The Exaction Squad is a kill team for the miniatures skirmish game Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team by Games Workshop. They’re available as part of the Kill Team: Soulshackle expansion for the game. This is our Exaction Squad Kill Team Guide.
The Exaction Squad is made up of operatives from the Adeptus Arbites, the elite enforcers of Imperial Law throughout the Imperium of Man. Far from an ordinary police force, the Arbites deals only with transgressions that threaten the efficiency of the Imperium – worker revolts, insurgencies, infiltrations and criminal schemes that would directly effect a planet’s compliance to the demands of the Imperial tithe in both resources and manpower.
As part of an organisation whose authority far exceeds that of any planetary laws or traditions, a regiment of armour-clad, shielded Arbites emerging from their monastery-like precincts on a planet is the very essence of Imperial oppression to most the Imperium’s citizens.
They’re not a “hearts and minds” force in any way: Targets are often handcuffed and then beaten or shot to death, or even taken out from a distance by snipers, and operatives are so committed to carrying out the Emperor’s justice that they’ll even fire their combat shotguns into melee fights where their comrades are engaged.
In the game, Exaction Squad operatives work closely together to pin down, cuff and execute key targets, Advancing in tight formation with mauls and riot shields at the front and combat shotguns at the back, while also deploying lethal riot control gear such as grenade launchers, heavy stubbers, webbers and even a cyborgized Cyber-Mastiff with mechanical jaws.
If you like combining riot police tactics with military weaponry in your games of kill team, the Exaction Squad might be just the team for you.
[Note: This article has been updated with the changes from the Q2 and Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate.]
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Abilities of the Exaction Squad Kill Team
All Exaction Squad operatives except for the Cyber-Mastiff have this ability, which lets them target nearby enemies that are within Engagement Range of friendly operatives when using a ranged weapon that isn’t a grenade of any kind. This allows the kill team to use close combat operatives such as the Subductor to pin down enemies while still being able to use the ranged firepower of Vigilants and Gunners against them. The Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate made this ability even better by adding the P1 critical hit rule to any (non-grenade, non-Blast) ranged weapon affected by this ability, ie when it’s targeting an enemy who is in Engagement Range of a friendly operative.
Operatives of the Exaction Squad Kill Team
An Exaction Squad kill team consists of 11 models – 1 Proctor-Exactant Leader and 10 other Exaction Squad operatives selected from the following options:
Note: The Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate gave all operatives in the Exaction Squad Kill Team an extra Wound, and the entries below have been updated accordingly where the Wound Characteristic is mentioned.
Arbites Proctor-Exactant (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Proctor-Exactant is the Leader of the Exaction Squad kill team, and he can be equipped with one of two loadouts:
A Combat Shotgun and Repression Baton, or a Dominator Maul & Assault Shield (sic).
The Combat Shotgun is mostly like the Combat Shotguns equipped by most of your kill team:
It has two profiles, one for Close Range with a limited range of Pentagon/6 Inches and 4 damage in both normal and critical damage, and one for Long Range with 2 damage in either damage type and no Range restrictions.
The main attraction here is the very reliable damage output of the Close Range profile, which is made even better by the Proctor-Exactant having a Ballistic Skill of 2+ for this profile. The Long Range profile is mostly there for emergencies where you have to target something at range.
In addition to the shotgun, this loadout also has the Repression Baton, which is an absolutely terrible close combat weapon compared to what other melee options this kill team has to offer, so let’s not spend any more time on that here. Apart from the Proctor-Exactant’s improved Ballistic Skill for the Combat Shotgun (from 3+/5+ to 2+/4+), this profile is the same as the one all your Shotgun-wielding operatives have.
The Dominator Maul & Assault Shield is identical to what your Subductors are equipped with: It is a single profile for the Maul and the Shield, but with an Offensive and a Defensive attack profile.
The Offensive profile does 4 damage in normal and critical damage, has the Lethal 5+ Special Rule, which would be weird for a weapon that does the same amount of damage in normal and critical damage if it wasn’t for the fact that it also has the Stun critical hit rule, which means that each time you roll a critical hit with it, you can discard one of your opponent’s melee successes, and if you roll another one, you can give them a -1 to their Action Point Limit.
