The Warhammer 40k Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate Review

A new season of Warhammer 40k is upon us! In addition to points updates, a comprehensive FAQ/errata document, a new detachment, and rules commentary, Games Workshop also updated the balance dataslate to incorporate a host of new changes. And while the document hopefully highlights changes, it’s not always clear what changed or how. In this article we’ll talk about what changed in the new dataslate, and what it means. There’s a ton to cover today and we’ll go into what this all means for each faction later, but for now if you just wanted to know what changed, how it changed, and what it means for that faction without the broader context, this is the article for you.

Before we dive in we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the dataslate for review purposes.

Core Rules

For the core rules, nothing has changed from the last dataslate. The changes to Devastating Wounds, modifying Stratagem CP costs, using Stratagems more than once per phase/turn, Overwatch, Ruins, and Insane Bravery all return.

Faction Rules

This is where the meat of the changes are, and a ton of updates have been added. We’re only going to cover the additions here. Nothing was removed, save an adjustment to the Adeptus Mechanicus that was no longer needed as it had been covered in their Codex.

Adepta Sororitas

The Triumph of Saint Katherine’s Simulacrum of the Ebon Chalice now only allows two Acts of Faith per phase instead of one.

Anyone who has played against the Triumph can tell you how wild it can be to watch a player use its ability to do unlimited Acts of Faith to push through 2-3 guaranteed high-damage Melta wounds. This new version dials that back a bit, and notably prevents you from guaranteeing a hit, wound and maximum damage with a unit’s multi-melta in the same shooting action. This new version is much weaker, but the Triumph is still 125 points and you can still use its ability to push through hits in Overwatch. After a quiet start the Triumph had been showing up in more and more successful sister lists and while it may see a bit less use, we expect it to continue being a mainstay.

Adeptus Custodes

Aegis of the Emperor now gives you a 4+ Feel No Pain against Devastating Wounds.

This is a big deal for Custodes, who were struggling with a meta full of threats which could easily bypass all their protection with 3-damage Dev Wound weapons like Ectoplasma Cannons and Thunder Hammers.Bad news if you’re a Chaos Space Marines or Thousand Sons player, though.


Aeldari sees a host of changes this time, making big adjustments to some of their most important rules.

Strands of Fate now only has you rolling 6 Fate dice at the start of the game.

This is a huge change, halving the number of Fate dice Eldar armies start with (down from 12). This makes it much less likely that an Aeldari player will have one or two 6s in their results and increases the amount of variance they’ll have to work with. 

Fate’s Messenger can now only affect the bearer’s rolls (and not any model in his unit). 

This primarily hits the Spiritseer, who would previously join a unit of Wraithguard and use the Enhancement’s ability to turn a single hit, wound, or save roll to a 6 to force through Devastating Wounds on the unit’s D-Scythes and auto-pass saves during your opponent’s turn. Without the ability to use the auto-6 on Wraithguard, this enhancement is more likely to end up on Death Jesters (who were already using it in competitive play), who can use a free 6 in a variety of ways with their Shrieker Cannon.

The Phantasm Stratagem only allows an INFANTRY unit to move up to D6”.

This is a massive change – Phantasm previously let you move up to 7”, giving you a guaranteed distance that was well beyond the reach of many attackers. It’s now much harder to plan to step out of an opponent’s shooting or charge range with the Stratagem, and it substantially reduces the army’s mobility.

Eldrad Ulthran still gives you an extra three Fate Dice (up to 9). 

There’s a note here in the dataslate that will seem like something new, but it’s mostly correcting Eldrad’s previous rules text saying he’d give you fifteen Fate Dice after rolling – now that total is 9. Eldrad and guardians may be a little more useful now that Fate dice are in shorter supply, but neither is a particularly strong datasheet for the army.

Night Spinners’ Monofilament Web ability reduces Advance and Charge rolls by 2.

Night Spinners get a change that’s a slight nerf and a bit of a sidegrade – they no longer prevent pinned units from advancing but instead give pinned units -2 to their Advance and Charge rolls. Whether this is a nerf or sidegrade depends heavily on which army you’re up against. Slower movement armies like Votann and Death Guard will prefer having the option of being able to advance, and C’Tan using a teleport ability “instead of Advancing” can now just teleport and ignore the -2, making it a bigger downgrade against those armies. Against melee-heavy armies or the likes of Orks and Custodes, it’s more of a sidegrade or buff, as giving them -2 to their charge rolls makes up for the inability to Advance and on average -4” is better than the +3.5” average for Advance rolls (though some of them can mitigate this with Stratagems).

