Welcome back to our weekly Kill Team Tactics series! This week, we’re continuing our multi-part series covering Specialisms in Kill Team. We’ll be talking about how to evaluate and choose them, and which ones are worth paying points for if you’re using higher-level abilities. The first article looked at Demolitions, Sniper, and Heavy specialists. Then we looked at Combat, Zealot, and Medic. This time we’re finishing off the standard Specialists by looking at Comms, Leader, Veteran, and Scout specialists. We’ll be going through their Tactics, Abilities, and any particularly fun builds involving them that you should consider.
Note that, generally speaking, upper-level specialists aren’t worth it. They aren’t even allowed in competitive play, but given how point scaling works for level 2+ specialists in kill team (4 points is a lot), it’s usually the case that you’ll be better off taking another body rather than upgrading a specialist even further, and unless it takes to level 2/3 to make a specialist worthwhile, you’re generally spending extra points on high-level specialists to “win more” when it isn’t really necessary. That said, there are some interesting combos that can arise from having higher-level specialists and we’ll talk about that here.
We start of with the ultimate support specialists. Comms specialists can make a member of your Kill Team a complete monster, make your Kill Team function a hell of a lot smoother, and just generally be a big hassle to the enemy Kill Team. Everyone who is interested in ‘gun’ and CP should take one of these.
Level 1: Rousing Transmission (1CP) – If this model is not shaken, you can subtract 1 from Nerve tests for models from your Kill Team as though the Comms specialist was within 2” of them.
This is the very definition of situational. Most of the time it won’t be needed, but then suddenly, you’ll need that +1 leadership to prevent a possible mass rout and then you’ll completely love this ability. The only drawback about it is that you can only use the stratagem at the end of the turn really, so you have to sit on that CP for a while. B-
Level 2: Scanner Uplink (2CP) – A model within 6 inches of the Comms Specialist can target an enemy model that is not visible to them. If they do, they only hit on a 6 no matter what, even if the weapon automatically hits, the target is also treated as obscured.
This is probably the most interesting tactic in the entire game. If you’re planning to use it, you have to build around it. In an ideal world you want something with a lot of shots, large range and the ability to RE-ROLL hits and increased wounding and damage against obscured targets, which we’ll go over in Recommended Builds. You then paste the enemy leader in round 1 and enjoy your enormous CP disparity. If you don’t build with this and mind and try to lose it, you’ll just miss with your Lascannon and punch a wall. A
Level 3: New Intelligence (1CP) – Use at the end of the movement phase. Pick a friendly model within 12” of the Comms specialist. Ready them.
Remember all the times previously when we said “It’s a shame you have to spend a turn getting into a good position and you might get shot off the board on turn 1 because you’re not readied. This completely and utterly deals with that. The entire Comms specialism as a whole makes a mockery of Kill Team. A+
Scanner – Pick a model within 6” of this model during the shooting phase. Add 1 to their hit rolls.
This is amazing and has a legitimate claim to be one of the best level 1 abilities in the entire game. Pretty much every Kill Team that has a model with the role of “shoots gun that doesn’t autohit and isn’t garbage” is going to want +1 to their hit rolls. This is so obviously good it’s hard to say things about it. A+
Expert – At the start of each battle round you gain 1CP on the roll of 5+. You lose the CP if you don’t use it by the end of the round.
It’s CP generation, it’s amazing, you’re making around 2CP from this per game, just take it, there’s no drawback, at all. One of the few abilities that might make paying for a higher-level specialist worth it. A+
Static Screech – Once per battle at the start of the Fight Phase, subtract 1 from hit rolls made for enemy models that make attacks within 6” of this model.
Your comms specialist generally wants to sit back and not be anywhere near enemies, and also buff your long ranged firepower. This also literally only works once per battle and only in the fight phase, making it rather situational, at best. To then make it even more undesirable, it’s competing against literal free CP and the comically overpowered Level 3 left side, while unlocking the…not very good Level 3 right side. D
Vox Ghost – Subtract 1 from the leadership of enemy models while this model is on the battlefield and not shaken.
