The GW Chicago Open Kill Team Tournament: A Report

The Chicago Open concluded two weeks ago and our coverage and recaps of the event are still going! Today TheArmorOfContempt is recapping his efforts to take home the gold in the Kill Team event with his Wyrmblade team.

Greetings, fellow Solid Snakes, TheArmorOfContempt here to bring you my review of my latest travails into the world of competitive Kill Team, this time at the GW Chicago Open.

Following my success at GenCon I got the crazy idea into my head that I might be “alright” at Kill Team, but this must be tempered by the fact that Kill Team is still incredibly small in the US, especially from a competitive stand point –  although things are growing fast. To say I am a big fish in a small pond would be an insult to ponds.

If I said I wasn’t a competitive person I would be a lying, though I am not what you would call a “Meta-Chaser”; with what little success I’ve had with skirmish gaming being mostly a function of what I had painted at the time coincidentally being good. Wyrmblade are considered a solid team, but they are not considered “S tier” by the small group of people that make up competitive Kill Team circles, an assessment I have come to agree on. All of this aside, they are the wagon I have decided to hitch this year’s Kill Team hopes upon.

It wasn’t long after GenCon that I got wind of the fact there would be a Kill Team invitational in New Mexico, and that Golden Tickets were being given to those who won GW events and other large scale GW-sponsored events such as LGT and NOVA. This sent me into overdrive dedicating what little play time I have (exactly one game a week, tops), trying to get better at playing Kill Team, which translated into a little over a dozen games between GenCon and Chicago. My wife and I had already made plans to attend the Grand Narrative in New Mexico, so my presence at the event was already a given, but I found the idea of having a chance to play against the best in the nation to be much more exciting. Also, it is easier to sell expensive trips to play games with internet friends to your S.O. if you can shave hundreds off your travel expenses…

Thursday: The Venue

I drove into Chicago Thursday evening, arriving at the downtown Hilton with a fellow local player named Andrew. Andrew was just looking to use the weekend to pursue painting interests and observe, this being his first big event. We got in late and headed up to our room that we shared with fellow Goonhammer author, Craig “Masterslowpoke” Sniffen, who had already arrived earlier that day. Craig was already passed out, and Andrew and I quickly got to bed ourselves in order to be rested for the next day.

It is at this point I have to offer first complaint about the Event. This is my second GW event, and I have noticed that the venues chosen by the GW Events team tend to be very expensive (Rob: I can definitely confirm this, though Chicago is generally expensive as hell). In this case the hotel was located directly next to Lake Michigan and cost a staggering $220 a night before taxes and parking NOT included. Compare this to an event like Adepticon where the rooms are roughly $140 Pre-Tax (No Parking Fee), with far more going on. Admittedly, I don’t know the exact details on what determines a valid venue for a GW Event, but I assume there are cheaper venues that would provide the space to run these events, and be cheaper to purchase. Additionally, the event coincided with the Chicago marathon, making getting to the venue an even bigger hassle for those not staying in the hotel, AND the venue was a solid 30 minute trip from O’Hare, meaning a good $60 Uber ride for anyone flying into the city.

I want to be clear that I had a great weekend, but it is worth pointing out to anyone attending one of these Events that they are among the more expensive conventions I have attended, so plan and save accordingly.

Event Judge and Gateway Open T.O. – Doug James

Friday: Vibing

I awoke well rested and made my way down to the convention area to sign in and then proceeded to spend the morning and afternoon doing a combination of painting my own models, socializing, and simply observing as Friday was Day 1 of the Warhammer 40K GT. All the usual suspects were present – The Art of War team, United Midwest Project, and other teams that have become fairly well known to anyone who attends these kind of events.

I had signed up for the Speed Painting Class for that evening, which was hosted by C.K. Studios. I had admittedly not read the description for this event as thoroughly as I should have because it is was a bit of a mix. As an introductory class to using an airbrush, it was great; Caleb clearly knows his stuff, he had a fun attitude, and was very helpful. In fact, this was the first time I had ever used an airbrush, and I could definitely see myself taking the weekend-long airbrushing class at some point in the future. That being said the last hour of the class focused on line shading and edge highlighting, not exactly techniques I expected in a speed class. I had honestly expected either dry brushing or the use of contrasts at some point, basically I had showed looking to learn how to have near parade ready minis in a day and I don’t really feel I got close to this.

As a bonus I did walk away with paint supplies and brushes that were roughly equivalent to what I spent on the class.

