Kill Team Tactics: Chaos Cults

Are you tired of working in the grist mills of the Imperium? Do you chafe at the thought of devoting your life to an immortal corpse-god? Do you really wish you could grow an extra tentacle or two, and don’t care what part of your body it sprouts from? Then Chaos Cults may be the faction for you. Introduced as a Kill Team in the Ashes of Faith boxed set, the Chaos Cults are more than just a narrative team – they’re a force to be reckoned with in Kill Team. In this article we’ll break down the team, their composition, and how to play them.

Team Overview

Untold masses fall to the lure of Chaos during the times of the Citrix Maledictum, their souls damned to horrors best left unknown to mortals. However you’re here to divine the secrets to starting your own foul cult, fomenting in your followers the true gifts of your betters. Accursed Gifts of the chaos gods can present your followers many avenues to crush the opposition. Allowing Demagogue’s to spread the good word of your local meta’s new lords and saviors. While the team has been nerfed a fair few times since release, your mutation’s flexibility has meant it’s been hard to keep the strength of your Torments’ souls down.
Thanks to Aleksa the World Champion for taking a look at this article!

Credit: Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson


  • Strength through Mutation – Most teams approach turning point 3 and 4 running on fumes, looking to score points with whatever dregs they have left. Chaos Cults meanwhile get stronger as the game goes on, and if you stabilize with three Torments the game is often yours to lose!
  • Incredible Melee Heavy hitters– As a team with scant ranged operatives, you’re allowed some of the most powerful melee operatives in the game. Five attacks with relentless and rending with a ploy that allows a free fight means you hit HARD.
  • Clever Tricks – Between blessed blades mixed activation, forced targeting of devotees, and six different gifts you can pull off an impressive display of tricky plays. This means that as you learn to play the team you’ll see more and more cool plays as you learn.
  • Damage? What damage? – Between mutation’s ability to heal operatives, and a 6+ feel no pain your heavy hitters can wildly vary in toughness. This means most players will never truly know if they’ll put your operatives down.


  • 15-Operative Mental Load – As the thiccest team in the game, with 11+ activations and 15 operatives the emphasis on deployment can be maddening. This means you’ll be on blast watch constantly, and playing a 2-hour game can be challenging with so many chaotic individuals to move around.
  • Little long range threat – Outside of chip damage from the mindwitch’s malefic vortex we’re mostly waiting to stage your threats. Granted in melee we are second to none, so keeping your heads down early is just part of the game plan.
  • Weaker early game – After a string of nerfs the early game is where you’ll be weakest. If those first two Torments on tp2 are dealt with quickly you can struggle to create enough threats to make it to the end game.
  • Fear of James Workshop Nerfs – As a team with very polarizing power levels across terrain types, the Cults have been tapped by the nerf bat more than once. In fact Torments are so strong, that it’s always something that could happen so long as In the Dark terrain remains popular.

Credit: Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson

Team Structure

Chas Cults teams consist of:

  • 1 Demagogue
  • 2 Blessed Blades
  • 1 Iconarch
  • 1 Mindwitch
  • 10 Chaos Devotees

Notably, these teams offer no composition options. As of this writing the team remains unchanged in structure. With the Seek and Destroy or Infiltration archetypes you can play the team in a myriad ways with these 15 humble operatives. Your mutants and torments come from your teams built in abilities.


Chaos Cults have two powerful abilities to work with.


The first half of your team’s core abilities. Mutation allows us to heal operatives D3+1 wounds, and transmogrify out lowly devotees into horrifying mutations. We can do this during one of your strategy phase turns mutating a number of operatives equal to the turning point number. While your Cult Demagogue can use his Accursed Benediction action as well. Lastly Devotees can score a kill during a fight to prove their worth and become a Mutant. No operative can mutate more than once during a turning point. This means over the course of a normal game we have 1+2+3+4+4=14 natural mutation windows with devotees able to score some bonus mutations. Remember that each operative can only mutate once during each turning point, so the quickest you can have a Torment out is the opening of turning point 2!

