Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Kill Team - Battle Missions - A Review

I picked up the Battle Missions book when it came out and was pleased with it. It reminded me very much of an old style book I had by Charles Grant, which had a whole series of randomscenarios for pickup games.

However, today I want to talk about one of the three 'extra' scenarios at the back of the book - Kill Team.

This idea has been around for a while. The idea of using small forces for a quick game of 40K on a small table. This is the latest incarnation of the idea by Jervis Johnson and it is quite brilliant. Jervis has obeyed the simple rules of KISS - or Keep It Simple Stupid!

Kill Team is a 200 point game where players select a force from 0-2 Troops, 0-1 Elite and 0-1 Fast Attack. I have found it useful to allow choices from understrength squads or it can be difficult to use points.

You play until a player loses half the number of figures/bases/vehicles are destroyed, whereupon he takes an army morale test at the start of his next turn using the highest Leadership in his army, subtracting one from the leadership for each additional turn. The first army to fail the test loses.

There is only one special rule - Every Man for Himself. I will quote it in full: "All models operate as individual units in this mission, even if they were chosen as part of a squad or squadron. In addition, when a model shoots or fights in an assault it may split its attacks up amongst any eligible targets if desired."

That's it - just one simple rule change and everything falls into place. Jervis is a bloody genius. The implications can be tricky to get your head around. One temds to revert back to squad-thinking.

Anyway, a game is shown below. Iused my muty guardsmen bolstered by a single ordinary chaos marine and one heavy weapon base with missile launcher. My opponent Shaun, used Eldar, basic troops and snipers. This is actually the third game we played - we had trouble interpreting the one special rule in the first two (I was also comprehensively beaten in those).

One point is that you need plenty of terrain. This shows my set up forces in a quarter of the board.

My forces advance in two waves with a couple of flamethrowers in the front wave. Shaun's snipers shot up some of my troops but missed all the important targets -- hur, hur.

My flamethrowers, grenade launcher and chaos marine did the biz. I used the missil team as a sniper with excellent results. I lost about ten troops out of twenty-seven. Shaun's Eldar started with seventeen and failed his second morale test.

This really is great fun. It allows you to try unusual forces and combinations. A game last about an hour.

Jervis - you are a bloody genius mate - finally, a 'kill team' that works.


  1. Nicely written. I was unaware that Kill Team had been given some attention until I read this.

    I always enjoyed Kill Team games but found that only other GW staff were up for playing them, even though we tried to get the public involved.

    I treid to wrangle in some proper, square-based gamers by telling them it was 40k's answer to Mordheim!

  2. John,

    I have yet to try the new Kill Team but I did play around with some 40K skirmish ideas last year -

    I think Jervis' take on the 40K skirmish is simpler but I found that the base rules aready work very well for a 1to1 skirmish game. I can't wait to get in a few small games.

  3. I've played it a couple of times, and I like it. A couple of batreps here:

    but in the transition from one forum to another some of the pics got cropped, but hopefully will still be a good read.

    I think that the KISS is good, but in some ways it's too simple - there's a lot of rules that need clarification, and gaming groups will need to clear some of them up for themselves.

  4. Well, I've had a couple of Killteam games, and I must say it's broken. It was a good and nice attempt from GW, but it is not balanced at all.

    Try to face 14 Genestealers. They infiltrate, and they kill almost everything in CC. Whenever possible, they charge 2 models, not splitting their attacks, kill one in their turn, teh second in your turn and charge right into the next.

    Try to stop a Terminator with Lightning Claws and FNP.

    Play against Marbo with FC or FNP.

    This mission gives a big advantage to Assault-oriented armies AND due to a lot of terrain, a disadvantage to shooty armies.

    Maybe I'll write some additional rules for my club, taking the edge off of infiltrate and making available some of the equipment-option from the old version.

  5. So if you have a guy with a missile launcher, he can choose to say fire at your opponent's missile launcher because it is its own unit and thus can be singled out?

  6. Kill Team is great. I wouldn't say it is broken though. It forces you to think of using different units in different ways.

    I've played quite a few games and I've seen newer players make the mistake of "bring a few really powerful models". That is the total opposite of the Kill Team concept. Terminators are NOT a kill team.

    Here are my thoughts about the game, specifically how one would go about building a good Kill Team list:

  7. Dear Mr Ll
    Yeah, I like simple quick skirmish games. It's nice to carry one's army in a small sandwich box instead of a crate.

  8. Dear DS
    Couldn't find your page? I have played aroumd with skirmish 40K but I have to admit JJ's solution isbetter than anything I thought of.

  9. Dear Des
    Looked up your page. Looks like fun stuff.

  10. Dear Des
    Don't use special characters as they will unbalance the game. Start all forces on the board in their quarter.

    Don't bunch your troops together so they can be multiply charged.

    Shooty armies won all the three games I played. Try using less terrain - maybe you are overdoing it.

    Lord Aki is right. A handfull of elite pieces are not a good kill team because they can't absorb many losses before going on to morale tests.

