After a few days of delay, the Warhammer 40k Balance Dataslate January is finally released, bringing Rules and Points Changes, as well as more clarification in the Rules Commentary.
Everyone thought that Games Workshop would release the Warhammer 40k Balance Dataslate set for January last Thursday – usually these updates come on Thursdays, and last week was the last one of the month. They confirmed that the balance dataslate has been postponed to next week, which led everyone to think that it would arrive on the 1st of February, as that’s the next Thursday.
However, Games Workshop had other ideas, and went against the tradition, releasing the balance dataslate on a Tuesday. While the changes are not as extensive as some hoped, there are plenty of things to look at – so let’s dive right into it!
Don’t forget, this is only the Rules Changes, you can find our article going over the Points Changes here and Changes to the Rules Commentary here.
Warhammer 40k Balance Dataslate January
The Rules Changes
While a number of things changed Balance wise, GW didn’t go as hard as they could’ve with the changes. They buffed Drukhari and Imperial Knights, although the latter mostly got points instead of good rules. Some of the top factions have been hit, most notably Chaos Space Marines and Aeldari, but Necrons were untouched. Some middle of the pack factions also only got points changes, but some armies, such as T’au or Votann would benefit from points nerfs and datasheet buffs – maybe in another few months!
Let’s look at the most important change of the Balance Slate, the Dark Eldar Army Rule Buff. Before, Power from Pain only gave Rerolls to Hits in the Shooting or Fight phase, but if you use a Pain Token in the Fight Phase now, it also gives and extra AP, meaning that the Drukhari finally looks like a melee army again!
Another buff was that the Archon can now lead Incubi, which he really should’ve been able to from the start of the edition.
Another great change is to the Grey Knights, who lost a lot of punching power with the removal of the Psychic Phase at the start of 10th. They also got heavy hits to their Nemesis Dreadknights, which hit on 4+’s in melee with both their Greatswords and Daemon Greathammers. That has been buffed, as the Sword is now 2+ to Hit, and the Hammer is 3+ to hit, meaning that they are much more lethal as they can score more hits. They also got an extra pip of AP and Ignores Cover for their Heavy psycannon, which makes them much more lethal at range as well.
The biggest Nerf went to the Aeldari, who got hit last September, but needed a bit more to bring them down under 55% winrate.
Their Army Rule, Strands of Fate now only let’s them roll 6 Fate Dice at the start of the game, which is half of what they had before the Balance Slate. The Diviner of Futures ability of Eldrad Ulthran is tied to this as well, who didn’t get additional nerfs, but he can only increase the total number of Fate Dice to 9.
An Enhancement has been changed as well, as Fate’s Messenger now only let’s the model change the rolls of a test for themselves instead of their whole unit.
One of the most broken Stratagems in the game, Phantasm has been brought in live with other Movement Stratagems in Warhammer 40k, as it only let’s the target of the Strat move up to D6 instead of Flat 7 – and now can only be used at Infantry, not Bikes and other Aeldari units. This is a great change as the Stratagem was unnecessarily stronger than other of it’s type, and made Aeldari incredibly hard to interact with.
Some units have also been nerfed. The Nightspinner’s incredibly OP ability that denied Advances has finally been brought in line with other abilities of similar kind, which should’ve happened in the September Slate the Latest.
The Yncarne also got a hit as it’s only able to jump to a dying unit once per turn instead of each time. The avatar of the Ynnari deity was one of the most mobile units in the game, so nerfing it was a no-brainer, and should push Ynnari lists back.
The last change was for the Wraithguard who had their Wraith Construct ability changed so that the unit is only able to shoot back at the enemy unit that shot them. This puts Aeldari at the level of other factions – hopefully, they cease to become the boogeyman of 40k.
Chaos Space Marines
Another very strong faction, Chaos Space Marines thankfully got some hits as well. Unit’s cant join Transports if the transport and the unit has different Chaos Marks – so no more Undivided Chosen in a Nurgle Rhino that the enemy can’t shoot at, thankfully.
