After a weekend devoted to attempting to understand the rules for the new version of Warhammer 40k: Kill Team that just came out, I thought I’d ramble for a bit on the blog here, with some thoughts and first impressions. I haven’t played any games yet – hell, I’ve barely had time to start building models – so all of this is just my rambling conjecture, really!
I think it’s important to note, first of all, that this game is a completely different and new iteration of Kill Team, and one that does not form a low bar of entry into regular 40k. It is its own game system, and I think it’s much better for it. Sure, I got confused as much as anyone when I first picked this up, but I’m getting my head wrapped around it now, and I’m cautiously optimistic.
I think one of the biggest changes comes from how you build your team. Points have all gone, and instead your faction choice dictates pretty much your roster. It’s not as straightforward as all that, but it is still very prescriptive. I don’t have the Compendium that has been released, to allow for all the “regular” unit choices from 40k to be played here, but I understand that, broadly speaking, each faction has a set number of “fire teams”, which are built from specific models, and you can’t simply throw together a team based on a whim. For example, it seems to be the case that Necron Warriors and Immortals aren’t on the same fire team anymore, so potentially won’t be in the same game.
That said, the campaign book that was released in the box has the rules for Death Korps and Kommandos – and these rules are both interesting and involved! For Death Korps, you get to build a single team of 10 guys, but can pick from a long list of role types. You get a plethora of additional rules to make use of. Which is a bit overwhelming at first, especially as you’ll need to get to grips with it all before you start. It just serves to illustrate how the Compendium is the Index of this game, and I suppose the promise of lots more boxes as the game develops makes sense, now!
I’ve surprised myself by getting a complete Krieg team built this weekend! I’m going purely for the rule of cool on these chaps, fully in the knowledge that I want to pick up another box when they’re released separately. I’ll probably build a couple more special ones, but I really like the look of these as basic troops, and it kinda fits the narrative in my head of having less of a ‘special’ squad with fancy weapons, rather just having a regular team that has been thrown into this situation of clearing out an Ork infestation.
The rules, as stated earlier, are very different to previous iterations, and from regular 40k, too. There are three parts to each turn (which itself is called a Turning Point), of which there are four per game. The initiative phase is where initiative is decided, oddly enough, then the strategy phase acts much like 40k’s command phase, where you get your command points and can play strategic ploys – one of two types of ploy, the other being tactical ones. These are basically stratagems from 40k, and each team has a suite of them that they can use. During the strategy phase, you also get to reveal TacOps – secondary objectives – which score you additional victory points outside of the scope of the mission being played.
Lastly, there is the firefight phase, where the actual model stuff happens! There are 9 different actions available to models, which have limits on how many actions they can take. The Krieg guys all have 2 action points to spend, and stuff like move, shoot, pick up and fight all costs one action point. Very nice.
Movement is still measured in inches, but there is a symbol-based system that has been the subject of much debate online, so I’m not going to go heavily into it here. I do kinda like the way having this symbol-based thing can be used, as you move in straight-line increments of whatever your move value is – 3⚪️ is 6”, but you move in blocks of 2”. There’s a nuance there that comes from playing, I imagine.
Combat is very interesting, especially hand-to-hand combat. Basically, both fighters roll together, and the defender can try to parry the successful hits from the attacker, simulating real-time combat in a way that I’ve not seen in games before. Very interesting, indeed!!
As normal for GW games, there are the three ways to play, with narrative play seeming to get the best deal here. Referred to as Spec Ops, there are rules for specialists that we had in the last version of the game, although the talent tree style has been replaced with a battle honours system that basically nets the operative more rules from a list of six available within that specialism. It’s perfectly serviceable, though does lack that sense of progression the old system had. The exciting thing here, though, is that you have rules to create your own HQ! The meat and potatoes of the narrative style is the Spec Ops themselves, though – ten missions, for want of a better term, that give you a structure to what your kill team is trying to achieve. Each one has two objectives, which must be completed in order – but that’s not to say you only have to play a pair of games! The first one objective of each requires you to play five games and score victory points from accomplishing certain things. It’s similar to Warcry, in that you’re trying to tell your own story through your narrative, and you aren’t tied in to a group or anything.
The Octarius book builds on this by providing a whole bunch of faction-specific rules, including unique Spec Ops for those teams to complete. It seems very much that this edition of Kill Team is aimed at the narrative end, although you can of course play matched play games if you want – I’m just not sure how much fun they’d be.
Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this version of Kill Team. It isn’t tied to the main 40k system anymore, which seems like it might outlast 9th edition. I know a lot of people are a little salty that it no longer provides a gateway into 40k, but that’s kinda the point now. Kill Team is its own thing, and will usher in fans via the models and the overall grim dark world and theme, but Combat Patrol is now clearly the way forward for small-scale 40k. Kill Team is its own game, one that looks like it will have its own model range that can almost coincidentally be used in main-line 40k.
Should be really interesting to watch this one as time goes on.