Roundtable: All the Kill Team Reveals from Warhammer Fest 2023

This past weekend was Warhammer Fest, and in addition to competitive play and preview games of 10th edition the event had a ton of new reveals, including a surprising amount of upcoming releases for Kill Team coming in the next year, including a roadmap for the next three quarters. In this round table, our team will go through the reveals in detail and talk about what they mean for the future of the game.


Ashes of Faith

Ashes of Faith is the first narrative campaign box in Kill Team 2nd edition. Kill Team 1st edition had Rogue Trader, which was critically well received but did not sell well. Ashes of faith has a narrative campaign but rules for using both factions in matched play. The set contains the new Inquisitorial weirdos warband, which is seven models (four of which have alternate builds) and then a large number of previously released models (five Tempustus Scions and five Sisters of Silence for the inquisition side and the Dark Commune, Accursed Cultists and Cultists box for the Chaos Cult side). 

The mechanic for the Chaos Cult was described as them starting with the Dark Commune and Cultists (who are the weakest of models with their autopistols and knives) and the Cultists can be upgraded to the mutants and torments in the Accursed Cultist box during play. 

The inquisitorial warband can either take a second inquisitorial warband box, or five models from either Tempestus Scions, Sisters of Silence, Veteran Guard, Kasrkin, Arbites or Navy Breachers. In matched play you could then have a roster with the Inquisitorial band and two of these options to use against different opponents. It is led by an Interrogator (this isn’t important enough for an Inquisitor to be involved) with a variety of henchman options to fill out the roster, and the combat servitor being able to choose a plasma cannon, heavy bolter or multi melta to provide some heavy firepower to reach across the board. 

Ashes of Faith was also described as being a product in addition to the normal season that will be judged on its success as to whether there is a market for Narrative Kill Team play, with two or more players working through a campaign developing their teams and with the results of battles affecting the starting conditions of later battles. 

Thundercloud: This is an interesting box. It has no terrain but has a very large number of miniatures in it. The Inquisitorial band can be purely henchman, but being able to flex to different options against different opponents (and still have a 12 model warband) opens up a lot of options in competitive play. These loaned troops won’t get all the special rules for their faction (so Kasrkin likely won’t get Elite) and there’ll be some restrictions in place covered in the book. You will then see situations in matched play where someone brings Thousand Sons and they end up against Inquisitorial weirdos backed up by Sisters of Silence, and their next opponent is Orks and out come the Kasrkin. 

From the way the mechanics were described in the presentation and Q&A I have a balance worry about the Chaos Cult, as that’s potentially the biggest team for board control and the mechanic to improve your troops to mutants or tormented applies within the game. I’ll have to see it to make a proper judgment but if there are fifteen models in the starting team that’s a lot of board control for the purposes of matched play. 

TheChirurgeon: This is an interesting take on the narrative piece, and I think a little bit smarter than the approach Rogue Trader took with its narrative approach. Positioning the campaign as an evolving board game between two players is a clever idea but I worry that they’ll lose some appeal by hyper focusing on cults vs. imperium – Chaos are popular, but no one’s really clamoring for more Dark Communes for their Chaos Space Marine armies right now. I also have a nagging question as to why they can’t build on top of Shadow Ops or give us something that makes that mode more compelling, but I like the concept here.

Of these I think the Imperial weirdo kill team is the big draw and an equal balance concern – I’ll want to see the limitations on what you can take from other Imperial teams and how it all mixes together since a team which can pull from a dozen different sources could easily become too good just on the grounds of its versatility.

HappyRaccoon: From a competitive standpoint, new teams to shake up the meta sounds great, though I am worried about two new horde-ish teams. Horde teams tend to have games drag, and cause new players to stress about what the “optimal” plays are. With that said I think the Inquisition styled motley gang harkens back to grimdark art of the past, and the cultists are some fantastically evil sculpts. I’m really looking forward to how their mechanics shake out, and it’ll be interesting to have a home for exaction models.

On a more casual community focused lens. The box set seems like a great takeaway package for a pair of friends, akin to Blackstone Fortress or Gloomhaven. After you’ve done the paired games, you’ll have a good grasp of the rules!

TheArmorOfContempt: I am pretty pumped for this box for several reasons. First off, the new Cultist models are absolutely awesome, especially the Dark Commune. As some of you know I have used Genestealer Cults for the past couple years to play both Necromunda and Kill Team, and these Chaos Cultists can be used in this exact same fashion. Second, I have been pining for an Inquisitorial team for a very long time. Dan Abnett’s Inquisition series is easily my favorite Warhammer 40K storyline, and I am a huge fan of the 40K RPG line put out by Fantasy Flight Games. If nothing else these guys would be perfect to represent player characters in this format. That it has taken this long for one to be released is frankly impressive given how long it has been since the Star Striders were released. 

Unfortunately there is a downside here, and that is I have no room in my paint schedule for these guys. This box and Leviathon will basically double my backlog overnight, and I am not very excited about this prospect. 


