It’s time to see what the rest of the kill teams have to offer
Greetings and welcome to another product review, this time of the Kill Team Compendium book! As always, thanks goes to Games Workshop for providing this to review for free. Still, I always aim to be impartial, honest and constructively critical. Before getting into the review, I’ve also done this as a YouTube review which you can watch here:
What’s in the Book?
The Kill Team Compendium book contains all the rules for pretty much all the factions within Warhammer 40,000. As hinted by Games Workshop and the Octarius book, Kill Team construction has changed. Gone are points and instead are fixed teams and loadouts, partially limited by what comes in a unit’s box. Despite this, generally specialists cannot be spammed so gone are the days of bringing multiples of the same special weapons whether it be plasma gun spam to frag cannon spam and so on. Specialists have also gone, being limited to narrative play in Spec Ops campaigns. While this is a drastic change, I find it overall to still be balanced while also making it much easier to make competitive and balanced kill teams for the game.
One big drawback is the loss of comparison between certain upgrades. For example, while you may alternate between a gunner with a plasma gun or a melta gun depending on your mission and the opponent, certain loadouts become no-brainers with the removal of points. For example, if your operative has the choice between only a bolt pistol and plasma pistol, there’s no reason to not ever pick the plasma pistol, the stronger option just always wins with no cost involved. Still, this is generally balanced by operatives not being able to be spammed anymore.
Overall, I still find kill teams easier to build and more balanced overall. You still have a lot of choice thanks to your 20 operative roster and it does overall level the field in terms of power. It does take some time to get used to.
The biggest losers are units that have very little selection when it comes to their own Warhammer 40,000 boxes and units. For example, Space Marines and Necrons struggle heavily in this department. Not being able to mix and match does suck but on the other hand, this helps with balance and lowers the bar of entry to Kill Team.
Outside of all of this, this biggest notable thing is the lack of faction Tac Ops and specific Spec Ops rules. There are none in the Kill Team Compendium book, probably meaning those will be reserved for dedicated Kill Team releases. While understandable, it is a shame to see and only results in dedicated Kill Team units (such as the Ork Kommandos and Death Korps of Krieg) growing even more in power when compared to Compendium kill teams.
Now I’ll briefly go over Kill Teams, their datacards and loadouts.
Space Marines, as hinted to earlier, suffer in-terms of selection. Outside of the Tactical Squad, Scouts and Deathwatch, Primaris units are limited to what they can take.
Space Marines pack powerful stats. All with an APL of 3 (2 for Heavy Intercessors) and 11 wounds (12 for Primaris, 18 for Heavy Intercessors). Their limited Kill Team size and selection is a big weakness. Oddly, Tactical Squads are quite good thanks to their flexibility with Deathwatch as the big winners. Heavy Intercessors feel a bit meme-level and just annoying to play against. Biggest losers are the Primaris units, especially Reviers who struggle against Assault Intercessors.
Ploys offer the notable shoot twice for bolt weapons or fight twice, both incredibly powerful options. A lot of the good strats are Primaris-locked which feels a little intentional. Equipment also feel as a way for Primaris kill teams to get more usage, although the Suspensor System is still amazing, removing the heavy trait to a weapon basically. Combine with a heavy bolter that moves and shoots twice per turning point.
Grey Knights a limited to 5 operatives. Notably, they can use psychic powers with all 3 powers being powerful. Astral Aim is great for that no cover rule, making your shooting a force to be reckoned with.
Grey Knights can cast psychic powers at the cost of an action point, simple and nice. The standard loadout is amazing. Storm Bolters are reliably good shooting and power weapons feel like the standout choice. The gunner is alright but I feel you get more out of using just normal warriors.
Ploys repeat what Space Marines get along with the addition of Tides that are okay but not amazing. Equipment is also pretty lackluster although you’ll probably alternate between purity seals and sanctic blessing for those free once per game casts.
