Competitive Innovations in Kill Team: WCW Meta Analysis

This week we’re covering the results of the 2023 Kill Team World Championships. Yesterday we talked about the group stages – you can find that analysis here.

With 38 players*, this year gave us a world championship significantly wider field than last year’s 8-player tournament. And with more than 300 games played by the world’s best players, the results from the WCW helps us paint an interesting and unique picture of the Kill Team meta. With that in mind we’re diving into the results to see if we can glean some insights on what good players are taking, and what skills lead to those players picking certain teams. We’ll end things off with a look over the country win rates and see which regions are outside of the Games Workshop’s vaunted 45-55% win rate sweet spot.

*Editor’s Note: Travis is far too modest to mention this, but he actually ended up playing in this year’s World Championship, standing in a missing player despite only being sent there to report on the event. Travis ended up winning best in faction: Pathfinders as a result, as the only player taking the team at the event.

The Worldwide Meta, October 17-Nov 20, 2023

Oct-Nov Winrates

As it turns out, when looking through the lens of 45-55% being the ideal win rate band, the last month has left most teams close to this ideal, with the exception of teams like Pathfinders and Hearthkyn being relatively weak in the current mixed format. Legionary and Kommandos teams seem to be high fiving at the top of the meta just above that 55% mark. All this makes it easy to see why most players seem to be of the opinion that the meta is relatively healthy. That said, it seems that Elites are still an outsized influence on the meta, while shooting-centric teams outside of Veteran Guardsmen are struggling overall.

With Close Quarters games still being approx. 50% of most tournaments, it isn’t too surprising that Hunter Clade and Starstriders are two of the more shooting-focused teams that have kept up a high win rate, thanks in part to the tools their melee specialists bring. Most competitive players agreed coming into the WCW that Kommandos were the team to beat, but the broader community may be adjusting to their power. The last month hasn’t been as overly kind to Kommandos team win rates, but recent victories at large events have shown their potential, meaning any drop in win rates may simply come down to their popularity across a broad spectrum of skill levels..

The World Champoinship Meta

WCW Meta

When we look at the World Championship, things change significantly, with the biggest winners being melee powerhouse teams with large numbers of activations. Gellerpox, Chaos Cults, and Blooded all meet those criteria, though The Blooded found themselves not as up to the task as their Chaos breathren. Meanwhile, with 7 Kommando players having a combined 50% win rate, it seems most players at the event were able to somewhat adapt to their shenanigans (and it’s unlikely there was a player in attendance who hadn’t played against Kommandos). This isn’t to say they’re not in need of a balance adjustment, but rather that good players can adapt to their tricks better than people might otherwise assume.

On the flipside it seems Elites truly were in trouble when aiming for top slots as their inability to reliably interact with opponents for 4-5 activations may have been too high of a hill to climb. While among the broader player base these teams are able to set up strong plays, these tactics may be less effective against more experienced players.

Worldwide versus WCW

WCW compared to General Pop

Analyzing the deltas between the WCW results and the general population reveals some interesting results. While 300+ games is not enough of a sample size to draw definitive conclusions for most factions, it’s not often we get games played with only players of GT-winning skill levels. Chaos Cults, Daemons, Gellerpox, Clade, Breachers, Inquisitorial Agents, and Pathfinders all performed better at WCW than among the general population, while Elite teams in general are performing worse than their general population. Given that WCW is drawing from a much smaller data set it can be harder to determine exactly what may be the cause of this, although board layout and individual player skills are likely the main drivers.

An interesting note here is that Blooded performed well under the general population’s results. Perhaps at a competitive level they are not a great match for the strength of cults, who have much the same schtick with a vastly superior endgame to blooded. Last year Chris B took Blooded on a good run but this year the group struggled to secure victories across all pods. Daemons also look especially good, but considering no Daemon players made their mark leading up to the WCW it’s more of an oddity of the data than an important point. Not to diminish Sawyr’s strong 3-4-1 record with the team! The 10-11 activation count teams also performed worse than the general playerbase, perhaps showing that at the top level they may suffer against teams with more skewed power budgets. Cults and Kommandos teams can probably too reliably set up on Hearthkyn, Starstriders, and Voidscarred in the WCW environment.

