posted by MinistryofLard Original SA post

Let's Review: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Part 1: Introduction

Warhammer gets brought up a lot in these threads, because its such a huge product and setting and has been around for years. 40K RPGs have been dissected pretty thoroughly in this thread too. But I don't play RPGs very much, mostly because I don't have the time to commit to a regular group weekly and also because I like trying to win. But I do play the wargames, and Kill Team is a cool game which kind of bridges the two.

Kill Team is a skirmish miniatures wargame produced and released by Games Workshop, which came out last year. It's played using 40K models, and is set in the same setting of eternal and nonstop war between the fascist human genocidal Imperium, their also genocidal enemies in the assembled forces of Chaos, and the collection of xeno alien species on the side. While much of the ruleset is ported from base 40k (sometimes without necessarily thinking about it), Kill Team is about small teams of soldiers fighting small, desperate skirmishes, as opposed to the larger front battles of Warhammer 40,000. And in reducing the scope of the battles you fight, Kill Team allows you to build a way more interesting narrative. Kill Team tries to be all about playing out cool action and war movies, and reinforces it using game mechanics.

I like playing Kill Team much more than Warhammer 40,000, for a few reasons. Kill Team is a much more tactical game, and is all about ducking, weaving through cover and pulling off positioning until you get into a strike, because the game mechanics encourage making heavy use of terrain. Because of the fewer models and dice rolls, it's much more swingy - a single roll can decide the game, and every phase feels like a tense firefight. And because every game feels like a tense firefight, and there are few enough models in each game that you get invested in the characters and the backstories that they create. Then there's Kill Team campaigns, where your Kill Team grows and develops through the tense firefights they create - reinforcing the unique characters they become.

Kill Team really allows you to play through the idealised Games Workshop experience, in which you build, paint and game with Your Dudes. And in doing so creates a really fun game, which I'd like to explore as a mechanism for creating and encouraging a narrative through the rules in the book.

I'll aim to be going through the book, and talk about the mechanics, what they're trying to evoke, and how well they succeed. And because it is fundamentally a wargame about your dudes, I'll talk about how those dudes work on the tabletop, and the balance and relative brokenness of various teams. There's been a few updates and expansions to Kill Team since release in mid July, so i'll go through those afterwards, but mostly i'll try to talk about balance and mechanics both in the context in which they were released and updated afterwards.

Kill Team is definitely a ride, and while it's probably not obscure, it's a pretty interesting game.


posted by MinistryofLard Original SA post

Let's Review: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Part 2: Fluff

Kill Team is introduced as a fast paced miniatures game about small but powerful bands of warriors having hard fought desperate battles. I appreciate that the manual explicitly tells you, on page one, that it is about creating a "cinematic tabletop experience... where every combatant counts and every model develops their own personality and history." This is part of the objective of pretty much every Games Workshop game, but in base 40K everything is constantly about the eternal meatgrinder of war in which the individual is not even a footnote - Kill Team is the only game where, in a campaign, I'll feel emotionally attached to the actual individuals and their narratives.

The Kill Team core manual kicks off with a brief description of the setting of 40K, in which a massive, galaxy spanning, decrepit fascist Imperium of Man is trapped in an endless war with it's enemies. 40K fiction and fluff tends to oscillate a bit on whether the Imperium is a) a shitty place and a satire of fascism or b) a shitty place that is simultaneously the only hope for humanity because the writers have crafted a setting where genocide and xenophobia is justified. Kill Team's fluff leans into the second more than the first, which is unfortunate. I won't spend too much time reiterating 40K lore, except where it relates to the game and the factions, but the Imperium is huge (exactly as big as it needs to be) and has been in an eternal war for 10,000 years. Everything is very grim and dark. Humanity worships the eternal God-Emperor who was a really mighty human space wizard who forged the Imperium, then got killed by his renegade son in a huge civil war and placed on an immortal Golden Throne which is either preserving or killing him. The Imperium uses their eternal God Emperor as a psychic lighthouse which guides their FTL travel, which has to go through Hell. The Imperium is served by it's Space Marines, who are Noble Space Knights and the only people allowed to have any agency in the 40K universe, the billions strong Astra Militarum AKA the Imperial Guard (regular human soldiers), and the Adeptus Mechanicus, who are space cyborg cultists who worship the Emperor as a fragment of the Machine God.

