The upcoming Kill Team Moroch boxed set introduces us to two new kill teams and in the process, finally gives Space Marine some much-needed love with the new Phobos Strike Team.
Before we dive into the new Astartes team, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of Kill Team Moroch for review purposes.
Meet the New Team
Phobos Strike Teams are Astartes kill teams that consist of 6 Operatives, all chosen from the three main Phobos units – Infiltrators, Incursors, and Reivers. Phobos Strike Team Kill Teams Consist of:
- 1 Sergeant, who will either be an Infiltrator Sergeant, Incursor Sergeant, or Reiver Sergeant (who can take either a pistol and knife or bolt carbine)
- 5 Phobos Strike Team Operatives, chosen from this list:
- Infiltrator Commsman
- Infiltrator Helix Adept
- Infiltrator Saboteur
- Infiltrator Veteran
- Infiltrator Voxbreaker
- Infiltrator Warrior
- Incursor Marksman
- Incursor Minelayer
- Incursor Warrior
- Reiver Warrior (with the option for pistol + knife or bolt carbine)
You can only include each non-warrior operative once.
Wait, That’s It?
Yeah, that’s it. Truth be told, we’re a little disappointed too. While the new upgrade sprue is cool and there are some interesting rules in this team, it also feels like a huge missed opportunity to not have Eliminators or a Phobos Librarian as an option here. Adding those in would have given the team some additional flexibility and ranged damage that it kind of feels like they lack.
Actions and Abilities
One of the unique things about the Phobos teams is that their operatives share a nubmer of actions and abilities they can do every turn. Some of these are specific to a squad type, i.e. Terror only shows up on Reivers, while others may show up on multiple operative types.
- Guerrilla Warfare (1 AP) shows up on everyone and allows you to change the operative’s order. You can’t do this during the first Turning Point or while within ⬟ of an enemy operative. This gives your team a lot of versatility when you want to stay hidden, since you can order your operatives into Engage, have them move and shoot, then drop them back into Conceal.
- Omni-Scrambler shows up on the Infiltrators. Once in each Stratagy phase, when it’s your turn to use a ploy, if you have a model with this ability on the table, then you can use this ability instead. Pick an enemy operative visible to any friendly operative with this ability and in the following Firefight phase it’s tread as having a Group Activation characteristic of 1 and it can’t perform actions until basically every operative with Omni-Scrambler has activated (or at least a number of enemy operatives equal to the number of scrabler operatives on your team have activated). This can be an incredibly nasty gut-punch for catching a key operative out of position, piling before they can hide or hit back.
- Multi-Spectrum Array is on the Incursors. When determining if an intended target is within Line of Sight, it has to be more than 2● from the point where a Cover line crosses terrain to be Obscured, and areas of smoke have no effect. This is incredibly useful in a faction that has access to smoke grenades, as you can throw a Smoke grenade and then shoot through it while your opponent can’t. I forsee a lot of salt regarding this.
- Terror is a special action giving you a 3” radius where enemy operatives trying to pick up have to spend an additional AP, or total enemy APL for holding an objective is 1 less. This is a special action costing 1AP, and I very strongly feel it should have been an intrinsic ability that Reivers just constantly exude. This would help with the internal balance of the faction, as Reivers have no specialist operatives
- Saboteurs for 1AP you can remove a Saboteur token. This is a mission action confusingly placed nowhere near the Tactical Op that uses it. I had to re-read it and the operative datasheets half a dozen times to figure out who it was supposed to go on.
With a limited number of operatives, and the choice between the very good sub-faction ability for Incursors vs some very good operatives for Infiltrators, you need to make tough choices about what is going on the table. My advice would be to play a few games to get the feel of the team, and the line to draw for Infiltrators vs Incursors.
An Infiltrator Warrior with the Comms Array special action, a 1AP action that lets you select another model Visible to this operative, and they can perform a free 1AP action, but it cannot be an action they have already performed, they can’t move, and they can’t perform the action again during the Turning Point. So with these restrictions in mind it means you can do quite a few things. You can do a mission action, to leave the model free for a normal activation, you could take a model that did a Shoot twice and charged an enemy to pin them in place and avoid being shot (or to contest an objective) and make them Fight, or plenty of other scenarios.
This is not as good as the normal Signal type model action, but is still pretty solid to perform an out of sequence Fight (potentially freeing up a model to Overwatch) or to squeeze in a mission action on a model that’s had to spend it’s AP elsewhere.
Infiltrator Helix Adept
Medics are incredibly useful. Being able to ‘save’ a model or heal 2d3 wounds is so useful on a low model count team that this is basically a compulsory choice for the team, and these abilities are in addition to the standard Infiltrator equipment, so there is no trade off to get them. With no Only in Death Does Duty End, you want to be able to save your guys if you can.
