Kill Team Updates Killing Time – One Year On

Smaller Games, Big Impact

Somehow, nearly an entire year has passed since the release of Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. For those who may not remember, I dived into Kill Team head-first on the run-up to launch. I was full of hope that the games would be brief but frantic skirmishes brimming with fun and tension. Upon release, it certainly delivered, well for the most part. With a year since launch, I wanted to use this chance to see where the Kill Team updates have left the game sitting currently. Is it still the best way to jump into Warhammer 40,000? Or has the bloat truly set in?

The initial Kill Team offering came in the form of the Kill Team Starter Set. This included some Skitarii Rangers, Genestealer Cultists and a bucket-load of beautiful, new scenery. Rogue Trader quickly followed, which unloaded a rather different, more close-quarters feeling and new play styles with the kill teams involved. Afterwards came Commanders, permitting players to take abhorrently powerful characters to lead their forces but under somewhat constrained circumstances. Finally, the new Elites brings an expanded roster of kill team models. This even includes a new faction in the form of the Adeptus Custodes who are, unsurprisingly, unstoppable monsters.

Small Model Count, Massive Fun

It’s been a very, very busy year for Kill Team updates when you look back at all of this. This is excluding the organised play events, the Arena supplement and all the boxed Kill Team sets released throughout the year, too. Games Workshop has unquestionably supported Kill Team to an exceptional standard. The torrent of new supplements and boxed sets seems undoubtedly positive for players. Each one offers something new for players be it rules, fighters or scenery.

Kill Team still does what it does very well. Small-scale battles in short bursts providing ferocious and exciting games with plenty of dynamism.

The new rules included have all contributed something via Kill Team updates and the additions have been universally welcomed. It’s worth stating some updates have been more successful than others, however. For instance, Elites has brought with it a flurry of expanded rosters for players to take. The Arena box has implemented a more balanced, competitive spin on Kill Team. This is ideal for those who are a little more serious when it comes rolling dice.

Whereas Rogue Trader, whilst it did have absolutely stellar models and the game itself felt like a good twist on the Kill Team formula, it seemed to fizzle out. I can confess that I haven’t opened the box in months. Arena sees regular use on my table and is, of course, supported in the organised events. It’s no small feat that Kill Team updates have been to the great quantity, quality and value that they have been. However, it’s not been perfect by any means.

Versatility For Everyone

One thing that has persisted since launch is just how simple it is to have a Kill Team ready to play in no time at all. Kill Team has maintained the accessibility of getting into the game system thanks to the small model count and versatility in what models can be take. This is only further aided by the recently-released Elites book.

As a matter of fact, there’s some great material out there for folks who don’t know where to start with their kill teams. One such place is online hub Game Cows who have collated an impressive list on how to start kill teams for each faction alongside the loose cost needed to jump in. Communities and content creators such as these go a long way in keeping a game system healthy so be sure to take advantage of them whenever you can. Efforts like these truly help to keep games like Kill Team and their communities in the greatest shape they can be in.

Being able to get a Kill Team from a single box of infantry makes this rendition of Warhammer 40,000 more accessible than anything else I can recall.

If there’s one issue I’ve drawn with the Kill Team updates as the months have gone by it’s bizarrely the sheer number of new rules, tactics, missions etc. I’m ever-so-rarely one to bemoan new models and rules, but it does feel as though there’s a slight creep to these releases. For instance, each boxed Kill Team with scenery features some missions and tactics exclusive to each box. It’s easy to understand this from a standpoint of making a sale, but it’s a little fragmentary for some players.

I already have a sizable Death Guard Kill Team, but if I want some of these new missions or tactics I have to fork out and purchase the box which will include models I have no need for. I understand exclusivity as a sales method, but releasing these rules via another means would certainly be nice for those who won’t be needing five more Blightlords.

The sheer amount of boxed Kill Teams is impressive but feels a little “cash-grabby” in some regards.

However, to counter my previous grumble, it may well be that I’m not the intended audience for these boxes. I’m already entrenched in the game and don’t need swaying over. These boxes would be ideal for introducing new folks into Kill Team and Warhammer 40,000 as a whole. I can vouch for this having seen numerous players jump into the game with these boxes as the initial purchase. For this, they work wonderfully and are without a doubt the best way to introduce someone to the game.

Take A Look, It’s In…One of the Books

Yet again, unfortunately, I find myself suffering something I am all too familiar with when it comes to Games Workshop game systems. Whilst I’m rare to complain about regular rules updates, I am laden with books to every game I participate in. The Core Manual is essential, if I’m taking Commanders I’ll need that supplement and it’s the same situation for Elites. I could, theoretically, be using a mission from the core rulebook whilst running some Elites with unique tactics. Additionally, I could then find myself fielding a Commander, needing all three books at hand throughout the game! Whether this will culminate in a “Kill Team updates compendium” down the line is anyone’s guess. Sadly, until then, I will continue to mutter under my breath each time I find myself flicking through numerous books mid-game.

Games Workshop love their rule books. Kill Team brings with it books, tactics cards, mission cards and data cards. What space you save in carrying fewer models is quickly consumed by accessories.

Furthermore, it’s not just the segmentation of the rules in their printed forms, either. The sheer amount of stratagems available now across all of the books is almost staggering! Trying to get these collated into a Kill Team list would be quite cumbersome. I had something of a situation not long ago where this was an issue. There was a perfect tactic I sought to use in a game but couldn’t remember the CP cost. I ended up digging through the books attempting to find it. It took quite a bit of time out of the game which wasn’t ideal.

Consider the above when playing and making your lists to keep them all to hand. You could collate all the stratagem/tactics you’d want to make use of yourself. Although, this could still be a particularly high number due to the sheer number available. Players could just go old-school and write them down or create a print-out reference sheet. This doesn’t strike me as the friendliest way to bring in new players who wish to know all options available to them and their kill team. If there’s any sort of digital app or program that has this information in a human-readable format, please share it!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

To summarise, Kill Team is certainly not the same game it was when it came out nearly a year ago. It has grown and expanded at an impressive rate. Those who have been along for the ride from the start have witnessed this and I’d be surprised to see anyone who isn’t pleased with the direction that Kill Team has taken. It still gives you a chance for quick, bloody combats at a smaller scale. You can still achieve a handful of narrative-packed, tactically-exciting games in a single afternoon.

With this in mind, Kill Team has strayed a little from what it set out to do. It’s still possibly the best way to get into Warhammer 40,000 and tabletop gaming as a whole. However, it has become a more complex beast than when it was conceived. At launch, you could show a new player all the game had on offer in no time at all. Now the offering is so massive that it becomes trickier and trickier with each new release. Let’s hope Kill Team doesn’t forget that it’s supposed to be welcoming. It should act as an open door into the hobby for new players and not an overtly-intricate and daunting cast iron gate.

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