Introduction to Kill Team


Killteam is Game Workshops skirmish wargame set in the 40k universe. You’ll lead an elite squad of warriors tasked with a mission.

In this video, I’ll give a brief overview of the rules, just enough to give you an idea what it’s like to play, and I’ll talk you through the options in getting started.

Kill Team is played on a 30 by 22 inch board. Each player controls a killteam which will have between 4 and 14 models, called operatives.

The game is based on alternating activations, with each operative activated once per turn and able to take a number of actions equal to their Action Point Limit, which typically is 2. Some operatives move in groups, so when you activate a model with a group activation characteristic of 2 or more you must then keep activating operative of the same time until they hit the number. 

Actions are the typical Move, Charge, Fall Back, Dash, Shoot, Fight, and so on.  All very familiar. A very clever twist on this formula is that operatives are always considered to either be concealed, or engaged. This is a special ops mission after all. A concealed operative cannot be shot at if they’re behind some cover of concealment, even if the shooter can see part of the model. A concealed character cannot shoot,  charge, or overwatch so there is a bit of a trade off. When you activate the operative, you get to decide if they’re staying concealed or engaging, and that will remain that way until they activate again.

The shoot action is performed by rolling number of dice equal based on the Attacks from the weapon profile, each dice equal to or higher than the Ballistic Skill is considered a hit with 6s counting as a critical hit. The defender then rolls a number of dice equal to their Defense characteristic looking for dice equal or greater than the Save value. Each successful defence dice will remove an attack, but to remove a critical attack the defender needs a 6 themselves or two successful defence dice.

Damage is then calculated with each hit doing damage in the first part of the damage characteristic and each critical hit doing damage equal to the second part.

The melee fight action follows a similar process, but the defender rolls their own melee weapon attack dice instead of defence.  Then starting with the attacker, each player can use their dice one at a time to either Strike doing damage, or parry discard their opponents hits, with critical only discarded by other critical.

Each fighter accumulates damage, once they’ve taken half their total wounds in damage they are considered injured and their move, ballistic skill. and weapon skill  all reduce by 1. Once the total damage equals or exceeds their wounds they are incapacitated and are removed from the battlefield.

And that’s essentially the game. There are lots of special rules, and players have Command Points they can spend on special abilities, but that’s all icing on the core. Games are usually played in matched play with each kill team trying to achieve victory points from the main mission objective and three secondary objectives called tac ops. 

This game has special ops against special ops, and the teams you have available represent this by having very limited options. If you want to send Space Marines in to deal with a problem, you send a team of Intercessors or a Phobos Strike team but you can never mix them. 

Within each kill team there are a number of options, like a leader, medic, heavy weapon, and so on. Rather than worrying about points, you’re told the total number of operatives you can pick from the list with many of the choices limited to only one.

As an example, we have the intercessor list here. You get to pick one leader, who will either be a Assault Intercessor Sergeant or an Intercessor Sergeant. You then get to pick 5 more operatives, but only the Intercessor Warrior and the Assault Intercessor Warrior can be picked more than once, so you can have one Assault Intercessor Grenadier and only one Intercessor Gunner. 

Since it’s normally the good stuff that gets restricted, this means, your list typically is going to be a Sergeant,  a Grenadier, a Gunner, and the remaining 3 will come from the the two Warrior options. 

At the start of each game, you select your operatives for that game, so it’s worthwhile having a bench so you can tailor for the mission and your opponent. You also get to choose up to 10 points worth of special equipment, giving you more flexibility 

So the good news is getting started with Killteam is super easy. The basic rules are available on the Warhammer Community website as is the Intercessor Killteam. So you could put together two kill teams from your collection of Space Marines and try it out on whatever scenery you already have. The rules do leave out a bunch of things, notably a mission. 

That’s easily remedied by putting down some objective tokens in a relatively even way on the board. You control an objective if you have more total APL within 2 inches of it. Score 1 vp for each objective you control at the end of each turn and play it out for 4 turns. Warhammer community also has details of a few missions that you can play.

I would also suggest putting your list together in battlescribe and then load that roster into This generates some fantastic looking Datacards that you can name and include the image of your model. You can also use this to make some equipment cards, so you can quickly switch options before each battle.

If that’s enough to interest you, the Core Rulebook is an excellent starting point. Currently, you can buy it separately or as part of the Ocatvius or Into the Dark box sets. It spells out the rules in more detail, adding a few, has options for Open, Matched, and Narrative play along with a bunch of missions and the secondary objectives. Typically you’ll be playing the 9 games on page 119 the Critical Operations Mission Pack.

If you’re not going for a box set to start, there are two packs that might be of interest. The first is the Kill Teams Essentials box which has all the tokens you’d need, a set of barricades which can be placed strategically after terrain setup, and a set of measuring tools. You can also get a Tac Ops Cards box which card version of the Tac Ops secondary objectives from the rule book.

Each box has enough for two players in it.

I would recommend the Essentials box, while you make your own barricades, measuring tool, and tokens it’s easy to pick them all up and they’re all good quality. I definitely would paint up the measuring tools and if you have some blood bowl transfers add the numbers to the symbols.

I don’t think I’d recommend the Tac Ops cards though. Normally you’d select six tac ops you’d like, then at the start of the battle you draw 2, discard 1 and keep 1, draw another 2, discard 1 and keep 1, and do that again one last time. So you’ll end up with 3 secondary objectives. As we talked about with the Necromunda cards video, it’s much easier to write down the 6 options and use a deck of normal cards. If you want to keep flavourful, pick up the Kill Team playing cards.

