This weekend the US had two large tournaments, one each on the East and West coast of the US. This week we’re covering both events – today we’re speaking with the winners of GW’s event, and tomorrow we’ll be covering the event in Oregon, so be sure to check back for that one!
On the East Coast more than 40 people showed up to Games Workshop’s US Open event in Tampa over the weekend to battle for the last fully-funded Golden Ticket from Games Workshop. This led to some fierce competition with competitors favoring primarily elite teams over hordes:
Tampa’s top 8 continues the East Coast’s trend of Kommandos running rampant over the meta, with three Kommandos players finishing in the top 8. Also of note: One enterprising Hierotek player who managed to claw their way to sixth place with a loss and a draw.
To kick things off and for some additional color (and insight into Tampa’s impeccable competitive vibes), we’re catching up with Ben! Ben is a part of Kill Team Casuals (link), and a Kill Team celebrity in his own right. This weekend at Tampa he claimed the best painted award and is lined up to appear on Just Another Kill Team Podcast (link) to chat about the Floridian scene.
Ben, Best Painted
Congratulations on winning best painted! What’s it feel like to have your painting skills validated in Tampa?
- Oh man, it feels pretty cool. As a hobbyist first, it really made the whole event for me. My Red Corsairs are converted using every chaos space marine infantry kit on the market and then some, so it’s been a real labor of love. My goal for the tournament was 4/2 and best painted and that’s what we got, so dreams really do come true.
What was the vibe like at Tampa, with the new releases getting spoiled during the course of the tournament?
- We were all pretty distracted with round one going on, honestly. I don’t think many of us were watching for the reveals. All of my games typically go pretty fast, win or lose though, so I was able to hop on WarCom pretty early on to scope it all out. We’re all pretty excited for the teams, but reactions were definitely mixed on the terrain.
How was the level of competition in comparison to the rest of your tournament experiences? What about compared to your local scene?
- We absolutely had some sharks in the bay, both hometown heroes and out of state challengers! I’ve been working for the past two years trying to help connect all the isolated pockets of KT in Florida and this felt like a really great payoff to have everyone all in one place.
- We have some great players in my local area as well as all over Florida, so it was just as I expected. Florida has been a Kill Team desert for years, but I think we can safely say the drought has finally ended. Dawson (a fellow KT Florida man) taking home second place and getting the golden ticket was a big win for us, feels great.
Any other things you want to shout out?
- Congrats to all my opponents and Ben our TO, had a bunch of great games!
- Shoutout to Warpfire Minis for sending me to the tournament along the rest of the staff, check out Warpfire Minis (link) online for great deals on the warhammer plastic we all know and love!
- Shoutout to my podcast “Kill Team Casuals” that I co-host with my good buds Rhys and Russ! https://www.buzzsprout.com/2016207
- And finally shoutout to Battle Brothers Tabletop on Youtube, trying to get some more vids posted up there!
Next up is Adrian M, who finished third, only suffering one loss to Adrian B in the third round. Looks like maybe Bracing for Impact isn’t quite enough against the current meta boogeyman! Let’s find out if he has any advice for Breachers players who have to go up against Kommandos.
Adrian M, Third, Imperial Navy Breachers
How do you feel about the Breachers’ place in the current meta? Are you playing them because they’re top of the tier lists, or for some other reasons?
- Hello everyone! I’ve been playing quite a bit with Navy Breachers this year. I’ve used them in all the big tournaments I’ve attended, and I honestly think they perform well in the current meta. I believe they are one of the strongest factions right now, and despite having undergone some nerfs throughout 2023, they have a handful of very interesting mechanics that make them a versatile and enjoyable faction to play.
For players new to Breachers, who might be overwhelmed with their options, what tricks do you find the most effective to get a handle on first? What tools have you found as you’ve played the team longer?
- Despite being a very good faction, I also think it takes time to learn how to play them well. As I mentioned before, their mechanics and ploys are very good and make them very versatile, but you need to learn how to manage all those options effectively. I would recommend to any player starting to play with Navy Breachers to assume that the learning curve is long. It takes time to master all aspects of the faction. Start by playing without CAT or the Servo Skull and learn to use their Breach and Clear ability effectively and manage the faction’s tempo. I’ve been fortunate to receive some lessons from great players in Spain like Tamer and Carlos Duran.
What was the pool of players like in Tampa in comparison to your home region? Were there any match ups you ran into that you haven’t seen much?
