Kill Team 2.0 is just around the corner and now that we’ve had some time to play a few games of the new game we thought we’d take a moment to talk to our Goonhammer review team about the new edition. How does the team feel about the new rules and the transition, and what do we think based on our games?
The Round Table
- Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones
- “Primaris” Kevin Genson
Let’s start with the most basic question: Is the New Kill Team an improvement over the old game or something less?
TheChirurgeon: This new game is a marked improvement in almost every aspect over KT18. It’s much cleaner, more tactical, and more fun. It has better support for matched and narrative play. Even with the cost of a second book, actually starting a new team is significantly less expensive and you notably do not have to buy the intro box to get into the game – it’ll play perfectly well if you just get the core rules, compendium, and doodads, though they’ve helpfully provided dimensions of the barricades in case you wanted to make your own.
Chucat: When my sole complaint with the new Kill Team is “it sucks I can’t take a heavy weapon platform with my Ranger + Dire Avenger jamboree”, then the game is a pretty marked improvement. I’m a fan of the new rules, how the datacards are laid out and the action point system. It requires a bit of time to get used to, but compared to explaining things like Injury Rolls, it’s in a much better place.
TheChirurgeon: If I never have to think about how injury rolls interact with saviour protocols again, it’s a win.
Condit: This is a huge improvement.
Primaris Kevin: I’m considering purchasing the starter box for a reason other than the terrain, so I consider it a win.
Thundercloud: Hahahahaha. Lol yes. The end of council of sergeants. A campaign system based on Crusade that actually works. The end of the injury roll and lots of dice rolling to produce no results. A quicker playing game. An easier point of entry for new players.
A big pile of modern wargame design shoved into it. This is likely my go to wargame going forward, and once I’m familiar enough with it I plan on doing some additional stuff for it.
What’s the best thing about the new Kill Team?
TheChirurgeon: I’m a big fan of the alternating activations and not tying the game to phases anymore. It keeps the game flowing smoothly, and having the number of activations per model is a great way to balance small teams against larger ones, and the way missions require you to use AP to capture objectives is another good way to balance this.
Chucat: I’m going to snipe the obvious answer here, and go for “All the godawful rules in the old game are now gone”. No more Injury Rolls that don’t do anything impactful, no more Savior Protocols that save you from overheating weapons, and no more shambolic narrative rules. If I had to answer this question in a vacuum though, I’d actually be controversial and say that I enjoy the roster creation. I really enjoy the idea of two semi-premade teams battling it out, meaning the game isn’t won or lost before it even begins. It also provides a pretty reasonable barrier to entry as well (though I slightly feel for the managers that will have to memorize the whole thing if a newbie wants to get into the game).
Primaris Kevin: I’m looking forward to the narrative content. I enjoy smaller games with friends, and giving each member of a team a sense of personality and drive is really exciting. It also opens up the possibilities of integrating Kill Team narrative events with a larger 40k campaign. I agree that the new rules are also a major plus; it’s nice to see such a modern, dynamic, and engaging system that keeps both players interested and focused on the game at every moment.
Thundercloud: I’m going with the new and substantially improved rules. Having played it three times now I’m certain there’s a solid design engine under the hood.
Condit: For me, it’s the fact that decisions feel much more impactful and things actually happen. Last edition, attacking someone was all-or-nothing, and you could put a ton of firepower into a model, but if they were lucky on a couple of injury rolls the result was kind of a wet fart. Now, shots that do absolutely nothing are the exception, not the rule: even a random pot-shot with a lasgun is as likely as not to plink off a couple points of damage, which lends meaning to everything you’re doing.
What’s the worst thing about the new Kill Team?
Chucat: Having to wait to see what they’re going to do about Xenos factions, as well as what they’re going to add to them, and with that the nagging voice in the back of my mind trying to tell me that it might be a bit underwhelming. GW did NOT pay me to write this answer. Besides that though, trying to work out terrain rules. Though thankfully this seems to be a personal problem so I can rely on everyone else on the planet to explain it to me.
