The Laughter of the Dark Gods – Legionaries in Kill Team

So we finally get a power armour only faction for Kill Team, and it is a thing of beauty.

With six operatives, it is on the smaller side compared to teams like Veteran Guard or Pathfinders, but thoughtful play will let you bring the murder and even up the numbers fairly quickly.

While you can literally pick up and drop in an existing Chaos Marine team, you get access to an alternate leader and four new specialists (three of them melee monsters) to give you some hard choices to make in constructing your Kill Team.

All models can take Marks of Chaos, which give models an ability (none of them game breaking) and access to strategic and tactical ploys tied to the Mark they took. This rewards taking a limited number of marks for the purposes of efficiency, though you also get one strategic ploy for free each turn for a mark that you have a model for on the table.

World Eaters Killteam. Credit: Jack Hunter

Blessings of the Chaos Gods

When you choose your team, you have to pick a blessing for each model to have. This also dictates what Strategic Ploys you can use (you can’t use one for a Chaos God where there isn’t a model with that blessing on the table) and what Tactical Ploys the model can use (Khorne models can’t use Nurgle Tactical Ploys).

You also can’t mix models with Khorne and Slaanesh or Nurgle and Tzeentch blessings in the same Kill Team, so the maximum number of different blessings you can have is four.

Together this makes it very important that you think about what blessings you want to go with when picking your team.

Khorne – Wrathful Onslaught

When Khorne marked models fight, they can strike with one normal hit as if it is a critical hit. This is important wording as it doesn’t retain a normal hit as a critical hit, as with some special rules, and it means you treat a normal hit as if it is a critical hit for the purposes of parrying. I can see people getting confused by the wording and interpreting it differently.

Nurgle – Disgusting Vigour

When getting shot at, Nurgle marked models can retain a normal save as a critical save instead. This is a nice solid defensive rule that buffs Nurgle models defensively.

Slaanesh – Unnatural Agility

Slaanesh marked models get an additional inch of movement, giving you a move/dash of 10”, and a charge of 9”. In a game where movement is super important, this is useful for getting around and controlling the board, and getting your melee models into combat or even better a multicharge.

Tzeentch – Empyreal Guidance

When a Tzeentch marked model shoots, you can retain an attack dice that rolls 5+ as a critical. In practice it means if you get a five, you can bump it up to a critical.

Undivided – Vicious Reavers

When the model shoots or fights and the target is within 6”, you can reroll an attack dice. This is just the flat out most useful of the marks in my opinion. But you lock yourself out of a lot of ploys by choosing undivided marks.

Strategic Ploys

Unmarked Ploys

Hateful Assault – This transfers from the compendium without changes, and lets you fight twice if you don’t perform a shoot action.

Malicious Volleys – Another compendium ploy, where you can fire bolt weapons (bolt pistols, bolters and heavy bolters) twice in a turn if you don’t fight. Note you can’t grenade and bolter, it has to be a bolt weapon for both actions.

These unmarked ploys affect all Legionary operatives, so you can combine Hateful Assault with a Khorne strategic ploy and the ploys will both affect the Khorne models in play.

Khorne Ploys

Blood for the Blood God – +1 Damage on the first strike in each Fight action if the model has performed a Charge action during it’s activation. This is similar to ploys in the Compendium for the Tyranids and Harlequins and is great for trying to punch out enemies by resolving the first hit of a Fight. Do some maths in your head before using it though.

Perpetual Aggression – This is the key ploy for Khorne factions. After a Khorne operative fights in combat, it can make a move of 3”, can move within Engagement range of enemy operative, and must, if it can, finish the move within Engagement range of the closest visible enemy operative. This, combined with Hateful Assault, let’s Khorne models blender their way through the enemy and is an incredibly useful ploy that a Khorne blessed team will be using from Turning Points 2-4 in most games.

Nurgle Ploys

Mutagenic Flesh – each time Normal Damage would be inflicted on a Nurgle model, reduce the damage by 1. This is a great ploy that Nurgle players may well use every turn.

Implacable – Operatives getting injured? Opponent has a bunch of abilities/weapons that give you negatives to APL? Want to fire Overwatch with no modifiers? This ploy does it all. In the later game when you’re operatives have picked up some wounds, this helps keep your models at peak performance.