    A themed game like Kill Team requires a certain amount of collusion between players to have a good time and keep within the spirit of the thing. Why look for ways to wreck the fun?

  11. Dear Eltnot
    Exactly!. It's every man for himself. That gives a whole new feel to the game.

  12. Dear Aki
    I found exactly the same as you in an earlier game. I took a few expensive daemons. Shaun used cheap Guard. I killed a lot of him but he won!

  13. When the special rule says a model may allocate its shooting and assault attacks, what does that mean, exactly?

    Does it mean that a model with 4 attacks on the charge can allocate an attack to 4 different models (if it manages to get into B2B with 4 different models, that is)?

    Shooting is a bit more complex, though. Does it mean that a Stealth Suit can fire its Burst Cannon (3 shots) at 3 different targets? Or does it mean that my Crisis Suit can fire the plasma rifle at one target and the missile pod at another? Or does it just mean that each model can only shoot at one other model, but they can shoot at any model they like (range and LOS notwithstanding)?

  14. I like the concept of Kill teams for 2 reasons:

    (1) It allows you to build small forces of armies you don't want. Every race has a few minis you like & want, but you don't want that army, so just make a kill team.

    (2) It really struck me as an 'abridged' 5th addition update of Necromunda turned 40k without the campaign system.

    Sadly I can't find anyone locally that wants to play this scenario. Indeed they cry if you 'only' want to play @ 1500pts. Thinking out of the box as you can't have all of the bells & whistles (if any at all) is just not condoned locally i guess.


  15. Dear Sholto
    I interpret the rule literally, i.e. that you can split shooting to any eligible target. So if your gun fires twice then you can take one shot at two targets or two shots at one.

  16. Dear Cheef
    Yes, the win rule is pure Necromunda.

  17. Hi John,

    I have often thought that Games Workshop have engineered Warhammer 40K to be more and more complicated, while the early games I had with my son (many years ago) were simple, easy and great fun.

    I know that there have been many attempts (both with Warhammer Skirmish and Warhammer 40K)to make the game more fast-paced. The problem is that I believe I have 'out-grown' Warhammer, which is a shame as deep down some of my most favourite wargaming memories are linked to Warhammer!

    Thanks for the post and to all the contributors for their comments.


  18. Yes, you can make killteams be fun, no question.
    BUT: the RAW allow you to take Terminators, named models and so on, AND you can even give them an additional USR.
    That's in the rules.

    Therefore you can't really tell someone at the club or in the store that his killteam is not "in the spirit of killteams", because if there would be any spirit, GW would have added some restrictions. For example on named characters, maximum save and wounds and so on like in the old rules.
    But they didn't.

    A Killteam with Marbo is completely legal (and to some extend fluffy), 4 Wolf Guard and a Wolf Guard Terminator with Assault Cannon is a legal team (and to some extend fluffy).

    This game just needs some restrictions, and it will work sooo much better.

  19. I really like this mission book. We plannig to try out the kill team. We tried out the attrition mission for guard at 2000 pts. It's long and bloody. My vet/melta sq died 3 times, and they kept coming back. Destroyed a bunch of armor. :)

  20. Dear Tony
    My first 40K book was Rogue trader when it was really a sort of RPG combat system for a handfull of troops. 40K has grown into a monster. It is something of a miracle that it works as well as it does. But I'm with you, I like simple games.

  21. Dear Desaster

    It's my recreational time. I can do what I like. If I think someone is playing rules-to-win rather than the spirit of the game then I just won't play them. My attitude is fine, you win, now is there anyone who wants to have fun by playing a wargame.

    I am probably a bit of a wargaming dinosaur but I come from an era of amateur rules that assumed reasonableness on the part of the players.

    I do not understand the pleasure gained from scouring through rules to find fiddles so that one can build unbeatable armies. What's the point?


  22. Dear Ig
    I have not tried that scenario yet but I am happy to take your advice to be prepared for a blood bath. :)

  23. "My first 40K book was Rogue trader when it was really a sort of RPG combat system for a handfull of troops. 40K has grown into a monster."

    This is my take on it, too. I also agree that Necromunda was a great game -- though I still liked the more "military" (rather than "gang") focus of RT.

    Although reading about Kill Team had attracted a slight bit of attention, it has not got me to come back to 40k, which I left after 3rd ed. burnout.

    It's not even the simplicity for me. It's just the scale of the game, where each figure is a vital part of the game, rather than meat for the bloodbath. :/

    Still, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book. I still like to keep a watchful eye on 40k. Maybe someday I will be lured back in. ;)

  24. Dear 023
    The rules of 40K work better than they ever have. You don't have to play vast games. I think i works better with a handfull of troops.

  25. Gotta back John on that one ... playing at 200, 500 or 750 can really bring the joy back into 40k when you're burnt out at 2000pts.

    Some of the greatest comebacks and turnarounds have occured for me at these smaller levels.

    That's the lure of Hordes, Warmachine or Malifaux - it's the individual combat combined with devious combo's.

    Warhammers 'meat-grinder' approach has it's appeal but its still lacking.

  26. Dear Suneokun,
    You put it very well.