Kill Team Starter Set Preview - Warhammer 40K Skirmish Warfare

Warhammer 40K Kill Team is a new smaller scale skirmish game for those who want to play Warhammer with a lighter footprint

Published: July 18, 2018 9:27 PM /

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A Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team placeholder image

Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 (Warhammer 40K or simply 40K) is usually best known for large scale combat between opposing forces, bringing squads of heavily armed troops, tanks, airborne units, and even titans to war. Boxed and specialist games have allowed players to battle on smaller and larger scales, but with the new version of Kill Team, players are able to fight out dedicated smaller scale special operation's battles with elite covert troops. In this preview, we'll answer some key questions like is Kill Team Warhammer 40K? Is it an Entry Level game? We will also look at the Starter Set product, including an unboxing, the rules and in detail preview of the two factions contained within the Starter Set.


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The Skitarii and Neophytes Hybrids Kill Teams fight it out amongst some Imperial ruins.


Is Kill Team Warhammer 40K?

Kill Team allows players to use their miniatures from Warhammer 40K, but the rules and army compositions are slightly different. In order to play Kill Team, you will need access to the Kill Team core rulebook, either through the Starter Set or bought separately. Kill Team does use dedicated cards and counters, but these just make your life simpler when playing Kill Team and aren't a requirement for play.

Kill Team is very much Warhammer 40K in terms of setting and feel, and while some of the rules are similar and clearly based on the Warhammer 40K core rules, it does feel like a different game and very much identifies as a skirmish game. Games of Warhammer 40K, even at lower points values, can last for a couple of hours, but by its nature, Kill Team is designed to be played in well under an hour and usually at around 30-40 mins depending on player experience and troops used.


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The Imperial Ruins scenery in Kill Team can be combined to make high ruins, or left apart to spread across the battlefield.


The Kill Team starter set is a superb product in terms of contents, rules, and value. It's enough for two players to have many hours of gaming straight out of the box, and as well as acting as a great introduction to Kill Team, it also sets up a player with everything they would need to play Kill Team should they wish to use a different faction in the future.

If players do want to play a different faction than those included in the Starter Set, the core rulebook is available separately and players are then free to buy Warhammer 40K miniatures or the dedicated Kill Team faction packs, of which two are already planned. However, the scenery, miniatures, cards, and counters on top of the core rulebook in the Starter Set do make it worthwhile for anyone considering taking it up. The beauty of Kill Team is that with the small model counts, players are able to play a much larger number of different factions than you would in any other full-scale wargame.

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The contents of the Kill Team Starter Set are:

  • Kill Team Core Rulebook
  • A quickstart guide to Kill Team
  • 10 Adeptus Mechanics Skitarii warrior with a huge amount of customization options
  • 10 Genestealer Cult Neophytes warriors with a huge amount of customization options
  • A high quality scenery set of Imperial Ruins and a 22" x 30" playmat
  • A set of blank data cards for recording the information and stats of your Kill Team (with some pre-filled in examples of the Skitarrii and Cult Neophytes)
  • A set of tactics cards, universal for all factions as well as unique cards for the Skitarii and Cult Neophytes that are only available in this set
  • Two background booklets for the Skitarii and Cult Neophytes looking in detail at the Kill Teams
  • A set of dice and a ruler

Is the Kill Team Starter Set an Entry Level product?

The short answer is no. While the Starter Set is an amazing product and includes everything that is required for two players to have some amazing games, the technical detail on the hobby side of the scenery and miniatures do set it slightly above entry level. Also, the two Kill Teams within the Starter Set, while reasonably straight-forward, can be quite tactical in their use. It's also worth noting that while you can get 100 points out of the Skitarii units, you will need to buy some additional units to balance your force and the Genestealer Cults will require more units in order to be able to field a 100 point Kill Team. This is just a starter set though, and while learning the rules, balancing the forces between the two sides is straight-forward enough with lower points games, until you expand the forces further.

