Gamer, painter and member of the Warhammer Community team, Eddie Eccles has been a devoted follower of the Changer of Ways for many years and has amassed a sizeable Thousand Sons army. With the advent of their very first Warhammer 40,000 codex, he offered to share his thoughts with fellow fans in this series of articles. First up, he covers the humble (but deadly) Rubric Marines:
Greetings, fellow seekers of knowledge.
As a dedicated fan of the Thousand Sons*, I was pretty excited to see my favourite Legion get their first (much-deserved) codex and was eager to try out all the gaming options now open to them. In this short series of articles, I’m going to be focusing in on a few of the key units in the Thousand Sons army – tips, tactics and tricks, all the sorts of things Tzeentch would approve of, I’m sure. In this instalment, I’m going to look at the iconic core unit of the former XV Legion, Rubric Marines, and how to get the best from them in battle.
Rubric Marines have always been one of my favourite units – from the arcane and tragic events that led to their creation in the lore, to their iconic aesthetic – they are undeniably cool. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, and with the new codex just released, it’s time to dust off your MK4 automatons and get them back on the battlefield.
Rubric Marines are amongst the most reliable and dependable troops choices in Warhammer 40,000. In a pure Thousand Sons force (or Detachment), not only do they gain the advantage of being able to secure objectives against enemy units, they also gain access to a lot of synergies with other units, Stratagems and powers, both obvious and subtle.
In most situations, Rubric Marines are very durable; an increased save against Damage 1 weaponry makes them all but immune to most small arms fire, and against heavier weaponry, Tzeentch was nice enough to give them all a 5+ invulnerable save. In practice, this means your enemy is probably going to have to bring heavy weaponry to bear to remove any sizeable unit of Rubric Marines at range. This is fine – if they’re shooting your Rubric Marines, it means they’re leaving your vehicles and monsters alone. Use this natural resilience to force your opponent to make hard choices about where they direct their best firepower – when everything in your army requires their best weapons to take out, you force your opponent to concentrate on some units at the expense of others.
They even hold their own alright in combat as a last resort, as a durable unit to tie-up enemy squads. Don’t get too charge-happy though – while they can take the hits, they will come out on the losing side of a protracted melee against most competent combat foes, and there are plenty of other options in your army that can carry a Fight phase.
Rubric marines may lack the vast plethora of weapons options of units like Chaos Space Marines, but they still have a fair selection to choose from. How you equip your squads very much comes down to how you want to use them. Your two main options are inferno bolters or warpflamers, and while you can take a mix, I usually prefer whole squads of one or the other, as each fills a slightly different battlefield role.
Inferno bolter-wielding Rubric Marines are the most tactically flexible option. These guys are a mainstay of your traditional Thousand Sons force and do pretty well in whatever situation they find themselves in.
Units of these warriors camped in cover on your home objectives can prove very difficult for your opponent to shift, sporting an effective 1+ armour save again anything short of an autocannon. Their rapid fire inferno bolters, with an AP of -2, means they can dish out solid damage to pretty much any type of foe, too. A unit of 10 at short range will be able to obliterate small units of infantry and light vehicles and reliably strip wounds off the toughest foes.
Rubricae armed with inferno boltguns also work well advancing alongside a Character with an aura ability granting re-rolls on 1s to hit, like Daemon Princes, Exalted Sorcerers or Ahriman. As all of these also have access to the psychic power Prescience, you can have your unit hitting with their AP -2 guns on 2+ with re-rolls – nasty!
A unit of 10 can also take a soulreaper cannon. If you have Rubric Marines with inferno bolters, always take the soulreaper cannon – it hurts all the same targets your bolters do, but better, and with the same range, so it’s always contributing to the squad’s firepower.
Rubricae with warpflamers are another deal entirely – unable to deal damage at medium to long range, but totally devastating at short range, they give you the option for a more specialised, but no less deadly, unit.
One thing I like about Rubric Marines with warpflamers is that they get along just fine without any assistance from Characters – they don’t need +1 to hit from Prescience, they don’t need to re-roll 1s, they just automatically hit D6 times each, and with the same armour-melting AP -2 as their bolter-brandishing brothers.
A unit of 10 Rubric Marines with warpflamers will usually dish out over 30 hits, making this unit a prime candidate for the Veterans of the Long War Stratagem (+1 to wound) allowing them to hurt most vehicles on 4+ and most infantry on 3+ or 2+. That’s some serious fiery death. And if you want to go really crazy, the unit can go up to 20…
The other thing I like about warpflamers is that very few foes will want to charge you, at least within 8″ range. This goes a long way towards mitigating the unit’s vulnerability to getting tied up in combat.
