The Hierotek Circle are a kill team for Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team tabletop skirmish game. They’re available as part of the Shadowvaults expansion for the game.
The Necrons are an unfathomably ancient race of aliens who left their mortal flesh behind ages ago to live with their minds uploaded into mechanical bodies. They now roam the galaxy, seeking dominion over all biological lifeforms.
Among the Necron dynasties, specialists and agents called Crypteks work to further the cause of their dynasty – and their own mysterious agendas. Unlike the rulers of the dynasties, Crypteks are highly specialized scholars and warriors, and they often travel with a retinue of specialists and warriors when on missions to gain new knowledge or sabotage a rival dynasty.
In the game, the Hierotek Circle kill team if centered around a powerful Cryptek Leader with amazing weapons and a host of special abilities and actions. Since they’re made of living metal, the Hierotek Circle operatives automatically heal between fights, and they can even resurrect themselves when taken out, which can be very frustrating to your opponent. So if you want to play an unstoppable force of slowly advancing murder machines led by charismatic Leaders with near-magical abilites, the Hierotek Circle kill team might be just the right team for you.
Abilities of the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
Hierotek operatives with this ability regain up to 2 wounds in each Initiative Phase, unless they’re Plasmacytes, which only regain 1. Everyone in the Hierotek kill team has this ability, so they’re a kill team that can be really hard to bring down if you can’t take their operatives out in one attack.
Reanimation Protocols is an ability structured around Reanimation Tokens. When a Hierotek Circle operative is incapacitated for the first time, and an ability allows it to reanimate (the Rites of Reanimation from a Technomancer, for example), you leave a token where they stood on the battlefield. At the beginning of the next Turning Point, you roll a dice for each token. If you roll 1 or 2, nothing happens, but if you roll 3 or more, the operative the token was put down for returns to the battlefield as close as possible to where it fell, with D3 wounds, and then the token is removed. An operative can only be reanimated like this once. Between this, Living Metal and the Hierotek Circle’s generally great Save characteristics, they’re extremely difficult to kill.
Operatives of the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
A Hierotek Circle kill team consists of 3 categories: 1 Leader chosen from 3 options, 2 mandatory Plasmacyte operatives, and 5 operatives chosen from the rest of the options below. Beware that even though this kill team is featured in an expansion set for the game, not all operatives in the kill team are actually available in the Shadowvaults box set: the Chronomancer and Psychomancer are separate purchases.
Chronomancer (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Chronomancer is one of your 3 options for a Leader for the Hierotek Circle kill team. Like all the other Hierotek Leaders, he has 13 Wounds (a +2 from the original 11 by way of the December 2022 Balance Dataslate), a 3+ Save and an Action Point Limit of 3.
He can be equipped with either an Aeonstave or an Entropic Lance, both of which have a ranged and a melee profile.
The Aeonstave has 5 attacks, a Blast radius of Circle/2 Inches, the Lethal 5+ Special Rule that lets it score a critical hit on a roll of 5 or more, and the Stun critical hit rule. The melee version of the Aeonstave only has 3 attacks and no Blast radius, but is otherwise identical to the ranged version.
The Entropic Lance only has 4 attacks, but does higher damage, has Armour Penetration 1 and does 3 mortal wounds on a critical hit, but its melee version has no Armour Penetration or any mortal wounds to deal, but does 6 critical damage.
Both weapons are really good, with the Entropic Lance being the winner if you’re going for ranged damage.
The Chronomancer has two abilities apart from the Living Metal common to all Hierotek operatives: Magnification Conduit lets you use another friendly visible operative with an Engage Order as the active operative when determining Line of Sight for a shooting attack made by the Chronomancer – you can basically see through the eyes of your comrades. If you do this, you can also reroll all your attack dice of a specific value (so, for instance, all rolls of 4) for that shooting attack. This is a bit complex and requires some careful positioning, but just the fact that you get the chance to reroll dice on something like the mortal wound-dealing Entropic Lance makes it all worth it.
