Nachmund Crusade Part 4: Of Knaves and Knights

Someone laughed suddenly in the darkness. The sound hit Senoth like a chill wind, and in an instant, his eyes burst open.

The act caused him to nearly fall over: he hadn’t realized he had been standing, and, up until this point, hadn’t realized he had been sleeping, either. His post human reflexes reacted sluggishly, and he was forced to brace his heqa staff against the ground to avoid falling. The ground in question was white gravel, dust, ash…involuntarily, his mind raced back to Tizca, to the pulverized white marble of what had once been the Acropolis Magna, the day the Wolves had come…

With supreme effort of will, he forced himself back to reality. He was standing alone, in the bombed-out ruins of what must have once been a commercial district. A thick, grey fog had settled over the area, making the blackened skeletons of the buildings seem shadowy and insubstantial. And he was not alone: Ktesis was with him, as was Zhamat and his Rubricae. Judging by their reactions, both of his fellow Sorcerors were equally disoriented.

He sent a telepathic command for them to focus, instructing them to go into the Third Enumeration to steady their minds, even as he did the same. As he mentally recited the old mantra from the earliest days of the legion, he felt the cobwebs clear from his mind. Memory raced back to him now: they had been returning to the surface of Vigilus, this time descending upon the blazing remnants of Megaborealis Hivesprawl, as Ktesis had scryed some vital knowledge that the Adeptus Mechanicus had cloistered away there. Megaborealis was a wasteland at this point, a disorganized battle ground where Skitarii, xeno-cultists, Orks, and the warbands of the Blood God fought for the burning ruins…and hopefully, they would be too focused on one another to pay attention to us. After finding a decent location, he and his brothers had joined together for and invocation of translocation and then…

…and then he was here, standing alone and disoriented in a place he did not recognize. He cast his mind’s eye out, and was rewarded with sharp aetheric stab of pain. Psychic wards, he realized, and powerful ones at that, had been set up in a ring around this whole area. Their translocation spell hadn’t merely gone awry, he realized: someone had deliberately interrupted it, and brought them here, to this isolated place. But why?

The answer came in the form of that laughter again, ringing from everywhere and nowhere at once. “”Welcome, O Emperor of Heaven, O Flame Eternal,” he heard a voice say from inside his own skull — a soft, lilting voice that might have been female, but seemed more alien than anything. The way the voice spoke made it sound as though they were orating before a crowd, not simply speaking to him alone. “The stage is set, and the players are all here.”

Senoth started to feel dizzy again, as though the mist was seeping through the cracks of his armour and fogging up the inside of his mind. He mouthed the words he knew by heart and ascended to the Ninth Enumeration to resist the psychic assault, before slamming the tip of his heqa staff against the ground, using its as a focus for his power. “Who are you?” he thought back. “Show yourself!”

The trilling laughter sounded again. In the distance, through the fog, he thought he saw a shape flit past, but it went by too quickly for him to ascertain any details. He tried to scry out with his mind, but found himself unable to grasp his surroundings– it was as though this fog, whatever it was, permeated the aether as well as the physical realm, making it difficult to sense anything.

“All in good time, O Phoenix Ascendant,” the voice said. “It would not do to lift the curtain until the play is ready to begin.”

He saw another shape suddenly flit past in the fog, then another. Ktesis and Zhamat had clearly seen the shapes as well, and they were now huddling together, staves raised as they watched the mist. Senoth had barely made out a lithe, seemingly dancing shape, and a face etched in a terrifyingly ghoulish grin…

“Harlequins,” he thought, the telltale signs of these intruders matching what he little he knew of the fabled Aeldari dancer-mystics. “Why have you entrapped us here? Is this vengeance for Ahriman’s incursions against your library?”

That damnable laughter sounded out again. More and more of the shadowy shapes could be seen darting back and forth now in the fog, now, circling them almost playfully. It was impossible to determine how many or how few there were, for the Aeldari’s forms wove in and out of the fog too rapidly to assess their numbers. It did, however, seem like the Aeldari had them surrounded.

“Oh mon-keigh,” the voice said with mock sympathy, “you have not been listening. We assembled players are about to put on a performance, and we require participants!”

“As much as I appreciate a good stage play,” Senoth thought back, “my brothers and I have business to attend to, so sadly we cannot stay and watch you perform.”

The voice in his head laughed again. “Whoever said anything about watching? We do not require an audience; this is but a rehearsal. A rehearsal for the greatest of plays– that of the great Tragedy of the Fall.”

The fog felt like it was coming closer now, surrounding Senoth and his brothers. As he watched, the Aeldari began to become a little more tangible, though their forms still seemed vague and fuzzy in his vision, constantly blurring and shimmering like pict-static. He saw some of them perched, crow-like, atop ruined buildings and peering down at them, or standing in mid-piroutte, dancers frozen in from. All of them staring at the Thousand Sons now with those ghoulish masks of theirs, and all of them were laughing.

“And as it happens,” the voice went on, “the roles of Asuryan, Khaine and Vaul have not yet been filled…the three gods who died the most violently and the most tragically to She Who Thirsts. You, however, will fill these roles quite nicely! So come, Asuryan, Phoenix King Eternal, your tragic downfall awaits!”

And then, as if on cue, the Harlequins all came dancing towards them in a riotous blur of colour, blades flashing in the darkness…


In the next few weeks of the campaign, a new round began, one that allowed new participants to enter. To make things fair for newcomers, they were all given a massive amount of requisition points to spend at the start of the campaign. As a result of this, a lot of new armies and faces appeared in the crusade, and a lot of these armies were starting out with almost all of their units massively upgraded with battle honours and crusade relics.

Moving into the second round of the campaign, I was eager to claw back some victories after the series of losses I had had previously. Although I had managed to play one game against another Necron opponent, this battle, regrettably, also started late, and we both had to finish by turn 2. The following week, I was really hoping to finally get a full game in…and for better or worse, I got my wish when I was paired up against Thomas and his Harlequins. For context, not only is Thomas an excellent painter (his Harlies are amazing to look at), but he was also a really good Harlequins player even before the new Aeldari book came out and the Harlequins became the tournament boogeyman that they are. In short, going into this battle, I knew I would have my work cut out for me.

