Last year, Games Workshop released Kill Team, a skirmish game set in the world of Warhammer 40,000. It has solid rules that should be familiar to anyone who has played Warhammer 40,000 and uses the same miniatures, but it suffers from a product line with limited availability.
The core Kill Team rules are derived from the rules of Warhammer 40,000 8th edition. Models often have the same core stats across the two games even if some unit abilities and wargear rules were changed to fit the skirmish scale and rules of Kill Team. The first main difference is that in Kill Team, all models act independently rather than being part of a unit that moves, shoots, and charges together. The second big difference is that the turn structure is re-worked to give games a feel of simultaneous action. Players take turns activating single models for shooting and combat rather than one player doing all of the activations for their army at a time. I like the turn order change since it mitigates a lot of the first-turn advantage that can be problematic in Warhammer 40,000. Kill Team also has a rule for flesh wounds that gives a bit more durability to models by giving them a chance to stay in the fight with a penalty on actions rather than always being removed when losing their last wound.
One rule that I dislike is the penalty for long range shooting. In Kill Team, any attack against a target at more than half the weapon’s range away takes a -1 penalty on its to-hit roll. While I like the idea of making longer range attacks less reliable, I feel like this implementation interacts oddly with other rules carried over from the full game of Warhammer 40,000. For example, rapid fire weapons and shotguns already have advantages at less than half range (double shots for rapid fire, increased strength for shotguns) that feel weird to stack with an additional penalty for being at more than half range. Other weapons from 40,000 such as shuriken catapults also suffer more because they have a short normal range and so only fire at full accuracy when very close to their targets. I’d prefer a long range penalty that used a fixed distance, like 12″, rather than half the weapon’s range. I’d also be interested in alternatives to other rules that deal with half-range such as letting rapid fire weapons double their shots for standing still.
While I think the game itself is great, I feel like the product strategy for Kill Team has been a bit of a mess. The starter set was a great introduction to the game that included the core manual, a game board, terrain, and Adeptus Mechanicus and Genestealer Cult miniatures. Unfortunately, it has already gone out of print. While the core rules are available as a standalone book, needing to buy other components one at a time is more of a challenge for someone potentially just getting into the game particularly for the game board. Games Workshop has released several kill zone boxes that have included terrain and game boards, but like the starter set, they have gone out of print quickly.
I also dislike the way that rules have been split between the various products. Most of the rules are included in the core manual and expansion books, but each kill team, commander pack, and kill zone has included exclusive tactics, unique commander options, and missions. This makes the short availability of products extra troublesome because when they go out-of-stock, players aren’t just missing out on a discounted bundle they are also losing the chance to get rules.
Despite my issues with the product strategy, I recommend Kill Team as a fun game that can serve as a great introduction to the world of Warhammer 40,000 or as an excuse to try out new factions without the need to commit to a large army.
If you’re an existing Warhammer 40,000 player, it should be pretty easy to get into Kill Team. Your existing collection will most likely already have the miniatures you need to play, so you’ll just need to pick up the Kill Team Core Manual to get started. For a new player, the kill team boxes have seemed to last longer on shelves and offer a squad paired with a small amount of terrain. They will still need to buy the Core Manual separately since the kill team boxes don’t include the rules for the game.
After the Core Manual, there are three more expansions that add a lot to the game. Commanders allows for larger kill teams led by heroic characters such as space marine captains, imperial guard comissars, and eldar farseers. Arena includes kill zones, missions, and other rules aimed at tournament play. The newest expansion, Elites, offers datasheets for more models, subfaction rules, and adds Adeptus Custodes as a new faction to play.