The more detailed answer though is that yes, Kill Team itself is very much an Entry Level game; it's just the Starter Set that requires a more experienced level of hobby knowledge. The fact that players are playing with a very small, select amount of miniatures keeps the overall cost very low, as well as being very appealing and a great lead-in to collecting Warhammer 40K full scale. As an example, a player playing a Space Marine Kill Team would be able to buy a few squads for individual miniatures and play with those before looking to create a full force for use in Warhammer 40K, and as the rules are clearly based on and overlap with the Warhammer 40K core rules, players shouldn't be out of their depth going into 40K afterwards. The Starter Set products for Know No Fear and First Strike for Warhammer 40K, however, are incredible as Entry Level products as detailed in our Start Collecting Warhammer 40K article. That's not to put beginners off Kill Team; as a Starter Set it is perfect, but the level of detail in the miniatures, scenery, and the amount of  options of miniature construction for the two Starter Set Kill Teams will require some time, patience, and work from a beginner.

For those already experienced in Warhammer 40K, or other miniature wargames, there will be nothing holding you back from this product, as the miniatures and scenery are extremely rewarding, and Kill Team is a fast-paced and challenging skirmish game.


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The Kill Team Core Rulebook and Beginners Guides.


The rules for Kill Team do have a firm base in the Warhammer 40K core rules, with unit stats, rolling to hit, and wound coming straight from the 40K rules, with some changes for range and modifiers. Where the two products most differ, though, is in army activation. In Warhammer 40K, during a turn, a player will move, shoot, and fight in close combat with all of their models, and with the exception that their opponent also fights back in close combat, nearly everything is done in their own turn. In Kill Team, players take alternate activations with their Kill Team members. In the movement phase, the player with the initiative moves all of their warriors, and the next player in turn moves all of theirs; however, in the shooting and close combat phase, players take turns to shoot or engage in close combat throughout the phase. What we like about this subtle difference in phases is the tactical choices in the movement phase. Going first allows you to charge enemy units with your own, possibly locking them up in combat for the rest of the turn, but it comes at the price of your opponent knowing where all of your units are. When they move all of their units after you, they can position to take advantage of units left in the open or move away from units that have taken up a prime firing position. This is a level of tactical choice you wouldn't get in alternating movement actions.

Kill Team also includes some unique rules that really emphasize the skirmish, covert operations style of gameplay. For example, the Scouting Phase allows all players to declare an action out of several possible actions. Most of the choices are an advantage or a direct counter to that advantage. The Take Forward Positions scouting action allows you to move 1/5 of your troops forward, but if your opponent chooses the Eliminate Sentries scouting action, they will be able to fire at those units that moved forward in your Take Forward Positions action. If you both chose the same action, a roll off occurs to see who gets to complete the action.


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Some of the Kill Team Generic Tactics cards that are avilabale to all factions.


Other elements are rules for an ongoing Kill Team campaign, with individual warriors getting experience and developing abilities, as well as rolling for models that were wounded or taken out during the last mission to see if they are dead, unavailable for the next mission, or good to go. Three Open Play Missions and eight Narrative Play Missions are also detailed in full in the rulebook, as well as rules for making some warriors specialists and the abilities gained by doing so. The rules for Tactics are also listed, which are actions that are paid for with Command Points and get generated each turn. There are Generic Tactics that are available to all, as well as Faction Specific Tactics for each Kill Team.

Over half of the Kill Team Core Rulebook is taken up with details for each Kill Team, listing the points costs, stats, abilities, background information, available weapons. and tactics for each Kill Team. as well as tables of information that can be rolled randomly or selected to flesh out the background information for your Kill Team and its warriors.

The Kill Teams detailed so far are:

  • Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines)
  • Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard)
  • Adeptus Mechanicus
  • Grey Knights
  • Deathwatch
  • Genestealer Cults
  • Tyranids
  • Necrons
  • Tau
  • Orks
  • Asuryani
  • Drukhari
  • Harlequins
  • Heretic Astartes
  • Thousand Sons
  • Death Guard
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The Kill Team counters and accessories.

