Fresh off his victory at the New York Open Kill Team Tournament, we sat down with Adrian Bonvento to talk about his games at the event, his strategies, and his thoughts on Kill Team and competitive play.
You can find our interview with the top 3 from the event here.
Hey all, I’m Adrian! I’m an independent filmmaker with a passion for all things 40K, and I’ve been playing Kill Team for a little over a year now. I had gotten back into big 40K in April of 2021, after a 16 year hiatus from the game, and decided to build a Deathwatch force from scratch.
I was lucky to be part of a resurgence in popularity for Warhammer at my local gaming store, The Brooklyn Strategist, and played lots of games over the course of the next 7 months. Right around that 7-month mark a few things happened: 1) I burnt myself out trying to paint masses of models to my personal, labor-intensive standard 2) I had gotten tired of GW’s trend of releasing overpowered codexes, and the feeling of helplessness that lead to in many competitive matchups, and 3) Travis Cheng (local TO, and all around excellent player & cool dude) would not stop bugging me about trying Kill Team, so I finally gave in and gave it a go!
I played my first ever game vs him and chose Heavy Intercessors, opting to leave all models fully engaged turn one, because…Space Marines. Travis’ Warpcoven made short work of my poor power-armored brethren, but I was intrigued by the completely different game mechanics and determined to get better. Fast forward a year, and I was able to win the New York Open with, you guessed it, SPESS MEHREENS!
The Emperor Protects
My choice to run an Intercession Squad Kill Team boiled down to a few factors. First off, I had the most practice with 6 man teams in my year of play (running Deathwatch, then Intercession). Second, of the teams I had access to, they were the ones which I thought would give me the best competitive chance into both the current meta, as well as the mixed terrain format of the NYO. Third, I had put a massive amount of hours into building, weathering and painting these dudes so I had to give them their time in the competitive sun! The fact that the team is quite a low mental load also appealed to me, knowing that I was going into my first proper GT. This helped a great deal to alleviate the pressure and fatigue that a 2 day tournament brings.
My biggest choice once I decided on the team was which chapter tactics to take. I had been getting most of my reps in with Rapid and Methodical, but made a last minute decision to swap Methodical out for Durable. The thinking being that a wounded marine is better than a dead marine. There were a few scenarios where the -1 crit damage truly saved my model and actually allowed me to kill my opponent instead (ex. getting charged by a Legionary Butcher who retained two 7-damage crits). I did miss methodical during overwatch, shoot on death and when I was wounded, however by turns 3 & 4 the game was often already favoring one side. I made sure to be much more conservative with my CP management, as I was not used to paying for And They Shall Know No Fear to regain my BS/ WS.
It’s easy to take a full roster that gives you all the models you’d ever need, so this isn’t a restriction or challenge. The one interesting pick I did opt to add was an AI sgt. with a hand flamer and power weapon. I ended up using him in the Hunter Clade matchups to give myself a much better chance at 1) achieving that crit to parry (when swapping rapid for dueller), 2) dealing 10 wounds in two hits when on the attack, and 3) the lethal 5’s for flamers on ITD. I’m still not sure if this is the right call over plasma vs Clade, but it definitely increases both your survivability and lethality in combat, and was in keeping with my theory on keeping more models on the table.
Strategy & Playstyle
The interesting thing about intercession is that despite their lack of unique datasheets, they do allow for a variety of playstyles depending on the terrain, opponent, matchup and pilot of the kill team. I have friends at my local shop who play the team very differently than me and achieve their wins via different paths. It’s very cool to see!
I’ve found that a lot of the work for Intercession goes into setting yourself up for the best chance of success before turn 1 begins. Chapter tactics, the Adaptive Tactics Tac Ploy, choosing the correct balance of assault vs shooty operatives, equipment selection, tac ops, deployment & turn 1 orders. If you make any big blunders with those pre-game selections, it can manifest itself in significant ways during the match.
Once the game begins, I often find it’s fairly obvious what you want each of your models to be doing. The biggest impact you can make in-game as an Intercession player is nailing your positioning, and maximizing the effectiveness of your limited number of operatives (the holy grail being killing 4 models for the price of 1, guns-a-blazing!). Throughout a match I’m constantly pre-measuring angles, charges, moves, etc., to ensure I don’t get caught out. I’m also communicating that with my opponent, so there are no misunderstandings.
As far as my playstyle, I’d say I play a fairly conservative Intercession gameplan. Even though their stats are solid, I don’t like to leave my guys hanging in the breeze unless I need to. In ITD, I’ll often spend turn 1 positioning my guys behind closed doors, ceding control of select objectives, in favor of opening those doors with a full health marine turn 2. On open terrain, I like to use their 3 APL to hop up, shoot, and drop back down when I can. Selecting the right moment to be aggressive, leave that marine out there, and attempt to stat check opponents is also key – as inevitably you will have to against a good opponent.
