Goonhammer Interviews the Top 3 Kill Team Players from the New York Open

This weekend New York’s largest Kill Team event, New York Open (link) returns! Setting up inside of Manhattan at the newly opened Hex and Co (link). This year’s Grand Tournament was paired with a 2-Day Narrative event, alongside Necromunda and Battletech, making this year a true skirmish gaming event for the whole city.

Top Prizes! credit:@LiftedGround

New York sends its killteams out into a mixed field of handcrafted open terrain and ITD boards, with some notable inclusions from this year’s LVO packet (link), in Map 1 and 4. We do love to keep players on their toes, eschewing map packs and forcing players to really engage with the terrain presented to them. Insofar as the meta is concerned the North East remains very focused on the Kommando threat and its responses, leading to a slew of Elites taking center stage. This shows up in teh faction breakdown (below), where you can see 8 Kommando teams to 18 elite teams.

NYO2 Faction Breakdown

Notably the conversion of those 8 Kommandos into the top 8 indicates that while Kommandos are very strong finishing in the top 8 is still based more on player skill. Notably of the 8 Legionaries players two of them made it into the top 8, indicating that the team is likely a good response to the meta monsters. NYO’s top 8 has a fairly good spread of team types, and it’s cool to see Talons of the Emperor and Hearthkyn Salvagers making appearances.

NYO2’s Top 8

As the New York Open was my event, Ace stepped in to conduct the TO interview. For the GT our trio of TOs managed 41 players over 6 rounds of Swiss pairings. Thanks again, Ace for helping us out with some questions!

End of the Weekend! credit:@LiftedGround

Travis, Leila (@leila_gamer_mode) and Mike, TO, Brooklyn Rats(@thebrooklynrats) & Skill Team(

Congratulations on a great event! How has the community grown since last year?

  • Leila: At New York Open last year, many of our competitive players were strong locals who had never attended a GT or Major outside the city. Since then, most of our strong local players have connected into the wider KT community and traveled to larger tournaments. Additionally, we had a number of attendees from outside the region, including a number of international players, making NYO a reflection of the cosmopolitan community it is representing.
  • Michael: It’s been refreshing to see the community grow, not only in player count and skill, but an increased diversity of teams and play styles; together which drove something of a feedback loop to catapult our players into top ranks this year.  While we can’t ignore the explosive growth of monthly attendance at the Brooklyn Strategist, let’s also take a moment to highlight the solid community building effort by Mike Cortes up in Dobbs Ferry (Westchester).  Lastly, the Jersey community has indeed become harder to herd with the addition of several new stores, but the next season looks set to offer room to consolidate Jersey KT tribes.

What is the meta like in New York? How does it differ from the rest of meta America?

  • LC: While our meta shifts in response to the usual trends, we see a general preference for cleaner/easier teams most often. Typically the more complex teams like Hierotek or Inquisition have 1-2 players at most. Some of this is likely due to the pretty strict time constraints we try to run with in the area.
  • TC: At larger events like the NYO and NOVA the meta follows the tier list pretty tightly. For monthlies it’s a broader mix of players so the tier list generally falls away for player experimentation, and comfortability. I haven’t noticed too many specific meta calls that we stan compared to the rest of the nation.

What is the philosophy of the New York organizers when setting up Killzones? Do you play mixed environments or just Open?

  • LC: We run mixed events, with a slight preference for Open terrain. One important guiding philosophy is that reading the boards during a game makes for stronger players, so as much as possible we do not use map packs or pre-made maps, instead working to make new maps for each event, including making alterations to ITD maps to avoid having a “solved” game.
  • TC: Luckily since the Skill Team has a large chunk of terrain, we apply objective markers, vantage L’s, heavy walls, then light terrain in groups. This progression means we can have each kind of terrain influence the next type of terrain. It also means each TO can see something the previous one might have missed. We did make a nod towards Kommando’s this time with more heavy walls floating around drop zones which may have helped considering the top8.

What was your biggest challenge as organizers?

  • LC: Organizing anything in NYC is complicated. There are always things happening in this city, meaning space is hard to come by and schedules are difficult to manage. As organizers an important step is working with reliable contacts and keeping pressure to make sure the event can even happen.
  • MS: I think together we’ve clocked over 40 events, so the planning and execution kinda fall into place, but I will say sometimes the last minute logistics can add stress.
  • TC: Getting space inside of Manhattan was certainly a larger challenge than last year, though hopefully it’ll be easier next year!