This is where things get complicated. The Saboteur has one shot remote explosives, and these are a plant and run explosive where you place a marker within an inch, and when they go off affect everything within 3 inches. This can be fairly devastating, but you’ve got to get your operative in there, plant the explosives, get them out of there, and then detonate before the enemy move away. You can’t detonate as an Overwatch action, so this is where you Move, plant, dash and then the Commsman gets you to detonate as the 1AP action using their Comms Array action, or you do plant as the last activation of your turn next to a juicy already activated target, and then use Omni-Scrambler to prevent the target activating and moving away before you can detonate.
This means you need to think and plan how you are going to use the Remote Explosives, as you also can’t plant them while in engagement range of an opponent. You could use them to deter enemies from claiming a key objective, create a bottleneck on the board, or whatever your devious imagination can come up with, but remember the restrictions on using them.
This is another highly recommended operative. Combat Blade gives you 3/5 in melee, which is as good as it gets in the Phobos Strike Team, and Custom lets you choose two of the following for your bolter – No Cover, Lethal 5+, MW1, Balanced, P1, Rending. Being able to customize your weapon to the enemy you are facing (so not P1 against Harlequins for example) is great, and there are some good combos to use (Lethal 5+ and Rending, Lethal 5+ and P1, Lethal 5+ and MW1, as examples). If you are basing your strike team around Infiltrators, the Veteran is a great model to include.
With two special actions both designed to screw over opponents, this is an interesting model. Voxbreaker gives you a 6” aura in which enemy models can’t reroll dice in combat or shooting, which really messes up any factions relying on Relentless to generate hits to overwhelm defence dice or parries. Auspex Scan lets one friendly model within 3″ of the Voxbreaker treat one enemy model within 6″ of the Voxbreaker as if it has the Engage order. Auspex Scan is much more situational than a 6″ radius debuff but can be great for winkling Concealed enemies out, and you can of course use the effect on the Voxbreaker.
The standard infiltrator warrior brings a Lethal 5+ bolter to the table, which is actually pretty good for nailing 7/8 wound models. Guerilla Warfare and Omni-Scramblers are the abilities baked in, and this allows you, in combination with Bolter Discipline, to have activations where you change to Engage, Shoot twice and then Guerilla Warfare to go back to Conceal.
However you are unlikely to have this model in your kill team, as you have the option of more than five specialists, and Infiltrator specialists start with these stats as a baseline, and add additional abilities on top.
This is the standard Infiltrator Warrior with +1 to hit in melee and +1 wound, but with the Strategise command ability, which lets you buy a CP for 1AP. This is possibly one of the best command abilities in the game.
This operative is basically a compulsory choice. The sole long range AP in the team, Multi-Spectrum Array pairing nicely with 2+ to hit and Lethal 5+, and Bolter Discipline giving you two shots to make it fairly likely you can nail a couple of guardsman equivalents a turn. Track Target lets you take a shot in response to an enemy models activation for 1AP. This is probably going to end up getting FAQ’d/Designers Notes’d to make it clear that this is something you can’t do if you’ve already activated. It does make it clear that it counts as a Shoot action for your later activation. I can see some arguments regarding this.
The Minelayer can lay a Haywire mine once during the game, which will then go off using the Proximity rule the first time an enemy model moves within 3″. This means the best thing to do is to drop it next to enemy models (ideally several) which either traps them in place or blows them up if they move.
The standard Incursor, due to the small team size and pressure to take specialists you are not that likely to see him, but he’s a solid soldier. Combat Blades being 3/5 makes him decent in combat, while a No Cover bolter is great against enemies with low saves who rely on cover to give them successes on defence. Multi-Spectrum Array is a great sub faction ability which makes a good model better.
The Incursor warrior with +1 wound, +1 to hit in combat, and Strategise. Due to Multi-Spectrum Array he’s a good choice to get more models that can see through Smoke on the table.
Reiver Warriors give you a standard model with AP if you take the Special Issue Bolt Pistol, but if you are going with pistol and knife you are likely doing it for the 5 dice 3/5 melee, which is the best melee in the team. If you are getting close in you have the opportunity to use Terror, but as discussed earlier it isn’t free so needs to be carefully thought about. Carbine Reivers can be taken, but unless you are going for a pure Reiver team then Incursors or Infiltrators are a better choice even if you don’t take specialists.
As ever a Warrior with +1 wound, +1 to hit in melee and Strategise. Best melee model available to the faction but unless you are doing a Reiver team I would pick an Incursor or Infiltrator instead.
Phobos Strike Team ploys are very much a game of two halves. The Strategic Ploys range from good to great, and are the reason you need Strategise so much to give you more CP. The Tactical Ploys have two ploys that are very situational. If there had been an additional Tactical Ploy that would have made that a little less of a bitter taste.
- Bolter Discipline is the Shoot twice with bolters ploy common to most marine teams, and more efficient in this team because everyone has bolters, including the sniper. As normal, you cannot double Shoot and Fight.
