Tactics and Strategy: Thousand Sons War Coven Formation

With the new Wrath of Magnus Campaign Supplement, Chaos players the world over are anxiously anticipating the neat tricks this gem has to offer.  Most of the Formations within are pretty good, but one that particularly stands out to me is the new War Coven. Move over Cyclopia Cabal, there's a new sheriff in town and one that is sure to bring devastation to your opponents.

The War Coven is a Thousand Sons formation which requires either 1 Demon Prince (must be DoT), or 1 Exalted Sorcerer, or 1 Sorcerer and 3-9 Exalted Sorcerers or regular Sorcerers.  They also come with the Favoured of Tzeentch special rule allowing re-rolls of failed saves when the formation is taken with maximum units.  Sadly, this is really impractical because of the cost of the units, but it's the other benefit that will strike fear into the heart's of your enemies on the table.  

Prosperine Cult is a special rule which allows you to pick one of the following "cults" from Biomancy, Divination, Pyromancy, Telekinesis, or Telepathy. Whenever your psykers attempt to manifest a power from the selected discipline you may harness warp charge on a 3+.  That is a huge boon!

The formation is costly to run, even at its most effective, but still capable of wrecking havoc on the table. Some things of note here: Thousand Sons formations have certain requirements that must be met. First, all models able to do so must take a Mark of Tzeentch and all Demon Princes must be Daemons of Tzeentch.  They gain Veterans of the Long War for free. Anytime a Blessing is successfully cast on a unit from a Thousand Sons formation/detachment that also has Veterans of the Long War, that unit's invulnerable saves are improved by 1 (to a maximum of 3++).

Many of the units in the Formation are really expensive even on their own. An Exalted Sorcerer can easily reach over 200 points!  Luckily the good old regular Sorcerer is available to fill those roles for much cheaper. Let's take a look at one of the most effective ways to build this Formation:
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points

That comes up to exactly 700 points, and while extremely expensive is capable of throwing down some major hurt on the table.  Taking the Aura of Dark Glory will boost the invulnerable to a 4++ with a Mark of Tzeentch and to a 3++ when you cast Blessings. Of note, the Tzeentch power table from Chaos Space Marines have expanded. The old powers are still there, but are supplemented by 3 new powers to roll for on the chart:

  • Siphon Magic: WC 1, Blessing that targets the Psyker. Anytime friendly psykers successfully manifest a power within 18″ of the caster, he gets an extra Warp Charge die he can use in that phase.
  • Baleful Devolution: WC 2, Focused Witchfire, 18″, Strength 6, AP 2, Assault D6, Transmogrify: to wound rules of a 6 cause Instant Death. If a model is slain in this manner, they become a Chaos Spawn under the Tzeentch player’s control.
  • Treason of Tzeentch: WC 3, Malediction that allows the caster to take over an enemy unit and have them shoot as if they were one of your units in the shooting phase, counting as having held still. The unit then must take a pinning check.
Those are some pretty amazing new options. Treason of Tzeentch is very similar to Shroud of Deceit from the Cyclopia Cabal, but unlike that power, more than one sorcerer can cast it if they are split into different units.  Siphon Magic is a good way to gain that +1 Invulnerable buff for the Coven  and gain some extra warp charge as well which will be very useful.  Baleful Devotion is amazing and will have your opponent's cringing when you turn one of their models into a Chaos Spawn under your control.  Since you'll be forced to take MoT you'll have to roll at least once on this chart for powers, but with the options available that's not really a drawback.

There are several different ways to build upon the Prosperine Cult special rule and build around those psychic disciplines in your War Coven.

Biomancy: Much like the Cyclopia Cabal, the Biomancy cult is great for creating a death star. If you run these guys attached to a group of Khorne Daemonkin Flesh Hounds you can create a durable unit capable of a lot of damage output. They are beasts so aren't slowed by terrain, and can hit pretty hard in combat as well. Buffing these guys with Endurance, for example, gives them a 4+ Feel No Pain and Eternal Warrior and because they have 2 wounds each that makes them even more durable!  Factor in other blessings such as Warp Speed and Iron Arm and suddenly you have a pretty deadly unit that are also very difficult to kill.

Another option for the Formation, and one I actually like a little better, is the following:
  • Demon Prince, Wings, ML3, DoT, Spell Familiar - 290 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
  • Sorcerer, ML3, VotLW, Bike, Force Stave, Spell Familiar, Aura of Dark Glory, MoT - 175 Points
At 815 points this one is a bit more expensive, but can hit pretty hard as well.  Harnessing things like Iron Arm and Warp Speed on the demon prince on a 3+ can be pretty big. And the fact that when you do so he gets a 4++ re-rolling 1s makes him a pretty tough nut to crack! You can add power armor for a few more points to give him even more durability, but with the 4++ on top of the re-roll, as well as Grav being a thing, I don't think it's necessary. D weapons are still an issue against a demon prince so that is something to consider, as is anything STR 10. If the rumors hold true, the demon prince will also be capable of taking a relic giving him access to a demon weapon with Force. Rocking a high initiative instant death weapon with this guy will be brutal. 

In this setup, the Sorcerers roll with the hounds while the demon prince jumps around the board causing your opponent further headaches as he has to decide what to deal with. You're going to want to apply a lot of pressure with the demon prince and try and get him into combat with targets he can easily wipe out (such as enemy troops).  

Divination:  This is really nice as Chaos Space Marines inherently don't have access to this psychic discipline. The War Coven makes that possible and it can make that star even harder to kill. Cast Forewarning, for example, and suddenly those Flesh Hounds have a 4++ and the sorcerers gain a 3++. Even better on a Demon Prince who then can re-roll those 1s.  Misfortune on an enemy unit along with Prescience means that suddenly your hounds  are getting re-rolls to hit and causing Rending with Furious Charge and with the amount of attacks they are capable of producing that can be devastating to even the toughest enemy units!

Alternatively, you can spread these guys around into your Rubric Marine squads. Perfect Timing makes those AP3 bolters terrifying to most armies and Prescience allowing re-rolls to hit with them is even more frightening. Couple that with your Rubrics getting the benefit of the +1 invulnerable save and they become extraordinarily durable!

Telepathy:  Invisibility and Shrouded are go-to Chaos powers that will make the star extremely difficult to deal with.  Psychic Shriek is even more amazing now as it doesn't require a roll to hit.  Shrouded on a Demon Prince means he has a 2+ jink re-rolling 1s as we all know, and being able to cast on a 3+ makes it even easier to pull off.

The War Coven is quite simply amazing and might be the best thing to come out of the new book for Chaos Space Marines besides the Crimson King himself.  There are just so many great ways to use this formation and it's versatility make it superior to the Cabal in my humble opinion.

Wrath of Magnus hits this weekend and I personally am excited to welcome our new psychic overlords!

Tactics and Strategy: Thousand Sons War Coven Formation Tactics and Strategy: Thousand Sons War Coven Formation Reviewed by Robert Chandler on 11:50:00 PM Rating: 5

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