While two new Kill Teams might be what everyone is excited about going into 2024 we should not forget that Salvation also means the addition of an all new Kill Zone and missions specific to it. How much this will affect play will largely come to individual organizer’s and how hard Games Workshop pushes it at their events.
Terrain and Special Rules
In terms of terrain quantity this may be the easiest Kill Zone we’ve seen in terms of setup. All iterations of a Bheta-Decima Kill Zone come with the following: 2 Long Gantries, 4 Medium Gantries, 2 Short Gantries, and a Ferrotonic Furnace.
Gantries all share the same features, pillars and a floor, and only vary in length. The pillars have the heavy trait, while the floors have Accessible, Ledges, and Vantage. These first two terrain traits are new additions to the game with Accessible meaning that operatives can move through terrain with that trait as if it were not there. Ledges allows operatives to climb up to any part of the vantage point as long as they’re within 1 inch of it horizontally and any distance vertically. Basically, teams without things such as climbing rope aren’t forced to climb up the pillars to get on top of a gantry.
The Ferrotonic Furnace is slightly more complicated being a tall cylinder with a floor on top that is wider than the cylinder itself. The floor is basically identical to a gantry floor sharing the same traits with the addition of four light and traversable barricades. Additionally, the Ledges trait is slightly modified so that operatives may only climb up the Furnace if they’re within 1 inch horizontally of the central structure, not the floor. The central structure itself comes with the Scalable and Heavy Traits.
So far none of these seem too crazy, but what really makes this new Kill Zone interesting is the addition of the Hazardous Areas rules. Bheta-Decima, like the Gallowdark, comes with its own board that has a large central “Hazardous Area” that the raised gantries of Bheta-Decima stands above. First, and perhaps most obviously, operatives may not have any of their base in these areas, with the exception being that operatives with Fly can cross over them, BUT still can not end their move with any part of their base on them. Second, operatives on the Kill Zone Floor (I.E. the board itself) are obscured from one another if a cover line crosses 4 inches horizontally over a Hazardous Area.
There are additional small adjustments to other rules that are meant to make targeting more difficult on what at first glance might seem like the most open Kill Zone. First, gantry pillars grant Obscuring if a cover line is drawn in and out of them when target an enemy operative, excluding the pillars of any gantries the shooter or target may be standing on. Hazardous Areas have no effect on line of sight of operatives firing at one another from Vantage Points, AND barricades may be placed on Vantage points, as can objective markers, in fact, they have to be.
Kill Zone: Salvation?
Above are the rules that are specific to Bheta-Decima, but we have the inclusion of a short list of scatter terrain that is required for the use of the Salvation Mission Pack. One can assume that this separation of Bheta-Decima and Salvation into two separate rules sections might be to allow for the future inclusion of maps that use the current Critical Operations Mission pack used for competitive events.
These pieces of Salvation specific terrain are: The Microgeneratorum, Rotary Converter, Reciprocating Engine, Barospheric Inducer, and Thermovents. All of these pieces look like the sort of thing you’d expect to find in an Imperial facility, and will likely be constantly confused with one another. Fortunately, they all share the same terrain traits of Heavy and Traversable with the EXCEPTION of the Mcirogeneratorum having Light.
Critical Ops: The Salvation Mission Pack
As with some of the previous sets, Salvation comes with symmetrical missions for the more competitively inclined amongst us. The big change to previous missions is that certain points between gantries are marked, by yellow lines, as Leap of Faith points. To cross these operatives must perform a Jump as outlined in the Core Rulebook. Right away this might jump out as a potential problem since it means operatives automatically have a 1 in 6 chance to simply fail to cross these locations.
As for the missions themselves, every map begins with terrain beginning just outside of deployment areas, granting teams with multiple ways to climb and approach the ferrotonic furnace located along the centerline. Anyone familiar with both the Critical Ops Mission Pack and Core Rulebook Missions will recognize many of these with the Salvation specific terrain outlined above acting as objectives themselves, or a combination of both standard objective markers and terrain being used to score.
On its face Salvation seems like an interesting balance between Open and Close Quarters by blending the three dimensional considerations of the former with the isolation of the latter. The missions presented seem fun and balanced, and a great way to shake things up for those of us who might be growing bored of the standard Crit Ops missions.
However, like Close Quarters it seems a few problems may have been missed when coming up with this Kill Zone. While none of these issues can’t be fixed it is a tad annoying that they weren’t addressed immediately given the gaming breaking potential of certain abilities on Close Quarters (Wall Breaching and Forward Deploy Abilities for example).
- First, Fly. if you thought Fly was annoying before, well now it is one of the most powerful abilities in the game. Void-Dancers being the most egregious example of this ability will absolutely drive people insane on these maps.
- Second, Climbing Rope, while not as powerful as Fly, teams with climbing rope are going to have a distinct advantage being able to navigate gantries much easier than teams that lack this equipment.
- Third, Obscuration-ignoring abilities. Incursors and Pathfinders are the best example of this, and with the ability to simply ignore the Hazard Area and engage in non-reciprocal shooting these two teams are at a big advantage.
- Fourth, random jump test failures, unless you’re Void-Dancers or Kroot this is definitely going to get on players’ nerves as a one in six chance to simply lose the game because an operative failed to reach an objective marker is going to leave a sour taste in mouths.
Players trying to pick up anything but the Scout and Striking Scorpion teams last weekend likely found that GW’s webstore was completely sold out of the terrain kit. This means getting a kit or the board to play it on is near-impossible right now, and the double-sided nature of the board makes replicating it with a neoprene mat more of a chore.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the Salvation killzone. At first glance we like the three-dimensional nature of the table and the missions seem neat, but the lack of cover on the raised sections looks like a real problem. It may be the case that we get a new competitive mission pack for the killzone similar to Gallowdark – that pack was utterly transformative for the format and made it playable – but having only your barricades for cover in your dropzone seems very rough for teams which can’t weather bolter fire from across the table in the first turning point.
On top of that, the distribution issues for the terrain kit give us pause – if people can’t get their hands on this it just won’t be adopted at the rates necessary to become a tournament format. Whether GW runs Salvation layouts at the 2024 US Open events will be a major factor.
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