The Defensive profile loses the Lethal 5+ and Stun, but gains two unique Special Rules: Repress lets you always be the Attacker in a combat, even if it’s not your activation, which means you get to resolve 1 attack dice before your opponent. This is a great Special Rule, both because it gives you a free first strike on someone attacking you, but also, like so many rules of this kind, because it makes it feel a lot less like a good idea for your opponent to attack this operative in melee with such a big risk of taking damage before getting to deal damage. The other unique Special Rule, Shield, means you can use one Parry in combat to block two of your opponent’s succesful hits instead of one.
In addition to all this, choosing the Maul & Shield loadout changes the Save Characteristic of the bearer to a 3+. The fact that the Maul & Shield profile improves your defenses as well as really bending the rules of melee combat in your favour makes it one of the most useful melee loadouts in the game, especially in Into the Dark games where close combat is a lot better than in open spaces.
Fighting first when defending and having a 33% chance to Stun your opponent are excellent rules to have in your arsenal for a close combat operative, and the improved Weapon Skill of this loadout on the Proctor-Exactant (from 4+ up to 3+) doesn’t hurt either.
On top of his two loadout options, the Proctor-Exactant also has Nuncio-Aquila, a flying eagle drone equipped with loudspeakers that gives him an Ability and a Unique Action.
Deploy Nuncio-Aquila is a Unique Action that lets you place a Nuncio-Aquila token within Pentagon/6 Inches of your Proctor-Exactant, and in subsequent activations, you can use this Unique Action again to move the token that same amount of inches. If you modelled your Leader as the version with Maul & Shield, you can build a separate model for the Nuncio-Aquila to use as your token.
The effect of the Nuncio-Aquila token is explained in the Nuncio-Aquila Ability:
Enemy operatives close to the token have to use an extra Action Point to perform Mission or Pick Up actions, and when trying to control objectives, their Action Point Limit is treated as one less than what it actually is.
This means that your Proctor-Exactant is a type of Leader that you really want as close to the action as possible, so he can improve your chances of scoring objectives and Victory Points, while making life difficult for enemy operatives at the same time.
The Shotgun loadout might be the preferable one for this tactic (since it has the same Range as the token so you can provide fire support and the token while staying away from the action), but the Maul & Shield profile also makes the Proctor-Exactant an excellent objective holder.
Arbites Vigilant (10 per kill team)
This is your standard ranged operative with 8 Wounds and a Save of 4+ like most other non-Leader operatives in the Exaction Squad kill team, and the Ruthless Efficiency Ability that everyone but the Cyber-Mastiff has.
It is equipped with a Combat Shotgun and Repression Baton similar to what the Proctor-Exactant can take, which means it has a very reliable damage output at medium range, but not much power to speak of in melee combat.
The best way to use the Vigilant, apart from picking a specialist instead that can do something else while having the exact same loadout, is to pair it with a Subductor who can screen incoming melee fighters while your Vigilant is still able to shoot those fighters due to the Ruthless Efficiency Ability.
Arbites Subductor (4 per kill team)
This is your “standard” melee operative in the sense that you can take up to 4 of them, but there’s really nothing standard about them!
As explained in the Proctor-Exactant entry, their Shock Maul & Assault Shield is pretty excellent – the Subductor version doesn’t get the Lethal 5+ Special Rule in its Offensive profile and only hits on a 4+ (which is stil 50% of the time), but having Stun in Offensive is still good, and the Defensive profile’s ability to let you fight first while defending and letting you block two enemy successes with one Parry is just excellent.
The Subductors also have a Save of 3+, so they’re really durable for a 7 Wound operative. Give them the Manacles equipment to cripple melee opponents even more, and they become one of the coolest “shield wall” operatives in the game (see below).
The only real downside to the Subductors is their complete lack of a ranged weapon, while still having the Ruthless Efficiency ability. If you don’t want your Subductor to equip Manacles give them the Shotpistol equipment instead, so they can take advantage of Ruthless Efficiency if they can’t make it into melee.
