Games Workshop’s new edition of Kill Team is available for pre-order this weekend. I’ve talked before about my hopes for Kill Team, and I’m disappointed with what I’ve seen in previews so far for the new edition.
I really enjoyed the version of Kill Team that co-existed with Warhammer 40,000’s 8th edition. I thought it made some great changes to the rules of Warhammer 40,000 to enable smaller battles while still managing to stick fairly close to the larger game’s rules. That enabled it to serve as a great on-ramp to Warhammer 40k or as a way to try out a new faction without needing to build up to 500 or 1,000 points.
Where I thought the game struggled was its product strategy. While the core book was a great product, the updates were a mixed bag. Some rules were only released alongside miniatures. For example, there were named commanders with special rules. The models were standard miniatures for the factions, but the only way to get the rules for use in Kill Team was to buy them alongside the mini. Kill Zones also had that problem. The terrain boxes sold out quickly, but they were initially the only way to get the Tactic cards and special rules for those kill zones even if you already had the terrain in your collection. That was eventually remedied with the recent release of the Kill Zones book, but that book is now obsoleted by the new edition just half a year after it was announced.
When 9th edition codex books started to get released, they brought some dramatic shifts in unit profiles. Space Marines moved to 2 wounds, flamethrowers started spraying 12″, power swords started to add to Strength, new units were introduced, and more. These changes pushed 9th edition out-of-sync with Kill Team’s rules which was a disappointing to see. Kill Team: Pariah Nexus was released and closed that gap for Space Marines and Necrons. Because the updated rules were only available in a big box and it only updated those two factions, it really felt like a continuation of Kill Team’s product issues rather than a fix.
Based on the previews I’ve seen so far, the new edition of Kill Team is taking a big step away from Warhammer 40,000. The rules and unit profiles have been completely re-worked so that they no longer are based on the larger scale game. For example, the standard 40k profile has been replaced with a new set of attributes. I think not being tied to its parent game gives the designers more freedom to optimize Kill Team for skirmish scale, but it also means that the game is losing a good part of what I thought made it special.
The previews that I’ve seen also make me think that the focus of this edition will not be on playing with standard 40k miniatures. The Veteran Guardsmen and Kommandos miniatures are their own factions rather than just part of the Orks or Astra Militarum factions. The standard 40k models will be supported by the Kill Team Compendium book, but it doesn’t seem like they can be mixed with these special factions. I suspect that the focus going forward will be on these special Kill Team factions composed of new miniatures rather than the standard 40k factions.
With game rules and unit stats moving away from 40k, I feel like it will no longer make as much sense as an on-ramp game for beginners or as a way to start dabbling in a new faction. Combined with my disappointment with the previous edition’s product strategy and suspicions about the product strategy for this version, that’s enough that I’m planning to sit out this edition of Kill Team.