When mutating a devotee you replace it with a mutant, and regain d3+1 wounds. While mutants are replaced with torments, and regain d3+3 wounds. We’re capped out at 5 mutants and 3 torments in a killzone at a time. In the past we’d fully heal back up to the 7 wound and 13 wound breakpoints but that has changed as of 2023Q4. We always replace the operative as close to the replaced operatives position, but if your new base size does not fit we are allowed to place the new operative somewhere else close by. This means we can engineer some tricky positions to launch your 40mm torment bases through barricades and doors. A useful trick as we can mutate into engagement range. A clever cult leader will see room to mutate into engagement at the start of tp2 as we go from 25mm to 40mm bases.

Credit: Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson

Accursed Gifts

When your devotees and mutants change into mutants and torments we select an accursed gift to grant to all operatives of that tier of mutation. You can also gain one of these through the Abhorrent Mutation ploy which is important to keep in mind!

Winged – B

Ignore modifiers to movement, and ignore the first 2” of movement penalties. Simple when you need it, not generally a strong first choice as you can pick it up with abhorrent mutation for a charge.

Fleet – B

Add 1” to your movement characteristic. Similar to Winged, you can pick this up when it’ll help you make a charge. Alternatively you can grab it early to let your later torment charges that much scarier en masse.

Chitinous – C-

Go from a 5+ save to a 4+ save. Great when your first couple set up positions are sketchy against a shooting team. A 4+ save, with a 6+ feel no pain that can be healed at a later date is a tough operative to take down.

Horned – A+

When you finish a charge action, one enemy operative within engagement range takes 1 mortal wound from a Mutant or D3 from a Torment. This is one of the best Torment mutations as the D3 mortal wounds allows you to hit 10 wound operatives down in one fight step fairly consistently. When combined with the D6 mortal wounds from Frenzied Demise you can push through an unholy amount of damage with a torment hanging on by a thread.

Sinewed – B-

Ignore weapon skill modifiers and gain Brutal. Surprisingly less useful than you’d expect. However, sinewed is situationally useful against opponents who can cause injury, and opponents that are planning to parry you. Looking at you Arbites Subductors!

Barbed – D

Reap 1 or 2 depending on your mutation level. Reap is a weird rule that doesn’t see a ton of play. You’ll sometimes pick this up through Abhorrent Mutation but probably never as one of your two primary gifts. Look for situations where there are multiple injured operatives or clumps where you can Unleash the Demon to spread the love.


Cult Demagogue & Blessed Blades. Credit: Rockfish
Cult Demagogue & Blessed Blades. Credit: Rockfish

Cult Demagogue

  • Your lynchpin guiding your forces across the battlefield. Keeping him alive is one of the most important things we can do as his Accursed Benediction(1AP) allows us to mutate a friendly operative within 6” and visible to himself. Remember that this can be used to regain wounds, or create mutations, granted we’re mostly aiming to create as many torments as possible.
  • Your other two abilities are also powerful. Both Induce Slaughter(1AP) and Incite Urgency(1AP) affect a 6” visible operative. Induce Slaughter grants a free Fight action, while Incite Urgency gives that same operative a free 3” Dash or Charge action. Finding clever positions where your demagogue can influence the board and stand still allows us to really make the best use of these 3 unique actions.
  • Meanwhile we’re no slouches in combat, with your Diabolical Stave. Though with only 8 wounds, and a 5+ save, it’s probably best for us to stay parked in a position to influence the killzone with your unique actions.

Blessed Blades credit:danielr449

Blessed Blade

  • With 6” movement, 2 APL, a 5+ save, and 8 wounds, at first blush the twin bladed terrors may feel a little lacking. However their Commune Blades pack a power sword sized punch on 4s. When enemy operatives want to Fall Back, you can Cut Them Down scoring D3+1 mortal wounds when opponents show fear.
  • The pair is Attuned in Purpose allowing the two operatives to complete their actions in any order as long as they are activated within 6” of each other. This means you can have BB1 Charge, BB2 Charge, BB1 Fight on 3+s with combat support, BB2 do a mission action. Note that this is optional so you can choose to get 1 or 2 activation windows from the blessed blades. Making them very flexible melee threats.

