The upcoming release of Kill Team Moroch brings us a fantastic set of models in the form of The Blooded. A Chaos-flavored take on the Veteran Guardsman Kill Team that is a slight name alternation away from just being the Blood Pact from Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series. Below I will cover this team and its rules in depth along with my thoughts on its potential competitive viability, however if you’re short on time I think this team will fit nicely amongst the non-Compendium competitive teams. It has a strong and uniquely flavorful set of rules attached to it, but it remains to be seen where it will fall in the hierarchy.
In this review we’re covering the rules behind the new Traitor guard team, but if you’re interested in the models themselves, you can find our unboxing and model review here.
Before we dive into the team, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for sending us a preview copy of the new boxed set for review purposes.
A Blooded Kill Team has a structure akin to a mix of the Veteran Guardsmen and Wyrmblade teams, consisting of:
- 1 Blooded Traitor Chieftain equipped with 1 of the below options
- Autopistol or Laspistol; Chainsword or Powersword
- Bolt Pistol; Chainsword
- Boltgun; Bayonet
- Plasma Pistol; Improvised Blade
- 9 Blood Operatives Chosen from:
- Traitor Brimstone Grenadier
- Traitor Butcher
- Traitor Commsman
- Traitor Corpseman (Get It!?)
- Traitor Flenser
- Traitor Gunner equipped with Flamer
- Traitor Gunner equipped with Grenade Launcher
- Traitor Gunner equipped with Meltagun
- Traitor Gunner equipped with Plasmagun
- Traitor Sharpshooter
- Traitor Thug
- Traitor Trench Sweeper
- Traitor Trooper
- 4 Blood Operatives Chosen from:
- Traitor Enforcer (Counts as 2 Operatives)
- Traitor Ogryn ( Counts as 2 Operatives)
- Traitor Trooper
- Each Operative aside from TRAITOR TROOPERS may only be taken once, and only 2 GUNNERS may be taken.
As you can see, similar to Veteran Guardsmen teams we have a long list of unique specialists to choose from, along with the ability to swap two generic TRAITOR TROOPERS for more powerful unique operatives in the same way Wyrmblade do for their CULT AGENTS. Unlike the Wyrmblade team, The Blooded have so many specialists to choose from they can compose their entire team of them, only taking the generic traitor troopers if they wish to have 14 operatives on the table instead of 12.
The Blooded have a single common ability across all their operatives, creatively named BLOODED, that is simultaneously very useful and fits perfectly with their lore as a once loyal and disciplined fighting unit who have turned to pleasing their dark patrons.
This ability requires the person playing The Blooded to keep a pool of Blooded tokens. Tokens are added to your pool as follows:
- At the start of each Initiative Phase
- The first time an enemy operative is incapacitated in each Turning Point
- The first time a friendly operative is incapacitated in each Turning Point while within 6 inches of an enemy operative.
These tokens MAY then be distributed amongst your operatives in the Strategic Phase when it is your turn to use a Strategic Ploy. Operatives may only have a single token at any time, and as a result may automatically retain a single attack dice as a successful NORMAL hit whenever they fight or shoot. In addition, if you have 4 or more operatives with blooded tokens you may choose one of those operatives to be under THE GAZE OF THE GODS. This operative may automatically retain a single fight or shooting attack die as a CRITICAL hit.
It is also worth pointing out that this means that you will only be able to acquire a maximum of 3 Blood Tokens per Turning Point (without spending Command Points), and thusly will not be able to have an operative under THE GAZE OF THE GODS until Turning Point 2 at the earliest. At the same time to earn your maximum Blooded Tokens per Turning Point you are required to lose one of your own operatives meaning you may choose to strategically take loses in order to make your team more powerful as the match progresses. Many of the ploys available to The Blooded revolve around these tokens creating many interesting tactical decisions for the person playing them.
Your required leader choice comes with the obligatory 1 extra wound over your standard operatives, and is slightly better at shooting and fighting than they are. His true utility lies with his two unique abilities.
Blooded Icon allows him to transfer a blood token from an incapacitated operative to your token pool if they are within 6 inches once per Turning Point, while Lead With Strength allows him to be treated as if he is under THE GAZE OF THE GODS if he has a blooded token AND more than 6 inches from your drop zone.
Here we have a frontline leader meant for either melee combat or close range shooting with you most likely choosing the plasma pistol or power sword. I’d personally suggest the plasma pistol as this allows him to more safely retrieve tokens from incapacitated operatives, and because having a second plasma option is very powerful.
