The Harlequins are some of the strangest Aeldari in the galaxy. They might belong to the Craftworlds, the Drukhari of Commorragh, the raiding Corsairs or the mysterious Exodites, but all Harlequins share a common devotion to Cegorach, the Laughing God. Serving him, they see battle as a theatrical performance, where they re-enact events from the history of their people with their enemies being unwilling participants in the play. They are graceful and swift like all Aeldari, but they are also irreverent tricksters bearing masks and playing games with their opponents.
In the game, the Void-Dancer Troupe kill team truly embodies battle as an art form, as they choose their tactics depending on the story they plan to murder their way through in a particular clash with the enemy, and each Player in the Troupe must play its role in the narrative. As each player is an artist in their own right, no member of a Troupe is just cannon fodder: even the standard Player operatives have great weapons to choose from, and can perform acts that can inspire the entire team to perfect their art and become even more dangerous. As they dance across the battlefield, the Troupe are some of the best at hit and run-tactics in the entire game, so if you like toying with your opponent and playing a high risk, high reward kill team, the Void-Dancer Troupe is just what you’re looking for.
Abilities of the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
Saedath is like a manuscript for the “play” a Void-Dancer Troupe kill team will perform when they go to battle. Before a game begins, you have to choose one of 6 Allegories, and one of your operatives has to be chosen as having the Pivotal Role in that battle. A Pivotal Role operative gets a bonus from the Allegory called an Accolade. Each Allegory also has a Performance, which is a condition any of your operatives can fulfill once per battle.
Each time someone fulfills this condition for the first time, you add 1 to a score called your Performance Tally. When your Performance Tally reaches 4, your whole kill team levels up: everyone gains the Accolade ability of your chosen Allegory for the rest of the battle, you gain one extra Command Point, and for the rest of the battle, you generate one extra Command Point in each Generate Command Points step of a Turning Point. This is obviously a very significant upgrade, so getting your Performance Tally to 4 should be your first order of business in most battles.
You can choose from the following Allegories:
- Comedy: Performance: performing a Fall Back Action. Accolade: A Fall Back action costs 1 less Action Point to cast. Great for hit and run tactics, and it synergizes well with the Tactical Ploys Ruthless Derision and The Curtain Falls.
- Epic: Performance: incapacitating an enemy operative in combat with the damage done from two or less attack dice. Accolade: If you don’t retain any critical hits when fighting in combat, strike or parry with one normal hit as if it was a critical one. Pretty easy to achieve for the Pivotal Role player with that Accolade, and good for other operatives as well if you pick a Power Weapon (which scores critical hits on a 5+) or the Embrace that can only be blocked by critical hits.
- Melodrama: Performance: incapacitating an enemy operative in a shooting attack with the damage from two or more attack dice. Accolade: The Pivotal Role player can reroll one of its attack dice when making a shooting attack. This one’s really good since the pistols everyone in your kill team has are great for this with their Rending critical rule that will often allow them to do critical damage at least twice in an attack.
- Odyssey: Performance: making a Charge move that ends you up within Pentagon/6 inches of the opponent’s drop zone. Accolade: The Pivotal Role Player can add up Square/3 inches to its Charge move rather than the usual Circle/2 inches. Not difficult to achieve, and if you get to 4 Performance points, everyone suddenly has great mobility on Charge moves.
- Tragedy: Performance: losing wounds from an enemy shooting attack. Accolade: Retain one defence dice as a succesful normal save without rolling it when defending against an enemy shooting attack while you’re not in cover. Not the best in the bunch, especially since your team is geared towards avoiding taking damage from shooting attacks with its universal 4+ invulnerable saves.
Operatives of the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
In a Void-Dancer Troupe, you can take 1 Leader and 7 Troupe operatives, which can be chosen from the following options. Be aware that, when choosing pistols for your operatives, the Fusion Pistol and the Neuro Disruptor, respectively, can only be taken once per kill team, which is a slightly unusual way of hiding half an extra Gunner operative type in the roster.
Lead Player (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Lead Player is the Leader of your kill team. Like all your Troupe operatives, he has an Action Point Limit of 3, which is great, but also a Save of 6+, which isn’t. However, he and the rest of your Troupe also has a 4+ invulnerable save, so you’re only extremely vulnerable in close combat. This is a big disadvantage, but also one that the kill team makes up for in all sorts of ways through movement shenanigans available in their Saedath and Ploys.