My personal opinion however is that WCW had a very particular set of board layouts which led to play patterns which made them play similar to ITD boards. When midboard on Open fully obscures line of sight and has porous doors the melee power houses can camp early. Kommandos get Sneaky Git into dominant positions, while Cults and Gellerpox can hide their power pieces behind doors where they can strike easily. Using Winged Mutations and Barge Tactical ploys when managing those 40mm monsters to make Octarius a breeze to manage. Countries do often have some different layouts so maybe the layouts impacted some of these differences at the top level this year.

Results by Country

Country Standings updated with Argentinian players!

Finally let’s look at how players represented their home nations. There is no question that Ace’s comments about Spain being the hottest KT scene have been verified. With a disproportionate number of representatives compared to the nation’s population and three players in the top 8, the Spanish took WCW by storm! However Poland and Australia were right behind them with solid win rates, and with an Aussie securing the top of the podium. The US has some catching up to do here if it wants to claim the title of “Best Kill Team Scene” – while the US had 17 players in the event, only two made the top 8. And both fo those were East Coasters, showing where the US Competitive heart is*.

*Editor’s Note – Travis is a New Yorker and as such may be biased in his views, despite them being obviously factually correct.

If Games Workshop were to introduce a balance-slate for nations,  Poland, Spain, and Australia might find themselves on the receiving end of some well deserved nerfs. While Wales is certainly in need of new buffs as their Hearthkyn copium is clearly in short supply! We’re looking forward to Latin American representatives returning next year with new knowledge and more players as Alejo’s 5-2 record shows that the talent is there. As long as players continue to lift each other up they’ll be returning with even better players!

US players made up nearly 50% of the attendees and had a near equivalent win rate. Two of the players made it into the top 8, securing 3rd and 4th place, meaning that there is still plenty of talent who can reclaim the title for the USA. With the West Coast making up only 24% of US players to the East Coast’s 59% it shows they need to pick up the slack on representing the home front.

TheArmorOfContempt’s Note: Clearly more US players need to be drawn from the heartland instead of decadent coastal enclaves, if anything these results simply show that it was foolish to trust our Eastern seaboard countrymen with this important task.

HappyRacoon Edit: Sorry I missed the Argentinian line in my first pass, the win rates have been added!

Final Thoughts

TheArmorOfContempt – I am a bit surprised at the final results, but not entirely. If Kommandos had not been so prevalent as a choice I would’ve immediately assumed that Chaos Cultists would win the event. Even after the nerfs they received in the last Balance-Slate I was under no illusion that this team was still the strongest in the game with the assumption that Kommandos would act as a STRONG gatekeeper against them. Simply put, Sneaky Git allows Kommandos to perform one of the strongest alpha strikes in the game with little fear of retaliation, and it seems even with that advantage it STILL wasn’t enough for even the most accomplished Kommandos players in the world to overcome them. Ultimately, what this means for the game will come down to what the rules team decides to change going into 2024, but one can assume that these results might get more players to return to Chaos Cultists. In a way I am pleased that they won, because it highlights that the changes they received still might not be enough for what was EASILY the most broken team the game had seen upon its initial release.

HappyRaccoon – Having come into WCW meta with the firm belief that Chaos Cults‘ worst match up was Kommandos, I was surprised to see the dominance of the cults once again. Even if the Cults had only lost to Kommandos, I am firmly in the camp that their dominance is probably too much. The threat of 2-6 Torments over the course of a game, and the spontaneous mutation on tp4 healing anywhere from 2-20 wounds remains too much for almost any team to handle on ITD. Especially when confronting a consistent pair of torments on ITD at the opening of turn 2 that can end up 13” past the midline. That said I do wonder if other board layouts, or a larger spread of designs would have led to different results. When players play 8 games over the same pair of Open layouts, the “best” lines probably appear too consistently. Which makes the game more like chess than a test of dynamic decision making. All in all, it’s some interesting food for thought, and I look forward to how Games Workshop addresses the current community complaints.

Check back tomorrow for our interviews with the top 3. And if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at