Your basic guys, they come with a lasgun and bayonet, and have no special rules specific to them. As mentioned before you don’t even have to take them, however as we will see one of the main differences between The Blooded and Loyalist Veterans is a greater focus on close range fighting with many Blooded specialists not having ranged options, meaning you may find yourself in a position where you prefer the ranged flexibility of these guys, especially when used in conjunction with the Overcharge Lasguns strategic ploy.
Traitor Brimstone Grenadier
This guy is great. He comes equipped automatically with both Frag and Krak Grenades, but that isn’t where the fun is. His Diabolyk Bomb will absolutely keep enemy operatives from bunching up as it has the Splash 2 special rule in conjunction with Blast meaning enemies caught up in a blast of the original target can then cause Splash Mortal wounds to bounce back into the original target. In fact, this weapon becomes deadlier the more individuals that are caught up in it. This alone makes this guy an obvious target for GAZE OF THE GODS if your opponent is foolish enough to bunch up anywhere near him. For example, if you manage to catch 3 enemy operatives with this weapon, while under GAZE OF THE GODS you can retain a single critical hit on each enemy operative attacked effectively causing 6 mortal wounds to each target BEFORE the weapon’s normal damage.
As a final discouragement you can choose to attempt to blow him up when he is incapacitated, causing mortal wounds to nearby operatives. Keep in mind this also affects friendlies.
A close combat specialist, this devotee of chaos has traded in his lasgun for power weapons, +1 atk, +3 to hit, and 1 wound over the standard trooper, a decent trade. In addition, he comes with two special abilities meant to encourage you to throw him into your opponent. Unholy Sustenance allows him to regenerate D3 wounds after he incapacitates an enemy in during a fight (so no grenade kills), and Blood Offering causes him to generate a blood token on the first critical hit used to strike in a combat. Take note this later ability has no Turning Point limit meaning he could potentially generate multiple tokens a Turning Point. Just as an example, he could charge into combat, kill an enemy operative generating 2 tokens in that combat, be charged by an enemy operative and subsequently die to generate another 2. This guy is barely more durable than a regular guardsman, so you shouldn’t expect him to last long once he starts mixing with your opponent.
Basically a regular trooper except for his two unique abilities, both of which require APL to perform. Signal (1 APL), the most directly powerful of the two, allows him to increase the APL of another operative by 1 as long as they’re within 6 inches of him. Sacrilegious Actuation (1 APL) allows him to transfer a blood token from one operative to another as long as they’re BOTH, within 6 inches of, and visible to the Commsman. A key detail is that you have to have a valid operative to reassign the token, otherwise you can’t perform this action, which means you can’t use this ability to snag tokens from doomed operatives and add them to your pool. With this in mind your best strategy is likely to never assign a token to this operative, so that he can be the target of his second ability in times of need.
At first glance, this looks like the obligatory medic specialist. However this is chaos, so you should know better. Instead the Corpseman is a combination buffer and healer who can use his Stimms (1 APL) ability to produce one of three different effects:
- Heal 2d3 Lost Wounds
- Grant Relentless to the melee weapons of an operative for the remainder of the battle
- Grant a 6+ “Feel No Pain” to an operative for the remainder of the battle
Each effect can’t be performed more than once on each operative, the Corpseman can’t be in engagement range of enemy operatives, and the Corpseman must be within one inch of the operative they’re buffing.
In addition, when you select the Corpseman as part of your kill team you may grant one of the above abilities to an operative prior to mission start. While all three of these abilities are useful, giving Relentless to your melee specialists is a fantastic ability and likely your “go-to” here since many of your operatives are unlikely to survive long enough to need that 2d3 wounds. Once again this operative’s abilities highlight the difference between The Blooded and other horde kill teams as the Corpseman needs to be moving forward along with your other operatives to help pressure the enemy.
Another Trooper who has traded in his lasgun for melee weapons. This guy is less outright deadly compared to the Butcher, but is sneakier. His blades are 3/4 and have the Ceaseless trait, and in addition gain the Lethal 5+ ability if his target is within 2 inches of light or heavy terrain. What makes him truly interesting is his Wretched trait, which allows him to perform a charge from Conceal, and if he is incapacitated in combat he may make one final strike at his opponent if you have any remaining successful attack dice. This final ability means your enemy might hesitate to charge or fight him if they risk losing their own operative.
