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Kill Team Starter Set Unboxing and Review

Thinking of getting into Kill Team but missed out on Octarius? Well you are in for luck today, as the Kill Team Starter Set goes up for review – offering a low price way of testing the water with the newest edition of the game! Today we’ll be taking a look at this new starter set in our unboxing and review, and sharing what we think of this as an entry into the Kill Team System.

Massive thanks to Games Workshop for providing us review copies of both the Kill Team Starter Set and the Octarius supplement (Also up for pre order today)

If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy of Kill Team via our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some cash too!

If you would like to check out this review in video form then head over to YouTube or watch the video below!

Last year, the new edition of Kill Team kicked off with the massive Octarius boxed game which contained not only the rules and miniatures, but also an incredible set of terrain to fight your games over!

While Octarius was an absolutely amazing set, it was only a limited run and had a fairly high price tag due to the hefty contents! It seems that Games Workshop have decided to follow this up with a more budget friendly friendly option that not only contains everything you need to learn how to play Kill Team, but also the core rules and the fantastic miniatures that had previously been exclusive to the Octarius box – While it doesnt have all the bells and whistles of Octarius, The Kill Team Starter Set is a bargain £65. Let’s take a look inside the box and see what we get.

As the name suggests, this is very much focussed as a Starter Set – a way of getting into Kill Team and learning how to play it, and the contents very much reflect that

Rather than the hard card playing surface in Octarius, the box includes a paper playing mat. Now while this is not quite as nice as the one that came in Octarius, it does however help to keep the price of the box down while still giving new players something to use before they choose to invest in other options. It’s also worth noting that many existing 40k players may already have a mat or board that is already the right dimensions to use for Kill Team, as with the 9th edition of 40k Games Workshop ensured that all board sizes are multiples of standardised dimensions, meaning that if you have any existing card gaming surface then you can use it for Kill Team too!

In addition to this, the box also contains the full contents of Kill Team Essentials (Available separately for £20) giving you all the tokens, templates and barricades that you need to play!

Also included is a bad of rather fetching orange Kill Team dice, and a set of the Ork barricades and scrap scenery first seem in Speed Freaks – This can easily be enhanced by adding any existing 40k scenery in your collection, and again the option exists to upgrade this further by using the Kill Teams available separately from Games Workshop that essentially give you a battlefield in a box (The Octarius one containing the Ork scenery is also up for pre order today)

What you do get included in the box however are too full Kill Teams, and they are amazing ones!

First up are the plastic Death Korps of Krieg, finally bringing the greatest Astra Millitarum regiment into the mainstream – previously only available in resin from Forge World or in the Octarius box, these are now also up for pre order today separately for £34.50 (So by themselves a massive chunk of the value of the box!)

As we spoke about when we first reviewed them, stylistically they are very similar to the resin originals and look absolutely fine together side by side with their olden resin brothers!

Facing off against the Krieg are the Ork Kommandos, and again they are a gorgeous kit with loads of character – Again at £36.50 separately both Kill Teams together actually cost more than the price of entry for this box, making this tempting for 40k players who like the models but who have not maybe tried out the system

And those new players is who the “Recruit Edition” rules included in the box is aimed at.

A 57 page introduction to Kill Team, this book first goes through the concept of a Kill Team and how they operate in the 41st Millennium, before giving new players insight into the 2 Kill Teams included in the box with some lore and history about the Death Korps and the Kommandos.

Whats really great about this book is that it actually teaches you how to play the game over a series of intro missions. With Kill Team working quite differently to standard 40k, there are some concepts that take a couple of games to get your head around, and by turning these rules concepts into the objectives of a series of missions it actually makes the game a lot easier to learn than by just using the core rules alone. Think of it as the tutorial missions in a video game and you’re not far from what this book is! The fact that we get this simplified and guided approach to the rules in addition to a copy of the core rules is a great touch, giving players multiple ways of learning how to play the game.

While this book doesn’t contain the full rules for the Kill Teams (Ploys, Spec Ops and Equipment are missing) the book does contain the profiles for every unit choice, allowing you to play games just using the contents of the box. Though it is worth noting that for full competitive games you will need to pick up the additional Octarius book (We’ll be taking a look at this a little later in the review)

The Core Book in the box contains the rules for games of Kill Team and is actually in a small A5 “travel” format that is the perfect size for sticking in your bag for events! Other than the smaller size, this is the exact same book that has been previously released, making this box a really excellent way of learning how to play! Let’s take a look at how games of Kill Team work:

Firstly, games of Kill Team are always 4 Turns (Or Turning Points in Kill Team) long – each of those turns consists of 3 phases as follows:

Initiative Phase

Similar to Age of Sigmar, Kill Team has an initiative system. The player with initiative in the first turn is usually determined by the mission you are playing, but from the second Turning Point onwards each player rolls off with the winner being able to decide who has Initiative – in the case of ties this goes to the player who did not have initiative last time.

Initiative is pretty important as not only does it determine who gets to make actions first, the game actually states that if any rules happen simultaneously, it is the player with imitative that chooses the order they are resolved in.