I can’t emphasize how completely crazy this ability is. Leadership for most factions in this game is GENERALLY 6 or 7, which means isolated models have a not insignificant likelihood to get shaken if they suffer a flesh wound. Enemy Kill Teams also become easier to break as well, going from 27% to 42% assuming their highest leadership is 8 (normally). Basically this entire thing is great and completely changes how your enemy will have to play. A
Command Relay – Roll a dice each time you use a tactic and this model is not shaken. On a 6 the command points are refunded.
It’s another CP farming ability, in Kill Team. These are very good in 40k, and in Kill Team where CP is generated in slower and smaller amounts, they’re even more powerful. You’re generally going to refund 1 or 2 tactics per game, meaning you make somewhere between 1-4 CP, and considering that the cost of a tactic is 10 points, and you get this for…4 points. A
Triangulator – Once per shooting phase, when you pick a model from a Kill Team to fire a Heavy weapon, you can re-roll the dice for the number of shots.
This ability is weird. It sounds really, really cool, but the actual pool of weapons that have variable shots and are also Heavy is…
- Space Marines – Frag Missile, Heavy Flamer, Hyperfrag Bolt Sniper Round, Plasma Cannon
- Aeldari – Sunburst Missile
- Orks – Deffgun
- Tau – Overcharged Ion Rifle
- Chaos Marines – Heavy Flamer
- Thousand Sons – Heavy Warpflamer
As you’ll note, not a lot of factions even GET a weapon that fits the criteria here, and even less have weapons where you’d want to take this over the two good level three options, which are completely bonkers. B- for Space Marines, D in general.
Vox Hacker – Roll a D6 after the mission if this model is still alive. On a 5+ you gain 1 Intelligence.
Absolutely the same rating as pretty much all the other abilities like this. Except this one is rated even lower in a campaign because of how completely busted the left side of the tree is. K outside of a campaign. C- in a campaign.
Note: Due to how support-based the Comms Specialist is, you don’t really tend to care about their loadout, or even what model they are. You generally want something cheap, fast and small/survivable, and if they have their own buff to shooting, that’s a major bonus. Consider things like Guardian Defenders (they allow the platform to actually fire), Skitarii Rangers or Tactical Marine Sergeants (Omni/Au-spexes ignore being obscured)
Welcome to Dead Leader Town. Population: You
Take a Dark Angels Tactical Marine Sergeant with Auspex (or go Imperial Fists and drop the Auspex), make them a Comms Specialist, give them Scanner, Expert, Command Relay and Triangulator. Then you pair them with a Demolitions or Heavy Terminator Gunner armed with both a Cyclone Missile Launcher and Plasma Cannon, you then use Scanner Uplink and target their leader.
Demolitions: Frag Missile gives 2D3 shots (that you can re-roll) and a Supercharged Plasma Cannon gives you D3 shots (that you can also re-roll). These weapons are hitting on 6’s, but you can re-roll 1’s. Since your target is obscured, you can use 1CP to have the Frag Missile wound T4 or less on 2+ (and T5 on a 3+). If you get through the save, then you get to add 1 to your injury rolls (and also cancel out the obscured bonus), meaning you get to take them out of action on a 3+.(66% chance with the Frag and 88% with the Plasma Cannon).
Heavy: You lose out on the improved wound and injury roll bonus (meaning you might want to fire Krak Rounds instead), but on the flip side, you can use Overwhelming Firepower to shoot their leader again right after the first round of shooting, making sure they’re really, really dead. It’s 4CP, but it’ll be worth it to just frag their leader in a single turn, especially if you get the CP refund from using Scanner Uplink to use Overwhelming Firepower, just to rub it in.
So this is pretty simple and cute, you pop your Comms specialist out of line of sight, preferably with Scanner, Expert, Vox Ghost and Command Relay. Assuming you use a single Tactic per turn, you have a 45% chance of getting a single CP per turn (from either Expert or Command Relay), which jumps up to a 55% chance if you use two tactics. You also get to buff your friendly Ranged Specialist with Scanner and New Intelligence. Note, there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from using the previous build at the same time. They really are an amazing specialist.
