This week, guest author Phil Riris stops in to talk about his experiences playing Corsair Voidscarred at the Kill Team GT during Warhammer Fest 2023.
Let me start this recap by saying that I am not a competitive player. I signed up to the Warhammer Fest Kill Team GT with the goal to play more Kill Team, because it’s a game ideally suited to my sensibilities: Small teams, perfectly formed. I have the reputation in my group as that guy – you know, the one that won’t shut up about Kill Team. Before last weekend, however, I had only a handful of games under my belt. My stretch goal was to go 1-5 with my glorious silver idiots, and hopefully have some fun while getting them killed.
The Warhammer Fest Kill Team GT ran over Saturday and Sunday at the event with a robust schedule of three games per day and two hours per round. Rosters were pre-registered but Fire Team and equipment selection happened at the tables. Missions and deployments were imparted through some rather nice quality cardstock printouts given by the organisers. The full results are on Best Coast Pairings.
Ahead of the event, players were notified that the planned split between Critical Ops and Into the Dark missions was being scrapped. Instead we played a total of six Critical Ops missions on the same terrain all weekend, with diagonal deployment on Saturday and long edge deployment on Sunday. I was quite looking forward to playing Into the Dark for the first time, and I imagine I wasn’t the only person disappointed with the last-minute change. It was the sole (minor) sour note for me for the whole event. Otherwise the terrain was all Octarius, with some notable unevenness in the level of completion of the paintjobs, as some pieces were essentially only primed with Leadbelcher.
I ran a roster of 16 Corsair Voidscarred, comprising all the specialists plus two of each flavour of warrior, with only one Felarch with neuro-disruptor. I speed-painted the Gunner with a shredder specifically to have it ready before the GT, in the hopes that his weapon’s Blast rule would come into play on ITD missions. Womp womp.
My game plan, roughly, was to be as cagey as possible. With only a 4+ save and 8 wounds on a 9-model team, Corsairs have that unfortunate combination of being both squishy and really feeling the loss of every model. Most of my practice games were against tougher or equivalent opponents – Orks, guys in power armour, and Scions – and my overriding experience has been that Aeldari close combat prowess is overstated. I figured turning points 1-2 would mostly be spent on positioning and scoring mission actions where I could, while 3-4 would be where I actually picked up my Tac Ops.
I picked all my Tac Ops from Seek & Destroy and I can’t say I regret it. Better players might get more mileage out of Recon… but I am not one of them. Overall, I had excellent, accommodating, and above all patient opponents. All my games (bar one) felt close as hell right until the end of turning point 4. It was a great time and I’m thrilled to have been part of the largest Kill Team GT ever – 118 players!
Round 1: vs. Navy Breachers (Dan Barton)
My first game was against the eventual winner of the tournament (congrats Dan!), running the full gamut of Navy Breacher specialists. Lots of tools, more activations than me, and in many cases as tough or tougher. I sensed that trading models would not go in my favour, plus a vague awareness that Navy Breachers were… good?
Dan played an excellent game, really capitalising on his team’s strengths and synergies. It was an extremely instructive game for me, to see just how efficiently operatives in a well-played team can work together to absolutely turbofuck someone bumbling through their first competitive game.
I also made the mistake of taking my Gunner with shredder, rather than the armour-busting blaster, on the basis that Breachers are kinda-sorta hordey. Blow-by-blow, we simply traded operatives until I ran out and I was unable to keep up with either mission objectives or Tac Ops.
While I don’t think the outcome was ever in doubt, I still put in a showing of 15 to 23 and learnt a lot in the process.
Result: 15-23, Loss
Round 2: vs. Intercession Squad (Wolfgang Cerny)
The Intercession Squad was a familiar opponent for for me, in what would be the only match-up I had all weekend against a foe I had faced before. Wolfgang went for Assault Intercessors backed up by a Grenadier and a stalker bolt rifle Intercessor, clearly aiming to get up in my face so his superior toughness and strength would simply pound my space elves into paste. His Space Wolves were Durable and Methodical. As an aside, he also won Best Painted in the event. Congratulations, Wolfgang!