For this game, I ran the following:

Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disc of Tzeentch, Prosperine khopesh, Athenaean Scrolls, Artificer Bionics, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Weaver of Fates, Immaterial Echo, Thrallmaster, Warp Strider, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate
Ktesis- Infernal Master w. Umbralific Crystal, Laurels of Victory, Malefic Maelstrom, Glimpse of Eternity, Glamour of Tzeentch, Tactical Experience
Sectae Zhamat- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Temporal Surge, Battle Hardened, Veteran Warriors
Sectae Hasturos- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Doombolt, Battle Hardened
Sectae Medea- 5 Rubric Marines w. 4 warpflamers, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Incandaeum, Pyric Flux, Psychic Might
Sectae Abydos- 5 Scarab Occult Terminators- w. soulreaper cannon, helfyre missile rack, Sorceror w. Presage; Grizzled
Apophis- Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought w. multi-melta, chainfist, plasma blaster, cyclone missile launcher, Elite Crew
The Forgotten- Chaos Spawn
The Forsaken- Chaos Spawn

It was pretty much the same as the list I ran previously against the Necrons, with the minor exception that, in the short game I had played the preceding week, I had not only managed to level up Ktesis but had also acquired a free Crusade relic after winning a Relic mission. As such, I gave Ktesis the Laurels of Victory, for some handy extra command points, as well as the Tactical Experience battle honour to double down on the chances of recycling said command points.

Thomas, meanwhile, was running the following list:


Star- Troupe Master w. fusion pistol, Storied Sword, Frenzon Injector, A Foot in the Future, Deadly Charge
Shadow– Shadowseer w. Crescendo, miststave, Mirror of Minds, Webway Dance, Psychic Might
The Fiends– 5 Players w. 2 fusion pistols, 1 neuro pistol, 2 caresses, 1 embrace, 1 kiss, Veteran Warriors
The Myrmidesh– 5 Players w. 2 fusion pistols, 1 neuro pistol, 2 caresses, 1 embrace, 1 kiss, Veteran Warriors
The Daemonettes– 5 Players w. 2 fusion pistols, 1 neuro pistol, 2 caresses, 1 embrace, 1 kiss, Veteran Warriors
Gaze of She Who Thirsts– Death Jester w. shrieker cannon w. Master-Worked, Laughing God’s Eye
The Seekers– 4 Skyweavers w. haywire cannons, zephyrglaives, Deadly Charge
Burning Chariot
– Voidweaver
Yellow Warp Rift– Starweaver w. Enhanced Engines
Blue Warp Rift– Starweaver w. Enhanced Engines

I had faced the previous incarnation of his Harlequins before with my Sisters of Battle, and knew from painful experience just how incredibly fast, hard-hitting and tricksy they could be. That being said, I had not yet faced the Harlequins in their current codex, and at the time only vaguely knew about their luck dice and about apparently how deadly Voidweavers were. I knew, going into this battle, that it wouldn’t be easy, and figured it was going to be a major learning experience either way.


We rolled randomly for the scenario, and got an interesting one: Recon Patrol. As per this scenario, we would score points both by holding objectives, and by performing actions in table quarters. The kicker, though, would be that we would start the game with at least half of our units in reserve, and that these reserves would come in on our table edges on random dice rolls, just like older editions of 40k.

For his own half, Thomas selected his Shadowseer, Death Jester, a Voidweaver and a unit of Players in a Starweaver. For my own half, I took Senoth, Ktesis, and both Zhamat and Hasturos.

Deployment looked like this:

All of my units huddled behind ruins, waiting for help to arrive.
The Harlequins, similarly, hid behind ruins
An overall shot of the battlefield

For our agendas, I took Pursuit of Knowledge and Lord of the Warp. Thomas, for his part, took Reaper and A Perfect Rehearsal. For this last one, as his army was still in the Rehearsal phase of the play they were preparing, he had to nominate my three highest-costing models and would gain points for killing them. As the theme of his army was that they were preparing for a performance of the Fall of the Eldar, Thomas nominated Senoth, Apophis and Ktesis as Asuryan, Khaine and Vaul, respectively.

And with that, we rolled for the first turn…and thankfully, I won, though with only half of my force now available, my options were limited.

In my first turn, Ktesis managed to gain a Glimpse of Eternity, and I kept most of my units huddled behind the ruins: I knew Thomas had a massive mobility and firepower advantage at that moment, and wanted to coax him into coming towards me. The one exception, though, was me sending Sectae Zhamat up to go claim one of the objectives nearest to me. Sectae Hasturos, for their part, stayed on the objective they were on, and did the Reconnoitre action to start giving me some much needed victory points.

In the psychic phase, there was not much to do: Senoth cast Weaver of Fates on Sectae Zhamat and then gained a command point with Echoes of the Warp, and Ktesis similarly cast Glamour of Tzeentch on the squad, before Zhamat cast Temporal Surge and moved his squad up further so that they were hugging the edge of a wall, just in range of an objective.

In his turn, Thomas moved semi-aggressively with his forces, moving both of his skimmers out from behind terrain and keeping his Shadowseer and Death Jester sandwiched between them. Crucially, he managed to move both vehicles up so that they could just barely see Sectae Zhamat around the edge of the wall. Uh oh….

In the psychic phase, his Shadowseer cast Smite on Sectae Zhamat; I failed to deny it, and one poor dusty boy was freemed down. Thankfully, I was able to then deny Mirror of Minds. In the shooting phase, though, his Starweaver, the Players on board, the Voidweaver and (I think) the Death Jester all focused their fire upon Sectae Zhamat. Despite my layered psychic buffs and Armour of Contempt, another three Rubric Marines went down, leaving just Zhamat on his own…and crucially, just out of range of the objective.

In my turn, things were looking pretty bad, as Sectae Zhamat had taken a severe mauling. As much as I wanted to try to resurrect some of his buddies, though, I knew I needed to focus on scoring points by performing actions. Things weren’t much more encouraging with Ktesis tried and failed to gain another Glimpse of Eternity. As such, I moved Zhamat up onto the objective, so that he was fully within the other table quarter in the process. Everything else, of course, stayed put behind their cover.

At the end of the movement phase, I had Zhamat perform the Reconnoitre action, while Sectae Hasturos did Pursuit of Knowledge. And then I rolled for my reserves…and thankfully, the reserve rolls were kind to me, as almost my entire army arrived, with the notable exception of my Spawn. Unfortunately, my army were all still quite a distance away from any objectives I might have wanted to claim. Not for the first time in this campaign, I found myself wishing that I had gone for the Cult of Duplicity and their nifty teleport spell.

