Kill Team Meta Review – October, 2023

Everybody look alive! We are locked and loaded and ready to talk about some important business. With the end of 2023 fast approaching and the first ever World Championships of Warhammer in Atlanta right around the corner, it’s once again time to talk about the Kill Team meta. We’ll be looking at all of the big tournament data we can get our hands on, diving into how things have changed since the most recent balance dataslate, and kowtowing to the clickbait gods by creating our own OFFICIAL GOONHAMMER DOT COM KILL TEAM TIER LIST.

Building a Tier List – with Science

Just because we’re stooping to building a Tier List doesn’t mean we have to be lazy about it – we’re going to be crafting our tier list looking at pick rate, win rate, and top 8 appearances in tournaments run over the past quarter. We’ll be taking into account any events and data we have since the most recent dataslate dropped to get a feel for how the meta has changed.

Today we are going to craft our tier list with the classics, pick rate, win rate and appearances in the top 8 of the tournaments of this quarter. We will analyze the data since the dataslate to see how it has affected the meta. Since Hotsauce Teddy is on vacation (we miss him a lot), we had to we had to extract the data ourselves. So on that we’d like to extend a major thanks to Feurfritas from the Spanish Discord, Wargames Castellano, for helping here.

Team Win Rates

Source: Best Coast Pairings, 09-1-2023 to 10-25-2023

Let’s start by looking at win rates by team, i.e. the number of wins divided by the number of games played for each Kill Team. Then we’ll rank teams according to win rate. Normally Kill teams are expected to be between 45-55% (this is the sweet spot we’re looking for in most games), although as explained in other articles there are many factors that can affect this statistic (one of which is that there are still Compendium teams floating around, which we largely tend to ignore).

First we can see in the graphs that the meta is quite balanced; the only factions which exceed 55% are Hands of the Archon, Chaos Cultists, Ork Kommandos, Gellerpox and Void dancers. This doesn’t change too much if we limit our view to events with four or more rounds, though at this point Chaos Cultists jump a bit to more than 60%.

Winrate from 4+ rounds tournaments from 09-1-2023 to 10-25-2023

At the bottom are Pathfinders, Kroot Farstalker Kinbands, and Karskin, each with rates below 45%. That’s unfortunate, but it means that the rest of our major factions are all in that healthy 45-55% win rate band. Speaking from personal experience with my local meta, I’m very surprised by the dominance shown by the Hands of The Archon teams in our statistics. I’m less surprised to see that Gellerpox and Void Dancer teams have stayed higher in terms of Overall Win rates but drop a bit at larger events – it’s an indication that they’re more gatekeeper teams, or teams that tend to filter out less competitive teams and players when it comes to competitive play.

Pick Rates by Faction

Source: Best Coast Pairings, 09-1-2023 to 10-25-2023

The next thing we want to look at is faction adoption – win rates are fine stats but if a faction only has a few players, it’s easy for one good player to spike their results and over-represent a faction’s strength. Likewise, if a faction is over-represented, it will likely look worse – or more average – as more bad and average players contribute to its results. Finally, factions tend to pick up more players when they do well, especially if those factions are part of say, the Kill Team starter box. All of these help provide context for the win rates and top 8 stats we’ll be looking at.

In that sense it’s no surprise that Intercessors still dominate the number of factions taken with a powerful 10% of the field – everyone has Space Marines, after all. More of a surprise here is the huge rise of Ork Kommandos and Legionnaires with 9% and 8%, respectively. Chaos Space Marines are a very popular 40k faction and the Kommandos make up half of the Kill Team boxed set, ensuring they’re more likely to be in the hands of players. Behind those teams we have the other marine team, Phobos marines, with just over 5%. At the bottom are Wyrmblade teams, with only 1.26% of the field, Exaction Squads with 1.30%, and closing below 2% Pathfinders, Novitiates and Strike Force Justian (Although data on this final team is currently unreliable as the team was just released).

This is where marrying the two stats pays off – Kommandos have a high enough pick rate that their win rates should drop off some as a result of having more novice players picking up the faction – Intercession Squads look much more average (in fact I call this the “Intercessor Effect”) – but instead they represent nearly ten percent of the field while maintaining a 57% win rate. That does point to the Kommandos as an actual top-tier faction.

Top 8 Representation

Top 8 representation from the 6 tournaments with 4+ rounds and +30 players

Finally, let’s look at the six tournaments since the Dataslate dropped which have had more than 30 players and 4+ rounds to build a graph of the factions appearing in those events and finishing in the top 8. That gives us a total of 48 top 8 slots to look at, and we can see which factions outperform their expected showings here. By that I mean, if Kommandos represent 9% of player factions, we should expect to see them make up 9% of top 8 appearances. If they’re over that, they’re overperforming.

And hey, would you look at that – Kommandos stand out here (again) with 10 appearances (compared to the 4-5 we’d expect), followed by Blooded and Novitiates each with 5, and then we have several factions with 4 appearances each (Hands of the Archon, Navy, Legionary, Veteran Guardsman, Void dancer). The notable absences here are Fellgor Ravagers, Gellerpox Infected, Pathfinders, Justinian, Exaction Squad and Wyrmblade teams, though for those less popular teams this is also where small sample size plays a role – more events would likely give us a a few of those.

Particularly surprising is the appearance of Blooded and Novitiates who, without having a spectacular WR, seem to be getting good results in the big tournaments – usually a sign of teams which are powerful, but may be difficult to play. In any case, to underpin the idea of the current meta being pretty healthy, we can point out that 20 of the game’s 26 primary factions are represented here, suggesting that it’s possible to make the top 8 with pretty much any of the game’s factions.

The Tier List

Alright let’s build the tier list.

The KT mercenarios Tier List

A quick note: In addition to the data above, this tier list is based on my opinion and influenced by my local meta, the mixed environments where I play and the Killzones played in Spain.

S-Tier: Ork Kommandos have been dominating the stats and my local tables. The dataslate gifted them an extra activation and a huge TP1 threat. Combined with the extra CP from the crit ops changes, the Kommandos now bring a truly heinous mix of danger to any table. Their toolbox contains smokes, early mission advantages, good melee, good shooting, and more. The Kommandos sit in a tier alone as the most flexible and powerful faction in afterglow of this dataslate, and this is borne out by their stats. They make up 9% of the meta but still manage to eat an outsized proportion of top 8 results, wins, and win share.

A+ Tier: After Kommandos we have the usual suspects in the A+ tier – Chaos Cultists  stand out as the combat horde option of the moment while Legionnaires and Phobos teams represent the elite option, and the top shooty horde options are the Imperial Navy (the efficiency pick), and Inquisition Teams (lots of tools), and Veteran Guardsmen.

Most teams then fall in the A/A- tier group – solid teams which can compete at top levels but don’t offer massive advantages. This is a healthy mix of teams, with a large, competitive middle. Each of these teams have some good matchups and bad and in the hands of a skilled player can definitely win a tournament, though how well they perform will depend on conditions like the killzone/environment being used.

B-Tier: On the lower side of the competitive spectrum, nerfs from the datslate appear to have mortally wounded the Fellgor, Kasrkin teams, whiled Wyrmblade have long been in need of some adjustment, and these are joined by Exaction Squads where the buffs they received do not seem to have been enough. 


Wrapping Things Up

We are currently living through what may be the best meta the game has ever had, and given the volume of teams in the mix, that’s pretty incredible. It will be interesting to see how Salvation shakes things up with its two new factions and environment. And you can bet we’ll be here to cover it. So look forward to our next meta analysis in a few months. In the meantime, keep an eye out for our coverage of the World Championships in Atlanta and if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at