Thursday 10 March 2016

Horus Heresy Review - Thanatar Siege Engine

Good Afternoon,

Following on from my recent posts I don't suppose that it will come as a surprise that I am reviewing the Thanatar Siege Engine today! I now have two of these bad boys and I have already play tested with some proxies (ridiculously small proxies it must be said as these things are biiiiiig) and they can wreck absolute face dropping dirty plasma pie plates all over the shop. So, on with the review:

Unit Stats

The Thanatar is a monstrous creature that can be taken in units of 1-3 and with a stat line to match as you an see below!

WS  BS  S  T  W  I  A  LD  Sv
  3     4    8  8   4   2  2   8     2+

Like the Castellax, the Thanatar, with a BS of 4 relative to a WS of 3 is not a front line monster designed for melee. A 2+ save marks this as bigger class of Battle Automata than the Castellax and makes it a much more resilient threat especially when coupled with T8 making it immune to small arms fire. Additionally it again comes with Atomantic Shielding granting a 5++ versus ranged attacks and a 6++ against attacks in close combat.

Additionally his S8 is fantastic if you ever do get him into close combat, though with his measly WS and attacks I don't recommend that, but you will be doubling out any T4 models like foot Praetors and most tanks you will be at worst glancing them on a 4 (assuming AV12 rear) or penning on a 5/6. Not worth throwing against a landraider at all.

Poisoned fire and fleshbane will be ignoring its high toughness, BUT it has the Cybernetica Resilience special rule which forces successful poisoned or fleshbane wounds to be re-rolled. This is nice against fleshbane but HUGE against poisoned weapons with 4+ being the most common form of poison, so reducing those wound by half again on average!

The Thanatar also has the special rules Reactor Blast and Lumbering Advance. The former rule causes the Thanatar to explode on a D6 roll of a 6 after it loses its final wound, which can be handy if in combat all alone. The latter rule means that the Thanatar cannot make run or sweeping advance moves. 'Cos he's a bit chunky.

Overall - Very tough and hard to take down, low on attacks and so should be kept out of combat but he will be instakilling T4 models as well.


This monstrous bastard comes with few options but awesome standard gear that makes you not care at all!

Shoulder mounted weapon

Hellex Plasma Mortar - S8, AP2, Ordnance 1, Large Blast, Barrage, Plasma Wave

The monster of a gun has a minimum range of 12 inches and a maximum range of 48 inches if you remained stationary, or a 24 inch range if you moved. Plasma Wave means that any successful cover saves have to be re-rolled, coupled with barrage should shred anything without an invulnerable. Also not a slouch against light tanks.

Wrist mounted weapon

Twin-linked Mauler Pattern Bolt Cannon - S6 AP3 Heavy 3 pinning 24 inch range bastard

This will ruin your regular tactical marines day quite handily... a great back up weapon when you are in too close a range or an area crowded with friendly models to drop your big plasma pie.

An Infravisor that grant night vision but you test for blind on initiative 1 comes as standard with the Thanatar instead of as an upgrade and given your I2 anyway who cares about blind?

Other Upgrades

Enhanced Targeting System. Like with the Castellax this is an absolute must take, it adds +1 to your BS and -1 to the cover save of the unit you are shooting at! For the price (15) it is an absolute must take. This coupled with plasma wave and barrage will makes any covers saves against the Hellex Plasma Mortar, null and void.

Paragon of Metal. This can be selected for a unit of only one Thanatar and means the battle automata is free from Programmed behaviour and so can act without the need of a cortex controller. It also grants this monstrous creature IWND making it even beefier and Rampage to make it more useful in combat. However the Thanatar can never count as a scoring or denial unit even in special missions where he might normally be able to. And finally if you roll a cybertheurgy mishap then a Malefica result always applies which means 1 pissed of beast turning on you as you lose control and it becomes hostile to the closest units.


Above all things it is important to not get these things tar-pitted in combat. They have low attacks and will struggle to get out off their own back. One option is to pair them with a cheap 10 man unit of fearless tech-thralls (about 50 points) and use them as bubble wrap to prevent them from being locked. Equally positioning them at your maximum range of 48" and staying stationary to fire at that range will help.

Using cybertheurgy on these guys to allow you to fire twice in a single turn (sacrificing the ability to fire the next turn) can be incredibly powerful especially if you are targeting a clumped unit such as terminators that have just used deep strike to get into a strategic position.

Buying a Djinn-skein for your Archmagos and a few cyber occularis will allow you to draw line of sight from both your Archmagos and the cyber occularis for your barrage weapons. With enhanced targeting array granting you BS5 you will on average be scattering 3" or less and that is a big deal.

In summary these guys really only require enhanced targeting as an upgrade and potentially paragon of metal if you have the points and a unit of one. BUT to use them efficiently you need to consider how the rest of your force will work with them as well. 

Peace out,



  1. I want a couple of this bad boy

    1. I have 2 and I'm already thinking of a third...

  2. Having faced one of these before, they can put out a lot of damage. The -1 cover saves and re-roll of successful saves even made my Ravenwing fearful.

    1. It is brutality, especially when drawing line of sight from a cyber occularis. In cover perfect hitting pie plates. job done.