Kill Team Competitive Innovations – GenCon Provides Answers To Kill Team’s Most Important Question… Are Gretchin Competitive?

Greetings, fellow Sam Fishers! As many of you probably know, Kill Team in the United States has been rather slow to catch on competitively in the year since its release. Only the largest events have held tournaments with many of these being directly run by Games Workshop themselves. Even I only really became interested in it in the run up to Adepticon, and largely through happenstance.

Following my success at Adepticon I decided it would be more productive to focus my very limited personal time on Competitive Kill Team for the remainder of the year. With this in mind I set about finding the few events within driving distance of Central Illinois that were set to host Kill Team Tournaments and would allow me to reach the five event minimum for an ITC score. Fortunately, GenCon had three scheduled 16-man Events, and the GW Open in Chicago had scheduled a 5 Round Event. I quickly purchased my tickets, and set about practicing as much as I could to avoid making the same mistakes that had cost me first place at Adepticon. Unfortunately, that basically meant an average of three matches a month putting at a staggering 12 matches going into GenCon weekend, would it be enough?

Here I should take the time to briefly cover what GenCon is. GenCon is basically the largest traditional games convention in the world, boasting an attendance of 50,000, a massive vendor hall, and thousands of unique events. Miniature Wargaming is merely a small piece of the gaming that occurs at GenCon, and it is one of the few conventions where Games Workshop is often overshadowed by its competitors. Despite this, it is an excellent convention for anyone who finds themselves interested in “geekdom” and any opportunity to visit it should not be passed up.

General Rules, Guidelines, and Overall Atmosphere

Before we get into each match it is worth covering some details that held throughout the weekend. First, the Tournament packets were identical each day meaning the same three missions were played in the same order each day:

  • 1.1 Loot and Salvage
  • 2.1 Escalating Hostilities
  • 3.1 Secure Archeotech.

Additionally, Kill Zones used player-placed terrain, with the players deciding between one another on what counted as Heavy Terrain, Light Terrain, Traversable, etc. In most instances all ruins counted as Heavy Terrain with only Pipes and Barricades as Light. The players were a decent mix of both experienced and newer players with our T.O. Chris admittedly being new to the game. This resulted in a lot of players assisting other players with explaining rules, which gave the entire endeavor a casual atmosphere more akin to a learning session for some players.

From a strategy standpoint, I played Seek & Destroy and Faction Tac Ops the entire weekend; never feeling confident enough to take Infiltration in more difficult match-ups, while feeling over confident in my ability to eliminate targets or take the board in less challenging ones.

Day 1

At this point it is worth pointing out that I had brought my Wyrmblade to play through the weekend, who have an incredibly strong rules set. I checked in and found that 12 of the 16 spots had been filled, which unfortunately would be the high point for the weekend. Sadly, many of the Games Workshop competitive events found themselves light on attendance with a few being canceled. As a consolation the learning and hobbying events seemed popular all weekend, so hopefully the Events Team was able to snag many new converts for the future.

Game 1 – Tim’s Greenskins

One of the highlights of the event, and really the weekend, was Tim and his friends. Hailing from the Chicago area and sharing the desire to just have a good time they had all decided to run Greenskins with the gimmick of bringing 16 Gretchen backed up by several Boyz with Rokkit Launchas.

Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure how to gauge the strength of this. One of my local players had joked about bringing them more than once, but had never followed through. I did however accurately assume that the plan was to basically swarm the objectives with them,  tie my operatives up by charging them while not fighting, and then use the incredibly deadly Rokkit’s to incapacitate my more powerful ranged operatives.

Tim started almost all his operatives in Conceal, and began pushing onto the objectives, but thanks to a combination of a vantage point and the Hiding ploy I was able to eliminate several Gretchen on TP 1. In fact, all weekend my opponents tended to start almost all their operatives in Conceal, which allowed me to use the Perfect Ambush tac op to reliably gain points.  Once Turning Point 2 began and our teams came into close contact it became clear that Wyrmblade are more than capable of quickly dealing with Gretchen as I eliminated nearly half of his operatives.

