Ranking the competitive kill teams based on the last few months of play!
Today’s Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team article is a new tier list! This is based upon the past 3 months of play along with my own experience in tournaments, the balance dataslate and events as well as with input from the stats too. Who will shape up as the winners and losers over the most recent period of play? I’ve also done this as a more in-depth video on YouTube which you can check out here:
So yeah, with the (supposedly) 3 monthly balance dataslate, I plan to do quarterly stats reports and then a new quarterly tier list based on all of the above. With that I can put a more regular and accurate state of the meta instead of a sporadic 6-monthly tier list. Let me know what you think of this change!
Explaining the Tiers
So the tiers are pretty simple:
S Tier – A super strong kill team, one you’re very likely to see at a tournament that will definitely make the top cut and/or win an event too. Debateably broken but just the best team(s) to play and only really lose to other S Tier teams.
A Tier – A very strong kill team. Very likely to be seen in a tournament that will make a top cut and even win the whole thing. Not as strong as a S Tier kill team but one you have to definitely keep in-mind for when aiming to play competitively.
B Tier – A strong kill team. Likely to be seen in tournaments and can make a top cut. Could win as well but not reliably. Definitely a team you need to remember for when playing in events.
C Tier – An average kill team. Usually should be able to go 2 wins 2 losses in a 4 round tournament. May make the top cut but unlikely to win. You may need to remember these teams for events but it’s not a necessity.
D Tier- Bad kill teams. Weak due to either poor rules or mechanics. Unlikely to win with, commonly going 1 win and 3 losses at an event.
E Tier – Just…bad. Like a D Tier but worse. Desperately need buffs. You may not win games, but you’ll win the hearts of your opponents.
As a side note, I will not be including kill teams which have been replaced as per the balance dataslate. This may upset some people but this tier list is mainly for competitive play.
The Tier List
So here it is! Some slight changes from the November 2021 tier list. Harlequins (Void Dancer Troupe), Novitiates and Veteran Guardsmen now push up into S Tier with Kommandos going down to A Tier. Talons of the Emperor have dropped down while Warp Coven have risen up along with Wyrmblade. Craftworlds have jumped up to C Tier whereas Kroot have sadly taken their spot in the bottom.
Void-Dancer Troupe: The easiest S Tier kill team to play. While not autopilot, in a skilled user’s hands defeat should be near unlikely. Easiest faction Tac Op in the game, 3APL with fly, Saedeths that are easy to max along with extra CP and lots of overall negation means you should only watch out for teams that massively outnumber you. Recent stats, despite being only 2 weeks covering all results, give them a 73% win rate with the 2nd highest representation. If they continue to perform this well then they’ll likely be toned down. Saedeth changes along with losing 3APL have been tossed around but the issue is there’s a lot to hit so if they do become a problem, it’ll be up for the devs to figure out what’s needed to be done.
Novitiates: Overall stats put them at the only kill team with a greater than 60% win rate at 63%. Good operatives with powerful acts of faith allows you to easily modify dice. Once you figure that out, decent to good dice rolls can become perfect dice rolls with minimum effort. Very tough to beat when you don’t need to roll dice. What could be done to tone them down is to either make acts of faith modify dice before you roll, make most acts of faith once per turning point outside of the re-roll power etc or to limit their overall faith pool to something like only 2 points per turn with 1 to 2 from the chalice. They’ll be extra worrying to play against if Novitiates get acts of faith points from specialisms.
Pathfinders: The best shooting team in the game. While the balance dataslate has toned down their activation shenanigans (and oddly hit the grenadier?) they still are a force to be reckoned with. Average guns have 4/5 damage excluding markerlight buffs and you can take 13 of them. Personally I think they need to go down to 11 operatives but there’s no stats data to prove that. Still a super strong kill team that can eliminate all targets they want due to the powerful markerlight system. I would like their Determined Tactician strat going down to 1 CP however, just because I’m greedy.
Veteran Guardsmen: Personally an A+ team but only here due to overall stats (57% win rate with the highest usage in the world) along with how they interact with grenades. A very solid kill team that plays missions exceedingly well. All I’d do to tone them down slightly is make your ancillary operatives not take equipment (you’re calling them in as sudden support, not as part of your team), grenades not to benefit from Take Aim (like how Pathfinder grenades don’t benefit from markerlight support) and for the Spotter’s ability to not work on operatives behind heavy cover (again, like markerlights). These slight changes would force smarter equipment usage and not hugely change how the team plays. They’re still just very solid.
Kommandos: After several erratas and the balance dataslate, they’re now solid A Tier. Lots of tricks and reward practice while also being the most cost-effective kill team as you require only a single box to have a super competitive kill team. Still very strong and Orky.
Warpcoven: A lot better now people have had more practice with them. Excellent board control and 3 Sorcerors, a Soulreaper Cannon and 4 Tzaangor are tough to beat in general. Their players just have to remember mutations are fixed on the roster. They suffer a bit vs S Tiers but overall are fun after you’ve studied them like all true adepts of Tzeentch.
Corsair Voidscarred: Solid A Tier. You have some amazing shooting and flexibility. Really good at scoring missions and Tac Ops. I’d still like them to take the Heavy Gunner and a Gunner due to how limited to former is but they’re just thematic and powerful. Tac Ops are a bit too weak but that’s one of their few weaknesses.
Wyrmblade: A super popular kill team when they first came out who have slightly decreased in popularity. They’re a very powerful team with fixed weaknesses. If your 2 cult specialists die before they do much, it’s likely game over but otherwise you should be in a winning position. Just a really fun kill team that’s strong while having some key weaknesses. Ideally all kill teams would be like Wyrmblade in terms of design and balance.