Arbites Gunner (2 per kill team, only one of each weapon per kill team)
The Gunner operative of the Exaction Squad kill team can be taken twice in your kill team, but he has three weapon options to choose from, each of which can only be taken once – so choose carefully!
The Grenade Launcher is good for taking out single heavy targets, with 6 critical damage and the Armour Penetration 1 Special Rule. It’s good, but it doesn’t have much tactical utility apart from doing damage.
The Heavy Stubber only does 4 critical damage, but you can reroll hit rolls of 1 due to the Ceaseless Special Rule and split its 5 attacks between different targets thanks to its Fusillade Special Rule, which is pretty great. The downside to taking this weapon is that the Heavy Special Rule means you can only perform Dash move actions in the same activation as shooting with the Heavy Stubber, so it doesn’t give you great mobility.
Finally, the Webber only does 2 damage in normal and critical damage, and its Range is limited to Pentagon/6 Inches, but it has Lethal 5+ and the Stun critical hit rule, giving you a 33% chance to subtract 1 from the target’s Action Point Limit, which makes it great for stalling enemy targets to give your Subductors, Castigator and Cyber-Mastiff time to close in for the kill in melee.
Arbites Castigator (1 per kill team)
The Castigator’s weapon loadout is a “greatest hits” of standard Exaction Squad Loadouts:
He has the Combat Shotgun of a Vigilant, but paired with an Excruciator Maul that’s a 3+ Weapon Skill version of the Subductor’s Offensive Profile, meaning it does 4 damage and has the Stun critical hit rule, but additionally, it also has the Rending critical hit rule, which turns one normal hit into a critical hit whenever you score at least one critical hit. This is a great critical hit rule to have combined with Stun, since it takes two strikes with critical hits to gain the full advantage of Stun.
The Castigator also has two Abilities (on top of Ruthless Efficiency which almost everyone in the kill team has): Engendered Focus lets you ignore any modifiers to your characteristics, which means everything from Action Point Limit to Saves to Weapon and Ballistic Skill. Zealous Dedication lets you ignore any wound you would lose on a dice roll of 6 – this is in addition to rolling your normal Defence rolls. These are extremely good abilities that the Castigator seems to get for no specific reason other than making him a badass in combat, so he’s worth bringing just for those two!
Finally, the Castigator has the Castigator’s Arrest Unique Action, which lets you perform a Fight Action against an opponent with a Wounds Characteristic of no more than 10. If both the Castigator and the target are still standing after that Fight action, the target is arrested, which means they can’t do any other actions than the Pass action as long as they’re in Engagement Range of the Castigator and no other enemy operatives are within the same Engagement Range. This is an improved version of the Unique Action gained by the Manacles equipment (see below).
This combination of weapons and abilities makes the Castigator a strong and very versatile operative that any Exaction Squad should bring along.
Arbites Chirurgant (1 per kill team)
The Chirurgant is the medic of the Exaction Squad kill team. He has the same weapons loadout as a Vigilant.
He has the Ability Medic! which lets him revive one newly incapacitated friendly operative per Turning Point if they’re within Square/2 inches of him, They then return to having 1 Wound remaining and they can perform a free Dash action into a range of Triangle/1 Inch from the Chirurgant, and then both the target and the Chirurgant subtract 1 from their Action Point Limit.
He also has the Medikit Unique Action which heals 2D3 lost Wounds from a nearby operative who wasn’t revived in the same Turning Point.
Whether you want a Chirurgant in your kill team is very much a matter of taste – it’s still as good a combatant as a Vigilant, so you might as well take it if you’re going heavy on Combat Shotguns anyway, and being able to revive important specialists is a great piece of tech to have. Just be aware that it’s built from the same body as the Leashmaster in the Exaction Squad assembly instructions, so unless you’re comfortable kitbashing models, you’re faced with the choice of either the Chirurgant or the Leashmaster.
Arbites Leashmaster (1 per kill team)
The Leashmaster has the same weapons loadout as a Vigilant, but in addition to that, it functions as a support unit for your Cyber-Mastiff, so if you’re fielding that, you’ll want the Leashmaster as well.
