White Dwarf 468: Hunter Clades – Admech get buff in Kill Team

Kill Team is back, baby! White Dwarf 468 has almost 50 pages of Kill Team content, including an 18-page starter set Krieg vs Orks battle report, 4 pages of designer’s notes, ten pages of background on the Adeptus Mechanicus – including a 4 page fiction piece – and 14 pages on Hunter Clades. I doubt White Dwarf will continue to give a third of its page count to Kill Team in future issues but it’s a strong first month of White Dwarf support.

So are Hunter Clades any good? The AdMech in the Compendium aren’t terrible (but aren’t super good either) so we’re going to find out if White Dwarf articles are handing out buffs and rebalances to factions in the Compendium.

The answer to that is yes. AdMech have been rebalanced here, gaining additional specialists with equipment that you had to pay for in the Compendium, more ploys, better equipment and some units – like Vanguard Skitarii – significantly reworked to improve them. You give up at least one gunner and one model in all of the Skitarii kill teams you field, and can’t take a purely Sicarian team, but to me, it’s absolutely worth it. This new team gives us a much more fleshed-out Mechanicus team in the same way that Veteran Guardsmen are a more fleshed-out version of the Imperial Guard kill team in the Compendium.

Skitarii Vanguard
Skitarii Vanguard. Credit: Pendulin

Operatives

You go from ten possible operatives to choose from to fourteen, gaining Surveyors and Diktats for Rangers and Vanguard.

Choices

You have to have more Skitarii than Sicarians, which effectively limits you to a max of 4 Sicarians on your team. If you take four Sicarians, you can have only two Skitarii gunners; if you have three Sicarians or fewer you can take three Skitarii Gunners. You can only have one Surveyor and one Diktat operative per team. You cannot duplicate gunner weapons either, meaning that if you take three you have an arc rifle, plasma caliver, and transuranic arquebus as your loadouts.

So you gain a Surveyor and Diktat, in either Ranger or Vanguard flavour, and can then have either four Sicarians and two Skitarii gunners, or three Sicarians and three Skitarii gunners, and then have a couple of Rangers or Vanguard, and need to work out which model to have as your team’s Alpha.

The Leaders

You have to select one of the following Leaders.

Skitarii Ranger Alpha

No changes to the basic stats. Skitarii are still 6” move, 2APL, Save 4+, and Alphas are 8 wounds. However the weapon options have changed, and two of the pistols have been improved. You now have a master crafted radium pistol plus power sword, and the radium pistol has gone from 2/3 to 2/4 and gained Balanced and kept Rending. You can freely mix taser goads or arc maul and arc pistols and phosphor blast pistols. Phosphor blast pistols gain No Cover, which can be really useful as well. Arc pistols are a solid pistol choice at 4/5 with AP1 and Stun. You can take a Galvanic Rifle, but why would you?

Ranger Alphas gain the Control Edict special rule (which used to be a Tactical ploy), which allows you to chain activate two models within 3” of this model. This has advantages, and lets you get through your activations quicker to either get overwatch of your own or limit enemy overwatch.

Skitarii Vanguard Alpha

With the same stats and potential loadouts (if you don’t take the radium carbine) of the Ranger Alpha the big difference is the Rad Saturation rule, which means enemy models within 2” are treated as being injured (with the -1 to dice rolls and -2” to movement that this entails, though the movement is only subtracted if the model starts it’s activation within 2”). All Vanguard benefit from this rule, and it makes close engagement lists with Vanguard supporting Sicarians tempting. Certainly, with a -1 to hit rolls for any models in melee with the Vanguard Alpha, it make a melee focused load out the right way to go with this model.

Sicarian Ruststalker Princep
Sicarian Ruststalker Princep. Credit: Pendulin

Sicarian Ruststalker Princeps

With a 6” move, 4+ save, 2 APL and 11 wounds the Ruststalker Princeps is a reasonably tough melee unit. However there are two important changes.

The weapons have been combined, so instead of choosing between a Chordclaw and Transonic razor or Transonic blades, it acknowledges that the model has a Chordclaw and Transonic blades, and so has 5 dice, 2+ to hit, 4/6 Balanced and Rending. This means it can hit like a train in close combat, and reroll a dice if you get a one, or to take a chance if you fail to get a critical.

