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Warpcoven Kill Team Guide (Thousand Sons)

The Warpcoven is a kill team for the Games Workshop tabletop miniature skirmish game Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. Its rules are available in White Dwarf Magazine issue 469.

The Warpcoven are the special forces of the traitor legion known as the Thousand Sons. The Thousand Sons are worshippers of Tzeentch, the Chaos god of magic and change, and their kill teams are always led by powerful Sorcerers bursting with psychic powers and horrifying mutations. Around them march the undead Rubric Marines, slow and almost invincible in their ornate suits of power armour, and ahead of them swarm the cackling, warbling, chirping masses of the Tzaangor beastmen with their blades and chainswords.

In the game, the Warpcoven kill team revolves around powerful sorcerers that are almost each a superhero in their own right, with Rubric Marines and Tzaangors supporting them and grabbing objectives. If you like playing an advanced Kill Team with lots of customization and some of the best “magic” in the game, the Warpcoven might be just the kill team for you.

[Note: This article has been updated with the changes from the Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate.]

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Abilities of the Warpcoven Kill Team

Boons of Tzeentch

The Boons of Tzeentch are a list of bonuses you can choose from when adding a Sorcerer to your Kill Team. You can either choose one from the list or roll two dice to determine which one you’re getting. There are three categories of boons and three boons in each category:

  1. Mutation
    Warp Swell gives your operative a +1 to normal damage on melee weapons
    Mutant Appendage lets you perform a mission or Pick Up action once per Turning Point
    for one less Action Point than usual
    Avian Talons lets you convert 1 normal hit to a critical hit when fighting if your operative
    charged in the same activation as the Fight action, and didn’t score any critical hits in that
    Fight action already.
  2. Fate
    Patron of Destiny let’s you use the universal Command Re-Roll Tactical Ploy (re-roll a dice,
    basically) for free once per Turning Point with the operative wielding the boon. However,
    you have to roll a dice every time you use the Tactical Ploy to see if you lose the ability for the
    rest of the battle
    Incorporeal Sight gives the non-psychic ranged weapons of this operative the Lethal 5+ special
    rule (so it scores critical hits on rolls of 5 and 6) and the No Cover special rule.
    Time-Walker gives a +1 to Attacks for this operative’s melee weapons and adds triangle/2 inches
    to its Movement characteristic as well.
  3. Aetheric
    Immaterial Flight gives your operative the Fly keyword.
    Crystalline gives the operative an improvement of its Save by 1 (so, 2+ instead of 3+)
    Empyric Ward gives the operative a 4+ invulnerable save.

Each boon can only be active once in your Kill Team, so choose wisely. If you rolled for the boon, and got one another operative already has, you can reroll the boon roll. Tzaangors can also gain boons in Spec Ops narrative play, but that’s only as a Battle Honour.

Psychic Actions

In addition to the Boons of Tzeentch, each Sorcerer in your Kill Team gets to choose a psychic discipline. Whenever it performs a Manifest Psychic Powers action, it has to choose a power from those available in the discipline it has studied.

  1. Destiny
    Weave Fate lets you pick a friendly visible operative to reroll its defence dice each time someone
    shoots at it until the start of its next activation, or it is incapacitated, or this power is selected again (as of the Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate)
    Twist Destiny lets you pick a visible enemy operative who then can’t reroll dice for shooting and
    fighting, and has to ignore all bonuses to its Action Point Limit, with the same duration as Weave Fate.
    Doombolt gives you a free Shoot action with 4 Attacks, Lethal 5+ and the ability to score 2 mortal
    wounds on a critical hit. Powerful stuff!
  2. Tempyric
    Ephemeric Instability subtracts Triangle/1 Inch from enemy movement from Charge and Dash actions
    Temporal Manipulation heals 2D3 wounds on a nearby friendly operative
    Fluxblast gives you a free Shoot action with a Blast range (so it hits multiple targets close to
    each other) and the Rending critical rule that gives it an extra critical hit if it has scored one in
    a Shoot action already
  3. Warpfire
    Warp Portal lets you teleport a friendly operative across the battlefield, with the only real downside
    being that it can’t move in the same Turning Point as the one where it has been teleported.
    Infernal Fire lets you select a visible enemy operative against which all your operatives can reroll
    their combat and shooting attacks with the same duration as Weave Fate. . An extremely useful
    psychic action if there’s a target you just have to take down.
    Firestorm gives you a free Shoot action with a large Blast radius, that hits from above rather than in
    a straight line (for the purposes of figuring out defence dice retained as a result of cover)