Tactical Error #1: I had completely forgotten that I could have had stuff come in on my diagonal table edge as well, which would have allowed some of my units to get a little closer to some of the other objectives and table quarters. I guess in my defense, I rarely use Stategic Reserves and it has been ages since I was forced to use random reserve systems.

In the psychic phase, the Terminators cast Presage on themselves for those much-needed bonuses to hit against the tricksy Harlequins. Ktesis cast Glamour of Tzeentch on Apophis, while Senoth also put Weaver of Fates on Apophis, before casting Tzeentch’s Firestorm on the Starweaver. I managed to make a big roll of 9+, and then rolled the 9 dice…and failed. To roll. A single. 5+! Somewhere in the distance, I thought I could hear Tzeentch cackling. At the very least, Senoth still managed to freem 2 wounds off of the Starweaver with Smite (I can’t remember if I used Malevolent Charge for extra wounds or not, though). Finally, Sectae Medea, situated pretty far from the action, cast Echoes of the Warp to give me another command point.

In the shooting phase, the Terminators used Wrath of the Wronged and put all of their firepower into the Starweaver. It was at this point, though, that I learned that Harlequin vehicles not only have a 4+ invulnerable save and force a -1 to hit, but also will not let you reroll any of those hits. After all was said and done, the Terminators only succeeded in bringing the Starweaver down to 1 wound remaining (Thomas may have used some Luck dice to keep it alive). With nothing else in line of sight or range, it was down to Apophis to do something, and he split his fire: his missile launcher nailed the Starweaver and finally brought it down in a flaming wreck, while one of its other guns, I can’t remember which, did maybe 1 or 2 wounds to the Voidweaver behind it.

Annoyingly, none of his Players were killed in the destruction of their clown car. Thomas assured me it was all part of the act.

In Thomas’ turn, he moved up aggressively with his disembarked Players, moving them right up in front of my Terminators. His Voidweaver moved up to screen his Shadowseer and Death Jester, and then his reserves came on: his Players on foot came on on the right hand side of the board, along with his other Starweaver with the Troupe Master on board. Thankfully, his Skyweavers still had yet to arrive.

In the psychic phase, his Shadowseer tried to Smite Zhamat, and despite my best efforts, I failed to deny, and poor Zhamat was blasted down by a colourful burst of energy. I managed to deny Webway Dance, but the Shadowseer did manage to cast Mirror of Minds of Senoth, doing 3 wounds to him as I failed all of his 5+ shrugs, leaving him reeling and dazed from the Aeldari’s mental assault.

The pain continued in the shooting phase, as the Starweaver, Players, and Death Jester all focused their fire into the Scarab Occult Terminators. I used the Unwavering Phalanx stratagem to mitigate the damage, but it availed me little, as the storm of neuro-disuptor pulses, fusion blasts and shurikens still cut down two of the Terminators and did two wounds to another. As an encore, his other Starweaver and the passengers inside managed to do 1 wound to Sectae Hasturos hiding in the ruins.

In close combat, the Players came dancing into the Terminators, using the Silken Knife stratagem to deny overwatch. In a blur of shimmering light and swinging blades, the one wounded Terminator went down, sliced to ribbons despite his thick armour. The Sekhmet Elite fought back hard, though, with their Sorceror smashing down one of the nimble dancer-warriors in reprisal.

In my turn, things were…not great, but not exactly terrible either. Though I was smarting from the loss of Sectae Zhamat, the vast majority of my army was unscathed, and my Terminators were holding the line admirably. I was also conscious, though, that I needed to not only score more points this round, but also I really wanted to kill that Shadowseer to score some sweet Arcane points (I had been collecting one or two each game, and my progress had been frustratingly slow)

With this in mind, I flew up aggressively with Senoth, landing him on a building overlooking the Death Jester and Shadowseer. Apophis, in turn, moved up, ready to smash that annoying Voidweaver if needed. The rest of my units held their position, with Sectae Hasturos in particular staying on the objective they were resolutely holding.

At the end of my movement phase, though, Ktesis shattered the Umbralific Crystal he was carrying, teleporting Sectae Medea far across the board onto another objective, only a few metres away from some surprised looking Players. The hope here was to wipe out those Players, and next turn use the Reconnoiter action again on that objective. Also at the end of my movement phase, both of my Spawn finally arrived at the far upper corner of my table left table edge, quite far away from the Harlequins.

Tactical Error #2: This will sound absurd, but at the time I had completely forgotten that the other Starweaver still had players (and a Troupe Master!) in it. For some absurd reason, I thought it was empty, and that it didn’t have anything to threaten me with. Note, though, that even if I had remembered, I don’t think I would have done anything differently…though as a carryover from my last tactical blunder, I should have brought the Spawn over from my other board edge, to hopefully threaten that Starweaver.

In the psychic phase, Senoth cast Firestorm upon the Voidweaver…and after a truly crappy psychic test, ended up only casting it on low power. What made it even worse is he then rolled only a single measly 6, doing 1 wound to the Voidweaver. Thus far, Tzeentch seemed to be trolling Senoth every time he tried to use Firestorm. Thoroughly annoyed at this point, I used the Unholy Susuruss stratagem to switch out Senoth’s Weaver of Fates for Twist of Fate, which he then used to turn off the Voidweaver’s invulnerable save. The Terminators, for their part, failed to cast Smite, though I then used the Great Sorceror stratagem to let them cast again, and the managed to bring back their fallen brother with Time Flux. Sectae Hasturos, at least, helped out, casting Doombolt and freeming down 3 of the Players battling the Terminators, leaving only one of them standing/dancing/prancing.

Elsewhere, Sectae Medea Smote the other Players and managed to blast down two of them. Tactical Error #3: I should have REAALLLY used Malevolent Charge to do more mortal wounds to them, but for some reason I didn’t think to do so at the time. Instead they opted for Echoes of the Warp…and then somehow failed that. Finally, Ktesis attempted to cast Glamour of Tzeentch on Apophis…and rolled a double 1, perilling and doing 3 wounds to himself, leaving himself on only 1 remaining. Because I was out of command points at this point, I could not reroll it or use Masters of the Immaterium to ignore the perils.

