Your garden variety Warhammer noob here, popping in to chat about some recent developments with the miniatures side of the franchise, i.e. a 40k game-in-a-box with a small minis count and more words on pages than you can shake a chainsword at.
A few things about me before we get into it: I like fizzy drinks, long walks on the beach, making mostly unfunny jokes, and I haven’t really played Warhammer 40k on the tabletop *gasp*
But I really love the damn universe.
I know enough about it to be a Space Wolf fanboy (#PawsOffTheDogs, PETA, you clusterdunces!), but not enough lore to actively call myself anything other than a noob. I’ve played several of the videogames (including the underrated Space Marine), the Relic and Chaos in the Old World boardgames, tons of Blood Bowl, I have thousands of Warhammer: Invasion cards tucked up in a chest I dig up now and again, and I’m down for Space Hulk any day of the week, so I know some GW stuff.
But the daunting task of assembling then painting a full-sized 40k army and the long-ass hours of prep followed by the equally as long-ass playthroughs always seemed to me like time I could spend running Dark Heresy sessions... I never got further than playing a few demos here and there and following Miniwargaming videos for the sheer damn showmanship. I’ve played several other, more skirmish-level miniature wargames over the years and have loved them, so I knew that was the way to go for me in the hobby, but I was still pining for the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium.
A very (VERY) scaled down version of 40k, getting the best of all worlds with dice-chucking action, the perennially awesome 40k minis and lore, and the playing time of your average weekly TV series episode, Kill Team had me throwing money at GW faster than my brain could go “this is just like giving money to Disney, you little shit! Money you don’t have!”.
So here I am, waiting for my set to arrive because The Warp take preorders and the lack of stock with GW. Which in this case stands for “Great Work”, but sarcastically.
I’m starting this series with the aim to read up on more of the lore, maybe review some books, and hopefully get my KT starter before long and actually get to play this thing. But first, some groundwork for what Kill Team (and, indeed WH40k) actually is.
If you’re not familiar with 40k lore at all, it can all be summed neatly by people who are way better at this than I’ll ever be:
Now that we’ve gotten the intro out of the way, let’s take Kill Team apart, box-wise.
This thing packs more plastic than Pamela Anderson squared, with 2 full miniature squads at 10 units each (Genestealer Cult and Skitarii), dice, ruler, some bombed out, 40k-appropriate terrain (Sectoriex Imperialum, or some Latin-sounding crap because of all the things to make it through to the 41st Millennium, a dead language...), and all of the other goodies you see above.
It all comes complete with a hefty, 208-page rules manual (that you can purchase separately) with not only detailed rules on how to construct up to 16 different Kill Teams (so you can use your old minis), but also campaign rules, background info, and the actual gameplay deets themselves. There’s also a pretty sturdy, double-sided board depicting some 40k groundworks, or you can just go ahead and play this on your pre-existing tables and terrain.
In addition, one of the hallmarks of the system are the tactic cards (universal or faction-specific). these give you an extra edge at various points during the game. Whether it’s augmenting characters’ stats to make them better at a certain task, offering various command-style abilities, or all manner of twists and turns on the “play card to do x along with y” formula, these offer further variety to your teams, aside from their main characteristics that obviously differ. As much as the d6 allows them to do so.
That’s one of the drawbacks of the 40k system that I’d want people to be mindful of going into this: you have d6s as the main driving force behind the whole thing, and the stats reflect that small range of values that you can toy with.
You get a frontline soldier, bred for war, christened in the very fires of battle, ready to lay his life down for the Empire and to root out Heresy wherever it should rear its ugly head. A brother in arms, a fierce combatant, and a worthy adversary to any foe he may face. A Space Marine. An Adeptus Astartes. The Imperium’s first line of defense against the constant onslaught of Chaos…
But his Ballistic Skill is a 3, so... You know, average.
Just about the same as the Necrons’, really.
What I’m saying (at the risk of being lynched by fanboys) is there’s a very wide gap between the way 40k lore reads and feels and the way it translates to the somewhat limited system it’s been using as a backbone since… Basically forever.
So in order to differentiate between various models and roles and factions, you have different extra abilities, and weapons, and faction-specific rules, and other doohickeys that you need to remember as you play through this. And while Kill Team features a reduced unit count, this can still get a bit daunting if you’re just starting out with the hobby, so bear that in mind.
Kill Team plays like you’d expect any wargame to: my guys against your guys, with various objectives for victory thrown in: whether it’s area control, killing off the opposing forces, escorts, and all manner of other variants and variations, there’s plenty of variety here to satisfy any vagrant. Verily.
What it adds up to is pushing plastic soldiers on a table and rolling dice to see if they “hit” other plastic soldiers using different weapons and taking advantage of the terrain and their innate abilities and special skills to do so.
Wargames in a nutshell, by Gung-Ho Geeks!
Overall, I’m really excited to get my grubby paws on this and am looking forward to getting it out of its shrinkwrap, looking it over and never playi- I mean getting the miniatures to tabletop standard paint and playing it as soon and as often as possible. Which is next to never.
There’s also a Rogue Trader variant for the core set that really strikes my fancy, and the amount of single faction expansions already out there is both astounding and great from a bang-for-buck standpoint with bits of terrain added to each box (hello Red Berets and Space Skellies!). You can also get faction-specific dice (again with the GHG dice love...), purchase data cards separately, and get various terrain sets to spiff up your table.
As with everything, getting into such a game is an investment, but it only gets expensive if you want to make it so. My advice is to get a feel for the system via demo days at your local store and then splurge on either a starter set (going halfsies alongside a friend would be even better) or one of the boxed Kill Teams if there’s already a community for the game at your local gaming store.
There’s plenty of room to grow from there, and if you stick around we’ll see exactly how to do so together! And if not, refer to the below picture:
About the author:
Costin thinks he knows a lot. And he does, but he’s also an asshole about it so don’t indulge him. A Focus-sedan-driving family man/corporate drone, he games way more than he should considering he also has this writing gig to deal with. When tasked with a bio piece, he chuckled and said “I better get a lot of room for this cause boy, do I have a lot to talk abo-”