Slaanesh Ploys

Graceful Killer – Add +1 to melee weapons Critical Damage. This is another ploy designed to help you punch out models in the first strike and not take damage back, or help you really chip away at bigger targets.

Delicious Agony – If you are fighting an injured operative, in your first Resolve Hits step you can resolve two hits. This is much more niche, and useful when fighting marines or other high wound models (as lets face it, Guardsman don’t get injured, they get dead). Anything on 8 wounds or less you are probably taking out in the first strike if it is injured, and this ploy doesn’t trigger if a model isn’t. It’s flavourful, but limited utility unless you’re facing opponents with 10+ wounds that you’ve already softened up a lot.

Tzeentch Ploys

Protected by Fate – Each time a shooting attack is made against a Tzeentch model, if you retained any critical saves in the Roll Defence dice step, you can retain a failed save as a normal success. A pretty useful ploy to help make up for one bad dice if you got one very good dice.

Aetheric Ward – Just give all Tzeentch models a 4+ invulnerable. If you’re fighting an opponent with a lot of AP, especially melta weapons, this is totally worth it. If you’re fighting a bunch of dirt farmers with lasguns then it’s pretty useless.

Tactical Ploys

Veteran of the Long War – this is a Compendium ploy, and if you completely fluff an attack, and everything fails, then you can repeat a Fight or Shoot action. So if your meltagun rolls four 1s and 2s then you can get another go.

Unending Bloodshed – the Khorne ploy that lets you get a final jab in against an operative in Engagement range if your operative dies in melee. A nice little chance to get a final skull when your operative is going to meet Khorne in person.

Mutability and Change – the Tzeentch ploy to increase your APL by 1. Having a marine with 4 APL is great to have if you’re moving/charging, clearing an objective with double fight or shoot, and then performing a mission action.

Malignant Aura – the Nurgle ploy that takes a defensive dice away from enemy operatives within 3”. Move a marine forward into an enemy blob and then hit them with bolter fire or a grenade or a flamer. Low damage weapons go a lot further when the enemy only has two defence dice to play with.

Sickening Captivation – the Slaanesh ploy to reduce the APL of an enemy operative within 3” by 1. Good for ensuring you hold an objective, or ruining an enemy operative’s activation (especially if they’re APL2).

Of these ploys I would say Veterans of the Long War is the best by some margin and can really get you out of a case of the dice sucking, though all the different gods have a good tactical ploy.



You now have a choice between the Legionary Chosen and Legionary Aspiring Champion. The Champion is the classic model with choice of bolter or pistol and power weapon/fist, but the Chosen has a Demonic Blade (a 4/7 lethal 5+ sword) and the Demonic Aura (enemy Fall Back moves lose 4” of movement) and Soul Feast (if they score any critical hits in combat, regain two wounds) while the Champion gains an APL once per Turning Point if they incapacitate an enemy model.

I think the Chosen edges out the Champion, especially in a melee orientated team (and Legionaries get so much that pushes them towards going melee).

Legionary Warrior

The dependable standard Chaos Marine with either a bolter or a bolt pistol and chainsword. Given the other options you won’t be seeing this guy a lot in competitive, but he’s always been a cut above his Compendium loyalist equivalent, and gaining a mark of chaos makes him even better.

Legionary Gunner

This guy will be a regular feature. With the option to take a plasma, meltagun or flamer, he can deliver serious pain to a well protected target, or put damage on hordes at close range. My personal recommendation against anything bigger than a guardsman would be the plasma gun, as it makes a great sniper. Against heavy targets take a meltagun, against chaff with 5+ saves a flamer. When using a 6” range gun the model benefits particularly from a mark of Chaos Undivided for a reroll on shooting.

Legionary Heavy Gunner

Here is a spicy choice. Missile launchers are so passe, and the argument is whether a Reaper chaincannon firing once, or a heavy bolter able to fire twice using the Malicious Volleys ploy is better.

Reapers get 6 dice and ceaseless, so you reroll 1s, and are likely to come out with about 5 hits. Heavy bolters have 5 dice and P1, so you’re reasonably likely to get a crit and strip a defence dice off them.

