, shooting lightning at their enemies like space Gandalf. Unlike space Gandalf, the Thousand Sons have a very nice visual style inspired by the Egyptian Pharaohs.

It you love blazing away with magic while looking amazingly cool – and villainous, this is your army!


Strengths of the Thousand Sons Army

  • Psychic phase supremacy.
  • Relatively high durability due to army wide invulnerable save.
  • A nice selection of directions to theme army.

Weakness of the Thousand Sons Army

  • Few powerful close combat options. In this case supremacy in the Psychic Phase comes at the cost of the Combat Phase.
  • High point cost result in often being outnumbered.

Thousand Sons Army Rule

  • Cabal of Sorcerers– generate and use Cabal points on blasphemous rituals which give powerful psychic benefits to your units.

Thousand Sons Detachment Rules- Cult of Magic

  • RulesKindred Sorcery means you can pick an impactful special rule for all your Psychic weapons each turn.
  • Enhancements: In an army as slow as Thousand Sons, the Umbralefic Crystal deserves a call out for the redeploy utility.
  • StratagemsDestined by Fate is great to negate a particularly powerful hit against one of your Psyker units.

Key Thousand Sons Units To Know

Warhammer 40K Thousand Sons have a sizable unit roster and knowing what units to take can be tricky. Here are some suggestions to get you off on the right track.


Magnus the Red

The massive Daemon Primarch of the Legion is a huge points investment and an amazing centerpiece to an army. With justified mastery of Psychic powers with his Crimson King ability, and his amazing Lord of the Planet of the Sorcerers buff aura, Magnus can change the way an army operates singlehandedly.


The Epic Hero can join Rubric Marines and provides great utility in interactng with the Rituals system.

Infernal Master

A powerful leader, the Infernal Master is an amazing unit-enhancer. Malefic Maelstrom and Glimpse of Eternity both have a lot to offer a unit of Rubric Marines.


Tzaangor Shaman

The Tzaangor Shaman is an intriguing option. A Leader and psyker who buffs Tzaangor units, such as the Enlightened below, Shamans can be a cheap and efficient option.

Exalted Sorcerers

Exalted Sorcerers are a great addition to lead the armies of Tzeentch. The on-foot version is especially good at increasing the resilience of Rubric Marines with both Arcane Shield and Rebind Rubricae to bring back slain Marines.


Rubric Marines

The dedicated backbone of a Thousand Sons army. Being reasonably tough, powerful midrange shooters, and with a psyker squad leader make that not so bad. But you’ll definitely have to play on your feet to get the best value from them.


Nice and cheap, Tzaangors really allow a Thousand Sons player to bulk out their numbers.

Other Units

Scarab Occult Terminators

The powerful hammer of the Thousand Sons army, psychic all the same. A large unit of Scarab Occult is one of the best combat punches a Thousand Sons army can offer wielding their Prosperine khopesh.

Tzaangor Enlightened

Fast and with a good number of solid attacks, Tzaangor Enlightened are the perfect compliment when lead by the Shaman. Malign Trickery mean they are difficult to pin down due to redeploying.

Mutalith Vortex Beast

A horrific monster and agent of Change, the Immaterial Flare aura the Vortex Beast possesses, doubles the range of nearby Rituals.


Chaos Spawn

A foul creature who has fallen out of the Dark Gods favor, Spawn provide cheap wounds and board control. If the enemy doesn’t fully deal with them, they will regenerate.


Not only does the Chaos Helbrute provides a solid firing platform and combat threat, but its aptly named Arcane Knowledge Amidst Babbling Insanity aura makes your Rituals even more efficient.

Cultist Mob

Cultists are cheap and have a CP generation mechanic in the form of Pawns of Fate – kill or be killed, they do something for you.

Sample Starter Warhammer 40k Army

Army: Thousand Sons

Magnus the Red. One Model. Magnus the Red is equipped with: the Blade of Magnus.

Infernal Master . One Model. He is equipped with: inferno bolt pistol; force stave, Umbralefic Crystal


Rubric Marines. Ten Models. The Aspiring Sorcerer is equipped with: inferno bolt pistol; force stave. Every Rubric Marine is equipped with: inferno boltgun.

Chaos Rhino. One Model. It is equipped swith: inferno combi-bolter.

Scarab Occult Terminators. Five Models.  The Scarab Occult Sorcerer is equipped with: inferno combi-bolter; force stave. Every Scarab Occult Terminator is equipped with: inferno combi-bolter; Prosperine khopesh.


How to Play Thousand Sons

Thousand Sons are a scalpel-like army that relies on psychic supremacy to properly buff their own units while debuffing the enemy. They can use their high number of Psykers to complete Rituals and reliably complete objectives, but will struggle to hold primary objectives due to their numerical limitations. That said, when everything is going right, it feels good to be one of one thousand!



Author: Allen Campbell
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