Hammer of Math: Intercession Squad Bolt Weapon Effects

This week’s Hammer of Math takes a look at some of the options and abilities available to Intercession Squads for Kill Team.

Okay, I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I looked at Kill Team. Outside of new releases and major reveals I typically write about what I know, which is why this column is mostly about Warhammer 40k and Necromunda. But this weekend I had a chance to get a few games in, and to be honest it’s pretty much the ideal game for my particular stage of life. The model count is low, the rules are accessible but offer an immense amount of depth, and as a parent with kids I appreciate that the games are brief but intense. And unlike Arks of Omen the terrain requirements are much more accessible. So, win-win.

Like many of the Kill Team-curious, I happen to have a bunch of Space Marines lying around which makes it easier to put together something to game with. While there is a “Space Marine” option, it’s very old and realistically the two best options for someone with power armour are either an Intercession Squad or Phobos Strike Team. Both have their strengths, but for this article we will focus on the Intercession Squads.

Blood Angel Intercessor
Blood Angel Intercessor. Credit: Pendulin

Intercession Squad Bolt Rifles


Intercessors are armed with bolt rifles that come in three flavors; regular, auto, and stalker. While in 40k there are some subtle differences with attacks and range, in Kill Team the difference is entirely a function of special abilities. All bolt rifles have 4 attacks with a 3+ BS (Sergeants get a 2+) and a 3/4 damage profile. Auto bolt rifles have Ceaseless, which allows the attacker to re-roll dice results of 1. Regular bolt rifles have Piercing 1, which on a critical hit reduces the number of Defense dice the target rolls by 1. Stalker bolt rifles have Armour Penetration 1, which reduces the Defense dice of the target by 1 without needing a critical hit, but are also Heavy which prevents the operative from performing a Normal Move, Charge, or Fall Back in the same activation that they shot this weapon.Overall the auto bolt rifle is superior against lighter targets while the stalker bolt rifle is better against the heavier stuff. The bolt rifle is, on average, worse than both against every target but the 2+ save. This makes sense given that the Piercing ability requires a critical hit in order to be utilized, which only happens 1 in 6 times normally.


Intercession Squads have access to two items which can improve their bolt weapons. The Vengeance-class Scope costs 3 EP and makes a bolt rifle or stalker bolt rifle gain the Lethal 5+ trait which allows it to perform critical hits on a 5+. One bolter can be equipped with Reclusiam-Blessed Bolts for 3 EP which adds 1 to both Damage characteristics. Unsurprisingly the bonus damage is a significant improvement, particularly for the auto bolt rifle which will average 9 points of damage against a 5+ save. If the blessed bolts were given to a Sergeant with an auto bolt rifle and a 2+ BS it would, on average, kill a 10 Wound Ork every shot.

Black Templars Assault Intercessors. Credit: SRM

Sergeant Options


Since only one model per Kill Team can get Reclusiam-blessed Bolts, it makes sense to investigate what happens when a BS 2+ Sergeant gets different equipment combinations. The chart above shows the results; with just the bolts the auto bolt rifle holds its own against the bolt rifle and stalker bolt rifle when they are equipped with both the bolts and the scope against saves of 4+ or better. Against the 2+ and 3+ saves a fully equipped stalker bolt rifle does average more damage, but the regular bolt rifle isn’t far behind.

Cobalt Scions Intercessor. Credit: Charlie Brassley

Deadly Sharpshooter

Intercession Squads benefit from the Chapter Tactics ability, which allows them to select two options out of a list of twelve. These abilities range from improved melee to enhanced defenses and mobility, and there are also three related to shooting attacks. One, Deadly Sharpshooter, reduces the Critical Damage characteristic of bolt weapons by 1 and replaces it with the MW1 ability which applies a mortal wound on a critical hit. As you can see in the chart above this provides a pretty significant benefit against the more effective saves, making the auto bolt rifle equivalent to the bolt rifle against a 2+ save and superior to every weapon at save of 4+ or worse.

Wrapping Up

Kill Team is a lot of fun and I  recommend you give it a shot if you haven’t already. This article just shows a hint of how much depth many options have, and this doesn’t even include the influences of Cover or melee. In terms of bolt weapons, it seems like the auto bolt rifle is particularly nasty against anything less armored than a Space Marine. Depending on the Chapter Tactics or Equipment selected it can be made even better, although doing so means making sacrifices in terms of durability or other weapons.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop us a note in the Comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. That’s also the best way to suggest topics for future articles.