Don’t worry though, as being “Double turned” isn’t really something that can happen in Kill Team – as we will see in a little while each player actually alternates activating operatives rather than one player moving all theirs followed by their opponent.

Strategy Phase

This is essentially the “Hero Phase” or “Command Phase” of Kill Team – here each player generates a command point (In addition to any they start with – having a “leader” in your Kill Team for example starts you with an additional 2 CP) and then can take turns using that CP to play Strategic Ploys. These are essentially special stratagems that can only be used in that phase. Strategic Ploys are army unique and give you some cool bonuses – for example adding 1 to save rolls for that turn. However, what the players need to keep in mind is that there are also Tactical Ploys that can be used during the battle and use the same pool of CP to play. You’ll need to balance using all your CP for beneficial turn long buffs in the Strategy Phase or saving some for using reactively later in the turn.

Finally at the end of the Strategy Phase players can reveal a Tac Ops card – these are the semi-randomised secondary objectives created using the card decks mentioned earlier – the key thing here is that you don’t have to reveal to your opponent what they are, but some can only be scored after revealing them – meaning that you are always guessing what secondaries your opponent might be trying to get into position to score. What’s nice is that in addition to all the generic secondaries in the card pack there are also unique ones tied to each faction giving you something that works towards that factions play style in a similar way to how 40k objectives work.

Firefight Phase

Finally we come to the Firefight Phase where all the action takes place – in here the players take turn picking to activate an operative and then spend that operative’s action points in order to perform actions – what’s cool is that there’s a list of things that you can spend action points on, but usually you cannot pick the same action twice – so for example you could move then pickup an objective, or maybe shoot then hide behind cover, or hit someone in close combat then disengage allowing a friendly to shoot the now exposed target. It adds another level of detail to games and makes you think about what order you make actions and who with, keeping in mind that after every operative you active your opponent will be able to active one too perhaps ruining your carefully laid plans!

Adding an extra level of strategy to this is the fact that when you active an operative you can set them to “Engage” or “Conceal”- Engage simply allows them to make more actions, this is essentially the standard state of your units. Where things get interesting is the Conceal option – you are not able to perform lots of the actions available to units sets to Engage, however your model conceals themselves within cover making it impossible for opposing models to draw line of sight to them (Well, there are some exceptions – in a cool rules interaction some kill teams have designated “Spotters” who can mark concealed targets if they can see them allowing someone in your kill team to target them)

There’s also another element to picking what order you make actions – if it would be your turn to make an action, but all your operatives have already done so this turn then you can issue a free “Overwatch” action to one of your units, allowing them to shoot at -1BS. This can only be done on each of your operatives however – but can be done by multiple different operatives. This means that if you are suffering from heavy casualties and are heavily outnumbered it could be that your entire force manages to dig in and fire some desperate overwatch as a valiant last stand, which is an interesting balancing mechanic. The 40k concept of overwatch on a charging unit doesn’t exist, this is more so your operatives managing to get off an inaccurate reactive shot in response to an enemy action.

While there is a list of universal actions within the book, some operatives and factions also have unique actions only they can perform – and I imagine this will be expanded further in later supplements. Each action also has different costs – for example a “Normal Move” costs 1AP but a “Fall Back” costs 2AP making it important to weigh up what each operative can do with the limited pool of AP they have (While most units have 2AP this can be higher or lower depending on the unit! Plus there are ways of granting additional AP allowing you to set up some cool cinematic combos)

Combat

Combat is quite different to 40k and differs further between shooting and close combat.

For ranged combat, the shooter will roll a number of dice equal to the attacks characteristic of that weapon looking to roll equal or higher than their BS – any roll of a 6 is a critical hit however, which both does more damage and is harder to negate.

The defender then rolls a number of dice equal to their defence value – this may be more or less dice than the number of times they have been hit too! They are then looking for a save value (For example 5+ for guardsmen) with 6s being a critical save.

For each normal save they make they can negate a normal hit, for 2 normal saves they can negate a critical hit and for each critical save they can negate a normal or critical hit.

This is a great system and makes even making a save roll exciting when you see those 6’s pop up!

In close combat we get echoes of early editions of 40k – Each player rolls a number of dice equal to the attacks of one of their weapons, again with standard and critical hits being separated – then starting with the attacker they take turns picking a dice and choosing to either cause damage to their opponent directly or parry one of their opponent’s blows – defence stat is for nothing in brutal close combat if you get stabbed in the face with a rusty blade!

By parrying you sacrifice that hit to remove one of the opponents hits, again with your critical rolls being able to remove their criticals. As you take turns doing this your pool of dice will shrink as the fight goes on, so seeing an opponent with lots of hits you may decide to simply use your single hit to do some damage, or instead if you re badly wounded you might use your hits to reduce the damage coming into you. This is a really cool system that represents the back and forth in a close combat fight that would be too cumbersome to represent in a large scale game, but works brilliantly here!

As each operative has on average 7 wounds each it means you can get some suitably cinematic battles with two rivals playing a game of cat and mouse as one perhaps gets wounded and tries to slink away into cover while their counterpart hunts them down to finish the job. Once an operative has lost half their wounds they also reduce their movement, BS and WS to represent them being on their last legs!

