The Goonhammer Hot Take: The September 2023 40k Balance Dataslate – Imperium Factions

The first balance dataslate of 40k’s 10th edition comes screaming down from the Games Workshop Strike Cruiser and unloads a drop pod full of rules updates, accompanied by version 1.3 of the Munitorum Field Manual which incorporates a broad sweep of points changes across all of the game’s factions. In this article, the Goonhammer team takes a look at the changes and what they mean for the Imperium. For our thoughts on how this affects the core game you can click here; for other factions, check out our articles on Chaos and Xenos respectively.

Imperial factions have been a mixed bag in 10th edition, with armies ranging from high performers (Adeptus Custodes, and to a lesser extent Imperial Knights) to arguably the weakest in the game (Adeptus Mechanicus). Let’s take a look at how the balance dataslate shakes them up.

Agents of the Imperium

Overall rating: Loser

Key Buffs

  • Callidus Assassin down to 90 pts.

Key Nerfs

  • Exaction Squad now minimum 10 models and 110pts.
  • Voidsmen up to 50/100pts.
  • Callidus Assassin has fewer targets for her debuff.


The gigantic, earth-shattering thing here is the change to Exaction Squads. I think at this point everyone agrees that the 35pt price tag on them was a mistake in some way, but this change goes beyond the expected increase by fixing them at full size, essentially removing them as a cheap backfield option. You do still have Voidsmen to somewhat fill that role, but they’re a substantially worse unit at a higher price point. This is obviously bad news for the Imperium in general, but hits Custodes, Knights and Grey Knights especially hard, as all of these were using Exaction Squads as something of a crutch. Grey Knights get a delightful selection of point cuts to compensate, so they’re probably OK, but this is a severe additional blow to Knights and Custodes, who both get hit hard elsewhere in the update. I won’t be sad not to see Exaction Squads in every Imperium list, but it is going to force a bit of recalibration for many armies.

The Callidus Assassin has also been a huge Imperium staple, turning up in almost as many lists as the Exaction Squad, but obviously takes a substantial hit from the change to Vect effects. However, she was also a great utility tool and has received a massive point decrease, and with some armies that were previously leaning on Exaction squads for utility now hurting for it, she’ll probably still turn up quite a bit. Worst case, just Vect Command Re-roll – that’s fine on a unit that’s also doing other important stuff for you. The hunt for utility is probably also excellent news for the Eversor Assassin, who has proven to be far better than he initially looked, acting as a bargain-priced Action man. He stayed at his very pushed 75pts, so if you’re looking for a bit of help in an Imperium army, maybe give him a try. Either way both are Lone Operatives who can hold objectives and move all over the table to do actions while being surprisingly annoying to attempt to kill.

Exaction Squad member by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen


Adepta Sororitas

Overall rating: Winner

Key Buffs

  • Helpful drops across the board
  • Massive points drop on Paragon Warsuits – down to 200 points from 240
  • Triumph of St. Katherine drops 25 points to 125

Key Nerfs

  • Crusaders go up to 25/50/75 (+5/+10/+15)


The Sisters of Battle haven’t been in a great place since the launch of 10th edition, lacking the kind of punch they had in 9th when melta weapons were still a great way to deal with vehicles. It’s clear that they needed some help in 10th and the ability to field a bit more, and they get it in the form of some helpful point drops across the board, plus some massive point drops on Paragon Warsuits that make the unit worth a look. This doesn’t catapult them into the top tier or anything but it does improve the faction substantially and gives lists another unit or three to play with.

Credit: Keewa

Adeptus Custodes

Overall rating: Big Loser

Key Buffs

  • Points drops on Land Raiders.
  • Points drops on Bikes.
  • Points drops on Forge World Custodians, particularly relevant on Venatari and Sagitarum.
  • Points drops on Vigilators and Witchseekers.

Key Nerfs

  • Unit sizes for Wardens and Custodians standardized to 4 or 5 – no more big blocks.
  • Vertus Praetors also come capped at 2-3 models per unit now.
  • Point increases across the board on the Infantry that’s been seeing use and Characters.
  • Massively hurt by the Devastating Wounds change.
  • Substantially hurt by the free Stratagem change.


Custodes have been one of the game’s stronger factions thus far. It’s not surprising to see them get something of a hit, but this is a rough dataslate for them, and may end up proving to have gone a little too far (though there may be options they can pivot to, particularly with the Forge World decreases).

One of the reasons that Custodes have been so successful is the option to run 9/10 model Custodian Guard units. With an appropriate Leader, and supported by good Stratagems, these can turn pretty much anything into paste, and were almost impossible to interact with for other melee armies thanks to their ready access to Fight First. Large units also meant that they almost always controlled an objective they were on, switching on their Wound re-rolls and further augmenting their blending capabilities (even doing a reasonable amount at range).

Dropping the unit size and taking away access to free Unwavering Sentinels massively hits them on both these angles, and Custodes are no longer going to just blank matchups like World Eaters by being impossible to interact with. It also means that each individual Character is providing less force multiplication, and more units are going to be running around without one.

The change to Devastating Wounds also exacerbates this effect further. Because Devastating Wounds are no longer mortal wounds, Custodes can’t use their 4+++ Feel-No-Pain against mortal wounds as protection against Devastating Wounds. Against armies that have access to a decent amount of them, particularly those that do 1 or 2 damage at a time where there’s little risk of overkilling a single model, you’re constantly at risk of one of your units being suddenly reduced below the threshold where they become a solvable problem, and occasionally just having something die, not a problem Custodes are used to having.

Saying all of that – it’s not quite all doom and gloom for Custodes, and there’s some options for where they go from here. Go-wide lists with smaller Infantry units, often backed by Caladius tanks, have performed pretty decently as well, and the tanks staying at their extremely good price is honestly a bullet dodged. The costs on Forge World units have also come down, making Venatari (who work great in a go-wide plan) and Sagittarum look somewhat interesting again. A few people have already made the Coronus Grav-Carrier work, and I could very much see trying one with some Sagittarum in the new world. Vigilators and Witchseekers in Whinos have also seen occasional use, and both get slightly cheaper, so can help give a bit more reach. It is a shame that there’s a final kick in the teeth around bikes – these go down a bit, but the bike Captain goes up massively, completely wiping out any discount at a price where you’d take one.

So where does that leave Custodes? Probably still with viable lists, and it is good to see that Games Workshop made some targeted buffs to increase diversity alongside dropping the hammer, but there’s no way to summarise this as anything other than a big blow. Crucially, they just can’t plan around having indestructible rolling tarpits now, so are probably going to have to bring shooting tools of some sort (probably the Caladius) to avoid getting chipped off the table in some matchups.

Allarus Custodes from the Solar Watch Shield Host painted by Crab-stuffed Mushrooms

Adeptus Mechanicus

Overall rating: Winner

Points drops for twenty datasheets and durability improvement for Skitarii Rangers and Vanguards are all welcome improvements for a faction that’s been struggling to find their footing in 10th edition. You won’t see big changes in how the army plays, but a lot of objective-bullies are a lot more viable, and I for one welcome the Admech Bully Update.

Key Buffs

  • Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard now have a 4+ save and 5++ invulnerable (from 5+/6++).
  • Skitarii Rangers down to 90 points from 125.
  • Skitarii Vanguard down to 80 points from 100.
  • Skitarii Marshall down to 35 points from 45.
  • Fulgurite Electro-Priests down to 120 points from 160.
  • Corpuscarii Electro-Priests down to 110 points from 130.
  • Sydonian Dragoons down to 60 points from 75.
  • Serberys Raiders down to 120 points from 150.

Key Nerfs

  • None
  • Well, technically the Devastating Wounds change makes the Tech-Priest Manipulus + Omni-steriliser combo (lovingly referred to as the Omnipulus) worse at clearing hordes of 1W models. But that’s a small price to pay for it now punching through “Feel No Pain against mortal wounds” abilities.