Ruststalkers how also get the Wasteland Stalker rule, which means if you are in cover you can retain two defence dice as automatic successes rather than one, meaning advancing through cover keeps you twice as safe.

Sicarian Infiltrator Princeps

With the same basic stats as the Ruststalker, the loadout and abilities on the model are different. You can keep the free choice of weapons given in the compendium, allowing you to build a loadout illegal in 40k (power sword + stub carbine) if you wish (and I think it’s the best infiltrator loadout).

You can choose between a Stub Carbine or Flechette Pistol (and each have their own plus points) and a power sword or taser goad. The Stub Carbine is basically a bolter with Ceaseless, and the Flechette Pistol is a fairly obnoxious spray and pray pistol with 5 dice, 2/3 damage, Relentless and Fusillade. With a Princeps 2+ to hit and rerolling all misses, you can pretty much guarantee enough hits to overwhelm a models defence dice, so you can get some licks into a Custodes or similarly well armoured target. My preference is the Stub Carbine, which is not restricted to 6” range, but the Flechette pistol does have benefits.

The Infiltrator Princeps also gets the Data Prehensiles ability, where it can complete a mission action for one less AP than normal, which is really useful if there are mission actions needed to score points on the way to murdering your opponent.

 

Skitarii Vanguard. Credit: Rockfish
Skitarii Vanguard. Credit: Rockfish

The Grunts

You can select nine operatives.

Ranger Marksmen

With a Galvanic Rifle this model makes a great Vantage Point sniper (4 dice, 3/4 Heavy P!) but only has 7 wounds and 4+ armour. Heavy and no possible equipment to allow moving and shooting like Suspensors means you may want to Shoot and Move or Dash to the next likely fire position, and it does limit what you do with the model somewhat. If you can get a Marksmen where they can perform a mission action and then shoot or vice versa that’s great, but you’d need to think about the mission carefully when selecting your team.

The Pursuers Tactical Ploy (where two Rangers get a Dash move in the Scouting phase) can help you get into a shooting position on turn one, but it’s likely that if you’re getting to a Vantage point you’ll be giving up a turn of shooting, and maybe getting into Bulwark doctrine on turn two.

I think with the improvements to Vanguard, Rangers suffer in comparison. In Forgeworld teams Rangers are clearly superior, with the improvements in Hunter Clades they are a lot more equal.

Vanguard Shocktrooper

Possibly the most improved model between the Compendium and White Dwarf, the Shocktrooper benefits from Rad Saturation and increased critical damage on the Radium Carbine, turning a deeply mediocre unit into one that can hit almost as hard as the Marksmen, is better in melee due to debuffing opponents and is much more flexible in shooting and scooting around the table.

Enriched Rounds can be considered if you’ve got the spare EP, but there are probably better places to spend it.

Skitarii Ranger/Vanguard Surveyor

Surveyors take a standard Ranger or Vanguard and give them an Omnispex, where for 1AP they can select one friendly operative within 3” and one enemy operative. The enemy operative is then not obscured and the friendly operative’s weapons gain the No Cover rule if targeting that enemy operative.

This has obvious benefits when used with the Control Edict rule, as you can activate the Surveyor, use the Omnispex to buff a friendly gunner or model on Vantage point, and shoot at whatever target you can see, and then the friendly model immediately activates to shoot a target it wouldn’t normally be able to due to the obscured rule. Transuranic Arquebus’s are an obvious partner to this, but it’s great for hitting models you wouldn’t normally be able to or which benefit greatly from cover due to ploys like Lurk in the Shadows.

Skitarii Ranger/Vanguard Diktat

Another standard model with special equipment, the Diktat has the Enhanced Data Tether, and for one AP can give a friendly model within 6” another AP. This is a solid choice in a firebase, or to boost a model to charge/fight/shoot (whatever the combination) to get their murder on. It’s a good combination with Control Edict, and an automatic choice in your kill team.

Skitarii Ranger/Vanguard Gunner

These are functionally identical in terms of stats, with Vanguard Gunners getting Rad Saturation and different ploys affecting the models (or ploys having different effects).