Like the regular Players in your Troupe, the can pick one ranged weapon from either a Fusion Pistol, Neuro Disruptor or Shuriken Pistol.
The Fusion Pistol is like a small meltagun with only Square/3 inch range, but with Armour Penetration 2, 5 normal damage and 3 mortal wounds on a critical hit, which makes it an excellent weapon, even though you can only bring one of them in your entire kill team. Giving it to your Lead Player is a good idea, since he has a Ballistics Skill of 2 rather than the regular 3.
The Neuro Disruptor has the Stun critical rule that can subtract 1 from an enemy operative’s Action Point Limit on a critical hit, as well as Armour Penetration 1, and can also only be taken once in your kill team. Debuffing the Action Point Limit of enemies can be really good when you’re trying to control an objective or you want to slow down an enemy, so definitely take this on one of your operatives, but maybe not on your Leader.
Finally, the Shuriken Pistol is the one everyone in the team can have, but it’s also pretty good. The Rending critical rule lets you turn one normal hit into a critical hit if you already scored a critical hit in a shooting attack, and since two critical hits is 8 damage for a Shuriken Pistol, that’s also a good thing to have in your arsenal – especially when you have 4 or 5 of them in your team.
The Lead Player can also choose one of 5 melee weapons: Blade, Caress, Embrace, Kiss and Power Weapon.
Blade is as generic as its name: 5 attacks is good, 4 normal damage and 5 critical damage is okay, and it can reroll one attack dice. Nothing special, but good enough.
Caress is the same stat-wise, can’t reroll a hit like the Blade, but can turn a normal hit into a critical hit if you already scored one just like the Shuriken Pistol, and that’s arguably better than rerolling a dice when you’re already hitting on a 2+.
Embrace also has the same stats, but can only be blocked in combat by critical hits, and Kiss drops all Special Rules and critical rules in favor of just hitting like a truck on critical hits with 7 critical damage.
All of the melee weapons above can be taken by both the Lead Player and regular Player operatives, and there are pros and cons for all of them. If I had to recommend some, it would be a tie between Caress and Embrace, since both of those have ways of getting damage through to the opponent rather than just having high stats or being sure to roll a hit.
Finally, the Lead Player has the unique option to take a Power Weapon that scores critical hits on a 5+ and does 6 damage on a critical hit – those are always crucial to bring if you can, so the recommendation from this guide for the Lead Player is definitely Fusion Pistol and Power Weapon, but your mileage may vary.
The Lead Player has one unique ability, but its one that’s essential to playing the Void-Dancer Troupe kill team: Performance Lead lets you change your Allegory once per battle as well as changing who the Pivotal Role Player is. This adds a lot of tactical versatility to your kill team, of course, but the greatest thing about it is that changing Allegory doesn’t reset your Performance Tally. This means you could get to 4 Performance Tally points through an easy Allegory such as Comedy (you just have to Fall Back a lot) and then switch to Epic and get a free upgrade from a normal hit to a critical hit in every combat for everyone!
The importance of Performance Lead of course means that you really, really have to keep your Lead Player alive for the first couple of Turning Points if you can, which is easier said than done for an operative that has to get up close to the enemy to any damage.
Player (7 per kill team)
The Player operative is your standard operative, but it’s just like the Lead Player (so see above for descriptions of its weapon options) except it doesn’t get a Power Weapon, it has 1 less Wounds and it doesn’t have the Performance Lead ability.
What it does have is some excellent weapons (Neuro Disruptor! Caress! Embrace!), an Invulnerable Save of 4+ and all the benefits of Saedath and everything else that makes the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team great, so this being your standard operative doesn’t in any way mean it’s mediocre – it just means that you have very few operative types to choose from.
Death Jester (1 per kill team)
The Death Jester is a unique operative that you can only take once in your kill team, and it basically functions like an elite Heavy Gunner with good melee utility.
Its Shrieker Cannon has 5 attacks that it can split between adjacent targets due to the Fusillade Special Rule, and it has the Rending critical rule like Shuriken weapons as well as the Humbling Cruelty Special Rule that makes the target Injured for the rest of the Turning Point if it takes any damage from the Shrieker Cannon. With the Unique Action Shrieking Harvest is a 2 Action Point Shoot Action that changes the Fusillade Special Rule to Torrent Circle/2 inches which means it no longer splits its dice between targets, but rather makes a full shooting attack against all targets within 2 inches of the first target and each other.