The transition from 9th to 10th was rough for Admech, who saw both point hikes and nerfed datasheets across the board, and that’s not even mentioning the Rad-Cohort detachment ability which is arguably the worst in the game. This update reigns in those point hikes and brings some of the more unfairly priced units down to more sensible levels. It doesn’t, however, do a lot to help out with the nerfed datasheets and the detachment is entirely unchanged.

Many of Admech’s best abilities, like the full hit rerolls for Kataphron Breachers, are only available when near battleline units. This means paying the battleline cost was inevitable, and also felt pretty bad due to how expensive and fragile Skitarii Ranger and Skitarii Vanguard were. This update does a lot to help, as Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard are significantly cheaper and more durable. Rangers, in fact, dropped in points by the exact amount a Skitarii Marshall now costs. So if you were paying 125 points for a unit of Skitarii Rangers, then you can continue to do so but now include a Marshall “for free” who grants full hit rerolls.

Many other units are now a lot more interesting to look at with the point drops. Fulgurite Electro-Priests were a hard pass at 160 points. But Fulgurites are now 25% cheaper, enough so that you can park 10 in a Dunerider, zip it up the board, and bully an objective for a grand total of 200 points.

Similarly, Sydonian Dragoons were hard to find a place for at 75 points. They’re a melee-focused vehicle whose massive footprint made it hard for them to hide on and traverse the battlefield, especially if you’re taking a max-sized unit of 3 models. Dropping their cost by 20% means you can now take three Sydonian Dragoons for only 180 points and, well, also zip them up the board and bully an objective.

The biggest disappointment here is what’s not here. No change to Rad-Bombardment, no change to the army-wide 4+ BS/WS, and so many datasheets that needed a wargear or ability buff that instead got a small point-reduction, a pat on the back, and were sent on their way to hitchhike down a lonely road. I’m looking at you, Sicarian Ruststalkers and Kastelan Robots, as the sad music from The Incredible Hulk plays.

But the things that changed were all changed for the better: no point hikes or rule nerfs, a handful of units that wouldn’t see play are now more viable, and Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard will no longer be blown away by a stiff breeze. Admech now has a lot of cheap objective bullies available, which could shape the way the army is played.

Is this dataslate and point update enough for Admech to dig itself out of its 10th edition grave and start winning tournaments? Likely not, but we’re six feet deep and Games Workshop just threw us a shovel to start digging upward.

Kataphron Breachers with Torsion Cannons and Hydraulic Claws
Kataphron Breachers with Torsion Cannons and Hydraulic Claws. Credit: Pendulin

Astra Militarum

Overall rating: Minor Winner

Key Buffs

A large number of Astra Militarum units got point drops – too many to list here – though the big winners are tanks, in particular the Leman Russ Demolisher, which now clocks in at 200 points (-20). Baneblades all come down by 50 or more points, and every variant now clocks in under 500 (and so can be placed into Strategic Reserves). Then there’s the Rogal Dorn, which dropped 25 points (to 260) and while it’s probably still a bit too much at that price, it’s certainly much more playable now. 

Infantry units also saw minor point cuts pretty much across the board. Generally, Astra Militarum players are looking at about 150ish points of wiggle room added to their armies.

Key Nerfs

Theoretically the change to Stratagems is a problem, but as Fields of Fire is already a Battle Tactic, it’s not much of a nerf to the Astra Militarum, for whom that’s the primary use-case. Instead the nerfs here are to points, with artillery and scout sentinels getting more expensive.

  • Manticores go up 25 points each, to 150
  • Earthshaker batteries go up 40 points each, to 120
  • Scout Sentinels go up 10 points per model


The intent here is pretty clearly to force Guard armies to diversify a bit and get away from the massed artillery they were running and it’s likely this dataslate will have the intended effect – we may see Manticores drop out of armies completely at 150, though Basilisks are still likely to stick around. On the other hand we should expect to see a lot more Leman Russ tanks, both because they’re cheaper and because Wraithknights are going to be less prevalent. While infantry units did drop, they’re neither efficient nor effective enough to be the army’s damage dealers, meaning we should expect to see more armies dependent on large numbers of battle tanks with infantry in the mix to do actions. 

