I (finally) got my hands on the kill team rule book, and there are a few things that caught my attention. As always, these are personal takes on the game, so your mileage may vary.
What I love
Skirmish games in Warhammer 40k?!? Is this real life? Seriously though, I can’t believe it took them this long to realize people wanted this. I love a good 40k battle just as much as the next person, but it is a slog. You’re dedicating at least 2-3 hours to the game, and if you’re new to it, that number is going to be higher because of all the flipping through the rule book. Added to that, there’s all the set-up and take-down time, particularly if you’re like me and you live in a small apartment where you don’t have a dedicated gaming room. The point is, if you’re clashing thousands of points of armies against each other, you have to dedicate a lot of time. Since most people in the hobby don’t wargame for a living, this means making sure you have a full weekend or at least a couple of evenings dedicated to the game. And don’t get me wrong, I love that about it, but it can make it difficult to play. Skirmish games are great because they’re faster paced, they’re easier to pick up and play, and they happen on a smaller scale. Which brings me to the next thing I love.
Being played on a smaller scale, kill team is more affordable by default. You need less terrain and fewer models to actually get a game in, so the economic bar for entry is much lower than in 40k (particularly if you don’t buy games workshop terrain, which is too expensive!). This has a couple of implications. First, it’s less intimidating for new players. Speaking for myself only, I’m not the kind of hobbyist who has been into this since they were a teenager. This means that I knew about Warhammer for a long time before I finally took the plunge around the time that 8th edition came out. My hesitancy was entirely due to cost. I’d be willing to bet that there are a lot of gamers in the same boat: interested, but in no financial position to really get started. Kill Team breaks some of that barrier down by allowing you to play with smaller groups of models and much less terrain.
Second, the lower cost means it’s easier to experiment with different lists. For example, I like the look of the adeptus mechanicus, but I’m adding to my Death Guard army right now, and I can’t really invest in another whole army at the moment (as much as I want to). With a rule set like Kill Team, I can easily spend the money on some Skitarii and try them out. Yes, it still feeds the addiction, but it feeds it in a way that will keep me from blowing every paycheck on new models when I’ve already got a different goal in mind.
Amazing terrain rules
I have to be honest, I’ve always been surprised at how lackluster the terrain rules are in Warhammer 40k. Terrain is easily the most important part of the game in terms of immersion, but the rules for them are just bland. Kill team fixes that by intentionally making gameplay much more three dimensional. With the smaller footprint, the rules make you think about the play space vertically as well as horizontally in a way that you generally don’t have to in 40k. The game even has falling rules and falling damage if your model is knocked off of something. Good job Games Workshop!
What was ok
Space marines are a little bit boring in general (chaos is always going to be cooler), but Kill Team didn’t do much to fix the problem. That’s kind of what I was expecting, but it was a bit of a letdown too. I was hoping with so many different space marine chapters, there would be more individualized lore, but there wasn’t. Not a deal breaker, but honestly, that could have been more interesting.
I have a thing against tokens. It’s just an excuse to sell you more plastic, and it adds very little in terms of gameplay. We probably don’t need to get into it. You can use tokens in the game, but you don’t need to. I just always think that’s a dumb inclusion in almost every game. Some folks may like them; I am not those folks.
What I didn’t like
Honestly, there wasn’t much to dislike here. I’ll see more and probably revisit this statement when I’ve played a game or two, but after just reading the rule book, there’s plenty to like and really nothing that got me thinking it would be a problem.
So if you’re on the fence and wondering whether or not you should pick up Kill Team, I’d say go for it! The rule book isn’t too expensive, and with fewer models, its it’s much easier to just start playing. I see it being a really good way to introduce new players to the hobby and a great way to get friends involved, too.