This week’s competitor interview coverage is a double-header: We’re covering both FLG’s Lone Star Open and an independent San Diego event! While both of these events used a mixed format for their games, the results are very different. Texas came out with a very non-meta top 3 while San Diego’s top 3 looks more familiar. So join us as we talk to the winners, with faces new and familiar.
But before we do that, we’d like to remind everyone that Goonhammer are hosting our own Kill Team Tournament this year at the 2023 Goonhammer Open in Baltimore, Maryland on August 19-20. A Golden Ticket to the World Championships of Warhammer is up for grabs to the top finisher. And if you’re planning to go to NOVA two weeks later, it’s great practice. You can find tickets here.
We’ll be keeping this week’s article a bit shorter and sweeter to fit all this in, so let’s hop into the tournament organizer thoughts for San Diego’s Summer Slam. Kill Team has always had a bigger following on the west coast and the San Diego event saw two of the top 10 US Kill Team players duke it out with 16 other players.
Cameron K, Summer Slam Tournament Organizer
Can you give us a quick overview of your event?
- Summer Slam is a celebration of Kill Team where players from all levels have a chance to be the one standing at the top, and where we crown Summer Slam Champion, who will forever hold a Summer Slam Championship Belt.
Were you surprised at the top 3 teams?
- I was not surprised by Cultists taking the belt home. Kommandos play well into Cult, so I wasn’t surprised to see them at second. Knowing we had two very strong Kommandos players in James Kelly and Nicole Masters. Third place, in my personal opinion, was a lot more open. There were a lot of great players at the event and seeing the vet guard take third was great. They remain a strong team and Dakotah has really mastered how they play.
How has your community been adjusting to the boogeymen of the summer?
- It is a tale of social acceptance, really. A lot of people are refusing to play them until they get touched officially by GW, because they are a very tough obstacle for most to overcome. It still takes a knowledgeable player to pilot them, but we haven’t seen a team with such a low skill ceiling to success before. Even Fellgor when they came out weren’t as big of an issue overall.
- Not playing isn’t going to get them fixed, and so we’re of the mindset that since GW needs to see that they are winning, and winning too easily, while a lot of our local meta shies away from playing them because it is almost a social faux pas at this point, the data is important so that the game gets the balance change it needs to thrive.
Third up at the 4 round in San Diego, we have Dakotah, runner of his own circuit in the Los Angeles area. He’s a swell dude and has a big podcast to boot! His sweateran guard are lovely so let’s see how they flexed into the meta this weekend.
Dakotah L, 3rd Place – Veteran Guard
As a content creator and frequent TO, how’s it feel to get out and stretch your playing legs?
- I don’t get to play Kill Team very often at tournaments as I run most of the tournaments in Los Angeles. However, it’s always a treat to play Kill Team, especially in a competitive environment. Due to work commitments, I usually only get to play on our Twitch stream or at tournaments. Playing Kill Team at events allows me to lead by example and demonstrate the importance of sportsmanship, which I consider to be the most underrated value in tabletop gaming. It’s essential to show that you can perform well while also exhibiting good sportsmanship.
Did you play against Chaos Cults or the Fellgor Ravagers? How did your experiences go against those teams and are they the monsters we’ve made them out to be?
- My fellow podcast host Giacomo played at the top table against Cults. He said, “Wow, they are even stronger than I could have imagined.” This is, in part, due to Anthony (who is an excellent player) piloting them to perfection. My thoughts on Cults are that they are 1000% a problem, and I’ll be just as excited to see them nerfed as every time I have seen pathfinders nerfed. We all just need to pray to the Emperor a little more; he will hear our prayers.
- My only loss was against Alexander Popov and his excellently converted Felgor on Into the Dark. In my opinion, Veteran Guard has the tools to deal with Felgor, on open board. While I think Vet Guard can win the match-up against Felgor on ITD, I believe it is extremely map-dependent, and I will need at least 20 more games on ITD vs. them to actually figure it out.