This match had no particular hinge points once it became clear that my team would be able to quickly deal with their more numerous opponents. Thanks to Meticulous Plan I was able to push onto the middle objectives early to gain a primary objective point lead, and while there were a few instances where his operatives would have an significant APL advantage to hold points over mine, he was incapable of maintaining them long enough to regain a points lead.

19-10 Wyrmblade Victory

Game 2 – Chris’s Greenskins…

Funnily enough my second round was against Chris, Tim’s friend, who was playing an identical Kill Team. Both Chris and Tim had taken the time to convert their teams to really feed into the silly nature of the Gretchen with Tim’s Ork Boyz actually being Gretchen disguised to look larger, and Chris’s all disguised as Squigs. I had to hand it to both of them, they seemed to be having a great time and enjoyed playing into the gimmick. It is also worth pointing out that there had to be something to their strategy, as Chris had managed to beat his previous opponent, Hunter Clades, 17-15.

With this in mind I went into this match thinking that Chris might have some sort of unique strategy or cunning plan that I had was unable to properly divine.

In the end I may have approached things a bit too seriously, as what I initially had taken for confidence in a plan was more just Chris’s cavalier attitude in general, as his strategy mirrored Tim’s and ended in much the same result. For his part Chris was the model of a gracious player, utterly unbothered by the blood bath being perpetrated against his valiant grots.

20-10 Wyrmblade Victory

Game 3 – Leshawn’s Void-Dancers

So at this point you might be thinking, “two wins against Gretchen? That isn’t very competitive!” and you would be correct. However, I wasn’t about to win the day without having to work for it, and found myself against the Meta’s current… boogey-men? boogey-clowns?

Void-Dancers had been my opponent at the top table during the Adepticon 5-round tournament, and I had been nervous to face them again ever since as that loss, in which I was pretty thoroughly defeated. Fortunately, I had managed to make several of my intervening practice games against our local Harlequin player, and had even managed to  win against him pretty handily in our last match-up. Also, the change to grenades and Saedath meant I had less to worry about.

It was clear from the start Leshawn knew his team well as he started all of them in Engage, counting on Domino Field to keep him safe. I once again focused pressuring objectives early, using Meticulous Plan in an effort to bait him into shooting me and giving me early targets for my Hiding operatives. We exchanged a few operatives early on, but his key mistake came when he decided to leave his Death Jester on a vantage point after killing one of my Neophytes, hoping to be able to use Shrieking Harvest on his following Turning Point. My Sanctus Sniper then proceeded to drop 9 Mortal Wounds in response to his fellow Marksman, putting Leshawn on the backfoot that he couldn’t recover from, and leading to a consistent 1 for 1 exchange of operatives that only favored me as time went on.

18-9 Wyrmblade Victory

Day 2

Game 1 – Patrick’s Kommandos

The second day started with one of my most difficult games of the weekend. In fact, I was so distracted by this round that I failed to take any pictures until after it had concluded. Patrick was easily one of the best players I encountered the entire weekend; he knew his rules and had a plan going into the game.

His big strategy was to use Sneaky Git to deploy his Nob very close my lines to get a Turning Point 1 charge. In a move that would perhaps come back to haunt him, he decided to charge my Sanctus Sniper instead of my Neophyte Leader (he had chosen HeadHunter and Rout), likely under the assumption he would kill my leader at some other point. In a trend that would continue the entire match, his Nob failed to kill my Sanctus, and was then subsequently killed, although I had not chosen Headhunter.

Patrick kept up the pressure and put me on the back foot from an early point, and the only thing that prevented me from being overrun was my Kelermorph who had taken up residence in the center and was poking out of cover long enough to eliminate a target, and then dash back out of Line of Sight. Both of us largely botched completing our secondaries, his coming down to his chosen Marksman failing to eliminate two targets two turning points in a row. The final score basically came down to luck of the dice as both of us had made similar mistakes, and it was only due to a couple poor Snipa Boy rolls that I was able to squeak this one out.

13-12 Wyrmblade Victory

Game 2 – Chris’s…Genestealers?

OK, here is the game that set social media on fire. Chris had returned on day two with another gimmick team, this time playing 10 McFarlane Genestealers as his operatives. The T.O. had told him he was fine with it as long as his opponents agreed. To his credit, Chris had glued 25mm bases to one of the feet of each massive Genestealer to represent its position in the game. He had even took the time to wear a suit and cape covered in purity seals that he had been giving away all weekend. He was so committed to the gimmick he was even sweating his ass off in this getup. How could I deny this man?

