Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate & MFM – Xenos – The Goonhammer Review

Today Games Workshop released a massive update for Warhammer 40,000 giving us a huge shake-up for competitive play. In addition to the balance dataslate for Q1 2024, we also saw the release of a new game-wide points update, rules/FAQ updates and errata, datasheet updates, and an entirely new detachment for the Drukhari.

There’s a ton here and nearly every faction in the game is affected in one way or another. While we’re covering the specifics of each released document in its own article to help make clear where things are changing, it’s important to note that these changes have combined effects. 

Finally before we dive in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing an early copy of these updates for review purposes.

The diverse Xenos factions are the final set we need to dive into, starting with the one you’re all dying to see – what have they done to the Aeldari? Boon grits his teeth and has a look, while the rest of our stable of Xenos players explores the other factions.

We do look at Drukhari in here, but we also have a full review of the new Detachment from our seasoned Archons going up separately in a few minutes!


Status: Big Loser


  • Fate Dice: Changed to starting roll of six dice, down from twelve
  • Fate’s Messenger: Applies only to the hero taking it
  • Phantasm: May move d6” instead of 7”
  • Eldrad: no change, but clarification to starting dice rolled for Fate
  • Nightspinner: changed the Doomweaver profile to clarify pinning to work similar to other abilities. No longer restricts an advance, instead  -2” movement, advances, and charges.
  • Yncarne: Inevitable Death updates to restrict an Yncarne to jumping once per Aeldari player’s turn
  • Nightspinner: +30 points
  • Wraithguard: +20/+40 points


James “Boon” Kelling: It brings me endless joy to see GW take a look at the current Aeldari netlist, a list seemingly designed in a lab to be the least fun for anyone possible, and just dissect it utterly. Wraithguard, Nightspinners, the Yncarne, and Fate’s Messenger – all given various levels of a severe beating. Wraithguard are both more expensive and less reliable owing to the Fate’s Messenger change, and also won’t be hiding so easily from return engagements due to the Phantasm change. Nightspinners took a significant point increase as well as a reduction in their movement-limiting effects. The Yncarne became a 350-point trade piece, having been severely  limited in its ability to find safer ground.

Now that many players are forced to actually play the game we’ll likely see a shift and proliferation of list selections or just hopping off the bandwagon to easier factions. That said, Aeldari are fine, but the changes are substantial enough that you will need to deeply consider both your list selections and your approach to the game in a way that you just haven’t had too so far in 10th edition.

The first and biggest impact to any list will be change to the Fate dice – this is a huge change to the faction mechanic that I think will go much further than people understand. The change has three effects:

  • Half the total dice available for substitution
  • Half the opportunities for key dice (fives and sixes generally)
  • Double the impact of rerolling Fate

The net result here is that Aeldari as a whole are just a lot less reliable in pre-game planning, and your list construction will need to account for that.

The next big change is to Phantasm. Oh boy did this get gutted. Powerful as it was, the change to d6” means that the use case will be dramatically reduced and not very reliable. It will often be a “break glass in case of emergency, then hope” type of play. Perhaps that was always the intent, but for a faction that relies on movement to substitute for durability, it’s a deep cut.

All that said, the changes are otherwise fairly narrow and targeted. The broader set of sheets are still generally good and when one door closes another opens in this index. Many were already taking Farseers, but the change to Fate dice now makes them an auto-include and has similarly put Guardian Defenders solidly into your consideration set. Similarly, the Weeping Stones is now a much more valuable Enhancement.

The murdering of the Wraithguard brick means that the Death Jester with Fate’s Messenger (my favourite) is likely to be far more common. Planning around Fire & Fade is also likely to be more common – a brick of Windrunners with a Farseer for Guide may be a nice tool in this new meta – particularly as other forms of indirect have also taken points hits. I’d also predict that the bevy of Nightspinners that we’ve seen will quickly fall away into combinations of D-Cannons, Fire Prisms, and alternative objective-scoring or utility picks. The Avatar will likely supersede the Yncarne in most lists.

Curie: Good riddance to the triple night spinner + wraithguard list. No one will miss it.

What’s Next

Overall, I think the Eldar will shift playstyles to something closer to the way Ulthwe had played in 9th edition – very defensive with a focus on controlling a defined area of the board.

Wings: I think you will also see increased use of Ynnari – some of the unique things they were doing stay good, and some of the newly discounted Drukhari units are great for them, especially 60pt Reaver units.