Given primary narrative billing is Chaos, personified by the Four Chaos Gods. Chaos really hates the Imperium, mostly because it does, and takes every effort to corrupt and destroy it. It's primary vehicle in its war are the forces of the Heretic Astartes, the Chaos Space Marines, who are the noble Space Knights that Chaos corrupted into its service, beginning the Horus Heresy which put the Emperor on the Golden throne. It also holds sway over teeming masses of cultists and renegade Imperial Guard, the latter of which gets no billing outside of the fluff, and also evil demons (called Daemons), who get a full army in 40K and eventually got a supplement in Kill Team. As far as the Heretic Astartes are concerned, their Long War against the Imperium is still going, and they are consumed with Hatred for the Imperium. This doesn't stand out much because everyone is consumed with hatred in the setting.

Also bessetting, and in most cases beset by, humanity are various races of aliens and xenos. There are the Aeldari, or space elves, which come in Regular, Dark, and Clown flavours. There's the Necrons (space Skeletors), who are waking up from their tombs from long before humanity was even a glint their ancestor's eyes, the everpresent Orks (green space football hooligans), and the Tyranids, an extra galactic legion of space locusts, and their worshippers, the pseudo-revolutionary Genestealer cults which rise up before them. There's also the T'au (the apostrophe is very important for IP purposes), who are blue Starfleet in that they want to absorb and civilise aliens rather than just exterminating them.

Everyone in the 40K universe always capital H Hates everyone else, including themselves, deliberately as a pretext so every army can fight every army, including their own. The Imperium is a constant mess of feuding factions who are more interested in their own advancement than the Imperium they ostensibly defend, except when Noble Space Marines are Noble and Exorcise the Corruption from within - 40K fiction has a bit of a glorification of fascism problem. Chaos is perpetually at war with itself, because the Four Chaos gods hate eachother only marginally less than the Imperium, and to get anything done they have to cooperate through gritted teeth - their followers hate each other, in many cases their patron gods, and 99% of the time themselves. The Xenos are no less fractious.

Recently, Games Workshop moved the storyline along and Chaos' lead commander, Abbadon the Despoiler, has achieved his goal for the last 8000 years and created a massive warp storm which has split the Imperium in half, meaning that the Imperium, which has been on the verge of falling the entire history of the game line, is now, uh, more on the verge of falling. A figurative son of the Emperor, the Primarch Roboute Guilliman, has come back from the dead and seized control of the Imperium. Everything is grimmer and darker than ever.

We get another few pages of fluff, about the kinds of skirmishes a Kill Team fights. Kill Team is about the desperate skirmish fights that underpin wars. Sometimes their mission is assassination, or destruction of a vital strategic or spiritual asset. Sometimes, your kill team is trapped behind enemy lines and must fight it's way out, or are scouts or raiders cutting off enemy lines. Sometimes, your protagonists are heroes, other times, they're brutal opportunists.

All fights between kill teams are explicitly close quarters firefights in tangled terrain - the fluff encourages you to litter the battlefield with terrain and obstacles. This is pretty necessary for the gameplay as well - the ruleset doesn't function unless terrain is dense. Every single shot and blade strike counts and could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

We get a sidebar on the Warp - the hell dimension in which Chaos thrives. All ships have to go through the Warp to achieve FTL travel. The Warp mutates everything it comes into contact with and messes with reality hardcore. In areas of heavy chaos activity, the Warp starts to bleed into reality, resulting in realspace turning into the same Hell. This is especially true in the Eye of Terror, which is where the Heretic Astartes fled to after the Heresy. Recently, the Eye of Terror has spilled out into realspace and partitioned the Imperium in half, forming the Great Rift. The planets on the other side of the Rift from Terra can't use the Emperor's psychic lighthouse to navigate the Warp, and the only way the Imperium can reinforce them is through two points which have withstood the rift. These are desperate times.

