The June 2022 Kill Team Balance Dataslate Hot Take

Another quarter means another Kill Team dataslate from Games Workshop. We are happy to see another balance pass, especially one that gives a bump to a struggling faction. While there aren’t many changes, we do expect them to shake the meta up a bit.

Let’s dig into what’s new!

Traitor Brimstone Grenadier. Credit: Fowler

The Core Rule Changes

Thundercloud: Well the biggest change is the same nerf they applied to Kommandos making Dynamite a one per team equipment item has now been applied to all indirect purchasable weapon types, and if you’ve got a grenadier model that comes with the grenades, then sorry, that’s your lot. This means if Tau take the Pathfinder Grenadier they can’t buy any grenades for other models. 

Grenades work well in Kill Team, and mechanically there are no problems with them. But they are good, and great for dealing with Concealed models, and much better than lasguns/autoguns. This works out nerfing some factions more than others, as teams with squishy 5+ save guys love a few good Frag or Krak grenade, while Custodes for example are a lot less bothered because they have great guns and awesome punching. 

This change also only affects Indirect weapons, so Shock grenades and Smoke grenades are not affected. This leaves Phobos able to pull their Smoke BS still. 

Fowler: I am interested to see how this shakes out for the Blooded, who are still developing their identity. For better or worse, it seemed like their best play was to load up on cheap nade throwers and follow up with melee specialists.

TheArmorOfContempt: This is a confusing change. While I’ll admit grenades are one of the better choices for equipment I never looked at them as being broken, but more a vital tool force your opponent out of Conceal. It is hard to say who benefits or loses out the most in this change. Technically it benefits teams who didn’t have grenade options to begin with, and is a hindrance to teams like Pathfinders or The Blooded who have specialists who already come equipped with grenades. This change affects so many teams that I am tempted to consider it nearly neutral in its implication as it seems to hinder and benefit in largely equal measure.

Harlequins Troupe Master. Credit: Corrode

The Nerfs

Thundercloud: Minor nerfs for Void Dancers and factions that love grenades. I think time will tell if they’ve nerfed Void Dancers enough to stop them dominating the competitive scene. As I predicted a while ago, factions that ignore the limitations of core parts of the game (by having FLY for instance) are going to be very tough to balance. 

Thundercloud: Anyone with a GA:2 choice that they could double activate and move and grenade twice will feel the loss. Double krak-ing MEQs in the head seems like it was a lot of fun, ditto double fragging GEQs. 

TheArmorOfContempt: Void-Dancers lose the extra Command Point per Turning Point if they have accumulated four performance marks. This is a welcome change as some of the performances are just too easy to achieve, such as Tragedy or Melodrama. Kill Team kind of runs on the notion that everyone is very limited in their Command Point generation and allowing a team to gain 2-3 more per match in a game where six is the average amount is a significant advantage that Harlequins frankly didn’t need. 

Additionally, Cegorach’s Jest only affects NORMAL hits, which is a significant nerf as those are the things you really want to avoid. This strategic ploy was already a bit limited in its utility simply because rolling under the +2/+3 to hit of most melee specialists was a pretty tall order. Unlike the nerf to Saedath this change wasn’t really that needed, why Cegorach’s Jest and not Domino Field was the target of changes is beyond me. 

The Buffs

Hunter Clade Kill Team
Hunter Clade Kill Team. Credit: Pendulin

Thundercloud: Well Hunter Clades made out like bandits.

TheArmorOfContempt: Hunter Clades no longer suffer the Deprecation effects of a Doctrina on the first Turning Point in which they select it, additionally there is no limit on how often they can switch, meaning that if they rotate through every available Doctrina at the beginning of each TP they can effectively never suffer from a Deprecation effect. This is a very useful and interesting change as Hunter Clades needed a bit of a buff, and their Doctrina were not powerful enough to warrant the downsides to begin with. 

Additionally, they can take one additional operative, and that operative may even be a Gunner. This last part is a bit of a side upgrade as originally you could only take a third gunner if you had three or less Sicarian operatives, but this limitation is now removed giving any Hunter Clade team full access to an Arc Rifle, Transonic Arquebus, and Plasma Caliver. 

In all, exactly what they needed. Will this make Hunter Clades top tier? No clue. 

Thundercloud: Well it will scrape them off the bottom. A 28% win rate is atrocious. It doesn’t solve the issue that when you put the models down and they can see if you’ve taken Rangers or Vanguard, and Ruststalkers or Infiltrators, and then roughly guess your whole plan from that, but an extra body and an extra heavy weapon makes a difference, as marine players have spent the last couple of months finding out. 

Pendulin: The deprecation effects never sat quite right with me. A -2” penalty as a deprecation of Bulwark Imperative felt like it was at odds with the +1” bonus as an optimization for Aggressor Imperative. A penalty that is twice as large as its corresponding bonus doesn’t feel right. And this change goes a long way in rectifying that.

Removing the limit on how many times you can swap Doctrinas gives the faction a fresh, dynamic feel – reprogramming itself to respond to the ever-changing battlefield. And I think it’s honestly a brilliant design to have the deprecation effects not kick in until the second turn that the doctrina is active. It gives you an incentive to swap it each round and not get stagnant, further emphasizing the quick-paced, reactive gameplay that Kill Team excels in.

Competitively, is this the buff that Hunter Clade needs? Maybe, maybe not. Hunter Clade stood out in having a faction bonus that could actually hurt them. With that out of the way, the faction may have a clear path towards higher win rates, or it may not. But regardless of their win rate, this dataslate change definitely makes Hunter Clade a more fun and engaging faction to play.

That’s it for this round of balance updates! We hope to see Hunter Clade get a boost and for Void Dancers to potentially cool off a bit. Cutting off nade spam is likely to effect many other factions – we’ll keep our eyes peeled in the coming months and weeks.

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