“Originating from the ranks of the Ordo Reductor, Thallaxi differ from the Martian Skitarii regiments both in their purpose and the unique degree of their augmetics.”

Thallax Cohort Datasheet, Forgeworld

The Thallax Cohorts are among the most extremely augmented soldiers within the Mechanicum. Encased in the Lorica Thallax, a custom wrought armoured shell to protect the biological components, they are a powerful and specialised force. Thallax are not like their highly augmented bretheren, the Skitarii. Where the Skitarii volunteers retain a percentage of humanity in their augmentation, those that volunteer for transformation into Thallax undergo a far more invasive and horrific procedure.

Thallax Cohort Cutaway Diagram. Credit: Rhys Pugh.

The body is opened by Mechanicum fleshwrights under the direction of Magos Biologus; removing the nervous system, brain, heart, lungs and skull as a “single unit”. The organic material is then placed into the Lorica Thallax, an armoured casing with attached life support systems. This is a painful procedure that requires the nerve endings and pain centres to be removed or cauterised in order to allow them to survive. Even organic material such as the eyes are not retained, instead being replaced with high grade Mechanicum optics. Designed by the cults of the Ordo Reductor to be easier and cheaper to field and replace than the battle automata of the Mechanicum, Thallax are the ultimate in ranged cyborg warriors.

For those looking for a cult reference to compare them to; this is the Horus Heresy version of a brutal, grim dark cross of Ghost In The Shell and Robocop.

Aesthetics

The Thallax are pure 30K Mechanicum aesthetics. There’s no denying that in a game where the rule of cool exists that Thallax are absolutely stunning. The overall aesthetic follows that of the battle automata that they are “cheaper and easier to field” than in the lore, just on a more compressed scale.

Thallax Cohort with Multi-Melta. Credit: Forgeworld

Everything exudes high tech cyborg warriors; from the subtle jet packs (comparatively), to the compact reactor on the back of the Thallax. Even so, they’re still wholly within the aesthetic of the Mechanicum. They’re also highly detailed miniatures – the power cables of the various weapons are the corded affairs seen across the range and the individual joints clearly visible in the fingers and leg sections of the Thallax.

Thallax Cohort with Phased Plasma-Fusil. Credit: Forgeworld.

Each weapon is instantly recognisable and ties in with their larger cousins from across the range. It’s clear that Forgeworld sculptors took time in ensuring that small detail carried through. The Heavy Chainblades are optional on the Lightning Guns and add an enhancement to the already high visual aggression of the Thallax.

Thallax Cohort with Photon Thruster. Credit: Forgeworld.

The faceless helms complete the otherworldly aggressive aspect; the fear that a faceless enemy gives nothing away to indicate its intentions running strong throughout. They’re deceptively large too, being on 40mm bases – towering above and significantly more bulky than the Adsecularis Tech Thralls and Skitarii/Secutarii on the battlefield.

They’re relatively unadorned, aside from a mechanicum logo on their chestpiece. Being an earlier sculpt, they predate the nurgle-like creep of the busy-yet-soft 40K aesthetic began to edge into the 30K line as we’ve seen recently. Thallax are a masterclass of aesthetic design and range matching.

Basic Rules

Rules for the Thallax Cohort are found in the Mechanicum Taghmata Red Book, found here for £32. Thallax Cohort can be taken as a Troops choice in a Taghmata or Legio Cybernetica force and are Compulsory Troops choices in an Ordo Reductor force. To that degree they’re quite flexible for your army; irrespective of how you’re fielding your Mechancium.

Thallax have a basic stat line of:

WSBSSTWoundsIALdSv
345532284+

The unit starts out at 3 Thallaxi strong for 135 points. That equates to 45 points per model. You can then buy a further 6 for +40 points each. A total squad size of 9 for 375 points is quite the investment however, and not necessarily the best tactical decision. A single Thallax is on a 40mm base, so once on the table cover becomes an issue with maximum sized squads.