The three weapons you can select are arc rifle, plasma caliver and transuranic arquebus, and you can only have one of each. If you take four Sicarians you take two gunners, three Sicarians or less you can take two.

  • Arc Rifles continue to be a solid choice with 4 dice, 4/5 damage, AP1 and stun. AP1 does solid work and a couple of unsaved hits kill anything 8 wounds or less.
  • Plasma Calivers are the best choice with 4 dice 5/6 damage AP1 or AP2 and Hot if you overcharge. Great for punching out armoured targets, but overcharging is risky and you may want to be benefiting from a reroll from Martial Protocol or Protector Imperative to potentially get rid of those 1s.
  • Transuranic Arquebus are 4 dice, 5/3, AP1, Heavy, Unwieldy and MW3 on criticals. This means that it is 2AP to shoot, can’t move then shoot, and if you aren’t in a good position to shoot in the first turn you have to spend a turn getting there. It pairs well with the Surveyor to give it No Cover and remove Obscuring from a target, but you likely need to set it up somewhere you can see things.

Surveyors are best paired up with Gunners, and selecting a key enemy model as target (ideally one your opponent can’t then move so it can’t be seen and targeted) makes killing it more likely even if it is in cover. A Surveyor and Arquebus on a Vantage point is a good combination, but it may take some effort to get them there considering the Arquebuses large base.

Whether to make the Gunners Vanguard to take advantage of Rad Saturation or Rangers to benefit more from Martial Protocol is up to you, with the latter giving you a reroll on shooting if you haven’t moved (so you just shoot then move).

Sicarian Ruststalker Assassin

A pure melee unit, this has been upgraded with Wasteland stalkers to retain two dice as successes in cover to help it get across the board without being shot to bits. You can choose between Chordclaw and Transonic Razor (5 dice, 3+, 4/5 Balanced) which is enough to slice most guard equivalents to pieces, or Transonic Blades (3 dice, though I’m betting that’s a typo and should be 5 dice, 3+, 4/6 Rending). If I am correct and it is a typo, then I feel Transonic blades are better because of the damage output.

There is now a ploy, Accelerant Agents, designed to increase the potential of Ruststalkers to murder chaff or to pile as much damage as possible on something that doesn’t punch back too hard, and equipment in the form of Optimised Gait, to get models across terrain to their targets quicker.

I think people are still learning Kill Team and are struggling a little with pure melee units, but there’s a lot of potential in Ruststalkers.

Sicarian Infiltrators. Credit: Rockfish
Sicarian Infiltrators. Credit: Rockfish

Sicarian Infiltrator Tracker

These are my favoured Sicarian unit at the moment for the simple reason of having a gun and good melee. You can choose between a Flechette blaster (5 dice, 3+, 2/3, Fusillade, Relentless, 6” range) or a Stubcarbine (4 dice, 3+, 3/4, Ceaseless).

So it’s either a pistol that individually does little damage, but is likely to overwhelm the defence dice by getting four or five hits, so even Custodes and Thousand Sons are taking damage, and which you can split between targets close to each other, or a Bolter that can reroll ones. If you are planning on getting in close the Flechette blaster is better, as you overwhelm and chip away at models even if they have good saves, while the Stubcarbine is great for popping Guard equivalents from across the board. I’d say if you’re fighting a 5+ save army use Stubcarbines, a 2+ save army use Flechette pistols.

If a model is getting an extra AP from a Diktat, then softening up or taking out one model with a burst of gunfire and charging in and stabbing the other with a power sword is a good plan for a turn.

For melee weapons you can choose between a power sword or Taser goad, and while both have lethal and Taser goads get Stun, a power sword is 4/6 and a Taser goad is 3/4. One of those will put a marine in the ground with a couple of crits, and it isn’t the Taser goad.

For this model you can just use it as a bigger, tougher Skitarii with a slightly better bolter and the ability to mix things up in melee if they need to, making them more flexible in general than Ruststalkers and a good unit for fighting marine level enemies.

 

Imperatives

In a major diversion from the Compendium, the Doctrina Imperatives have been removed from the Strategic Ploy section here. You now have to select one of five Imperatives during the Strategic Ploy phase, but don’t pay any command points for doing so. That Imperative stays active until you change it (another change from the Compendium where you got one turn of each imperative), meaning that it can last multiple turns. However you can only change it once, and have to stick with that Imperative until the end of the battle.

