Kill Team: Pariah Nexus – Skirmish with an Identity Crisis

Ah, Kill Team. My sweet, beloved Kill Team. This game system ticks all of the boxes for me in what I find enjoyable in a tabletop game. Brief, frantic skirmishes. Customisation-laden forces. Relatively small table-space needed for play. To see a new release for Kill Team imbued me with such joy. Alas, Pariah Nexus scrambles out of the gate to cover lots of ground, failing to solidly land on its feet. This shoddy release leaves more questions than answers in a system that was due something far more fulfilling.

Exploring the Dark Depths

For those unaware, the Kill Team: Pariah Nexus box introduces a revised form of play for Kill Team. It’s not quite the more structured and tournament-ready Kill Team: Arena that was released all those moons ago. It’s also not quite Kill Team: Rogue Trader, the first expansion that followed the initial Kill Team release. The new rules for “Ultra-Close Confines” are centered around the included 2D-board that features illustrated walls, pitfalls and features that come with rules that can change between missions. The claustrophobic nature of the two board designs and the numerous missions within the book invoke a particularly intense experience through your games of Kill Team.

Between the environmental effects which can hinder or hurt your fighters and the narrow corridors of the boards, you’ll find both kill teams are shooting and cutting chunks out of each other in record time. The environment effects are typically random and can cause numbering effects. These can include inflicting mortal wounds on nearby fighters or even giving them an invulnerable save. This helps each game feel different, especially when combined with the plethora of different missions available within the book.

Another new feature within Kill Team: Pariah Nexus is Fire Points. These marked areas give shooting models more of an advantage when strategically placed by chokepoints, helping them cut down their enemies and rewards tactical play. Further modifications are made to the typical Kill Team core rules with things like Long Range ballistic skill modifiers being disregarded in Ultra-Close Confines. Doors have had an adjustment too in that they can now be opened but not closed. Additionally, opening doors no longer abruptly ends the movement of a fighter.

Target Not Found

The culmination of all these new rules makes for a fast-paced and exciting style of play. This should leave me wanting to sink my teeth back into Kill Team: Pariah Nexus again and again. However, there are too many other faults with the product for me to blindly overlook. The first and most notable is the balance (or seeming lack thereof) of the kill teams provided in the box. Building the Captain and five Heavy Intercessors, the Space Marine side came to 179 points. The Necrons with the Chronomancer and Flayed Ones came to meager 94. That, combined with the sheer killiness of the Heavy Intercessors and frailty of the Flayed Ones, this already feels one-sided right off the bat.

Within the book, there are new “Tactics”, akin to Warhammer 40,000 Stratagems, both universal and faction-specific. Even with these, the Space Marines seem to come out much stronger. There’s even a Tactic that allows them to overwatch charging enemies that aren’t visible! Not to say that it’s impossible for the Necron side to defeat the Adeptus Astartes. However, it certainly feels like they’re in for a much tougher time. Necrons will need to rely far more on the environment than the Space Marines do.

When considering the factions and datasheets included within Kill Team: Pariah Nexus, this also leaves me scratching my head somewhat. Pariah Nexus rather seems to be a continuation of the Indomitus release alongside Warhammer 40,000 9th edition. For it to come this late down the line does make it feel quite disjointed, however. Pariah Nexus feels as though it has arrived too late to be appropriately tied to Indomitus. Yet, it isn’t robust enough to be a new edition of Kill Team. The box also requires the core rulebook to play meaning it isn’t really a starter set.

Thus, is this an expansion for existing Kill Team players? Or some rather disparate starting point for Indomitus buyers to jump into Kill Team? Whilst at first I was wary, akin to many other Kill Team players, due to the lack of three-dimensional terrain/board play, this has slid far down my list, passing many, many other faults that have come to light in my time with the box.

Veiled in Mystery

Whilst I struggle to ascertain the intention or objective for this box from Games Workshop, it would seem that they don’t even know themselves. In an article published on February 21st, it’s claimed that the box will include the core rules of Kill Team. Additionally, all models from Indomitus will apparently be useable. Both of these statements are flagrantly incorrect.