That Gobbo


  • Formerly the best operative on the team not named Torment. The Iconarch has seen a fall from grace, now serving his intended role. While his Burning Censer’s flaming profile still exists, it’s much harder to get the ¾ damage it once had. Sporting 6 attacks on 2s with Torrent 3” still means opponents must respect it, it’s no longer wiping out swathes of 10 wound operatives.
  • As an Icon Bearer, he should be activated late turning point one to shift an objective in your favor, ideally in a position where Ruinous Invigoration(1AP) can defend a Torment’s forward positioning. Creating a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position for your opponent on tp2. Do you remove the damage mitigation aura by targeting the Iconarch, or somehow try to chew through a 11-13 wound torment, with a 5+ save, and 6+ feel no pain? The world champion setup two quick torments backed up by ruinous invigoration to really put the heartache into an opponent’s tp2.
  • With Ruinous Deterioration(1AP)’s nerf it has fallen off a cliff in terms of reliability. There may be situations where the Demagogue can Incite Urgency against out activated opponents to line up a cheeky ¾ damage flamer shot. Though these situations are exceedingly hard to find.

Mindwitch in yellow credit:danielr449


  • The friendly neighborhood toolbox psyker. Able to chip opposing wounds, slow down a game plan, or melt the brains of nearby opponents. The head on a stick sports the same 8 wound, 5+ save profile as the rest of the team, finding all of its uses in its myriad psychic actions. Not that since you are not Manifesting Psychic Actions as many other older psykers did. You are free to select multiple powers in a turn, making parking this on an overlooking position provides massive utility.
  • Utility wise we have Heinous Deluge(1AP), selects a visible enemy operative, and subtracts an APL from it. Great at shifting around objective control, stymying plans and being an overall nuisance. Malefic Vortex(1AP) creates a small mortal wound bubble around a visible point. When targeting someone that has already acted this means you’re effectively dealing 2 mortal wounds. The vortex remains in place until moved again so you can make some nice positions much harder to defend.
  • Offensively we have Infernal Gaze(1AP) effectively a shooting action that deals mortal wounds scaling off of distance to the intended operative. Gazing has three break points, but all we need to know is that getting closer is better, eventually landing D3+5 mortal wounds. This output means we can surprise players later in the game with a huge mortal wound bomb, when players get used to the chip from early turns.

Cultists. Credit: Rockfish
Cultists. Credit: Rockfish

Chaos Devotee

  • Your basic GA2 operatives aim to ascend the chaos ladder securing mutations and gifts along the way. Expect very little damage from their pistols and melee, going so far as to ignore these actions unless the devotee is sporting a Trophy Weapon+. Four attacks on 4s, even with a retained hit, won’t often kill an opposing 7 wound operatives hitting on 4s.
  • There is some tension for players as Devotee’s are how we do the majority of your mission actions, as their upgraded data cards struggle to do mission actions. On loot especially we’ll be aiming to keep a couple of devotees around to grab us points. Don’t lose sight of that!

Mutant. Credit: Rockfish
Mutant. Credit: Rockfish

Chaos Mutant

  • The devotee’s first form, trading out its pistol for Blasphemous Appendages, more expensive mission actions and a 6+ feel no pain. Luckily as we transition to a mutant, we lose the GA2 tag, meaning we can actually create a larger activation window for us to act in.
  • Mutated appendages are a respectable 4 attacks on 4s with Ceaseless and Rending. Making them fairly good at targeting 7 wound opponents. On a good day we can even shred a 10 wound operative without too much issue. On the other side the 4s means we aren’t too reliable really waiting on the Torments to guarantee a melee result.