What did you enjoy the most?

  • LC: I got to watch some tournament stories unfold, following interesting players through their matchups, trying to dissect how each game was going. The other great part of a large tournament is getting to uncover weird and rare rules interactions, and trying to solve complicated problems on the fly.
  • MS: Seeing the smiles and hearing players share their epic skirmish tabletop glory with each other, undoubtedly.  To Leila’s point, it’s also great fleshing out unexpected rules interactions; eg- Custodes’ Talons ploy breaks Phobos’ Omni-scramble ability as it pulls a scrambled model into a single activation with an unscrambled model; also- if you retain a save you must resolve it.

What makes the New York tournament special?

  • LC: New York has one of the largest KT scenes in the world. Even with regular monthlies and newer traveling groups, many of our strongest players only get to make a big splash in the wider scene at NYO each year. It’s great getting folks from outside the city to come see what makes this scene fantastic, and show off the city and our local players and clubs.
  • MS: The wider community itself is truly unique, certainly lots of personality!!  Moreso perhaps, the consummate passion for player experience amongst fellow organizers is truly unrivaled!

And finally… They say that New York has the best Pizza in the world… is it true?

  • NYO Crew: Yes, we definitely have the best pizza.
  • MS: Errbody knows Jersey pizza reins supreme, particularly our thin crust. Notable mentions nevertheless to Lombardi’s (soho), Dollar Slice (Houston), Roberta’s (Brooklyn), the spot next to the shopping center formerly known as Limelight, and that one spot in Connecticut.
  • GS: Hard disagree… (NYO Crew note: George has been removed from the organizing board following this offensive statement)

TheChirurgeon Note: Prince Street Pizza is the best slice in New York and I will fight people on this.

In third place with a strong 5-1 record we have YouTube content creator John Rees of Can You Roll a Crit! He’s hopped off the Talons this time for the Kommando-mutilating prowess of the Nurgle-centric Legionary team. With only a loss to Hearthkyn, he’s definitely shown off his skills in America once again.

John R, Third, Legionary, Can You Roll a Crit (@CYRAC)

Jaspoon and CYRAC square off

What caused you to focus your play this tournament on Legionaries? Was there a moment when you were looking into perhaps playing Custodes again?

  • I actually wanted to play Legionary for the longest time, having already built my Horus Heresy Alpha Legionary before NOVA 2023. Post NOVA gave me the push. I had been practicing with Hearthkyn Salvagers but the Kommando match-up on Open vs good players is too tough. Legionary was the only choice for me after that and I ended up loving to play them.
  • My games with Custodes helped me as it gave me good practice for using elite teams. I’d only go back to Custodes on ITD only events.

How was your experience at NYO compared to larger events like NOVA or the LGT?

  • It was pretty amazing! I’m pretty tired of using fixed maps from map packs at every event so it was refreshing to not know the order of missions being played as well as not knowing what the maps would be on the day. There were even shake-ups on ITD maps via minor tweaks or using the great Dakota asymmetrical layouts.
  • I also enjoyed the event being 6, 2 hour rounds with 3 on each day. I feel too many events are focused on 4 rounds tightly packed together with 15 minute breaks so it was much more refreshing and calm to play.

Alpha Legionaires

Looking at your roster you’ve got a few Slaanesh operatives floating around. When did they come out? How did they fare when they did? Where they more effective than their Nurgle cousins?

  • Slaanesh was mainly for melee teams and when facing other elites due to how they mess with APL, damage breakpoints and counter stuff that Nurgle isn’t advantageous against. They pretty much always worked when used and helped me win many of my games. The extra movement helped with charge threat as well as their other aforementioned tools. Outside of when I played into Intercession and Kommandos, I ran 2 to 3 Slaanesh operatives every game.

Having played at a few bracket cut off events in the later half of the year, how does a Swiss event feel? Do you prefer bracket cut offs for Kill Team events?

  • I actually prefer Swiss now despite my general fondness for brackets. I think if the event is a big major event with lots of players (80+) then bracket cutoffs work. Otherwise Swiss with 6 rounds over 2 days (or however many rounds to get a single undefeated) is enough.

Are there any other things you want to shout out?

  • Just a shoutout to everyone who helped me prep with Legionary and for the NYO. Basically all my London crew who helped me realise Tzeentch/Slaanesh can’t generally work reliably in this current Kommando meta as well as Shane from Command Point who helped with a lot of tips and advice too.