The core rules for Kill Team are not included, nor are there datasheets for every model in Indomitus. This could simply be a failure of communication between departments of the Warhammer Community team, but it feels quite tawdry. You’d expect better from a company so renowned, especially after the strides made in the past few years. Numerous hobbyists have voiced online that they’d be more comfortable paying for the box if it included the core rules. This would, after all, make it a one-stop purchase. Without them, the product continues to flail with a lack of identity and no concise purpose.

I have reached out to the Warhammer Community regarding clarification or a correction to the article. As of the time of writing, I am yet to receive a response.

Of course, it’s not all bad within the box! Kill Team: Pariah Nexus includes entirely brand new models. The Chronomancer, Heavy Intercessors and Primaris Captain are all tremendous models. They’re wonderfully detailed, brimming with character and the community has been excited to get them. Some say that the somewhat predatory tactics of locking these models exclusively within the Kill Team: Pariah Nexus box are underhanded. Even with the models being released individually down the line, I can certainly see where they are coming from. However, once again, Indomitus players will benefit the most here, especially a couple of hobbyists who have split the original box.

Whilst I wish I could say all the models were a joy, I will be frank about the Flayed Ones kit. This was quite possibly one of the worst kits I’ve put together in many, many years. I’ve been tabletop gaming and modeling for around a decade and these models truly tested me. Between the fiddliness and delicacy of the pieces and the utter nightmare I had to keep them stable, I found myself incredibly frustrated and I think that they actually took longer to build than to paint.

Thus, I would certainly not recommend these Flayed Ones to a new hobbyist as if you don’t break them first on accident, they could well break you and your sanity in simply trying to get them to fit correctly. There’s every chance I was having an off day, but I’m quite keen to see how other hobbyists find putting the models together.

Labyrinthine Shenanigans

The terrain included in the box has been a cause of some controversy. Where previous Kill Team boxes have come with numerous, towering building segments or expansive, industrial walkways, this box has come with a series of small Necron conduits and doors. It’s far more in keeping with the Kill Team: Arena release, which was also at a much cheaper price point. The terrain looks good once setup and can be painted in an afternoon. In fact, one of the best things about Kill Team: Pariah Nexus is that you can be up and playing in no time at all, thanks to the simplicity of the terrain. However, to look at this box compared to the ones that came before and then at the leaked price point, it simply doesn’t line-up where the value proposition is concerned.

Honestly, this release has me so very puzzled. Kill Team hasn’t seen an update, if I recall correctly, since the Kill Team Annual last year. Bar that, it’s been cards and dice. The system up to this point has felt quite neglected, as if it’s being left to wilt. Whereas other systems are getting relatively regular and generous updates by. The announcement of Kill Team: Pariah Nexus, relating so heavily to the update to Warhammer 40,000 9th edition, fired a ray of hope unto Kill Team. Considering the time since the system’s initial release, the time felt right for a major update, be it to the core rules or at least a pass over many of the factions to bring them in line.

However, once again falling back onto the strange tie-in to Indomitus, Pariah Nexus fits bizarrely, as previously stated, between a starter set and a major expansion or update. Not to say an expansion of this size to Kill Team isn’t welcome, of course. Simply put, it just doesn’t feel appropriate after such time has passed. Kill Team: Pariah Nexus fails to give Kill Team what it truly needs at this time.

Wallowing in Confusion

The release of Kill Team: Pariah Nexus feels so very muddled. It trivially feels as though it’s the wrong type of product that has come at the wrong time with the wrong price. The models included in the box look superb and, building-pains aside, are a huge selling point of the box. The actual rules introduced are also great and make for a style of game that I could play for days on end!

Unfortunately, everything else just feels so frayed and fraught with fault. Kill Team deserves a bigger release as players cling to hopes that this will come in the foreseeable future. However, if it lands anything like Kill Team: Pariah Nexus did, riddled with issues on what the product is, who it’s for and what is actually included in it, then I worry for the future of Kill Team as a system.

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Article originally written by the author for The Unrelenting Brush blog in affiliation with Boards and Swords Hobbies.

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