We get some more pages on the kinds of kill teams which are formed, which we've already written about, and the kind of missions they do. Missions range from the conventional - assassination, sabotage - through to the esoteric - ritual slaughter, summoning of a daemon. Sometimes kill teams are deliberately formed for a mission - other times, they are formed by desperate necessity. All Kill Teams must have a leader - sometimes by rank, by force, by custom or respect. Kill Teams further will have specialists, who are experts in their area. Kill teams and their components grow and develop through experience. We get another sidebar on Kill Team Agrippius, which is a sample Kill Team of Ultramarines (the Vanilla Space knights) who undertake a mission to kill a Chaos Space Marine cult leader. A leader, a sniper, a demolitions expert and a heavy weapons specialist work in close concert to kill destroy him, each leveraging their own specialist area of expertise.

There's another two pages of fluff on the theaters of war. Kill Team battles are meant to be the crucial turning points of campaigns. Wars in the 41st Millenium are fought with vast assets - billions upon billions of soldiers, uncountable numbers of vehicles, skyscraper sized war machines, and city sized spaceships. Kill Teams are used when a scalpel is more efficient then a nuclear weapon, but the stakes are always critically high - the actions of your Kill Team games are meant to change the fate of planets. Kill Teams do battle on any kind of battlefield - from the interior of a massive Ork scrap fortress, a dense jungle planet, buried catacombs,, industrial forge worlds and dense hive planets.

The key theme behind the fluff is that all of it makes your desperate, close battles much easier to bring a narrative behind. The tools are there to give the gameplay some narrative stakes, if you want to think of some, or a campaign, and leverage the emergent narrative from the gameplay.

Next Up: Rules

Core Rules - Stats and Movement

posted by MinistryofLard Original SA post

Let's Review: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Part 3: Core Rules - Stats and Movement

Kill Team is played using Warhammer 40k miniatures and the models in Kill Team correspond to the units from the base game. One of the explicit intents of Kill Team is to sort of sucker you into buying more models and eventually have enough that you go "may as well" and buy the rest of your 40k army. The models in Kill Team are also (mostly) limited to those available in plastic at the time of release, up until expansions, so there's a lot of choices from 40k that don't make it into Kill Team for that exact reason. There's also a few units you tend not see, specifically because they're so bad in 40k or too much effort to get hold of so nobody runs them in their 40k army anyway.

Kill Team mostly uses d6 die - d10 is used pretty rarely. Ocasionally you'll roll a d3, which you get by taking a d6 and dividing the roll by 2 rounding up. To make a roll, you roll the die and add/subtract any modifiers that apply. There's also the concept of an unmodified roll, which is the actual roll before any modifiers. A roll that you need to hit to undertake an action, e.g. a 3, (e.g. you need to roll a 3 on a d6 to hit a unit with your gun) is described as a 3+.

A model will have a bunch of attributes, which also map directly from and to those in 40k.

Move: how far the model moves a turn, in inches
Weapon Skill (WS): What the model needs to roll to hit another model in close combat. This is explicitly the roll value - a space marine has the exact same odds of hitting another space marine as it does a grot.
Ballistic Skill (BS): What the model needs to roll to hit another model with a ranged weapon.
Strength: How strong a model is. This is used to inflict wounds in close combat.
Toughness: How tough a model is (duh). This is used, along with strength to assess if a model is wounded.
Wounds: how much damage a model can take before it is out of action
Attacks: how many rolls you get to make in close combat
Leadership: used to determine if your models break
Save: The roll you make to try to avoid damage after being wounded.
Maximum Number: the maximum number of this model that you can take.

