The Q4 2022 Kill Team Balance Dataslate Review

It’s a Christmas(?) miracle! No sooner had we finished writing up our review of the new FAQs than Santa (or Father Christmas, or Professor Xmas, or whoever brings presents where you are) decided to swing by and deliver to us a set of Kill Team balance changes. There’s a lot to cover but we’ve made a list and checked it twice and now it’s time to find out who’s been naughty or nice on the tournament scene these last few months. 

The Naughty List

These are the factions that clearly had a little too much fun over the past few months, and so will open up a nerf on Christmas morning.

Gellerpox Infected: Gnasher Screamer
Gellerpox Infected: Gnasher Screamer
Credit: Pendulin

Gellerpox Infected

Gellerpox have been tearing up the tournaments on Into the Dark style boards (who knew getting into a darkened corridor with ten foot warp monsters with tentacles and giant claws would be bad for your health) and GW have applied two nerfs to abilities here.

Techno Curse goes from a 3” bubble to a 2” bubble on standard operatives and from a 6” bubble to a 3” bubble on Glitchlings. This prevents Glitchlings affecting enormous portions of the map (though they’re still useful).

Glitchling and Gellerpox Mutants have their Revoltingly Resilient dropped to ignoring wounds on a 6 instead of a 5. This makes them less likely to shrug off a couple of hits. 

These nerfs target the support models rather than the Hulks, and mean that hiding glitchlings behind a barrel or another model throwing out Techno to mess with enemy shooting is less achievable. It also means the models a Gellerpox player uses to hold objectives are a little less survivable, while leaving the centerpieces of the team untouched.  

They are still gonna be useful and playable for good players, but now those players are going to need to make some careful decisions about exposing support models and objective holders to danger now they can less reliably weather 2/3 damage weapons. 

Tau Pathfinders
Tau Pathfinders. Credit: Jack Hunter

Pathfinders

If you want to play pathfinder kill teams now you will do it with one less operative. This was deserved in my opinion. Pathfinders have been dominating the meta since their release. That said, a good Pathfinder player can now still achieve the same results as before but the fight will be way more balanced; the only thing that was holding them was Into the Dark but the new missions are a massive buff for them since they are more open allowing the player to be more maneuverable and allowing pathfinders operatives to help each other better. So this change may kick them from tier S but not far from there. 

Essentially Pathfinders are a horde team with 4/5 damage shooting on almost every model, and that’s a lot of damage output. Losing a model smooths that out a little bit against other teams. 

Skitarii Rangers on a Magnet Baron movement tray
Skitarii Rangers on a Magnet Baron movement tray. Credit: Pendulin

Hunter Clades

Another deserved nerf, Hunter clade has been a nightmare since the release of ITD and after his data slate. Now they will get low threats on the board either by taking 11 bodies  with 4 sicarians, or take all the weaponry (5 ruststalkers) but with less activations. I feel a little disappointed about the arcabus since after this nerf nobody is going to take it anymore and feels like a bit too much for them. They can still play the mission quite well and have a lot of threats on the table that would allow them to thrive in good players hands. 

Credit: Arranon

Void-Dancer Troupes

Harlequins. We’ve seen them be a pain to play against since release, and another incremental nerf has been applied to make them a little easier to deal with.

The strategic ploy Domino Field now costs 1CP more every time you use it, meaning that instead of being a no brainer always on ploy you can really only use it a couple of times in a game. 

 

Nice

Not everyone was bad this year – some factions struggled a little bit more and so got a nice boost to their competitive strength.

Ultramarines Infiltrators. Credit: SRM

Phobos

Phobos have been massively overshadowed by the introduction of the Intercession Team (which is now the most popular team taken at tournaments in the world, thus proving there are still plenty of space marine players out there) and get a nice little pile of buffs to try to bring them back into contention. 

One of my big complaints when the team dropped was that the Reiver’s Terror ability cost an AP, making it incredibly situational to actually use it. It’s now 0AP making it actually something you’ll use. It makes taking a couple of Reivers a much better choice to go round terrorising low APL models on objectives. 

