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The Kill Team Hype: Is This 40ks Answer to Shadespire?

Here we go again, another boxed game from Games Workshop, this time in the shape of small skirmishes set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Kill Team is making a come back.

We’ve seen Kill Team before on a couple of occasions. Can anyone remember this?


The core box, as you can see above, came with a unit of Space Marines and Tau back in 2016, shortly after the release of the 7th edition Tau codex if I remember correctly. All of the factions were represented. The core rules featured narrative campaigns, rules for running 2-4 player games, it was pretty exciting stuff.

Sadly however, it failed to make much of an impact, and was pretty soon forgotten about. It used the 7th edition rules and had some restrictions to units you could choose to fight it out. Did it fail as it wasn’t trying anything, well, new?

Moving on we more recently had Shadow Wars: Armageddon. This time you were much more restricted in what you could battle with, keeping it to troops for the most part. You still had some HQ choices, such as Tech Priests, Inquisitors and the like, but the action was much more focused on the troop choices from the 40k factions.


A massive selling point for the starter set was the inclusion of some brand new 40k scenery, the first on a large scale since the Cities of Death terrain.


This time around the rules were altered to reflect the smaller scale skirmishes. I for one, quite liked it, but it lacked the real depth that other skirmish based games have. I seem to remember the starter box and rulebook being a little hard to get hold of originally. I don’t think this was down to the popularity of the game though, more so the limited number of copies made and the fact everyone wanted some of the new terrain for their vanilla games of 40k. Whilst me and my friends pondered over the future of Shadow Wars, perhaps new rules suited for different planets and the such, it wasn’t meant to be and once again, the game quietly disappeared.

Warhammer 40,000 games are massive, time consuming affairs, and it makes sense for Games Workshop to continuous try to launch a smaller boxed game more suited for quick play games. The lack of support for both boxed games went to show how little faith they had in either becoming a massive seller.

Enter Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire. A game set in the mortal realms of Warhammer Age of Sigmar, but with a completely different gaming mechanic. Set on cardboard tiles, with unique rules, from the off GW shouted from the roof tops that this was going to be fully supported with new minis, tournaments, the whole hog.


Shadespire is coming to the end now, but whereas with the original Kill Team and Shadow Wars just, well, ended, it’s very obvious that we’ve got a new setting for Warhammer Underworlds on the horizon very very soon. The game has been very popular, and it has a healthy competitive tournament scene.

It was only really a matter of time before they would try again with 40k.


So here we are, one week away from the preorder date for the latest version of Kill Team. This time, Games Workshop have not been shy with their intentions to support this system. Small, faction specific boxes, with a number of minis, terrain features and cards.

They’ve advised that play testing has led them to believe most games will take between 40 minutes to an hour. They were also quick to point out that the guys behind Shadespire were involved, to help this new boxed game stand out from just a mini game of 40k. You won’t find HQ choices or any kind of vehicles in this game, to help keep the game balanced and to also focus on the little guys.

Yesterday the Community Site lifted the lid on some of the core rules mechanics. We’d already had some sneak peeks from the daily faction focuses, however this article was much more about the rules themselves. I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. It is, on the face of it, based around the current 8th Edition rules, only with some differences. 8th edition is the best edition I’ve ever played of Warhammer 40K personally, but after all of the hype around the mechanics being unique I thought we’d have seen a larger step away. Maybe not as big of a leap as Shadespire is to AoS, but still.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, as the core rules aren’t completely out in the open yet. My other concern, like Shadow Wars, is the new terrain.

Hands down the new scenery is the best we’ve ever seen. They are simply superb, and work in tandem with the Sector Mechanicus buildings. What I hope doesn’t happen though is that Kill Team ends up being just a short lived game to help launch the new buildings.


Let us not forget as well, that the upcoming Rogue Trader models are going to be using the Kill Team mechanics (although general 40k rules are almost certainly going to be released). Chances are later this year we’ll see a Rogue Trader Starter box, featuring the 2 new forces with the Kill Team rulebook as well as rules for games without 3D terrain similar to Necromunda.


I really feel their is a market for punchy, quick games of Warhammer 40,000, and I will certainly be picking up the core rulebook. All of us at Sprues and Brews are excited by the new boxed game, I just hope that this grows into a supported system in its own right, and more importantly, the gameplay will stand up against other skirmish game systems, such as Infinity.

Least we forget, in the past two years the structure behind the company has changed a lot, and its very clear they are much more open to feedback around all of their game systems. They nailed it with 8th Edition, they’ve seen where they tripped up with Shadow Wars. Now is the time to nail a Warhammer 40k Skirmish game.

Will you be preordering it like Matt and myself in some shape or form? Do you feel we need a skirmish version of 40k? Let us know in the comments and via social media.

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