- Veteran Guard is already a difficult team with certain operatives that need to be activated in a certain order. With teams like Felgor and Gellerpox, you have to choose different models and a different playstyle already to have a chance. Since ITD is like a puzzle, and Vetguard has a ton of parts, it may take a while to figure out, but I believe Vetguard has the blast to make the match-up work.
Which operatives or tactics did you find yourself using often in your run?
- My mine layer is Steven Seagal, and he’s a bad man. I always ensure that my opponents know his abilities before the start of each game. Even with that knowledge, he managed to eliminate 3 Kommandos in game one, 4 Felgor in game two, created a threat bubble against Hierotek in game three, preventing any model from approaching the center, and finally, in game four, he took down 4 pathfinders.
- Outside of Steven Seagal, I utilize my tactical assets like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Wick, Dolph Lundgren, and Bruce Willis to secure early points or threaten objective steals in turn two. Surprisingly, sometimes a standard guardsman can soak up a ton of fire, purely due to prayers to the Emperor and the Emperor’s curse on my opponents’ dice.
Anything else you want to shout out to our fellow readers?
- The All Valley Team Tournament(link) on September 23-24th in Pasadena California. It has teams of 3, and it’s a 1v1v1 type tournament. It was the largest West Coast event last year with 42 players and we are set to crush that number this year. As many people are traveling to these events, don’t miss the chance to play with friends and competitors from all over the USA.
- Don’t forget to check out our podcast, “Squad Games Podcast,” available on all major platforms. We dive deep into Kill Team discussions, strategies, and on occasion other game systems.
- Finally join us for an unforgettable Kill Team experience at the Las Vegas Open Kill Team Championship! As Squad Games takes charge of this thrilling tournament, we’re preparing for the biggest Kill Team event in the world, with 200 open spots for the Championship event. This event is going to be so much fun and I can’t wait to see you there.
Next up is Jimmy, winner of KTO, sporting some green warpaint this time around. Looks like Kommandos have found new tools with the recent dataslate buff. Can the brutal kunnin outwit the new menaces?
Jimmy K, 2nd Place – Ork Kommandos
What are your thoughts on Kommando teams in the current meta?
- I feel Orks are fantastic in the Meta now. They are one of the better teams into cults and most match ups are at least playable for them. Everyone knows them so you don’t get gotchas but that leads to a better game experience for the most part. They’re a fun durable team to play that you can do well with.
How did you feel about the terrain and format? Would you prefer all ITD or all Open?
- I love mixed, I’m a big fan of ITD and have found some success on it but Fellgor and Cultists are brutal on that format so it’s nice to see a mixed format setting so youre never quite sure what you’re going to get.
Which tools were you relying on to help defeat Killteam’s boogeymen of fellgor ravagers or chaos cults?
- Praying to the Emperor!! Fellgor was my only loss, I played them on ITD and they just congested the board and made it so hard to do anything. It was a hard match. On open, it can be fun to forward deploy the Nob with dynamite to get a strong alpha strike but everyone tends to know that’s coming now.
What are you looking forward to in the next month or so?
- I’ll be playing in Hammer of Wrath, another all ITD tournament in LA that should be a lot of fun. Check out Squad Games for details if you’re interested.
- Additionally, my wife is going to join me this weekend on a 2v2 tournament and I’m thrilled she’s learning the game and will get to experience a tournament!
Rounding out the Summer Slam in first, is Chaos Cults taking the top slot. Anthony M, has more tournament attendances on Wrymblade, but it seems a new cult is in town!
Anthony M, 1st – Chaos Cults
What made you choose Chaos Cults over the Genestealer Cults? Were there any playstyle lessons that traveled over from Wrymblade to Chaos Cults?
- Those are great questions. I’d say before almost every tournament within the last year I have always bounced from X team or Wyrmblade in my mind. I always felt a bit lacking, and with the introduction of some more melee-centric teams, I decided that Wyrmblade were a bit too unfavored in a matchup like that. I still love those guys and I enjoyed being a hassle for better players than me with a strange team, but I wanted in on some of the fun! As for playstyle, I would say playing Wyrmblade for so long helped me immensely, in a way that many people may not have seen coming. With TO’s and tournaments looking to force big horde teams to make poor deployment decisions to minimize the free reign they get to move up a board, I’ve had an easier time than most using the tips and tricks I learnt with Wyrmblade to help keep my Cultist’s alive longer.