Ways to Play

As with most other GW games, Kill Team keeps the “3 ways to play” mantra allowing different play styles.

Open Play as you would imagine is more open, with the rules presenting more of a frame work with the players themselves deciding on any special rules, objectives and storyline along with a basic example mission.

Matched Play is designed for tournament play, and here we see each player being able to bring a list of 20 operatives, but then select the actual members of the kill team once they know the mission, terrain and deployment zones – this is great as represents how a kill team would be tailored for the mission at hand then sent to do the job, rather than being a random collection of guys not suited to that specific mission.

Each player secretly makes a deck of 6 cards for their secondaries, then draw cards two at a time keeping one and discarding the other until they have a final 3 semi-randomised secondaries – again I love this as you will know what is in the deck, but you cannot guarantee what 3 you end up with.

Finally after deployment there is the scouting phase where essentially you pick from Fortify, Infiltrate and Recon each having a different benefit but each also beating a different choice as in rock, paper scissors. The outcome of the scouting phase determines who gets the first game, and crafty players may be able to bluff and second guess their opponent based on the rewards for each choice.

Finally we get Spec Ops which is the Narrative Play module for Kill Team and where I feel the game is at it’s strongest. If you have played Crusade or Path to Glory then you know the drill here (And Spec Ops actually kinda works as a blend of the two) you start with a kill team and over the course of the campaign you will gain experience, earn special equipment and goals, expand your available pool of operatives and even expand your base of operations from a hasty built forward post to a bustling command centre.

As with Crusade your operatives will level up and gain more skills, or perhaps take injuries or even die if they fall in combat

The Base of Operations is fun and works like the strongholds in Age of Sigmar with you being able to upgrade the facilities such as being able to build a Med Bay where you can potentially save your injured operatives or build an engineering bay that can be used to create a temporary fortification in the drop zone your are headed into. As with your operatives you are encouraged to create some background for your base – is it a strike cruiser in orbit for example, or maybe it’s a mighty Ork Fortress crafted from the destroyed tanks of your enemies? I can see us having a lot of fun with this!

Like with the quests in Age of Sigmar, Spec Ops also features some overarching objectives that will take several games to achieve, but earn you upgrades, equipment, experience and other benefits for finishing them. Again while we get a list in the book I imagine we will see more warzone or army specific ones added in the future.

Battles then follow the same core rules as Matched Play missions – which I do feel it makes Spec Ops the best way of playing Kill Team as not only do you get the full core game experience, but you also get the fun narrative content on top of this!

Finally we get a mission pack of 9 missions – the mission pack concept is something we have seen in multiple systems and is a great way for GW to put out additional content on a regular basis.

The fact that Kill Team contains both the “intro” rules and a full rulebook is a massive plus in my eyes, and while it may be lacking in terrain really makes this the most accessible way of getting into Kill Team. To take full advantage of the Kill Teams in the box then you will need to pick up the separate Octarius supplement too.

This is the exact same book that was preciously contained in the Octarius box, and acts as somewhat of a “Codex” for the Death Korps of Krieg and the Kommandos.

The storyline covers the recent events of the Octarius arc.

Essentially, Inquisitor Kryptman had the idea that the best way to deal with the Orks and Tyranids in that region of space was to draw a hive fleet towards Ork inhabited planets – the plan being that they would destroy each other and thus save humanity. Unfortunately he did not account for the fight that the more Orks fight then the bigger and tougher they get, with the Tyranids hungrily consuming this biomass to create even more deadly organisms. Rather than wipe out two Xenos races he has inadvertently made both even stronger! And so the forces of the Imperium have been sent do deal with this mess, including a spec ops team of Death Korps of Krieg who are performing strikes on an Ork force

The rest of the book is then essentially the “Codex” for both factions in the box, with lore and rules for all the models contained within plus an additional 9 mission battle pack allowing you to fight your battles in this killzone – While you get just the profiles in the Starter Set, the Octarius book fleshes this out with the Spec Ops rules, Tac Ops and Equipment in order to use them to their full potential.

This book also is a good sign that all Kill Team supplements will be available separately in future, presumably when the individual boxed Kill Teams are released (Such as the Tau and Sisters of Battle in Chalnath)

The additional missions also expand your options for games of Kill Team, giving you some additional variety on top of those in the core book.

Summary

So what do I think of the Kill Team Starter Set? I have to say, I’m presently surprised at the value contained in this box! Considering that just buying the core rules and templates from the GW webstore would cost £50 alone, the fact you can get 2 full kill teams (Both being very recent kits with great options), a playing surface with (admittedly light) scenery, and a “Recruit Edition” book teaching you how to play for £65 (And potentially less from 3rd party sites such as Element Games) makes this a fantastic buy in my eyes!

The new edition of Kill Team is great fun and well worth checking out for any 40k fans who want to mix things up with a different kind of games focussed more on the actions of individual operatives rather than the army based antics of Warhammer 40,000!

Kill Team Starter Set is up for pre order today and is released on Saturday 29th January

Games Workshop provided free review copies to Sprues and Brews for review purposes

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