Goonhammer Interviews the Top 3 from the Bay Area Open Kill Team Tournment

This last weekend was home to part of FLG’s series of opens. Taking place in the Bay Area, with some of the West Coasts’ finest players. With the release of Gallowfall, and the coming Kansas City Open, we wanted to check in with the players. See if the Fellgor Ravagers are all they were hyped up to be, and follow up with some familiar faces! Our first guest is the tournament organizer, a man who has been around the proverbial Kill Team block.

Sheldon S, Tournament Organizer

With the introduction of the Gallowfall, were there common questions around the Fellgor? Did you do any emergency rules errata for this tournament?

  • There weren’t actually too many questions during the tournament at all. It was sort of the ideal situation as a tournament organizer, almost everyone at the event was an experienced player well versed in the rules so there were very few rules interactions questions. I got to sit next to interesting games and just watch and occasionally provide an objective ruling where a third party was necessary.
  • As for Fellgors specifically there was a small FAQ in effect during the event just meant to clarify a single interaction for their special ability that is a bit unclear straight out of the book. Their frenzy ability as it is written isn’t clear who is incapacitating the model after the frenzy state is initiated if the model dies outside of combat, and I just ruled that it was considered incapacitated when the frenzy ability was initiated to avoid that problem. Everyone agreed, even the Fellgor players at the event that this was a good change because it made the strange rules interactions regarding the wording much more straightforward. Author’s Note: This interaction RAW has Fellgors heavily messing up players who rely on Seek and Destroy tac ops. When a fellgor dies at the end of its Frenzy unless you strike the operative down in melee no one gets the incapacitation!
  • Additional Author’s Comment, I recently did a short little podcast with Sheldon on Just Another Kill Team Podcast(link) about building up BAO and Killteam 2018, come listen in if you’re curious!

What was your favorite moment of the event, as a TO?

  • My favorite part as the TO was definitely getting the opportunity to see so many of the community that I hadn’t seen in a while, such as the Southern California players like Kell Team and Squad Games, or meeting new people like the Forsaken Gaming team that came in out of Modesto. At the end of the day running these events is about bringing friends together for fun games and that was definitely the highlight for me. It was also great to see my team, the Bay Area Tournament Squad (BATS) do very well in such a competitive environment. Our team has really grown and improved since we started it a year ago and I’m so proud of all their performances in the competition!

What’s your short pitch for readers who are on the fence about the next Bay Area Open?

  • Obviously the Bay Area Open is near and dear to my heart being the closest major tournament to me, but it more than doubled in attendance since last year, and I feel like the sky’s the limit to making the Bay Area Open one of the premiere events for the game. The Bay Area is one of the best tourist destinations in the world, and the local scene here is one of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world. I guarantee anyone who makes it out for next year’s event will have a great time! And if you’re already on the west coast, coming is a no-brainer!

In third place we have a face familiar to Goonhammer, the winner of KTO. Jimmy K, put away the Adeptus Custodes, to play Breachers this time around! With a 4-1-1 record, and most scores past 20 points, it seems he really got good mileage out of Breach and Clear!

Jimmy K, Third, Imperial Navis Breachers

Jimmy K deep in thought

With your past compendium success, was there any attempt to find another diamond in the rough to take to the BAO?

  • Yeah, I love the idea of compendium teams but I didn’t have much time to practice for this event so I went with Breachers cause they felt more comfortable.  However, I think there are some real possibilities with compendium Greenskins!  I may try them at an event in the future.

How did you approach tac op selection on mixed boards? Are the breachers better run as Seek and Destroy or Security?

  • I purely ran Seek and Destroy just to get in a groove with them.  I’ve seen people do well with security against the right faction or the right board but I basically decided if I wasn’t killing then I wasn’t winning.  I took Counteract, Eliminate Guards and Rout nearly every game.

What was the most unexpected Breach and Clear of the tournament?

  • I used a Breach and Clear to open a door and throw my endurant (who was concealed) onto a point and spent a CP to give him Lock it Down to control the point.  B&C is normally used to kill or yeet a grenade so it’s rare to just grab and lock in an objective.

What was your experience like at Bay Area Open? How does it compare to your normal play group and space?

  • I loved the Bay Area Open. It’s the home turf for BATS and they are gracious and friendly hosts! Incredible guys who were fun to play against and quality people to talk to. There were also some great guys who showed up from the community, some who were at their first tournament. The venue felt a little cramped but mostly because it sold out and has such an incredible turn out.  The entire time was filled with awesome positive energy and supportive players who really made the experience great!

In second we have 2022’s #1 US ranked player Chris B. Head of the Bay Area Tournament Squad, and all around generalist. He’s packed away the hordes of imperial and chaos guardsmen for foul Xenos.

Chris B, Second, Hand of the Archon

What went into your decision to play Hand of the Archon, versus some of the other strong teams?