I (correctly) picked the Gunner with blaster this time. I remain very lukewarm on close combat with Corsairs, so I swapped out my Kurnite Hunter (Birdy Boy) for a shooty warrior. Other than this regular mook, I took all the specialists I could. My one attempt at stabbing an Intercessor ended in a hard bounce and a dead elf, thus proving once and for all that I’m right about Aeldari melee.
Overall, I’m quite pleased that I managed to almost completely neutralise the effectiveness of his shooting – the stalker bolt rifle got only a single shot off all game: a point blank krak grenade right into my Fatedealer’s stupid face. The flipside is that I landed in his Space Wolves’ warm, toothy embrace and got torn to shreds elsewhere on the board. He also took a risk with his Sergeant on the central terrain piece for a Tac Op, which resulted in a dead Leader in only turning point 2. Finally, I came to appreciate the Starstorm Duellist as a counterpunch operative. Why worry about 3” range on your best gun if you can simply wait for the enemy to come to you?
My feeling is that this was another great learning game for both of us – in the prior round we had both faced off against finalists-to-be, whereas we were both relatively green. Wolfgang ultimately took the win 22-14, running away with Tac Ops in the latter turning points and leaving me with not much to counter him.
Result: 14-22, Loss
Round 3: vs. Gellerpox Infected (‘Deez Nuts’ Dan Rilling)
I entered the final game of the day with a belly full of gyro and a healthy respect for this particular team based on my partial understanding of the current meta. I was also running out of steam after a 5:30 rise to get to Manchester. Nevertheless, this was the closest game of the day, and against an experienced opponent. To a newbie, keeping track of what your own team can do in a fight can be daunting enough, never mind a horde of space zombies and mutants. Dan did a great job of briefing me on all of their rules and interactions.
Round 3 ended up being a stand-out game that entertained and delighted me. The final split of 13-15 to Dan could have easily gone the other way. It’s worth mentioning that despite his relatively high model count, the mission objective of Loot (perform an action on an objective for 1VP, up to three times) was not great for the Gellerpox – hulks pay double APL for the privilege and their critters can’t do it at all. Unfortunately, my bid to score a late game Rout whiffed three times over two turning points, forcing me to move an operative off a lootable objective to plink wounds off. It literally came down to a few rolls of the dice, and I loved every minute of it.
Dan also had a streak of bad luck with his FNPs on his big lads throughout the game, with at most a couple of wounds retained per turning point. If the hulks had held on for longer, especially the leader he pushed forward early, it would have been a much more problematic game for me. Finally, shout out to the Shade Runner that managed to take out three models with one plasma grenade Blast early on. Inherent Aeldari mobility plus Fly means that she can get where she needs to be to pull off plays like that, or otherwise for scoring objectives/Tac Ops.
Result: 13-15, Loss
Round 4: vs. Warpcoven (Anton Störling)
Entering Day 2 with three losses under my belt meant that I was running out of games to win in order to attain my stretch goal of one (1) win. When the pairings went up at 10:00, I steeled myself for another power armoured elf stomp jamboree against the Warpcoven. Anton, I believe, took the Warpfire and Tempyric disciplines on his two sorcerors, a Rubric gunner, and (to my surprise) the rest of his team was Tzaangor of various flavours.
Based on my total lack of experience, I wasn’t too scared of the seemingly limited shooting on offer from this team. This turned out to be a mistake, as the Rubric Gunner and a sorcerer took commanding Vantage points early on and made my elves’ lives hell manoeuvring around the board. He was also crafty about hiding his choice of operative for my Assassinate Target Tac Op. I definitely appreciated the mobility afforded by the Plunderers ploy each round to keep my operatives safe – between the shooting on display and Tzaangor bodies moving up the killzone, the board presence of the Warpcoven felt oppressive.
Through extremely cagey play, I was able to nearly max out my Tac Ops and weather the shooting. At the same time, I denied his Tac Ops and took out the Leader sorcerer in the first half of the game, without which it felt like the team lacked its lynchpin. It became my first win of the tournament (19-13), essentially by leaning into the Elf Bullshit gimmick and flitting around between cover.
Result: 19-13, Win
Round 5: vs. Hierotek Circle (Daniel Brenchley)
One half of a father-son entry into the tournament, Daniel brought the newly-buffed bespoke Necron team to Round 5, choosing a Technomancer Leader, an Apprentek, Despotek, a single Deathmark, and a bunch of Immortals against me. He went for the Security archetype, so spent much of his time surging forward and taking positions on the board.