The Leashmaster has two abilities that relate to the Cyber-Mastiff: Handler lets you always activate the Cyber-Mastiff in the same activation “block” as the Leashmaster, meaning you can activate your Leashmaster and your Cyber-Mastiff (in any order) before your opponent gets another activation. Attack Pattern lets you pick one of three attack patterns for the Cyber-Mastiff when the Leashmaster is deployed at the beginning of the game. The Aggressive attack pattern gives the Cyber-Mastiff’s Mechanical Bite attack the Relentless Special Rule, which means you can reroll all of your attack dice with it. The Swift attack pattern adds Circle/2 Inches to its Movement characteristic, and finally, Defensive gives the Cyber-Mastiff a 3+ Save instead of the usual 4+. Note that the Cyber-Mastiff doesn’t get any of these bonuses if you don’t field a Leashmaster alongside it.
The Leashmaster also gets the Command Unique Action, which lets you spend 0 Action Points to change the attack pattern of the Cyber-Mastiff each activation if it is within Pentagon/6 Inches of the Leashmaster.
The Cyber-Mastiff and Leashmaster are a real power couple, and there’s really no good reason to take either of them without the other – but if you want to just take the Cyber-Mastiff, you still can.
R-VR Cyber-Mastiff (1 per kill team)
The R-VR Cyber-Mastiff is the only operative in the Exaction Squad kill team without the Ruthless Efficiency ability, but it doesn’t need it, since it’s all about getting into melee combat. It has the same characteristics as a normal Exaction Squad operative otherwise, but can’t make any Mission actions apart from Gather Evidence, and can’t take any equipment. It is armed with Mechanical Bite, which does 5 critical damage and has 4 attacks (and since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, it also scores critical hits on a roll of 5 or more!).
The Cyber-Mastiff has the Apprehend Unique Action, which lets it pick an enemy operative within Engagement Range. That operative then suffers D3 mortal wounds, and can’t Fall Back unless it rolls a dice, adds 1 to the result for each wound it has remaining that’s more than what the Cyber-Mastiff has remaining, and still ends up with a result that is higher than the amount of wounds remaining on the Cyber-Mastiff. An example of this could be: The opponent has 5 wounds remaining, and the Cyber-Mastiff has 3 wounds remaining. The opponent rolls a 2, and adds 2 to the result because it has 2 more wounds than the Cyber-Mastiff, which means it is allowed to Fall Back.
Apprehend isn’t as effective as Manacles and Castigator’s Arrest in locking an enemy in place, so the main positive of this Unique Action is that it does D3 mortal wounds for 1 Action Point.
The Cyber-Mastiff should always be fielded alongside the Leashmaster, and the best use of their pairing in most cases is to give the Cyber-Mastiff the Aggressive attack pattern from the Leashmaster, so it can reroll all of its attacks, making it such a melee killing machine that you’ll often not even need to Apprehend the (dead) target afterwards.
Arbites Malocator (1 per kill team)
The Malocator is a support operative that’s armed with the same weapons as a Vigilant. It can perform a Mission or Pick Up action for one less Action Point than normal each Turning Point, but the real reason you’ll bring this operative is its Veriscant Unique Action: It lets you pick one enemy operative that the Malocator can see, and then all of your operatives can retain one normal hit as a critical hit instead in any shooting attacks or combats against that enemy operative for the rest of the Turning Point.
If you’re playing on a killzone where getting Line of Sight of most operatives is manageable, the Malocator is an excellent buff to bring along for the rest of your kill team.
Arbites Marksman (1 per kill team)
The Marksman is the sniper of the Exaction Squad kill team. He is armed with the Executioner Shotgun, which does 4 normal damage and 1 critical damage, but it also does 3 mortal wounds on a critical hit with the MW3 critical hit rule (and since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, it scores those critical hits on a roll of 5 or more!). The Shotgun also has the Silent Special Rule so you can shoot with it while Concealed, and the Heavy Special Rule so you can only Dash in the same activation as shooting with it.
The Take Aim Unique Action only works when more than Square/3 inches away from enemy operatives, but it lets you spend 1 Action Point to add Balanced and No Cover to the Shotgun’s Special Rules, so your target gains no benefit from Cover and you can reroll one of your attack dice.
The Marksman isn’t the best sniper in the game, but he does get points for doing good normal damage and being able to shoot into combats with Ruthless Efficiency.
Arbites Revelatum (1 per kill team)
The Revelatum is a kind of scout operative for the Exaction Squad kill team: He can make a Normal Move as if he can fly at the beginning of the game before anyone else gets to move, and he has the Soulguilt Scan Unique action which lets him pick a nearby enemy operative that the rest of your kill team can then treat as if it has an Engage order for the rest of the Turning point as long as they’re close to the Revelatum. The Soulguilt Scan is a great way of making a Concealed enemy target an eligible target for shooting, and if you pair the Revelatum with the Marksman or any of your other good shooters and use your early move action wisely, it can give you an opportunity to snipe a key enemy target early.
The Revelatum is himself a mini-sniper, armed as he is with the Scoped Shotpistol, which does 1 damage and 2 Mortal Wounds on each critical hit (and since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, it scores critical hits on a roll of 5 or more).
Arbites Vox-Signifier (1 per kill team)
The Vox-Signifier is, quite simply, a Vigilant with the Precinct Vox-Relay Unique Action, which lets you spend 1 Action Point to add 1 to the Action Point Limit of a friendly, visible, non-Cyber-Mastiff operative, which can be very useful for controlling objectives.
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Ploys of the Exaction Squad Kill Team
Guilt Reveals Itself
This forces targets of your shooting attacks to more than 2 Circle/4 inches away from the shooter to be in Cover, rather than the usual Circle/2 inches. The ploy lasts for one Turning Point.
This lets you reroll one of your defence dice every time one of your operatives is the target of a shooting attack while being close to an objective marker or an enemy operative. It lasts for one Turning Point.
This lets you reroll one of your attack dice every time one of your operatives fight in combat without having more more than its Movement characteristic, even if it fights in the opponent’s activation. Curiously, it doesn’t seem to be limited to one Turning Point, but that might be FAQ’ed in an upcoming balance dataslate.
For one Turning Point, this lets you reroll one of your attack dice when shooting an enemy operative within 2 Circle/4 inches of you, which pairs nicely with the Ruthless Efficiency ability (see above).
Long Arm of the Emperor’s Law
This is used in the Scouting Step of a game when your opponent reveals what they’ve selected, and then that one selection is canceled.
This can be used after an enemy attacks you in combat or with a shooting attack within Square/3 Inches of the target friendly operative, if the friendly operative isn’t incapacitated by the attack. Then, the friendly operative can make a free Overwatch or Fight action against their attacker.
This can be used when one of your operatives Fight in combat with combat support (another friendly operative is also within Engagement Range of your target and no other enemy operatives). Then, one of the supporting operatives gets to make a free Fight action against the target of the first Fight action.
This lets your Proctor-Exactant leader choose an enemy operative within Line of Sight, against whom all your friendly operatives can then reroll their attack dice in both combat and shooting attacks for the rest of the game. Since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, this Tactical Ploy is free to use the first time, and then cost an additional Command Point to use again for each time you have used it (it used to be a once per battle Ploy).
Equipment of the Exaction Squad Kill Team
This is a Ballistic Skill 4+, Damage 3 pistol for the bearer of this equipment. The Subductor is a prime candidate for wearing this, since it doesn’t have any ranged weapons, but has the Ruthless Efficiency ability nonetheless, so having any kind of ranged weapon is a crucial upgrade to the utility of that operative.
The bearer of this equipment can not have its Action Point Limit modified, and it becomes immune to the Stun critical hit rule.
The bearer of this equipment can make a special Arrest action against an enemy operative with a Wounds Characteristic no higher than 7. It’s resolved as a normal Fight action, but if both the attacker and defender are still standing afterwards, your operative gets to Arrest the defender, which means that they can only make Pass actions as long the bearer of this equipment is within Engagement Range of them, and no other enemy operatives are within that same engagement.