Baneblade. Credit: Rockfish
Baneblade. Credit: Rockfish

Grey Knights

Overall rating: Minor Winners

Key Buffs

The Grey Knights don’t get anything in the way of rules buffs but they get a large number of points drops. Nearly everything in the army except for the Aircraft comes down in cost, and some of the drops are pretty substantial.

  • The faction characters all come down, usually between 10 and 20 points
  • Dreadknights drop 30 points, while GMNDKs drop 45
  • Terminators drop to 210/420 (from 225/450)
  • Every Land Raider variant drops 30 points
  • Interceptor Squads drop to 135/270 (from 160/320)
  • Paladin Squads drop to 225/450 (from 255/510)
  • Purgation Squads drop to 135/270 (from 190/320)
  • Purifier Squads drop to 130/260 (from 150/300)
  • Strike Squads drop to 125/250 (from 135/270)

These are substantial, and there’s a lot more room to experiment now. Jack Harpster’s WTC list gained about 80 points, but there’s more to be had if you’re willing to look at adding another unit and going for a more aggressive play style.

Key Nerfs

There’s one key nerf to the Grey Knights, and that’s changing the type of their Haloed in Soulfire Stratagem from a Battle Tactic to a Strategic Ploy, ensuring you can A. No longer do it for free, and B. Can’t do it more than once per round. This combines with the fact that Truesilver Armour is inexplicably a Wargear Stratagem and not a Battle Tactic (because they put absolutely no thought into these typings when they made these as they had no game consequences whatsoever), and you’ve got a fairly important pair of nerfs for Grey Knight units who could previously use a Grand Master to get both Stratagems for free on a large unit of Paladins. 


Grey Knights were a faction capable of grinding out close games, but that doesn’t always translate into one-on-one success, making them a better Teams play than a singles army. A big part of that was just that the army’s units were too expensive and didn’t offer nearly as much efficiency as other factions. There are still some problems here – the faction really wants to be able to drop free Truesilver Armour – but on the whole Grey Knights emerge slightly better from this update, and mostly able to field an additional unit in what’s already a pretty elite army.

Brotherhood Librarian. Credit: Corrode

Imperial Knights

Overall rating: Loser.

Key Buffs

You can kind of hide a bit now, in theory. In reality it’s probably impossible to hide a whole Imperial Knight army, meaning the enemy will be able to drop whichever big guy they can see if they go first. It probably benefits Gallants, which might be able to find a nice L to hide behind as they advance.

Canis Rex doesn’t care about the nerf to bondsman abilities (more about this later) because he has none. As the only model not to catch a huge nerf in this update he’s somehow the only model to get a points cut.

Key Nerfs

Bondsman Abiltiies now only affect the Armiger, not the Questoris or Cerastus Knight that has the ability. This removes power, which is probably fair in a faction that’s been performing well, but also character, and that’s rubbish. One of the things we really liked about Bondsmen abilities was that they meant the different kinds of Knights were more than just the same chassis with different guns on. Part of what made Imperial Knights distinctive (both as a faction in general, but also in comparsion to Chaos Knights) is now gone, so you’re back to just choosing them for their guns. 

If you picked up a new plastic Lancer I hope you got a chance to use its advance and charge ability a couple of times because that’s gone now. You’re going to be really unhappy when you find out what its ranged attack does, or rather what it does not do. Other Knights are affected a bit less fundamentally, but they all lose a chunk of power, while also becoming less different and interesting.

The Dominus Knights also suffer. The Castellan loved the old Towering rules for LoS and will hate having to walk places, especially towards the enemy. The Valiant doesn’t mind moving around so much, but hates losing the ability to overwatch.