The table below goes into the damage output. Bear in mind if you can fire the Heavy Bolter twice, it will be the best choice. The Chaincannon just looks so cool though.

Legionary Icon Bearer

A standard marine with an Icon, which raises their APL by one for the purposes of holding objectives. Because of this you would pick them over a standard marine, but it’s in competition for slots with the other specialists, so you are still unlikely to see it on the table.

Legionary Anointed

It’s babby possessed time, and it’s a beauty. With a boltpistol and a five attack dice 4/5 Rending close combat weapon, it’s slightly better than a standard marine. However it can Unleash Daemon, and while you lose the actions involving shooting or doing the mission, you get a lot more murdery for the rest of the game. You can Fight twice without a stratagem, get a save against all wounds lost (which in my experience really upsets opponents), and your Daemonic Claw gains Lethal 5+ and Ceaseless, to help it chew through anything you get into combat with.

In my opinion this is an auto include in kill teams where you want to use melee, and the combination of Lethal 5+ and the ability to Fight twice makes it real useful to combine with the Mark of Khorne to chew through enemy groups.

World Eaters Butcher. Credit: Jack Hunter

Legionary Butcher

The butcher, with his Double-handed Chain Axe, is a Repentia on space steroids. You get 4 dice, 4+ to hit and 5/7 damage, but if you are the attacker you get Ceaseless and if you charged you get Relentless. Needless to say you want to multicharged opponents using the Fight twice ploy and then use the Reap 2 to start weakening your next target.

This model also has the Devastating Onslaught rule, so enemy can’t support each other (taking the negative out of multi-charging) and treating the models Engagement Range as 2” instead of 1” for Dash, Fallback and Normal Move actions by enemy models, potentially trapping models outside of engagement range and forcing them to spend 2 APL running away rather than doing something that they want to do.

This is a great operative for objective clearing, and a must include in a melee focused kill team. With a Mark of Khorne it becomes chef kiss.

Legionary Balefire Acolyte

This gives you a psyker in the squad (and this model cannot have the mark of Khorne, so go with Nurgle or Undivided in my opinion to either defensively buff you or give you access to the Undivided Strategic Ploys as free choices). Psychic abilities are nice, with Fire Blast being a long range 3/4 2” Blast with Splash 1, and so great for dealing with clumps of models, Malign Influence giving a Legionary Operative you can see the Lethal 5+, No Cover and Brutal Special Rules on their weapons (so this is incredible on a heavy bolter or Chaincannon) and Life Siphon being a nice little shooting attack where if you resolve two hits you heal a Legionary within 6” of the target for D3 wounds.

The Balefire Acolyte also has a great stabbing knife, which while not as good straight off as a chainsword, does 2 mortal wounds each time you retain a critical hit (you don’t even have to get past parry dice, you get two MW for rolling criticals in the attack roll).

Together this makes the Balefire Acolyte a must take, and go great in a melee focused or mixed melee/shooting team, able to contribute to long range firepower and do stuff up close and personal.

Legionary Shrivetalon

The Shrivetalon is an interesting model, and while it isn’t capable of the damage output of the Butcher or Balefire Acolyte, it can mess with an objective in a way that can make holding it or performing mission actions harder for your opponent. It also always counts as being the attacker in combar, and if it incapacitates an enemy operative, can pick another enemy operative within 3” to subtract one from it’s APL. This pushes the Shrivetalon towards acting as an objective clearer/denier, as it could move to an objective held by three 2APL models, kill one, subtract one APL from another and suddenly the objective is tied for APL for the purpose of holding it.

Grisly Mark is an interesting Special Action, but at 2APL I can see it most being used to mess with a central objective/mission action location to make it harder for the enemy to complete their tasks.


There’s some great equipment, though it’s important to read the new rules as the items that were in the Compendium have some changes. Belt Feeds are gone though (boo!).

Suspensors are still there, for 3EP helping heavy bolters and chaincannons move around the table and importantly up onto Vantage points. If you take a Heavy Gunner you have to take this.

Tainted Rounds are bolt gun, bolt pistol and tainted bolt pistol only, adding one to Normal and Critical damage, though you likely won’t take any models armed with bolters and your bolt pistol armed models may have more of a melee focus. For 3EP a model it also gets pricey.