Leaders are pretty odd, they’re required in every Kill Team Roster, but despite what you may expect, they’re not bad at all. In fact, their primary ability is so good that you’re terrified of losing them, and ironically it makes most of their pretty decent abilities and tactics feel like a waste, since you don’t want to hobble yourself with a dead Leader. It also leads to situations where you want to spend as little as possible on most leaders so you can hide them away, leading to weird scenarios where a Cultist Champion is leading a squad of Chaos Space Marines. Anyway, let’s get started.
Level 1: Lead by Example (1CP) – When your Leader is about to fight, choose another friendly model within 3” that is eligible to fight, you can fight with both of them before the next player’s turn.
Very, very fun when your combat is a completely random mess of models charging into each other. This lets you possibly knock a model or two out of action before your opponent can react. Of course, this depends on your Leader getting a charge off (or using Decisive Strike, but that’s a LOT of CP). Of course, there’s the other problem of this being pretty counterproductive since it might mean your leader will die. B
Level 2: Fire on my Target (1CP) – When your Leader shoots, choose a friendly model within 3” that is eligible to shoot, you can then shoot with both of them before the next player’s turn.
Basically the same as Lead by Example but infinitely easier to set up and with much more opportunities to be useful. You could also do something cute with Decisive Shot to have your Leader take a shot and then use this. B+
Level 3: Force of Will (1CP) – Use if your Kill Team is broken, ignore penalties for being broken.
This is surprisingly good, you ignore both the negative hit modifiers from being broken, as well as the possibility for all your models to become shaken at the end of the turn, and since it’s only a single CP, you should just use this whenever you get broken, unless the mission means you instantly lose, in which case, you can’t anyway. A
Resourceful – As long as this model is on the battlefield and not shaken, you gain an additional command point at the start of the battle round.
Leaders are compulsory anyway, but this trait makes them even more compulsory. This ability is so good it actually loops back on itself and becomes restrictive because of how vital it is. A+
Bold – This model automatically passes Nerve tests.
In a vacuum, this is good, but you generally don’t want your Leader to be in a position where they have to take Nerve Tests anyway. This might be useful if your team is broken and you can still automatically get the extra CP every turn, but that’s about it. C
Inspiring – Friendly models within 3” automatically pass Nerve Tests
This is a pretty neat ability and it actually thematically makes your leader feel like an actual leader. Either holding together a gunline (while hiding behind a pillar), or holding together a group of fighters, while hopefully not getting murdered. If this wasn’t tied to such a key model, it’d be amazing, but it is, so… B+
Paragon – Friendly models within 3″ can re-roll hit rolls of 1.
This works in both the Shooting and Fight phase, and the latter one is much, much more interesting here. Since there’s no way for melee specialists to re-roll hit rolls of 1 in the Fight Phase, this is actually really unique. Of course, you still have the problem of it being high-risk, high-reward in putting your Leader so close to the front, but this debate-ably makes it worth it. Then the fact it works in shooting as well is the icing on the cake. A
Tyrant – Enemy models within 6″ must add 1 to Nerve Tests
Another interesting ability, this, in combination with a few other abilities allow you to make a rather potent little leadership bomb. The criticism of all the other melee focused Leader features still stand, but this definitely isn’t bad, it’s just overshadowed by every other ability here. B
Tactician – Roll a D6 each time you use a tactic, on a 5+ you gain a Command Point.
This is completely and utterly amazing. On average you’re going to use 6-12 tactics per game (let’s say 9 on average), and this will work around a third of the time, giving you an extra 3CP per game, which you can spend on whatever you like. CP keeps your Kill Team working efficiently and doing good stuff, and more of that really helps, especially if you have more than your opponent. A+
Mentor – Choose a friendly model within 3” of this model in the shooting phase, you can re-roll failed hit rolls for them.