This has risks, as four of the Imperatives provide a negative as well as a positive effect.

  • Protector Imperative – You gain a reroll of one dice if you got two or more misses in a shooting attack, You have to reroll a single critical hit in melee (both before any other rerolls). This is good for early turns before models get stuck into melee but when Sicarians start getting stuck into your opponents you will want to change.
  • Conqueror Imperative – You can reroll a dice each time you fight in combat, but must reroll a critical hit scored when shooting before any other rerolls. This is for when you’re getting stuck in with your Sicarians.
  • Bulwark Imperative – If you get two or more fails on your defence rolls, reroll one dice but subtract O from your movement. I think this is very situational.
  • Aggressor Imperative – Add 1” to your movement but lose the ability to retain dice from cover. This basically invalidates the buff Ruststalkers got, though additional movement is very useful on them.
  • Equalised Imperative – Nothing happens but nothing also happens. Got a mix of shooting and melee and you’re getting stuck in and don’t want to boost one but debuff the other? This is the one to choose.

Imperatives became free, can stay in effect for multiple turns, but you have to pick one and can only change it once. Protector and then Equalised or Conquerer is how I’d play it, but it’s down to how you want to play, and you’ll get a feel for what to use and when to change after playing a couple of games.

Skitarii Rangers by Corrode.

Ploys

Strategic Ploys

Hunter Clades gain all-new Strategic Ploys, which is A Good Thing.

  • Martial Protocol – for the whole turn Rangers can reroll a dice when shooting if they haven’t moved (so just shoot first or do a mission action), and Vanguard can reroll a dice when shooting if you are within 2” of an objective or 6” of the enemy dropzone.
  • This rewards Rangers for hanging out on Vantage Points and Vanguard for moving forward to capture objectives or get in the enemies half of the table. It’s a solid ploy with clear benefits for Turn 2 or later when your Rangers are on Vantage Points and your Vanguard are moving forward to back up your Sicarians. It’s the best of the strategic ploys in my opinion.
  • Accelerant Agents – Ruststalkers can Fight twice, and get a free Fight action. This only works if you multi-charged or start in engagement range of one model, fight and kill it, charge another model and fight and kill that, or fight the same model twice that can’t just beat you to death in melee (so not Custodes). So great for multi-charging and killing chaff, or carving up a heavy intercessor style enemy in a couple of Fight actions. If you’ve gone with a bunch of Ruststalkers, and there is certainly a build for that, then you’ll be trying to get this off.
  • Neurostatic Interference – The Infiltrator ploy, all enemies within 6” of an Infiltrator lose the ability to reroll. This makes Ceaseless, Relentless, Balanced, reroll ploys etc all useless, and it effects shooting and melee. Combine with Rad Saturation if you can. This is one to play when your Infiltrators are mixing it up with the enemy, and even without getting into combat, means shooting with things like Stormbolters or Hormagaunts trying to eat your Vanguard get a whole lot less effective.
  • Calculated Approach – If you are shot at from more than 6” away, if you got any critical saves you can retain a failed save as a success. This can really help you stay alive if you’ve got models out of cover, or your opponent has No Cover weapons, like Incursors.

Tactical Ploys

  • Pursuers – This is a boost to Rangers and played in the Scouting Phase. If you choose Recon you can perform a free Dash action with two Ranger models as well as the normal free dash, if you choose Infiltrate you can change the order of two Ranger models as well as the normal change order. Situational, and you need to ask yourself if two extra dashes get you into good firing positions (or close enough to get to good firing positions in turn one, and it’s worth spending a command point for. It really depends on the scenery layout, and you’ve got some other really good ploys (Martial Protocol) as well. It’s possible you can use this to get Rangers in place to benefit from Martial Protocol on turn one.
  • Command Override – Change the Doctrina affecting one model to a different Doctrina. Want your Ruststalker to reroll a dice in melee but not mess up the Doctrina giving all your Ranger Gunners rerolls? Choose this.
  • Concealed Position – Infiltrate an Infiltrator forward in the Set Up Operatives step. Must be within 1” of Heavy Terrain and more than 6” from enemy operatives or the enemy dropzone. Must be set up with a Conceal order. Because you can’t use Infiltrate in the Scouting phase to be able to change this order and get a first turn charge off, it’s usefulness is limited to positioning, such as capturing an objective in Turn 1 and doing the mission action, or stressing your opponent with a threat so he moves models to engage and reacts to your ‘distraction’ Infiltrator. Combined with Neurostatic Interference you could also use this to disrupt the rerolls for an enemy gunline. You can only use this ploy once to stop you dropping three Infiltrators 6” from your opponent’s deployment zone and really messing them up.
  • Motive Force Vitality – Play when an operative is activated to regain D3 lost wounds. Got an injured model you really need a good turn out of? Want to heal a melee unit so it won’t die if it get’s punched once? It’s the ploy for you.