Perhaps the most straightforward operatives in the list. These guys pack the ranged AP firepower you’re going to want vs elite teams. They have no special abilities of their own, but are obvious targets for blooded tokens to increase their accuracy, or even GAZE OF THE GODS to force through mortal wounds when needed.
Another surprisingly straightforward specialist, his long-las hits slightly better than your standard trooper along with a flat 3 dmg regardless of a normal or critical hit and a single mortal wound on a critical hit. This weapon has the expected Silent trait that is typical of sniper characters, but critically lacks the Heavy trait allowing him to remain mobile. His only other piece of wargear is a camo-cloak that allows him to retain a second automatic save if he is in cover. The lack of abilities on this operative and the above gunner really drives home the notion that these guys are meant to be in combat, with ranged abilities meant purely as a supporting role.
A dude with a club…that is deadlier than a boltgun. Our third melee specialist has turned in his lasgun for a big stick that has a 4/4 profile and the Brutal Trait. His only special rule is the Tough skill, which reduces all incoming attack damage by 1 to a minimum of 1. In effect this means this guy can take 1 or 2 more hits from a boltgun and make non-critical lasgun hits almost trivial. Thanks to the Brutal trait he can easily force through damage, and against other trooper/guardsman equivalent operatives he has little to fear in close combat. Basically, this guy lives up to his name, meant to bully non-specialists while not taking any significant damage in return.
Traitor Trench Sweeper
Similar to the Thug the Trench Sweeper is a durable close range bully unit. Where the Thug reduces damage, the Trench Sweeper has the ability to re-roll any failed saves using the Shielding ability. When the Trench Sweeper is activated you can choose to activate this ability at no APL cost, but give up 2 inches in movement until its next activation. Additionally, the Trench Sweeper can use its Shield to parry two successful hit dice instead of one. Lastly, the Trench Sweeper has apparently been practicing at the range, because he sports a 2+ to hit with his shotgun. By himself the Trench Sweeper is easily one of the better specialists available to The Blooded, and as we will see in later sections, synergizes very well with other abilities available to the team.
The first of our extra special… specialists? Should you decide to take the Enforcer over two standard troopers, what you get in return is a combination of melee specialist and force multiplier. The Enforcer comes equipped with a bolt pistol, power fist, 1 additional wound, AND a 4+ save. In addition, he has two unique abilities, Grueling Disciplinarian and Enforce (1 AP). The first of these allows any friendly operatives that are within 3 inches and visible to ignore the movement penalty from injuries, while the second allows the Enforcer to give a friendly operative a free Dash OR Overwatch action.
Our final melee specialist, and easily the deadliest of them. The Ogryn has one job, and that is to slam into your opponent. He comes with a staggering 16 wounds, a total only surpassed by Heavy Intercessors, Tyranid Warriors, and Custodes. Additionally, his 4 melee attacks hit on a 3+ for an impressive 5/6 along with the Rending and Stun traits. This combined with his Avalanche of Muscle ability, d3 mortals when charging, means he can reliably kill 7 wound operatives before they have a chance to strike back. He is rounded out by the Chem-Enhanced and Brute abilities that combine to emphasize his toughness/denseness by making him immune to being Injured or Stunned, but also incapable of performing mission actions, the Pick Up action, or taking equipment. This last part is something he has in common with CULT AGENTS, and is likely meant to prevent potential balance issues.
The Blooded come with the standard 4 Strategic and 4 Tactical Ploys all priced at 1 Command Point. Of the two categories their tactical ploys seem the stronger with a few being so good that players will likely want to always have at least 1 Command Point in their pool to make use of them.
Worried you don’t have enough AP at your disposal to get damage through on power armored opponents? Well you can give all your las weapons (except the long-las) the AP1 and Hot traits until the end of the Turning Point. Unfortunately, only 3 of the specialist trooper options come with lasguns, there are only two situations where you want to use this ploy. You’ve decided to forgo taking the Enforcer or Ogryn for standard Troopers, OR all your other operatives are dead and your Commsman has no other choice but to use his lasgun. Excluding the Long-Las from this ploy feels like an extra punch in the teeth from what is an already mediocre ploy.
Easily the best of strategic ploy available to The Blooded, you select an enemy operative visible to one of your operatives and for the rest of the Turning Point all of your operatives can re-roll a SINGLE attack die whenever they are in a combat with or making a shooting attack against that operative.