TheChirurgeon: They aren’t that bad, but they are a bit counter-intuitive. The rules for cover and conceal are pretty good but they have some wonky consequences and it helps that there are only three types of cover.
Primaris Kevin: The introductory price is off putting. I can either drop $250 for the starter box and compendium, or I can drop $153 for the two books, the tactical cards, and the essentials which consists of three measurement sticks, some cardboard tokens, and six barricades. If Orks in particular appeal to you then the (gorgeous) models and terrain are definitely worth a look, but as someone who isn’t interested in either faction the price for adoption doesn’t really motivate me.
TheChirurgeon: Honestly? After KT18 went overboard with a million cards for tactics KT21 went the other way and gave us a much more minimal set of cards/print materials. It’s not terrible, but I’d have liked a couple of reference pages for the game’s basic actions and stuff like reference cards for missions and strategic/tactical ploys for the Octarius groups, at least. I like having some of that stuff in card/print form to play with and I’m likely to end up printing my own for KT21. It’s a minor gripe, though.
Thundercloud: Probably some of the way the rules are explained and laid out.They need careful reading to understand them. Also the choice of the shapes not reflecting the number of inches. Triangle for 3”, hexagon for 6”, it’s not rocket science.
Is the new Kill Team more or less friendly to new players than the old Kill Team?
TheChirurgeon: More, by far. Now almost every faction has a kill team that can be built from a single box. No more buying one of each box to get the 5 models you need to really play. Also the rules just feel much better to play and that helps too – it’s much easier to get someone excited about a game where almost every model and loadout matters and things happen. Hard to overstate that last part.
Thundercloud: Much friendlier by far to buy into, collect, as a base for getting into wider gaming, etc etc. I can see Kill Team exploding in popularity based on this. Most factions have a one box for a full team option, and those that don’t aren’t ridiculous as they were in KT18.
Condit: This game is definitely easier to get into – as mentioned, all you have to do to buy into the game is get the rules and 1-2 boxes of models, and you’ve got everything you need to play.
The rules concern me from this standpoint, though. While they’re far and away better than the previous edition, it took Rob and me a decent amount of effort to hash out how in the hell the cover rules actually work in our first game. We’ve got a handle on it now, but when two people with roughly 45 years of wargaming experience between them look at your ruleset and have to put real effort into working out how it’s supposed to play, that’s not a good sign for accessibility of rules.
That being said, if the hardest part of getting into the game is getting a handle on the rules, that’s better for onboarding people than making it so you have to either buy a ton of separate boxes or go hunting through bits sales on eBay to make a playable team.
Let’s talk about the Compendium. There’s been a lot of hemming and hawing about having these rules in a separate book. Are those criticisms fair?
Chucat: My supremely hot take is that 40k has a rulebook and an index/codex, so I don’t really see the issue here. The prices might be a bit messed up, but splitting up the actual rules isn’t that much of a problem. Everyone below me is now free to brutally flame me.
Thundercloud: Imagine if GW did a 200 page hardback core rulebook with the compendium built in, but charged £150 for the boxed set. Imagine the whining and tears.
Basically the way the community is at the moment there is a group of performative whiners complaining about everything and no matter what GW do people will moan. This tends to turn the facebook and reddit groups to absolute crap. GW giving us plastic meme guard? The horror! GW putting resources into Kill Team after the petering out of KT18? Awful! GW putting all new minis and a 40k table’s worth of terrain in a box for the start of the new edition? People literally comparing it to the Holocaust on Facebook.
It’s also worth noting that youtube rewards negativity, and it’s looking like various youtubers are starting to go down that rabbit hole in pursuit of clicks. This means we’ve seen a lot of complaining about something people either haven’t read or haven’t played in order to generate attention.
Of course putting army rules in a separate book is familiar to everyone from 2nd edition 40k core box onwards, and people may remember the 8th edition index books to give everyone a level playing field at the start of that edition of 40k. Personally I remember the 40k Compendium from Rogue Trader, which collected several armies into one book.
GW putting out a big book of ‘here are all the factions all in one place’ is better than doing individual card packs for them like in Warcry, or codexes like in 40k.
