(Just as a quick note, I’m going to be talking about the EpicUK Thousand Sons here, rather than the NetEA ones).
In the EpicUK list for Chaos in Epic Armageddon, Defilers can be taken both as an upgrade to Thousand Sons formations as well as a formation in their own right. Looking at them as an upgrade first, they’re not cheap but not overly costly either, weighing in at 75pts each with up to three allowed per formation. They bring a very interesting set of abilities to the Rubric marines – firstly adding in armoured vehicles to what is otherwise an infantry formation. This has the advantage of mixing the unit types, and adds in something that most Thousand Sons formations lack – long range firepower. As with their 40K counterparts, Epic Defilers are armed with a battle cannon, boasting an impressive 75cm range with both AP and AT values. This makes the Defiler a versatile addition to the formation, particularly a formation on foot since they can shell units that would otherwise be outside their threat range. They might not be killing much with that one shot each, but it makes them ideal for laying blast markers or chipping away at formations.
Defilers also add a lot to Thousand Sons formations in close range, boasting an AP3 heavy flamer and their formidable battle claws (extra attack +1, macro weapon!). Again, this helps to cover another weakness of the Thousand Sons – close-quarters combat. While Rubric formations excel at firefights, they don’t do too well in close combat (and summoned daemons, such as Flamers, are even more firefight-dependent) so having this line of combat units to hold any enemy charge is fantastic. The Defilers can block a surprising number of stands due to their larger base size, allowing them to make the most of their claws while the Thousand Sons behind them can comfortably stay in firefight range. Alternatively, if the formation engages an enemy that would prefer to be in firefight such as Space Marine Devastators, the Defilers can help to put at least some stands in combat, depriving them of their stronger abilities and making them resort to hand-to-hand combat (with daemonic killing machines; it’s sounding good already for the Thousand Sons!). Due to their having the Infiltrator special rule, Defilers can also double their movement when charging as well as ignoring enemy zones of control, offering a 40cm(!) charge that can hit whichever stands you really want in close combat.
I’ve personally found that Defilers work well with foot-based Thousand Sons formations, rather than those mounted in Rhinos. While their speed is 20cm, Defilers slow down Rhinos too much to really work well alongside them, but fit right in with unmounted formations. Their slightly faster movement allows them to move around the formation as needed, and the Walker ability ensures that the Thousand Sons can still move into cover without having to worry (too much) about the accompanying Defilers. Perhaps surprisingly, Defilers are actually more fragile than Thousand Sons, so having a good body of infantry to potentially soak up wounds is great for them. And finally, as befits a psychopathic daemon engine, they’re Fearless and so (like pretty much every other Thousand Sons model) don’t have to worry about retreating too far when broken. They’re a good all-round support unit that I really like, and most games I play will include a formation of Thousand Sons with (usually two) Defilers.
You can also take Defilers in a pack as a formation in their own right, with four defilers in a single unit by themselves. I’ve found that they’re good for harassment and assisting an assault, where if you can use the Commander rule to ‘drag’ them in they can provide a prominent close-combat spearhead to assist your more firefight-oriented Rubric marines. The trouble I have is that they are pretty fragile (at least compared to the rest of the army!), and it doesn’t take much to put them down even with the Fearless rule. In larger games I’m happy to take them, where 300pts isn’t much, but in an average game of 3-4k they’re a little bit too pricey to take by themselves, and I personally feel that they work better in a Rubric formation.
Overall, then, I personally consider Defilers to be a nice addition to the Thousand Sons list. They fill a couple of niches that the rank-and-file Thousand Sons can’t, adding in a little long-range firepower and close combat capability. I’ll usually take a couple in any Rubric formation without Rhinos, and they always seem to make themselves useful one way or another.
Thank you as always for stopping by and reading, I hope this has been an interesting little look at EpicUK Thousand Sons Defilers. Feel free to comment, it’s always great to hear from you and I hope to see you again next time :)