Phobos gain Deadly Shots, a 1CP strategic ploy gives all bolt weapons P1. This is pretty much an auto-use every turn, and combines particularly well with Infiltrators and their Lethal 5+ guns.

Multi Spectrum Array just flat out removes obscured instead of you having to read the rest of the line of text and see if it applies. 

Guerilla Tactics and Strategise can be performed as long as enemy operatives are over 3” away, not 6”. 

All in all every one of these is a buff, from something nice like the change to Guerilla Tactics and Strategise to things you will use all the time like Deadly Shots, where for 1CP pretty much everything you shoot all turn gets AP1 if you score a crit. 

Will this be enough to draw back some Intercessor players? Maybe. It will certainly push them up the rankings a bit. 

Elucidian Starstriders. Credit: SRM

Elucidian Starstriders

A team that’s had a bit of a rough time of it, GW have loaded up some pressies for the Rogue Trader faction. 

Privateer Support Assets all gain +1 BS, making them more useful by giving you more hits and chances to get past defence dice. 

The Lectro-Maesters Voltagheist special actions are now 0AP actions, making them significantly more useful as you then have the AP to get close enough to use them or do something else useful. 

The Armsmens Rotor Cannon gains Relentless, again making it more likely to hit and thus more useful. 

Having 2 more threatening operatives on the table and making support assets more reliable should bump their performance up, and it’s a really positive change for our favorite Rogue Traders.

Credit: Greg Chiasson

Farstalker Kinband

Kroot have really struggled since release, especially on Into the Dark style maps where there is less cover to hug. GW have got out the heavy buffs indeed. 

An extra operative (can’t be another Kill-Broker) and is likely to end up being an extra grunt because you can take every specialist and two Kroot hounds in the ten slots you get. 

Kroot Bow Hunter, Pistoleer and Long Sight all gain +1 BS, making these three shooting units a lot more useful. 

Rogue gains an additional rule that means it ignores No Cover, meaning No Cover doesn’t remove your retained saves.

The Cut Throats ploy now goes to +1 attack to a maximum of five, making it affect the Cut Skin and Kroot Hounds, which are the models you most want in melee.

In equipment Meat drops two EP to 1, making giving it to multiple models a great idea and super useful and Trophy drops from 4EP to 3, making it a more practical choice as well.

So are Kroot Santa’s favourites this year? Possibly. The changes made significantly buff the team and they gain an extra operative. 

Necron Psychomancer
Necron Psychomancer. Credit: Pendulin

Hierotek Circles

Hierotek Circle were not a strong team out of the gate. With a lot to do with a limited amount of AP for whatever flavour of Cryptek you picked, and a small team reliant on a limited number of sources of free resurrection, they tended to get murdered by other elite teams and overwhelmed by horde teams. They were also complicated to play and you needed to carefully place your rather fragile space cats to ensure your buffs/resurrection bubbles covered your operatives. 

The changes make all of that much easier. The Commence Resurrection tactical ploy is now 0AP, Phase Oculars are now free so slap them on every Deathmark you have, Living Metal now resolves after reanimation so operatives that resurrect heal an extra two wounds and Cypteks get their Command action for free, 2 extra wounds and +1 to their BS for their ranged weapons. 

So basically Crypteks got buff and better at shooting, Deathmarks got buffed, and the tactical ploy to resurrect someone outside of the resurrection bubble is for free, and getting resurrected got better as well. 

Final Thoughts

Well it’s an even split between naughty and nice this Christmas, and the teams everyone has been complaining about either way has had some changes. And clowns got another lump of coal, which makes them a little less annoying to play. 

The changes were needed. Phobos needed Reivers to be worth taking a couple of in a team, and Hierotek Circles just plain needed help. Pathfinders and Hunter Clades needed a little reining in, and got it. The nerf to gellarpox is actually quite a subtle one but will change how they try to control the board. 

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