Imperial Guard are not as strong as the Death Korps of Krieg but do have their own tricks. Taking both an Guardsman and Tempestus Scion fire teams allows for 2 gunners of both plasma and melta. Sure, only 1 of the pair hits on 3+ but they’re pretty much the only kill team in the game that can do such a thing.
Imperial Guard pack the “average” human stats with a 4+ save and 3+ WS/BS for the Scions. Note that the Imperial Guard gunner has a 3+ save for some reason, which surely must be an error. The kill team severely lacks in close combat but, well, they are the Imperial Guard. The other oddity is that the Tempestor gets a CP refund for orders whereas the Guardsman Sergeant does not, weird.
Ploys feel a bit…limiting when compared to the Death Korps of Krieg. The same goes for the equipment. It’s a real struggle to justify using these guys over the Krieg.
Admech can have 2 fire teams alternating between Rangers, Vanguard and Sicarians who can also oddly mix and match selections for the latter.
Rangers seem hard to justify with the heavy trait on all their weapons when compared to Vanguard. Your gunners have great choices, with 2 being able to be chosen although you’ll likely go with plasma and arc rifle. The only reason I can see running both Vanguard with Rangers is for the double special weapons. Rustalkers feel like the winners thanks to their taser goards when compared to Infiltrators, especially when it comes to the Rustalker Princeps who hits on 2+ with all its weapons whereas the Infiltrator Princeps only hits on +2 with…its guns.
Ploys are oddly balanced for Admech. Still usable, just balanced. Equipment is especially good with focus going to Omnispex and Data-Tether.
Sisters of Battle
Sisters of Battle form a kill team of 2 fire teams comprising of Battle Sisters, Repentia and a maximum of 1 Arco-Flagellants. Battle Sisters are also limited to 1 heavy gunner if they only include 2 Battle Sister fire teams which is a bit of a shame.
Battle Sisters are reliable and flexible with the Superior being your standout leader. Repentia are tempting with their 5+ DPR (damage prevention roll) but hitting on 4+ is dubious. Arco-Flagellants are tempting but not being able to Pick Up or do mission actions is severely limiting.
Ploys are alright with Storm of Retribution feeling as the reason why you can only include a single heavy gunner if you take 2 Battle Sister fire teams. Equipment, once again, feels a little lackluster. Not bad, just not that great either.
Custodes kill teams contain 2 fire teams of either 2 Custodes each or 2 Sisters of Silence
Custodes are…tough. 18 wounds with 4 APL that feels excessive. The best loadout is sword and shield. You get a 4+ invun and like with all other Storm Shields, you can parry 2 hits with a single dice. So, you can parry 2 hits with a normal success and 2 crits with a single crit. With this, Custodes shutdown even dedicated CC operatives. Sisters also deserve mention here. Bolters are fine, Vigilators are good but you have Custodes for CC. Witchseekers are mad. The only faction that can take 5 flamers. Who are also all immune to psychic powers and shut them down. Sure 1 Witchseeker won’t do much damage 2 or 3 of them focus firing will. 5 Witchseekers and 2 Custodes feels like a super strong option to me.
Ploys are also pretty busted. Aegis of the Emperor allows you to turn enemy crits into normal damage instead and Peerless Warriors is just insane, especially when running 4 Custodes. Equipment is all good as well, with my favourite being Vratine Faceplates for the Sisters to make them even more durable.
Chaos Space Marines
Chaos Space Marines have 2 fire teams, formed via either Chaos Space Marines and up to 1 Cultist fire team. Notable, CSM fire teams come in selections of 3 CSM each with gunners and heavy gunners capped to 1 each max per kill team.
Standard CSM are notable by having 4 attacks with their fists, making the Bolter loadout actually better for more threat range. The Icon Bearer helps with objective grabbing while your Champion is still very powerful. Cultists are alright but I feel you get more out of 6 CSM.
Ploys and equipment mirror their Space Marine counterparts. My favorite is still Suspensor System Heavy Bolter with Punishing Volleys, especially as all your standard Bolter marines will fire twice too. Notable equipment goes to the Grisly Trophy, which appears to stack. Put both on your Icon Bear and Champion to enforce a -2 attack debuff to nearby targets you want to fight in melee.