Models will have wargear (equipment), and may/will have special abilities. Models can also be specialists, which will give them some further special abilities.

There's generally a few "equivalent' statlines of strength and toughness that doesn't vary as much across factions and units. A Marine equivalent ("MEQ") generally has a toughness of 4, a strength of 4, and a 3+ save. By contrast, a Guard Equivalent ("GEQ") has a a toughness of 3, a strength of 3 and a 3+ save. Marines are 8 foot tall genetically engineered killing machines, whereas a guardsman is a regular human being, which is an indicator of what those stats mean.

Weapons also have their own statline and profile. Weapons will have:
A range: How far in inches the weapon can shoot. Some weapons are melee only.
Type: The game puts this in the shooting rules, but the summary is;
- assault weapons, which can be fired if the model "advanced" (sprinted, basically) with penalty
- Heavy weapons, which take a penalty if the model moved
- Rapid fire, which doubles the number of shots within half range
- Grenades, which actually don't have any special rules associated with them beyond the fact that you can only fire one at a time, and the model can't fire any other weapons. Grenade weapons tend to have short ranges and lots of shots.
- Pistols, which can be fired into close combat.
The type is always followed by the number of shots the weapon makes.
A strength: used the same way as a model's strength. Melee weapons will normally have a strength which modifies a model strength's.
Amour Penetration (AP): A negative modifier which is applied to the target' model's armour save.
Damage: How many wounds a weapon strips off. This is frequently a D3 or D6 value.
Abilities: Any special abilities a weapon has.

The actual gameplay is divided up into phases. The objective of the game is to have the most Victory Points at the end of the match - the one with the most wins. Victory points are accrued depending on the mission - mostly they're about holding particular locations on a game board, or killing particular enemy models in particular ways. This can, uh, favour some factions and army builds than others, but you get to pick your Kill-Team from a roster before the game kicks off via a specific method so you can tailor your army to the mission.

We kick off with the Initiative Phase - basically, all players will roll 2D6, the winner having to go first and then in games with more than two players the next player takes the next sequence, etc.. Having to go first is not necessarily an advantage, depending on what you want to do, as we'll discuss later.

After that, players take it in turns to move all their models in one go. This is why moving first doesn't necessarily give you an advantage, because your opponent has the full power to react to your moves. Shooting takes place after movement and uses true line of sight, so if you move first then your opponent can move their own models around to be able to target yours and make them sitting ducks, or run into cover so that your own models can't see anything.

Models can also advance in the movement phase, where they add 1d6" onto their movement, but makes them unable to shoot (except where they can). Models get to run up and overterrain, which makes matches all 3 dimensional. Some models can FLY (always spelled like that, FLY is Keyword which is allocated to models - all keywords are bold and allcaps, which helps pick them out - a useful stylistic choice), which allows them to ignore terrain.

Models can also charge in the movement phase, which is the only way to get into close combat. If you are within 12" of an enemy model, you can nominate a target (or several targets), roll 2d6 and move that distance directly towards one of them. If you can get within 1" of ta target you can lock them into close combat. This is the case in which you want to have the initiative - you want to charge before the enemy gets to move away, or charges you, as getting the charge off gives you a string of valuable benefits in close combat. In general, you want to go first against a close combat heavy army, and go second against a shooting heavy army. Of course, you have absolutely no way of affecting the turn order roll - sometimes, you roll poorly at the start of the game and all you can do is futz around and turtle instead of taking Victory Points. This is what I mean about Kill Team being a very swingy game. If you fail a charge, you can still move the FULL distance towards the closest enemy target, or you can stay put. Either way, you can't shoot any weapons that turn.