Malign Scripture lets your Balefire Acolyte cast two powers a turn, and since all the Balefire Acolytes powers are good this is another almost compulsory choice.

Grisly Trophy means enemies within 3” and targeting the model lose one attack dice. Great for helping keep a key melee model alive by taking away an enemy attack dice, though 3EP and one per team means a hard choice between the Butcher and Chosen to give it to.

Aggression Stimulants give you a reroll when you charged in your activation for the entire battle. This is great paired with Fight Twice and the Khorne Perpetual Aggression strategic ploy, and great on a high damage output model that needs a reroll like the Butcher. For 3EP it’s up against a lot of other good choices though.

Warded Armour gives you a 2+ save till the first time you take damage, and given the number of dice thrown around and AP weapons this can mean the 2+ save can get popped awfully quickly. It’s 3EP and there are better choices.

Malefic Blades are there to give your Gunner/Heavy Gunner a good melee statline, and at 2EP they are fairly cheap for it, but if your Heavy Gunner is ending up in melee then they aren’t shooting.

Frag and Krak Grenades do what they’ve always done, and a Frag is a good choice against horde teams if they clump up or to use the Indirect rule though again you also have the option of the Balefire Acolyte for Blast and models in Conceal can’t hide from a Chain Axe in the head.

World Eaters Heavy Gunner. Credit: Jack Hunter

Tac Ops

With access to the Security and Seek and Destroy Tac Ops, you’ve already got some great choices. However I’d regard the faction ops as highly situational.

Sacrilegious Mutilation involves tracking incapacitated enemy operatives with corpse tokens and performing the 1AP Defiled for the Dark Gods action within 1” of the token. To get both VP you need to do this 4 times, which sucks up 4 APL out of a total possible 72 APL for the game, and you have to get to within 1” of the corpse tokens. I think in terms of opportunity cost it loses out to just plain killing stuff.

Dark Desecration means killing two enemy operatives within 1” of an objective you reveal at the start of the game for 1VP and holding it at the end of the battle for the second VP. In games with a central objective the enemy has to try and take this is good, because they’ll be throwing potential corpses at it, but it’s very situational.

Savage Butcher means you pick a friendly operative and if it kills two enemy models in combat you get 1VP, and if it kills three or more models in combat you get 2VP. The Butcher is an appropriately good choice for this. I think this is the easiest faction TacOp to complete and it leans into how you want to play.

Building your team

In picking your team you can go three different ways – a classic shooting team using both Gunner choices, the Acolyte and normal marines with bolters and Tainted Rounds, a mixed team with Gunners, Chosen Leader, Balefire Acolyte and two melee specialists (Butcher and Anointed would be my choice) or a pure melee team where you take a Chosen, Acoylte, all melee Specialists and either a BP/chainsword guy or a Flamer or Meltagun.

I don’t want to be proscriptive or give you a list here. In a Competitive Roster you have enough slots to literally do every combination given it’s only a six model team.

But this is about fun, and with six power armoured models to choose from and convert and customize, you can do a lot. We’ve already seen the Patrick Bateman Butcher on Warhammer Community, so the bar to shoot for is there.

Can I use these rules for Marines?

Yes, yes you can. Would an Anointed Marine functionally work as a Wulfen or a Death Company Marine? Yes they would. Is the Mark of Nurgle similar to the effect of Iron Hand bionics? Yes it is. Is a Space Marine with a giant two handed chainsword something that has been in the game since Rogue Trader? Yes it is. Can I give a Marine a Terminator 2 style chain gun? Yes, and Forge World sell a Horus Heresy era one.

Is the only limit your imagination?

Yes it is.


Some Kill Teams have complicated rules to give you a performance on the table that reflects their theme (I felt like I was having a stroke reading the new Harlequin rules). Legionaries are not that.

Legionaries are fun. They are fun power armoured dudes rocking around the table being Chads and pushing Tau off buildings.

Where they will be competitively we will have to see; potentially they are strong, but I’d like to see how they perform against Control teams like GSC or Veteran Guard, or the general horribleness of Tau (though chainsawing through them does seem to be the way to go).

Needless to say I’m off to finish painting up a complete Chaos Marines roster, and then to steal the rules and do a Blood Angels Rogue Trader style team with them.