Deathguard kill teams also consist of 2 fire teams. You get a choice of Plague Marines and a max of 1 Poxwalker fire team. Remember, your Plague Marine fire teams are capped at 2 each but if you take a Plague Marine leader, you ADD that operative. This means you can have a max of 5 Plague Marines.
Plague Marines are TOUGH. Ignore being wounded and have a 5+ DPR at the cost of being movement 2 circle. Your Icon Bearer is amazing, allowing re-rolls of 1s and 2s on Disgustingly Resilient rolls. Plague Knives even do 5 damage on crits. Poxwalkers are really good too, having Disgustinly Resilient and even able to do mission and Pick Up actions at the cost of being +1 APL. 3 Plaguemarines and 8 Poxwalkers feels very strong.
You have the standard CSM ploys along with some nice Death Guard specific defensive ploys. Equipment is also solid too with my favourites being the Plague Bell and Nurglings.
Thousand Sons mirror the Death Guard in kill team construction although with the notable lack of restrictions on Tzaangor fire teams. You can also cast psychic powers, which are very powerful, at the cost of risking damage when casting a 2nd power during the same turning point.
Rubric Marines feel a bit limiting with APL of 2 and still being able to be injured. Although, having AP1 bolters and weapons is very nice. The Soulreaper Cannon feels like a true shredder with 6 dice and AP1. Your Aspiring Sorcerer is nice and the Icon feels necessary to babysit your Sorcerer if you want him to cast 2 psychic powers a turn without risk of damage. Tzaangors are fine with their 5+ invun.
For ploys, you lack the fight twice stratagem with a lot focused on Tzaangors. Equipment is okay but sadly nothing really stands out, even with Gargoyle Bayonets.
Chaos Daemons can take 2 fire teams of a mixture of 6 various Daemons. The only exception are Blue Horrors who are capped to 1 fire team and contain 8 operatives. Your only real choices are icons and horns.
Daemons are a little odd. All the Daemon units actually feel really good. Power weapons for Bloodletters, durable Plaguebearers, accurate Daemonettes and shooty Horrors. My favourite mix is a kill team of 1 Daemonette and 1 Pink Horror fire team.
Ploys are…pretty weak. Split is nice and balanced. Splitting for 2 CP into Blue Horrors is balanced and a great way to make objectives super hard to grab from your Daemons. Notably, this is the only way you can make Brimstone Horrors which aren’t that great. As for items, my favourite have to be Piercing Claws that give your Daemonettes +1 crit damage and Rending on 4 dice attacks that all have Relentless. Brutal.
Craftworlds can choose between Guardians, Storm Guardians, Rangers and Dire Avengers. No Striking Scorpions sadly. Not even Howling Banshees for some better melee punch.
Guardians feel rough, especially capped at 5. The Heavy Weapon Platform feels limiting and awkward. Storm Guardians are only notable for the gunner option. Rangers are good, able to shoot while concealed in addition to their Camo Cloaks. Dire Avengers are okay but the Exarch feels weird. Double Shuriken Catapults hit on 3+ and have relentless but lose relentless when you spend 2 AP to fire twice. Plus you get no melee option with this loadout too. Bizarre.
Ploys are fine but it is frustrating that the Eldar movement is locked into stratagems instead of making them 4 circle movement. Equipment is alright too with the notable decent Weaponised Panoply for some decent CC options.
Drukhari kill teams are made up from either Kabalites and Wyches. Your kill team is capped at 1 Dark Lance but go full Kabalite for 2 Blaster gunners. Wyches can only take 2 fighters but can take all 3 if you go full Wyches.
Kabilites are notable good with decent melee weapons and lethal shooting thanks to Splinter Rifles. The Blaster is basically a Melta Gun with unlimited range, amazing. Leader options for both fire teams are great too, although the Hekatrix still gets my vote with Blast Pistol and Power Weapon. Wyches are amazing too and their fighters have the amazingly powerful Shardnet and Impaler for reducing enemy attacks and the Hydra Gauntlets for impressive damage output.