Models you charge get to respond. If they enemy charging them is 1. Within range of their weapons and 2. within line of sight, they can try to fire at them with their weapons in what is called Overwatch. Overwatch always hits on a 6, regardless of any modifiers applying, which means its always a bit unreliable - unless you're firing a weapon with lots of shots or which has a special rule which automatically hits, like a flamer. Autohit weapons are generally capped at 8" in range, which is conveniently JUST the range for a charge to have a 50% charge of making it. Another fun thing is the requirement to be inside line of sight at the start of the charge to fire Overwatch. This means that you can charge around terrain, or even OVER terrain, to avoid, say, an enemy armed with a flamer and jump them from surprise. And a horrifying four-armed alien gribblie hurling over a ruined wall screaming to ambush a guardsman Aliens-syle is peak Kill-Team and is exactly what this game is all about and I love it.

Models can also retreat exactly once if they get charged (to account for being charged, retreating, and then being charged again, though I don't know why you'd retreat close to another charging model), and not if they moved, where they move up to 3" away from the charging model. This can add up to 3" that the charging model has to roll, which is significant, but the retreating model can't do anything for the rest of the turn. Sometimes it's best pray and spray Overwatch.

Models can choose to Ready themselves instead of moving. Readying allows you to shoot before non-Readied models later in the Shooting Phase, which is pretty powerful. A lot of the time, especially if you're moving first and there's no concrete way to avoid a pressing threat, you may as well just ready and try to take out an enemy toting a powerful weapon when they move up for a good shot.

If you have started the movement phase within 1" of an enemy model (i.e. you charged or got charged last turn), you can also Fall Back out of close combat. You move back up to your Movement stat, but can't shoot, move, charge or react for the rest of the turn. Models which can FLY can fall back and still shoot, meaning they can pivot around and are hard to pin down. Since all ability to move is keyed to not starting the Movement Phase in combat, this means that you can completely ruin enemy's capacity to act by falling back out of combat. You can Charge an enemy model if they fell back from you - unless you had to move first, in which case you can't do anything because your turn to move is over. So if the enemy goes second and falls back from a model they started the turn in combat with, your combat heavy model can now be out, in the open and exposed. The issue is that, like with a lot of Kill Team, there isn't a lot you can do about it - you charged, that's it, you're pinned there until you kill them or they run away.

Side note, to avoid confusion the game recommends placing tokens down to indicate whether models have moved, fired, fallen back, etc. The tokens which came with the base game are, uh, cardboard. I bought some 3D printed tokens of EBay.

Movement in Kill Team is basically the core tactical component of the game. It's an intense game of maneuver as you try to either counter your enemy's moves or predict their next action, get into the fight or try to avoid it, and expose the enemy while avoiding exposure yourself. This means that the whole phase is an actual and meaningful tactical exercise - which small unit combat should be.

Next time: Psychic, Shooting and Combat.

Core Rules - Psychic, Shooting and Close Combat

posted by MinistryofLard Original SA post

Let's Review: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

Part 4: Core Rules - Psychic, Shooting and Close Combat

The Psychic Phase

After the movement phase, play launches right into the Psychic phase.

Some Kill Teams will contain models which can cast psychic powers. Psykers in 40K are straight up Space Wizards who do Space Magic. Psychic powers draw directly from the Warp and are hella dangerous for everyone involved. In manifesting their abilities, Psykers open their minds up to the Warp and become a beacon in and of themselves for Daemons and other warp entities. The Imperium straight up sacrifices most psykers that come up on its worlds to keep the Emperor's psychic beacon working, press gangs them into using their psychic powers for combat use, or recruits them to use as FTL walkie-talkies or predicting the future. This is, uh, no less dangerous and a lot of their comms or prognostication is in the form of weird visions or something otherwise horrifying. Chaos psykers are already insane and cool with the Warp, while the Aeldari (space elves) are all a little bit psychic. The Tyranids (space bugs) are controlled by a vast psychic hivemind who's vast weight drives every single psyker within lightyears insane with non-stop chittering.

After both teams have moved, players then take it in turns, as determined by the Initiative order, to pick a single model to cast all the psychic powers it has. In the core rulebook, there are only two factions which have access to psychic powers, one Imperial and one Chaos. Each of them only have the ability to cast one psychic power per turn. Every psyker knows one, Psybolt, and is the only one that is in the core book. This is honestly all you need most of the time.