Warpflamers are certainly deadly, but they are situational and don’t come cheap for their points in matched play games. As a general rule, I’d be taking inferno boltguns for units to look after my home objectives and advance to midfield, and warpflamers for units with a more aggressive intent, or to hunt a specific foe that I wanted really dead.
You can’t talk about Rubric Marines without talking about their squad leaders, and they have one of the best squad leaders in all of Warhammer 40,000 – the Aspiring Sorcerer.
These guys have been paying attention in Wizard School recently, as not only are your Thousand Sons unit leaders all Psykers, they now have access to the full Disciple of Change selection of psychic powers. Given these guys weren’t throwing out Smite on full-power anyway, I would highly recommend you just go with these powers every turn for your Rubricae, especially if you’re playing matched play. Some of these powers suit unit leaders better than others, of course, and I like the spells that benefit the unit itself. Not only are these generally easier to cast than the directly offensive spells, but I find that they usually have a bigger impact on the game. My top picks are Weaver of Fates and Glamour of Tzeentch, both of which make your already very durable Rubric Marines all but unkillable.
Getting Them Into Battle
Once you’ve decided what you’re arming your Rubric Marines with, you next need to decide how they are getting into battle. You have 3 broad options: you can walk; you can hop in transport; or you can use arcane and devious trickery, which I will henceforth refer to as “shenanigans”.
If you’ve gone for inferno boltguns and soulreaper cannons, walking might be your best bet; you’ve paid a lot of points for your Rubric Marines, and you want them dishing out damage right from the start. They are almost as survivable as most vehicles out in the open, and even though they aren’t fast, they are inexorable, and even their leisurely stride will get them comfortably to the centre of the board by mid-game, shooting all the way.
Transports are another option, and you can choose from the reliable Rhino or the mighty Land Raider. Of these, I prefer the Rhino – a small squad of 5 with warpflamers in a Rhino racing to an objective is enough to clear out most opposing troops units, but anything more than that feels like a very big investment in points in what is already quite an elite army. Honestly, I’m not quite sold on Transports for Rubric Marines being a fully optimal solution, but I do love the imagery of a full unit pilling out of a Land Raider, bolters blazing, and it’s a good excuse to paint one up.
“Shenanigans” is where the new codex really shines. There are 3 main “unorthodox” ways you can get into the action – Webway Infiltration, the Dark Matter Crystal and Warptime. Webway Infiltration is a stratagem that works the same way it does for those pointy-eared Aeldari types – sneaking through rents in the webway itself**, your units can spring a trap on enemy units by deploying in your Movement phase anywhere more than 9″ from them. This is pretty standard stuff for a lot of armies, but really deadly when combined with the warpflamers and inferno bolters of the Rubricae.
The Dark Matter Crystal is a Relic that allows you to re-deploy a Character or unit once per game. It’s by far my favourite Relic in the codex. Deploy the Character in the middle of your army and you can either use it to move in support for an early assault on enemy lines or save it for a late-game objective-grab with your Rubric Marines.
Warptime has been a staple of a lot of Chaos armies for a while now, allowing a unit to move again. It arguably has better synergy with other, faster units, but don’t underestimate the ability to bring a full Rubric squad forward into rapid fire or warpflamer range.
I know, right – all these Shenanigans are so good, how do I choose? For maximum deviousness, try all 3!
Make a really scary Rubric Marine unit – let’s say, at least 10 guys, but 20 if you like – go nuts!
Add an Exalted Sorcerer with a few choice spells. In one of your Movement phases, use Webway Infiltration to deploy both units just over 9″ from the enemy frontlines with the Character just behind. If they have warpflamers, have the Sorcerer cast Warptime on them, if they have inferno bolters, cast Prescience. When the Shooting phase comes, unleash the pain! And by that, I mean use Veterans of the Long War for a bonus +1 to wound.
When your opponent’s turn comes, they might get charged – this is fine, as they can usually weather a single combat phase against most enemies. When your turn comes again, use the Dark Matter Crystal on the Exalted Sorcerer to move the unit to do it all again!
Anyway, fellow seeker of true knowledge, I hope that has been illuminating. In part 2, we’ll take a look at Tzaangors, and what these trinket-hunting beast-kin of Tzeentch can bring to a Thousands Sons Army.
* I even had a Hamster named Magnus. To the best of my knowledge though, he was not psychic.
** We’d like to thank Ahriman for his hard work at mapping the webway, and making this Stratagem available to Exalted Sorcerers everywhere.
Thanks, Eddie, for this look at the options available in the new Codex: Thousand Sons. The codex is available to pre-order now – you can get the hardback (and spiffy Collector’s Edition) from the Games Workshop webstore, the eBook for your dataslate from Warhammer Digital, or the iBook Enhanced Edition. There’ll be more from Eddie soon – he’s been muttering something about feathers and discs…
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