I also highly value accuracy over AP. Unless I’m playing into power armor, I’ll opt for the Auto Bolt Rifle, even on the shooty sarge, as I’ve rolled double 1’s more times than I care to admit. While decisions can generally be made using the law of large numbers, never underestimate how swingy 4 dice can be!
ROUND ONE. FIGHT.
My first match was vs Legionaries on Loot and Salvage. My opponent had self-admittedly not played many games with his team, so this turned into a fairly straightforward 17-9 victory.
Round 1 Tac Ops (Security):
- Plant Banner – 1 (I missed out on scoring the 2nd point due to a simple mental error on my part. No excuse for that. Could have had 2 here. I gave the banner to one of my operatives who was going to be in the second wave of advancing towards the late game.)
- Seize Ground – 2 (There was good heavy terrain close enough to where the action and operatives were going to be at the end of the game, so this made sense. Although in a marine vs marine match this often feels like a “win more” as I find often you can score 2 or 0 here depending on who has the models left at the end of the game, and your opponent will often take it too, sometimes even on the same terrain piece!)
- Central Control – 2 (I believe this was my 3rd tac op. If so – it was likely also due to favorable terrain positioning relative to where I already was going to want to be to play the mission)
I got paired into Legionaries again for round 2 on Escalating Hostilities. This is a tough matchup for Intercession because Legionaries shoot better, hit harder in combat, and can be almost as durable as you if running Nurgle. Where I find intercession has an edge is in their consistency across the whole roster, and their ability to shoot and fight multiple times on demand. I opted to run a tilting shield on my AI sgt. with plasma pistol, a doom bolter (blessed bolts and scope) on a normal marine, and a combat blade on my gunner.
My opponent was running primarily Tzeentch this time – which actually put in a ton of work for him turns 1 and 2 vs my P1 bolters. He rolled hot on saves and I did almost no damage. My gunner very luckily survived a return plasma shot after hopping up onto a vangage, double shooting and doing no wounds. The game was on a knife edge until the latter part of turn 3 where I finally tipped the scales in the mid board and ended up with more models left to score the points. Primary then snowballed in my favor, so the final score of 17-8 did not reflect how tight the match was. It really could have gone either way for the majority of the match. I really liked this match, as 6 on 6 feels a lot like a chess match with little room for error.
Round 2 Tac Ops (Security):
- Central Control – 2 (We both took this one, with a large piece of heavy cover to hide behind while remaining within 3” of the center. However I was able to position myself just slightly better and I believe I held my opponent to 1 or 0 for his)
- Hold the Line – 2 (We both took this as well, and I think we both maxed this one out. Unless you’re really aggressive on this mission, as the backfield objectives start to disappear, it’s not too hard to score this – especially with a marine team that has less than 6 operatives left late game who need to be playing the midboard)
- Seize Ground – 1 (if I remember correctly my Gunner who nearly died to plasma early on ended up surviving the whole game with 1 or 2 wounds remaining, to score me 1 point next to a piece of heavy that was just over 3” outside my DZ)
Vet Guard awaited on Domination for round 3, piloted by a very savvy and skilled opponent who plays at the Brooklyn Strategist!
There were several good vantage points, so I opted for a 3/3 split between shooty and assault. All intercessors ran the auto bolter variant (including the sgt.) who I gave the blessed bolts. I gave an auspex and combat blade to my gunner (who had obscuring to take advantage of), and a purity seal and combat blade to another intercessor to further improve one key moment of early game accuracy. Combined, they threatened any guardsman who was brave enough to stick their heads out while simultaneously holding the backfield objectives. My assault marines ran up to contest the mid board and work towards my opponent’s side.
I ceded early center control in order to position for turn 2 & 3 scoring, and maximize the vantage point shots I could get. Turn one I popped up onto vantages, shot, then hopped back down, but from turn 2 onwards I decided to leave those models up since there were more opportunities for overwatch, and I had injured some of his big guns. The sheer number and accuracy of shots I was able to put out really crippled his key pieces and by turn 3 the game had shifted firmly in my favor. He was able to get some good damage done, and a sneaky melta maneuver that absolutely obliterated one of my marines. But my shooting & durability was too much at the end of the day. 19-6 in favor of Intercession.
I’ve always found longer format tournaments like this one interesting, as my opponent ended up going on to win his next two matches, and when round 6 was taking place, we had 6 players (including him) who could all have won the entire event depending on the results of those 3 matches! This illustrates just how tight the competition was down to the very end.
Round 3 Tac Ops (Security):
- Protect Assets – 1 or 2 (I think this is what I chose over damage limitation. My thinking being that I would have to be on overwatch to max out kills for my game plan, and he had a lot of long range firepower that could in return deny damage limitation. I’ve found protect assets tricky to max out at times, since sometimes you want to be shooting targets not on the objective, or your opponent purposefully leaves key operatives outside that 2” bubble, as I recall my opponent doing here.)