In the shooting phase, Apophis levelled all of his guns against the Starweaver, and gratuitously annihilated it. Sectae Hasturos, meanwhile, turned their guns on the other Starweaver and managed to blast two wounds off of it despite its shimmering holo field. Sectae Medea then unleashed a large number of flamer hits upon the Players…and somehow….only managed to kill one and wound their leader. I was a little stunned by this, as statistically 5 flamer weapons should have been able to wipe out 3 toughness 3 infantry, even with their 4+ invulnerable save. I can’t remember if my rolling was abysmal, if Thomas’ saves were amazing and/or his Luck dice came to the rescue, or some combination of all three. Either way, I had failed to wipe out those Players.

In the charge phase, Apophis charged the Death Jester, while Senoth charged the Shadowseer, no doubt hoping to pry all the knowledge from her skull as payback for that headache she had given him earlier. Senoth swung out with his khopesh, but thanks to some really good (and Lucky) dodges by the Shadowseer, he only managed to land once, dealing two wounds to the nimble Aeldari. The Shadowseer swung back with her miststave, but Senoth’s armour held firm against her blows. The Death Jester, meanwhile, tried to distract Apophis with a joke about a walking sarcophagus that went into a bar, but the Dreadnought unceremoniously splattered him before he could get to the punchline. Finally, the last Player tried in vain to find a weak spot in the Terminators’ armour, and was hacked in twain by khopeshes in reply.

In Thomas’ turn, the Shadowseer fell out of combat with Senoth, throwing some cryptic phrases his way as she went and darted up next to the Spawn. The Starweaver (the one that I had forgotten about) unloaded its cargo, with the third Player squad going after Sectae Hasturos on my home objective, the last two Players from the other squad running up to Sectae Medea, and the Troupe Master advancing up to the middle of the board so that he could go after either Medea or the Terminators. Finally, the humming of yet more antigrav engines could be heard as the Skyweavers came zooming into battle from the northernmost table edge.

The disembarking Players ended up practically on my doorstep after a very good advance roll.
“Will the mon-keigh on the left die, or the mon-keigh on the right? You, the audience, decide!”

As the Shadowseer had fallen back, the Harlequins had no psychic phase, but they still had plenty of shooting. Calmly, the Shadowseer raised her relic shuriken pistol, and riddled Senoth with razor-sharp discs, sending him tumbling to the ground– somehow, I proceeded to fail every single save and 5+ shrug, even with the one reroll I got from my Chaos boons! To add to my misfortune, the Skyweavers strafed Apophis with their haywire cannons, landing several direct hits that overwhelmed the Dreadnought’s systems and forced it to deactivate. (Thomas rolled ridiculously well, and managed to destroy Apophis with a single round of shooting from his bikes!) Finally, the last two Players from one squad levelled their fusion pistols at Sectae Medea, atomizing two of the Rubricae in puffs of ash, while the other Players similarly vaporized two of Sectae Hasturos, and the whistling shuriken cannons of their Starweaver bisected a third.

And then, in the charge phase, the Harlequins closed the noose around my remaining forces, with the Troupe Master and his last two Players charging Sectae Medea, the other Players charging Sectae Hasturos and Ktesis, and the Shadowseer and the Skyweavers charging the Chaos Spawn. All of the combats were merciless and brief; the Troupe Master cut down all three members of Sectae Medea with silvered flashes of his blade, while Ktesis and Sectae Hasturos were quickly disassembled by their agile opponents. Last but not least, the Shadowseer banished one ghostly Spawn with twirling blows of her miststave, while the zephyrglaives of the Skyweavers swiftly banished the other one.

And with that, I had only a few Scarab Occult Terminators remaining. I highly doubted I would be able to kill many Harlequins next turn, and the Termies were surely doomed to be charged and destroyed by multiple opponents afterwards, and so I called it then and there.


Thoughts: Ooof, too say that could have gone better would have been an understatement. Going into this battle, Thomas seemed apprehensive, stating that Thousand Sons were regarded as a bad matchup for the Harlequins due to their mortal wound output. I disagreed, though, stating that the Harlequins’ sheer speed, firepower, and hitting power in melee made them far scarier to me. It turns out, I was right: the speed of Thomas’ killer clowns allowed him to pretty much dictate the flow of the battle, and strike where he wanted (and when he did strike, it was usually with overwhelmingly deadly force). One thing that really helped was how shockingly resilient his vehicles were: despite being only toughness 5 with 6 wounds, the Starweavers’ -1 to hit ability, invulnerable save, and ability to turn off rerolls made them annoyingly hard to damage, even more so when Luck dice got involved. Seriously, I wish my Drukhari’s Raiders were that good!

The scenario didn’t give me any favours, either: the fact that half my army was walking in from reserve meant that I had a long walk to get to a lot of the objectives I needed to get, whereas the speed of Tom’s Harlies meant that he was substantially less handicapped. True, had I been thinking straight, I could have brought other units in from my other board edge, but in retrospect I don’t know how much that might have changed things other than giving the Harlequins some easier targets. The bad luck moments in this battle (Senoth whiffing on Firestorm twice in a row, failing to kill the Shadowseer, and Sectae Medea whiffing the one time they got to shoot) really didn’t help me much either. Credit where credit is due, though, Thomas played a solid game (as expected) and was a fun guy to play against.

A final note is that this battle was my first test of the Armour of Contempt rules…and they really didn’t do much to save me. Granted, the extra AP from Saedath of Dark essentially nullified Armour of Contempt in melee, but even outside of that, so much of Tom’s stuff was easily going through my armour even without it. While I was able to make a few extra saves here and there, ultimately the overall improvement in durability for my dusty boys felt pretty minor.

Battle Honours: After punching down his fair share of Space Elves in this game, Apophis got to level up. I decided to give him Improved Shielding, as I figured the bonus to his save against low AP attacks would synergize fairly well with Armour of Contempt.