- Shock Assault is the Fight twice ploy also common to marine teams. You’re less likely to use this as you lack power weapons and strong melee on a lot of models, but if you are facing wound 7 models then marines can still very effectively bully them with just fists.
- Vanguard is a very interesting ploy, where all Phobos operatives gain an inch of movement, automatically pass Jump tests and ignore the first 2 inches for climbs, drops and traverses. This is incredibly useful for getting models around, onto objectives and Vantage Points, and controlling the table. How this interacts with the Reiver equipment of Grav Chutes and Grapnel Launchers will need careful reading, as RAW it means Reivers will 1950s Superman their way around the board pushing Tau off things.
- And They Shall Know No Fear lets you ignore negatives to APL and friendly operatives are not treated as injured. This is great against teams that have a lot of debuffs to drop on you, or if you’ve got a lot of injured models on the table.
- Stealth Assault lets you take an Operative currently on Conceal and not in engagement range of an enemy operative, and when you Fight for the first time you can resolve two hits. This lets you punch out a 7 wound operative with no strikes back, and is ideally combined with a multicharge into two enemies that you double fight using Shock Assault.
- Transhuman Physiology lets you convert a normal save success into a critical success. Nowhere near as good as Only in Death, but useful for keeping models in the game if your opponent has racked up critical successes.
- One Step Ahead lets you change one operative you have selected for your team after seeing your opponents. This sounds great, but then think about what the alternative selections you have actually are.
- Elite Reconnaissance lets you redeploy two operatives and resolve an additional scouting choice (you can’t duplicate these). This lets you refuse flanks, and see your opponents deployment and change yours.
There are two specific Reiver pieces of equipment that help Reivers get around and ideally to within 6″ of enemies where they can shoot them with AP1 pistols or stab them with big knives.
- Grapnel Launcher [3EP] lets you get around the board quicker. Ascending or descending up to 6″ only counts as 2″, you can drop any distance (and it counts as half for movement purposes) and you don’t need to be within 1″ of a climbable piece of terrain in order to climb it. Basically it means going up and down terrain is much easier and you have more movement left after doing it.
- Grav-Chute [2EP] lets you do a free Grav-Chute Insertion in the Scouting Step, which is a 4″ move with FLY. Every time the operative steps off a Vantage Point it moves as if it can FLY. This is great for jumping from building to building.
- Smoke Grenade [3EP] is a grenade that gives a 2″ radius through which if a cover line is drawn to a target line of sight is blocked. This has been very strong in Kommandos and will be even stronger here where you have Incursors who can see and shoot through it.
- Shock Grenade [3EP] is a grenade that has a 2″ area of effect from a target point you choose, and any model under it subtracts 1 from there APL on a 4+ (5+ if you can’t see them). This is good for screwing over enemy models on objectives and could pair nicely with Terror.
- Frag and Krak Grenades are the same as always, and Krak grenades give you availability of some much needed AP.
- Throwing Knife [2EP] gives you a Silent weapon so you can run round while in Conceal throwing knives at people.
- Purity Seal [3EP] gives you the ability to reroll a dice.
- Shock and Awe scores a VP if you hold one or more objectives that the enemy held at the start of the turn. Score another if you do it again. Suits aggressive play.
- Saboteurs involves the Saboteurs mission action. 3 Saboteur counters are placed in the Killzone, two by your opponent, one by you, and if you perform the Saboteur mission action to remove two counters you get 1 VP, and if you remove all three you get an additional VP.
- Guerilla Tactics is a straight forward kill more enemy operatives than you lose in a turn for 1VP, and any subsequent turn for another VP. This is a good one to pick if you are up against a horde team, when you’re likely to be doing this anyway.
Thundercloud: We’ve finally got marines. Maybe not the marines we wanted, but are they the marines we deserved?
Given the popularity of marines we may see fewer players doing counts as with the Legionaries team, but they play very differently. Phobos marines look nice, particularly Reivers, and we’ll see some nice hobby out of it, but I think we’ll see Deathwatch continue to be heavily represented among marine teams due to the weapon variety. Lacking heavy or power weapons, the faction relies on Bolter Discipline to gun down guard equivalents or chip down tougher enemies, and movement abilities and smoke.
They aren’t as interesting or varied as the Blooded, but they’re a new type of elite team based around the Primaris special forces archetypes and it’ll be interesting to see that style of play.
Rob: I wish there were Eliminators and Phobos Librarians in here, but even without them I think they’ll have some play. Strategise is the real x-factor here. The ability to trade 1 APL per turn for extra CP is stupid good, and gives the team a ton of tactical versatility. The lack of power weapons or heavy shooting is interesting though – I wonder if they’ll do well against horde teams and struggle against elites. If so, then they may do fine in the current meta until we start seeing more elite teams getting the expansion/white dwarf treatment.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.