The Kill Team Q4 2023 Dataslate Hot Take

Coming later in the year than we might have expected but still relatively warm on the heels of the World Championships we have a new Dataslate. There’s a ton here with some major shake-ups that we expect will have a major impact on tournaments in Q1, including at LVO.

Let’s dive in.

Core Rules

No core rule changes this time around, but with the new terrain on the way I’m sure we’re headed into a new season of play that will shake things up in other ways.

Credit: Keewa


This dataslate represents a large headwind for many teams, however the World Championship boogeymen have both been tapped. Whether or not the nerfs to Kommandos and Cults is enough will remain to be seen.


  • Bomb Squig can no longer be more than 2APL.
  • Sneaky Git restricted to one use, and cannot have its order flipped.

HR: Honestly these changes shouldn’t really change the Kommandos’ ability to play all that much. It does however influence the least interesting play patterns of Kommando players, while opening up all of the Kommando’s other strategic options. Giving both sides a bigger emphasis on later turning points. The Bomb Squig nerf is an important one at higher levels of play as the 11” threat range, of Move, Dash, and Shoot, was too much for teams to really manage.

AoC: Expected and proper. This still allows the Snipa Boy to be positioned in a way that allows TP1 use, AND you can obviously still just charge your opponent.

Chaos Cults

  • Mutation no longer heals the operative to its new datacard’s full wounds. Instead Mutants regain D3+1 wounds, and Torments regain D3+3 wounds.
  • Devotees now must incapacitate to get their mutation to a Mutant.

HR: This pair of changes will do little to influence cult dominance on ITD terrain I suspect. Open play does offer some new avenues to interact with the gibbering horde of appendages as chipping devotees and mutants now makes those end game torments easier to interact with. Unfortunately, from seeing Cults at the world championships, players were often fully hidden before coming out to play. Meaning that there were often few chances to make that chip damage happen. Ultimately Torments coming out of hiding at 11-13 wounds is useful for melee teams, and fewer free mutations on devotees will be very nice. We’ll see if this is enough, but I suspect not. Maybe GW is hoping the smorgasbord of buffs to follow is enough to interact with these Cult changes.

AoC: I don’t think I am as pessimistic about these changes as Travis. These are the final two I thought they needed all the way back on their release. While Elite teams don’t care so much about the change to Devotee mutation it is a massive swing for opposing horde teams that had to be really careful in how they engaged Devotees as every combat was a potential Mutant in waiting.

T’au Empire Pathfinder Kill Team. Credit: Greg Chiasson


We’ll be honest – no one at Goonhammer is losing sleep over Kommandos and Chaos Cults eating a few nerfs. However many of the authors here are excited about their personal pet teams: HappyRaccoon (HR) on Pathfinders, ArmorOfContempt (AoC) on Wrymblade, and Ace on Exaction Squad, all receiving buffs. (We don’t control this, we swear!) Q4 is a big one for many factions featuring buffs ranging from large to small. Either way the game is going to take a bit of a shake up.

Pathfinders (Large)

  • Recon Drone no longer counts for 2 operatives.
  • On ITD as long as the Drone Controller is in the Killzone, drones can perform the operate hatch action.

HR: Combined with Q3’s changes Pathfinder players have been given a new lease on life. While ITD remains challenging, getting our strongest drone without downsides is a huge change. I think between these changes and the new terrain we’ll be seeing some tier list changes.

AoC: This seems like a substantial buff, and a neat way to offset the operative reduction that Pathfinders received. While it does seem to lock in the Recon Drone as a permanent take on the list, which reduces player choice, I am always more of a fan of game balance over player customization. If we have learned anything from Kill Team over the last two years, these things don’t seem to go together well.

Corsair Voidscarred (Small)

  • Outcasts from 6” range to 3”.
  • Deadly Ambush can now be used on a Conceal order, and allows an order flip to Engage.

HR: Corsair buffs are an interesting one, as the team’s win rate feels precariously balanced. Voidscarred players have always been good at adapting and now some of the least used ploys have been opened up for play.