Like Magnification Conduit, the other ability Cryptek Actions is shared by all your Leader types. The Chronomancer can choose 2 Unique Actions from these three when you add him to your roster: Timesplinter gives an invulnerable save to a nearby Hierotek operative equal to that operative’s Save characteristic for one Turning Point. Countertemporal Nanomine lets you place a token close to your Chronomancer. When an enemy operative moves close to it, temporarily subtract Circle/2 inches from that operative’s Movement and then remove the token. Chronometron adds 3 Inches/Square to a nearby friendly operative’s Movement for one Turning Point as well as letting that operative ignore an incoming point of damage by rolling a 5 or more on a dice roll.
Finally, the Chronomancer also has the Command Unique Action (also common to all your Leaders), which lets you pick a nearby Immortal or Deathmark operative (or one of those two close to a friendly Immortal Despotek). That operative can then immediately Fight, Overwatch, Pick Up or make a Mission Action, as long as the action only costs 1 Action Point.
Like the other Leaders, the Chronomancer is a pretty complex Leader with quite a few tricks up his sleeve. This particular Leader is very much a support Leader when it comes to his Cryptek actions, with options for affecting the movement of both the movement of your own operatives and that of the enemy, as well as some extra “saves after the save” such as the invulnerable save for Timesplinter and the “ignore damage” roll of Chronometron.
Psychomancer (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Psychomancer is a Leader for the Hierotek Circle kill team, and apart from his Cryptek Actions and his weapons, he is identical to the other Leaders rules-wise (so be sure to read the entry for the Chronomancer before reading this one).
He is equipped with an Abyssal Lance that has a ranged and a melee profile. The ranged profile has Armour Penetration 2 and a Blast radius of Circle/ 2 Inches, as well as the Splash 1 critical hit rule for dealing mortal wounds to operatives next to the target. The melee profile is more straightforward but terrifying with just the Reap 3 critical hit rule which does 3(!) mortal wounds to each surrounding operative in close combat when striking with a critical hit.
The Psychomancer can choose two from the following 3 Cryptek Actions: Conjure Trauma makes an enemy operative become Injured for one Turning Point. Nightmare Shroud creates a Pentagon/6 Inch aura around the Psychomancer for one Turning Point, and within that aura, enemy operatives can’t reroll attack dice for combat or shooting, and they retain critical hits as normal hits instead. Finally, Harbinger of Despair lets you place a Despair token in a spot visible to the Psyschomancer for the duration of one Turning Point, and as long as an enemy operative is close to that token, mission and Pick Up actions cost one more action point to perform for them. The token also gives nearby enemies a -1 to their Action Point Limit for the purposes of determining control over nearby objective markers.
The Psychomancer’s weapons are really good, and the unlimited range (as long as you have line of sight) of Harbinger of Despair makes it great for objective hunting, but Nightmare Shroud is arguably the coolest tool in the Psychomancer’s toolbox. In a game with as much focus on critical hits and critical hit rules as Kill Team, disabling them in an area is a fantastic skill to have.
Technomancer (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Technomancer is a Leader for the Hierotek kill team, and he’s the only Leader that’s actually included in the box for the team (the other two are sold separately). He has the same statistics and abilities as the other Cryptek Leaders, but his weapons and Cryptek Actions are unique.
He is equipped with a Staff of Light with a ranged profile that’s much more straightforward than what the other Leaders in the kill team have: It just has 6 attacks and Armour Penetration 1. The melee profile for the Staff of Light is also good but simple: 3 attacks with a critical damage of 5 that scores critical hits on a roll of 5+.
The reason the weapons are so simple is that doing damage isn’t really what the Technomancer is for. Instead, he specializes in healing and reanimating his subjects. the Canoptek Repair Cryptek Action lets you pick a nearby friendly operative which then gains 2D3 lost wound, or just D3 if it was reanimated in the same Turning Point. Nanoscarab Repair Swarm prevents friendly operatives from gaining the Injured condition for one Turning Point, as well as letting everyone in your kill team regaing an extra wound from the Living Metal ability every Turning Point. Rites of Reanimation, the Technomancer’s third Cryptek Action lets him make a nearby incapacitated friendly operative reanimate (see above), which is hugely useful. If you don’t take the Technomancer with Rites of Reanimation as your Leader, your only other sources of reanimation are the Plasmacyte Reanimator, which is pretty easy to kill, and spending a precious Command Point on the Commence Reanimation Tactical Ploy. With the Technomancer, you can get it for just one Action Point.
