I had planned to finish Darkest Dungeon for my blog post this week, but that turned out to be a bit of a pisser, so I'm trying to buy more time by throwing out this half-baked tactics article.
Once again this analysis comes with the caveat that all my tournament credentials are at least five years old. They have little to no bearing on a proper ITC table where you will probably be brutally exposed. But I like writing them - and maybe you like reading them.
When the Thousand Sons first arrived on Sortiarius, they took the human population of the planet with them. In addition to this, the Thousand Sons sometimes conduct raids (see: Dark Eldar) to bring back captives as slaves. In time, the fact that these humans existed on a daemon world caused them to mutate into Tzeentchian beastmen - i.e, Tzaangors.
Tzaangors sometimes serve as thralls and attendants to the Thousand Sons, sometimes as slaves - it depends on the day of the week. For our purposes, we're dealing with those who serve as auxiliaries to the Thousand Sons in war herds.
Tzaangors, compared to their ancient brethren in the troop slot are much simpler. They come equipped with a variety of savage weaponry - swords, axes, a big sticks, you name it. They're all counted as "Tzaangor Blades" though. They come in herds of up to thirty, which allows them to soak up punishment. This unit also makes an appearance in Age of Sigmar. But we're not here to talk about Age of Sigmar today - or probably ever.
Tzaangors also have the option to be equipped with autopistols and chainswords so that they fit into a more 'modern' universe. This requires a Tzaangor conversion kit from gee-dub, as the box set is intended for Age of Sigmar. Note that whilst the kit has shields, Tzaangors in the modern universe do not have shields. You'll understand why that doesn't matter in a tick.
On the Tabletop
This is what the unit card looks like for Tzaangors:
This one's nice and simple to digest. Defensive stat wise, Tzaangors are slightly more resilient Orks. That 5+ save goes a mile toward protecting your goats from getting mown down. But obviously it is just a 5+ and if your opponent really wants them gone, it's not difficult to do. What it does mean is that your opponent can't just murder your Tzaangors on a whim.
Offensively, Tzaangors shine. Don't let that one attack fool you, becuase a Tzaangor is always getting two. Large numbers with lots of attacks at -1 means they'll turn infantry into paste in a hurry. With the right buffs and bonuses even vehicles aren't safe. Just avoid anything T8 or higher, because that's a fight they cannot win, and will be a steady drain on your command point reserves - assuming you don't just let them be murdered.
That all sounds pretty reasonable, but it's not without some drawbacks. They have no access to transport, so they need to walk everywhere. This is far from the death sentence it used to be thanks to rules like being able to advance and a magical musical intrument that gives them +1 to charge and advance rolls - that inch goes a mile, as I keep saying.
In addition to that, I mentioned being a marine is nothing special in the last article. My opinion hasn't changed and it's still nothing special. Now take that advice, replace a 3+ with a 5+ that can't be modified and you'll see nothing has changed. If Rubric marines have a glass jaw, Tzaangors have a jaw made out of pringles. This is not something you really have the ability to fix either, because all the cool stratagems are for Rubric marines and not for their dirty birdgoat slaves.
But if it sounds like I'm whinging, I'm really not. These weaknesses give the unit an identity as a hammer unit. Don't put a Tzaangor herd in the front lines, it'll die - and whatever doesn't die will then flee. If there are no valid targets, then you can feel free to throw them away, provided there isn't an objective or table scraps to clean up.
It may not look like it from the awful write-up I gave them above, but Tzaangors are awesome. Rubric marines excel at shooting, Tzaangors excel in fighting. They both share targets, but in different phases. Their internal balance is outstanding. Because Veterans of the Long War can be used in both phases of a turn, Tzaangors can dish out the hurt in a hurry against all manner of targets in close combat. But the way to do it is to get them there.
Walking is definitely a possibility. In that case you're counting on having other threats that get shot instead of the Tzaangors. It could be Rubric Terminators, it could be Daemon allies. You have options but the equation is remarkably simple. The less damage the Tzaangors take before they close to fight the better you'll be. They'll blender a unit, your opponent will panic and then kill them, so you have to make it count.
Personal preference for mine is a unit of 20 Tzaangors with a brayhorn. It's not too hard on the army's hip pocket and forces your opponent to at least think about the fact that there are twenty irate goatmen who will murder a unit in combat. But I've seen lists that have Tzaangor numbers as high as 30 and as low as 15. The more you spend the higher the potential return - but also the harder it is to hide the unit and the more your opponent will try and kill it.
You also have an option for autopistols and chainswords. Don't. Losing -1 AP on your primary weapon to gain a S3 pistol shot is one of the worst trade deals in history.
Another option is Sorcerous Facade (thanks again, Psychic Awakening). If you thought moving ten Rubricae into an unpleasant spot to cleanup leftovers or pressure your opponent is good, it's even better with twenty (or even thirty) irate goats, giving your opponent one turn of overwatch fire then watching as a unit gets pasted - well, hopefully. If you're not going to invest in them your options for targets are limited.
There are support options out there for the Tzaangors - the Shaman gives them a neat buff to hit. But they already hit on 3s so it's not really necessary, and the Shaman is also a bit pricey. I wouldn't unless you like the model.
Le Hidden Gem
Tzaangors like hitting stuff in combat and not getting shot on the way in. There aren't any real hidden gems - but there are some important skills you should always remember to keep in your back pocket.
The first is Veterans of the Long War. Yes, it can be used on Tzaangors. A single CP for +1 to wound is sick and is often the difference maker between attacking a heavy infantry unit and bouncing, or slaughtering them all.
The second is cycle of slaughter. It is very situational, but it can be an excellent tool for when you've consolidated into another unit, or need to push through that extra damage before your unit gets killed. Remember that any buffs you use on the unit during that phase apply for the second attack too - so value on top of value is often too good to pass up. It is expensive though and Thousand Sons are very CP hungry.
The last is sorcerous facade. I keep mentioning it because it's very good. If you just need your Tzaangors to complete one task before they die, this is what you want to be using. Nothing scares your opponent more than knowing that you can and will dump between 10 and 30 angry goats on their front doorstep. Bonus points if you time it with an attack from a supporting unit, such as a daemon prince. Warptime can be used similarly, but requires Ahriman or a Daemon Prince, meaning it's not as easy to deploy.
Tzaangors are an excellent unit in the Thousand Sons army. For a long time, Rubric Marines used inferno boltguns and once close combat was joined it was all over, red rover. Then came Tzaangors.
They're not as resilient as Rubric Marines, but they're more numerous and they fight - and fight well. They share similar targets to Rubric Marines, but accomplish it in a different way and provide a critical variance option for Thousand Sons forces.
Catch you next time,
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