How do you feel the balance of the game is looking? Which match throughout the weekend was the most challenging for you and what weaknesses do you see the team having if you can name one.
- That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? If I’m being honest, the balance is a bit rough at this moment. A few teams have started to really run away with the race, so to speak. Melee-centered teams have started to rise to the top of every tournament, and many teams have little answers to them. With that being said, the changes that can be made are apparent and I have faith in the developers behind KT to work out some of the issues that are plaguing the community currently. As a sidenote to that, I would love to see some older teams get some love *cough cough* Wyrmblade * cough cough*, to help them stand a bit closer with their newer counterparts.
- The biggest weakness the team has right now is the strength of the community. What I mean by that is the amount of excellent players working unceasingly to figure out counters to this team, and other melee teams as well. Knowledge is power in this game. If you can know your opponents team and abilities better than they can, you can be a step ahead at all times. I would say second behind that is unsafe deployments, as there are FIFTEEN bodies to try and hide. If an opponent can exploit those two, I can see them giving a Cultist player a run for their money.
For aspiring Cults players, which Mutations did you use, and was there a mutation you never found a use for? What thoughts went into your mutation choices, and even the ordering of those mutations.
- This is a tough one, because the Mutations I often used were NOT the ones I should have. I took Fleet in most of my games as my first Accursed Gift, and then either chose a 4+ save (against Pathies) or Spiked Charge for the possible D3 mortal wounds + crit to kill 7 wound operatives easily. I found myself constantly spending the CP to give my Torments Sinewed, mainly for the Brutal. Before I started doing that, some of my dice rolls were so abysmal, Pathfinders were parrying me out in combat! I learned my lesson and thankfully most of the Accursed Gifts are very useful regardless. Moving forward, I think a movement buff is more situational than having Brutal and ignoring Weapon Skill modifiers on both my Mutants and Torments, but only time and the match I have in front of me with Cultists will tell!
- As for my thoughts on mutation choices, I would always keep at least 2 Devotees on Engage for the flexibility of a late turn Charge, which can catch a lot of people off-guard. Beyond that, finding some good jumping off points for my Mutants later in a turn is always a tough nut to crack, as once they’re Torments, they become priority numero uno.
Were there any opponents you wanted to call out for sportsmanship, or insane plays?
- I’d say each and every one of my opponents. We all understood the toughness of playing into Cultists, but no one complained or made me feel uncomfortable. I tried my best to keep my opponents engaged and involved in the game and I hope they can look back without any negative feelings towards our games. If I wanted to call one out specifically, it would go to a buddy of mine named Robert Nichols – he’s a great guy who was playing Legionary’s and he’s always been effortlessly good at the game. We had fun and made some wacky choices that were definitely not optimized, but they were interesting and they created memories, which matters more in my opinion!
Any other final words for the Goonhammer readers? Shoutouts to your gaming club?
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to the Goonhammer audience, and hopefully coming into the new season I can be back for some more insight on the other teams I’ll be bringing to tournaments! As for shoutouts, I want to thank all my local buddies who have tolerated me at my worst (getting Blast 2” off the board first activation) and helped me improve immensely, without them I would have given up on this game! That one specifically goes to people like Alan (Hellcat on Discord), Rob (Highlander), Strategic Advantage/Admech Alex, and many, many more! I also want to shoutout both our local SoCal league which just kicked off its 3rd season, and our LGS monthly event, Kill Team & Koffee, which is held at Gameology Pasadena(link)! We’ve built an amazing community in the SoCal area, and if you’re reading this and have any interest in joining us, feel free to reach out on the SoCal Skirmish Gaming discord! Thank you again for having me guys!
This is where we spin up with Frontline Gaming’s Lone Star Open, where Intercessors and the Kinband took the day. Surprisingly enough Texas had no Cults or Fellgors. Let’s hear from FLG’s TO for the weekend, Chase!
