Interviewing the Top 3 Kill Team Players from the US Open: Kansas City

It’s been a busy month of Kill Team Tournament weekends, topped off last weekend with GW’s US Open event in Kansas City which awarded another golden ticket. KC was a large event, featuring a wide field of 48 players and two undefeateds. Given the recent shake-ups with the release of new teams there’s a lot to learn from the event so let’s dive right into our interviews with the top three finishers. And today we’re starting with one of our own: JD “TheArmorOfContempt” Reynolds, once again playing his Wyrmblade.

Jonathan R, Third, Wrymblade

John’s Wrymblade, Credit: TheArmorOfContempt

With another podium finish, outside of the top slot, how are you feeling about Wrymblade’s chances of a first place finish? Are they missing something or was the run loss to some critical dice failures?

  • Well, I can’t say I am happy to be denied the top spot once again, mostly because I wanted that invite to Atlanta. I am not the kind of guy to be unhappy with a podium spot in most cases. I think Wyrmblade can still do it, I made some mistakes, there were some key rolls I failed, and the mission was the least favorable for the matchup. In hindsight it does feel a bit like events conspired against me, BUT in the end my mistakes are what cost me the final game. It was very winnable.
  • It is worth pointing out that Wyrmblade probably don’t need any real upgrades, but perhaps have their less useful ploys and operatives changed to be on par with the must takes? For example the Crossfire ploy is near useless, Hiding and Writhing Ingress are massively nerfed in Close Quarters, autoguns on Neophytes are massively inferior to shotguns, and both Sanctus operatives are very bad. This means you kind of have a team that is very good, but there are just things you NEVER use. To me the hallmarks of a well designed team means there should be scenarios where every option has its usefulness.
  • If I could change Wyrmblade tomorrow, I’d do the following:
    • Autoguns gain Ceaseless
    • Combine the Sanctus Sniper and Talon Datacard
    • Auto-retain Normal hit from Crossfire occurs after the attack is rolled
    • Writhing Ingress can be used on Hatchways in Close Quarters
    • Hiding allows two operatives to move in Close Quarters

Did you run up against any of the new May team releases, and how did you feel about those match ups?

  • Well my final match was against the new Chaos Cultists, which are just as nasty as I had predicted. The other player who took them also managed to go 4-1, only losing to Marc’s Phobos, another team I had been very worried about. Phobos are just strong against Wyrmblade in general, the Incursor and Infiltrator boltguns have little trouble shredding neophytes, while their multi-spectrum array can make it difficult to hide on Turning Point 1. In my opinion Vanguard may be the single most powerful ploy in the game, functionally being three ploys for the price of one, and lastly the omni-scrambler means it can be hard to set up Turning Point 2 threats against them.
  • Chaos Cultists themselves are rather straightforward in comparison. Get as close as you can TP1, while minimizing the damage you receive, and on TP2 a wave of Torments are within your lines. It is hard to say just what exactly makes this team feel like “too much” as you could likely list off a dozen things that make them strong, and pick any three of those things to be changed/removed and find yourself with a much more balanced team. For my part I found Relentless on Mutants and Torments to be the most frustrating thing as it meant that they never failed to get the number of hits they needed to kill an operative in combat. The Iconarch can also be singled out as one of the single strongest operatives in the game with his incredibly deadly flamer ability and his overlapping auras that make him more durable, while making his enemies weaker.
  • I will go into the match in more detail when I do my event review, suffice to say I managed to pick off 4 of Blayne’s operatives on the opening Turning Point and it didn’t really slow his team down very much. After that I made my own mistakes that ultimately cost me the match, but I can’t imagine a game where if the tables had been reversed and I lost nearly a third of my team at the onset that I would be able to so thoroughly dominate by the end. Blayne’s Torments had me down to two remaining operatives at the end of TP3 and tabled on TP4.

Which agent did the most work this weekend? Did you find that players had adapted to those tools, or did they remain the most impactful part of the team?