- Honestly, it surprised me not to see any Chaos Cultists players and to see so many Intercessors. What doesn’t surprise me is seeing so many Kommandos in the top 10 of the tournament. That has become quite common in the last few months.
Is this your last attempt to snag a ticket for the championships this year? Are there any tournaments you’re looking forward to?
- Yes, that was my last attempt. I came close but couldn’t make it this year. What a shame! Congratulations to my friend Dawson Araujo for achieving it. You and I know that attending that invitational tournament is a wonderful experience, and I know he’s going to enjoy it immensely. The big tournament season is over for me. I’ll continue organizing and playing in the monthly tournaments at my club, Victory Gamers, of course. So, if anyone is in the DC or North Virginia area and wants to play in a great atmosphere, they should look us up and join us!
Are there any other things you want to shout out?
- I want to thank Ben for being, as always, the coolest TO (Tournament Organizer) in the world. I’m also excited to see how the new terrain they’ve announced works and how it will impact the game. I also want to wish all my friends who will be in Atlanta this year a lot of enjoyment. I’m going to miss not being there with them, but I’ll be following their games fervently. Hopefully, GW (Games Workshop) offers us a streaming broadcast like they do with 40k and AOS (Age of Sigmar). That way, we can watch Orion, Ace, Leander, Liam, and company in action.
Our second place player Dawson, takes second place and the Golden Ticket. Securing his space in the finals because first place already has a ticket. Additionally it’s his team’s 6-Sided Paradise’s highest placement so far! I’m sure he’s stoked and excited to talk about his results!
Dawson A, Second, Ork Kommandos
How does it feel securing a ticket to the championships? Are you planning to run Kommandos later this year?
- It feels amazing! I’m super stoked to have made the cut so close to the championships, and being able to represent the Florida KT community. I will more than likely be sticking to orks simply due to them being my most practiced team at the moment, but who knows if I have enough time to practice with a new team.
Your only loss came against Adrian in round 5. Are there any tools you’d use differently in the mirror match the next time around?
- The mirror match for Kommandos is a particularly tough one to navigate. Losing the attacker/defender roll off results in the loser being forced into attacker and being zoned out of being able to Sneaky Git in most cases. With mid board vantage points, this forces you to deploy very conservatively, making it difficult to fan out the team to threaten objectives. As far as tools, I’m not sure what I would do differently, from my experience a lot in this matchup comes down to a mix of luck with dice rolls, and Just a Scratch timings on part of both players. Hopefully I can come up with some better ideas with more mirror practice. The game was a very close one, unfortunately finishing in TP3 due to time restrictions with Adrian being up a point from secondaries. Overall a great close game of kill team.
As a relatively new player on the ITC rankings, what kinds of teams have you been vibing with the best? I assume melee teams are a big favorite for you?
- One of my favorite things about playing kill team is trying out different teams. I don’t usually stick to one for very long. I tend to enjoy teams that require a bit of finesse like Phobos, Inquisition, Corsairs. But at the end of the day there’s nothing like a good old Krumpin’. I think melee teams fit my aggressive playstyle pretty well, and Kommandos offer some decent shooting and stealthiness to boot.
Are there any plays that you caught Adrian doing differently from you in the mirror match? Any secrets to unlock for approaching mirror matches?
- I think we both had some laughs doing back to back similar movements/activations throughout the game. We both took the exact same equipment, besides a different choice of climbing ropes, due to him getting defender and opting to forward deploy the Nob. I think in this matchup that was a good choice for him, as the big choppa can get all hits to reliably kill an ork even with just a scratch. If you get the chance to take out the shooters on the opposing side, it can relieve a lot of pressure allowing you to safely navigate the map. Other than that pray to Gork and Mork for good dice.
Anything else you want to shout out to our fellow readers? Perhaps a shoutout to your teammates?
- Oh boy I’ve got quite a few! First I’d like to shout out all my teammates in 6 Sided Paradice for always supporting me be it through practice or encouragement. So thank you to JC, George, Tomas, Diron, Chris, and others. I’d like to thank all the people backing me in the Florida KT community, especially Ben Campbell from battle brothers tabletop for pushing to get Florida Man into the championship. Finally a big congratulations to both Adrian Bonvento and Adrian Martin with whom I had the pleasure of sharing top 3 with!