- Seize Ground – 2 (I believe I chose this over Central Control. My thinking being that I knew he was going to have more operatives flooding the central point and I didn’t want to have to throw operatives into danger unnecessarily to score secondary points throughout the game. I favored a “shoot from afar then move in” approach. Having a well positioned piece of heavy cover is key here – so you don’t have to go too far out of your way late game to score this.)
- Champion of Mankind – 2 (I like running this against hordes and almost always score 2 points, as it’s hard for most weaker enemy operatives to get 2 or more kills. I will say it is a slight challenge to keep track of all the kills, especially if you’re trying to be sneaky and not alert your opponent to your tac op. Unless one operative is a complete chad and gets 3+ kills within the first 2 turns, I often wait until TP 3 or so to reveal my champion, as I’ve scored 0 on this in the past due to jumping the gun on that reveal, and then the killing being had elsewhere. There are some situations where the timing of this reveal can be a tricky call, and you may even have to NOT kill things to max this out sometimes. In those situations you are ideally not impacting your ability to play the mission and win the match through those missed kills).
Round Four (Day 2)
The air felt thin going into day two, as the pressure to remain sharp rose significantly with each game. I found myself matched into Leander Garrett’s undefeated Kommandos on Power Surge. I knew on paper this was a good matchup for me, as Intercession pose a variety of problems for the Kommandos, but I also knew I was going up against a very good player. I opted to take a gunner, a shooty sarge with blessed bolts and then 4 assault intercessors due to the close quarters nature of the objective control on this map. I ran a purity seal on my grenadier and an auspex and knife on my gunner. Leander’s positioning was incredibly tight and actually didn’t give me much to target turns 1 and 2. He even got a perfectly positioned Bomb Squig off after using just a scratch to keep it alive at 1 wound remaining. RIP space marine.
The 2nd half of the game Intercession just started to pull away. It’s really a tough matchup for Kommando players on all fronts, and despite Leander’s flawless play, Intercession came out on top 16-11.
As a side note, on this mission I’m still not sure if it’s correct to choose attacker or defender. I opted for attacker, but Leander deployed in a symmetrical fashion that didn’t give me any hint as to his intentions one way or the other, forcing me to do the same.
Round 4 Tac Ops (Seek and Destroy):
- Champion of Mankind – 2 (This combo’d well with Rob and Ransack, and I was able to reveal both simultaneously after a nice double melee kill from my assault intercessor allowing him to net me 4VP. At that point only one ork was in a nearby room that could attempt to kill him, but he was also tasked with holding an objective.
- Rob and Ransack – 2 (Nice combo with Rob and Ransack as described above)
- Execution – 2 (This was simply due to the double shooting and double fighting power of marines vs kommandos here)
I now came to my first Hunter Clade matchup of the tournament. I knew this was a tough one and had been preparing as best I could. I also knew Liam Garrett was an equally tough player. This matchup is the reason I had taken the Rapid tree, and I promptly swapped it out for Dueler during operative selection. The mission was Vault Plunder, which is a strange one. I ran an AI sgt. with a power weapon, hand flamer and tilting shield, and gave the other two tilting shields out as well. I opted for a 4-2 split, in favor of assault intercessors, and ran an ABR intercessor and ABR gunner.
I’m not sure if this mission hurt or helped my chances. What it did do was shield the majority of our operatives until the final turn. Long story short, it was incredibly cagey and no one committed operatives to the center rooms until TP 4. I sent two marines out to the flanks to try to take those points away and hassle his secondaries, but unfortunately failed to impact either enough to get the win. I had also taken champion of mankind, but the way the match played out, each of my operatives got exactly ONE kill (!) so that failed to net me the final point I needed for victory. We entered this match the only two undefeated players left, and remained that way after 4 turns. This one resulted in a 10-10 tie! Liam’s measurements and play patterns were very tight and this was a match which could have gone either way with a few different dice rolls or small decisions!
Round 5 Tac Ops:
- Champion of Mankind – 0 (This was potentially game losing, but EACH of my 6 marines got exactly one kill. I thought I optimized each play as best I could this match, but there may have been a line to get one marine his 2 kills somewhere in there. Hard to say. Tight match! I did have an opportunity to go big or go home at the end of turn 4 – with Angel of Death but I opted not to. I had an intercessor with a combat blade in combat with a ruststalker. If I killed him, I would win the game, If he killed me I would lose the game – due to ceding objective control I believe. I opted for the tie as I didn’t like those odds!)