Status: Herding the Prey


  • All new ‘Skysplinter’ Detachment that focuses on melee trading units in transports, and a bunch of useful mission play tricks
  • Pain tokens now give you an additional ap in combat
  • The Archon can now lead Incubi
  • A LOT of generous points drops – Incubi down 5, Drazhar down 15, Venoms and Raiders down 10 each, Succubus down to 45(!), and more besides.


Lowest of Men: I will cover a lot of this in the separate article on the new Skysplinter Assault detachment, but it is a brand new dawn for Drukhari. Rather than scrapping to hold Primary whilst scoring great Secondaries and struggling for damage outside of shooting, the Dark Kin have a new detachment that brings back a lot of their favourites from ninth – Incubi and Wyches in particular synergise incredibly well with Skysplinter, and you now have push units with which to reach out and deny enemy primary and body the unwary because you actually do damage. They’re still fragile as all hell but with the drops in the MFM they have EVEN MORE stuff in an army that already resembles a gribbly horde on the tabletop. Transports and knives are back.

What’s Next

As a number of other ‘genuine’ combat armies take serious hits the Drukhari are well placed to take advantage. They’ve got great anti-tank shooting and the combat side is now shored up, with movement tricks like Wraithlike Retreat and the defensive buff from the Nightmare Shroud in particular giving them a lot more ways to reach the enemy in places their Darklight can’t. People will definitely need a little while to adapt to the new tricks that the detachment brings to the table.My first instinct is that we aren’t looking at broken levels of good here (I would say that though wouldn’t I), but it’s definitely going to bring a lot of Archons back out retirement, myself included.

Drukhari were never truly awful in tenth, just lopsided and lacking flavour, and these changes have done an awful lot to correct that. Thanks GW! It’s hunting season, don’t miss out. I can already hear the sound of a bunch of people who’ve been running Chaos Lords for the last three months telling their unfortunate opponents how much they’ve always loved Incubi…

Wings: When I wrote that GW should write a new Aeldari detachment to fix a faction with outlier levels of performance, I was clearly not specific enough. Don’t monkey’s paw me on this GW.

Genestealer Cults

Status: Treading Water


  • -10 points on Purestrain Genetealers
  • Yep, that’s your lot, sorry


Lowest of Men: I was hoping for a little more for my favourite insurgent sons here, as a mild drop to Purestrain Genestealers does very little for them in the grand scheme of things. The army is very ‘solved’, with a tonne of Acolytes and Neophytes the way to play (even Aberrants struggle to make lists after points hits last time around, and this slate does very little to help them re-establish themselves). Drops on the Goliath Truck and Rockgrinder would’ve been very welcome and opened up more of a board presence build but alas, it wasn’t to be. It’s still a powerful enough army that can surprise the unwary and will stomp many a new player, but which is simply too easily signposted and played around by a large number of armies in the game. The Firing Deck FAQ hurts them too, as you can no longer sling demo charges out of a Goliath whilst chuckling hysterically.

What’s Next

All is not entirely lost. You can do some fun things with Guard allies and maaaybe hits to the top factions help them, but it doesn’t make them interesting or particularly enjoyable to play or play against. We know a book is coming before too long and I don’t see them enjoying much use or success until then outside of the occasional romp for Battleline spam. But hey, the GSC are no strangers to waiting patiently for their moment…

Leagues of Votann

Status: Neutral


  • Sagitaurs +15pts each
  • Hearthguard +10pts for 5 / +20pts for 10
  • Thunderkyn +10pts for 3 / +20pts for 6
  • Grim Demeanour ignores all modifiers!


Curie: I’m much less concerned about these changes than I was leading up to the dataslate’s release. I expected Votann to get a 5-10% hike across the board with how they’ve been performing the last few months (consistently positive win rate, with several event wins, a healthy meta representation, and a decent TiWP), or even worse a change to their detachment ability Ruthless Efficiency. The challenge with the kyn’s index is that it boasts a whopping 12 datasheets, of which 6 are characters. Any kind of tweak to points is bound to have a significant impact on the playability of the faction. Hitting 3 of those non-character sheets with fairly significant increases hurts.