Everything was falling apart. I recall that I was lying there, bleeding out on the dust of those ruins that were and were not Tizca, as around me my brothers fought and died against the Aeldari onslaught. I saw Apophis explode as he was struck by several alien energy weapons, his internal systems rupturing and detonating. I saw our Rubricae embroiled in melee with the Harlequins, too slow to react as the razored blades of the xenos sliced them apart piece by piece. I saw Medea fall, then Ktesis, then Zhamat…and then it was just the Terminators, fighting back to back and firing at the shadows as the Harlequins closed in around them, their cruel masks bright and visible even in the impossible fog. For a brief moment, all I could hear was their laughter, echoing across that nightmarish plane…

And then I woke up, and I was back in my chambers aboard the Silver Tower. One of the Tzaangor acolytes had been trying to rouse me for hours, apparently: I had fallen into a longer and deeper sleep than was normal for we Astartes.

Even now, as I write this, I am not certain if what happened was real or not. On the one hand, it has all the hallmarks of a dream– but on the other hand, my chest aches from where I recall that the Aeldari mystic shot me. I have spoken to my brothers, and they all told me that they had the same dream, and that they too have aches and pains from where they had suffered fatal wounds in that dream. I am now convinced that we were all victim to some sort of telepathic assault by the Harlequins. To what end, I am not certiain: it is possible that this Shadowseer might have been trying to extract information from our minds, or perhaps she was trying to kill as all while we slept. Or perhaps she truly was conducting a performance, and abducting us as unwilling participants. Whatever the reason, I am not taking any further chances: I spent the better part of the day with my brothers strengthening the aetheric wards around the Silver Tower.

Once that was out of the way, we continued with our original plan of investigating one of theruined archival-silos on Megaborealis. We had been able to determine, through much scrying and from the interrogation of a few surviving Techpriests, that the knowledge we sought was there: while the Adeptus Terra had been secreting old, forbidden lore away in Hyperia, the Mechanicus, being their predictably treacherous selves, had found out about it and secretly copied it down. There was still a chance, then, that we could still retrieve what the Necrons had stolen from us.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the primary archive in Megaborealis, we found that it had already been razed to the ground and that its precious data-troves had been looted– not by Orks, as we found out, but by our allies. Apparently, House Demihydratus, one of the many Questor Traitoris houses fighting under the Despoiler’s banner, had taken over one of the forges in Megaborealis as a makeshift keep, and had been greedily hoarding all wealth and resources they had managed to plunder. And among those resources were the precious data stacks we were seeking.

Unwilling to lose our prize so easily, I dispatched Zhamat to House Demihydratus’ keep to negotiate an acquisition of the data-stacks. We were willing to pay any price for them, Zhamat was to tell them, and indeed we had a wealth of knowledge, relics, and other sorcerous arcana that we could offer the knights in trade. Zhamat barely returned with his life, bleeding from numerous wounds: apparently, Lady Incensus, the leader of these knights, had responded to our offer with several choice words that I shall not reprint here, before ordering that Zhamat be killed for his insolence.

An attack on one of our own shall not stand, especially from a bunch of upjumped mortal aristocrats with delusions of grandeur. We are the Thousand Sons, the Fifteenth Legion, and we were waging war long before any of these knights’ grandsires were in the womb. Roused into action, we set off to give House Demihydratus a reminder of this, as we set off to storm their keep and take by force what we could not gain with diplomacy…


For the following week’s game, I ended up facing off against Rose and her Chaos Knights. Rose had previously been running Ultramarines in the first round of the campaign, and had earned some notoriety by fielding a Librarian so loaded with battle honours and upgrades that he was a walking psychic artillery battery. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to pit my own Sorcerors against these loyalists in a proper psychic duel, so a battle against an army of apartment building-sized, demonically-possessed walkers would have to suffice.

For my list, I ran the following:

Senoth- Exalted Sorceror w. Disc of Tzeentch, Prosperine khopesh, Athenaean Scrolls, Artificer Bionics, Tzeentch’s Firestorm, Weaver of Fates, Immaterial Echo, Thrallmaster, Warp Strider, Flesh Sigils, Favoured By Fate
Ktesis- Infernal Master w. Umbralific Crystal, Laurels of Victory, Malefic Maelstrom, Glimpse of Eternity, Glamour of Tzeentch, Tactical Experience
Sectae Hasturos- 5 Rubric Marines w. soulreaper cannon, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Doombolt, Battle Hardened
Sectae Medea- 5 Rubric Marines w. 4 warpflamers, Icon of Flame, Sorceror w. Incandaeum, Pyric Flux, Psychic Might
The Children of T’Char- 10 Tzaangor w. Tzaangor blades, brayhorn, herd-banner
Sectae Abydos- 5 Scarab Occult Terminators- w. soulreaper cannon, helfyre missile rack, Sorceror w. Presage; Grizzled
Apophis- Chaos Contemptor Dreadnought w. multi-melta, chainfist, plasma blaster, cyclone missile launcher, Elite Crew, Improved Shielding
The Forgotten- Chaos Spawn
The Forsaken- Chaos Spawn

While I didn’t tailor my list for this game, I figured that the Tzaangor were going to be absolutely essential for screening against the Knights (although I did not know at the time that Knights could simply walk over them, the fiends). Otherwise, it was the same usual units that I was used to fielding. The biggest issue, of course, was that outside of Apophis, my list was sorely lacking in anti-vehicle weapons of any kind (one of the principal weaknesses of Thousand Sons, to be honest), so I was hoping that massed mortal wounds and small arms fire would be enough to damage Rose’s Knights.

Speaking of Rose’s Knights…


CUSTOM HOUSEHOLD SUPER-HEAVY DETACHMENT (Iconoclast, Abominable Constitution, Infamous Heredity)

Lady Incensus- Knight Despoiler w. Avenger gatling cannon, rapid-fire battle cannon, heavy flamer, heavy stubber, Stormspear rocket pod, Veil of Medrengard, Master-Crafted Armour, Infernal Quest, Vow of Dominance, Elite Crew
Vacuous- Knight Despoiler Dreadblade w. heavy stubber, Gauntlet of Ascension, Reaper chainsword, Ironstorm missile launcher, Eager to Kill, Vow of Carnage, Thunderous Charge, Daemonic Vigour, Warp-Rage, Enhanced Engines, Heirloom Weapon (Titanic Feet)
Candor- War Dog w. 2 War Dog autocannons, heavy stubber, Tzeentchian Pyrothrone

For those who are wondering, the current Chaos Knight book had not yet been released at the time, so this list was still made with the old book. Yes, I know, I still have a lot of catching up to do with my batreps.