Another great ability, this one more down to the fact that there isn’t a single ability for any of the specialists that is just “re-roll misses”, in fact, I want to say the only thing in the entire game that lets you re-roll failed hit rolls is the Eldar stratagem Asurmen’s Blessing. The only drawback here is that you have to choose between this, Tactician and Paragon. There’s also the little problem of re-rolls applying before modifiers, but this is still a great ability. A
Get Stuck In
Run Resourceful, Inspiring, Tactician and Paragon/Tyrant and put your Leader with some pretty good combat characters, you offer: a re-roll 1 for hits bubble or -1 to Nerve Tests (pick 1). CP refunding, no danger of failing Nerve Tests for anyone in the bubble, and then finally, with judicious application of Follow My Example and Up and at ‘Em, you can attack with 3 models before your opponent can even attack with 1, and then if you’re running Tyrant and Battle Scarred, enjoy your -2 LD bubble.
Sit at the back
The second option involves going Resourceful, Inspiring, Tactician and Mentor and just sitting outside of combat, offering buffs to shooting and a hell of a lot of CP. Consider this if you hate melee, but be extremely careful of showing off your Leader, ever.
So after debatably the best specialism in the game and one you have to take, we come to Scouts. Scouts have an astonishing 4 abilities that have something to do with a campaign (most of them are really bad). Their level 2 tactic is directly worse than their level 3 ability, both of which are pretty much anti-synergistic with their other ‘useful’ level 3 ability. Their sole use seems to involve being a glorified markerlight that can teleport around, which would be slightly interesting, if there weren’t basically 3 specialist slots you have to fill and everything else is better than this.
If there’s ever a second edition of this version of Kill Team, the Scout specialism needs an immediate rework.
I hate this specialism so much.
Level 1: Quick March (1CP) – Add 2 to this model’s movement characteristic.
In a world of “Add 1 to wound rolls” and “Add 1 to hit rolls” and “Get a free movement phase” this is really, really underwhelming. It might come in useful in one game ever when you really, really need to get in range. D
Level 2: Marked Positions (1CP) – Pick an enemy model within 6” of this model, all friendly models can re-roll hit rolls of 1 against it during the shooting phase.
In a vacuum, this is actually really neat. Pair it with a mobile unit with a short ranged weapon, get them up close to a value target, pop this and light them up. It’s basically a markerlight that automatically hits out-of-phase and costs 1CP. Of course there’s the issue where Sniper and Demo specialists can automatically re-roll 1s anyway, so it’s not as amazing as it could be. Then there’s also the issue where the Scout’s level ability is literally this, but as an aura. C-
Level 3: Move Unseen (2CP) – Use at the start of the movement phase, remove this model from the battlefield and place it somewhere within 18” of where it was and more than 3” from any enemy models, it is considered to have Advanced.
Another interesting ability, goes together very well with assault weapons such as flamers, and especially with Marked Positions or Vanguard. The CP cost is a bit prohibitive though. B
Swift – You can re-roll Advance rolls for this model.
It’s not bad, but it’s extremely underwhelming. It’ll be a nice surprise when you roll a 1 for advancing, but that’s it really. C
Forward Scout – This model automatically passes dangerous terrain tests.
Ignoring the fact that barely anyone even uses dangerous terrain this test only fails on a 1 anyway. So you’re spending 4 points to mitigate a ⅙ chance to suffer a mortal wound if you walk by a terrain feature that barely gets used anyway. F
Pathfinder – You can add or subtract 1 from the result when you roll to determine a mission.
I refuse to talk about this. F
Skirmisher – If this model is not shaken or obscured. Enemies further than 12” away are at -1 to hit in the shooting phase.
Pretty much everything a Scout has is designed to get close to targets and paint them with a sweet +1 to hit buff. The only synergy here is if you try to advance on turn 1 to get close to do it on turn 2, and you mess up and are just stuck out in the open but also more than 12 inches away from anything and they decide to shoot your Scout Specialist rather than anything useful that you have. If this stacked with the Obscured bonus, it might be interesting but as-is, it’s just not helping you do what you want. D
Vanguard – Friendly models can re-roll 1’s in the shooting phase for any enemy models within 6” of this model.
The fact this is just flat out better than Marked Positions is completely and utterly hilarious to me, it is also probably the only part of the Scout specialist that is not really bad. There’s a couple of cute things you can do with this, especially because of the aura size. B
Observer – On a 4+. You can pick an additional strategy during the Scouting Phase.