Finally, lets be clear, Chris was under no illusion about how this game would turn out, but being the professional he is he still played things as serious as he could.

That said 10 Genestealers is simply one of the weaker ways to play Compendium Tyranids. And as expected, while they did blender anything they got their claws on, ultimately my victory was pretty well assured as long as my dice approached anything normal and I simply just didn’t walk directly into his loving arms. I did manage to blow up my Challenge target on Turning Point 1, denying myself 2 points, because I am a hack and fraud, but otherwise this game held no surprises other than Chris and I having a fun time slinging dice and getting drunk.

17-10 Wyrmblade Victory

Game 3 – Jay’s Phobos Strike Team

In a turn of events somewhat similar to Adepticon I found myself facing off against one of the players from my local area. In fact, Jay had been one of the individuals I had been getting practice matches in with for the last three months. In a short amount of time he had gone from not having won a single match at our local store to going 5-0 in his last three matches (having went 3-0 the day prior).

Jay’s success that weekend lends further credit to the idea that we may of been too quick to judge the Phobos Strike Team to harshly upon its release. While I still feel they lack certain important tools, they have all they need to defeat a horde team like the Wyrmblade.

My general strategy was to press the objectives early, and see if I could lure Jay into exposing any of his operatives. This usually works rather well, especially on mission 3.1, which is exactly what happened as Jay exposed his Leader to too much of my firepower on the first Turning Point while outside range for his Helix Adept, while also losing his Veteran. This was done in exchange of only two of my own operatives which is not the place you want to be when you’re already outnumbered 2:1.

After a rough first Turning Point Jay did manage to rally, and start to fight back, but the damage had been done, and he simply lacked the operatives needed to remove me from the objectives, which I had started to return to my Kill Zone for safe keeping.

17-11 Wyrmblade Victory

Regardless of the loss Jay was absolutely thrilled to do as well as he did for the weekend.

Day 3

The final day saw the weakest turnout and with an odd number. I volunteered to take the first “Bye” and took my extra time to observe, answer questions, and snap some photos.

Lorgar spotted…

Game 2? – Matt’s Void-Scarred

Matt had never played against Wyrmblade, and was admittedly unsure what he needed to do to handle them. Unfortunately, like many of my opponents, he started almost his entire team in Conceal, which allowed me to not only setup in the ideal position for Turning Point 2, but also pick off a couple operatives using Hiding. Things did not improve for him going forward, and I had killed all but one of his operatives by the end of Turning Point 3.

19-5 Wyrmblade Victory

Game 3 – Joe’s Hunter Clade

The final round for the weekend saw me sitting down from across another familiar face. Joe had played in the 5-round Kill Team tournament at Adepticon with me, and had taken 2nd place in that event, so he had proven himself more than capable of winning. He had unfortunately switched from Wyrmblade to Hunter Clade since then, and was less familiar with his team. That being said Hunter Clade’s have proven themselves more than capable, especially with the Balance changes they recently received.

I attempted the strategy I had used with Jay on the previous day, using Meticulous Plan to pressure the objectives early. Joe immediately put me on the back foot by using the Ploy that allows him to switch multiple operative orders on Turning Point 1 if he had selected Infiltrate during the Scouting Phase (which he had) by eliminating three of my operatives, two of which I had used to take objectives, and my Grenade Launcher Gunner. In response I managed to eliminate one of his Gunners and an Infiltrator.

We then proceeded to launch into a bloody exchange of operatives reducing one another to below half our starting numbers by the end of Turning Point 2, however Joe seemed hesitant to push across to my side of the board in order to pry away the objectives I had taken at the beginning, and by Turning Point 3 it was unlikely he would be able to catch up.

13-8 Wyrmblade Victory

Final Thoughts

Hat Trick Baby! My success at GenCon is less proof of my prowess at the game, and more serves to highlight just how thin the competitive scene has been here in the states. If anything playing 8 games over the weekend did a lot to get me thinking on the best strategies towards defeating Wyrmblade.

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