Torment. Credit: Rockfish
Torment. Credit: Rockfish

Chaos Torment

  • Torments are the pinnacle of chaos’s gifts, granting more attacks, health, and bulk. The change over from a 25mm base to a 40mm means there are situations where your mutations can actually put us into engagement range. This can help us avoid one of the downsides of Accursed Torment which stops torments from taking up light cover.
  • The chunkier limbs of the torments now sport Relentless and Rending. Paired with the 5 attacks, and ⅘ damage profile means we can now rely on things getting dead. Lining up double fight actions with Unleash the Demon can really punch gaping holes into any opposing gameplan. Remember as of 2023Q4 we heal d3+3 wounds when going to Torments!

Molten Cults, credit:Taylor Kmoch


Strategic Ploys

Luckily for aspiring demagogues, the strategic options on offer are excellent. Offering strong ways to influence opponents gameplans, and improve any plans you want to push.

  • Exaltation in Pain [1 CP], B – Friendly operatives are not injured this turn, and operatives under max health gain balanced defensively. Keeping us locked in at 4s makes your Ceaseless, and Relentless that much better, while also giving your new Torments an extra defensive die, 66% of the time. While there are other ways to use maimed operatives, global injury ignore means we’re always moving at maximum speed, though Wings can also cover this for injured operatives.
  • Fervent Onslaught [1 CP], B –  A free retain for fight actions. Auto retains make a handful of your operatives a bit less swingy. Especially when torments and mutants both have reroll rules baked in. It’s nice to go into combat with a 4 damage hit prepared especially on Blessed Blades who have no baked in rerolls.
  • Creatures of Nightmare [1 CP], C – Torments and mutants cause objectives they are attempting to control to be harder to hold for opposing operatives by 1 APL. Great against hordes as it means they’ll stack up on objectives to score through you. Makes elites need 2 operatives to steal away from you. Generally powerful but Torments wreck so hard that they can make this less important.
  • Sickening Aura [1 CP], B – Torments and Mutants within 2” of enemy operatives worsen opposing BS/WS by 1. Great when your big hitters make it into enemy lines, as it makes your operatives that much harder to beat in combat. Since this is not injury, it works against ploys like Intercession’s And They Shall Know No Fear meaning your baseline 4+ WS won’t matter all the much.

Cultists ready to die for their leaders. Credit:KaDukes

Tactical Ploys

Tactically we’re given the gift of 4 solid ploys. Each one provides big benefits for good positioning, and some even allow for some post mortem action. Letting us leverage weak pieces for big plays!

  • Faithful Follower [1 CP], C+ – Demagogues, Mindwitches, and Iconarchs can redirect shooting attacks to a friendly operative within 2” and visible to those operatives. Seeing as those 3 operatives provide critical utility this is great. However, we’re generally trying to avoid getting shot so this ideally won’t see much usage. One note when setting up the Iconarch’s defensive torment choice, this can truly mean your opponent is always getting tagged by the assisting Torment’s charge. Note that this goes up against Blast threats as a single devotee can soak the extra blast attack.
  • Abhorrent Mutation [1 CP], B+ – Grant a friendly non-Dark Commune operative an accursed gift. Great at giving whichever boost your current activation needs. This means you can have one unholy operative with all 6 gifts, which while not good, is stylish. Generally this will be granting Winged or Fleet to help us land a Charge action. With the chance of a double Fight Reap 2 letting you clean up entire piles of injured operatives. Creative use of this is almost as important as knowing when to unleash the daemons.
  • Frenzied Demise [1 CP], B- – A friendly Mutant or Torment deals D3 or D6 mortal wounds to 1 enemy operative within 2” of its dying breath. When paired with a wounded Torment’s dying swing you can take a bite out of almost anything with 4-5 + D6 mortal wounds.
  • Unleash the Daemon [1 CP], A+ – Mutant or Torment gets a free Fight and two Fight actions. This is the ploy that the world champ says could be nerfed. When your best operative can apply two massive fights into an opponent’s backline, and still have Frenzied Demise to maim something else, I can see why. Expect to use this many times over turns 2-4.