Space Marine Heroes Season Four

Space Marine Heroes Season Four was announced (less surprisingly, this time it’s Primaris marines). The full set of these will form a Kill Team with seven individual characters. The blind boxes will be sold in sets of eight with a duplicate tactical intercessor (Brother Vignus) sculpt. 

The squad includes a Phobos sniper, a Heavy Intercessor Gunner and a Captain, and the implication from the article is that you use the full seven models. This may be clarified later by GW as being a roster of seven and you choose a different number for the team. This team cannot be mixed with the other Space Marine teams. 

Thundercloud: The models are great but I have several concerns about this team. Obviously it’s a tie in to Kill Team overlaid on the Heroes series four set, so these models were conceived and sculpted long before receiving Kill Team rules for the Japanese Gacha market where people collect all sorts of little model kits and random toys (a quick google reveals that there’s a series of Nissan Figaros in 1/64 scale that actually look really cool, but this is the level of randomness we are talking about). 

I am concerned about a seven model elite team with decent firepower and a character that can dish it out in melee with a powerfist. It seems potentially a lot more powerful than the intercessor team, and while I like the character of it, I worry about the game balance and wonder how they’ve done it. I think we’ll see weaker ploys in all likelihood, and less abilities built into the troops (like the fight twice of assault intercessors and the shoot twice of tactical intercessors which allow for a very efficient action economy). 

People will obviously just buy the booster box as it guarantees you the full team and not blind buy, but that’s a significant expense given these will likely be £10 a pop per box or higher. I can see a lot of gnashing of teeth by people who don’t just get copies of the rules and use minis they already have (which looking at my collection I could just do). This means that unlike the Intercession Squad team, where everyone and their gran pretty much has enough Intercessors in the house to run the team, it’s a bit of a barrier to entry. I can see GWs view that this is a way to add another faction to the game and potentially bring in the people who collect the Space Marine Heroes as little painting projects though (and painters vs gamer/painters vs competitive gamers is a whole long conversation to have another time) because this is a product originally pitched at the Japanese market where collecting little blind buy models is it’s own subculture and they want to bring the people in that subculture into painting and playing games.  

I feel positive about the models and will be getting them (though I am concerned about the specialist retailers mentioned in the article as where you can get them from, does this mean they’ll be available through GW trade to independent stores? Only in Japan for a year?) because I like the look of the models and I think the team will make an interesting project. I collected a Series One Tactical squad kill team that I think looks super nice and my only problem is that the basing doesn’t match my main marine army. 

Would I have made the same decision to use Series Four to cross promote Kill Team? I would have in a second, and I’d probably have tried to get Series Three heroes box with Kill Team rules in the box to have a great Deathguard team out there as well and tried to wheedle a Series One box for a tactical squad team as well. 

TheChirurgeon: It’s about time they started doing something more with Heroes, a dynamic range of really cool models. I’m hoping they follow suit eventually by re-releasing the Death Guard Heroes, as those are some really high quality models and it’d be great to give more people an opportunity to score the one good Malignant Plaguecaster model GW made. I have some concerns about the balance of a seven-model kill team of primaris marines – that’s a lot of wounds to chew through and we already saw how nasty that can be with Gellerpox. 

HappyRaccoon: Without any real details on how the team structure looks, this release is an odd one. For anyone serious about Kill Team I’m sure the selection of models won’t be very strict in tournament play. I would worry about a full seven man marine team, as 6 models can already be a lot to chew through. My hope is for a spread of seven models, with some unique capabilities, where you only take 6. Eliminators with a camo cloak would already prove quite formidable within kill team rules. A three APL model with a 3+ save, who can retain twice, with fancy bullets? Sounds like a nightmare on open play. Games Workshop has generally done a good job so I’ll hold my breath, and get excited for some cool gacha-ing.

TheArmorOfContempt: Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the idea behind Heroes, maybe it’s the old man in me, but having a chance to randomly receive the model I want is exactly the kind of bullshit that makes me hate Magic and Pokemon. This being said, this team can be rather easily proxied by any Marine player.  As long as their rules are free it shouldn’t be hard for people to play them if they want. 

TheChirurgeon: You can usually get the entire range by buying the box, but I agree that the gachapon aspect of it stinks. Though I suspect most players will just buy the entire box at a time because this is Warhammer players, after all. Though that then begs the question of who’s likely to get stuck with duplicate models they don’t want, and the answer is, sadly, kids who can only buy one at a time.


The Roadmap

The Kill Team Road Map was published, and there are releases each quarter. 

Spring is the last Gallowdark box, Gallowfall, followed by Ashes of Faith (which we were told was coming very soon, before tenth edition). Then Summer gives us individual releases for everything they haven’t put out so far (Votann, Beastmen, Drukhari, Inquisitorial warband, etc.), and a Kill Team Annual with all the Gallowdark rules in one place. Space Marine Heroes Series Four will also come out during this period, depending on how it is distributed to markets. 

Autumn will be another two faction box with new terrain, with one faction being Eldar. The trailer for it involves forests and the Gallowdark having crashed on to a jungle planet. 

Winter will be another two faction and terrain big box.