A situational ploy that allows operatives that do not have a Blooded Token to be treated as if they have one provided they’re within 6 inches of the opponent’s drop zone. Another ploy that emphasizes being up close and aggressive with your opponent, however it is unlikely to be useful until Turning Point 3 or later. It can however provide you some needed buffs in a pinch should you find yourself behind enemy lines.
Perhaps the most situational of the 4 ploys. This allows operatives to retain a single normal hit during combat as a critical hit, provided they’re being supported in that combat. This is more likely to find its usefulness in matches where you outnumber your opponent, but even then The Blooded have access to a significant number of abilities to buff their combat prowess making this ploy feel, lore appropriate, but mechanically redundant.
This allows you to target enemy operatives for shooting even if they are engaged with OTHER friendly operatives with the provider that any misses will now hit one of your operatives that is engaged with that enemy operative. This is a fantastic ploy, not only is it fun and fluffy, but it is also incredibly useful in situations where you know one of your models is doomed.
Moment of Repute
Another incredibly useful ploy that allows you to give 1 additional APL to an operative that is under THE GAZE OF THE GODS. This has numerous uses, and can really keep your opponent on their toes if used properly.
Use this ploy after one of your operatives incapacitates an enemy operative within 3 inches of it to gain 1 Blood Token to your pool. This is perhaps the “weakest” of the 4 tactical ploys, and likely most useful on Turning Point 1 to help ensure you have 4 Blood Tokens by TP 2 so you can use THE GAZE OF THE GODS.
A very powerful ploy that allows operatives without a Blood Token to be the target of a shooting attack directed at an operative that has a Blood Token provided the operatives are within 2 inches of one another. This Ploy is powerful by simply allowing your Gunners or Chieftain to avoid being shot to death, but is truly maximized when combined with either the Trench Sweeper or the Ogyrn.
The Blooded equipment list is a good example of balanced items that all have their uses at certain times with no particular option being an automatic pick.
- Frag and Krak Grenades [2 and 3 EP] – Unchanged from those employed by all the other Kill Teams. Bring frag if facing hordes, bring Krak if facing elites, pretty standard.
- Armored Plates [2 EP] – Allows operatives to re-roll defense results of a 1 against shooting attacks. Unfortunately most of your Kill Team sports a 5+ save meaning your odds still aren’t great even if you manage to roll a 1 on the initial roll. Perhaps best used on the Enforcer, but redundant on your Trench Sweeper.
- Chem-Breather [1 EP] – Identical in effect to the Wyrmblade Photo-Visors, makes operatives immune to Stun and negative APL modifiers.
- Sinister Trophy [3 EP] – The only equipment item limited to being taken once, any enemy operatives within engagement range of the equipped operative have the number of attacks of their MELEE weapons reduced by one. A quality choice one of your melee specialists such as The Butcher.
- Incendiary Shells [2 EP] – In effect limited to being taken once as it can only be taken by your Trench Sweeper. The Trench Sweeper may choose to fire these shells instead of its standard shotgun profile. It does so the NORMAL damage on its weapon is reduced by 1, and gains the 1 inch Blast special rule. An incredibly niche choice, but just more value added to one of the better operatives on your team.
- Beast Pelt [1 EP] – Allows operatives to re-roll a single defense dice against shooting attacks that have either the blast or torrent special rule, while also making the operative immune to the Splash critical hit rule. Another odd choice, especially considering Splash is currently a rarely seen rule. Useful if you expect your opponent to bring lots of Frag Grenades or Flamers, which they are likely to do, and allows your Brimstone Grenadier to be even more reckless around friendly operatives.
- Wicked Blades [1 EP/2 EP] – Ups the NORMAL damage of bayonets and improvised blades by 1 for a 1 EP, while doing the same for the bayonet and shield for 2 EP. Oddly enough, probably one of the better choices if you aren’t bringing grenades, basically allows your non-melee specialists to always hit for 3 damage in combat.
Oddly enough The Blooded are only given the Seek and Destroy archetype to choose their missions from, it seems any form of subtlety is beyond them. As far as mission selection goes there are worse archetypes to be stuck with, with most of the Tac Ops being at least partially achievable. In addition, they have been provided 3 Faction Specific Tac Ops that they can substitute in for the Seek and Destroy ones they are considered unlikely to achieve.