This equipment prevents enemies from rerolling attack dice when making a shooting attack or fighting in combat against targets close to this operative if the attackers themselves are within Pentagon/6 Inches of the bearer.
This is the standard frag grenade available to most Imperial kill teams: It has a Blast range of Circle/2 Inches and the Indirect special rule.
This is the standard krak grenade available to most Imperial kill teams: Unlike the Frag Grenade, it has no Blast range, but it has a higher Damage of 4 normal and 5 critical damage, as well as Armour Penetration 1.
This is an area effect stun grenade, which lets you pick a point up to Pentagon/6 Inches from the bearer, and then roll a dice for each operative (friend and foe alike) near that point. On a roll of 4 or more, an operative rolled for in this way gets a -1 to their Action Point Limit. Like the other grenades, the Stun Grenade can only be used once.
Tac Ops of the Exaction Squad Kill Team
The Exaction Squad Kill Team has the Security and Seek and Destroy Archetypes, giving it acces to the Tac Ops associated with them in the Core Rulebook. In addition to this, it also has access to the following faction-specific Tac Ops.
Seize or Incapacitate
This Tac Op is revealed during the first Turning Point. It lets you choose one enemy operative who then becomes “the criminal”. If the criminal is incapacitated, you replace it with a Criminal token in the killzone. Your non-Mastiff operatives can then make a Pick Up action near that token, and then the bearer of the token gets a -1 Circle/2 inches to their Movement characteristic. If you incapacitate the criminal, you score 1 Victory Point, and if a friendly operative controls the Criminal token at the end of the game, you gain 1 more Victory Point.
This can be revealed in any Turning Point. It gives you 1 Victory Point at the end of a Turning Point where all enemies are either within Pentagon/6 inches of your drop zone or close to one of your operatives, and another Victory Point for any following Turning Point where the same conditions are met.
This gives you access to a special Gather Evidence action, which can be performed by your Cyber-Mastiff, your Malocator or your Revelatum. It lets you examine an objective marker controlled by the operative carrying out the action, and can only be used once per objective. You score 1 Victory Point at the end of the battle if one or more of your operatives who performed the Gather Evidence action haven’t been incapacitated, and 1 more Victory Point if two or more operatives have done so and are still alive.
Playing the Exaction Squad Kill Team
First of all, the Exaction Squad kill team is definitely at its best in Into The Dark games, where the limited range of the Combat Shotguns isn’t that much of a problem. It’s not a big deal, since the kill team still has some good long range options such as the Executioner Shotgun, Grenade Launcher and Heavy Stubber, but the fact that the “standard” operatives either have Pentagon/6 Inch range (Vigilants) or no ranged options at all (Subductors) speaks for itself.
The best way to play the Exaction Squad kill team is to set your operatives up in smaller squads of melee and ranged operatives. The simplest version of this is Vigilant and Subductor: The Subductor goes in first, keeping the opponent in melee combat while the Vigilant provides fire support thanks to the Ruthless Efficiency ability. In addition to this, make sure to position your operatives well for all the cool buffs you can cast: The scout targeting of the Revelatum, the extra critical hit mark on an enemy operative from the Malocator, or the Action Point Limit shenanigans of your Proctor Exactant’s Nuncio-Aquila.
A great way to make this approach even more efficient is to use the Castigator and any Manacles equipment you can take to arrest enemy operatives so they are effectively paralyzed. The Exaction Squad is really great at locking down and taking out key targets, as long as it can get within melee range of the target.
In general, while the Exaction Squad does require a bit of positioning and micromanagement to get all of its synergies to work, the impressive melee capacity and good medium range firepower makes it an extremely fun kill team to play in Into the Dark games!
Note: Since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, the addition of an extra wound, easy access to the P1 Critical Hit Rule and the Lethal 5+ Special Rule on multiple weapons has generally made the Exaction Squad Kill Team much more dangerous, and the ability to use the Execution Order Tactical Ploy multiple times has made the kill team really great at focusing on taking down specific enemy operatives.
Getting the Exaction Squad Kill Team
The only way right now to get the Exaction Squad Kill Team is to via the Soulshackle Box.