AoC: While I am sure Corsairs players will be happy that they get a bit more positioning freedom, the change to Deadly Ambush seems like the stronger of the two buffs as it essentially makes it much harder to pull off an up close Shoot Action on Concealed operatives. This is particularly powerful against teams that lack Indirect weapons or strong melee threats.

Hunter Clade (Small)

  • Protector Imperative is now just a straight up re-roll during shooting attack.
  • Bulwark Imperative now always allows a save re-roll, along with restricting the Dash action when the deprecation is on.

HR: The Clade’s changes are relatively minor, but important. Before the team needed to miss twice before re-rolling, and now you always get a re-roll in the relevant area. Now the Bulwark Imperative and Calculated Approach defensive combo is much more reliable.

AoC: Definitely with HR on this. Not a huge change, although it’s a welcome reduction in complexity, and is great simply because it doesn’t require you to fail your roll to gain a benefit.

Wyrmblade Kill Team. Credit: Rockfish
Wyrmblade Kill Team. Credit: Rockfish

Wrymblade (Large)

  • Cult Ambush now also triggers if the operative in question is not visible to ANY enemy operatives when it begins its activation.
  • Sanctus Talon gains the additional ability to make an additional strike if its first strike is a critical strike, this must be a normal strike if possible, BUT may be a critical strike if there is no other option.
  • Heavy Gunners gain the ability to move 6 inches and shoot.

AoC: Oh boy, here we go. So, while I don’t think these changes make the team overpowered they might be a little too much. As a person that plays this team it obviously pains me to say this. The change to Cult Ambush is a HUGE round about buff to the Hiding ploy and is kind of the final nail in the coffin to the Crossfire ploy, which if you weren’t using it before you have even less reason to now. The wording on this change is also really weird, making it possible to interpret it as meaning that if the entirety of your opponent’s team can’t see an operative then you gain the benefits of Cult Ambush, for now, let’s assume that isn’t the case, because that way lies madness. (HR: the wording seems pretty clear that we are meant to be mad. As the line is “wasn’t visible to every enemy operative”. Remember visibility is head to any part of the opposing model. Step 1 of Line of Sight)

I REALLY like the change to the Talon, I was unsure how they would go about changing this operative, and I think the change to Soulsight might finally give this guy some legs, especially into elites and in close quarters. Keep in mind he is still 4 attacks, and the 3/6 damage is immensely swingy, but I am excited to give him a try going forward as this means you can now truly play this operative like an assassin.

Lastly, let’s look at the change to Heavy Gunners. This is where I feel things might have gone too far. This change is needlessly wordy, because Wyrmblade have no AP buffing capabilities meaning outside of the Cult Agents their operatives can never move more than 6 inches and perform a Shoot Action. They simply could’ve just removed the Heavy keyword and called it a day. This is a huge buff, no way around it, the poor mobility of the Heavies is one of the team’s big weaknesses. Now, not only do they not suffer that weakness, BUT they can Shoot their weapons in conjunction with the Hiding Ploy! So now you get really fun shit like a Mining Laser popping onto a Vantage TP1, Shooting, returning to Conceal, and then Shooting again on the following TP and simply using climbing rope to drop out of Line of Sight. Don’t get me wrong, I love this change, but YOU won’t. From a game balance perspective they should’ve simply replaced the Spotlight [3 EP] with this as a piece of equipment that way the Wyrmblade player has to at least sacrifice something for this buff.

Farstalker Kinband (Small)

  • Call the Kill, the kill-broker’s strategic phase ability, no longer needs visibility, and you can select one of 3 choices: auto-retain, ceaseless, P1.

HR: This change is minor, but important for one of Farstalker’s worst areas of play, on In the Dark. Call the Kill’s auto-retain ability was actually not great most of the time, so giving the team more AP for the worst matchup is big. Being able to push elites down to 2 defence dice will help this team punch up. While ceaseless allows us to fight hordes more efficiently.

AoC: Good change, keep this up and it’ll be easier to write down what hasn’t been changed.