If we’re talking about the “can’t shoot” Stratagem, Dark Obscuration has been nerfed, now only denying targetability outside of 18”. While many anti-tank guns have longer range than that, this at least puts them outside of flamer range that could be protecting the Chaos Rhino, as well as making chip damage easier.
Profane Zeal has also been heavily hit, as it now can only be used on Choas Undivived units, and only gives re-rolls to Wound instead of Hit and Wound. This nerf is the harshest outside of the Aeldari nerfs, but it was justified – although, it might have been a bit too much.
One of the best CSM units before the dataslate was the Accursed Cultists, which prompted some nerfs. The Mutants and Torments now only have 1 OC, and they can only come back in the CSM players Command phase, which makes them much less tankier. While the Chaos Space Marines need some cheap backfield objective holders, they were simply too tough, which has been brought down a bit.
With the biggest changes out of the way, it’s time for some smaller, but still impactful balance changes. The Triumph of Saint Katherine could change every Miracle Dice units around it used, which was very strong. Even though the Sisters of Battle don’t have much going on, this combo was outright disgusting, and it had to go (finally).
The Custodians got hit the hardest with the September change, as the combined points increases, the Stratagem changes and the changes to Devastating Wounds left them out in the cold. Adeptus Custodes finally have a Detachment Rule, as they get a 4+ Feel no Pain against Devastating Wounds alongside Mortal Wounds.
Voice of Command has been changed as the Officers of the Imperial Guard can now Issue Orders after they get out of transports, not just in the Command Phase. This makes playing Astra Militarum much more fluid, as they don’t have to put their most important models in danger if they want to use their army rule.
The Blood Angels finally have a Detachment Rule as The Red Thirst gives +2 Strength and +1 Attacks in melee after a Charge. While the +1 extra Strength compared to the previous iteration may not seem much, but it could be an important breaking point against a number of units.
The 14th Legion only received one small nerf rules-wise: The Biologus Putrifier can still use the Grenade Stratagem for 0 CP once per battle, but not twice when you use his ability – you have to target the another unit with the Strat first.
The Noble Households has been struggling ever since the changes to the Titanic keyword, but they finally get some love from Games Workshop. Their Detachment Rule works the same as the Aeldari one, meaning they can re-roll a Hit and Wound roll each time they Shoot or Fight, which is much better than only being able to re-roll 1’s.
Sadly, they didn’t get Bondsman back for Big Knights, but the points changes could mean that their winrates will increase.
The Space Wolves Detachment rule, while incredibly fluffy, didn’t offer much as the Deeds Worthy of Saga couldn’t be completed easily. Thankfully, the Space Wolves can now choose Sagas at the end of both player’s turns and complete them, so Space Wolves can get stronger much faster (or at all).
The Astartes in service of Khorne were not a weak army, but they were not the strongest either. Still, they got some nerfs with some complementary buffs as far as rules go. The Berzerker Glaive Enhancement only gives +1 to Attacks in melee instead of Devastating Wounds, which could mean that the Master of Executions won’t be as played anymore.
The Favoured of Khorne has also been changed to once per battle – it’s still good, but not as much as before. However, if you’re going for the “Resurrect Angron” build, it’s still a must have.
The World Eaters Daemon Prince has been buffed, as it gives +1 to Invulnerable Saves if a model has an Invu inside their Infernal Fortitude Ability. This might prompt players to use them more, as it’s ability wont be wasted on models that already have invulnerable saves.
And there you have it! All of the changes of the Warhammer 40k Balance Dataslate released in January. While most of the changes are great, the internal balance of factions hasn’t been improved, and some factions (Necrons, mostly) didn’t get the nerfs they needed. Still, Games Workshop is headed to the right direction – hopefully, the next slate in about 3 months will address even more issues.