The Q1 2024 Kill Team Balance Dataslate – The Goonhammer Hot Take

Coming less than a week from the conclusion of Adepticon, we have in our hands the latest and greatest changes to Kill Team. The end of 2023 saw some massive changes to the game, but even in that short amount of time the rules team has seen fit to make even more.

Core Rules 

Jump Tests have been removed from the game. 

CYRAC: Disappointing change. Something more thematic could have been done instead of making jumps just free short Fly moves now.

Kill Zone: Bheta-Decima 

Hazardous Zones now restrict Visibility instead of providing Obscuring, and all forms of forward deployment ploys have been restricted to within 4 inches of a player’s Kill Zone. Pedantic individuals may notice that it only refers to Tactical Ploys, but then immediately refers to Sneaky Git, a Strategic Ploy. 

TheArmorOfContempt: We all knew this had to come if GW wanted players to use the new Kill Zone as the issues with Bheta-Decima were apparent to most individuals upon release. These changes combined with the removal of Jump Tests and the loss of Fly for Void-Dancers means that organizers are free to include the set into their table rotation.

HappyRaccoon: As a tournament player who has lost a point to a Jump Test on stream, I think this is kind of lame. Now everyone somewhat flies if TOs set up terrain to allow it. That’s part of the experience that has been lost, but for Bheta Decima I think that’s fine. Since all the abusers of BD get affected in this patch I’d be surprised if people complain too much about its inclusion. Maps 5 and 6 still suck though.

Kommandos (Nerf)

The Bomb Squig’s shooting attack now only hits targets within engagement range, Just a Scratch now only affects normal hits and excludes the Bomb Squig, and the Choppa equipment option provides one less attack.

TheArmorOfContempt: The hits keep coming for Kommandos. I assume this must be based on their performance at LVO as I was more than satisfied with the changes made in the previous update. The change to Just a Scratch is the most notable change, and may affect whether people continue to take them. 

HappyRaccon: I’d have preferred we just removed the Bomb Squig + Grot combo, but them’s the breaks for going up to 11 activations. I suspect this will bring the team back down to earth, and finally allow Ork dominance to recede. I think the Choppa nerf might be a smidge too far, but GW could always roll back a nerf.

CYRAC: While nice, these nerfs don’t address the core issue of Kommandos being 11 activations. Bomb Squig already existed as just an extra activation so nothing changes now. The JAS change is welcomed but it being CP1+ instead would have been a far better fix. Personally feel this team remains top tier still or just slightly below it. Competitive Kommando vets will likely just now need to prep more for certain matchups.

Veteran Guardsmen (Nerf)

The Spotter’s ability to treat enemy operatives as Engaged does not work if they’re within Heavy Cover, and the Demolition Trooper’s mine now only hits operatives within 2 inches, and only if they aren’t wholly behind Heavy Cover. Additionally, the ability only may be used once per game.

TheArmorOfContempt: It is somewhat amazing that this team has gone as long as it has without some sort of change, and as somebody who got beat pretty badly by Veteran Guard at Adepticon, thanks largely to these abilities, I can’t say I am unhappy about these changes. Frankly, the Demolition Trooper was so oppressive in some situations that I almost wish more changes had been made, but I can see them not wanting to go too hard. Veteran Guard have been a consistent force in the meta, and despite being powerful they do have some rough matchups.

HappyRaccon: Considering that these are purely changes to bring the team in line with other existing changes, it’s about time they got brought down to Earth. Maybe when Veteran Guard loses some win rate we can make some of the never-taken operatives more interesting. For now I sleep peacefully seeing balance done justice. 

CYRAC: It’s like Christmas and I’m back in 2021. Amazing it took this long for Veteran Guard to have rules changes that reflect standard gameplay design and balance for Kill Team.

Void-Dancer Troupe (Nerf)

They lost Fly and gained a weaker version called Flip Belts, which means they have Fly in relation to other operatives, however climbing and dropping count as a 2 inch penalty. 

TheArmorOfContempt: Good. Fuck’em. This is also a stealth change to Bheta-Decima as they can no longer just fly to the center rig. Hopefully, this just becomes the wording for all Fly abilities in the future. 

HappyRaccon: I think this is too much, and Void-Dancers have basically been removed from contention for any 6+ round tournament. For all the players who’ve been abused by them, your worries have been heard; pour one out for the clowns.

CYRAC: FINALLY. Although it’s probably worth reverting one of the prior nerfs the team has had.

Wyrmblade (Clarification)

Cult Ambush wording was made more clear. 

TheArmorOfContempt: Anyone who was playing it differently needs to be hit with a brick.

HappyRaccon: Ditto.

Warpcoven (Buff)

The Exalted Astartes ploy is now free, Sorcerer’s Command has been extended by an additional 3 inches, Tzaangors have gained 1 wound, all psychic powers that ended at the end of the Turning Point now extend to the caster’s next activation, Arcane Robes is now once per Turning Point, AND Ephemeral Instability only reduces movement by 1 inch.

TheArmorOfContempt: The quest to make Warpcoven a good team continues, and with these changes they may have finally got it. Nothing here is insanely broken, and we even see a small nerf to the most annoying power they had. Alvaro B. took them to a 5-2 finish at Adepticon, so I think it’s safe to say they’re in a good spot. 

HappyRaccoon: Between Spain’s Manek 4-1-1 finish last week, and Alvaro’s 5-2 finish at Adepticon, I suspect the time for Warpcoven to rise up is upon us. Catch said Alvaro’s thoughts about Warpcoven on next week’s Just Another Killteam Podcast!

CYRAC: Nice set of changes. Very good but just makes Warpcoven a very solid team. Not the best but definitely a huge viable threat now.

Farstalker Kinband (Buff)

The Kill Broker and Stalker received 1 extra attack, the Kroot Hound is now GA1, and the Tracker’s special abilities can always be used unless in engagement range of an enemy operative. 

TheArmorOfContempt: Another team that GW has attempted to slowly grow into a competitive force. I personally feel like their rules have been fine for a while, and with these small changes it seems the rules team might feel the same way, hoping some small boosts might be enough to attract players who can win with them. 

CYRAC: Still too tame for any meaningful buffs. Hounds going to GA1 is more of a nerf than a buff. Shame Pistolier was left untouched too. Farstalkers remain struggling to actually kill stuff consistently.

HappyRaccoon: I think this is a nice set of changes that won’t catapult Kinband to the top. Extra consistency in melee is appreciated, and I do look forward to seeing if the Kroot Hound change is a sidegrade, upgrade, or nerf. I suspect it’ll end up being more of a sidegrade, but 12-activations is no joke.

Hierotek Circle (Buff)

Nanomine radius is cut in half and it can no longer reduce a move to less than 4 inches, effectively making it no longer affect Dash. In return, Reanimation Protocols now goes off on 2+, the Apprentek is 3 APL, the Psychomancer’s Conjure Trauma has a chance to impart -1 APL, AND the Technomancer no longer has to activate Rites of Reanimation. 

TheArmorOfContempt: Oh boy. With an Adepticon victory under the Heirotek Circle’s belt it is unclear if they needed more buffs, but the change to Nanomine is very welcome. Additionally, the buffs to the other Crypteks will hopefully make them a more appealing choice going forward. The buffs to the Apprentek and Reanimation Protocols might mean we are looking at the new top team of the season as I had considered the 1 in 3 chance of failing their biggest drawback. 

HappyRaccoon: I suspect Heirotek will be at the top of the meta, in good hands with this change. Being able to reliably set up reanimations means you can reliably depend on 12 aggressive operatives over the course of the game. While losing the free win button of the Nanomine hurts, the Apprentek gets boosted in response. Really gives the team a massive number of tools to approach any situation.

CYRAC: Nanomine trade for better internal balance? Yes please. Maybe tweaked too high now, but we’ll see. Although I think the team has to be more careful with Nanomine vs fast melee and shooting teams. Corsairs and Pathfinders come to mind immediately with their free dashes. Technomancer is a big threat now too.

Hearthkyn Salvagers (Buff)

The Dozr can follow up a Knux Smash with a mini charge, effectively granting him up to 9” of move on the turn that he does that. Additionally, the Lokatr gets Overloaded and stops any movement before the first firefight phase starts (looking at you Veteran Guard and Pathfinders). 