After the class I walked back down to the lobby and linked up with Craig and Goonhammer Age of Sigmar contributors Alice “Ragnarok Angel” and Raf “Captain Raffi” Cordero. We went out and grabbed dinner and drinks at a Tikki Bar on Raf’s recommendation, and had a great time hanging out over food and drink. The group was rounded out when we were joined by Goonhammer Member Marchettus who had also come to play Age of Sigmar. The night concluded, we returned to the hotel just prior to midnight to ensure we received proper rest.

Credit: Matt Aaron, who won Best Painted at the event


Saturday: Kill Team Day 1 and Trivia

Come the morning, 27 of us assembled to hear the T.O., Chris June, explain to us the rules for the event: No Vantage points in Drop Zones and Chalnath Door rules for all tables. This last detail I found as a minor annoyance as my Kill Team basically has the ability to create a door on terrain, so ensuring that every terrain feature has a door built-in makes it mostly useless. Being the sort of weirdo I am, I had taken the time to look up my opponents on ITC to see who might be my competition, and was not surprised to find that 3 of the Top 5 rated US players were in attendance along with numerous familiar faces including: Tim Z. and Chris F., who I played against at Gencon, Rob Porier, my nemesis who you may remember from the Adepticon review, and Joe Hamell, who was at both Adepticon and GenCon.

Round 1 – Loot and Salvage

Opponent – Marc Garrett – Imperial Breachers

Marc was a very polite and fun opponent. He had brought his two sons with him to Chicago, who also participated in the tournament. This being my sixth Games Workshop Kill Team tournament I’ve grown pretty accustomed to this mission, and after seeing Marc’s deployment and order selection I decided to adopt a strategy similar to one I had used before where I attempt to grab a majority of the objective markers on the first turn to force my opponent to respond to my aggressive action. Additionally, I had chosen Headhunter, Mark for Assassination, and Perfect Ambush as my Tac Ops.

Marc sold himself short at the onset, convinced that he had no chance of winning, but after a largely disastrous Turning Point 2 that included losing my Locus after piling into the Axejack, nearly losing my Kelermorph to a Gheist Skull, and all my Gunners (including my mining laser with full re-rolls) failing to kill the Endurant, I quickly found myself on the back foot with only my initial Primary lead keeping me in the game. The game remained close throughout, but I was able to prevent Marc from overtaking me on Primary or scoring many of his Tac Ops resulting in a hard fought victory as we both grew low on operatives.

Result: 12-9 Wyrmblade Victory

Round 2 – Escalating Hostilities

Opponent – John Martin – Intercession Squad

After sitting down with John I quickly found out that he had very little experience against Wyrmblade, which is not a good position to be in since they can feel especially brutal for players that aren’t familiar with their tricks. Poor John also looked like he had maybe not caught enough sleep either, with this in mind I tried to inform John of most of my bullshit so he wouldn’t be to surprised. He had decided to take an even split of Assault and standard Intercessors, and having been pretty thoroughly mauled by Intercessors in previous games I adopted a wait and see strategy where I kept my Cult Agents firmly positioned behind buildings, while my Neophytes would creep forward to contest the center objectives.

This eventually forced John to move forward to push me off the objectives, allowing my heavier weapons to take a brutal toll on his Marines. I had taken Mark for Assassination, Sabotage, and Implant, but due to being a bad player that makes bad decisions I failed to use Meticulous Plan at the proper moment to complete Sabotage despite tabling John’s Marines on the final Turning Point.

Result: 16-5 Wyrmblade Victory

Round 3 – Secure Archeotech

Opponent – Zach Caschetta – Gellerpox

For the last round of the day I found myself up against fellow Goonhammer Contributor Zach “Requizen” Caschetta. For this round I decided to take Headhunter, Mark for Assassination, and Perfect Ambush. Zach’s biggest mistake is that he Concealed almost his entire team, but then played very aggressively with most of his smaller operatives contesting the midline objectives on Turning Point 1. Fortunately for him I had not expected him to do this based of his rather conservative deployment, meaning I was not able to take advantage of Perfect Ambush. However, I was able to kill a couple of his mutants and vermin operatives without having to worry about any form of retaliation.

Turning Point 2 devolved in a brutal slog as we slugged it out over the center with my Agents attempting to focus down his hulks, while I used Stun Weapons like the Webber to prevent the melee only Hulks from contributing to the fight. In my opinion Zach’s biggest mistake was to keep Vulgar Thrice Cursed away from the fighting until Turning Point 3, by which point most of his operatives had been killed, with two of his hulks almost three-handedly taken out by the Kelermorph.