Straight off the bat you’re looking at a tough unit of troops to crack. The fact they’re Strength and Toughness 5 with 3 Wounds provides them with plenty of staying power. The 4+ Sv characteristic is poor and their main weakness, so you do need to be careful with them – this is a scalpel unit, not a hammer. Remembering that Boltguns and Flamers are AP 5, your main threat to these hyper-augmented troops starts coming when the word “Heavy” prefaces the infantry-based weapons or virtually everything that can be mounted on a tracked carrier or dreadnought.

Thallax are Jet Pack Infantry. This offers them unparalleled movement on the tabletop and gives them a vicious streak that Jump Infantry do not possess. Jet Pack Infantry move much like Jump Infantry, but they gain Thrust Move. This allows Thallax that are not locked in combat or charging to move upto 2D6″ in the Assault Phase, even if they have shot or run in the preceding Shooting phase or arrived by Deep Strike that turn. This means you can really push the manouvre warfare envelope with them. It also means you can move them to engage a target with their special ranged weapons and then withdraw them to relative safety; or increase the charge distance to add some protection to them. This is genuinely invaluable when you consider that Sv4+.

The reason Jet Pack Infantry have a vicious streak is because it awards them Relentless. This allows them to shoot Heavy, Salvo or Ordnance weapons as if they had remained stationary in the previous Movement phase. They’re then able to charge in the same turn they fire those weapons. Frankly, you will use this rule; even their basic weapon is Heavy and the cream of the crop are Heavy and Salvo respectively.

They’re Bulky, but this doesn’t really have too much of an impact as Jet Pack Infantry can only be carried by Transports that have a special rule allowing them to do so. They have the ability to take a Triaros Armoured Conveyor as a Dedicated Transport – even though that platform doesn’t have the special rule to carry them normally. It’s a nice touch that can add some greater resilience to your squads, though you are looking at 510 points for a 9 Thallax Squad (no upgrades) and a vanilla Triaros – quite the expensive option.

Thallax are fairly well kitted out as stock with a Lightning Gun (covered later), a Close Combat Weapon and Frag Grenades. Where their core rules really come alive is the Lorica Thallax and Djinn-Sight. This is what provides them the Sv4+, but it also provides them a Feel No Pain 6+. Thallax can never make sweeping advances due to the Lorica Thallax though that isn’t much of a concern considering their average Weapon Skill and poor Initiative. Djinn-Sight is the sighting system contained within the Thallax helmet combined with their augmente eyes. It reduces the enemy cover save by -2 and causes Infiltrators to not be set up within 24″ of Thallax. This can play havoc with legions such as the Raven Guard or Alpha Legion.

Really, Thallax Cohorts are rapid assault special weapons teams. Everything about them positively screams ranged heavy weapons fire. That isn’t to say they can’t do melee; but if that’s what you’re focused on; then Ursurax are really the Lorica Thallax equipped troops you’re looking for.

Ranged Weapons

Thallax have quite the arsenal available to them. It allows them to fulfil quite a few roles on the battlefield; from anti-infantry to anti-tank. There are degrees of effectiveness in their weapon options, but none are outright terrible.

WeaponPointsRangeStrAPType
Lightning Gun018″75Heavy 1, Shred, Rending
Multi-Laser+536″66Heavy 3
Phase Plasma-Fusil+1024″63Salvo 2/3
Irad-Cleanser+10Template25Assault 1, Fleshbane, Rad-Phage
Multi-Melta+1524″81Heavy 1, Melta
Photon Thruster+2548″62Heavy 2, Lance, Blind, Gets Hot

Lightning Gun. This is the base weapon that the Thallax come with. It’s short range, poor AP and low number of shots is compensated by the fact it has Shred and Rending. This weapon has the stats to trick players into trying to use it effectively against armoured targets. Rending means that on the to wound roll of a 6, it automatically wounds infantry at AP 2 and against vehicles, you roll an additional D3 and add it to the strength of the weapon to determine armour penetration. That means that at best you’re able to glance Av10 and penetrate Av9 on a roll of 6+ to wound and a 5/6+ on the D3. This is where the definition of Shred comes in – it allows you to reroll failed wounding rolls – not failed armour penetration rolls. In short – it’s just not got the legs to be reliable against armour, but it definitely has the capability to pull apart infantry to an average degree.