Add to this that the Death Jester also has the Shrieker Blade for close combat which does 2 mortal wounds to each enemy adjacent to the target for every critical hit, and the Death Jester becomes a must-have for your team, even if you can’t build the model from the same kit as your Lead Player and Players. But, if you’re playing Harlequins in 40k, you probably already have the model, and if you don’t, he’s not terribly expensive.
Shadowseer (1 per kill team)
The Shadowseer is the Void-Dancer Troupe kill team’s psyker, even though it doesn’t have the Psyker keyword for some reason. It can take either a Neuro Disruptor or a Shuriken Pistol as well as the melee weapon Miststave that has Stun just like the Neuro Disruptor, so save the Disruptor for another operative.
It also has the Unique Action Hallucinogen Grenade which is a once per battle grenade that can subtract 1 from the Action Point Limit of enemy operatives in the small area it hits on a roll of 4+, and if you roll 6, it also causes a mortal wound to each of them – a nice bonus on top of the Seeker’s psychic abilities.
The Shadowseer can perform two psychic powers per turn, with the usual caveat that before the second one, you have to roll a dice, and on a roll of 1 or 2, the Shadowseer takes 3 mortal wounds and doesn’t get to manifest the second power. It can choose between three powers:
Veil of Tears gives one friendly operative Cover for one Turning Point as long as it is Pentagon/6 inches from the active operative (so usually an enemy operative trying to shoot it) when determining Line of Sight between the two, and enemies can’t Charge within Engagement Range of the friendly operative receiving the power unless they’re charging from more than Pentagon/6 inches away or are also charging an adjacent friendly operative.
Fog of Dreams lets you roll a dice for a visible enemy operative. That operative then has a Group Activation of 1 for the rest of the Turning Point, and it can’t activate or perform action until everyone else in its team have activated or until a number of enemies equal to what you rolled on the dice have activatedm if that comes before the first condition.
Mirror of Minds lets you pick an enemy within Line of Sight, and then both players roll six dice. For each of your rolls that match one of the opponent’s rolls, the enemy operative suffers 1 mortal wound.
All these powers have utility within general Troupe tactics, and while Mirror of Minds is really fun, Fog of Dreams and Veil of Tears are probably the best in most situations. Fog of Dreams is great for taking an enemy Leader out of the equation (its debuff to Group Activation is less important), and Veil of Tears is good for protecting your own Leader or Death Jester. Either way, the psychic capabilites of the Shadowseer makes it another must-have for your team.
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Ploys of the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
For one Turning Point, your operatives can perform Shoot actions in the middle of Normal Move actions, and then use whatever movement increments you have left immediately after shooting. A massively useful tactical tool that no other kill team has access to as far as I can recall. Doesn’t work for Shrieker Cannons due to their Heavy special rule not allowing them to Normal Move and Shoot in the same activation.
Until the Turning Point ends or it makes a shooting attack, each of your operatives are always treated as having a Conceal order if within Triangle/1 inch of a terrain feature and more than Pentagon/6 inches from whomever is doing their activation (so mostly, enemy operatives), meaning that it ignores the effects of Vantage Point and similar conditions. Great for sneaking everyone up the board.
Lets each of your operatives that has performed any kind of movement in their activation reroll of their defence dice against shooting for the rest of the Turning Point. Good survivability ploy, even if you’re playing the Tragedy allegory, since it allows you to reroll, but of course doesn’t force you to, so it can help you manage taking shooting damage without dying from it.
For one Turning Point, this allows you to roll a dice for one enemy strike with a normal hit in combat every time one of your operatives fight. If your roll is the same or less than the Weapon Skill of the weapon the enemy is attacking with, you can turn the strike into a parry. A nice way of avoiding taking damage from weaker enemy melee attacks.
This can be activated when a friendly operative that has made a Charge in its activation strikes an enemy in combat with a critical hit, and allows you to immediately strike with an additional remaining attack dice after that critical hit. A great way of taking out an enemy operative in a big double strike.
The Curtain Falls
This can be used just after one of your operatives strikes in combat. The Ploy ends the combat instantly and lets the friendly operative perform a Fall Back action for 1 Action Point, regardless of whether it has performed actions like Charge in that activation that would prevent it from falling back. Just like Between Colours, this is an excellent Ploy because it allows you to bend the rules in a way few other kill teams can.