  • My grenade launcher was the strongest operative in nearly every match. While the Kelermorph and Locus are always your stars the GW Open tables almost always had a vantage point that my G.L. could access if I took a Recon Dash AND Climbing Rope. Every single opponent provided my G.L. with a target on TP1 despite this very telegraphed maneuver.

What was your experience like at Kansas City compared to other larger tournaments?

  • It felt almost exactly like the Chicago Open I attended last year. GW Opens have a much smaller feel to them when compared to other large events. I will say it is nice to see that a community is forming around Kill Team where you recognize people from event to event. I got to hang out with the Garretts again, and met people like Ben Campbell who does Kill Team Youtube videos. I will say that despite being a tad salty (with myself) for losing, all my opponents were fun to play against, and the atmosphere in general seemed very friendly.
  • Still, the GW opens are not GenCon, they are not Adepticon. You definitely feel more like you’re there to play a game than to just hang out and vibe.

In second we have the head of the illustrious Woodley Warriors family(podcast:link), Marc Garrett. While younger Liam placed in the top 5, his father placed second. Piloting the sneakier Astartes the Phobos! Let’s find out which sneaky tool between Vanguard, Omni-Scramble, or Reivers helped him to the 5-0 victory!

Marc G, Second, Phobos Strike Team

Alpharius himself I’m told

What went into the choice to play the Phobos Strike Team? Were there other teams you looked at running?

I have two goals for every tournament: have fun and play on pace. That’s it.

  • My first competitive team was Vet Guard, and while I still love the intricacy of their rules I struggle to finish the games. I picked up Phobos briefly last summer when Kill Team Moroch was released and loved them but got thumped every time. After playing Breachers and Corsairs for a bit, I kept coming back to look at Phobos. Were they fun? Heck yeah. Could I finish my games? Of course, it’s only six operatives. And then I looked at my goals again: they don’t have anything to do with winning. It didn’t matter that Phobos had a 30% win rate when I came back to them, I could finish games and have fun. So I picked them up again late last year and have played them competitively to the exclusion of other teams ever since.
  • Phobos is what I want in a kill team: sneaky, stealthy, blow stuff up, get the mission done, and fade back into the shadows. Let the big, bad Intercessors stand and fight while Phobos snatches a point from under their nose. That’s fun.

With Liam placing 5th, what was the experience like surpassing your son in the tournament rankings?

  • For those who don’t know, both of my sons play Kill Team. Leander won a Golden Ticket at Adepticon and decided to sit out KCO. My hope was to clear a path for Liam to win KCO but Brett Bouchard’s Hand of the Archon put an end to that plan on the first day when he beat Liam’s goats!
  • At the end of day 1 when I was 3-0 I thought “hey, that wasn’t so bad, guess I’ll get wrecked tomorrow.” Liam was a champ: able to temper his disappointment and be happy for me. His mature response helped me focus on getting ready for day 2 instead of managing his emotions.

Marc’s when seeing his 3-0 record

  • So we were both surprised. My standing relative to Leander and Liam hasn’t changed in the home meta though.

Did you have any feelings on the newer Games Workshop tournament format without ITD representation?

  • Kill Team is at its best when it provides immersive, cinematic moments–stories you can replay over and over again after the game. It’s one of those few games that actually lives up to the promise of its cinematic teaser trailer, frame by frame.
  • For some reason, I don’t get that cinematic vibe from ITD the way I do from open boards. The lack of vertical play breaks my immersion. So I was happy GW offered an all open board tournament. ITD is fine, and better than not playing Kill Team, but I’ll take the sweep of an open board any day.

How many matchups did you feel you had practice against? Did you wish you had that 6th round to try and secure a Golden Ticket?