For every 3 models in a unit, Thallax may replace one of their Lightning Guns with one of the following weapons;

Multi-Laser. This is the weapon that you’ll take if you fancy drowning the target in a rain of laser shots. You’ll be wounding most infantry targets on a roll of 2+, but the downside to it is poor AP 6. It’s similar to a Volkite Charger in most respects and they do quite well on the tabletop. You gain one extra shot over that weapon, but don’t have the Deflagrate rule.

Phase Plasma-Fusil. This is known colloquially as the marine chipper. Before you get super-excited, it isn’t Dark Angels level of Plasma; this is Mechanicum after all. It’s AP 3, which means that it won’t be doing much to Terminators or Artificer armour – but the others will simply vanish. This is a shame. Regardless, it’ll do damage even if you’re engaging the enemy after moving, those two shots due to Salvo are still going to hurt the enemy. At +10 points it’s an agreeable weapon and one of the top three choices.

Irad-Cleanser. This is a radiation flamethrower. Fleshbane causes it to wound on a roll of 2+ and although it has AP 5, it isn’t a terrible choice. This is especially true when using it against pesky multi-wound HQ’s; where Rad-Phage then causes them to lose -1 Toughness each time they lose a wound to the weapon. At +10 points you’re not likely to take it over the similarly pointed Phase Plasma-Fusil, unless you just love radiation weapons.

Multi-Melta. This is a +15 points option and where the Thallax really begin to bare their teeth. Strength 8 and AP 1, the Multi-Melta is a terrifying weapon when you consider that armour facings mean diddly squat to a troops unit with Relentless and Jet Pack. If Armoured Ceramite isn’t a widespread thing in your local meta, it likely will be once the first game with Multi-Melta equipped Thallax is finished. You can also, when in a pinch use the high strength of the Multi-Melta to Instant Death Terminators or Space Marines.

Photon Thruster. This is a whopping+25 points to take; but frankly is the cream of the crop. It belongs to the same family as the Darkfire Cannon that comes on the Castellax; albeit at a lower strength. The weapon is strength 6, which means you won’t be doing anything to Flare Shielded Spartan Assault Tanks; but then this isn’t what this weapon is meant to do. Like its larger cousins, the Photon Thruster has Lance, which means that any vehicle with an armour value of higher than 12, counts as armour value 12. So, you’re going to glance those platforms on a 6+. Not great. It fairs better against light to medium armour platforms, though you need to ensure you don’t engage on the strongest facing. Consider the humble Predator with a facings value of 13/11/10. From the front, you’re glancing on 6+ due to Lance. From the side you’re glancing on 5+ and penetrating on 6+. Finally, from the rear, you’re glancing on 4+ and penetrating on 5+. It’s still not dedicated anti-tank levels of reliability, but its good for harrassing fire – again, it’s not really the true use of the weapon.

It’s designed to absolutely murder Terminators and Artificer Armour. It’ll do this every well due to the AP 2, and it’ll do it at a range that not many Terminators can actually retaliate at. Better yet, it has Blind which means that any unit hit by this weapon must take an initiative test at the end of the phase; if passed, all is well. If failed, all models in the unit are reduced to WS and BS 1 until the end of their next turn. You still have the obvious issue that most terminators start inside transports – so you have to work out how to debus them from that; but against Terminators the Photon Thruster is a terrifying weapon.

My first ever unit of Thallax – running twin Photon Thrusters in a six strong unit. The only thing that has changed nowadays is the fact they’re in a Xana II scheme.

Melee Weapons

Thallax have a small core of melee upgrades available to them. Again, they’re not really aimed at filling this role; so you’re really forcing a square peg into a round hole here. At the same time, you can give them a semblance of teeth in melee:

WeaponPointsRangeStrAPType
Heavy Chainblade+5+2 (7)4Melee, Two-Handed
Melta Bombs+581Armourbane, Unwieldy

You can take a Heavy Chainblade for +5 points per model to replace their Close Combat Weapon. This makes them a bit of a hammer in melee; though anything AP 4 and better at Initiative will likely leave very little of your unit left to fight at Initiative 2. Two-Handed means you don’t get the benefit of fighting with two close combat type weapons – but you don’t have those anyway – so it is an irrelevancy. Honestly, if you want to take Heavy Chainblade on your Thallax, that’s fine – play your way; but it’s a waste of points on what really isn’t a melee focused unit.

