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Failure to Treat Kill Team as a Stand Alone Game

Kill Team game

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Brother Tyler

Brother Tyler


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Rather than being speculation about the future of KT, this is discussion of one specific area that I perceive to be a failing on GW's part with regard to how the Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team game is presented. In that, this is a follow-on to my previous discussion about the failings I perceive in the Command Roster rules and how I think GW can improve upon them. There are plenty of areas in which players perceive problems with the game, many of which have been brought up in the speculation discussion I linked above. This discussion is focused on one area, so other failings that hobbyists perceive should be brought up in separate discussions.

BASIC PROBLEM : Games Workshop has presented the Kill Team factions in a manner that assumes players are well-versed in the setting and play the main Warhammer 40,000 game without consideration for those KT players that don't play WH40K and who don't have familiarity with the setting.

To explain...

Descriptions and depictions of model choices are decidedly lacking. Model choices get a paragraph or two; and occasionally there is a picture of a model choice somewhere in the faction's rules. Some of the commanders get a full page of text about them, especially named individuals. For most, however, there is little or nothing to tell players about the unit.

Compare that to what is presented in a WH40K codex. A hobbyist has a full understanding of what purpose/role each unit performs, how it is painted/marked, etc. from reading through a WH40K codex. While the datasheets in a codex no longer include pictures, the description of each unit includes pictures and there are additional pictures elsewhere in the codex.

The Kill Team faction rules don't provide this level of understanding. Even the factions presented in the Rogue Trader expansion are unclear and those were totally new to the setting (yes, the concepts existed, but they don't have counterpart rules/codices in WH40K). Some of the factions get almost no explanation. For example, those that appear in the Kill Team Annual 2019 have neither lore nor images. At its core, a hobbyist only has a full understanding of the various models if they have the corresponding WH40K codex.

This isn't really a problem for most of us, but it gives short shrift to the game as a stand alone system and to hobbyists that don't play WH40K (or Blackstone Fortress). Warband level skirmish games are great gateways into the larger hobby, providing new hobbyists with a way to start small. Yes, Combat Patrol is a gateway into the Warhammer 40,000 game, too, but Combat Patrol and Kill Team are different. Where a new hobbyist playing Combat Patrol is simply playing a scaled down version of Warhammer 40,000 and a player will need the same rulebooks for CP as for the larger versions of the game, Kill Team is a completely separate game and playing Kill Team doesn't guarantee playing Warhammer 40,000. Everything a hobbyist should need to know about the game and the setting [at a basic level] should be in the Kill Team game without having to buy Warhammer 40,000 game products.

The "fix" in my mind is to expand the way the factions are presented. Personally, I'd love to see each unit get a two-page spread with lore on one page and rules on the other page (and imagery on either/both pages). The step down compromise from there is for each unit to be presented on a single page that includes lore, rules, and imagery. Units with more expansive rules might need the two-page spread (there are plenty of examples of this in the existing books). This step down would be similar to some of the Necromunda entries (e.g., the Mind-Locked Wyrd in The Book of Judgement).

The end-state would be to give players sufficient understanding of what each model is about, how they fit into the overall faction, and how they are identified (e.g., why does the Intercessor have that particular squad badge?).

The trade-off in this is that faction rules are expanded considerably, which means more/larger books that are more expensive. A single book with all of the rules and factions would probably be considered impractical by many.

A possible mitigation for this would be for GW to provide basic lore/painting information online, either as web pages or as downloadable files. By that model, a lot of material could be trimmed out of WH40K codices, too, potentially making them less expensive. That's not likely to happen, of course, but is in the realm of the possible if GW switched over to more online content (beyond the retail aspects).

Do you agree with the basic problem I've identified? Do you agree with any of the solutions/mitigations I've described?
  • firestorm40k, N1SB and aa.logan like this





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I think a solution to this would be to use the approach GW are taking with WarCry, with supplement books divided by category of faction; so it'd be one each for Imperium forces, Chaos, and Xenos. That would allow more space for unit descriptions.

However, I do like having all of the factions' core unit options in the one book - to be honest it was part of what sold me Kill Team as a way back to the hobby (I hadn't played or built/painted anything for 40k in over 4 years at that point).
  • LameBeard and XIXWYRMEXIX like this
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I'd love to see something like this, but it feels like something that would be better for a re-launch of KT, say KT: 2nd Edition. Which would be a perfect time to consolidate balance changes and edition updates, too. However, such a thing might want to wait until 9e has covered a few more factions.



However, I'm not sure this is the way GW would go even if KT got individual faction books, as the last few codexes, at least for marines, have been progressively less detailed about things like heraldry, individual unit fluff, and the like. The 9e SM codex in particular is lacking with respect to unit fluff and heraldry.


Still, we might be able to get (to use Space Marines as an example) a page dedicated to line units, a page dedicated to close assault units, a page dedicated to fire support units, and a page dedicated to veteran units.

Edited by Squark, 27 January 2021 - 05:05 PM.

  • firestorm40k, walter h and XIXWYRMEXIX like this





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If GW curtailed the number of available units for the "core" game, adding flavour text/lore for each unit would not increase the book size by any significant margin so could be manageable.


But yes, unlike with other skirmish-size games that GW publishes, Kill Team is a bit of an oddity. Perhaps their intent is for Kill Team to be at the other end of the spectrum of Apocalypse, i.e. an expansion of 40k and not its own thing, but for small games?

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My opinion is Kill Team was a rush job by GW aimed at tapping into the skirmish games target audience, rather then as an intro into 40k.

Warcry felt planned as a true stand alone game. (The community cried out that they couldn't use their AoS miniatures so all hell broke loose stop gapping all of the other factions into the game though, so it wasn't perfect.) As a result Warcry features its own mechanics and campaign mechanic that's very different to AoS: a true skirmish game, designed to play in a lunch break.

Kill Team on the other hand felt... Lazy. A cut and paste job of 40k rather then anything new. One may remark that it was a trial of sorts, but its also likely that it was a rush job "to produce a result" so that GW could throw its net into that skirmish gaming target audience which is dominated by the likes of Infinity and Malifaux.

Granted, Kill Team if it is ever updated has the potential to be so much more, now that combat patrol has taken over the place of "introduction to 40k" (not that I believe that Kill Team was ever designed for that purpose as highlighted above.) However, based off GW's design philosophy with AoS / 40k (ie rules only for what's provided in the box) I don't think looking to necromunda or the past will entirely be accurate for a "what if" approach.

Essentially, if you want that old school, complex GW skirmish game with hybrid RPG elements thats supposed to be fun rather then fair... You might as well play Necromunda. I suspect Kill Team will never go down that path

Edited by Malios, 10 March 2021 - 05:30 AM.

  • N1SB likes this

The greatest contradiction of chaos is that it is a realm in constant flux, yet the gods themselves never change.

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