Oh, and they slightly increased the cost of Armigers too. It’s a fairly trivial increase but feels a bit harsh in the context of everything else. The Warglaive and Helverin both now cost 150. 


Most obviously, Knights have lost their ability to largely ignore terrain in the shooting phase. I think that means we’ll see them having to be played differently – probably more aggressively. After all, if you need to go and stand on a midfield ruin to see the enemy cowering behind it, maybe you should bring a melee weapon of some sort for the close combat that will likely follow.

Perhaps the result of this will be knights functioning as they do in the fluff, charging gloriously about the place hacking and stomping stuff, rather than simply leaf-blowing the enemy from their deployment zone. We’re not convinced the writers have quite managed that on this pass, but maybe this is a step towards that goal.

One question remains; if Bondsman abilities don’t affect the big guys, why wouldn’t you just play Chaos Knights? The existing passive bonuses of FNP and the reroll to hit and wound are still useful but feel very passive. They’re things that just happen, rather than things you actively do as a player. It’s also a shame that points haven’t been looked at. The Towering change is clearly good for the game as a whole. It also probably makes the game more interesting for Knight players and their opponents, who will now be forced to interact much more with the board. Shooty Knights have taken a hit, so one might expect they’d come down in cost. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Maybe Games Workshop wants to see the impact of all this before making additional changes..

Games Workshop made radical changes to how Imperial Knights work, perhaps more than any other faction, but having only minor point changes make these changes feel incomplete. 

Imperial Knight Lancer. Credit: Jack Hunter

Space Marines

Overall rating: Winner, or at least Winner Adjacent

Key Buffs

  • Most Primaris units down 5-10pts, some upwards of 25! (This is an Aggressor meta now baby)
  • Land Raiders down 25-35 pts
  • Eliminators clock in at 75pts now.
  • Dreadnoughts universally down 15-25 pts.
  • All the stuff that hurt us is worse now. Please ignore the new Death Guard in the room.

Key Nerfs

  • Desolation Squad capped at 5 models and up 6ppm
  • Gladiator Lancer up 15pts
  • Infiltrator Squads and the good Speeders up 10pts


We knew it was coming. Desolation squads were a weight around the Space Marines index’s neck because they absolutely could just carry a game by themselves and it needed to be removed. Seeing them capped at 5 AND take a points increase may just be enough to limit their play without outright killing their viability and it frees up some much needed list design space for the rest of the codex. With the swath of other points decreases, the hamstringing of their natural predators, and the light touch on the other most played marine units, Space Marines feel like they are in a very good spot now. 

It should also be noted that every MFM pass that has been done on Space Marines has seen Land Raiders go down 25 points. It appears to be a rule set out in the Lex Divinitatus. If we ever have an edition that lasts more than 4 or 5 years, I fully expect them to be free by the time the next edition drops. Jokes aside, this time the decrease has made them eminently playable. There was already much talk around the Goonhammer branded water cooler about how much fun (see: maybe actually good) a bus filled with Aggressors already was in the game and these changes have definitely opened up that pandora’s box for the rest of the world. 

One more note on Desolation Squads: wholly or partially removing them from the competitive game opens things up for a lot of other armies, making it much safer to take cheap backfield objective holders once again, and also to have units deploy outside of transports. Both could have a major impact on army construction.

Blood Ravens Land Raider Crusader. Credit – Soggy

Black Templars

Overall rating: Winner

Key Buffs

  • Adding a multi-melta to a vehicle is now 5 points instead of 15.
  • Nearly everything got a significant points reduction, including Black Templars Impulsors dropping from 115 to 85. 
  • Helbrecht (-10), Grimaldus (-25), the Castellan (-5), and the Emperor’s Champion (-10) all came down in cost
  • Primaris Crusader Squads come down to 140/280, from 160/320, while Sword Brethren dropped again to the same cost (140/280), down from 330

Key Nerfs

  • The Black Templars Gladiator Lancer went up 5 points, which isn’t that bad given that the generic Marine option went up 15.
  • The cost of a Marshal increased by 5 points.
  • Only Armour of Contempt and Crusader’s Wrath are Battle Tactics Stratagems. 