Ploys feel so powerful. Agile Gladiators gives impressive movement to Wyches along with the chance to parry opponent strikes in combat on a +4 when they attack. Then you have Power From Pain which allows some nice combo plays if you set it up right. Equipment is good too with a wide range of combat drugs to choose from.
Harlequins are so good. You get 1 leader and 7 other Players. You can also include up to 2 gunners who can have Fusion Pistols or Neuro Disruptors.
Harlequins are fire. 3 APL each with a +4 invun. Blades seem like the best option for warriors and gunners thanks to being balanced. As for the gunner, I feel Neuro Disruptors are the best due to being 6″ range with stun. Fusion Pistols are good, but if you’re 3″ away, that’s usually charging range. The leader always takes a power weapon and can also take a 3rd special weapon because why not?
Ploys match the power of the Harlequins. Domino Field is crazy, allowing active operatives who having shot yet to count as concealed for enemy shooting if within 1″ of terrain. Then you have Murderous Entrance allowing for a double attack in a row if you have a crit with the Curtain Falls allowing for an immediate strike then fall back with no damage received. Equipment also pack a nice selection of weapon buffs. Such a powerful kill team.
Orks can take 2 fire teams between Boys, Clan Kommandos and a max of 1 Speshulist fire team that can have a mix of Burna Boys and Lootas. You can replace a Speshulist for a Spanner Boy too if you want him as a leader.
Orks feel really rough, there’s such a huge disparity between these Greenskins and the Ork Kommandos from the Octarius box. Just look at the stats. Boyz and Lootas seem alright but still aren’t that good. Clan Kommandos feel so out of place. Even the Spanner isn’t that good.
Ploys are alright with but just not as good as the Octarius Kommandos. Same goes for equipment although the Kustom Force Field is pretty tempting along with Targetin’ Fing for Lootas and gunner Boyz.
Necron kill teams contain a max of 1 Warrior fire team along with choices from Immortals, Flayed Ones and Deathmarks.
Necrons all having Living Metal which is some nice healing. They also have decent durability. Warriors only seem decent thanks to their Gauss Flayers and Flayed Ones struggle thanks to the Necron universal 2 circle movement. Immortals though, phew are these metal warriors amazing. AP1 on their Gauss Blasters with a decent melee profile. Deathmarks are good but their weapons are heavy and cannot shoot while concealed when compared to other sniper operatives.
Ploys are alright with Implacable Advance helping with your poor mobility and Skulking Killer is good for Flayed Ones although it does clash with the former ploy. Reanimation Protocols are good, resurrecting on a 2+ for Warriors compared to 3+ for everyone else. Mindshackle Scarabs are amazing but Hyperhpase Blades are good too. Personally I like 8 Immortals, even if it is rather boring.
Tau fire teams consist of Fire Warriors, Pathfinders and Stealtsuits. Drones can be taken at the cost of replacing operatives instead and all have to be unique. Markerlights are actions and Saviour Protocols only work against shooting.
Tau…struggle with no dedicate melee operatives. Stealth Suits are amazing with their fly and conceal rules. Pathfinds are good too for the drone selection and gunner. Fire Warriors struggle to compete. Drones are all situational with the Recon and Gun drones being the best 2 to take personally.
Ploys are alright, being nice and flexible. Stand and fire helps with CC, especially when used on your Stealthsuit Shas’vre with a Burst Cannon. Equipment choices are solid too with Stimulant Injectors being the clear winner for the added durability. Even if it is only for a single turning point.
Kroot. Why are these not part of Tau fire teams who actually NEED close combat? You get 1 leader and 12 Carnivores with up to 4 Hounds and 1 Krootox that replaces 2 Kroot operatives.
Masters of Camouflage is nice and their attack profiles are alright. Hounds are interestingly 4 circle movement while your Krootox is some impressive muscle.
