Games Workshop introduced us all to the Gallowdark with the release of Kill Team: Into the Dark last month and they’ve now continued their stretch of adventures in the depths of space hulks with Kill team: Shadowvaults, a new release that brings us a pair of new teams: The Astra Militarum Kasrkin and Necron Hierotek Circles. In this review we’ll be looking at the rules for the new Kasrkin kill teams, with an eye toward matched play.
Before we dig in, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the Kill Team Shadowvaults boxed set for review purposes.
Kasrkin Kill Teams
Cadia’s finest bring 10 operatives to the table, putting them on the same level as Novitiates as the smallest of the “normal human” Kill Teams. In a pattern that should be somewhat familiar at this point the team is lead by a Sergeant armed with either one of several pistol and melee weapon combinations or the standard issue weapon of the regular troopers. In this case a Hot-shot lasgun (more on them later).
Your remaining 9 operatives are drawn from the following:
- Kasrkin Combat-Medic
- Kasrkin Demo-Trooper
- Kasrkin Recon Trooper
- Kasrkin Sharpshooter
- Kasrkin Vox-Trooper
- Kasrkin Gunners – These come with 5 special weapon options: flamer, meltagun, plasma gun, hot-shot volleygun and grenade launcher. Each choice counts as a unique option, and may only be taken once.
- Kasrkin Trooper
Each choice, aside from Troopers, may be only taken once, and you may only have a combined total of 4 Kasrkin Gunner and Sharpshooter operatives.
Kasrkin come with a standard human profile, sporting an unsurprising APL 2 and 7 wounds, and a more surprising BS 4+ and 4+ save. This might come as a bit of a shock to some, as Kasrkin are canonically “The Best of The Best of The Best,” and one wouldn’t expect them to be worse at shooting than say…Sororitas Trainees. Fortunately, this decision will make more sense as we examine their other abilities, and once you move beyond their accuracy and wounds the comparison to standard guardsmen ends as Kasrkin have far better equipment. Each Kasrkin sports a 4+ save thanks to carapace armor, and is equipped with a Hot-Shot Lasgun that has a 3/4 damage profile putting it on par with a standard boltgun.
TheChirurgeon: Statline-wise, they’re somewhere between Veteran Guardsmen (BS 4+/5+ Save) and Tempestus Scions (BS 3+/4+ Save), splitting the difference in a way that feels fine.
The team-wide rule available to Kasrkins sees them with access to a custom points pool which has been creatively titled Elite Points. Players start with 10 at the beginning of a match, but the team does have ways to generate more during the course of a game. Each time a Kasrkin operative makes a fighting or shooting attack the player may raise the result of a single die by 1 for each Elite Point they decide to spend.
This a powerful and exceedingly simple ability to use that basically means you don’t need to waste time with Command Re-rolls, and can be used to raise misses into normal hits, and normal hits into critical hits. Anyone familiar with how powerful Acts of Faith could be with Novitiates should immediately have perked up after reading this ability.
The Kasrkin aren’t bringing any surprises to the table here. In fact, they may be the most straightforward set of specialists yet, bringing all the usual suspects without overloading us with many of the more niche options found on other teams.
By now everyone should know what to expect with this guy. He gets an extra wound, and hits/wounds better than the soldiers he leads. He can take a number of pistol/melee options, but in most cases you’re going to want to take the Plasma Pistol and Chainsword. Thanks to the Elite special ability you can simply modify the die result to avoid taking damage from Gets Hot.
This guy also provides a critical 2 Elite Points per Turning Point, meaning there is a genuine consequence to losing him, which is something we don’t see enough of when it comes to leader operatives.
Comes with the Medic! and Combat Stimms (1 AP) abilities. These are almost a word for word copy of the abilities found on the Phobos Helix Adept and the Veteran Guardsman Medic.
This guy comes with a one use ability called Plant Mine (1 AP) allowing you place a melta mine token on a the ground. If any ENEMY comes within 2 inches of it they’re subject to a shooting attack with the following profile: +2 Hit/Wound, 4/2 damage, AP2, and 3 Mortal Wounds on critical hits. Despite being a melta weapon this mine hits for considerably less damage than a meltagun, which is a shame. Other than this single-use weapon he comes with extra armor that allows him to re-roll all failed saves against weapons with the Blast trait, he also ignores the mortal wounds caused by Splash if he is not the target of the attack.
It is important to note that the Mine Token does not leave play even if this operative is killed, and thus would be excellent for guarding hatchways in Into the Dark.
Not much to say here except that Kasrkins get access to all the goodies with the new addition of the volley gun, which is basically a Heavy Stubber that trades Ceaseless for P1. Thanks to the Elite ability P1 is something this team probably benefits from more than any other.
This operative grants an additional Recon option in the Scouting Phase, and the Warden Auspex (1 AP) ability where you may pick one enemy operative, and all shooting attacks made against that operative gain the No Cover special until the end of the Turning Point. This might not sound like much, but this ability has no range or visibility requirements making it very versatile. In addition, it makes the targeted operative count as not having cover for the purposes of the Elimination Pattern and Neutralize ploys (more on those later).
Comes with two shooting profiles, Sharpshot, which is simply a standard Hot-Shot Lasgun profile with +3 hit/wound, and Snipe, which grants the weapon +1 Hit/Wound, Heavy, Silent, and MW3. This is pretty standard as far as sniper operatives go. In addition, they have a camo cloak which allows for two die to be retained while in cover.
The most streamlined and user-friendly version of the Communications operative we have seen yet. Comes with the Battle Comms (1 AP) ability which allows him to grant +1 AP to any other friendly operative. This ability has no range limitation AND may be performed twice per activation. This guy is going to make all other Commsmen jealous, he can simply sit back on an objective and give his unused actions out to his team.