- Rob and Ransack – 2 (On the opposite side, this play was game saving! I had an opportunity to overwatch a lone Hunter Clade operative in one of the side rooms – after failing to kill him in shooting in an attempt to prevent triangulate. Instead, I waited one turn, and killed him in combat, securing me 2 points here which led to the draw.
- Rout or Headhunter – 0 (I forget which of these I chose. I believe it was Rout – due to the new rules allowing scoring through walls when measuring to zones of the board. But I was just an inch or two away from scoring anything on this in those vault rooms.
For the final match of the tournament, I was paired into Hunter Clade for the second game in a row. This time it was on Full Scale Attack vs. Mike Cortes (who had made it to the final at NOVA this year vs Can You Roll A Crit). Mike is also a regular at the Brooklyn Strategist, and I had played two very tight games into his Hunter Clade while prepping for the NYO, losing both by a narrow margin. I knew this would be a hard fought match as Mike is a very good player, and a true competitor.
I chose to take the same exact operative selection and equipment loadout as my game with Liam, as I knew nullifying those ruststalkers was priority number one.
After deployment, I won attacker and made a very aggressive play with my gunner during my first activation. I was able to move and dash him up the corridor on the left side of the map behind a barricade I had measured out, and was able to draw a line on one of Mike’s operatives who was not obscured. This opened up a blast shot with Devastator doctrine rerolls active on 4 of his models. I believe this play set the tone of the match, and led to a very lengthy turn 1 by ITD standards. If I recall, I was only able to kill one model outright, but I wounded everyone else, and that same gunner was able to get another blast shot off on death, after surviving multiple attempts to bring him down throughout that turn (what a Chad!). My leader and two assault intercessors pushed up into the smaller room to the right and ended up taking that over with little resistance. I later realized that I likely overcommitted and should have left one of those operatives home to defend my objective. The brunt of the strategic battle came in the larger of the two rooms. Even after my initial blast damage, Mike did a very good job of leveraging the operatives he had remaining on that side of the board, making smart decisions and playing the mission well.
With a lot at stake, and lots of precise measurements being made on both sides, we ended up running out of time in the match around the beginning of TP 3 if I remember correctly, and had to resort to talking out the logical and likely conclusion that the remaining time would have allowed us to achieve.
After some discussion, the end result was a 14-12 victory for Intercession. We ended up tying on the primary (7-7), and it was the secondaries (5-3) which ended up shifting it in my favor. This was able to seal 1st place with a record of 5 wins, 1 draw, and 93 total victory points (just edging out Liam’s 5 win & 1 draw total by 6 points)!
Round 6 Tac Ops (Seek and Destroy):
- Shock and Awe – 1-2 (I don’t usually like shock and awe, as it forces you to commit to objectives at times and places that you might not normally want to, but I think it was better than my other choice when building my deck in pairs of two. At the end of the game I can’t recall if this scored me 1 or 2 when we were talking it out, a lot was going on!)
- Champion of Mankind – 1-2 (I remember revealing this on my standard intercessor operative after he got a double kill turn 2. At this point I believe he was tied with one other operative at 2 kills. This was a tough call, but I felt that I had to commit and reveal at this point, as I wasn’t sure which way the game was going to go, and I think he was my best bet to get that 3rd kill with the current board state. Again, I don’t remember if this ended up netting me 1 or 2 points during our discussion. If it was 1 point, it was likely down to his inability to get a 3rd kill to break my internal tie.)
- Rob and Ransack – 2 (I ended up revealing this on one of my 3 intercessors who were pushing up into that right room after killing a ruststalker when seeing he was safe from retaliation.)
A healthy break from Intercessors, for my own sanity! One component of the generous prize support for winning the NYO was a professionally painted blooded Kill Team (which I had actually wanted to try next!). To me, this is such a cool prize, and I’m stoked to get stuck in with more than 6 operatives at my disposal!
Overall I’m incredibly happy to have participated in such a competitive and well-run event, and I’ve definitely acquired a taste for GT competition. My goal for 2023 is to compete at a number of the bigger events around the country and try my hand at winning a golden ticket for next year’s finals!
Finally, I want to thank each and every member of the team behind the NYO. Awesome venue, well thought out, and extremely well run. It’s great fun and very meaningful to be a part of the growing Brooklyn Kill Team scene from the ground up. Y’all better watch out! 🙂
I recently filmed, edited and directed my first feature-length documentary entitled: Rookie Season. It ended up winning best automotive documentary last year, and is currently free to watch on Amazon Prime (and 5 other platforms) which you can find here, along with the trailer! https://www.rookieseasonfilm.com/
The film chronicles the highs and lows of a professional sports car racing team during their inaugural year, and is filmed and edited in a fresh way, which is not traditional for a documentary.
If you’ve got any interest in sports, cars, competition, documentaries (or supporting fellow warhammer players!), it’s an intense ride from start to finish with compelling characters, and I’d love to share it with this community!
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