At first glance, these increases are quite difficult to stomach – the typical Sagitaur Rush list (6 Sagitaurs with warriors and Hearthguard support) went up 130 points, which definitely stings. Sweet Lew’s 5th-place Thunderkyn-heavy list at the 2024 LVO Championships similarly goes up 125 points. When you compare this to the two dominant forces in the meta this increase feels like a much lighter touch. A typical Aeldari list with 3 Nightspinners and 10 Wraithguard went up 130 points, while also receiving substantial rules changes and nerfs. Mani Cheema’s WCW-winning CSM list went up 235 points and similarly substantial rules changes.

A big win for the Leagues is the updated Rules Commentary entry on Ignoring Modifiers clarifying that this applies to AP and Damage modifiers – something that some events (most notably WCW) had ruled were not affected by such abilities. Votann’s Grim Demeanour makes dealing with damage modifiers much easier on either a big Thunderkyn or Hearthguard brick against such current meta threats as C’tans or Aeldari avatars.

What’s Next

The next couple months will be very interesting for the Leagues – with no codex on the horizon, and a limited index to dig through, Short King enthusiasts may struggle for a little while to find a new build that can go toe-to-toe with the big bad Necrons. This miner is optimistic that things will work out fairly well.


Status: Big Winner


  • Night Scythes being able to drop Immortals down turn 1 provides an extra option..


TheChirurgeon: Seriously, did Necrons write this dataslate/balance update??

You can argue we should have expected Necrons to remain unchanged in this dataslate, as they were a very recent release. But it’s pretty clear already that Necrons are a major contender in the meta and have been dominating events in January, including wins at the Nottingham Super Major and LVO. And while Necrons remained untouched, the game’s other two A+ Tier factions – Aeldari and Chaos Space Marines – both took massive nerfs, as well as World Eaters, Chaos Knights, Thousand Sons, and Leagues of Votann. What we’re left with is a rising faction which just lost some major competition.

What’s Next

Necrons are likely to dominate until the next big shakeup. It remains to be seen how strong Drukhari will be following their update, but it’s very unlikely that any of the current contenders will stop Necrons from being a clear top contender. The only question will be how dominant they end up.

Wings: I think Necrons are the army to beat, though there are definitely some factions that could act as a spoiler to that – a resurgent Custodes, Grey Knights leaning into some counter pieces or Imperial Knights can all field builds that are challenging for the Necrons. With the breadth of options the army has though, I think they’re likely still going to be the clear top dogs – though the fact that they had a bit of a stumble back down to average this past weekend gives me slight pause.


Status: Neutral


  • +5pts/5 for Nobz
  • +15pts/3 for Squighog Boyz
  • +5pts for a Trukk
  • Lots of 10pts drops to various buggies and the Hunta Rig
  • -25pts/3 on Killa Kanz
  • -25pts on Battle Wagons
  • -30pts on Kill Rigs
  • -35pts on Morkanauts please someone field our idiot robot god son.


Wings: Orks get a fairly hefty internal rebalancing, with very targeted hits on their best stuff (mostly, GW would like lists that are not just 18 Squighogs or a million Trukks and support to be good), but quite a lot of buffs to second tier units.

I think the good news here is that only the Squighog change really “matters” from the nerfs – you can find 35-45pts for increases to Nobz and Trukks. One of the places you could try finding those is on Battle Wagons, which have been seeing plenty of play already, and will very obviously see a lot more now they’re down to a cool 160pts. Maybe you even take two? Alternatively, you can back them up with some newly discounted Kill Rigs, which give you another way of ferrying lots of Beast Snaggas into battle, with a bit more of its own killing power. You also get a bunch of discounts on various mid-quality buggies, and the Megatrakk and Shokkjump both seem pretty decent at their new prices. Killa Kanz see even heftier discounts, and certainly provide you with a route to fielding a lot of durable wounds now, so expect to see people trying them out.

There’s also an external improvement, which is that the change to Night Spinners is a big deal for Orks – using ‘Ere We Go now cancel most of it out, meaning that putting Meganobz on the table isn’t a complete liability the second there’s a Spinner around.

What’s Next

That’s plenty to play with, and there are more buffs here than nerfs, but I’m not convinced that it ends up as anything other than neutral from an external balance perspective – this clearly does succeed in making some underutilised units way more appealing, but ultimately the current best builds don’t need anything they’re bringing to the table (other than cheaper Battlewagons), so it’s going to force some re-tooling. CSM getting trimmed back helps Orks a lot, but Custodes may well step up in their place as a traditionally tough match up for them that has been revitalized. Ork players will continue to need skill and a bit of good fortune to hit the heights, but a new book isn’t all that far away.