Word Bearers Chaos Cultists – Credit: RichyP

Chaos cults bring a standard looking arsenal to bear, with a lucky few equipment remaining equipped through mutation. We’re expecting to almost always take a Vile Blessing, but the rest is definitely up for consideration. If you want a suicidal turn 1 threat, covert guise + krak can yeet a devotee into any midline objective. A simple 10 ep loadout is krak, vile blessing, and 2 covert guises.

  • Frag Grenade [2EP], C – You know it, you’re over them. The standard frag grenade to punish horde teams for clumping up. Nice to upgrade a devotee’s ranged output, but we’re not really here to play a ranged game.
  • Krak Grenade [3 EP], B+ – Useful to threaten anything, though we’re limited to just rolling your natural hits. With 10 devotees it’s likely we can always find a loose operative to set us up the bomb.
  • Trophy Weapon+ [1 EP], C – Upgrade the damage of a Devotee’s ranged or melee profile. Unfortunately this doesn’t last through mutation, so it’s not great. Against 7 wound operatives this provides us with a potential operative that can mutate through combat. Pathfinder’s specifically stand out in this respect as they aren’t likely to hit in combat, and can be slain with 3 retained hits.
  • Covert Guise [2 EP], B – At the end of scouting, the operative takes a dash if it’s in your drop zone.. Great for breaking up blast’able clumps, sneaking behind cover, and scoring points. Just remember that some boards call for more dashes, and you should be setting up with the dashes in mind.
  • Chaos Sigil [2 EP], C – Operative gains a 5+ invulnerable save that you can keep through mutation. Seeing as AP2 weapons generally hit hard enough to injure us anyways the invulnerable won’t be that important. The one rub is that a Torment with an invulnerable save is definitely able to survive more than expected. I suspect if your deployments are safe enough you can sport more sigils over guises. Looking specifically at vet guards mass of AP2 threats.
  • Vile Blessing+ [3 EP], A+ – Ignore one die of damage that you can keep through mutation. An incredible always take that beefs up your first torment.

Faction Tac Ops

With access to Seek and Destroy and Infiltration we’re able to adjust your scoring to the table layouts. Generally SnD is going to give us more leeway since we are planning to fight your way to victory more often than not. Infiltration can be used to focus your play more on positional avenues later into turns three and four. Faction wise we’ve got a decent spread though none of these truly shine at the moment.

  • Tac Op 1: Tear Through, C+ – Since Torments do the majority of the scoring and killing, it can be hard to line those operatives up within 2” of an opponent’s dropzone. 2 of 3 Torments being positionally locked isn’t great.
  • Tac Op 2: Profane Defilement, D+ – Get a Demague, Mindwitch, or Iconarch within 3” of the center and keep them there throughout 2 turns. Basically impossible as your opponent can easily interact with this. I’d steer clear of this.
  • Tac Op 3: Blood Offering, A – Incaps on an objective create tokens that we can interact with to score VP. We can do this at two different objectives and commune operatives can do this at pistol ranges. Doable as long as opponents are placing operatives on objectives. (edit:thanks gus)

Notable Generic Tac Ops

  • Seek and Destroy: Rout, A – Excellent as Mutants and Torments can this, and we want to be running towards your opponents anyways.
  • Seek and Destroy: Rob and Ransack, B – Not quite as good as Kommands and Intercession squad who can score this at the end of the turning point through ploys. Having said that a Torment can still slink off with a hostage relatively easily.
  • Seek and Destroy: Eliminate Guards, B – Enemy players could work around this, but as long as they don’t this remains a solid tac op choice.
  • Infiltration: Subversive Control, B+ – Torments and Mutants can easily hold opposing objectives when moving up the board. Considering this plays into playing the point its one of the best neutral choices.
  • Infiltration: Seize Defences, B – Oftentimes players don’t see this coming, and use their barricades on their backline objectives. If your opponent lines up for the dual subversive/seize scoring opportunity you can score a ton of free positional points. If players know you play infiltration then they can metagame around this, but the threat is nice.
  • Infiltration: Gather Surveillance, B+ – Between Covert Guises and Incite Urgency you can easily score this turn 1. Which means you just need 1 more Devotee before the end of the game to fill the conditions.
  • Infiltration: Implant, A – Generally easy enough during Torment fight phases as you don’t often need 4 hits to delete something. Devotees can get charged and still go out scoring a VP. Easy peasy.