Plasmacyte Accelerator (1 per kill team)
The Plasmacyte Accelerator is one of two Plasmacyte operatives in the Hierotek Circle kill team. Plasmacytes only have 5 wounds and a 5+ Save, so unlike the rest of the team, they’re easy to kill. They’re equipped with the short range Spark ranged weapon and the Claws melee weapon, none of which are good at all, and they can’t carry equipment. Instead, the Plasmacytes are always treated as having a Conceal order when they have that order, even to the point of ignoring the effects of an attacker being on a Vantage Point.
The Plasmacyte Accelerator has the Accelerate Unique Action (hence the name) which allows it to add 1 to the Action Point Limit of a Deathmark or Immortal operative close to it.
Plasmacyte Reanimator (1 per kill team)
The Plasmacyte Reanimator is just like the Accelerator, but instead of adding to the Action Point Limit of a nearby friendly operative, it has the Reanimation Beam ability which lets one nearby incapacitated friendly operative per Turning Point attempt reanimation, at the cost of subtracting 1 from the Action Point Limit of the Reanimator. As mentioned above, if you don’t bring the Technomancer in your team, this little guy is one of your only sources of reanimation, so take good care of it.
Apprentek (1 per kill team)
The Apprentek is, as the name suggests, a junior Cryptek: It also has a pretty good weapon that’s both a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, the Arcane Conduit, and the Magnification Conduit ability just like the Cryptek Leaders. Awesomely, the Apprentek also has the Apprentek Assistance Unique Action, which let it cast one of your Leader’s Cryptek Actions with the Apprentek once per Turning Point, which gives the Apprentek pretty strong Frostgrave apprentice vibes, if you’ve played that game at least.
The Apprentek Assistance Unique Action and the versatility of its weapons makes the Apprentek a really good choice for your kill team, but you don’t have to include it – it’s not a Leader even though it looks like one.
Deathmark (5 per kill team)
This is the part of the operatives section where you can breathe a sigh of relief: The rules for the actual infantry of the Hierotek Circle kill team aren’t remotely as complex as those of its Leaders and specialists. The Deathmark operative is the sniper of the kill team, only you can have 5 of them in your kill team. The Deathmark has 10 wounds and a 3+ Save like most operatives on the team, but it is equipped with the Synaptic Disintegrator ranged weapon which hits on a 2+, has Armour Penetration 1 and does 1 mortal wound on a critical hit. That’s just a really, really good gun for a standard operative, so be sure to bring at least one of these in your team.
Immortal Guardian (5 per kill team)
The Immortal Guardian is the other standard operative of the Hierotek Circle kill team, and it has two loadout options: The Gauss Blaster has 4 attacks, a critical damage of 5 and Armour Penetration 1, and the Tesla Carbine which has 5 attacks and the Splash 1 critical hit rule for dealing a mortal wound to multiple enemies. Both loadouts also come with the pretty good Bayonet melee weapon.
This operative might seem a little on the simple side, but both guns are good, and with 10 wounds and a 3+ Save plus Living Metal and various ways to reanimate, the Guardians can be very, very hard to take down.
Immortal Despotek (1 per kill team)
The Immortal Despotek is just like an Immortal Guardian, but it also has the Demand Unique Action which lets you use the Command Re-roll Tactical Ploy for free once in a Turning Point. A Command Re-Roll is always a good way to improve your odds, and since the Despotek is otherwise an Immortal Guardian, there’s no reason not to bring him along in your kill team.
Ploys of the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
This lets everyone in your kill team reroll 1 of their attack dice in shooting attacks against enemies within Pentagon/6 inches of the shooter. It doesn’t work if the attack was made using the Cryptek Magnification Conduit. The Ploy lasts 1 Turning Point.
This gives Immortals and Deathmarks an extra Circle/2 inches to movement as long as they have an Engage order. It lasts for 1 Turning Point.
For one Turning Point, this lets your operatives retain one defence dice automatically against shooting attacks when your operatives are not in Cover.
