How to Win (or lose) at Kill Team

It’s been a while, but I finally was able to get a couple games of Kill Team in. I played two games a while ago, and I lost one and won the other. I switched teams for the game I won, but more importantly than that, I switched tactics, so here’s a couple of things I learned from playing some learning games of Kill Team.

1. Deployment

Deployment always makes a difference in any wargame, obviously, but in a Warhammer 40k battle, you can often make up for deployment mistakes with some good movement. This isn’t so much the case in Kill Team. The match that I lost was a complete rout of my Adeptus Mechanicus team by the Space Wolves player, mainly because of my initial deployment.

Goodbye Ad Mech
Since I forgot to take pictures, here’s a visual representation of how the Ad Mech team was completely taken apart by the Space Wolves.

I probably should have taken some pictures, but basically, my initial deployment had me with a mostly exposed left flank, no really great way to move forward, and my model with the Transuranic Arquebus and the range to shoot across the battlefield was on the wrong side to get to any kind of high ground. All of this created a problem for me since I essentially couldn’t move any direction other than to the left which is where some of the Space Wolves were. My only option was to move toward the enemy, and the Adeptus Mechanicus is not great at assaulting.

By the time I was able to finally correct some of the mistakes of my initial employment, the remaining Space Wolves were able to charge the middle of the field and assault from the front, surrounding my team and taking them out completely. At that point, even the objectives didn’t really matter because I was so surrounded that even if I wanted to claim an objective, I would have to somehow get out of the initial situation first, which was not about to happen. Add to this the fact that I supercharged a plasma gun and (because of course I did) rolled a one in the first turn, and I lost the match pretty decisively.

The second match fared much better. I switched to Death Guard, and we switched to the Aerial Strike mission (p. 50, Core Manual). This mission allows the defender to deploy basically anywhere on the battlefield, and after seeing how the last match went, I really thought a lot more about where I was starting in the fight. I left a Plague Marine to defend objective three, a few Poxwalkers to watch objective one, and I left objective two in firing distance of two more plague marines since there wasn’t much cover around it.

Poxwalkers
A few Poxwalkers managed to hold the objective pretty well.

I also left a Plague Marine Champion in the top left corner of the field, and he was able to do some pretty massive damage all on his own. Despite a valiant effort on the part of the Space Wolves, and even the successful capture of objective three, they weren’t able to win. Some of this was due to being unable to destroy the objectives (bad dice that day), but with the better deployment, I was also able to hold the Space Wolves player off and keep her worried about what would happen if a move went wrong or a plan didn’t work. Overall, it made for a much more exciting game.

2. Big guns never tire don’t work very well

Warhammer 40k is a decidedly shooty game. Assault armies can definitely work in the hands of a skilled player, but I would argue that generally, fighting an opposing army at range is a better idea. This is not so much the case in Kill Team. Returning to my Adeptus Mechanicus team, for the moment, with the exception of one guy with a power sword (I know it’s not very effective, but it looks so cool!), the team is completely using weapons that are excellent at a long-range. The Transuranic Arquebus, for instance has a range of 60”. That’s more than the entire size of the battlefield, and the other models that are just equipped with the typical Galvanic Rifle have a range of 30” so every enemy model should be in range, right? Well, no, not really.

Cover actually works in a really interesting way in Kill Team. If a model is behind anything at all, regardless of height or how much of the model is actually covered, you get a -1 to hit. With a board that is only 30 by 22 inches, with terrain, this means that basically everyone is covered all the time. If the field was a little more bare, perhaps a mainly ranged weapon kill team would be very effective. As it is, with the terrain so much in the way so much of the time, the crazy amount of a range advantage I had on the Space Wolves just didn’t help me out at all. This means that the models all survived long enough to get into charging and assaulting range, and I had pretty much nothing I could do to stop that from happening. True to the lore, the Adeptus Mechanicus stood no chance of beating the Adeptus Astartes in a punching match.

Close Range
Much better at punching

Enter the Death Guard for round two. With a better mix of range and assault, I was able to handle a lot of the problems that the terrain was giving me when I played as the Adeptus Mechanicus. The two specialist kills I actually got in the game were both from my Plague Champion who is only armed with melee weapons and has no range at all. This all seems fairly true to the Kill Team lore, I suppose. You’re not supposed to be fighting in big open fields or anything, so a blade or a power fist would make more sense given the more compact nature of the fighting that happens in Kill Team. Had I thought about that before hand, that would have made some sense, but it did surprise me just how ineffective my crazy ranged weapons were when I needed them. Did I also mention that I rolled a one with a supercharged plasma gun?

The Battlefield
Final view of the field. I should probably get a gaming mat at some point.

So to conclude, winning (or losing) in Kill Team is a matter of careful deployment and troop choice. Not surprising considering that’s pretty much true of all war games, but in Kill Team, with the smaller size of the field, everything is much more concentrated and what would be a manageable error in a regular game of 40k can essentially cost you the whole match. This actually makes the game really interesting because it means that if you’re goal is winning, you really have to do quite a lot of planning before the match actually begins to be successful.

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