The stock standard Kasrkin, however he trades in the usual GA2 available to most non-specialists for the ability to use 1 free Elite Point on himself every time they make a fighting or shooting attack.
Until the end of the Turning Point shooting attacks made with Hot-Shot Weapons gain the P1 trait against enemies not in Cover. On its own this would be a pretty underwhelming ability, but thanks to the Elite ability you can now reliably boost a result in a critical hit if needed, effectively making Hot-Shot weapons AP1 on demand.
Defense rolls of 1 may be re-rolled if the operative is in Cover. A straight forward and reliable way to keep your operatives alive.
Place a token anywhere in the Kill Zone. Friendly operatives who perform a shooting attack, while within 4 inches horizontally of the token, against an enemy operative who is ALSO within 4 inches horizontally, may spend one Elite Point for free. This is similar to the Attack and Defense Order available to Breachers, however the requirement of the enemy to ALSO be within the required distance of the token makes this a much more niche ability.
Select a friendly operative more than 3 inches from enemy operatives, that operative and any other friendly operatives within 3 inches of that operative (who also must be more than 3 inches from enemies) may immediately make a free Dash action. Free movement is ALWAYS good and this ploy can be great for either preventing operatives from being shot or charged on turns where you lose an important initiative roll. This ploy can not be used on Turning Point 1.
- Cover Retreat – Perform a free fall back action with an operative as long as they’re within 6 inches and visible to another operative that is not within engagement range of an enemy.
- Neutralise Target – After an operative makes a shooting attack they may re-roll any or all attack dice if the target is Not Readied AND either has an Engage Order or is not in Cover. Once you get past the conditional requirements this is excellent ploy basically making the weapon Relentless for that attack.
- Seize the Initiative – Re-Roll the Initiative die, simple, powerful, good.
- For Cadia! – When you activate an operative, add +1 damage to the normal and critical damage of their Gun Butt weapon profile, and they ignore wounds on a 5+. Another straight and useful ploy that simultaneously makes them more survivable, and makes them hit as hard as Space Marine in combat.
- Foregrip [1 EP] – Perform the Overwatch Action at normal ballistic skill. While not terrible, Kasrkins tend to range of the more numerous side of the Kill Team spectrum meaning you’re unlikely to have a lot of Overwatch opportunities. This being said it could be highly useful on Into the Dark Missions.
- Long-Range Scope [2 EP] – This gives hot-shot lasguns and the hot-shot marksman rifle the No Cover special rule on retained critical hits for shooting attacks made over 6 inches from the target. A nice piece of equipment when combined with the Elite ability and the Elimination Pattern ploy.
- Adrenaline Shot [1 EP] – Once per battle, when activated, the operative may ignore all movement and APL penalties until the end of the Turning Point. Not a terrible option especially if your opponent has weapons with the Stun special rule.
- Frag and Krak Grenade [2 and 3 EP] – The only thing new here is that Kasrkin’s don’t have a dedicated grenadier like many teams, and such have to spend half their equipment points to gain access to grenade options.
- Decoy Grenade [2 EP] – Operatives with this piece of equipment gain the Decoy Grenade (1 AP) action. This is an interesting ability as it allows the operative to select a point within 6 inches, and any enemy operatives within 4 inches of this point may not perform the Guard or Overwatch Actions on a 4+ die roll. They may only perform this action once per game. This item may of be of particular use in Kill Zone: GallowDark.
- Stun Grenade [3 EP] – Identical to previous examples of the Stun Grenade found on other teams. These items are of dubious usefulness since you’re spending an Action for a 50% chance to reduce your opponent’s APL by 1. In most situations you’re just better off shooting your opponent.
Kasrkin have access to three of the four Tac Op archetypes, which gives players a ton of options, and in addition they have a couple Faction Tac Ops that are worth considering when making your deck.
- Vital Objective – At the start of any Turning Point after the first you must select a objective friendly operatives do not control to be your vital objective. If friendly operatives control it at the end of any Turning Point you score 1 VP. You score a second VP you control it at the end of any subsequent Turning Points. A decently achievable Tac Op that is similar to ones such as Shock and Awe, for Intercession Squads, that encourage you to be aggressive.
- Stand Fast – Hold 2 objectives and MORE than your opponent for 1 VP at the end of any Turning Point. Repeat this in another Turning Point to gain your second VP. A straight forward objective, falls into the “I am already winning” category where one can assume that the match may already be in your favor if you’re holding more objectives than your opponent making this more of a “lose more” or “win more” kind of objective and not exactly what you’re looking to help swing a close game in your favor.
- Secure Zone – Place a Secure Zone token anywhere more than 6 inches from your Drop Zone, but also within 4 inches horizontally of an enemy operative. Gain 1 VP if at the end of the TP you have an operative with 4 inches of that token, and enemy operatives no longer with 4 inches of it. Repeat to gain a second VP. This is unfortunately another difficult one to score, although it could be more achievable in later Turning Points when enemy operatives are isolated and in close proximity to yours. It may also force them to stay engaged in areas they may otherwise wish to move away from.
Kasrkin are unfortunately a step down from Breachers, while their models look very cool their rules are far more bland than the previous Imperial team. There is nothing about them that screams “competitive” and the decision to make them +4 Hit/Wound (Scions hit on a +3!!) with their Hot-Shot weapons is rather baffling for a 10-man team, especially when compared to other shooting teams such as Hunter Clades or Pathfinders. Only allowing Elite Points to spent in combat, and not when rerolling Defense dice seems like another miss.
Of all the bespoke teams this is perhaps one the friendliest to beginners as it falls directly in the middle on many things, and is not overloaded with many different specialists making keeping track of their abilities rather easy.
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