The score throughout the match had been very close, but with him having only one operative left to hold objectives at the end of the match I was able to secure 4 of the 6 remaining pieces of Archeotech and run away with the score.

Result: 15-8 Wyrmblade Victory


With the day’s matches at an end, and riding high on victory, I checked in on the AoS players including the Ptaceks, a family from the Central Illinois area, who have been REALLY hitting the tournament circuit this year. Steve the family patriarch was doing very well, and informed me that they were planning on attending over a dozen GT level events across the country in a year. A little jealous and doubting I will ever be able to wrangle my family in such an undertaking I wandered back over to the 40K side of things to chit chat with familiar faces and watch Craig complete his final game. Once he was done we moved upstairs to grab food and prepare mentally (imbibe alcohol) for one of the BIGGEST events of the weekend.

One of my favorite things at Events is the opportunity to put to use the huge amount of normally worthless 40K knowledge I have accumulated over the years. This being said, I am FAR from the most knowledgeable nerd out there, BUT the Goonhammer crowd comes from a strong line of committed geeks who can be counted on to form the core of a trivia team. I had taken the time to ensure every member present at the Open was in the same group chat, so as to pull them all together for important moments such as this!

If you read my Adepticon review you already know Craig is an especially deep well of Games Workshop lore that was vital to winning the 40K Trivia Event there. Additionally, Discord Member Monji “Monjio”, who I had met at Adepticon earlier in the year, but who I finally got to know much better over the weekend displayed an impressive knowledge of the Horus Heresy. Rounding out the rest of team was my local guy Andrew, Alice and Raff as our Age of Sigmar experts, along with James of the Event Staff, and Marchettus who admittedly knew little about the lore, but was happy to hang out.

The questions ended up covering several of the games GW produces with a vast majority focusing on the Horus Heresy and 40K proper. There were a few questions that stumped our team, but we reached the halfway way point with a strong lead over the other teams in attendance. Mike and Zach of the Events Team were our MCs for the night, and awarded partial points for particularly entertaining wrong answers, and it seemed everyone was having a great time. While the second round questions seemed harder very few were able to get by without at least one of the individuals present at our booth knowing it and we were able to ultimately secure victory. Our awards were a combination of GW Objective Markers (the big felt ones) and a Fire Team of Joytoy Phobos action figures topped off with a Joytoy Invictor Warsuit. My team picked their way through the loot, leaving me with the Warsuit, most likely because no one wanted to take it on their plane or mail it home.

By this time it was a little past 11:00 P.M., and it seemed the day’s events had drained the energy of most of my party, leaving only Craig and myself to decide if we should go out. As usual I had been trying to lay the seeds for an night of Karaoke, but once again my dream was not to be as we figured it was best to call it and rest for the following day.

Sunday: From the Jaws of Victory

Day 2 saw the first introduction of the Into the Dark missions into a GW sponsored Kill Team Event, and all of us were buzzing for answers to the numerous questions that the ruleset raised for many ploys, Tac Ops, and other interactions. Nick pulled us all in and announced that for the purposes of Tac Ops and Ploys, walls would not interfere with the measuring of distances, but that abilities that allow models to pass through walls, such as my Writhing Ingress Ploy, would not be allowed. This last part was not unexpected, and while it does essentially make one of my ploys useless, I was confident I could make due with what I have.

Round 4 – Junction Assault

Opponent – Joe Bell – Pathfinders

Coming into this round I was excited and nervous in equal measure. My local group does not have a Pathfinder player, and my last time playing them was at Adepticon. Needless to say, going into Round 4 against what is considered one of the best if not THE BEST team in the game was perhaps not the best time to learn. And learn I did! The hard way. Joe handed me one of the most painful defeats I have suffered in a long time.

Of all the Into the Dark missions that favored his team, Junction Assault was perhaps the best one he could’ve asked for, with its long open firing lanes, and a primary mission that simply requires you to keep your opponent off your side of the board. In the end my pivotal mistake was being far to aggressive on Turning Point 1, I had hoped that I could pressure Joe early by moving a number of operatives across the center line and use Hatchway doors as Heavy Cover to avoid being targeted by his operatives. The flaw in my plan had been to not fully account for where my opponent could get his operatives using Mont’ka, the additional free Dash putting him in the perfect position to counter-attack my forward operatives. In fact, had I simply waited a Turning Point before getting aggressive with my movements I might of had a completely different outcome.