Primaris Kevin: Are the criticisms fair? Sure. If you want to play your own faction you’ll need it, and paying $50 for the six pages a Tyranid or Necron player will use is a bit much even by GW standards.
TheChirurgeon: I’d say that some of them are – I think GW frequently asks you to pay $50 for a few pages of rules in 40k without getting any other factions. Given the heft of the book I think $50 is fair for the Compendium. It’s still a high cost to get into the game when paired with the core rules, though. If you aren’t getting the boxed set you’re in for nearly $150 on this one with the cards and the extra doodads , which you are really going to want to have. That’s not necessarily a huge price tag to get into a GW game, but it’s definitely heftier than I think people were expecting. I can’t tell if this is a problem with the approach, the community, or expectations set by the KT18 rulebook. For what it’s worth I’d much rather have a lighter rulebook and print out stat cards of my team than continually refer back to the Compendium for unit info. The KT18 rulebook had a ton of stuff in it but that led to a lot of flipping around mid-game.
Are the teams in the Compendium good? Bad? An afterthought? Should players bother with them?
Chucat: They’re serviceable, they feel like they’ll work completely fine as a stopgap to get people playing with their favorite factions and besides the loss of stuff like Four Lictors, people generally won’t be binning their entire old teams. I have no idea what the balance is like between an Octarius Kill Team and a Compendium Kill Team though.
TheChirurgeon: They feel pretty balanced with Octarius from the games I’ve played. There’s definitely some stuff that the Octarius teams can pull that feels nuts to a compendium team but I also think the Compendium teams get more flexibility overall. I’ve seen a lot of complaints coming from marine players who really wanted to mix and match their unit types but for many factions, very little has changed – Death Guard kill teams are still just “plague marines” or “plague marines plus some pox walkers.” The real upside here is that almost every gun or option has some value, which definitely wasn’t true before – having to take 5 Intercessors is a lot less of a problem when you realize that bolt rifles are actually very useful guns. A team of five Reivers is a versatile unit with a lot of value in the new Kill Team. Also it’s good to see there are three teams that just weren’t around when KT18 launched – Sisters, Daemons, and Kroot all have their own stuff going on.
Thundercloud: I’ve only been able to play with Compendium teams so far, and while there are some elements I’d argue about (Chaos marines not getting autocannons, Chaos Cultists fire team based on the Dark Vengeance starter set cultists, not the ones you can actually buy) overall it looks fairly solid. I’d have liked another page of marine equipment, and I feel marines having a bit more attention there would have soothed some of the reaction to the Compendium.
What does the future of Kill Team 2.0 look like?
Thundercloud: I think we’ll see a bunch of 40k armies get a little injection of extra models through Kill Team, and we’ll see GW test the waters on new unit types, new xenos races and other stuff through single box releases. It’d be great to see if Squats would actually be popular by releasing a single box with Kill Team rules and seeing what the sales figures are like. It would be even better to see Black Library protagonists and antagonists brought to life on the table top, and if the Kill Zones continue to be 6 sprues of terrain it’ll be a great way to cover your game tables in stuff.
The first release is solid, with 21 playable factions at launch.
Chucat: Ironically, the way the releases were done in KT18 would actually work really, really well here. You can just release a faction box (I’ll use Eldar here, since I play them) that has, for example: A squad of plastic Banshees or Scorpions (god willing), some custom Eldar barricade terrain, the datacards and some tokens. You get a full fireteam and all the assorted stuff, and unlike KT18, it’d actually just…work straight out of the box.
TheChirurgeon: I’m hopeful that we’ll both see Kill Team as a platform for launching a bunch of cool, off-cycle model releases and teams in the same way GW used Blackstone Fortress, and that they’ll use White Dwarf to get some of the other stuff into the game. Gaunt’s Ghosts are absolutely screaming for the kill team treatment and if there isn’t a White Dwarf article giving us their rules in the next 6 months I’ll be incredibly disappointed. Likewise I would love to see more Warcry or Underworlds-style warband releases for Kill Team that give us wacky stuff and combinations like Rogue Traders and hangers-on or more varied Harlequin Troupes. I think these bespoke teams are probably the future of the game, though I also think we’ll see something like an Elites or codex-like release in the future to address the basic teams in the Compendium.