T’au Empire

Status: Neutral


  • Crisis Suits +20pts/3
  • Non-Coldstar Commanders -10pts.
  • Riptide Battlesuit -15pts
  • Vespid -10pts.


Wings: There’s some degree to which this doesn’t matter that much, because we’re assuming the Tau Codex is next up for release given the krootbox was shown off at LVO. However, there will be at least some events where this is in play and that isn’t, so it’s worth taking a look at what it means.

Bluntly, if you’re on the “default” Tau builds this is a nerf, because you’re down 60pts on Crisis suits and not getting it back anywhere. The question is mostly just whether GW’s ongoing and frankly alarming experimentation to see how low they can push the cost of a Riptide before people start running three of them again works out this time, and like maybe? Tell anyone who played against Riptides in 7th, 8th or 9th that they cost 165pts now and they’ll look at you like you’ve completely lost your mind. Please don’t write in if they cost less than that in 7th, I didn’t actually play it, I have just heard The Stories.

I think if we end up with a Custodes and Necron heavy metagame after this, Triptide probably does see play and it’s probably pretty good. The Ion is great for killing Custodians in that matchup, and the overall package provides great attrition against Necrons, who struggle to pick off multiples of these quickly. Picking winners or losers here was harder than for most, because if that metagame doesn’t emerge then Tau are narrow losers, but if it does they’re narrow winners. I’ve averaged them out to Neutral, and honestly here we have to wait and see – though if it’s only a few weeks then losers is more likely to be the outcome, as we won’t have time to see the metagame develop.

Vespid down 10pts is nice though. Great utility unit already, even better when cheaper!

What’s Next

If I was a Tau player who had the models I probably would YOLO three Riptides to my next event, but I love weird doomed experiments, so your mileage may vary.


Status: Winners


  • Gargoyles +5pts/10.
  • Deathleaper +10pts
  • Neurolictor +15pts
  • Pyrovores +5pts
  • Genestealers -10pts/5
  • Broodlord -10pts
  • Trygon -10pts
  • Norns -15pts (Emissary)/20pts (Assimilator)
  • Screamer Killer -25pts (lol)
  • Toxicrene -30pts
  • Tyrannofex -55pts (lmao)
  • Rules Commentary on Redeploys helps Vanguard Onslaught


Wings: This is definitely an example of internal rebalancing done right, and Tyranids look more interesting and more healthy as a result of it. Yes, current scoring staples go up a little, but part of the reason people are spamming on them is that Tyranids need to win on scoring, because they just don’t have the right tools to go for a big damage lift in a lot of games. Even with these changes the faction is fantastic at objective play (and one of the buffs here kind of helps that too), but now they’ve got a wider general toolbox to play with.

The standouts in this regard are the improvements to the Norns, who were very much nearly there as is, and the Tyrannofex, which has been released from the inexplicable hell it was banished to last update. 190pts is maybe a little too steep for it still, but it’s definitely back to a place where you can take one, and it has the decency to be very durable for the price. One Trygon has been seeing a bit of play in lists too, so 10pts off there is very welcome.

The most impactful buff here, however, may be the one to Genestealers and Broodlords. A 30pts cut on the full unit is a lot and taking multiples of these in Vanguard was already legitimately good – these have proven to be something of a sleeper hit. At the new price, one full unit is a lock (and pays back the cost of two of the Neurolictor hikes) and you’re definitely looking at multiples with interest. I think the cut also gets them over the line in Invasion Fleet, as they provide some solid early threat projection, and get a lot of benefit from access to the Rapid Regeneration stratagem (which is golden on 2W models with an invulnerable save).

What’s Next

Couple all of that with a rules clarification that’s effectively a buff to Vanguard Onslaught, which I think is very strong in general, and things look good (and vastly more fun) for Tyranids after the Dataslate.

Wrap Up

All sorts of shakeups there, and potential to really open up the metagame…unless the Drukhari steal it first. Find out what they’re up to shortly.

That wraps up our look at the Xenos factions, but there’s a ton more going on with this update. If you missed any of our other articles, it’s worth heading back to the home page to check them out, and we’ll be covering the other faction groups in other articles as well. Over the next few weeks we’ll also be doing deeper dives into these factions and updating our Faction Focus series to incorporate these changes, so stay tuned for that.

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