Kill Team Shadowvaults

Review the next box release for season 2 of Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team!

Welcome to my review of Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team Shadowvaults! I go over the contents of the new box from the new Kasrkin and Necron Kill Teams to the new terrain. Just how worth it is the next expansion for season 2 of Kill Team?

I’ve also done this as a more in-depth YouTube video which you can watch here:

What’s in the Box

The box is once again huge, mirroring the Into the Dark box in terms of size. Contents inside include: Shadowaults rule-book, building instructions, Kasrkin Kill Team, Hierotek Circle Kill Team, Into the Dark terrain, a new terrain sprue, and game board and bases.

The biggest thing here is the re-use of Into the Dark terrain. Unlike the hinted at ideas of varying terrain-scapes in the the Gallowdark, it appears we will be getting the same core terrain in the 4 box sets for this season. This is…a little upsetting personally as I preferred the Kill Team boxes all having unique terrain. Really would have loved to see Zone Mortallis terrain or even a Munitorium Container box representing a docking bay in the Gallowdark. Still it makes the box better for people looking to pick up and play instead of buying every box.

Kill Teams

Now I’ll briefly go over the 2 kill teams included in the Shadowvault box. If you want a more in-depth review I have videos on YouTube for them both.

Kasrkin Kill Team:

Hierotek Circle Kill Team:

Kasrkin Kill Team

The Kasrkin are a kill team of 10 operatives, notably all ranged sans the slight melee output of the leader. The also come with basically all the Tac Op archetypes sans Infiltration which is amazing. You are capped at taking 4 gunners per team and you get 5 in the box as well as your Sharpshooter who also counts as a gunner meaning your kill team will be a leader, 4 gunners, 4 specialists and a normal trooper.

Their Elite rule is really thematic and quite balanced. You start with a pool of 10 and can alter 1 dice when fighting or shooting, spending a number of elite points to alter the attack dice by a specified amount. It’s a much more balanced version of Acts of Faith at fits well for the team.

Ploys are also pretty balanced and well-rounded. You get a neat way for P1 on your Hot Shot Lasguns without the Gets Hot rule and the team synergises around shooting people not in cover as well as having abilities that compliment that. Kasrking also come with some decent mobility ploys to give them some more extra threat.

Operatives wise….yeah you read that right. The entire kill team’s base profiles are 7 wounds with a +4 save and hitting on…+4s. It may not be so bad at first glance but if you look at Compendium Scions, they hit on 3s and have 8 wounds base. Quite the shift. I can understand the change for balance reasons but either make the team hit on 3s with 7 wounds on hit on 4s with 8 wounds. The worse of both worlds feels really bad and makes the team feel like normal Guardsmen in slightly better armour but worse skills overall.

With that out of the way, your leader is solid. I like the plasma pistol and chainsword loadout the best. The leader is your only source of regenerating Elite Points at 2 per turning point while alive, making them more important. Would have loved you to also get elite points from getting kills and doing mission actions but yeah. Your normal Trooper has the Elite Trooper rule that lets you spend 1 Elite Point for free every time they shoot. It’s nice but also really sad none of the other specialists have it. I’m okay the gunners don’t have it but it’s weird how picking up an Auspex or Comms stops you being elite.

Equipment is alright but nothing to write home about. Foregrips and long-range scopes are okay and you’ll probably take a mix of those on top of your frag and krak grenade. Decoy is very interesting as it specifically mentions guard but that and stun grenades aren’t reliable enough for use in my opinion.

The Kasrkin are solid, thematic and balanced. The main issue for them is that Compendium Scions exist and are much better. I get the changes for balance and such but it’s really strange. Kasrkin aren’t bad, they’re just outclassed by their old compendium version.

Hierotek Circle Kill Team

The Hierotek Circle Kill Team are a team of 8 operatives and can select Recon or Security which is a good mix of archetypes. The team consists of a Cryptek, 2 Plasmacytes then a mix of 5 operatives from an Apprentek, Despotek, Immortals and Deathmarks. While I would have prefered 5 Triarch Prateorians/Lyrchguard or 10 Warriors, what annoys me is the choice between 3 different Crypteks that misses out the Plasmancer but also leaves you with only 1 leader choice in the box. I understand the reasoning but Phobos Strike Team was more justifiable with their Reivers but this makes the Necron team feel like a slightly elevated White Dwarf team. I would have loved an addition Immortal/Deathmark choice but it’s likely due to the fact the Apprentek uses the same sprue as the Immortal box instead of being its own model.

Abilites wise, living metal is unchanged with Plasmacytes now being able to heal 1 wound. Reanimation Protocols returns and is now now longer a ploy but a free ability. It’s great and you can have multiple operatives resurrect at once from your leader to everyone else. My main issue is now you heal before resurrecting which is too much of a nerf. If Necrons couldn’t be injured, I’d understand but as they can, the choice becomes saddening. It’s still an a amazing ability but I just wish healing was after reanimating.

Ploys are also pretty solid, giving nice utility and accuracy buffs. The Dimensional Concealment ploy should have been a free action but at least Dimensional Translocation gives you a reason to take a Deathmark. Commence Reanmiation is nice too but abilites and ploys like that really should let you automatically reanimate instead of risking a +3 dice roll considering the resources you are spending for it.

Operatives-wise, Crypteks share the same core abilities and work like Comms from the Phobos Strike Team. What is bizarre though is that Cryptek actions are chosen on your roster, instead of the easier way of when you select your kill team. This means if you wanted a Crpytek of the same choice to cover a mix of Cryptek actions, you’ll need to included multiple separate models of Crypteks on your roster. I hope no one enforces that as I’ll just be using the same model on my roster covering the abilites I want.

With that out of the way, Cryptek as very good. My only other gripe is that they hit on 4s (WHY) but they add a lot to the kill team. They’re essential and effectively work as flying techno wizards. They can also shoot through walls and in hiding via the Apprentek, getting a neat re-roll bonus too. Both have to be on engage but it’s a nice trick. Having 3APL is amazing too.

The Apprentek is weird. Being 3 white movement is great but hitting on 4s is not. I’d make them 3APL for hitting on 4s or keep the current profile but hit on 3s. Still, the main reason you take one is for them to become conduits for your Cryptek. They can do a chosen Cryptek action to free up your Cryptek but I they eat up an Immortal choice. I think you only take an Apprentek if you take a Technomancer but they’re still nice utility operatives.

Despotek is a fancy Immortal. What makes it different? It has Demand. Plus it can be used for range effects for certain abilities. Dmeand is alright but it should have been free or make the Despotek APL3. Notably, Tesla has been nerfed quite badly while Guass remains king. Tesla was 4 dice 4/5 damage with splash and has been changed to 5 dice 3/3 damage with splash. If it was 3/4 damage, I’d like Tesla a lot more, as it stands now, Gauss is just much better all the time. Even on Into the Dark where Teslas gain Lethal +5.

Equipment is okay too. Hyperphase Blades are good but I wish Devourer Nanoscarabs got some kind of blast. Arcshock Projectors are okay but Teslas aren’t great overall.

As a whole the Hierotek Circle are a tough team to use that feel down an operative or 2 but reward those who can plan well and know how to adapt to every match-up and mission. They’re very balanced but not exactly easy to play. Very Necron feeling to which is also a nice boon.


Terrain, as mentioned earlier, is exactly the same as the Into the Dark box. The only difference are these new things from the terrain upgrade sprue but it’s all locked behind narrative play so kinda useless if you’re only playing competitively which is a shame.

Terrain rules are identical too but the images are updated with the Shadowvaults miniatures which is nice. It’s a small change but it shows the entrie book isn’t really a copy/paste job.


Missions are different and new for narrative play. They’re honestly really fun and add a lot of dynamism to the terrain setups. Matched play missions are identical as those in the Into the Dark box. So there’s no change which is good and bad depending on your viewpoint.

Kill Team Shadowvaults Overview

Overall Kill Team Shadowvaults is a weird box. I love the balance of the kill teams inside but they’ll hugely struggle against the top teams we currently have. If the other teams were brought to their balance level, I’d have no worries. Contents are also a little questionable if you have been buying every Kill Team box prior as re-using the same terrain is a huge miss for me. It’s oddly more appealing to players who sporadically pick up boxes they want, which is fine.


  • Really beautiful kill team kits
  • Balanced rules for both teams
  • Great narrative content
  • Box-specific updated images for rules


  • Reusing the same core terrain from Into the Dark
  • Not so appealing for people who usually buy every kill team box
  • The included kill teams are very well balanced but are weaker than the top teams already released
  • Having to buy 2 separate leader models to get a full selection for the Necron kill team

So would I recommend this box? If you want to get it, yeah. As a single buy box, it’s great. I likely would have got it for the Necrons alone if I didn’t get a review copy. The narrative content is also great, making missions fun and balanced with the new terrain. It’s just odd how it’s more engaging than the competitive side. Plus I’m not a fan of needing to buy 2 separate leaders too. But that’s not really the fault of the rules writers. Hopefully this is not a trend that continues for box bespoke teams.

If you want to pick up Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team Shadowvaults you can pre-order it directly from the Games Workshop website or use my affiliate link at Element Games to net you a 25% to 15% discount at no additional cost to yourself while helping to support me and my work.

Check out my Discord as well as my Patreon too if you want to give me some more support!

That’s pretty much it from me. So until next time, even while you’re lost in the confines of the vast Shadowvaults, there is always hope as long as you can roll a crit!

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