Hunter Clade: They’re decent but just kinda too balanced and I’m not sure what could be done to buff them without breaking them. A lot of neat tricks and rewards practice. Maybe giving them grenades as equipment and a new gun Techpriest as leader would help? I’m not sure. Either way they’re just a little bit weak as they are now and I’d love to see them slightly buffed.
Commorite: Drukhari are strong, just Corsairs-lite. Pure Kabalites are a shooting menace while Wyches also cannot be underestimated. Also have rules that almost mirror a full bespoke team. Strong and only really find difficulty in facing bespoke teams.
Heretic Astartes: Yes I’ve ranked them higher than Legionary. Mainly because you can take 7 Cultists who some can forward deploy and overall allow you to play the missions better. They may lose to Legionary but overall will perform much better.
Hive Fleet: Still as solid as ever. A gatekeeper team via Genestealers alone but are full of powerful roster selections. Warriors are always good and Swarm add bodies that can surprisingly overwhelm opponent. Nothing I’d really change here although I’m desperately interested to see what a White Dwarf update would do for them.
Legionary: Oh I’m sure I’m going to annoy a lot of people with this. I just think 6 bodies can’t play the mission that well overall and the other bespoke teams just out-play them. I’m not even sure they can beat Hunter Clade. Legionary suffer from a punishing roster limitation and the weakness of elite teams overall. I’d change their roster limitation to only apply on the table and then either give them all +2 wounds or an extra Warrior. With those they’d easily jump up to B/A Tier. It’s just a shame but as they are now, I don’t rate Legionary that high at all.
Grey Knights: The best Marine team in the game. The extra body is great and they still do well vs boards that favour shooting teams. All having at least force weapons is great too. They’re just neat. Still have the flaws of elite teams but 6 relentless bolters is nothing to laugh against.
Talons of the Emperor: Dropped from A to C Tier, they just can’t play the mission as well anymore. Rumors say Custodes might go back to 4 APL but who knows. I’m happy with them being here after they rocked the meta so hard, it’s just a little too easy to accidentally over-buff them. 2 Custodes and 5 Sisters of Silence with masks is still a tough opposition for pretty much all compendium teams.
Sisters of Battle: Just solid C Tier. Have their own version of Just A Scratch with either an impressive 10 operative +3 save shooting team or added melee elements. A very well-rounded team.
Scouts: They deserve they’re own spot. 10 operatives, lots of weapon options, they only miss strat support. Otherwise surprisingly good. Would love to see a Primaris Scout kill team in the future.
Imperial Guard: Pure Scions are a strong option and probably the best of C Tier. Even mixed with Guard they’re a threat that cannot be underestimated. Good shooting with fixed strat support. Just very good overall, even if Veteran Guardsmen kinda completely outclass them for the most part.
Genestealer Cults: Weaker than Wyrmblade but you do get access to Acolyte Hybrids and the like. Still a bit more limited in what they can do although dedicated players have likely switched to Wyrmblade.
Craftworlds: THE BEST BUFFED TEAM POST DATASLATE. Ahem, why are they so high now? Well they have they most hilarious of builds now. 12 Storm Guardians, 2 fusion guns, 5 plasma grenades. That’s a lot of damage. Can even give some bespoke teams a rough time. Might be an oversight but just an oddly hilariously good build. Also 10 Dire Avengers is okay too.
Death Guard: The extra body is great but it’s their mobility which keeps them pinned down. Not sure how to buff their movement without breaking them, they’re super tough but you need to be able to quickly reach the other side of the board to get objectives, Doing it by turning point 3 or 4 is just not…great unfortunately.
Chaos Daemons: While having great fire teams, bespoke teams have just outpaced them and you cannot afford going all melee unless you’re Genestealers. Will probably receive individual god-specific White Dwarf kill teams but until then they have lost quite a bit of power.
Space Marines: Put ’em all here. Even Death Watch. Tactical Marines technically got worse. Just the general problem of elite kill teams. All marines either need +2 wounds or an extra warrior. I really wouldn’t like 6 objective missions becoming replaced with 4 or less becoming more common as a way to fix the issue.
Necrons: They did get buffed in the dataslate but as with Death Guard, that punishing movement penalty just hurts too much. Difficult to fix their mobility without breaking them so maybe a bespoke/White Dwarf update is our only hope?
Tau: Paying for the sins of KT2018. They are just not good sadly. Pathfinders do everything they want to do but better. Even pure Stealthsuits suffer due to being 2 APL. I’ve seen people saying giving them Pathfinder markerlight system would help but I fear more kill teams having access to that probably too strong rules system.
Kroot: I like Kroot, I really do. If the game had turning point 1 as the key point of the game, they’d probably be they best. They’re fast but don’t hit too hard outside of the Krootox. Having general Kroot damage buffed would be a start, although I feel we’re lucky to have them in the first place.
So that’s pretty much it. The only thing I think I’ve left out are factors like grenades. I’ve seen more people talk about them with the issues being either blast grenade spam or krak spam and, to be honest, I’m not sure how you even fix that. I’ve heard stuff like only one grenade per phase or grenades can only ever be affected by the Command Re-Roll strat. Either way I think we have a very healthy meta and we should be getting 3-monthly balance dataslates too. Even Void Dancers are early in their life despite the worrying stats. Although Novitiates seem to be the real silent menace.
Either way, what do you think of my new quarterly format for stats then tier lists? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts overall as tier lists are always subjective and never concrete. As said previously, mine is just based off an amalgamation of tournament experience, stats and discussing with other tournament players. Regardless, they’re always fun to talk about.
Until next time, remember to avoid tier 15 and that no matter what tiers say, you can still always roll a crit!