Finally finishing in first place was Adrian B, a regular of the East Coast tournament scene and Kommando diehard. He’s been crushing it this year with multiple first place finishes and this event probably helps him climb into the global top 10. Let’s catch up with him and pick his brain a bit.
Adrian B, First, Ork Kommandos
Always good to see a local player hitting the top table! I assume it’s got to be somewhat bittersweet when the finals were against another local player Joey C?
- Yes and no! The fact that it was down to 2 Brooklyn players on the top table in the last round was pretty cool in and of itself. Overall it felt better to me than meeting earlier on in the tournament (Joey and I met in round 2 at NOVA the other month – which was especially rough due to the top cut that happened after day 1 there). Joey and I have a history playing each other in tournaments – so it was nice to have that familiarity there in the final round. But yes, the fact that it was going to be one of us potentially knocking the other out of contention for the gold was definitely difficult – as you always want the best for your teammates.
It’s looking like without changes you’ll be taking Kommandos to the world championships? If there were last minute changes do you think you’d stick with the comfortable pick, or reach for a new team?
- I think pending any drastic balance changes, they’re likely my top pick. The orks just seem to fit my playstyle and mesh very well with the way I see the maps, movement and the game. And (most importantly!) I always have fun playing them. Their models, rules and flavor lead to so many cinematic in-game moments – which is one of the biggest things that drew me into Kill Team in the first place. The Bomb Squig and the Komando Grot have some of the coolest rules in the game as far as I’m concerned!
- If there were changes made prior to Atlanta I’d have to do a very quick re-assessment of their competitive viability & the resulting state of the meta in a short amount of time!
Were there any things you felt like you did better than your opponent in mirror matches? I find that players often loathe going into mirrors, but a consummate player should have some plays for them.
- Loathe is probably an accurate description for my feelings on the Kommandos mirror haha. It is NOT fun. It’s interesting, because Kommandos have such fun ploys, however the way those ploys interact with each other in the mirror all of a sudden become very polarizing, and lead to a lot of games of chicken and a very high mental load.
- First off, it was great to finally get to play Dawson – we had kind of danced around each other in NOVA brackets but never ended up getting paired. I had both played and reflected on the mirror in preparation for this inevitable occurrence, but a lot of that kind of goes out the window when you’re in the heat of the moment – especially since Kommandos are so flexible in game. They don’t really have a linear playstyle, so finding unique solutions to problems becomes yet another factor. I think I had some good moves and also made a few mistakes – both surrounding which operatives of his I targeted, and which I allowed him to target. That’s the biggest thing I think: can my knight do more than your knight, or can I trade my pawn upwards for your bishop, to use a chess analogy. Dice is another big factor – whose dynamite gets 4 hits and whose maybe only does chip damage and then how do you claw back from that if you’re on the receiving end. And all that gets even more complicated once you add Just a Scratch into the mix.
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 there were two moments. First were some of the plays in my Kommados mirror with Dawson in Round 5 where my attempted trade ran into a wall, and his succeeded. All of a sudden you feel that you’re clearly at a disadvantage and you have to really start thinking, ok how do I get creative and get back into this thing.
- The second was with Joey in the final where I had 3 different instances of favorable melee situations go south, and I lost a handful of operatives in combat on my own activation, which is never a good thing! So again – I had to re-calibrate and try to find new lines forward.
What are you looking forward to in the near future tournament wise?
- Definitely the New York Open (Nov 4-5) and of course the opportunity to represent Brooklyn and the US at the World Championships of Warhammer (Nov 16-19)!
Any other shoutouts?
- As always gotta give a shout to the NY/ NJ Kill Team Scene for sharpening the steel that our local meta has become, and for all their support. It was great to meet a lot of the key members of the Florida KT community at this event! I got to chat and hang with the guys from Miami and Orlando, and they were all extremely welcoming, fun and had a sharp sense of humor. Meeting our TO, Ben, for the first time was likewise a great experience! Playing a really tactical game into my figurative mirror match (Adrian Martin)!
- Finally, if you’re still on the fence, get your tickets for the New York Open (link)! NYO last year was a blast and there’s sure to be some solid competition & positive vibes this time around.
- It’s always a pleasure to be able to connect with members of the many burgeoning KT scenes at all these tournaments, and to continue to become more tightly knit as both a national and global community.
That wraps up our interview with the Tampa winners. Once again we’d like to thank our participants for speaking with us and you for reading. Be sure to check back tomorrow when we speak to the winners of the Oregon event. And if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.