Unsurprisingly, Rose was only really able to field 3 Chaos Knights, though all three of those Knights were rocking an impressive number of guns and upgrades. Even so, I was reasonably confident that, as long as I managed to screen my more essential units in the early turns, I would be able to deal with Rose’s Knights one at a time.


For the scenario, we randomly rolled Sabotage, a battle where the attacker gains points for destroying objectives in the enemy deployment zone, the defender gets points for protecting them, and both sides gain points for killing stuff. And, by chance, my Thousand Sons ended up being the attacker, which meant that I would have to try to get into the Chaos Knights’ deployment zone. This was definitely not what I had expected, but I still felt reasonably confident all the same.

Our deploment was as follows:

I positioned both of my Rubric squads, Ktesis, Apophis and both Spawn on the left flank, hoping to hide them from the worst of the Knights’ firepower, and also positioning them were hopefully either squad could be teleported across the board by Ktesis in future turns.
On the right flank, I positioned Senoth and the Terminators behind a loyal screen of Tzaangor.
Rose, meanwhile, placed almost all her Knights behind the large walls…not that it would help them, as super-heavies like Knights can’t be obscured.

For Agendas, I took Arcana Long Buried and Titan Hunter, while Rose took Reaper and Witch Hunter.

As per the scenario, the attacker got to choose whether to go first or second…and naturally, I obligingly went first.

After getting a Glimpse of Eternity reroll from Ktesis, I started by having the Tzaangor advance forwards to act as a big, feathery screen for my army, while the Terminators edged up behind them with Senoth close behind. In the centre, Sectae Medea edged up cautiously behind the Tzaangor screen, with Apophis close behind; Ktsesis, though, remained hidded behind obscuring terrain, though Sectae Hasturos moved into the ruins so that they could lend their fire support as well. At around this time, Rose reminded me that Knights can move over infantry units, so I moved up both Spawn as into key positions on the left and right as well, hoping that they would impede some of House Demihydratus’ early charges. Hopefully as well, once the Knights started to exit their deployment zones, I would be able to use the Umbralific Crystal to put one of my Rubric units behind the Knights’ lines to start sabotaging objectives.

In the psychic phase, Senoth was clearly hoping to make up for his lackluster performance in previous games, and wow did he deliver: between him, the Terminators and Medea (and I think Hasturos, but I can’t remember if his Doombolt was in range), Vacuous was bombarded with Firestorms and Smites, and took a massive 12 mortal wounds (roughly half of which came from Senoth), leaving the Knight on half his health remaining! Senoth also managed to cast Weaver of Fates on the Tzaangor, to help them absorb damage better, while the Terminators used The Great Sorceror to cast a second time and put Presage on Apophis, while Ktesis also put Glamour on Apophis. The big guy was going to be my best chance for a counter charge if (or rather when) the Knights got into my lines, and I didn’t want him getting shot off the board before then. For what it was worth, Sectae Medea also cast Pyric Flux on themselves.

The shooting phase, though, was much more lacklustre. The Terminators used both Infernal Fusillade and Wrath of the Wronged and shot into Vacuous, who Rotated Ion Shields and only took 1 wound after all was said and done (I really should have had Ktesis nearby to put Malefic Maelstrom, the extra strength would have made a huge difference). Medea also fired the one warpflamer in range, but did no damage, and Hasturos’ soulreaper cannon similarly bounced off. Apophis also had trouble getting past Vacuous’ ion shields, though he still managed to land with a krak missile that did another 2 wounds, bringing Vacuous down to 9. Unfortunately, thanks to Rose’s Household tradition, this did not bracket the Knight at all.

In my turn, I had thought that I had done a pretty good job of locking down the Knights’ movement; unfortunately, Rose was about to prove how very wrong I was. Vacuous began the round by advancing: Rose had already warned me that her melee Knight had something like a 17″ move even before advances, but I had thought that I had used Spawn well enough to block all of his avenues of movement, Rose spied a gap in the wide enough for Vacuous to zoom down the left flank, ending up facing next to Ktesis and Sectae Hasturos where they thought they had been safe. Uh oh…

“I heard you were talking smack, m8.”

The rest of the Knight movement was similarly aggressive, with Lady Incensus stomping right in front of the Tzaangor, and Candor sidling up beside her. Clearly, Rose was going for an aggressive defence, trying to keep me away from the objectives by giving me three very scary threats right to focus on instead.

In the psychic phase, Candor used the Pyrothrone built into his Armiger to Smite the Tzaangor, frying one of the birdmen with a blast of warp energy. Then the guns of House Demihydratus roared to life: Lady Incensus split her firepower, with her rapid-fire battle cannon and stubbers going into the Tzaangor, her Avenger gatling cannon and heavy flamer targeting Sectae Medea, and her missile launcher targeting Apophis. Alas, her missiles exploded harmlessly against Apophis’ improved shielding, and while her gatling cannon raked Sectae Medea with high velocity rounds, I used the Unwavering Phalanx stratagem, and only one Rubric Marine was shredded by the scything wave of metal. (The combination of All is Dust and Armour of Contempt really saved me here). The battle cannon, heavy flamer and stubbers, however, blasted apart the ranks of the Tzaangor, and Candor joined in with his autocannons, explosions punching great holes into the avian horde. At the end, 6 of the Tzaangor were shredded by the storm of fire, despite Weaver of Fates.

And then the charge phase began: using the Full Tilt stratagem, Vacuous slammed into both Ktesis and Sectae Hasturos, though he didn’t inflict any mortal wounds with one of his special Dreadblade abilities. Lady Incensus, meanwhile, charged both the last Tzaangor and Sectae Medea, who overwatched and managed to burninate a couple of wounds off of the towering Knight; and finally, Candor revved up his Armiger and crashed into the remaining Tzaangor as well. All things considered, it was turning out to be a very bad day to be a Tzaangor.

Forgoing his dreaded Gauntlet of Ascension, Vacuous instead decided to crush the Thousand Sons under his titanic feet, and four Rubric Marines were utterly pulverized by the Knight’s stomping rampage. Following up, Rose used the Death Grip stratagem to have Vacuous grab onto Ktesis with his massive gauntlet, and it went it went it went it went–

Ahem, sorry, wrong Death Grips. Anyway, Ktesis was unable to break free, and Vacuous crushed him in his power armour like a tin can. This was a big blow, as not only had I just lost my Umbralific Crystal (which was essential to my plans for teleporting onto objectives next turn), but because Ktesis had had the Laurels of Victory, I also immediately lost 2 command points! Argh!