 

Mars and Graia Skitarii – Credit Beanith

Equipment

With omnispexs and data tethers given to Surveyors and Diktats instead of having to be purchased, there is a big shake up of the equipment available. Enhanced Bionics is dropped while five new pieces of equipment are added and three are hold-overs from the Compendium.

  • Uplinked Vid-Feed – 1EP – No negative modifier for overwatch, and with the cost halved from the Compendium.
  • Servo Skull – 2EP – Discount of 1AP for mission actions per Turning Point (to a minimum of 0AP). Unchanged from the Compendium.
  • Mechadendrites – 2EP – Discount of 1AP for Pick Up Actions.
  • Cense Bearer – 2EP – Models in 3” ignore all modifiers to movement except for Bulwark Imperative. Changed from Compendium.
  • Command Uplink – 4EP – Must be given to a Diktat. For 2AP gain 1 CP. This essentially turns the Diktat into a command point generator, but means you can’t do anything else with it (like give another model an additional AP).
  • Enriched Rounds – 2EP – Add +1 to the normal damage for a Radium Weapon. This makes them 3/4 damage, matching the output of Galvanic Rifles without the restrictions of being a Heavy weapon.
  • Optimised Gait – 1EP – Ruststalkers only – Ignore the first O travelled in climbing, dropping or traversing for that movement. This is very useful to charge across or up terrain and to get up onto the top of buildings and containers. With the Octarius buildings they are only 3” tall, but the new Chalnath Killzone you’ll be needing to climb 5”, and this is incredibly useful for doing that, as people love putting snipers on Vantage points high up.
  • Refractor Field – 3EP – Leader only – 4+ invulnerable. Useful if your opponent is rocking a bunch of AP1 or 2 weapons and the same as your standard save, so no downside to using it.

Tac Ops

You get three new Tac Ops to add to the mix, but you change from Ranger/Sicarians being able to pick any Tac Ops type to Recon and Seek and Destroy, which gives you less flexibility overall. Seek and Destroy is good for a murder squad, and your faction tac ops play into this. I think they’re situational, and two can be easily messed with by your opponent.

  • Relentless Pursuit – Reveal in Target Reveal step – if at the end of the turn there are no enemy operatives more than 6” from you, score a point. If you do this in any subsequent turns, score a second point. Your opponent can mess you up on this by hiding a model or running it away from you, but murdering everyone can help with that. If your opponent does have a melee kill team and has to get close to you, think about it.
  • Calculated Eradication – Reveal it when you choose your first Imperative – if you score more wounds on your opponent than they do on you in a turn, score a point. When you change to a different Imperative do it again for a second point. Again pairs well with Seek and Destroy. But not necessarily one to pick against Custodes or Death Guard.
  • Assassination Order – you have to do this in the first turn, and your opponent has to choose a model that you want to murder. Score a point if it dies before turn 4, and score an additional point if a friendly model is within 3” when the target  dies. Just asking for someone to pick a Grot and hide it for three turns to deny the objective, but worth taking against small elite teams who can’t afford to tie up 20-25% of their kill team preventing you from scoring a Tac Op.

 

Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii
Adeptus Mechanicus – Skitarii
Credit: Pendulin

Example Kill Team

This example team is based on a Skitarii box and a Sicarian box.