The only upgrade of melee that makes sense is Melta Bombs. Again, this is due to the manouvreability of the Thallax; you’re able to get up the table very quickly and become a huge melee threat to armoured platforms. The entire squad must take this upgrade and it costs +5 points per model. Full size squads therefore cost 45 points for 9 Melta Bombs; which isn’t a terrible cost considering they’re more than likely to destroy what they’re bombing.

Thallax Augmentations

Along with the Lorica Thallax and Djinn-Sight, there are a number of optional upgrades you can take for Thallax to further customise them to a battlefield role:

Icarian (+25pts for the unit): If stationary that turn, the unit may, if wished gain Skyfire for all ranged weapons. Units with this augment cease to be Troops and instead are Heavy Support choices. The problem here is the sacrificing of the incredibly valuable Heavy Support slot for marginal gain; there’s very little that you’d genuinely want to have engaging aircraft without having moved in the movement phase to get them into range in the first place.

Ferrox (+25pts for the unit): The unit gains the Rage special rule (+2A for charging) and its close combat attacks (regardless of type) gain Rending. The unit cannot upgrade its Lightning Guns. This is a lovely little augmentation that would be amazing if Thallax had higher Initiative. Best used when on the charge (Hammer of Wrath); if you are lacking melee wholesale and don’t want to run Ursurax; this is a nice, if unoptimised option.

Destructor (+15pts for the unit): The unit gains Tank Hunters. Useful for those running Multi-Melta and Photon Thruster weapons who want to amp up the potential for annihalating light to medium armour and the occasional heavy tank when using the Multi-Melta.

Empyrite (+10pts for the unit): The unit gains Deep Strike via Teleportation Homers and its armour counts as Void Hardened. A very situational augmentation, but one that is incredibly useful in Zone Mortalis modes, as it gives you the ability to Deep Strike Thallax into the game, where normally they would not be able to. I can’t recall ever seeing this used in a normal game – which is probably a solid indicator of how useful it really is.

Summary

Thallax are a genuine aesthetic joy to see in reasonably sized squads, bounding up the table in a tactically precise manner. They’re not a hammer, used to mash targets – the Sv4+ sees to that fairly resoundingly, however they have the resilience and ranged threat to ensure that they cannot be ignored by an enemy.

The most common loadouts for them are 3-6 Thallax with 1-2 Photon Thrusters/Phased Plasma-Fusil. You generally don’t want to mix and match their loadout – it’s better to specialise the scalpel. Used en masse with Ordo Reductor, or as a supplementary force for Legio Cybernetica and Taghmata, they are a good unit that has the tactical flexibility to cause carnage. Don’t forget that they have Jet Pack Infantry and are Relentless – it allows you to properly push the envelope in manouvre warfare; often able to tactically out-perform the enemy on the table. Being in the right place to have the right effect is half the battle.

As mentioned, they’re great as supplementary units to the Taghmata or the Legio Cybernetica; but Ordo Reductor is really where they shine brightly. Avoid taking shots with the Photon Thruster at armour with Av11+ and instead focus it on those concentrations of Terminators or pesky Heavy Support squads/Veteran squads/Legion Specific Artificer Armour squads. Maintain the distance and snipe at them. It’s a good tactic for roadblocking, or diverting enemy firepower to the Thallax, instead of locking down the rest of your army.

Consider the augments as a “mission specific” bonus – there’s no right one for every situation – though i do tend to run Destructor most of the time. No augmentation is a valid choice too, keeping the cost down on those Lightning Gun only squads. That said; Multi-Melta Thallax squads can really benefit from Destructor; giving them that safety net for armour penetrations that having both Tank Hunters and Armourbane affords.