Elsewhere, Lady Incensus split her attacks between Sectae Medea and the Tzaangor. Another Rubric Marine was swiftly crushed under her Knight’s feet, but while she also inflicted 9 wounds on the Tzaangor, my dice were suddenly on fire, and only one of the birdmen was squashed to a fine blue paste! Candor tried to help his mistress, and did no damage to the avians. Swinging back, however, neither the Rubric Marines nor the last Tzaangor could damage the Knights.

Seriously, these were the Tzaangor’s invulnerable saves. Clearly, Tzeentch was watching over them.

In the morale phase, another Tzaangor squawked away, leaving only their banner bearer standing. All in all, I had weathered the attack of the Knights much better than I had expected, but losing Ktesis was a devastating blow. I would now have to either find a way to move past the Knights, or else fight my way through them. At this moment, I was cursing myself for not having decided to go with the Cult of Duplicity and their teleport shenanigans.

In my turn, I had all of my engaged units fall back from combat, with the last Tzaangor falling back in such a way that he was moving towards the enemy deployment zone. Hopefully, there would be a miracle and he would actually make it to one of the enemy objectives unscathed.

Moving onto the offensive, the Scarab Occult Terminators and both Spawn moved around Lady Incensus to encircle her, with Senoth following close behind to lend magical support. Apophis, meanwhile, turned around to deal with Vacuous, and I’m sure dramatic music played in the background as the Dreadnought and the Dreadblade squared off. Because Vacuous hadn’t piled in last turn, Hasturos was free to move about without penalty, and he edged into the ruins so that Lady Incensus was closer.

“Oh, you are approaching me?”

(Looking back, of course, what I SHOULD have done was have Hasturos advance as fast as he could towards the closest wall, in the hopes that he could scale over it and then get onto some objectives in future turns. Oh well, that’s hindsight for you.)

In the psychic phase, I once again rained psychic death upon a Knight, this time focusing everything upon Lady Incensus. Hasturos managed to Doombolt 3 wounds off of her, while Senoth managed another 7 between Firestorm and Smite, and managed to use a Time Flux on Hasturos’ squad in the bargain, resurrecting the soulreaper gunner. The Terminators also Smote another 2 wounds off of Lady Incensus, and I then used The Great Sorceror so their Sorceror could cast again, but he failed to cast Presage on his own squad.

Then, in the shooting phase, the combined fire of the Terminators and Hasturos’ soulreaper cannon managed to chip only 1 more wound off of Lady Incensus, as at that point my ability to roll 5s abandoned me. Apophis, meanwhile, fired all of his guns into Vacuous, but after all was said and done only managed to burn 3 wounds off of the big brute with his multi-melta.

It all came down to the charge phase, with the Terminators and both Spawn multi-charging Lady Incensus and Candor, while Apophis barrelled into Vacuous. I started with the title fight between Apophis and Vacuous, as unless I managed to kill this Knight (who admittedly had only 6 wounds remaining), then its return attacks would undoubtedly crush Apophis in return. Thankfully, Apophis was more than up to the task, his giant khopesh (aka Contemptor chainfist) doing a massive 18 wounds to Vacuous, inelegantly ripping the Chaos Knight in half! GO APOPHIS!

In the other combat, meanwhile, I used Wrath of the Wronged on the Terminators so that they would be wounding on 4s. I managed to hit was a fairly large number of attacks…and then the dice proceeded to betray me, as I rolled nothing but 1s and 2s! In the end, the Terminators managed to do only 4 wounds to Lady Incensus, and the Spawn barely scratched her Knight’s paintwork. In exchange, Incensus tried to crush the Terminators underfoot, and barely managed to kill one and wound another. She also attempted to Thunderstomp the Terminators, but unfortunately failed to roll the necessary 4+ to do any mortal wounds, as the Terminators managed to dodge it despite their size. Candor, for his part, tried to crush the Terminators as well, but barely managed to tickle them, once again to the displeasure of his mistress.

In Rose’s turn, both Incensus and Candor fell back from combat, with Candor retreating backwards to deal with the lone sprinting Tzaangor. Incensus, meanwhile, casually strode over the Terminators, so that she was positioned directly behind Senoth. I realized at that moment, with a sick certainty, that I was about to lose another character, whom I had assumed to be safe, to an unexpected ninja Knight.

In the psychic phase, Candor once again channeled the power of the Pyrothrone, and managed to Smite the last Tzaangor to dust. This allowed him to then turn and pour all of his considerable firepower into the Terminators, only to watch almost all of his shots bounced off of their armour– all, save, for a single heavy stubber round that managed to punch through the heavy ceramite and wound a Terminator a second time. Lady Incensus was not amused by her subordinate’s poor performance, and concentrated all of her firepower upon the Sorceror leading this rabble: though Senoth called upon all of his artes, and read every skein of the future to try to fend off this devastating barrage, it was not enough, and he was knocked off of his Disk, his armour shredded as he bled from grievous injuries. (It’s worth noting that it took both of Incensus’ main guns to bring Senoth down as he made a lot of saves and 5+ shrugs)

Then, finally, Lady Incensus charged into both Sectae Medea and the Terminators, and at this stage I had no CP left to ovewatch with. splitting her attacks, Incensus managed to crush the wounded Terminator and wound another, though somehow she completely failed to harm any of Sectae Medea. In exchange, Medea actually managed to smash a wound past Incensus’ armour with her force stave, while the Terminators managed to hack 2 wounds into Incensus’ leg joints with their khopeshes.

In my turn, I was down both of my characters, and Rose was starting to rack up points, so I desperately needed to start getting units onto objectives. With this in mind, I advanced both of the Spawn up towards the Chaos Knight deployment zone, while Sectaue Hasturos advanced up as well, with Apophis lumbering close behind. The plan, in general, was to hopefully deal with both of the remaining Knights blocking the gap and then break on through to the other side: the fact that Lady Incensus was severely damaged now gave me encouragement, though this would still be a race against time at this point.

In the psychic phase, Medea Smote two wounds off of Lady Incensus…before using Malevolent Charge to take Incensus’ final two wounds. Wracked with psychic energy and having sustained overwhelming damage, Incensus’ Knight finally toppled over in a flaming wreck. This left only Candor: the Terminators quickly smote 3 wounds off of him, before Hasturos cast Doombolt and then did 3 more. Finally, in the shooting phase, Apophis levelled his guns at Candor, and brought the Armiger crashing down with a sustained volley of fire.