Chase S, Lone Star Open Tournament Organizer
You selected all Open terrain for this event, was that to manage the ITD boogeymen somewhat?
- That was definitely a major factor in the decision. I’ve been keeping up with how other TO’s have been handling the meta shift while we’re in this liminal space between seasons, and it emerged as the most practical of all the solutions. Our local club also has a bit of Into the Dark fatigue, as we’ve been playing dedicated close quarters and mixed terrain tournaments over the past year. Everyone was quite excited to have more options for competitive team choices with the open terrain format.
How are you finding the player base of Texas taking to the game?
- The player base in Texas is just an absolute hoot of a group. Just like Kill Team players I’ve met from all over the country, they’re the friendliest group of wargamers that I know. We’ve been building the scene up slowly, with a lot of folks having a misconception that Kill Team is just scaled down Warhammer 40K, essentially like combat patrol or boarding actions. Once people realize how different the game is, how quickly it plays, and how tactical the gameplay is, then folks start getting interested. The biggest hurdle that we’ve been trying to clear is just the sheer size of the state. Each major city has its own independent scene, but each of those cities is at least 2-4 hours from any of the others. I’m hoping that we can start to get things a little more centralized and run some larger events that pull players from all over the state.
Any other shoutouts about FLG or the Lone Star Open? Future tournaments or local clubs in the near future?
- I’d like to thank some major contributors who helped make the whole thing happen: Dakotah Luster, who folks might recognize as the TO of the Las Vegas Open, provided absolutely critical information and prize support. Without him, I don’t think that I could’ve gotten this whole thing off the ground. A special shout out goes to my wife, who spent the several weeks leading up to LSO staying up till all hours of the night helping me paint terrain so we could have beautiful tables. I’d also like to toss a shoutout to Kicker Kaldozi, the events manager for FLG for working extremely hard to help me make the event work. FLG is just a great group of people and I look forward to running more events with them in the future.
- Engage, Party, Repeat is our local club that we formed to help folks keep up with events and the latest Kill Team info in Texas. Our team mates are all over the state, in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and many other towns across the state. We’re headquartered in College Station at Clockwork Games(link), who has been so supportive of our scene. Our little college town is nearly equidistant to most major cities in the central and eastern part of the state. We’re hoping our geographical location helps make traveling to tournaments a much simpler process, and thus grow the scene in the lone star state.
With a pair of birdbois in the 3rd and 2nd slot, I’m hoping to hear about some strategic differences! In Third we have Alexander, who I personally met at KTO 2023, and am excited to do a little interview with. What let him sauce out the rest of the Heiroteks, Intercessors, and Aeldari.
Alexander S, 3rd – Farstalker Kinband
What about the Farstalker attracted you from the ruinous powers of the Legionary?
- I was really looking forward to playing them whenever the first Into the Dark box was released. Now, I really do enjoy playing Legionaries but there’s a complexity/playstyle that comes with the Farstalkers that I haven’t seen against any of the other teams.
From 52nd at KTO to 3rd at LSO, what kinds of choices are you making now, that you weren’t making then?
- The last 5 months or so, I’ve played a good amount of games with some incredible people at my LGS and competed at some local tournaments. Kill Team is a game about objectives first and foremost, and the thing that I’ve really focused on was how to maximize capturing objectives and completing Tac Ops.
Farstalkers feel like teams with lots of cool operatives, with many different strengths. Was there an operative that reigned supreme?
- I like to say my sniper usually is my favorite operative and usually does great. But I have to give credit where credit is due. The Kroot Doggos pulled the team to victory, a consistent turning point one Recover Item, forcing Intercessors to deal with a dog before moving up the board, or backline charges. They understand the Greater Good!
Are there any opponents you wanted to call out for good sweatiquette? Other general callouts you wanted to make?
- Everyone at the tournament are great people and glad that I got to meet some new faces and some from previous events! I just wanted to shout out 1st and 2nd place. I got to play both of them during the event and they were definitely some of the most intense games I’ve had in awhile! A Kroot mirror match was all too familiar and against Intercessors a 1 wound remaining Intercessor made all the difference! Great games!