Fun fact: Rules as written, if you pick both Take Forward Positions and Eliminate Sentries (and your opponent does not pick Take Forward Positions), you’d have to target your own models since Eliminate Sentries says you have to target models that moved as part of Take Forward Positions and there is actually no rule in Kill Team that says you can’t target isolated friendly models, so have fun shooting yourself.
Oh yeah, a rating. F
Explorer – After a battle in which this model was in your Kill Team and was not killed or forced into Convalescence, you gain 1 Territory on a 5+
Completely useless outside of a campaign, sort of funny in a campaign, and not worth paying 4 points for and taking a Scout when you could just take a good specialist and just…win the game. K outside of a campaign, D in a campaign.
Both of these are fun concepts but they’re also both outclassed by just taking a better specialist and more guns.
Markerlights but without the Markerlights
Take an XV25 Stealth Battlesuit Shas’vre, give it Swift, Forward Scout and Vanguard as well as a Target Lock, give it a Fusion Blaster since you’re all-in on this idea. You have spent 33 points on this so far.
You can then advance your Scout up the battlefield, put it within 6” of an enemy, and hope they don’t start shooting you. If they do, then at least you are -1 to hit and have 2 wounds and a 3+ save. If you live, then you’re hitting on 4’s, re-rolling 1s and if that hit gets through, they’re likely to die. Then as a bonus, anything within 6” will also be easier to hit due to Vanguard.
Boo! Haunted Flamer!
Take a Storm Guardian Gunner, give it Swift, Forward Scout and Vanguard and a Flamer. Use Move Unseen to get up nice and close to something and then shoot it with your Flamer. If you do this on turn 3, you’ll have enough CP to also use Decisive Shot (to shoot first), and then use Fire and Fade to get close to other targets you can then shoot with the Vanguard bonus.
After the complete car crash that was the Scout Specialist, we come to Veterans, which are a very interesting sort of flexible. Basically if these were in 40k and everything they had applied to a unit, they’d be completely and utterly overpowered. In Kill Team however, they’re just very useful. You’re generally not going to build your team around a Veteran, but they’re able to do neat stuff and be very, very reliable.
Level 1: Adaptive Tactics (1CP) – This model can make a normal move or Advance at the start of the first round but before the Initiative phase.
Let’s get the single bad part of this tactic out of the way first. Advancing will lock you out of doing quite a few actions, so don’t Advance unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Now for the good news, getting a completely free move that the enemy cannot take advantage of (with the possible exception of charging your Veteran, which, with some of their abilities, is actually a really bad idea) is completely and utterly amazing. In a normal game with only level 1 specialists, this tactic is good, but with the ability to bring in things like One Man Army, this is literally a free move. A
Level 2: Well Drilled (2CP) – Ready this model, they can shoot as if they haven’t moved in the Movement phase.
So pretty much the best way to rate this is to compare it directly with Decisive Shot, and in that, it comes out pretty well. You lose the fact that you’re able to shoot with the model straight away, but you gain the standing still bonus, which is especially helpful if you’ve Advanced or moved while using a Heavy Weapon. But is obviously less helpful if you’re just running up to someone to shoot them with a Flamer. It also combos pretty well with One Man Army. B+
Level 3: Roll with the Hits (1CP) – Use when your Veteran Specialist is about to have an Injury Roll made against them. Your opponent can only roll a single dice.
This can turn a sure kill against your Veteran into a coinflip (at worst). This is the type of thing you want to use when you’re at 0 or 1 flesh wounds against multi-damage weaponry, and it’ll keep you active for much, much longer. It’s a solid, but slightly situational ability. B
Grizzled – This model ignores penalties to Leadership and Nerve Tests.
Great, this pretty much means your Veteran Specialist is not going to get shaken ever, unless there’s a way to roll a 7 on a single D6. Pretty good for a level 1 ability. B+
Practised – You can re-roll one hit or wound roll for this model in each battle round.