The Yncarne can now only teleport once per turn, and only in its controller’s turns.

This is a major grounding on the Yncarne. It still has the ability to teleport all over the battlefield, but won’t be quite the surprise it was before, and can’t teleport away just because you killed an enemy unit. Plus, once it teleports, that’s it – it’s stuck in that spot until the next turn. This is a big drop in effectiveness on the Yncarne – it’s still a powerful unit but it lacks that incredibly annoying ability to be everywhere and disappear before it can be hit back.

Wraithguard can only target the enemy unit that shot them when firing back. 

Another big nerf, the Wraithguard War Construct ability allows them to shoot af it’s your shooting phase after being shot once per battle round. Now they can only shoot the unit which just shot them. This one makes sense but also makes Wraithguard much worse, as they’re no longer just an omnipresent threat wherever they go.

Astra MIlitarum

Voice of Command now allows OFFICER models to issue Orders at the end of a phase in which they disembarked from a Transport or were set up on the battlefield.

Previously orders such as Take Aim! had to be issued in the Command phase, meaning that units disembarking from transports or arriving from reserves would have to wait a turn to be issued orders. This new rule allows you to issue the order on arrival, meaning you can now Move! Move! Move! Or Fix Bayonets! after disembarking or improve your shooting after you arrive from Reserves. This is a huge buff to Tempestus Scions in particular.

Blood Angels

Red Thirst now gives Blood Angels units +2 Strength and +1 Attacks to their melee characteristics when they charge.

Blood Angels get some help in the form of improved charges, and can now hit at S6 with chainswords when charging in. That’s a decent improvement, and more in line with the old +1 to wound rule while not being completely bonkers for taking out vehicles. It’s still probably not better than just running as Firestorm or GTF, but it’s there.

Chaos Daemons

Daemonic Pact (the allies rule) now prevents an army from taking more non-BATTLELINE Chaos Daemons units than BATTLELINE units for each god.

This is a change to Daemons that really has no effect on Daemons armies, but instead is squarely aimed at curtailing the use of Daemons as allies. Now if you want to take, say, the Changeling or the Blue Scribes, you also need to include a unit of Horrors (an additional 125 points, at a minimum). Note that this has no bearing on Nurglings, who are a BATTLELINE unit. This is pretty rough for Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Knights, who lose Syll’Esske and the Tzeentch characters, and disastrous for Thousand Sons, who depended on those characters to score secondary objectives. It means nothing to Death Guard, who just took Nurglings, or World Eaters, who rarely bother bringing Khorne Daemons anyway.

Chaos Space Marines

Chaos Space Marines were taken behind the woodshed, with a number of changes to rules, Stratagems, points, and datasheets.

Marks of Chaos now prevent a unit from riding in a transport unless they share a mark keyword.

This rule essentially kills the Nurgle transport, which previously used the Dark Obscuration Stratagem to protect itself and its occupants while moving up the table. This new version locks you out of cross-use outside of Abaddon and co in a Land Raider. Generally? I’m not a fan. This needed a carve-out for the Mark of Chaos Undivided as I can tell you right now nobody wants to take Khorne, Tzeentch, or Slaanesh-marked transports just to move a unit across the table. This also makes the mark of Chaos Undivided substantially better than the other marks because of its more varied utility.

Dark Obscuration now only prevents being targeted outside of 18”. 

If a Nurgle vehicle is the target of this Stratagem, it can now be selected as a target of a ranged attack if it’s within 18”. This is a big nerf but not the end of the world – it still stops indirect fire, and those tanks are likely to see less use. Still, it means the protection you get is way worse – though the change above largely makes this change meaningless, as you’d seldom want the unit in your transport to have the Mark of Nurgle.

Profane Zeal now only gives full re-rolls to wound and must target an Undivided unit.

Another major nerf, Profane Zeal can’t be used on units with other marks and no longer gives re-rolls to hit. This is honestly not as big a deal as you would think; the wound re-rolls are the most important part as they allow you to fish for devastating wounds and you’ll already have re-roll 1s to hit (and a Warpsmith can get you to a 2+ fairly easily). 