Worthy Champion – Faction Tac Op 1
If an operative incapacitates one or more enemy operatives while being under GAZE OF THE GODS AND within 6 inches of the center you gain a Victory Point at the end of the Turning Point. A pretty straight forward Tac Op that is not difficult to achieve, and a very obvious choice if objective markers are also located near the center as your opponent will likely have to commit operatives to them at some point. This can be difficult to score during the first Turning Point as your Chieftain is the only one who will be benefiting from GAZE OF THE GODS and will be unlikely to have a charge target that early. Still it is not unreasonable to score 2 points off of this Tac Op, making it a solid choice.
Malign Command – Faction Tac Op 2
Score one VP at the end of a Turning Point if you control half or more of the objective markers on the table IF at least one of the operatives controlling each marker has a Blooded Token. Impossible to score during Turning Point one this is a slightly less useful Tac OP than Worthy Champion due to the nature of the blooded tokens, and is much more susceptible to counterplay from your opponent. Kill Team has some really difficult Tac Ops to achieve, while this is far from the hardest you’re unlikely to swap it out for many of the Seek and Destroy options.
Bloodbath – Faction Tac Op 3
The third Tac Op is also the one with the smallest potential VP value, scoring 1 VP if you destroy half your opponents team, and an additional 1 if you destroy three quarters of their team. This is still a strong pick simply because odds are you will almost always eliminate half of the opponent’s team. There is no reliable counterplay for your opponent in this case since all you need to do is attack your opponent, which operatives do so is irrelevant, and since your other Tac Ops are being drawn from the Seek and Destroy archetype you will likely be fulfilling the needs of multiple Tac Ops everytime you incapacitate an enemy.
Seek and Destroy Tac Ops
- Headhunter – Always a good choice, especially if your opponent’s leader is a combat specialist who needs to be forward to be useful.
- Challenge – This one is a tad…challenging? Basically you make your challenger a primary target, and encourage them to hide the operative you’ve made a target. Similar to Headhunter in the sense that you should pick an enemy operative that they can’t afford to hide, but unfortunately with more hoops to jump through, but no time limit.
- Rout – An excellent choice for a team that is encouraged to be on the offensive, but also highly dependent on the depth of the Drop Zones.
- Execution – Almost always a poor choice for horde teams, especially one such as The Blooded who will almost certainly be losing operatives quickly.
- Deadly Marksman – While The Blooded don’t specialize in ranged combat this could be given to the SharpShooter who never has to leave Conceal, and is mobile enough to avoid enemy attempts to run him down once he has made a kill.
- Rob and Ransack – This Tac Op works very well with The Blooded’s play style as getting in close and taking out your enemy is something you were going to do anyway.
Blackstone Fortress and Moroch
If you bought Blackstone fortress, some of these models might look familiar to you. The Enforcer and Ogryn are the same models from the Traitor Command expansion, though the traitor guardsmen here are all-new. If you’re wondering if you can just use the Traitor Guard from the Blackstone Fortress game as a Blooded Kill Team, the answer is “not without a lot of conversion work.” The models from Blackstone Fortress will make great additional models and conversion pieces for a Blooded Kill Team, but you’ll need to do some serious conversion work to get them set up to work as a good Blooded kill team – the BSF troopers have some weapons that the Blooded can’t take.
The Blooded have what I consider the best rules yet released for a Kill Team. They strike a fantastic balance between being useful, and incredibly fluffy. You have the option of creating a team of entirely unique operatives, and the rules team seems to really have learned from past mistakes as there don’t appear to be any “broken” interactions. The Blooded have no rules that allow operatives to FIGHT or SHOOT twice, nor do they have the ability to activate multiple specialists in a row, or any other abilities that have been the targets of recent Rules Errata.
The downside to all this is The Blooded are a horde team that leans more heavily towards combat in a game where shooting is often favored, but lack many of the abilities that other teams use to keep their operatives alive until they reach combat. In addition, their two special characters, The Enforcer and Ogryn are not automatic takes in the same way Cult Agents are for the Wyrmblade as they’re both APL 2, meaning you’re taking a significant APL hit when you take them. The Ogryn is very limited in what he can do, and even with 16 wounds will not last long with only a 5+ save, while The Enforcer’s best abilities require him to give up his own Actions.
I expect The Blooded to be popular, but I don’t expect them to supplant teams like Novitiates or Void Dancers at the top of the pile, and they unfortunately feel less powerful than most of the other non-compendium team updates. That being said, there is A LOT of room for clever players to make use of their ability set, and I expect that in the correct hands they will have plenty of victories in their future.
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