New York has many places to play Kill Team, with only Carcosa being so selective. Alden seems to only come out to play in the New York Open due to scheduling, and both years he’s made the top 3. Last year with Voidscarred, and this year with Hearthkyn on a 5-1 record. He seems to play the dwarves differently than Ace described on Just Another Killteam Podcast(link), and we’re all wondering how he did it.

Alden B, Second, Hearthkyn Salvagers

Grumpy grumpy Kyn by Alden

How does it feel to only lose one match to the final winner? A lot of words have been put onto the internet about the dwarves’ abilities, and numerous inabilities. What do you think you’re doing that other dwarves struggle with?

  • It’s never a shame to drop a game against Adrian. The guy’s a force of nature and I think he’s about to make a killer showing at WCW. I think the principal issue that many people who try Dwarves face is that they try to play them like they would any other slightly-less-than-average team. There’s more to the team than three solid gunners and I think Dwarf players would find more success if they experiment with more control play around their barricades.

You’ve mentioned that you don’t use a ton of Plasma Knives in comparison to what players like Ace have mentioned. What tools found you the most success on this weekend’s run?

  • I’ve been pretty frank that I think the Plasma Knife is a trap. An extra dice does not make an eight wound operative into a melee specialist. The “buff” that expanded the equipment list has, in my view, steered Dwarf players away from investing six EP in the most important piece of kit in the Dwarf toolbox: Excavation Tools. Excavation tools, in addition to enabling you to actually get out of your drop zone through the traversable terrain that typically sits on the edge, allow you to weaponize your barricades. While dwarves are slow, moving a mere five inches, a normal speed operative can only move four inches over an excavated barricade, which leaves them with an even shorter threat range than a dwarf.

When approaching scoring for the Kyn, what kind of main VP scoring are you expecting each TP? What about when you’re expecting to score VP?

  • I try to deploy in a way that allows me to match what I expect my opponent to score in T1, and start scoring secondaries T2. Because of your low speed and the mission design, you can’t assume you’ll do more than split the primary with your opponent unless you really start getting an operative lead, so you need to develop a plan that wins on secondaries.

Is there a trick on the Hearthkyn Salvager that you find particularly unique compared to other teams? How do you think it’s best used?

  • You really can’t talk about Dwarves without mentioning The Ancestors are Watching, which has to be in competition for one of the best ploys in the game. The burst of movement speed allows you to channel your inner Gimli, showing that your Dwarves are natural sprinters, and with the guns you can bring to bear enhanced by Proximate Firepower you are truly dangerous over short distances.

How was the experience at NYO this year compared to last year?

  • In its second outing, the NYO pulls off the repeat magnificence and sets itself apart as the premier gaming event on the east coast. I’ve barely got time to play competitively, so having this annual event in my backyard is an absolute privilege.

Anything else you want to shout out to our fellow readers? Perhaps a shoutout to your teammates?

  • To the readers: spend more time vibing with your teams and less time vibing with tier lists. Land on a team that resonates with you, and you’ll be surprised what you can make a “bad” team do when you really get into the weeds..
  • To my practice partners: you folks are the best. Spending the last roughly three years playing this game with all of y’all has been a gift. I promise I’ll stop playing dwarves… eventually.

The hometown hero makes a triumphant return. The incumbent Space Marine player has returned to his stomping group in the guise of an Ork Kommando. Scoring the repeat victory, has got to feel great! The win at NYO gets Adrian tantalizingly close to worlds #1 on the ITC leaderboard.

Adrian B, First, Ork Kommandos

What are your feelings with the repeat win of your first big tournament win? I’m sure there have to be some strong emotions winning the repeat at your home tournament!

  • Honestly it feels very significant. What a difference a year makes! This time one year ago, I had really just started competing at a few smaller local tournaments, and I was a lot more stressed in each of my matches!
  • To be able to measure my own progress as a player (in both gameplay and mental state) on the anniversary of my first big tournament win, feels like the definition of a milestone. To top it all off, being surrounded by the entire community that helped me get to this point was the icing on top of an already very sweet cake. That really made it quite special.

Adrian’s Kommandos

It hasn’t been too long since your last time on Goonhammer. How have you been practicing? Any match ups you’re worried about on Kommandos?