Kasrkin (Large)

  • Elite points can now adjust a second die, after discarding one of your dice, take a different failed hit to upgrade to a normal. Basically letting you get 3 hits somewhat reliably.
  • Warden Auspex ability’s second sentence, no longer grants No Cover, and instead lets friendlies ignore Obscurity to the target.
  • Foregrip can now be equipped to Gunner and Sharpshooter for 2EP instead of 1EP for any ranged weapon on their datacard.

HR: Kasrkin have been given a bevy of changes that taken together massively upgrade their reliability. The first change to Elite Points basically means that early on Kasrkin players can get those 3 hits extremely often. Additionally, Kasrkin players will need to keep those dice values obvious as now a 3 is a quick upgrade to a normal hit in most cases. Meanwhile the recon-trooper has gone up massively in value giving global threat projection and being big for the new terrain set. Lastly, foregrip has relevant use on Close Quarters, especially against horde teams as overwatching with Elite Points on 4+ instead of 5+ is niiiiice.

AoC: Much like Kroot these guys just keep seeing more and more changes. The change to Elite Points is pretty bonkers as this was already one of the most reliable teams in the game. I think instead they should’ve allowed Elite Points to be used on Defense rolls. The changes to the Recon Trooper are only huge in the context of Bheta-Decima, but hopefully we will see some sort of change on how Obscuring ignoring abilities work differently in that Kill Zone.

Exaction Squad member by Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

Exaction Squad (Medium)

  • Execution Order no longer needs line of sight.
  • Assault Shields no longer have Offensive, and Defensive profiles. Now the shield melee profile have Stun, Repress*, and Shield* rules.
  • Deploy Nuncio-aquila ability is no 0AP instead of 1AP.

HR: Melee with an assault shield operative is now incredibly risky for anyone to approach, as generally phosphor lumens mean those shields do not allow opposing re-rolls. This is going to make exaction a much stronger skew match up against anyone expecting melee to be a strength. Meanwhile Execution Order can be used early, and often no longer needing line of sight. The leader can now also quickly mess up opposing players’ attempts to control midboard objectives as placing the nuncio is easy now!

AoC: Subductors already were amongst the most annoying units in the game, and now they’re even more powerful. At this point their only weakness really comes down to hitting on a +4. This being said, most players didn’t really want to tangle with Subductors unless they had especially deadly melee profiles, so the biggest change here is it allows the Enforcer player to be more offensive with them.

Fellgor Ravager (Small)

  • Frenzied Ravagers are treated as 1APL, instead of 0 for determining control.
  • Frenzy is clarified that a subsequent Shooting Attack is required to remove them from the table.

HR: This change should bring the goats back into some form of relevancy. At 0 APL you could freely frenzy goats with no risk to the overall gameplan, but now Ravager players attempting to play coy with fight actions have some counterplay. A solid mid-ground between release and Q3’s changes.

AoC: Perfect changes, exactly what the team needed to keep them relevant.

Inquisition Agent (Small)

  • Kasrkin Ancillary Support option’s Kasrkin Recon-Trooper had the above change rolled in.
  • Exaction Ancillary Support option’s Arbites Subductor had the above change rolled in.

HR: While these changes exist, it’s unlikely to push off Navy Breachers as the general ancillary support. Interestingly enough Arbites Subductors still come with Ruthless Efficiency which allows other friendlies to get P1, so maybe against Blooded the Arbites can come in.

Final THoughts

AoC: Can you picture it in your head? Me rubbing my filthy purple hands together in anticipation? In all seriousness I like most almost all of these changes, and I am obviously very excited to see if these are enough for me to make that final leap with my Wyrmblade, I still have my reservations that some of them might of gone slightly to far, but at the end of the day I don’t see Wyrmblade being anywhere near the boogeyman that Kommandos or Chaos Cultists were.

HR: I think that the nerfs to cults won’t be enough, though I think Kommandos will feel much fairer to play against. However the slew of buffs means its anyone’s game and I’m very much looking forward to playing many of the teams. With so many teams changes hopefully the q4 changes are exciting to our readers as well. What are you guys excited for?

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