  • Practice? What’s that? As a father of three I don’t get in many practice games. If I want to play Kill Team I go to a tournament. I was able to get in a practice game against Liam’s goats a week before KCO (wrecked him on Loot, thank you). So I felt apprehensive about facing so many new teams I’d never played against. As it turns out, I didn’t even get to play against goats in the tournament.
  • In lieu of practice I hit up my brain trust the night before day 2, and took a couple pages of notes on how to face Cultists and Wyrmblade. When it was game time, I threw the notes out and crafted a plan on the fly. Because Phobos.

The only Kill Team to take down the cults all weekend

  • Yes, I wish we’d played a 6th game. A 6th game would have presumably meant a second round of Loot, and those are good odds for Phobos vs Chaos Cultists on an open board. So we’ll never know, and having two players go undefeated leaves you wondering. Having said that, Liam has faced Blayne and rates him as the better player. My sense is the best player took the best team to win the tournament.

Were there any players or plays you will look back on from your run at Kansas? Tell us the gory details!

  • Every player was aggressive and gracious, which is all you can ask for from an opponent. The coolest opponent I faced was Will, who looks like Kurt Russell and plays the double bass. His Emperor’s Legion was beautifully painted. Will seemed to have an innate sense of the odds. Turns out he’s a math teacher.
  • We faced each other game 3 when I was feeling perhaps more relaxed than I should have. I was eyeballing charge ranges instead of measuring—bad idea. His Chosen popped out from behind a door, charged a Reiver, fought—and rolled a fistful of ones. Luckily for Will he was sitting on a stack of 5CP, and spent every single one on rerolls. After killing the Reiver he shot and killed my Incursor Marksman, all in a single activation. I was able to recover and beat him 21-15, but that was one of those cinematic moments Kill Team does so well. And you won’t catch me eyeballing charge ranges again.

Any final words?

  • Yes, your intro gives me too much credit! The Woodley Warriors podcast is all the work of my kids. Other than the name I can’t take any credit for it.

Coming in first Blayne piloted the 2-week old Chaos Cults to a first place finish! Let’s hear from the head of his own burgeoning youtube cult, the Six-Sided Legion(link), how he took down the competition. Along with his feelings on making it into the Atlanta championships!

Authors Edit: Blayne has since release a vid on his run at KCO, check it out here!

Blayne Severson, First, Chaos Cults

What went into your team selection? You’ve taken Hunter Clade and Blooded in the past, so perhaps Chaos Cults were the natural progression of powerful melee teams. Were there any other teams you considered?

  • I was originally going to take Hunter Clade as I already had the reps and familiarity of the team under my belt. That is until I saw the release of Ashes of Faith. I already owned all the models for the cultist team and figured I would build and paint them to try them out. After the first game against one of our other members, Brett, I knew I was going to enjoy playing this team a lot. They have a relatively simple end goal… charge in and cause chaos, but the support of the dark commune and the accursed gifts they gain makes them a very interesting team with a lot more decision making throughout a match. All this, backed with the fact that it was a newer team that I knew many players weren’t going to have much experience with, made it a solid choice to take into KCO.

Blayne’s Cultists

You’ve been a somewhat regular tournament grinder since last year’s Chicago Open, so tell us about your feelings now that you’ve punched your ticket!

  • I did not expect I’d be the one to get to go to Atlanta this year with all the big names in Kill Team. When that final game against Jonathan came to an end all I felt was overwhelming joy and a sense of relief that I could finally relax after so much thinking and planning. I’m very excited to see how Atlanta pans out this year and play some Kill Team with some of the best in the world. Hopefully afterwards I’ll be able to continue the grind to become a better player from the practice and experience I gain throughout my journey and share anything I can with others looking to jump into the competitive pool of Kill Team both in person and through our YouTube channel.

How do you feel the balance of the game is looking? With the May shake up are you feeling like Kill Team is still a game of player skill?

  • Even with Chaos Cult causing such a shake in the meta, I feel like Kill Team is in a very good spot with an abundance of very reliable teams, especially with the release of Gallowfall and Ashes of Faith. I, along with everyone else I’ve talked to, foresee future nerfs to Cult as it is one of the more oppressive teams out there. If there’s one thing I learned at this event it was that player skill absolutely trumps any team’s power level. A single good team can only carry a person so far, but individual skill is an aspect a player needs to develop to bring a team to the top and compete at the upper tables. One of the biggest hurdles is just finding a team that meshes well with the players own skill set and playstyle.