Operatives of the Warpcoven Kill Team

Sorcerer (minimum 1 and maximum 3 per Kill Team, counts as 2 operatives)

The Sorcerer is effectively the Leader operative of your Kill Team. The operative doesn’t have the Leader keyword in itself, but 1 of the 3 Sorcerers you can take in a Kill Team (you only have to take 1) gains the Leader keyword.

Sorcerers are tremendously powerful operatives: Their statistics are good with a 3+ save, a 5+ invulnerable save, good melee and ranged weapons (the Warpflame Pistol and Prosperine Khopesh are particularly cool) and an Action Point Limit of 3.

What really makes them powerful, though, is their access to Boons of Tzeentch and Psychic Action Disciplines, which you can read about in the section above this one. These bonuses essentially turn then into highly customizable psychic superheroes, and there’s a lot of fun to be had from fielding the maximum 3 Sorcerers with very different loadouts of boons and disciplines.

Additionally, if you equip a sorcerer with both the Force Stave and the Prosperine Khopesh (both good melee weapons), they gain the Relentless special rule that let you reroll their attack dice.

All in all, Sorcerers are powerful, versatile and absolutely the cornerstone of a good Warpcoven Kill Team, especially due to the Rubric Marine’s Sorcerer’s Command ability (see below, it was moved from the Sorcerers to the Marines in the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate), which makes them very dependent on their sorcerous masters.

Rubric Marine Warrior (4-5 per Kill Team, counts as 2 operatives)

The Rubric Marine Warrior is the standard operative of your Kill Team if you’re not using Tzaangors, and it’s basically a strong Space Marine warrior in power armour with 12 wounds, a 5+ invulnerable save and the Inferno Boltgun which adds an Armour Penetration of 1 to the standard Boltgun statline.

On top of that, all the Rubric Marines (including the specialists listed below) have the All is Dust ability. This ability gives the Rubric Marines an advantage as well as a disadvantage: it improves the Rubric Marines’ Save characteristic to 2+ against enemy weapons with a normal damage characteristic of 3 or less (so that’s most weapons), but it also states that Rubric Marines can never move more than 3 circle/inches in one activation.

Since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, the Boltgun and Bayonet of a Rubric Marine now has 4 attacks each.

Slow and sturdy, the Rubric Marine Warriors are at their best holding objectives on your end of the killzone or protecting your Sorcerers. The Rubric Marines also have another reason to stay close to Sorcerers (as per the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate): The Marine’s Sorcerer’s Command ability means that Rubric Marines have 1 less Action Point Limit when more than Pentagon/ 6 Inches away from a Sorcerer operative.

Rubric Marine Gunner (1 per Kill Team, 2 if you have 4 or more Rubric Marine operatives, counts as 2 operatives)

Rubric Marine Gunners are Rubric Marine specialists who can choose to equip either a Soulreaper Cannon, which is an armour-piercing machine gun that can split its attacks between multiple targets, or the Warpflamer that’s an equally armour-piercing flame-thrower. None of these are among the very best special weapons in Kill Team, but they’re still better than standard Inferno Boltguns, so you should absolutely field as many Gunners as the composition of your Kill Team allows.