Thundercloud: This was interesting as Warcry has completely diverged from Kill Team for this season (possibly because of a different customer profile, possibly because there is no big new AoS terrain range being launched in the next year prior to a possibly new AoS edition whereas there will be a new terrain range for 40k coming out with 10th,) with Kill Team continuing the big box model and Warcry doing a little entry point starter and then individual faction boxes you just pick up. 

The big reason for this is probably that all the Kill Team boxes have crushed sales expectations and sold out immediately, and the availability of new terrain to put in the boxes. I personally suffered from big box fatigue in year one of Kill Team, and I think it’ll depend on the contents if I am struck by it in year 3. 

It means that Season Two will have added fourteen new factions to the game (eight in the season two boxes, two in the last annual, two in Ashes of faith, Intercession Teams and Space Marine heroes) which when you add it up like that is more than a new team every month. 

TheChirurgeon: I’m ready for this and interested to see what they do next. Gallowdark had a massive impact, both on Kill Team and Warhammer 40k in the form of Boarding Actions. I’m very interested to see how the next season changes things up, but I am torn between hoping for something that lets us at least use some of the gallowdark terrain we’ve collected and something that is just more accessible. The biggest problem with Gallowdark was the terrain – it’s very pretty, but it’s a pain in the ass to reconfigure and expensive and difficult to paint, so I’m hopeful we’ll have something that’s a bit more portable.

TheArmorOfContempt: I have been nothing but pleased with Kill Team, but I do often find myself worrying about the rate of releases. This simply may be trauma from years of suffering wild swings in power from one Warhammer 40K codex release to the next, and while this sort of thing has yet to manifest in Kill Team it can be a feeling that is hard to shake. At the end of the day for someone like myself who struggles to keep up with the hobby under the weight of daily life GW has already released enough to keep me occupied for the next decade. If nothing else at least it is easier to wrap my mind around the rules of a new Kill Team than it is an entirely new faction in 40K. 


The Q & A

This is not covered in the Warhammer Community articles, so worth going through here. 

  • Availability of rules was discussed, and the request was made to put more things online, particularly from Season One where the boxed sets are long since sold out. The Season Two teams are being combined into the Annual, and a similar request (or to put them online) was made for the Season One factions.

    GW said that they were committed to publishing books, and did not give a definitive answer on collating Season One into a combined book. 
  • Compendium teams and rules for teams that could be made from a kit with sufficient options (Deathwatch and Crusade Squad were examples given) were requested. One person asked for Compendium teams to be buffed to compete with the newer releases.
  • GW said that they were looking at making specific teams for Kill Team released using the current release model, and that Intercession Teams were a specific thing done to lower barrier to entry as Intercessors were some of the most common models owned by players and were present in the starter sets released. GW said that they would not be revisiting the Compendium teams except in circumstances where the faction was getting a specific team (so kits with additional sprues to build specialists such as Pathfinders, Votann and Dark Eldar). It was clear GW is committed to Kill Team as a product range with distinct products (which GW can logically track sales of and determine the success of the range). 
  • Terminators or a Terminator/genestealer space hulk type product was requested. GW didn’t give a firm response on this. 
  • GW did say they see Kill Team as an avenue to release miniatures that don’t really fit into a codex (Imperial Weirdos) or to release something rather than wait for the codex release window (Novitiates, Kroot). 
  • This has made a lot of people think we’re getting Striking Scorpions or Exodites in the first Season Three box vs Space Marine Scouts or Catachans. These are all ideas just pulled from the ether as far as I know. 

TheChirurgeon: I am fucking shocked we never got a gallowdark kill team re-imagining of Space Hulk. It seemed like such an amazing fit for the setting and product, and an even better tie-in once we knew that Leviathan would feature marines taking on Tyranids. After all, an endlessly customizable update of the now-ancient genestealer kit would be perfect for the game. That said, I’d agree that it’d be a good format for releasing updated aspect warriors.

HappyRaccoon: As a community organizer it’s good to hear from GW that Kill Team is here to stay. The new releases and roadmap are encouraging, but I would like them to really push for some standardization. The mish mash of online/offline resources new players need to be inundated with is miserable! When we first started a box of minis and a rule book were close enough to a starting point. Now we have faqs, errata, and new missions that are difficult to get a hold of. The fact that we reprinted the Core Rule book for ITD, without errata is honestly disappointing, and I’m hoping the new Annual can manage to stay relevant. 

TheArmorOfContempt: The determination to stay committed to printed rulebooks in a game that continuously evolves is rather frustrating, but unsurprising. GW’s refusal or inability to take advantage of modern technology to streamline access to their games continues to be a complaint, but it is unclear if there is any incentive for them to change. 

Kill Team is here to stay. It’s selling so well GW are continuing to invest in it. GW are trialing narrative products for Kill Team to see if there is demand for more than Matched Play. GW continues to see Kill Team as a way to add new models to the range, not just tie into the 40k releases (though the new downloadable datasheet model for 40k removes a lot of the issues with releases that aren’t accompanying a codex).

So the future for Kill Team is pretty rosy, and there’s another five big boxes coming at least.

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