Black Templars lists were already flirting with success using skew builds that overloaded on character units but with the updates to marines overall they may have more play. Which isn’t to say that character spam is the norm going forward – that kind of activation overload isn’t nearly as valuable in a world where Wraithknights aren’t blowing up whole units of terminators per turn – but both Helbrecht and Grimaldus have a lot to offer at their new reduced costs. That said, their biggest downsides were that they could only join bad units. The new cost drops on Sword Brethren and Crusaders help this quite a bit. For our money the Crusader Squad are worth the greater consideration thanks to their ability to re-roll Advance and Charge rolls, while at 28 points per model Sword Brethren may finally be worth a look. On that note, you’re still better off with Gladius as your Detachment here. 

Black Templars Storm Speeder Thunderstrike. Credit: SRM

Blood Angels

Overall rating: Winner

Every Blood Angel specific datasheet but Tycho and Corbulo sees point decreases and many of them are substantial. Combined with a few select Marine buffs and we’re cooking with gas over here with the Sons of Sanguinius, even if you’re still relegated to the Gladius detachment.

Key Buffs

  • Death Company down 5pts per model
  • Sanguinary Guard down 8pts per model
  • Key characters like Dante, Astorath, and Sanguinor down 15-25 points

Key Nerfs

  • The same nerfs that hit Marines hurt here, but perhaps less so as they open up new list design choices.


Blood Angels, like Space Wolves, have struggled compared to their power armored brothers so far this edition. When there is a weak close combat phase, it is hard for the Sons of Sanguinius to shine. The best performing lists for BA so far have included very little in the way of actual BA-centric units and their bespoke detachment is one of the weakest, particularly when compared to Gladius. That should change moving forward. 

Death Company are now priced to move and having Astorath coming in at an eye-watering 85 points (and Lemartes not far off at 110) means we’ll definitely be seeing more of the angriest marines on the table. It will be interesting to see if the points drops to Sanguinary Guard will be enough for them to see play but the change to insane bravery makes it feel like there is a place for the disruptive power of Dante’s death mask ability to be more impactful (especially when the whole package comes in at 95 points cheaper than before). 

The nerf to desolation marines is also a blessing in disguise for BA players as they can more comfortably branch into unique builds and not have the weight of ‘why not just play as deathwatch or ultramarines’ hanging over their heads. Not only that, the marine mirror match is a bright one with less vengor launchers winnowing away at jump pack units trying to hide in ruins and in cover.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to BA though are the nerfs to Custodes and Imperial Knights. Being able to dodge the large blocks of meat that Custodes lists were fielding and actually hide from Knights shooting opens up so much space for units like Sanguinary Guard and Death Company to have a positive impact on their games. 

Blood Angels Terminators. Credit: Corrode

Dark Angels

Overall rating: Winner

Key Buffs

The Dark Angels saw some surprising point drops which may help the army – which was already seeing some strong results thanks to some innovations from Team Poland at the WTC two weeks ago – diversify its builds and bring some new strategies to the table.

  • Azrael drops to 105 (-15)
  • Belial drops to 85 (-15)
  • Deathwing Command Squads drop to 201/420 (-5/-10)
  • Deathwing Strikemaster -10
  • Deathwing Terminator Squads -5/-10
  • Ezekiel drops to 75 (-5)
  • Lazarus drops to 70 (-10)
  • Ravenwing Command Squads -15/-30
  • Ravenwing Talonmaster -10 

Key Nerfs

The nerfs here are the same as Marines, and without a drop to Deathwing Knights, Dark Angels lists will have to find the points somewhere. That said, Eliminators make an enticing proposition to replace Scouts as a way to save points following the Infiltrators nerf. 