In second place we have James, who has been playing Killteam with me since the beginning of the edition. While his narrative Space Marines have a tale years long, he’s recently been doing quite well with the Kinband. Even take first place at the last Brooklyn Strategist monthly!
James M, 2nd – Farstalker Kinband
You’ve been a regular player in the Brooklyn scene(link), playing Space Marines, Blooded, and now Kroot. What part of their kit are you enjoying the most?
- The Farstalkers are the jack-of-all-trades team. They’re not exceptional at shooting, or melee, or survivability, but with smart play and the right strategic ploy use they can do a good job at being whatever sort of team the other squad doesn’t like to face.
- They also score their tac ops fast. I treated tac ops as an afterthought for a long time, but playing this team has made me focus on and get better at that part of the game. This was the first tournament where I maxed my tac ops every round, running the kroot special: Recover Item, Balance the Books, and Implant (via the Mercenary Contract ploy). I wanted to experiment and see what other tac op combos might be good, but if it ain’t broke…
The Lone Star Open managed to avoid the melee summer, how did that play out for you? What plans did you have for those match ups?
- I spent time the week before the tournament thinking about how to play cults and goats, and I was equally relieved and disappointed when they didn’t show up. I took fellgor ravagers to ACO, where my fellow Brooklyn player Joey C.’s void-dancers showed how to beat them on an open board. I figured Kroot could approximate the same tactic: move up, get on vantage, and start blasting.
- For goats I planned to take extra piercing shots for the AP, and into cults I’d take toxin shots to stun mutants and torments. Not sure how well it would work out, hopefully I can try a few matches when back in Brooklyn. Out of everything the Farstalkers bring, shooting is probably where they are least impressive.
Were there any plays that you were particularly proud of over your five rounds of play?
- I think the best kroot play I saw all weekend was by Alexanders S. in our mirror-match. Playing Loot, he use a CP for the Poach tac ploy on an objective I was in position to take, but hadn’t tapped yet. That cheeky move gave him a 1-point win in the end. : )
Is there anything else you want to call out to readers of Goonhammer?
- Shoutouts to the TO Chase and the Texas kill team players. I’m rooting for the game to really take off in my home state!
In first place we’ve got another Intercessor player taking a top slot! Drew seems to be a man of few words. With one tie, and three wins, I’m sure the Emperor’s finest have some tips for the rest of us.
Drew P, 1st – Intercession Squad
Last week’s Intercessor winner mentioned that mental load was a big factor in his selection for the tournament. Were you also of a similar persuasion?
- Yes, but mostly because of the two hour time limit. I never finish games within that time frame playing as larger teams.
What Chapter Tactics did you use for the run, and were there any other you were flirting with?
- I went with Rapid and Methodical. I made zero overwatch shots during the tournament, so I definitely would have gotten better mileage with Durable.
In your tie game, what led to it drawing out? Was it the match up? Play style?
- It was Intercession vs Legionaries and I screwed up during deployment which led to one of my Intercessors getting flanked and left with 2 wounds remaining after eating a plasma shot at the start of the match. I was playing catch up from there on out and my opponent played very aggressively. I managed to secure a tie by the skin of my teeth solely because of my opponent’s terrible luck with the dice on several of his critical shooting attacks.
Any hot takes you want to put out to the Space Marine naysayers across the internet? What kinds of things do you think they’re missing?
- This tournament was my first time actually playing a match as Intercession, although I’ve had plenty of experience playing against them. Frankly, it frustrates me that they were so much easier to play effectively than the factions with larger teams that I have vastly more experience with. Seems weird from a balance perspective.
Any other final words for the Goonhammer readers? Shoutouts to your gaming club?
- If your wife tells you to play as Intercession Squad because you will get disqualified for going over the time limit otherwise, listen to her.
That wraps up our interviews but as always thanks for reading and a big thank you to our interviewees for participating. Don’t forget our very own Goonhammer Open is a Golden ticket event (link), and expect us to have have interviews with the winners of that one as well. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.