  • Indeed – I’ve been riding a pretty big wave this year!
  • As far as practice goes, I try to refresh my rules knowledge of the factions I think I’m most likely to go up against as I get closer to an event. But really, that doesn’t hold a candle to actually playing the matchup in person. I always try to get as many games in as I can. Once I put models on the table, my brain really starts going to work in 3D space – which, for me, is always preferable to theory crafting in a vacuum. I’m a very visual person, so after a match I still see the placement of the terrain, the movement of the models turn by turn, and what each player did well, poorly, or could have done differently. For example, I still remember my key mistakes from NOVA two months ago, and can see them on the board.
  • As for matchups, I can’t say that I’m really worried about any one in particular. Part of that is due to Kommandos place in the meta right now, but a large part of it is also due to my development as a player. I don’t think Kommandos have any auto wins (you still have to pilot them well), but they don’t really have any severely uphill battles either. Their worst matchups right now are still winnable if you do everything right.

You really went through the gauntlet of Legionary at this event, with 3 different Legionaries getting Krumped. Was there a strategy or tactic that you found yourself doing against each?

  • I had a feeling I might! It was that and the Kommandos mirror that I was really prepping for. But the BCP gods (Gork and Mork?) decided against giving me the mirror match this time around in favor of a chance at the emperor’s finest, and the emperor’s fallen. Believe it or not, I played into nothing but power armor until my final game against Alden’s Hearthkyn. Intercession, Phobos, and 3 Nurgle Legionary – and all of the Legionary matchups were on ITD, which is definitely the less favorable of the two options for Kommandos.
  • But the good news is, I feel as comfortable as I ever have playing Nurgle indoors right now! The keys for me are really leaning into the activation game T1, and projecting threats that they have to respect or be punished. Whenever possible, I try to find creative lines with APL distribution, positioning, and in-game actions to out maneuver, outscore and thwart the power of their higher APL. Also, some people sleep on Waaagh! – but I find myself liking it more and more in this matchup to get around their damage reduction.

Can you recall the most tense play of the tournament for you? A moment when you really thought you might’ve been close to the end of the tournament run?

  • I think the biggest “oh crap” moment came for me in round 2 vs Marc’s Phobos. I had forward deployed my Nob and Slasha to threaten the mid board (along with my snipa in a very cozy crows nest), and Marc had set up his Saboteur fairly exposed with a recon dash. In short: I completely forgot about omni-scramble, burnt my last CP on Shhh! to get my slasha into charge range, and all of a sudden my slasha boy saw himself frozen in his tracks, and delayed two activations. Thankfully I had taken the T1 initiative, otherwise I think my two strongest melee operatives would have been caught in the very wide range of that explosion, and that would have been a very different game.
  • Still – I had to retreat with my nob to save him on my first activation, which not only cost him two turns of movement and positioning, but also saw me using basically 3CP all for naught. As expected, Marc promptly saw to it that my slasha boy became nothing more than a smoking pair of boots. So I went from a very confident position to a very challenging one within seconds of starting the game, and had to keep calm, reset and rebuild my entire game plan! Shouts to Marc for dangling the bait though, and setting himself up to punish my mistake! It was great to finally get to play him for the first time. Despite my turn one blunder, I really enjoyed our match!

NYOs Grand Prize

Are you excited to take your new custom Kasrkin out for a spin?

  • The most excited! I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. Hands down the coolest and most unique prize at a tournament that I’ve received! Winning a one of a kind, beautifully customized and masterfully painted kill team – by winning on the tabletop myself – is such a cool “trophy.” Each time I put them on the table it will bring me back to the event – as is the case for the Blooded I won last year!
  • And also like last year, it comes just in time, as after The World Championships in Atlanta I’m going to be ready for a team change and a new competitive season!

Any other shoutouts?

  • Equal shouts have to go to Travis, Leila, Rami, George, Isaias, Joe and Mike for their year long effort to put together a truly successful and smoothly run event – in the heart of Manhattan no less. No easy feat!
  • As always – I have to credit everyone from the Brooklyn Strategist and The Carcosa Club that I’ve played with over this year for helping get me to where I am!
  • And I gotta give a specific shout to Alex B. for a really intense Nurgle prep match we got in the week before NYO! It came down to the last activation of the last turn, and talking through the matchup with him post game I think really helped with several key plays that I was able to make in my 3 Legionary matchups on the road to victory at NYO 2!
  • The hometown event really did raise the bar in all ways in its second year!

That wraps up our interviews – we’d like to once again thank the TOs and players for agreeing to speak with us, and we wish them luck next week at the World Championships of Warhammer. Speaking of, check back next week for our coverage of the event, including player profiles and coverage from the event itself. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at