Cultists prepare plots Credit:KaDukes

Example Roster

1x Chaos Demagogue

2x Blessed Blade

1x Iconarch

1x Mindwitch

15x Chaos Devotee

Not many choices or surprises here.

Credit: Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson


vs. Elites (6 activations)

One of your better match ups just in the face of your Torment’s strengths. There isn’t a single elite team with enough operatives to deal with your baseline of 6 potential Torments throughout a game. Stay cagey early and hide your Devotees while working mutants into striking positions.

vs. Semi-Elites (8-9 activations)

Risky business if your first Torments don’t do enough work. Since most of these teams leverage some speedy operatives you run the risk of having utility operatives cutting you down if you give them an opening. Scouts in particular can make scoring those turning point 1 points exceedingly rough.

vs. Semi-Hordes and more (10+ activations)

Once we’re into teams who you only barely out activate, or don’t even. We need to play more carefully. Especially against the shooting horde teams. One of the big risks is losing your first mutants, trimming out the potential of getting a Torment on turning point 2. That is a situation that your team will find untenable, so make sure those early mutants are very well hidden. After that make sure we’re always looking for tricky angles on double fighting mutants and torments. Oftentimes Winged/Fleet will give us an opening your opponent wasn’t expecting.

Molten Torments credit:Taylor Kmoch

Important Tricks

  1. Use your activation count over the first 2 turns to make sure you’re making the most bang for your buck. You’re a horde team, and should be keeping important activations for the end of tp1. Since you can’t generally charge on tp1, that means lining up your tp2 charges at the end of tp1.
  2. Don’t forget that you can have a mutant, change into a torment that is now in engagement range. Definitely important to keep a hold of against teams you outacitvate as that means tp2 can open with a Torment in engagement range to Unleash the Demon to end up far too forward into your opponents lines.
  3. When out actiating your opponent. If you can use Incite Urgency to effectively give yourself a Fleet Abhorrent Mutated 13” melee threat range. 3” Dash, 1” Fleet, 2” Charge Bonus, 6” Normal Move, and 1” Engagement range. Means a Torment can be at the midboard one moment, and at the backline the next.
  4. End of tp1 setting up two mutants with the Iconarch’s Ruinous Invigoration aura’s means that their Tormented forms at the start of tp2 will be incredibly hard to interact with. This opening is incredibly hard to manage if the opposing player is not watching out for it.
  5. As one of the only teams that starts weak and grows stronger as the game goes on, it’s best to leverage those later turns. If you can stay shifty and safe early, the end game is generally in your favor.

Final Thoughts

Chaos Cults are a team that need few introductions, only requiring a radical refocusing of where the power curve of a kill team is focused. With very few teams growing in strength over the course of a game Cults don’t have too many analogous play patterns barring Blooded. If you can stay fully safe on turning point one the team offers up strengths that few teams can mimic. Torments remain the scariest melee operatives in the game backed up by a gaggle of activations that can duke it out for points with the best of them. They were released as the most broken faction in the game, and have been tuned down multiple times. Learn how to grow your own nightmares on the battlefield and take to the stars.

Other Perspectives

  1. Just Another Killteam Podcast Talks to the World Champion Aleksa
    • Aleksa talks about his WCW run, and reveals some of the secrets that worked their way into this article!
  2. Commandpoint Shane talks Chaos Cults
    • Quick tips from commandpoint on some of the tricks of the trade.

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