To make matters worse my opponents dice were simply on fire with nearly every operative he targeted being killed in a single activation. At the end of the first Turning Point my opponent had not only out-killed me 5-3, but had also eliminated my Locus, and for this trade I had only managed to score one point over him. Things only got worse from here as I managed to not win a single initiative roll for the remainder of the match allowing Joe to increase the ever widening gap between us, resulting in my team being completely eliminated on Turning Point 4, and him scoring significant points due to my side of the board being wide open.

It is worth pointing out that Joe was simply the ideal opponent to play, he was clear with his intent and knew his rules well, while also being enthusiastic, kind, and just simply a joy to be around. Thanks for a great game Joe, I learned a lot, I’ll get you next time! As a final note, Joe’s victory unfortunately put him directly in the path of Travis, who would go on to win the event, in a mission setup that could of not been less favorable for Pathfinders.

Resut: 15-6 Wyrmblade Defeat

Round 5 – Exposed Trove

Opponent – Rob Poirier – Hunter Clades

Some of you might recall that Rob and I have a bit of a history.  Our first game had been in the final round of the 5 Round Event at Adepticon where he pretty handily defeated me with Void-Dancers. I then played him first round in another Kill Team event, held that same weekend, where my Wyrmblade routed his Pathfinders, leaving us 1-1.

Somewhat chastened by my defeat in the previous round I opted for a more conservative strategy, a decision that Rob mirrored as we both used our forward deploy abilities to secure the isolated Alpha objectives closest to our Drop Zones. Rob had accurately realized that if he tried to put a single operative on my Alpha objective he would not be able to properly screen out operatives that I could bring in from Hiding. This resulted in us spending the first Turning Point arraying our operatives to attack each corner with both of us making a roughly even split. In this game my biggest mistake would ultimately come down to choosing Infiltrate over Seek and Destroy, and more importantly taking Interloper, an objective I have often described as “terrible”. I theorized, incorrectly, that the relatively short distance from my Drop Zone to my opponent’s board edge would make this Tac Op possible. In less bone headed picks I also took Implant and Perfect Ambush.

The Hunter Clade ability to Overwatch without penalty, thanks to Vid-Feed, quickly showed itself to be a major annoyance as Rob moved to setup multiple Overwatching operatives on each wing forcing me to make a move against his On Guard operatives before my activating operatives found themselves fired on by multiple enemies mid activation. The game quickly became bloody as I popped Meticulous Plan and Perfect Ambush on Turning Point 2 managing to score a single point off the Tac Op, and came out the second Turning Point with a slight lead.

For the remainder of the match I managed to keep a slight points lead thanks to my Tac Ops, while Interloper had been a huge mistake, I had managed to score maximum on Implant thanks to my Locus, while Rob was unable to score any of his. This game, while close, looked like it was going to result in a hard fought victory for me. It all came down to the last two activations in Turning Point 4 with things looking like I would win by 3 points. In perhaps the most clutch move I saw all weekend Rob managed to get the perfect shot (through two hatchways) on the Neophyte holding my Alpha objective with his last Sicaran, killing him. This instantly dropped two points from my final score with Rob having one remaining operative that he would need to score Claim Loot on his own Alpha objective. My Kelermorph moved up to fire on his last operative, and promptly whiffed allowing him to tie the game in his final activation!

Result: 12-12 Draw. Curse you Rob!

Final Thoughts

Boy! What a weekend. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t manage to secure the Golden Ticket, but looking at all my games I have no one to blame but myself, and I learned a lot.

At the end of the day I calculated that beating Rob would’ve only moved me from 5th place to 4th place for the weekend with the person coming in 3rd having scored much better than me throughout the course of the weekend, so the draw didn’t really change much. On the plus side I managed to win best painted again! When I consider the time spent on my Genestealer Cults versus the amount of awards they have snagged me since Adepticon they’re easily one of the best decisions I have made hobby-wise.

Here I sit with less than two weeks until the final GW Open in Kansas City. When the Open circuit for 2022 was announced I had originally put Chicago and KC on the list of events I wanted to attend for the year due to them both being in driving distance, but was dragooned by Robert into attending the Grand Narrative in New Mexico, which had kicked Kansas City off the list. HOWEVER, I have called in favors, made pacts with other worldly entities, and will be attending Kansas City to take one final bite at the Kill Team apple. Once New Mexico ends it will be time to set into a hobby winter and prepare for Adepticon 2023.

Credit: Blake Law, Best Overall

Credit: Craig Sniffen, Best Overall in my Heart

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