Gamer, painter and member of the Warhammer Community team, Eddie Eccles has been waiting for Magnus the Red to come to Warhammer 40,000 battlefields for more years than he cares to remember. This third in his series of articles about using the new Codex: Thousand Sons (check out the first two, on Rubric Marines and Tzaangors, if you haven’t already) is dedicated to the Primarch himself:
Greetings, fellow seekers of knowledge. This Thousand Sons article focuses on the big guy himself – Magnus the Red – and some options for how you might use this incredibly flexible Character in your games – specifically, how to choose psychic powers for him, and then get the most from them.
The Magnus the Red datasheet has changed a little in its new incarnation in Codex: Thousand Sons. He still has, of course, an impressive stat profile, as befits one of his demigod brotherhood, and a lot of special rules. One notable change is the loss of the aura ability to re-roll saving throws of 1s for friendly nearby Thousand Sons units (including himself), but this is more than compensated for by several new bonuses in the Psychic phase – most importantly, the sheer flexibility that comes with his plethora of new options for psychic powers.
As masters of diabolical Tzeentchian sorcery, the Thousand Sons have access to a massive 18 psychic powers – and as the master of the Legion and first in the art, Magnus has access to all of them. Magnus, as standard, comes with an up-gunned version of the Smite power, but deciding which of the other 18 possible powers you want to go alongside this is probably the trickiest pregame decision for any player who has included the Crimson King in their army.
There are so many options for him that I think you can reasonably use Magnus in your game in a variety of different ways. I’ve suggested 3 broad themes that you might want to try out:
– Death Hex
– Diabolic Strength
It is quite possible to bend Magnus’ psychic force into physical might. Warptime is a staple of many a Chaos Sorcerer’s arsenal of tricks, but it is arguably best utilised with Magnus, thanks to his fearsome profile, high speed, and bonuses to manifest. Diabolic Strength grants bonuses to both Strength and Attacks, which might feel like overkill, and sometimes is, but is pretty handy if you’re up against other super-heavies or even Titans. Finally, Death Hex is amazing for helping Magnus tear through elite enemy troops – thanks to this power, even units like Terminators, Hive Tyrants and Custodians will fall like the feeble weaklings they are before the blade of the Crimson King.
– Glamour of Tzeentch
– Temporal Manipulation
– Weaver of Fates
Magnus is going to draw a lot of fire, so you could use his psychic might to help keep him alive as long as possible. This combination of powers makes him both harder to hit and better at making those invulnerable saves. It also lets him heal himself, which is always handy if your opponent is already having to work hard for every wound removed.
– Bolt of Change
– Infernal Gateway
This is probably my favourite – using Magnus as a pyrotechnic powerhouse of mortal wound output in the Psychic phase.
Doombolt and Bolt of Change can both pick any visible enemy unit, meaning you can combine these two to deal 2D3 mortal wounds to a Character or kill off those pesky support models like Apothecaries, Banner Bearers and officers (and if they die from Bolt of Change, they also turn into a Chaos Spawn, which is fun). Doombolt has the added benefit of slowing the enemy, which is great against fast combat foes like Greater Daemons or even Magnus’ brother Primarchs.
Infernal Gateway is entirely less subtle – it just blasts the closest portion of the enemy army with a bucket of mortal wounds. If you can cast it on a 12+, it’s doubly deadly, which is easier than you might think, thanks to Magnus’ innate +2 to manifest powers, the fact you can re-roll 1s to manifest, and the Cabalistic Focus Stratagem. To be extra sure, have a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch cast Gaze of Fate too, for a chance to re-roll any 2s or 3s when manifesting.
Rather unhelpfully, I’m going to tell you that I don’t think there is a “best option” for Magnus’ powers – it’s going to come down to what you’re likely to face and what your army needs him to do. Try out the combinations above, try out some different ones with other spells, and find what works for you.
Remember, if you have Magnus in a pure Thousand Sons Detachment (pretty easy when one Lord of War can be a Detachment) Magnus also benefits from +6 to the range of all of his powers, and if he’s your Warlord, he even gets an extra spell.
There are a few Stratagems that are handy to remember, regardless of which you pick. The Great Sorcerer, for a bargain single command point, lets you manifest another power (that’s 4 a turn!), while Chaos Familiar can let you get the drop on your opponent by replacing one of Magnus’s spells with one they weren’t expecting (“Surprise! Infernal Gateway – Shazam!”).
I hope that has been helpful to all you potential Magnus fans out there.
One final thought – don’t despair if Magnus dies. You’ve spent a lot of points to bring Magnus to the table, and to get the best out of him he often needs to be in the thick of the fighting making his points back. Whether slain early in a rain of heavy weapons fire or finally dragged down by desperate hordes later in the game, he is going to die in a lot of your games.
Know this, plan for this, have contingencies in place. Make sure your army works, can kill, and can achieve objectives without him. Just his presence likely buys the rest of your force a relatively untroubled couple of turns, so make the most of it. When Magnus falls, make sure you are already in a position to capitalise on your enemy’s myopic Primarch-focus and win the game.
Thanks, Eddie. Magnus the Red is, of course, available to order now from the Games Workshop webstore, alongside the new Codex: Thousand Sons (which you can also get in eBook edition from Warhammer Digital and the iBooks enhanced edition). Now that Eddie has covered Rubric Marines, Tzaangors and the Primarch himself, all that’s left is for him to showcase how he brings it all together in his own army – check back soon for that.
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