Genestealer Cults and Adeptus Mechanicus Kill Teams

The Kill Team Starter Set includes two Kill Teams and all the accessories you will need to run them: the Adeptus Mechanicus, made up of Skitarii warriors dedicated to the machine god, and the Genestealer Cults, Imperial citizens who have given over to an alien lifeform and worship them, along with baring the benefits of its mutation.

The Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures sprue includes enough parts to make 10 Skitarii warriors, either Rangers or Vanguards. Rangers are long-range specialists and Vanguards are similar but have a radioactive ability that affects enemy units close to them. The Skitarii have access to some incredible weapons, including the Transuranic Arquebus, a powerful sniper rifle, and the Plasma Caliver, which is capable of tearing through even the toughest armor. The Adeptus Mechanicus also have access to Canticles of the Omnissiah, which allows them to select a blessing from the Machine God each turn to direct the style of attack they want to push. The Skitarii also get a 6+ invulnerable save, which means that regardless of the armor piercing value of the weapon is that hits them, they will always have a chance of surviving.


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Some of the Adeptus Mechanicus and Genestealer Cult tactics cards, unique to their factions.


The available options for putting your Adeptus Mechnicus from the sprue together is incredible. The Kill Team starter set includes a booklet on Gamma-Zhul-881 with background information and also data cards for the warriors already pre-filled in, which you can follow if you want to start with that Kill Team or a variation. You can see how we constructed our Skitarii Kill Team, Decima-Dak-43.55, in the images below. We opted for 5 Rangers and 5 Vanguard, with a gunner carrying a heavier weapon in each including the Transuranic Arquebus because not only does the miniature look incredible, it's very much a force multiplier on the battlefield.


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Our Skitarii Kill Team, Decima-Dak-43.55.


The Genestealer Cults sprue includes enough parts to construct 10 Neohpyte Hybrids with a variation of weapons, including heavy weapons, a cult icon, and several weapon combinations for the leader. The Cult Hybrids aren't as durable as the Skitarii, and while they have access to some solid heavy weapons, their standard loadout is limited in comparison. Each warrior is around half the points of the Skitarii and also much more deadly in close combat, so closing the distance to take advantage of this is key. They can also take up to four heavier weapons than their standard loadout, so can be pretty diverse in their weapon selections.


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Some blank and filled in data cards for the squads in Kill Team.


As with the Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii Kill Team, the available options for putting your Genestealer Cult Neophytes Hybrids together from the sprues is incredible. The Kill Team starter set includes a booklet on Devoted Sons with background information and also data cards for the warriors already pre-filled in, which you can follow if you want to start with that Kill Team or a variation. As mentioned before, if you want to field a 100 point Kill Team with the Neohpytes Hybrids, you will need to buy further models as the starter set gets you around 60-70 points full equipped. You can see how we constructed our Neophytes Hybrid Kill Team, The Chosen of the Dark, in the image below. We opted for a leader, a hybrid carrying a cult icon, and four gunners with a mining laser, seismic cannon, flamer, and grenade launcher.


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Our Neophytes Hybrid Kill Team, The Chosen of the Dark.


Kill Team goes on pre-order on July 21st and on sale July 28th. Games Workshop have several other releases planned on launch day, including two Kill Teams for Orks and Space Wolves, and also a Kill Team Killzone mission and scenery pack.

We're going to be doing a lot more coverage of Kill Team, including tying it in to our Start Collecting Series, where we will see how our Raven Guard force get on in Kill Team as well. If you would like the TechRaptor Tabletop Team to try out a different Kill Team as well, let us know in the comments below.


This copy of Kill Team used for this preview was provided by Warhammer Community.


Are you excited for Kill Team? Which factions are you most looking forward to? Are you planning to play several factions? Let us know in the comments below.

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A Potts TechRaptor
| Senior Tabletop Writer

Adam is a Tabletop Specialist for TechRaptor. He started writing for TechRaptor in 2017 and took over as Tabletop Editor in 2019 and has since stood down… More about Adam

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Learn more about Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team
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