For the aspiring Chaos Cult players what tools ended up being the best? Was there a standard mutation that you always took? Any specific plays that you used multiple times?

  • A couple tools that had the biggest effect in my matches in this event have to include giving the Iconarch the vile blessing equipment as it gives the icon the ability to ignore a damage die during the game which stacked with its own damage reduction and the Faithful follower ploy give so much survivability mid to late game.
  • Another aspect of the team that helps tremendously is looking at the board and realizing it’s okay to lose a few models in the first Turning point, as long as you know what to do without them going forward and capitalize on their sacrifices. Positioning and board control are two skills the player requires to pilot this team correctly, as losing one too many devotees or dark commune too early will definitely hurt your endgame. This was especially prominent in my matchups into Intercession and Wyrmblade since both teams have the ability to punish a risky placement, especially when deploying the teams. Using the covert guise equipment on a couple devotees helps to mitigate this as well as get to important locations on the board. This also allowed me to take the infiltrate scouting option 100 percent of my matches for two primary reasons. First due to how strong the recon dash can be makes it a very reliable way of guaranteeing myself turn one initiative. Second, to threaten a charge or krak grenade due to deploying fully concealed and keep my opponent cautious.
  • When it comes to mutations, I feel there isn’t a wrong decision to make. I personally made it a goal to keep any turn one mutants safe for the majority of the first Turning point and activate them last. This allowed me to always have an explosive turn two by being able to make two torments in aggressive positions and threaten key pieces of my opponents team.
  • I believe Tac Op selection is also a key to winning a game in a major event such as this. Tear Through was my go-to choice as a faction secondary since it required me to be aggressive and retain board control late game. Having two torments near the enemies drop zone was something I already wanted to try and do, and this tac op rewarded me for doing so. Seek and Destroy also complimented this very aggressive playstyle with things like Rout and Rob and Ransack.

Were there any opponents you wanted to call out for sportsmanship, or insane plays?

  • I just want to give a shoutout to each and every one of my opponents since I know Chaos Cult can be intimidating being the “boogeyman” of Kill Team currently. Everyone I faced played amazingly and had me on my toes every step of the way. I especially want to give a mention to Jonathan Reynolds, being my toughest matchup in this event. He is an amazing player and really kept me thinking and adapting to what he did. Examples of this come to mind when looking back at our game. I constantly had to change the way I played in order to perform outside of his expectations to keep an edge, whether it meant positioning less aggressively due to an overwhelming amount of Indirect on his team or starting the Turning point with a completely different activation than expected and taking out his important operatives even if it meant losing my own.
  • As well, giving Brett Bouchard a mention as he didn’t give me a second to make a mistake in our game despite being my own teammate. All the members of Six-Sided Legion have always been competitive players and wonderful friends, giving me the opportunities to practice and hone my skills outside of the tournament.
  • Finally, Marc Garrett, who took second and was also undefeated. I wish there was one last round to duke it out and give him a chance to play for first. Hopefully Jonathan and Marc get another chance to claim a ticket and I’ll get to see both at the finale in Atlanta this year.

Any other final words for the Goonhammer readers?

  • One final food for thought. Don’t be intimidated or nervous about playing in a big event. A quote from my wise friend and fellow teammate Ethan Preu, “The strongest blades are forged in the hottest fires.” Meaning you will probably play against people much better than yourself, but that is the best opportunity for growth and practice. If you fail, take it as a learning experience and soon enough you’ll climb your way to the top. Find your rhythm and you might just win a golden ticket!


That wraps up our coverage of the KC Kill Team event but check back next week when Ace will be back with us to talk about the Kill Team meta and the impacts of the new teams. Until then, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at