You basically get a free limited CP reroll for your Veteran Specialist, each turn, for free. Keep in mind if you use this for re-rolling an overwatch hit or wound, you can’t use it later on in the round. That’s probably the only drawback of this obscenely useful ability (but as you’ll see from the level 3 abilities, it’s not much of a drawback). A+
Seen It All – You can subtract 1 from Nerve tests for models within 3″ of this model
This stacks with…itself (the natural bonus from being close to a model), so you’re giving friendly models -2 from nerve tests. It’s sorta neat in the sense of more leadership is always good so your models don’t get shaken and bad, but it’s directly competing against Practised (and the really good level 3 abilities there). It’s not bad, but in my opinion I’d want to take Practised almost every time. C+
Survivor – You can add 1 to saving throws for this model.
Sadly, this was FAQed to not apply to invulnerable saves any more, making this go from completely busted to just ‘rather good’. It gives you a pretty decent boost to survivability no matter what though. Naturally, don’t take this on models which rely on their invulnerable save. Do take this on Elites which can walk around with effective 1+ saves. B-
One Man Army – This model generates 1CP per turn. These CP can only be used for Veteran Tactics.
This ability is interesting. It pretty much gives you free rein to use Adaptive Tactics for free before the game even begins, which is almost worth it on its own. You can then pretty much make a value call for the next few turns on whether to use Roll with the Hits in order to just no-sell a high damage weapon, or sit on the command point and just Well Drilled the turn after and just annihilate something at close range, for free. Naturally, there’s nothing in the FAQ about what happens if you get the CP here refunded, and who can use it. Either way, this is good. B+
Battle Scarred: Enemy models within 6” suffer -1 Leadership.
This one is pretty strange. Leadership modifiers (especially negative ones) are surprisingly useful in Kill Team, since -1 Leadership can force a Nerve test, or double the chance of it working (on a lone model), but then this one is pretty anti-synergistic on a model where most of the abilities and tactics are tailored to close range shooting, that, and if you go for Practised (which is probably the best ability in this tree), you’d have to wait until level 4 to get this. Consider this on a Harlequin that doesn’t care about Survivor and Nerves of Steel, or on a Custodes who can stack this with Inspire Fear (but then you could just use Nerves of Steel and Unflinching to hit your Overwatch on re-rolling 5s, and a Custodes is likely to paste most things in melee. Game is hard.) C+
Nerves of Steel – You can re-roll failed hit rolls for this model when it fires Overwatch.
Naturally, this varies from model to model, models that are entirely melee-based, or are armed with flamers, couldn’t give a crap about this. But for something like a Dire Avenger Exarch, who gets 4 shots that hit on 5+, now with a re-roll, you actually become very, very horrifying to charge. It’s situational, but when it’s good, it’s really, really good. B+
Dire Avenger Exarch
This one is a bit strange since most Eldar Kill Teams are rather set in stone, but a Dire Avenger Exarch with Twin Shuriken Catapults, running Grizzled, Practised, One-Man Army and Nerves of Steel gets to enjoy a 4+/4++, with two wounds, the ability to just run up the board on turn 1 and then only suffer a single injury roll when something manages to crack that invulnerable save anyway. The ability to hit on 5’s re-rolling in Overwatch (with 2 weapons, allowing you to get at least two flesh wounds on something), and then re-roll a single wound roll to fish for a possible -3AP adds up to something that is definitely a lot more than the sum of its parts.
Blightlord Terminators are already one of the toughest models in Kill Team, so why not make them even more frustrating? A Veteran Blightlord Terminator with a Plague Spewer and Bubotic Axe running Grizzled, Practised, and Survivor is something no one will want to shoot at since they need AP-2 to even start forcing it to a 3+ save, and even then T5, 2W, and shrugging off damage on a 5+ makes this thing a nightmare when it teleports into the middle of your kill team.
Next Time: Commander Specialisms
That wraps up part 3 of our guide. Next time we’ll start looking at Commander Specialisms and how deep the rabbit hole goes on that end. We probably won’t get through them in a single article, as there are more commander specialisms than standard ones! As always, if you have feedback for us, feel free to add it in the comments section below, shoot us a note on social media, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, happy hunting!