CYRAC: Lokatr makes up for not being able to stop Wyrmblade and Hierotek forward deploys with just stopping all movement before firefight phase 1, and now also gives a second source of ignoring obscuring which is amazing. Dozr also becomes more situationally useful with more functions as a tech piece.

TheArmorOfContempt: This feels like it falls somewhere in the same category as Kroot. Never turn down a buff, but at the same time it is unclear how much this will shift things. Unfortunately, it is hard to say how much better other teams will do once others have had their power reduced. 

Fellgor Ravagers (Nerf)

Gnarlscar can only use his pistol during his uncompromising fire ability. While War paint goes up to 2 EP, and Deathknell no longer gongs while frenzying.

HappyRaccoon: Rip grenadescar, long live the pistolscar! Honestly, it gets rid of one of the more annoying power combinations on the team, while changing out the war paint to being a real choice and removing one of the more annoying aspects of defensive piece placement. I suspect Fellgor will remain strong, but only time will tell.

CYRAC: While some nice minor nerfs, it doesn’t make much sense why the best-performing Kill Team for 3 months was touched so lightly. Frenzy remains frustratingly too powerful and the main gripes against the team still exist. Maybe the current changes are enough, but I doubt it.

TheArmorOfContempt: These seem like a good compromise as it makes the team more vulnerable without focusing on Frenzy as the place for nerfs. The Deathknell being changed is a great way to allow shooting teams to still down Frenzied goats, while Warpaint changes mean Stun and Injury can actually be useful in slowing Fellgor down. 

Chaos Cults (Nerf)

Chaos cults lose 1 of 10 devotees, and Winged no longer lets the operatives ignore movement penalties.

HappyRaccoon: The rarely-played cults receive a nerf for their overly strong win rate, given those play rates. The cults are probably in a good spot after this, as devotees are now a much more important resource, and you lose some of the ga2 flexibility. You luckily maintain the strong turn 2 alphas that won the WCW, with many more holes in your gameplan.

CYRAC: GOOD. Now Blooded will be much more viable.

TheArmorOfContempt: It feels like we might have gone a little overboard with the operative removal; however, making the other mutations more desirable is a bit of internal balance I can get behind. 


From a specific team outlook, many of the more complicated teams who were flailing in win rate have gotten boosts; some large like Heirotek, and some smaller like Kroot. Luckily for these teams, the toxicity at the top end has definitely been brought down. While Fellgor remains strong, many of the other meta monsters have been brought to heel. It’ll be up to players and the incoming Nightmare box to really shake things up, and things are looking broadly positive.

CYRAC: Great changes overall with lots of long-time nerfs finally here with more changes to internal balance of teams on top of nerfs which is great to see. Fellgor are also oddly big winners seeing Frenzy left completely untouched. Overall the game will be in a much better state.

TheArmorOfContempt: Heirotek are certainly the biggest winners here. While the Nanomine was oppressive on some maps it was hardly the only thing the team was capable of doing. Still, if this balance-slate means one single team has a small advantage while almost all the others are that much closer to being on the same level, then I call this a strong win for the players at home.



Melee takes a big hit on this dataslate, which may make room for Gellerpox to see a resurgence considering Orion did extremely well at this weekend’s Adepticon and many of the other melee teams have been hit. It could be time for stinky boys, with 5++ to make their noxious fumes smelt once again. 

Otherwise, this dataslate taps most of the obnoxious play patterns and flattens the ruleset somewhat. Maybe it even gives hints at some rules changes on the horizon.

CYRAC: Big losers are Scout Squad who needed a buff but got nothing. Kroot also feel unchanged, personally. Veteran Guard have to learn how to normally use the Demolition Mine now while Troupe players are probably dancing to a different team. Movement penalty mechanics also took a big hit which is frankly great for the game overall.

TheArmorOfContempt: For me, the big losers are actually Elite teams who only saw a buff through the relative weakening of other teams. Legionnaires and Intercession should probably be allowed to mix Blessings and Tactics within their rosters at this point. This would allow them some level of tailoring depending on their match up against more numerous teams, something they desperately need. 

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