Rubric Marine Icon Bearer (1 per Kill Team)

Rubric Marine Icon Bearer has the same statistics and loadout as a Rubric Marine Warrior, but they also have the Icon Bearer ability which makes them count as having 1 higher Action Point Limit characteristic than what’s in their rules when determining control of an objective, and the Icon of Flame ability that gives a free Manifest Psychic Power action to a nearby friendly Sorcerer once per Turning Point.

The Icon Bearer is an operative you would automatically pick because it also does what a standard Rubric Marine Warrior does, but Icon of Flame gives it a nice synergy with Sorcerers that makes it one of the cooler icon bearers in the game.

Tzaangor Fighter (9 per Kill Team)

(NOTE: Since the Q1 2024 Balance Dataslate, all the Tzaangor operatives on this list have 9 Wounds rather than their original 8)

The Tzaangor Fighter is your “cheaper” standard fighter operative, since it only counts as one selection in an otherwise very elite Kill Team. It can be equipped with either an Autopistol and Chainsword, or Tzaangor Blades which can reroll their attack dice. Like Rubric Marines, they have a 5+ invulnerable save. The main role of Tzaangors is to make up for all the close combat power the Rubric Marines don’t have, so Tzaangor Blades are always a good choice (and it doesn’t require you to buy the little plastic upgrade pack for the models to give them Autopistols and Chainswords).

Tzaangors are a lot less survivable than Rubric Marines, but their melee power and the fact that fielding mostly these guys will change the Archetype of your Kill Team (see below) makes them an interesting choice. If you play narrative play, they can even gain Boons of Tzeentch!

Tzaangor Champion (1 per Kill Team)

The Tzaangor Champion is a real close combat glass cannon: Like regular Tzaangor Fighters, it goes down pretty easily, but it more than makes up for it with its choice of either the Tzaangor Greataxe that scores critical hits on a 5+ but can also only be parried with critical hits (!), or the Tzaangor Greatblade that does a mortal wound to each enemy operative within triangle/two inches of the target.

To take maximum advantage of these weapons, the Tzaangor Champion also has the Savage Assault Unique Action that lets it perform a free Fight action and then fight again immediately after that (if it has the Action Points for it).

You can only take one Tzaangor Champion in your Kill Team, but you definitely should.

Tzaangor Horn Bearer (1 per Kill Team)

The Tzaangor Horn Bearer is a very useful operative if you’re already taking lots of Tzaangors, since it has the Brayhorn Unique Action that adds triangle/2 inches to the Movement characteristic of all your Tzaangors until the end of the Turning Point. Since this isn’t a once per battle bonus, the Horn Bearer can make your Tzaangors frighteningly fast all through the game, and it doesn’t have to be close to the rest of its flock.

Tzaangor Icon Bearer (1 per Kill Team)

The Tzaangor Icon Bearer counts as having a higher Action Point Limit than what’s in its rules when determining control of objectives just like all other icon bearers, but it also has the Herd Banner Unique Action that can improve the invulnerable save of nearby Tzaangors by 1.

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Ploys of the Warpcoven Kill Team

Strategic Ploys

Exalted Astartes

This lets a sorcerer perform two Fight actions if it doesn’t Shoot in an activation, or two Shoot actions if it doesn’t Fight (but it has to choose different ranged weapons for each action, Gunners need to spend an additional Action point for the second Shoot action, and the affected operative regardless of its type can’t use psychic ranged weapons). The effect lasts for one Turning Point. As per the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, the second Shoot action of this ability costs an additional Action Point if it is being made by a Gunner.

Psychic Dominion

This lets all friendly Sorcerers perform two Manifest Psychic Power actions in their activations for the duration of one Turning Point.

Slow and Purposeful

For one Turning Point, this lets all your Rubric Marine operatives choose one dice roll result (so 1s or 2s, for example) to reroll for each Shoot action they make. They can only do this if they haven’t moved in any way except for Dash actions in that Turning Point.