Three of the tac op cards just say Faction Tac Op 1, 2, 3 referring to your kill teams faction specific options anyway, so they’re already just references. If you do decide to go with the pack, be aware the Rob and Ransack card has been misprinted and you should ignore the bullet points on the card and look at the rulebook instead.

There current are two Starter sets Octavius and Into the Dark. Both boxes have the rulebook, essentials kit, and tac ops card all included. Now be careful as there are number of additional boxes that look like starter kits but are just two kill teams bundled with some scenery. These are also a legitimate option, especially if you prefer the kill teams, but you will need to get the rulebook and essentials kit separate. 

If you’re getting a box with two kill teams in it, so the starters or any of the boxes with terrain, then you will get a book that contains the rules for those kill teams. This kill teams do get released in their own boxes, but those boxes do not contain the rules for them, so you need to pick up an additional book to go along with it.

So lets talk about the options and where the rules are.

The first book to look at is the Compendium, this has 19 different kill teams in it and looks like a fantastic starting point, but I’d heavily advise it, and I say that as someone flicking through their own copy right now. The compendium came out with the start of this new edition, and people quickly drew comparisons between the teams in this book and the Veteran Guardsman and Ork Kommandos in the box set. The box teams were just, better. They had more options and were better fleshed out. Since then, GW have been releasing more kill teams and as they do the ones in the compendium have been phased out. 

The 2022 Annual only has 6 kill teams, but these are all full developed and much more fun to play. The Elucdian Starstriders and Gellerpox Infected originally appeared in an old kill team box with a Rogue Traders ship being attacked by chaos infected crew. The models were released in new boxes and the rules updated for the new edition. The remaining 4 all originally appeared in White Dwarf and are Ad Mech, Genestealer Cult, Thousand Sons, and Harlequins respectively.

After that, we’re looking at double box releases. Each of these books were originally part of a big box but now you can pick up the book and kill teams individually.  Octarious had Imperial Guard versus Orks, Moroch had Space Marines versus Chaos Cultists, Chalnath had Battle Sister Noviaties versus Tau Pathfinders, and Nachmund had Eldar versus Chaos Space Marines.

We’re currently in the Into the Dark season. This featured combat in the confined spaces of a space hulk. So far we’ve seen Imperial Navy versus Kroot in the core box and Cadian Elite Kasrkin versus Necrons in the Shadowvaults kit. A third one in this line called Gallowdark is due, but we don’t know yet what that will consist of. Right now these are only available in the big boxes, but we can expect the books and individual kill teams to be available separately in time.

One difference from the previous edition that I should note, is  previously you could pull out your collection of 40k models and put together a kill team. That’s not really the case anymore.. To look at the Veteran Guard as an example, this is a box of Krieg, but you aren’t going to be able to get a way with an old 10 man squad. The set is full of character and detail and the kill team list uses that. So you don’t just have 10 guardsmen, you have a Sergeant, a Confidant, a Zealot , a Medic, a Comms, a Demolition, a Bruiser, a Hardened, a Sniper, a Spotter, a Gunner, and a normal Trooper. 

When you take this team to the bigger 40k, they become a squad of generic troopers, but if you want to do the reverse you’ll have to find some way of making the distinctions between your different troopers clear.

I’m not sure if this was simply a case of the designers getting to use these awesome miniatures, but during the previous edition I did recall a rumour that GW had no idea how well Kill Team was doing, as players could have been picking up the models for either 40k or Kill Team. Now it’s very clear, and anecdotally, I think Kill Team is doing great. 

There are a limited number where that isn’t the case. The Hunter Clade, Wyrmblade, Warpchosen, Void-Dancers, and Intercession squad all don’t have boxes, so you just pick up the 40k models and build them from that.  

In addition, The Phobos, Tau Pathfinder, and Necron Hierotek kill teams all are built from 40k models with a bonus sprew. So they do have boxes but the differences might be minor enough that you could get away with using your existing models. Out of those I think the Hieroteck will be the trickiest as you need two Plasmacytes along with it. These two have Kill Team box sets, or if they don’t yet like in the case of the Necrons they eventually will. 

Looking at Tau, I can see the 40k box is 34 euros and the kill team version 42.50 . The bonus sprew is pretty nice, but I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s worth 8.50. Remember, you don’t get the rules in these boxes so that’s all for the sprue. For some of the teams, like the Veteran guard where there are very similar operatives that need to be told apart, this is very useful, but that’s not the case for all.

Once you’ve got your rules and your Kill Teams, you just need scenery and you’re good to go. There are a range of options from the Kill Team kits, much of it reused 40k scenery. Due to the way Killteams are formed, it’s relatively easy to put together every possible option and essentially finish collecting for that team, normally a single box will give you everything you need for a team but some require two for all the options, which often is a little overkill. So soon you’ll be looking at adding more scenery to make your tabletop a little more exciting and you’ll looking for the next kill team to pick up.

The core book does have a campaign option, and the Into the Dark book has an interesting version where you’re exploring deeper into a Space Hulk. I have to admit, I’ve been quite happy just playing it in matched play as the way you can change operatives and equipment each game gives plenty of variety and means each different opponent and mission is a new puzzle to unravel. I would definitely recommend going for a variety of different terrain types as a kill team will perform a lot differently across an open cityscape than it will in tight confines. 

The 2 team boxes do have everything you need to make a really enjoyable experience and it’s definitely worth staying focused on getting both teams painted up and the scenery looking great. Paint up the templates with the corresponding colour and number for the symbols. Definitely use battle scribe and, or some alternative, that will get you some great looking reference cards for your operatives and equipment. The little touches like this make the game a lot easier to play and a lot more fun.

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Check us out on the Optimal Game State website, Mastodon, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the Games Workshop Specialist Games.

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