Accursed Cultists now OC 1, only heal on your turn.

Accursed Cultists catch two nerfs here, dropping to OC 1 and now only healing once per round, at the start of your Command phase. This was a much-needed change which makes them a much less oppressive unit (though doing this and increasing their points cost seems like too much). 

Death Guard

The Death Guard keep their Contagions rule for the Plague Company Detachment and have a new (nerf) addition.

Only one Biologus Putrifier can throw a free grenade per turn.

Death Guard armies had been running hot on a trio of Biologus Putrifiers, each one able to lob a free use of the Grenades Stratagem once per game. They’ll still be able to do that, but now are limited to only one in the army doing it each turn, preventing those 4-grenade barrages from happening.


Spending a Pain token in the Fight phase now improves your AP by 1 on melee attacks.

Drukhari more or less get a full transformation as an army which we’ll go into in a different article, but this is part of it – spending a Pain token in the fight phase not only gives you re-rolls on your hit rolls, it also improves your AP by 1 on melee attacks. This is huge for both Wyches and Incubi, the latter of which can get to AP-3 and cause real problems.

Archon can now be attached to Incubi units. 

This is a no-brainer; it was always bonkers that Archons couldn’t attach to Incubi units given their role in the fluff. This has major implications in the new Drukhari detachment, as it means Drukhari can benefit from Leader enhancements. 

Grey Knights

Nemesis and Grand Master Nemesis Dreadknights have much better weapon stats.

There are two big changes here, and they apply to both flavors of Dreadknight. The first is that Heavy Psycannons improved to AP-2 and gained the [IGNORES COVER] rule, making them much deadlier (and in fact, useful) ranged weapons. The second is that the WS on the greathammer and greatsword improved by 1, making them more appropriate for the kind of elite, skilled units piloting these robots. These changes make Dreadknights much more viable in competitive play.

Imperial Knights

Imperial Knights get a big change to go with the older set of changes they had already received in the last update – those are still here.

Lay Low the Tyrant now lets you re-roll one Hit roll and one Wound roll (instead of rolls of 1).

This is a big buff to Imperial Knights, who now get a full re-roll to hit and wound when taking their re-rolls each time they’re selected to shoot or fight. This is great for a number of bigger knights but is particularly hilarious on the Knight Valiant, where being able to reliably fish for dev wounds on the thundercoil harpoon is very, very funny.

Space Wolves

Sagas are now chosen at the end of each turn, not the end of the battle round.

A minor change to the Deeds Worthy of Saga Detachment Rule now has you pick a saga and check whether you completed the deed at the end of each turn rather than the end of the battle round. This makes it much more likely you’ll be able to complete more Sagas during a game, and complete them earlier on. Going second and being able to pick Saga of the Bear at the end of your opponent’s turn for the army-wide feel no pain, then immediately knock out a second saga on your turn can be a huge early game boost and a big improvement for the Detachment.

World Eaters

The World Eaters saw a trio of changes which substantially decrease their effectiveness.

Berzerker Glaive now only gives +1 Attacks and Damage (not +D3 on the charge). 

This is a major blow to the Master of Executions, who previously was the single biggest melee threat in the game on the charge. Now he’s merely very good, and more expensive to boot, with no chance of getting the occasional five-damage devastating wound swings on enemy characters.

The Favoured of Khorne Enhancement now only works once per battle.

Favoured of Khorne was a must-take in World Eaters armies as the ability to re-roll your blessings roll helped do away with really poor rules and improved the odds you’d be able to re-summon Angron. It’s still something you need to take once per game, but the net effect is that the army’s overall effectiveness is dramatically reduced, as you’re more likely to use it to create perfect early turns and not to try and get more chances at an Angron rez.

The Daemon Prince aura now only gives a 5+ invulnerable save (and a 4+ if you already had an invulnerable save).
This is a big blow to the Daemon Prince, who was showing up in lists occasionally, and the Berzerkers and Jackhals which this protection mattered most to. A 5++ is still a big deal for Jakhals but it stops them from being anything like the tarpit they could be before.

Putting This All Together

So what does it all mean? Well there are a lot of changes being published today – too many to cover in a single article – so instead we’re breaking out the changes separately and talking about the overall impact to each faction in another set of articles. Stay tuned for those today as well, when we’ll put together all the pieces for each faction and talk about how all of the changes combine to either improve or dumpster your favourite army.

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