A couple of things didn’t quite work out in this regard. I managed to knock out Immortals in his half of the board and keep his Deathmark from getting a decent shot in. A streak of unlucky reanimation rolls led to an understrength team for most of the game, although being able to fire his Technomancer’s Staff of Light at me through his Vantage’d Apprentek (who just. wouldn’t. die.) did keep him in the game. At no point did I feel like it was in the bag. It’s clearly a strong team with good tricks.
Three things won me this game 20-16. First, he failed a jump test, rolling a 1 and keeping him from scoring on the central terrain piece. Second, I doubled back into my deployment zone and kept his Deathmark and Plasmacytes from fully scoring Seize Ground. Third, my Shade Runner cemented her status as MVP by charging the weakened Technomancer and slaying him for Headhunter. Apparently, it was the first and only time the Technomancer was killed during the GT. Melee is a sometimes thing, I guess, at least when you’re beating up robot nerds.
Result: 20-16, Win
Round 6: vs. Legionaries (Christian Gustafson)
The final game on Sunday was against a team I was familiar with, by dint of owning one myself, but had never played against. Christian was part of a group of lads that had come over from Sweden for the GT, and which included Anton, my Round 4 matchup. He ran the Shrivetalon, Anointed, Chosen Leader, Plasma Gunner, Missile Launcher Heavy Gunner, and a Butcher, all with the Mark of Nurgle for maximum durability goodness.
I seized initiative and opened the game with a move I’m still not sure is good, but is definitely funny and ended up shaping the rest of our final game.
Before the game, I got talking with a fellow Corsair entrant (who also entered the GD with an insanely cool 6mm scale Aeldari titan diorama) about Elf Bullshit. Rather than use the Duellist operative as a counterpunch unit as I do, he likes applying the two possible pre-game dashes from Infiltrate and One Step Ahead to it. A further dash-move gets the Duellist right into the opposing deployment zone in the first turning point, ready to cause Shenanigans.
Having won two games and effectively doubled my stretch goal, I saw no reason why not to at least try this out. I paid an additional CP to redeploy the Engaged Duellist right in front of the Concealed Anointed and Butcher on one extreme edge of the deployment zone. I think Christian saw what was coming, but couldn’t do anything at this point.
Luckily for him, my rolls and shitty re-rolls meant that the Anointed – my target for Assassinate Target – survived, but was left so bloodied that Christian took him out of the fight for the whole game to deny me points. Effectively, he was forced to work with only a five-operative team, to my eight (the Duellist died instantly to plasma after hoofing it across the killzone). We continued to trade operatives like for like, with some clever play using the Butcher to deny me mission objectives.
At the end of turning point 4, I took it 20-15 and equalised my losses to wins, ultimately placing 52nd out of 118 entrants in the tournament. Stretch goal achieved, and then some!
Result: 20-15, Win
Final Record: 3-3
More importantly though, I had an incredible time getting to know people, seeing everyone’s teams, and learning different playstyles. My enjoyment truly derived, in the main, from the enthusiasm and sportsmanship of the average Kill Team player, which was on full display in Manchester. The pre-final wrap-up and awards ceremony had a great vibe to it.
I had a chance to catch up with the tournament runner-up, Wallace West, after Warhammer Fest. He faced Dan’s Navy Breachers with his Ork Kommandos, a matchup considered somewhat unfavourable to the Orks. He aimed to overpower the Breachers on turn 1 and turn 2 as there are no optimal ways to kill them once Brace For Counter-Attack has been popped. Ideally, moves must be forced in order to stop the Breachers benefiting from the ploy.
Unfortunately, a judge called that time was running out for the players in turning point 2, meaning that the players had to scramble for the limited points available to them to score. Wallace was in the lead on primaries, but Dan squeezed the win. I had abandoned ship at this point for the pub. I can’t help but feel that if the length of the game had been made clear at the start that both players might have played it very differently – cutting it short midway is Feels Bad for everyone.
I will be keeping a look out for future Kill Team events in the hopes to continue improving and playing.
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