This allows you to reroll all attack dice for a shooting attack made by a friendly operative that’s already performed a Fall Back action. Since the Void-Dancer Troupe doesn’t generally have access to ranged weapons with good rerolls, this is a really good Ploy, especially if you’re playing the Comedy Allegory.
Capricious Role allows one friendly operative to perform Dash and Charge actions while within Engagement Range of enemies for the duration of one activation. Another good mobility Ploy.
Equipment of the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
Shrieker Toxin Rounds
Lets one Shuriken Pistol or Shrieker Cannon carried by the bearer of this equipment to do 1 mortal wound on a critical hit.
Gives you 1 Command Point after the bearer is incapacitated.
Accelerated Monofilament Wire
This upgrades the bearer’s Embrace weapon to score critical hits on a roll of 5+ as well as doing 1 mortal wound to each enemy operative within Triangle/ 1 inch of the target every time you score a critical hit with the Embrace.
Supertensile Monofilament Wire
Adds 1 to the normal damage of a Kiss weapon the bearer is equipped with.
Gives the bearer a once per battle ability to use the Command Re-Roll Tactical Ploy from the Core Book for free when it fights in combat, shoots or is being shot at.
This is a grenade with the Blast and Indirect Special Rules that can also Stun on critical hits, subtracting 1 from the Action Point Limit of the target.
Gives the bearer’s Neuro Disruptor pistol the ability to score critical hits on a roll of 5+.
This can only be worn by the Death Jester. It removes the Heavy special rule for its Shrieker Cannon and replaces it with Cumbersome, which states that the Death Jester can’t move more than 3 Circle/3×2 inches in the same activation as performing a Shoot action with the Shrieker Cannon.
Tac Ops of the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
The Void-Dancer Troupe kill team has the Infiltration, Recon and Seek and Destroy archetypes, giving the team access to the corresponding Tac Ops in the Core Book. In addition to those, the team has the following faction-specific Tac Ops:
Must be revealed in the Target Reveal Step of the first Turning Point of a battle. It grants you 1 Victory point when your Performance Tally reaches 4, and another when it reaches 6.
This can be revealed when a friendly operative incapacitates an enemy operative. If that friendly operative has incapacitated more enemy operatives than each other friendly operative at the end of the battle, Hero’s Path grants you 1 Victory Point, and if it also ends the battle within the opponent’s drop zone, another Victory Point (this can also be scored separately if you don’t fulfill the condition for the first point). Such a cool Tac Op that really allows for some hero moments in the game, but it can be difficult to consistently achieve.
This Tac Op lets you start counting points for a Grand Act Tally. You gain a point for the tallyonce for the first time any friendly operative completes a Performance from the Saedath rules – even if it is not the Performance associated with the active Allegory! You gain one Victory Point when the tally reaches 5, and another if it reaches 5 before the fourth Turning Point, so you basically just have to Fall Back, incapacitate an enemy in combat with damage from two or less attack dice, incapacitate another in a shooting attack with damage from two or more attack dice, perform a Charge action into within Pentagon/6 inch range of the enemy drop zone and lose wounds from a shooting attack made by an enemy operative before the fourth Turning Point. Easy, right? There’s only one of those Performances that you can actually make sure happens (falling back), so this Tac Op has a bit too many unsure conditions to be worth taking.
Playing the Void-Dancer Troupe Kill Team
Building a kill team for a game with the Void-Dancer Troupe kill team is pretty easy thanks to the very few options you have: Bring a Lead Player, a Death Jester and Shadowseer if you have the models, and then fill up the team with Players, with one of them having the Neuro Disruptor.
Playing the team is a pretty advanced affair: all your operatives are very valuable, are good in combat but also very vulnerable in combat, while you have many options for staying alive through movement and avoiding taking damage from shooting attacks. This means you’re going for hit and run tactics, which can be tricky enough, but you also have to make sure you’re focusing on the Performance Tally for your Allegory, and that you have a plan for when to change Allegory.
If everything clicks, a team like the Void-Dancers can be extremely fun to play: Everything is high risk, high reward, but you always have an option to get out of a bad situation through Ploys or to make the most of it to the point of even benefiting from taking wounds with the Tragedy Allegory.
What you generally don’t have is long range shooting, except for the Shrieker Cannon of the Death Jester, so this is really a kill team where you can never hesitate with getting up close and personal with the enemy, but that’s also more interactive and intense than sitting and sniping from a Vantage Point, even though you have to micromange your team a bit more.