And with that, I had wiped the Knights of Demihydratus from the board…but the game did not end there. We played out what would have happened in the final turns, with all of my remaining forces rushing onto objectives. By the very final turn, I managed to get units onto two objectives and destroy them…and then, counting up our points, we found that the Thousand Sons had scored 50 points to the Chaos Knights’ 60. Somehow, by the narrowest of margins, House Demihydratus had won a pyrrhic victory.

Result: (Narrow) Loss

Thoughts: Damn that was close! While things started off fairly well for me in the first turn, with my combined spellcasting and firepower all but crippling one of Rose’s Knights, I underestimated how fast those damn things can be. Given that only my Spawn could effectively block the Knights’ movement (as they are not infantry and cannot be moved over), I had very few means of stopping the Knights from going wherever they wanted. As such, I ended up losing Ktesis and his crucial Umbralific Crystal turn one to a sneaky melee Knight. After that point, I had no choice but to fight my way through the Knights due to all of the impassable terrain. The result, though, was a highly cinematic battle, with the Chaos Knights valiantly holding the gates of their keep against the relentless legions of the Thousand Sons. It was such a fun game that I honestly don’t mind that I lost. Props go to Rose, of course for being a fun opponent to play against.

Even though I ultimately lost the game, I will take a moral victory from having destroyed all three of Rose’s Knights: just as I had hoped, my combination of mortal wounds and high-AP firepower was enough to put some real hurt on the super-heavies (and the addition of Apophis and his big damage 6 chainfist didn’t hurt either). I’m particularly impressed by Senoth, who seemed to be making up for several lackluster games in a row with the sheer number of mortal wounds he was dishing out. Of course, now that the new Chaos Knight book is out, I may have to watch out for some of their nasty new tricks, like turning off invulnerable saves and rerolls, or having a potent psychic phase of their own. From what I have heard, Rose has already reworked her Crusade roster into something altogether more terrifying.

All in all, things at this stage in the Crusade were taking a slight downturn, with my Thousand Sons having four wins and five losses thus far, and, annoyingly, thirteen of the fifteen Arcane points I still needed to gain the much-coveted Visions of Doom spell. Hopefully, though, with the average power level of games slowly going up, I would be able to gain some much-needed wins soon…


Beneath his helm, Senoth’s mutated features twisted in a grimace as he dragged himself forward. His armour was buckled and torn, and if the blinking readouts of his visor were anything to go by, then right now he had several severe puncture wounds from shrapnel, a broken arm, several shattered ribs, and a fist-sized hole through his sternum. A few quick Pavoni cantrips had closed his most severe wounds, but he needed medical attention, and soon. He shouldn’t even have been walking, but his Disc had been banished back into the Warp by the same volley that had nearly killed him: it would be weeks before he would be able to re-summon it.

Around him, flames blazed from the toppled hulks of the Traitor Knights. At the back of his mind, he could hear distant, echoing shrieks as the Neverborn trapped within these hulks raged and slowly dissipated. He was focused on just one of these toppled hulks, a War Dog class, its body splayed backwards like a drunkard, its forward canopy cracked from weapons fire. Gritting his teeth as he fought to ignore the pain, Senoth extended his hand exterted his kine-force. Slowly but surely, the shattered hull plates of the War Dog’s front armour were peeled back with a terrible squeal of metal.

Climbing up on top of the downed Knight, Senoth peered down at the now exposed cockpit. Inside, the pilot was staring up in wild-eyed disbelief, shakily pointing an autopistol up at him. He was only a youth, wearing wire-bundled interface suit, with ugly burns along the right side of his body and face. Aside from a few devotional tattoos to the Dark Pantheon and unnaturally pale skin, it seemed that the powers of the Warp had not begun to affect his body. Not yet, anyway.

“S-stay back!” the pilot screamed. “I’ll shoot! I’ll–“

With a simple gesture, Senoth made the autopistol, and the hand wielding it, crumple like a tin can. As the pilot screamed in agony, Senoth’s fellow Sorcerors clambered up next to him, staring down at the helpless, burnt mortal.

“Shall I finish him, Master?” Medea asked. Blue warpfire was crackling from her right eye and from her gauntlet: no doubt she was relishing the opportunity to destroy something.

“No,” Senoth rasped back. Extending his hand, Senoth telekinetically yanked on the pilot, ripping him free from his harness and levitating him upwards so that he was now level with the Thousand Sons. “Where is it?”

The young man stared in bewilderment into the glowering face plate of the seven foot tall armoured giant in front of him. “W…where is what?” he stammered.

“The data trove you looted from the Mechanicus,” Senoth growled. “The very thing we asked you for, and that you shot at us over. Where. Is. It?”

The young man’s expression was wavering as he desperately tried to maintain his composure. Even so, the faintest edge of a triumphant smile could be seen on his face. “L…Lady Incensus ordered our serfs to retreat to the shuttles with our spoils while we held the gates,” he said. “They’ll be halfway across the planet by now. You’ll never have–“

The young man didn’t get a chance to finish before Senoth telekinetically hurled him back down into the cockpit with sickening crack of bone. Even as the pilot pleaded for his life, Senoth raised his hand and exerted his power, closing the ruptured hull of the War Dog once again, sealing the young knight inside his ruined walker once again.

“Find out where those shuttles went,” Senoth said to his fellow Sorcerors, the iciness of his tone belying the simmering rage he felt at that point. “We did not come all the way to this blasted rock just to have our prize stolen from us twice. I don’t care if we have to scour the entire surface of Vigilus twice over, we WILL find the lore we came here to collect.”

Wordlessly, he turned and strode off of the ruined hull of the Wardog. Around him, the toppled wrecks of the Traitor Knights continued to blaze…and somewhere in the distance, he could have sworn he heard someone laughing…

Some additional pictures:

In the twisting urban sprawl of Dirkden Hive, Astartes of the Blood Angels and Void Tigers clash, driven into conflict by the machinations of the Alpha Legion
Necrons and Thousand Sons do battle amid the ruins of an old refinery
In the wastelands, the Void Tigers brace against the charge of the Traitor Knights of House Demihydratus

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