  • Coming off of Blooded, I wanted a team that could reward aggressive gameplay but emphasize ranged lethality and reliability at the exchange of body count and raw durability. Archon gave me that mix, but with a team with a more diverse toolkit compared to Kasrkin, which was a team I’d also considered running. I knew HOTA could handle some of the other top tier teams – like Gellerpox, Breachers, Vet Guard, and Kasrkin – at least if we were not in Close Quarters, while retaining a surprise factor that most players won’t have many reps against.

Were you prepared to play against Fellgors this weekend? If you did, what were your tools to succeed against the new boogeymen?

  • Yes! We knew Fellgors were going to be a big problem, so we trained against them heavily in our home gym. We trained in a variety of scenarios, swinging it deliberately between most favorable and least favorable to them. We found Fellgor did the best on Capture, and in Close Confines, and they definitely had more counterplay than it looked like on paper.

Which tool in the Hand of the Archon arsenal got the most play this weekend? What was a moment where that tool made the difference?

  • The infamous Torment Grenade was perhaps the biggest tool not by what it did, but how players tried to mitigate its effects with. Players spread out against the torment grenade so much that they had to play around it. Throughout the event I only Tormented around 10 different operatives. The other critical tool was the Skysplinter Assassin, using their Bat (mine is modeled with a bat instead of a bird) to spot and kill targets opponents considered safe.

I see many “BATS” tags throughout the player listings. Were there any teammate storylines you wanted to shout out?

  • I want to give a special shout out to my good friend and teammate Sam. Sam had stopped playing Kill Team after last BAO, and got back into the game in January with a renewed interest in Legionaries. After a rough first couple months, something finally clicked for him and he was on a warpath ever since, even taking top spot in one of our local monthly events. When Fellgors were released, he was immediately in love with their violent demeanor and lack of subtlety in their toolkit and switched to the team. He had the hardest strength of schedule of anyone at BAO, having to face the #1, #2, and #3 spot players. He did an amazing job against some of the best players in the country, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Anything else you want to add about the BAO experience?

  • BAO was an absolutely fantastic experience, and a complete shark tank. So many talented players joined us from across California, and Sheldon did an excellent job as TO. I’m also excited to announce that Sheldon has handed me the reins of BAO, so I’ll be running it next year. I can’t wait to welcome even more players and have a larger space to play in. Special thanks to Dakotah and the Squad Games crew, as well as James Kelly and the Kell Team folks for making it out – it was a pleasure hosting you, and the BATS will get you when we meet again.

First place at BAO was taken by Auston! A new face to the scene in 2023, who’s competed in many tournaments this year. He took down 2 Fellgor players on his run to first. Maybe the fear for Fellgors is overblown?

Auston L, First, Kasrkin

Auston L’s Halo Themed Kasrkin

What went into your team selection? You’ve taken pathfinders in the past, were they an option?

  • Pathfinders will always have a place in my roster, but with some of the new teams coming out and some of the buffs and nerfs, they needed to take a backseat to this one. Ultimately, I went with Kasrkin. I love good shooting, and the meta remains full of elites. Since I needed a team that can fight back in melee when needed due to Fellgor and Void Dancer Troupe. The scion blades equipment can two crit Harlequins and eliminate a wounded Fellgor during their activation with elite points.

How was your experience at the Bay Area Open compared to other larger tournaments?

  • Despite it being half the size of LVO, there was a huge amount of talent there. Multiple golden ticket recipients (past and present) and a ton of players I could easily see winning a major event. From even day 1, the games were getting intense due to the player base.

Were there any crazy moments of luck? Did the Elite points stop your worst rolls from tanking your tournament run?

  • I can only recall a single busted roll of 2 crits 2 hits with a melta. I will say, elite points do wonders. You can turn an average roll into a great one, guarantee a kill, and you have a get out of jail free when the dice don’t want to cooperate. It’s a really good thing you can only elite one die per attack.

Being relatively new to the scene you’ve climbed up to first place finish quickly. What would be the #1 lesson you’d impart to someone angling for a good tournament finish?

  • Find a playstyle you like, and grind it out. Learning what you can and can’t do, what risks are acceptable, and how to deal with problem matchups are important. I wouldn’t say there’s really any bespoke teams that enough practice couldn’t get you to a 1st place finish, as long as you get the reps in.

Were you worried about going into Fellgors?

  • Extremely! Luckily, I got great coaching from Travis (HappyRaccon) and Jimmy (winner of KTO) to help smooth out the matchup. But even with that, the team itself definitely doesn’t feel enjoyable to play against. Even while winning, there were aspects that felt overly punishing or sometimes unfair, which isn’t something I had experienced yet in Kill Team.

Are any of the May releases on your radar for a next team, or do the Kasrkin have some long term legs?

  • I definitely love the team, but am optimistic about this year’s releases. Really hoping for tyranids and scorpions. However, Ashes of Faiths teams both look like great pick ups, and I can always play Kasrkins as a support option with them!

Anything or anyone you want to shout out to the Goonhammer readers??

  • Huge shout out to Jimmy for getting me practice with Fellgors and discussing matchups, and of course huge shout out to Travis (HappyRaccon) for the continued coaching and support throughout my career!

Author Note: Thanks again for making it to the end of the article! We’ll be back next week with the results of the Kansas City Open!

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