Savage Herd

This lets Tzaangor operatives retain one automatic normal success before rolling attack dice in combat for one Turning Point. If they’re supported by another friendly Tzaangor, they can retain a critical hit instead.

Tactical Ploys

Capricious Plan

This gives a friendly Sorcerer the one time use of a free Dash action at the end of their activation.

Psychic Cabal

This lets one of your Socerers use a psychic power once from a discipline studied by one of your other Sorcerers.

Mutant Herd

This Ploy lets you activate two Tzaangor operatives in a row without your opponent being able to perform Overwatch actions between the two.

Schemes of Change

This lets you discard one of your Tac Ops and pick one of the remaining Tac Ops from your chosen archetype, or one of your faction Tac Ops.

Equipment of the Warpcoven Kill Team

Gargoyle Bayonet

Adds a good melee weapon to the loadout of one Rubric Marine.

High Capacity Magazine

Lets an Autopistol, Inferno Bolt Pistol or Inferno Boltgun reroll 1s.

Occult Talisman

Lets the bearer roll a dice to avoid taking damage from mortal wounds or psychic shooting attacks.

Sorcerous Scroll

Lets a Sorcerer use one psychic power once from a Warpcoven psychic discipline it hasn’t studied, as long as it’s not within engagement range of an enemy operative while doing so.

Arcane Robes

Lets a Sorcerer turn critical damage done to it into normal damage once per Turning Point.

Ensorcelled Rounds

Gives a +1 to both normal and critical damage of the Autopistol of a Tzaangor Fighter.

Gilded Horns

If a Tzaangor with this equipment charges it can use one roll of 5+ in its Fight actions in the same activation as a critical hit.

Tac Ops of the Warpcoven Kill Team

The Warpcoven Kill Team has the Recon and Security archetypes, which gives it access to the corresponding Tac Ops in the Core Book (it used to pick these depending on what operatives you chose for your team, but that changed with the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate). In addition to that, the Kill Team has access to the following faction-specific Tac Ops:

Scry Secret

Your opponent has to select one of their operatives as your target, and then one of your operatives can perform the Scry Secret action when close to that target and gain 1 Victory Point. For as long as the scrying friendly operative stays alive in the battle, you score 1 additional Victory Point each Turning Point.

Sorcerous Ritual

Gives your Sorcerers a special action they can perform, called Sorcerous Ritual, which they can perform close to the centre of the killzone or on objectives far away from your drop zone. If one operative performs it two or more times, you score one Victory point, and also if an operative performs it three or more times.

Grand Plan

Your opponent has to select one of their operatives and one objective marker that’s far from their own killzone edge. You gain 1 Victory Point if you incapacitate that operative, and 1 Victory Point if you control that objective at the end of a Turning Point.

Playing the Warpcoven er Kill Team

The Warpcoven Kill Team can be played in lots of ways, but in order to make the most of it, the best approach is to max out on Sorcerers (there are 3 in their model kit anyway), and then go for either Rubric Marines, of which you’ll have space for two, or Tzaangors, of which you have space for four, for the rest of the team.

Both of those teams will be fairly elite, but you’ll have so many tactical options from the Sorcerers that it doesn’t really matter. The Rubric Marines synergize the best with the Sorcerers, but a fast flock of Tzaangors can also be great for actually moving around the board.

No matter what you choose, the Warpcoven Kill Team is a pretty advanced Kill Team that really relies on you pulling off psychic powers at the right time and choosing the right combination of boons and disciplines to make up for the fact that you don’t have that many interesting special weapons or lots of models in your Kill Team. This might sound overwhelming to some players (who should absolutely just choose a different Kill Team), but if you like magic and fielding powerful, specialized operatives with lots of personality in the game, look no further than the Warpcoven.

In order to start this Kill Team you will need a box of Exalted Sorcerers and a box of Rubric Marines and/or a Tzaangor box

Other great resources: