The Hand of the Archon is a kill team for the miniature skirmish game Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team by Games Workshop. They’re available as part of the Soulshackle expansion box for the game. This is our Hand of the Archon Kill Team Guide.
The Drukhari are horrifying. Compelled by the fact that their souls are constantly fading into the Immaterium to be consumed by the Chaos God Slaanesh, they revitalize themselves through acts of cruelty and terror, capturing and torturing other species throughout the galaxy.
Much of this torture is carried out within the Drukhari city Commorragh on prisoners taken there by the main Drukhari military force, the Kabals. The Kabals are led by Archons, and those Kabalites who prove themselves worthy through savagery and cruelty can become part of Hand of the Archon kill teams.
These kill teams make sadism and the infliction of pain and torture into a dark art form, wielding blades and missile weapons of a quality and diversity that far surpasses the equipment of regular Kabalites as they venture out into the void to capture new slaves to bring to the Dark City.
In the game, the Hand of the Archon is a slowly rising tide of torture and horror, as they become stronger the more enemy operatives they incapacitate.
They’re not the most durable of kill teams, but they have access to many great melee and ranged weapons, and they can be enhanced greatly both from killing enemies and from from the Combat Drugs administered by their Elixicants.
If you want to play a truly sadistic kill team where everyone’s an artist of war, this kill team might be just the right one for you.
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Abilities of the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
Power from Pain
This is an ability shared by all your operatives. It lets your operatives gain a Pain token each time they take out an enemy operative with a Wounds characteristic of 5 or more (that’s basically everyone but a few pet type operatives), and two Pain tokens if they take out an operative with a Wounds characteristic of 11 or more (such as Space Marines).
Operatives can spend their Pain tokens to gain one of three Invigorations:
- Dark Animus can be used when an operative is activated, and it gives that operative a +1 to its Action Point Limit.
- Vitalised Surge can be used after the operative incapacitates an enemy operative. It gives them an immediate free Dash action, even if they’ve already Charged in the same activation.
- Stimulated Senses can be used after rolling an attack or defence dice, and lets you reroll that dice. This Invigoration can be used multiple times per activation.
Each Invigoration costs 1 Pain token.
Operatives of the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
A Hand of the Archon kill team consists of 1 Kabalite Archsybarite Leader operative and 8 other Hand of the Archon operatives chosen from the options listed below. A special restriction for the kill team is that Darklight weapons including the Blast Pistol, Blaster and Dark Lance can only be picked twice across all of your operatives.
Kabalite Archsybarite (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Archsybarite is the Leader of the Hand of the Archon kill team, and he has four different weapon loadouts to choose from: Blast Pistol and Venom Blade, Splinter Pistol and Venom Blade, Splinter Pistol and Agoniser, Splinter Pistol and Power Weapon, and Splinter Rifle and Array of Blades.
The Blast Pistol is pretty great – it’s basically a Plasma Pistol with no drawbacks, featuring a critical damage of 5 and the Armour Penetration 2 Special Rule, but since it takes up one of your limit of 2 Darklight weapons for your entire kill team, you might want to skip it and save the slot for your Gunner and Heavy Gunner.
The Venom Blade hits on a 2+ and has 4 damage and 4 critical damage. It also has Lethal 4, which will mainly make you get more crits making it more unlikely your enemy can block the hits.
The Splinter Pistol also hits on a 2+, but it has 2 normal and 4 critical damage and the Lethal 5+ Special Rule, which is great for fishing for that 4 critical damage.
The Splinter Rifle is the same as the Pistol, but without the range limitations of a Pistol.
The Agoniser does 3 normal and 6 critical damage, has the Lethal 5+ Special Rule and the Brutal Special Rule which means your opponent can only parry it with critical successes, and it has the Reap 1 critical hit rule, dealing 1 mortal wound to each enemy operative next to the target for each critical hit you make. It’s a pretty excellent melee weapon!
The Array of Blades is a weapon common to most Hand of the Archon operatives, and it’s not that impressive with its 3 attacks and 3 normal/4 critical damage, but in the hands of an Archsybarite it at least hits on a 2+.
Finally, the Power Weapon does 4 normal/6 critical damage and has the Lethal 5+ Special Rule.
We’re rooting for the Splinter Pistol and Agoniser as the top loadout here, but most options are actually really good. The Archsybarite is a bit of a close combat powerhouse, except for his unimpressive Save of 4+ and his Wounds Characteristic of 9, which isn’t that high for a Leader.
The Archsybarite has the Cunning ablity, which grants you 1 Command Point in any Play Strategic Ploys step of a Strategy Phase where you pass, and he also has the Take Aim Unique Action which can give the Balanced Special Rule to your Splinter Rifle if you’ve chosen to carry that, which isn’t all that impressive.
In general, the Archsybarite is very much a combat Leader: He has no buff auras or special synergies with any of your other operatives, so just get him to a place where he can do a lot of damage as soon as you get the chance.
Kabalite Agent (8 per kill team)
This is your standard operative for the Hand of the Archon kill team, and the only operative in the kill team you can take more than one of. The Agent is armed with the good Splinter Rifle which hits on a 3+ and has the Lethal 5+ Special Rule which is pretty rare on the gun of a standard operative in a kill team, and the Array of Blades weapon common to most of your kill team. Like the Archsybarite, it can make the Take Aim Unique Action, which is much better here than on the Archsybarite, since the Agent doesn’t miss out on better weapons by choosing to be able to make this action. Rerolling one attack dice for a weapon with 5+ on your standard operative isn’t bad at all.
Like all non-Leader operatives in the Hand of the Archon kill team, the Agent has 8 Wounds and a Save of 4+, which isn’t too vulnerable, but definitely not especially tough either.
Kabalite Crimson Duellist (1 per kill team)
The Crimson Duellist is a close combat specialist, armed with a Splinter Pistol (see above) and the Razorflail, which hits on a 2+, does 5 critical damage, has the Brutal Special Rule and the unique Flail Special Rule, thich discards two of your opponent’s succesful hits rather than one every time you parry with it.
The Duellist has the Brutal Display ability which prevents enemy operatives from making Mission or Pick Up actions for one Turning Point after they’ve seen your Duellist incapacitate another enemy operative close to them.
She also has the Crimson Assault Unique Action which lets you perform two Fight actions for the price of one if you’re still in Engagement Range of an enemy after completing the first Fight action of the two. This makes the Duellist great at tackling groups of enemies, since she has a high enough damage output to sometimes take out one enemy operative and then attack another in the same activation.
Kabalite Disciple of Yaelindra (1 per kill team)
The Disciple of Yaelindra is a poison specialist with a truly unique ranged weapon. She is armed with the standard Array of Blades for melee combat, and then with the Stinger Pistol, which really does everything in its own way: It doesn’t have any Ballistic Skill, normal damage or critical damage! Instead, when you roll its 5 attack dice, any dice result that’s lower than the target’s Save characteristic, but not a 1, deals 1 mortal wound to the target. For each 1 you roll, the attack deals 3 mortal wounds to the target instead!
The target doesn’t get to roll any defense dice, and the mortal wounds are all that happens as the result of your attack. If an enemy is incapacitated by this weapon (which will happen a lot for operatives with a 5+ Save, for example), each operative close to that enemy suffers D3 mortal wounds, and if that causes any of those operatives to become incapacitated, this effect triggers again, as the Stinger’s poisons spread across the battlefield.
There are plenty of situations where the Stinger Pistol is pretty useless – enemies with good Saves and high Wounds characteristics who aren’t standing close to each other can just as well emerge unscathed from its attacks as suffering a bunch of mortal wounds, and the pistol does have the limited range that pistols tend to have, but if the conditions are right, there aren’t many weapons in the game with the potential for this many mortal wounds to be dealt.
The Disciple of Yaelindra also has the Torment Grenade Unique Action, which lets you roll a dice for each operative within Circle/2 Inches of a nearby point chosen by the Disciple. If an operative has a 4+ Save or worse, you add 1 to the result of the dice roll, but if it is not visible to the Disciple, you subtract 1 from the result.
If you roll a 3 or more (including the modifiers described above), the operative rolled for suffers 2 mortal wounds at the end of each Turning Point, and it’s always treated as being Injured. Suffering 2 mortal wounds each Turning Point will make most enemy operatives drop dead if the grenade is thrown early in the game, so make sure that happens – and that it doesn’t happen to any of your friendly operative’s caught in its area of effect!
Kabalite Elixicant (1 per kill team)
The Elixicant is a support operative who’s the closest the Hand of the Archon kill team gets to a medic. He is armed with a Splinter Rifle and Array of Blades like an Agent, but also with the short range Stimm-Needler, which does no damage but has the Lethal 3+ Special Rule and the Stun critical hit rule, making it great for debuffing the Action Point Limit of nearby opponents.
The Elixicant has the Combat Drugs ability which means that at the start of a game in which you’ve brought an Elixicant, your entire kill team can either get the ability to ignore wounds on a 6+ on a special dice roll after rolling saves, or an added Triangle/1 inch to their Movement Characteristic.
He also has the Administer Drug Unique Action, which heals D3+1 wounds from its target, as well as giving that target one of the Combat Drugs mentioned above.
Since all that utility comes on top of the already good standard Agent weapon loadout, the Elixicant is really a must-have in any Hand of the Archon kill team.
Kabalite Flayer (1 per kill team)
The Flayer is another melee specialist, armed with the Pain Sculptors weapon, which does 5 critical damage, rerolls all of its attack dice, and has the unique Flay critical hit rule, which means you can give a Pain token (see above) to a nearby enemy operative the first time you strike with a critical hit in any combat. If you keep your friendly operatives close to the Flayer, this can become a really useful source of Pain tokens.
The Flayer also has the Insensible to Pain Ability, which subtracts 1 from the normal and critical damage of any weapon targeting him.
This all adds up the Flayer being a kind of warrior priest, granting buffs to his allies through fighting in melee combat.
Kabalite Gunner (1 per kill team)
The Gunner can choose between equipping a Blaster or a Shredder, both of which are Darklight weapons, of which you can only have a total of 2 in your kill team – we recommend one of those Darklight spot are spent on your Gunner.
The Blaster is a kind of heavy Plasma weapon with 5 normal/6 critical damage and Armour Penetration 2. great for taking out armoured targets.
The Shredder only has 3 normal/4 critical damage, but it has the Blast Circle/2 Inches Special Rule granting it an area of effect, and the Rending critical hit rule, meaning you can turn a normal hit into a critical hit in any attack where you roll at least of critical hit.
Both weapons are good, but with some of the other sources of multiple target damage you already have in your kill team, the Blaster might be preferable. Just remember the Darklight weapons restriction!
Kabalite Heavy Gunner (1 per kill team)
The Heavy Gunner can choose between two guns (in addition to his Array of Blades): The Dark Lance takes up a Darklight slot in your kill team roster, but it does 6 normal damage and 7 critical damage and has Armour Penetration 2 – but it takes 2 Action Points to even fire it.
The Splinter Cannon has 5 attacks, does 5 critical damage and has the Lethal 5+ Special Rule and it can split its attacks between multiple targets with the Fusillade Special Rule, making it really great against crowds.
Which weapon you choose is up to you and your playstyle, but you definitely shouldn’t miss out on bringing a Heavy Gunner in your kill team.
Kabalite Skysplinter Assassin (1 per kill team)
The Skysplinter Assassin is your sniper and your falconeer! He is equipped with a Shardcarbine, which is a sniper rifle that does 2 mortal wounds on a critical hit, scores critical hits on a 5+ and rerolls hit rolls of 1, and the Razorwing bird which has the Indirect, No Cover and Silent Special Rules, which makes it great for attacking hidind enemies, even though it doesn’t do much damage.
The Assassin can also make the Mark Unique Action, which lets you pick an enemy operative Visible to him and not situated higher than Circle/2 inches above him, and then treat that operative as having an Engage Order and not being in Cover except for from Heavy terrain for the rest of the Turning Point, which is a cool way of drawing out one of the opponent’s Concealed assassins before they can get to you.
If you don’t perform a Mark action in an activation, you can instead make a free Shoot action with your Razorwing in addition to your normal Shardcarbine attack, which is pretty great.
A final curiosity of the Assassin is the Omen ability, which lets you pick either a friendly operative or an enemy operative at the beginning of the game. If it’s a friendly operative, you can reroll results of 1 each time you roll attack or defence dice for it (a significant buff!) but if it’s an enemy operative, it has to reroll dice rolls of 6 for attack and defense dice (a huge debuff!). This is a really fun ability that would be really overpowered if it didn’t force you to make the hard choice between giving yourself an advantage or giving the opponent a disadvantage.
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Ploys of the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
This grants the Rending Special Rule to all melee weapons for your kill team for one Turning Point, letting them turn one normal hit into a critical hit in any combat where they score at least one critical hit in the first place.
Fleet of Foot
This lets your operatives perform a free Dash action right after any Fall Back or Normal Move action for one Turning Point.
From Darkness, Death
For one Turning Point, each time one of your operatives is activated, it can pick an enemy operative that doesn’t have Line of Sight for the activated operative. You operative can then retain a normal hit as a critical hit the first time in that activation it fights or shoots at that enemy operative. This is such a fun way to make rules for an ambush, and if you can set up a good amount of your operatives for it, it can be very effective.
Denizens of Night
This lets your Concealed friendly operatives stay Concealed no matter what, even when factoring in enemy operatives at Vantage Points or other similar rules. It requires your operatives to be within Square/3 Inches of your drop zone and more than Pentagon/6 inches from the operative making its activation, and it lasts for one Turning Point.
For one activation, this lets a friendly operative make Fall Back actions for the cost of one less Action than usual – even if the cost goes down to zero.
This can be used when the enemy uses a Tactical or Strategic Ploy. The next time they use that same Ploy, it costs 1 additional Command Point, and then the effect of Devious Scheme disappears, and you can use this Tactical Ploy again.
This lets you skip an activation (rather than spending one on making a Pass action).
Prey on the Wounded
This lets you reroll all your attack dice for a shooting attack or combat if the target has half or less of its Wounds Characteristic remaining when you make the attack.
Equipment of the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
This makes any enemy operative who is the sole operative in Engagement Range of the bearer turn snared, which means it has to roll a dice every time it wants to Fall Back. It adds 1 to the roll if it has a higher Wounds characteristic than the bearer, and 1 if the snared operative is injured. On a roll of 4 or more (including the modifiers mentioned), the operative can’t make that Fall Back action. Since this equipment doesn’t require the bearer to make any actions, it’s a great piece of equipment for melee focused operatives who don’t want their prey to run away.
This can only be equipped by operatives with an Array of Blades melee weapon. It adds 1 to the Array’s Attacks characteristic.
This gives a melee weapon worn by the bearer of this equipment the Lethal 5+ Special Rule. It costs 1 equipment point for an Array of Blades, and 2 equipment points for any other weapon.
This can be used on a Shardcarbine, Splinter Cannon, Splinter Pistol or Splinter Rifle worn by the bearer of this equipment, and adds 1 to the normal damage of that weapon. It costs 2 equipment points for a Splinter Pistol or Splinter Rifle, and 3 equipment points for the rest of the applicable weapons.
The Plasma Grenade is just like an Imperial Frag Grenade with its Blast radius and Indirect Special Rule, but it has better characteristics.
Phantasm Grenade Launcher
This gives the bearer the Phantasm Grenade action, which lets you roll dice for each operative within a Square/3 inch radius of a point within Pentagon/6 inches of the bearer, and then give those operatives a -1 to their Action Point Limit for every roll of 4 or more. Like other grenades, this equipment action can only be made once.
This treats all friendly operatives near the bearer as having a +1 to their Action Point Limit for the purposes of determining control of an objective.
Tac Ops of the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
The Hand of the Archon Kill Team has the Recon, Security and Seek and Destroy Archetypes, giving it acces to the Tac Ops associated with these in the Core Rulebook. In addition to this, it also has access to the following faction-specific Tac Ops.
Pay the Soul Debt
This is revealed the first time one of your operatives gains a Pain token, and then you start keeping track of a Soul Debt Tally which you increase by 1 every time one of your operatives gains a Pain token. When that tally goes to 7 or more, you score 1 Victory point, and you score another when it goes to 9 or more.
This is revealed the first time an enemy operative is incapacitated. It lets you place a Slave token on the battlefield each time an enemy operative goes down (at the spot where they were when they were incapacitated), and then your operatives can collect these tokens with the Pick Up action. Doing so decreases the Movement characteristic of the bearer of the token by Circle/2 Inches. If you’re carrying 2 or more tokens at the end of the game, you score a Victory Point, and you score another if you’re carrying 4 or more Slave tokens at the end of the game.
This can be revealed at the end of a Turning Point of your choosing. If one or more enemy operatives were incapacitated at the end of that Turning Point while none of your operatives were incapacatited in the same Turning Point, you score a Victory Point, and then you score another one for each subsequent Turning Point that meets the same conditions. You can only score it in Turning Points where you still have any operatives left on the battlefield.
Playing the Hand of the Archon Kill Team
Playing the Hand of the Archon kill team is really all about incapacitating enemies as quickly as possible to ramp up Pain tokens which will in turn improve the ability of your kill team to win its Tac Ops.
You have access to so many specialists that only two of your operatives need to simply just be Agents, so you’ll end up with a vast array of cool weapons and gadgets with which you can torment your opponent.
The Elixicant and the Flayer are probably the operatives you’ll want to build small groups of operatives around, since both can provide some useful buffs and support, while the walking nightmares that are the Crimson Duellist and the Disciple of Yaelindra just need to be kept alive long enough to start tearing apart your opponents.
The biggest challenge for a Hand of the Archon kill team is elite kill teams with only a few operatives on the board, since that will severely limit how many Pain tokens you gain. Yes, killing a big guy above 10 Wounds will give you two Pain tokens, but only on one operative, so it becomes almost impossible to get everyone Pain tokens against elite kill teams, unless everyone gathers around the Flayer and his ability to bestow Pain tokens on a critical hit in combat.
Getting the models for the Archon Kill Team
Right now the only way to get the Archon Kill Team is to buy the Soulshackle Box.