With life slowly going back to normal - and wanting to go back to my roots - I've decided to try my hand at a tactica article. Obviously my days of being good at 40k are well behind me - but that doesn't mean I can't string a few sentences together.

Of course if you're going to trust me enough to read articles from me about Warhammer 40k units, you should probably know my credentials. I once finished 0-5 at a Bolt Action tournament AND have the unfortunate tendency of losing every game that matters. Now you know.

So where to start? Well, let's start at the beginning - that sounds like a good place to start.


Rubric Marines (or Thousand Sons, Rubricae, Dust-balls, AP3 BOLTAZ and many more dumber names) are Chaos Space Marines of the Thousand Sons legion, sealed in their armor after Ahzek Ahriman cast a spell known as the Rubric. This caused any warrior who did not have psychic abilities to be turned to dust within their armor - with only a slight psionic essence remaining. The result is a psychic space marine robot controlled in groups by a Sorcerer, with cool Egyptian vibes. As you can expect, the absence of a squishy pink target inside their power armor means that Rubric Marines are tough to kill - at least in fiction, anyway.

The Rubricae also got a kickass set of weapons out of this deal, too - most of which some sort of flame or soul reference. There's the Inferno Boltgun and pistol, the Warpflamer and Pistol and the Soulreaper Cannon. All of which are charged with latent psychic energy and shred armor like it's cheap lettuce - Space Marines beware!

On the tabletop, the mortal enemies of Hoover come in squads of five to twenty. The entire squad can be equipped with Warpflamers and a single fellow can take the Soulreaper cannon, provided the squad numbers ten models. The squad is led by a Sorcerer, who can take either an Inferno Bolt Pistol, a Warpflame Pistol or a Plasma Pistol. He also has his choice of close combat weapon - stick, sword or axe, and generates one power from the Tzeentch Discipline.

On the Tabletop

Let's have a look at their datasheet, shall we?

So the Rubricae have a few votes in their favour. All their weapons have high AP - in particular the Soulreaper Cannon, which has the same AP as a Lascannon. Sick. They also don't suffer penalties for moving and firing it. Sicker. In addition to this, the Sorcerer has access to baby smite (do do do do) which gives the squad some chip damage. But even better is the ability to take a power from the discipline of change, which has a handful of solid utility powers.

Lastly, they have 'evil bolter discipline' (Malicious Volleys) - meaning they're getting 2 shots at 24 inches if they don't move. Oh baby.

On the defensive end, they have a 5++ which is handy. When coupled with their special rule which grants a unit +1 to their saving throws (meaning their invulnerable can also increase), these lads will shrug off small arms firepower like it's a spring breeze. Outside of that, they're marines - they fight, love and die like marines. Well, maybe not the love part.

So that all sounds fine and dandy, but what do the dustballs suck at? Well, the answer may surprise you, but they have a glass jaw. 8th edition has cranked up the firepower and the damage - and though being a marine in previous editions wasn't anything special - it's damn near irrelevant in 8th. If they present even a remote threat to your opponent, they will be shot first, with lots of heavy guns and will die in droves. As with normal marines, a round of bad saves will fix you real nice.

They're also slow - that extra inch goes a mile, but there are ways around this - but they are not reliable. Furthermore, in a bizarre decision, Rubricae are not fearless. Leadership 8, coupled with a bad round of casualties can send more of your expensive dust-balls... falling apart? Becoming concerned about the rise of the dominance of Godfreys? Who knows.

Lastly, though they're excellent at shredding marines and infantry with high-AP low strength weaponry, that means that they cannot deal with armor. But that has always been their weakness and doesn't need to be fixed - more something to be aware of. It does mean that the Rubricae need to find alternate ways of cracking heavy armor, which needs to come from their support options.


Rubric Marines have surprisingly little difficulty delivering their firepower. evil bolter discipline means they can anchor a line and still deliver decent firepower. With right set of tools and support they can be like the Spanish Inquisition, popping up in unexpected areas to pressure your opponent's backfield.

A good option is either a squad of ten with a soulreaper cannon, which allows holding objectives and strong damage output at any distance. The warpflamer can be an ok option, as it depends on getting close and doesn't work out of deep strike. I don't recommend having a big blob of 20 unless you don't intend to use Scarab Occult Terminators, who for the same cost as twenty Rubrics, are cheaper, have better defensive stats and have access to Hellfyre Missile Racks.

For a single command point, Rubric Marines can deep strike or infiltrate. In addition to that, the Cult of Time power, Sorcerous Facade from Psychic Awakening allows them to deep strike again - which is deadly useful once your opponent figures out they're taking a pounding in the mid-field, or if your opponent tries to hide in a corner.

Rubric Marines really like picking on infantry and light vehicles, provided they're under the effects of Veterans of the Long War. Coupled with their ability to fire their boltguns twice (thanks Psychic Awakening), they present a serious threat to your opponent's infantry - even up to and including assault terminators.

As with most units, Rubricae really shine when they're given the right support options. This includes prescience from a Sorcerer and Veterans of the Long War. Whilst that's normally achievable, you can only pick one unit - which means Rubricae are competing with Scarab Occult Terminators and even Daemon Princes, depending on the turn counter. Often it's just smarter to support other units capable of doing more.

Like most troops, Rubric Marines don't like getting shot at and really need a big distraction Carnifex present to scare your opponent and funnel all of his firepower into that instead. I've personally found a Lord of Change to be a good option - but now that I've disclosed this, my regular opponents have started shooting my Rubric Marines and ignoring Mega-Ultra Chicken anyway.

Le Hidden Gem

Rubricae LOVE Sorcerous Facade. This is a self-starting ability that allows pin-point delivery of Rubric Marines once the game starts to break down. On more than one occasion, the ability to deliver Rubric Marines in locations your opponent doesn't want them is supremely useful. Track down and eliminate backfield support units, contest objectives and otherwise be a nuisance. Cult of Duplicity is fantastic in a rubric-heavy list for just this reason. Also goes great with Tzaangors - but that's another story for another time.


Rubric Marines have benefited from the point-cost pressures of 8th edition and gained new tools in Psychic Awakening. At no point are Rubric Marines a bad unit. However, they're not truly great and that's ok, because they don't need to be. They're a solid mainstay choice and work well both in Mono-Sons and as a combined Daemon Force. Just don't shoulder them with too much work or they'll crumble to dust.

Catch you next time,

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