Leader – Skitarii Vanguard Alpha – Radium Pistol and Power Sword

Skitarii Ranger Gunner – Arc Rifle

Skitarii Ranger Gunner – Plasma Caliver

Skitarii Ranger Surveyor – Galvanic Rifle

Skitarii Vanguard Diktat – Radium Carbine

Skitarii Vanguard Shocktrooper – Radium Carbine

Sicarian Ruststalker – Transonic Blades

3 x Sicarian Infiltrator Tracker – Stubcarbine and Power Sword

This is built around a fire base team – Ranger gunners and Surveyor sitting on a vantage point to benefit from Martial Protocol and a melee and close range team to push forward. The Ruststalker, equipped with optimised gait, is to run up sniper nests and throw them to the ground. The Diktat and Vanguard Alpha are to use Control Edict to boost up a Sicarian so they can shoot something, charge and stab something. The close range team also draw fire from the fire base team by being large, threatening and closer, while the Surveyor helps make sure the plasma caliver is able to hit targets hard. Start in Protector Imperative and switch to Conquerer Imperative if you’re putting a lot of models into melee, or just use Command Overrider is it is just one.

Example Competitive Roster

This example competitive roster is based around choosing either to pick Ruststalkers or Infiltrators and go with four of them, but is flexible enough to go with a majority Skitarii list to get three gunners. You can decide how to theme your team on the fly, and flex to play however you like after you know your opponents faction. It does unfortunately involve four boxes of models, but you could ditch two duplicate gunners to make it three. However you do it, you’d have enough Sicarians for one of each unit in 40k.

Operative Weapons
Skitarii Vanguard Alpha Taser Goad and Phosphor Blast Pistol
Skitarii Vanguard Alpha Radium Pistol and Power Sword
Sicarian Ruststalker Princeps Chord Claw and Transonic Blades
Sicarian Infiltrator Princeps Stubcarbine and Power Sword
Skitarii Ranger Surveyor Galvanic Rifle
Skitarii Vanguard Diktat Radium Carbine
Skitarii Ranger Gunner Transuranic Arquebus
Skitarii Ranger Gunner Arc Rifle
Skitarii Ranger Gunner Plasma Caliver
Skitarii Vanguard Gunner Arc Rifle
Skitarii Vanguard Gunner Plasma Caliver
Skitarii Vanguard Shocktrooper Radium Carbine
Skitarii Ranger Marksmen Galvanic Rifle
Skitarii Ranger Marksmen Galvanic Rifle
Sicarian Infiltrator Tracker Stubcarbine and Power Sword
Sicarian Infiltrator Tracker Stubcarbine and Power Sword
Sicarian Infiltrator Tracker Stubcarbine and Power Sword
Sicarian Ruststalker Assassin Transonic Blades
Sicarian Ruststalker Assassin Transonic Blades
Sicarian Ruststalker Assassin Transonic Blades

Final Thoughts

I feel this is a heavy buff to Skitarii. The Doctrinas are moved from strategic ploys you have to pay for to free options to choose from, Control Edict changes from a tactical ploy to a Skitarii Alpha command ability, Ruststalkers and Vanguard get buffed, Radium weapons get buffed, equipment is heavily changed and things you had to pay for get improved and built into models for free and replaced with new and pretty good options. There’s a lot of little changes, and the complete rewriting of Doctrinas, ploys and equipment is worth thinking about in detail as they are significant improvements. Improvements to Vanguard, and Enriched Rounds, mean that Rangers aren’t the auto take that they are in Forge World Kill Teams. Ruststalkers have been buffed so taking a heavier melee component in the team is more viable.

There’s a lot of additional narrative stuff for Hunter Clades, which I’ve not included here because a hot take quick response to a White Dwarf article needs to be less than 5000 words. It looks good for narrative players though, and I know in terms of numbers narrative players outweigh competitive players and definitely people posting on the internet that people shouldn’t buy the Compendium because White Dwarf support might invalidate it within three years. I’m glad Kill Team is getting ongoing support, and hope to see a load of new teams and ideas tried out in WD. If you’re planning to play Adeptus Mechanicus in Kill Team, it’s worth your time to pick up White Dwarf 468 for these rules.

I take this as a good sign for the level of support Kill Team will be getting going forward, and the details of the new entry level starter and Sisters vs Tau box is more good news.

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