Let’s Talk About the Community Reaction to the New Edition
Thundercloud: The reaction of real people has been enthusiastic, and my store has had more Kill Team pre-orders than Dominion pre-orders by quite a margin.
The reaction of people online has been hysterical, with people making posts based on rules they haven’t read and a game they haven’t played to say that it is literally the worst thing that’s ever happened. The problem is that people get influenced by things they see online, and people acting out of their desire to ruin things for others sucks the enjoyment out of it for other people.
GW hasn’t really made a serious foray yet into the skirmish game market and Kill Team 21 is the first real attempt to launch a distinct skirmish game with its own models – and it’s really good. If I were a publisher with or heavily invested in another skirmish game, I’d be sweating bullets. Even KT ‘18 had a rough impact on some of the other games in the market and if they can keep a good release schedule for KT 21 it could pick up a lot of steam and crowd other games out.
Chucat: Among the Goonhammer circle it’s felt pretty appropriate, there’s been minor complaints over the obtuseness of some of the rules and a bit of grousing about losing out on some models. Sadly I haven’t got to meet any real people to talk about it, but the reaction online has been completely over the top. I guess all these people were having so much fun playing Kill Team they weren’t even talking about playing it until KT2 came out and burned all their rules and models.
TheChirurgeon: Some of the response I’ve seen on social media has been pretty dire, and at times inexplicably so. My recollection of Kill Team was one that the casual group I play with bounced off immediately and completely, turned off by games where no one died, and one that required immense reconfiguring from the competitive play bodies to work into a playable game. It was also loaded with box after box of terrain kits repacked with squads people didn’t want that sat on retailer shelves for months. What I am saying is that the sudden outpouring of support and lament for KT18 feels disingenuous.
That said, I think most of these people will change their minds after they actually play the new game. There’s a little to lament here if you had a marines kill team, but ultimately the ease of making a team and the smoothness of the play experience should win people over quickly. I’ve seen things gradually turn more positive over the last week, and that gives me hope for a game that’s worth championing.
TheChirurgeon: I’ve really enjoyed my games of Kill Team. It feels like a real game with solid design and not just an add-on or also-ran to 40k. This finally seems like a game that can compete with Infinity, and it’s a bold direction for the GW design studio to go that opens up a lot of space for off-cycle 40k releases and some of the more niche stuff we really enjoyed seeing in Blackstone Fortress. There’s a ton of tactical depth and it’s fun to play in a way that KT18 never was, even after multiple attempts by the community to work it into something playable.
Thundercloud: Having played a game now I’m impressed. I think Kill Team will be an impressive entry into skirmish wargames and people will enjoy it. I think the low model count and space it takes up will sell it to wargamers who don’t want to paint a ton of stuff, and the quality of the game will see it remain popular.
GW has produced a wargame with a modern design aesthetic and which doesn’t suffer from ludonarrative dissonance, so I am really pleased with this. It literally ticks all the boxes on the list of what I want from Kill Team.
Primaris Kevin: Personally I’m on the fence. The rules seem good. Really good. Contested rolls, meaningful difference between melee and and ranged combat, and some really fun mechanics with the action system. That said, paying $250 or $150 for a new game and rules is a bit more than I want to risk for early adoption when you consider what GW did to Apocalypse. I already have 40k Combat Patrol for small games and Necromunda for sci-fi skirmish, so I feel like I need a bit more to get really interested in this. Take the rules and Ork models and make a Gorkamorka expansion and I’d be all over it.
Chucat: I’m happy with the rules that I’ve got so far; I’m in the position where all I’d really need to buy to round out my Kill Team are the rules, then as many Tyranid Warriors as I want. I hope GW continue to support it and bring out cool xenos stuff for it as well.
That wraps up our discussion of the new Kill Team. If you missed our reviews or any of our other content about the game, check out our Kill Team 2 page and if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.