Ploys are…alright. Patient Stalkers is the best while Brute Strength is nice for the Krootox. Equipment is workable but why weren’t the Kroot part of the Tau? Like really, it feels so weird and such a missed opportunity.
Tyranids have fire teams from Genestealers, Warriors and a max of 1 Tyranid Swarm fire team that can mix and match between Hormagaunts and Termagants, where Devourer Termagants count as 2 choices. Synapse is an important rule that effectively ignores all the effects of being injured which is very strong.
Genestealers are amazing, especially with double rending claws. 5 attacks with Relentless and Rending just shreds operatives. They have a 5+ invun and make a free dash each activation along with always counting as concealed. Warriors are great, your only source of Synapse and Lash Whips provide great attack de-buffing while Deathspitters and Venom Cannons are respectable shooting attacks. Termagants and Hormagants are alright but not amazing.
Ploys are good. Stalk allows a single operative with Conceal to make a free move in the strategy phase *COUGH*Genestealers*COUGH*. Equipment is fine too with the option to give Genestealers ranged attacks and your standard Tyranid upgrades.
Genestealer Cult kill teams can select fire teams from Neophytes, Acolytes and Metamorphs. Your main choices are between gunners, heavy gunners and icon bearers. The Acolyte Hybrid fire team contains the most complex fire team construction, although overall it’s still very simple.
Neophytes are alright for some decent ranged threat. Acolytes are a great choice with their leader being a great choice of leader with their Lash Whip option that also combines with a Balanced Lethal weapon. They also have more weapon choices. Acolytes and Metamorphs also fight like slightly weaker Genestealers, which still makes all varieties of them a threat in CC.
Ploys are nice, allowing for lots of redeployment shenanigans as befits the Genestealer Cults. Lurk in the Shadows is nice defensive tech with Lying in Wait allowing any pair of operatives to activate as if they were both GA 2. Equipment is okay but Mining Tool Rig and Structural Surveyor are my favourites for the powerful effects they offer.
Kill Team Compendium Overview
Overall, the Kill Team Compendium is a comprehensive and thorough guide to kill teams for, uh, Kill Team. The fact this wasn’t included in the Core Rules is unfortunate alone with the lack of faction Tac Ops and Spec Op rules. Still, you get a wide selection of Warhammer 40,000 units to use in your games of Kill Team. Balance is fairly even although Custodes and Harlequin kill teams have somehow sneaked past balance with Orks and Craftworld kill teams feeling the pain. Although, a lot of the kill teams struggle to match the power of the Octarius box kill teams unfortunately.
- A comprehensive list of Warhammer 40,000 factions to use in Kill Team
- Most kill teams are fairly even in power and all are playable
- New Kill Team construction rules are balanced and straightforwards, lowering the bar of entry into the game
- Unfortunate that this was not combined with the Kill Team Core Book
- Some wargear loadouts are never taken to some just always being innately better
- Cost is a little high at £30
So would I recommend the Kill Team Compendium? Reluctantly, yes. Despite the split from the Core Rules, the Compendium offers a great new way to build kill teams while still being balanced. Even with the lack of Tac Ops and Spec Ops rules, you get a thorough selection of faction rules.
Going forwards, I can definitely see future Kill Team releases done as boxes with campaign books like with the Octarius box. This isn’t such a bad thing considering how well done the Octarius book is. I can also see an Elites book being released allowing more, well, elite units such as Terminators and Battlesuits for selection.
If you want to buy the Kill Team Compendium book, you can do so via the Games Workshop website or via my affiliate link to Element Games here when it goes up for pre-order. Remember you get a 15% to 25% discount while at no additional cost to yourself and helping to support the channel.
So they you have it, my takes and review of the Kill Team Compendium book. Despite the cons, I still feel like it’s generally a good product, more-so if you have a large Warhammer 40,000 collection to use from. Single faction Kill Team players are in a rough spot though.
Until next time, even when fighting stealth operations in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, always remember to always select the option that lets you roll the most crits!