Deathwing Knights haven’t gone anywhere, and you can expect to see them all over Dark Angels lists moving forward, as they’re still more than capable of firing off a free use of Armour of Contempt to go with their inherent damage -1 ability, making them one of the game’s toughest units. Dark Angels lists were already on the rise prior to the dataslate and following this update look to emerge as one of the strongest flavors of marines.

Deathwing Terminator Praetor
Deathwing Terminator Captain. Credit: Jack Hunter


Overall rating: Big Loser

Key Buffs

  • Spectrus Kill Teams and Veteran Bike Squads are about 5% cheaper.
  • Everything Space Marines get.

Key Nerfs

  • The effects for Dragonfire Rounds, Hellfire Rounds, and Kraken Rounds are all now limited to bolt weapons.
  • The changes to modifying a Stratagem’s CP cost are particularly harmful on Deathwatch, as only Armour of Contempt is a Battle Tactic and Deathwatch are used to applying Stratagems to multiple Kill Teams.
  • Deathwatch Veterans and Proteus Kill Teams are 10% more expensive.
  • Everything Space Marines get.


It’s difficult to get a comprehensive understanding of exactly how impactful these changes will be to Deathwatch armies. Deathwatch Veterans and Proteus Kill Teams were extensively used across top tier armies, and they were directly targeted with a significant increase in points. The usual tricks commonly associated with Space Marines (10-man Desolation squads, cheap Exaction squads) are going to be affected as well. Where Deathwatch really takes a brutal hit is in their Stratagems. Speed and flexibility is a major part of 10th Edition, and Deathwatch were able to capitalize that extremely well through the use of Teleportarium to move up to four Kill Teams courtesy of a Captain. The changes to the various flavors of Special Issue Ammunition are also significant, since bolt weapons are generally not the primary source of lethality.

The bottom line is that Games Workshop heavily neutered what made Deathwatch unique, and while most Space Marine units got a discount the key parts of this army got nerfed more than they probably deserved. Don’t be surprised if Kill Teams end up back on the shelf, and Deathwatch are likely to be shuffled out of the competitive play mix for more standard flavors of Space Marines. They’re the big losers of this update along with Genestealer cults and Thousand Sons.

Deathwatch Primaris Watch-Captain. Credit: RichyP

Space Wolves

Overall rating: Winner in as much as they are Space Marines.

Key Buffs

  • Tons of units are now cheaper, with some reductions as high as 31%
  • Wulfen come down to 16 points per model (to 80/160)
  • Thunderwolf Cavalry come down to 90/180 (-10/-20)
  • They benefit from all of the Space Marine point reductions.
  • They can still use the Gladius Task Force detachment.

Key Nerfs

  • Wolf Scouts got more expensive for some reason.
  • See Space Marines.
  • The only Stratagems in Champions of Russ that are Battle Tactics are Armour of Contempt and Go For The Throat


As a standalone faction Space Wolves haven’t really seen much success. From a win rate perspective Champions of Russ is simply worse than the Gladius Task Force, and when you compare Space Wolves to Space Marines there’s very little difference. Nothing about this balance pass is likely going to change that. Depending on how things fall out the numerous Dreadnoughts Space Wolves have access to could see some use since they’re so cheap. Bjorn the Fell-Handed is particularly priced to move at 180 points, and his CP tax ability dovetails nicely with a Callidus Assassin who is also cheaper. Wulfen Dreadnoughts at 130 points might also be worth considering. 

That said, if you’ve been hankering to bring Space Wolf units to your games, you have more and better options than before. Cheaper Thunderwolf Cavalry are the biggest value here, as the SW unit most likely to show up in lists. Having them as cheaper screening units is a fine bonus. You’re still going to run Gladius with your wolves, but there’s plenty of value in running 1300 points of Gladius and filling out the rest with meatier wolves units to clog up the middle of the table.

Lieutenant with Combi-weapon (Credit: Musterkrux)

That’s it for the balance dataslate – don’t forget to check out the core rules, Chaos, and Xenos articles, and as ever if you have any comments or feedback then join in the discussion below or e-mail as at