For one Turning Point, your operatives can change their order for the cost of 1 Action Point, but this Ploy can only be used once in a game.
At the beginning of the game, you can use this Ploy to set up one of your Deathmark operatives in a hyperspace dimension. It can then be deployed in the first Firefight Phase of the game anywhere on the battlefield that’s more than 6 inches/Pentagon away from the enemy drop zone and operatives. This counts for a Normal Move action. Like Dimensional Concealment, this can only be used once per game.
This lets you take 1 point away from the Action Point Limit of a friendly operative close to your Cryptek Leader and add it to the Leaders Action Point Limit.
This lets you change the target of an enemy shooting attack from your Cryptek Leader to a nearby friendly operative.
This lets a newly incapacitated friendly operative attempt reanimation.
Equipment of the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
This can only be equipped by Deathmark operatives. It lets you treat a succesful normal hit in a shooting attack made by the bearer as a critical hit instead.
The Hyperphase Blade can only be equipped by Immortal operatives. It makes the Bayonet of the bearer score critical hits on a roll of 5+.
Tesla Weave lets you roll 3 dice each time an enemy operative make a Charge action that ends within engagement range of the bearer, and the charging operative suffers 1 mortal wound for each roll of 5 or more.
This can only be equipped by an Immortal with a Tesla Carbine, and it changes the Splash 1 critical hit rule for the Tesla Carbine to effectively Splash 3 so it hits a much larger area.
This can only be selected by one operative (hence the plus). It can only be equipped by a Cryptek, which gets a 4+ invulnerable save from wearing it.
This is effectively a Krak Grenade with Lethal 5+. It’s a one time use grenade weapon that deals critical hit damage on a roll of 5+.
This can only be equipped by one operative (hence the plus). It lets friendly operatives near the bearer roll a dice every time they would suffer a wound, and then ignore the wound on a roll of 4+.
Tac Ops of the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
The Hierotek Circle kill team has the Recon and Security Archetypes, giving it access to the corresponding Tac Ops in the Core Book. It also has access to the following faction-specific Tac Ops.
This gives you 1 Victory Point if three or more friendly operatives that aren’t Plasmacytes are close to the centre of the battlefield or the opponent’s drop zone, and an extra Victory Point if one of the operatives qualifying for the first condition is also a Cryptek or Apprentek.
This lets you place an Artifice token on the battlefield, and if you control it at the end of a Turning Point before the fourth Turning Point, you score 1 Victory Point, and if you control it at the end of the battle, you also score a Victory Point. However, you have to unearth the token before controlling it, and that’s an action which costs 2 Action Points.
Worthy of Study
For this Tac Op, you select two enemy operatives, and the opponent then selects one of those two as “worthy of study”. When that operative is incapacitated, it leaves behind a Study token. If you control a Study token at the end of a Turning Point, and a friendly Apprentek or Cryptek is nearby, you get 1 Victory Point, and you gain an additional Victory Point at the end of each other Turning Point where this condition is also met.
Playing the Hierotek Circle Kill Team
The Hierotek Circle kill team is a pretty unusual kill team centered around a very powerful and complex Leader operative.
Which Leader you choose defines your playstyle – the Chronomancer buffs your operatives and deals terrifying damage as well as Stunning foes, the Psychomancer debuffs enemies, deals great area damage and helps with objective play, and the Technomancer makes your team near-indestructible through reanimation and healing.
Your regular Deathmark and Immortal operatives are good ranged fighters, but can be made a lot better through smart positioning and use of the Magnification Conduit abiliy of your Crypteks, and in general, the Hierotek Cirlce kill team is built upon a foundation of operatives that are good at shooting and really hard to kill.
Using reanimation well (and being lucky with your reanimation rolls) can really frustrate your opponent, as operatives they’ve committed resources to taking out just come right back to shoot at them again, so make sure you have multiple ways to reanimate at any given time.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is to take really good care of your Cryptek Leader, Plasmacyte Reanimator and Apprentek, because without them, you basically just have a bunch of durable riflemen – all the finesse of the kill team are placed in its Leaders and little Plasmacyte minions.