To manifest a psychic power, the controlling player will roll 2d6. If the value is equal to or above the power's "warp charge value" then the power successfully manifests. If the roll is a double 1 or a double 6, then the casting model immediately suffers the Perils of the Warp, and screws up in a way that unleashes daemons or other Bad Shit into realspace. They immediately suffer d3 mortal wounds (to be explained later, but basically it immediately strips off a wound), if that kills them not only does the power fail to go off and every model within 3" takes d3 mortal wounds as well. Psykers are a danger to themselves and everyone around them.

An enemy psyker can attempt to Deny the Witch! (another name i love), in order to quash a psychic power. In that case, they must roll higher than the opponents roll on a 2d6. Since psykers are not exactly common in Kill Team, this is not that common but becomes a lot more common in the expansions. Most of the psyker rules are there to set up for future releases.

Psybolt, the common power that all psykers know, is actually pretty good and reliable. It goes off on a 5 on 2d6, and automatically just deals a mortal wound to the closest visible enemy model within 18". On an 11+ psychic roll, it deals d3 mortal wounds instead. Mortal wounds aren't exactly plentiful in Kill Team so a guaranteed reliable source of them, even if it's just one, is pretty good.

The Shooting Phase

The shooting phase normally follows immediately after the Movement Phase, since almost all factions are basically barred from the Psychic phase. There are two separate parts to the Shooting Phase - Ready, Fire, in which all players Readied Models shoot, and then Fire at Will, in which everybody else does. Players alternate between choosing the relevant models in this phase - this means that it's a lot less likely to be blown completely off the board before you can do anything. The I Go You Go model is actually pretty good and is probably better than the prior idea, where your best option was to go for the biggest alpha strike you could and hope you could try to survive the first turn.

To resolve an attack, the player going selects a model, checks if it's in range of the desired target (you can pre-measure - this is far better than the alternative), and fires the amount of shots specified by the weapon. They then roll that many dice to hit against their Ballistic Skill, with a few very important modifiers.

Being outside half the range of a weapon imposes a -1 penalty to hit, which is pretty significant - especially when most models hit on a 3+ at minimum. Even more significant is a -1 penalty to hit if the target model is obscured in any way from the shooting model. These are both really big - you tend to keep your models away from half range of a model with a good gun as much as you can, and there is absolutely no way you will ever let your models not be obscured without another option because it's just an easy buff to survivability. This means that Kill-Team battles really encourage clinging as much to terrain in your fire-fights as you can, meaning that games are desperate affairs of running between cover and trying to seize valuable objectives. Jumping outside is a big risk. Each Flesh Wound (to be further explained) also imposes a -1 to hit penalty.

If attacks successfully hit, they then roll them to wound. The wound roll is dependent on the strength of the attack and the toughness of the target. If the strength is half the toughness, it's a 6+, less a 5+, equal a 4+, more a 3+ and double a 2+. Since pretty much all models are T3 or T4, this means that there are certain magic numbers for strength, and exceeding them isn't that valuable. For example, a weapon being Strength 7 is not any more useful in any case than a Strength 6 weapon. Most weapon and model statlines are taken directly from 40K, where being S7 is a bit more valuable, but in Kill Team there are no vehicles so paying a preimium for S7, S9, or even S10 is 99% of the time pointless.

If you successfully wound, your opponent then rolls against their armour save. You apply the weapons armour penetration (always a negative number) as a modifier to the armour save of the target, and if it fails, the enemy loses as many wounds per attack as the damage of the weapon. Pretty much every unit in the core manual has at most 2 wounds, so damage of weapons above 2 sometimes feels like overkill, but high damage weapons help take enemy models out of action.

If you take an enemy model to 0 wounds, you then get to roll to see if they get taken out of the game - you see, people take all kinds of wounds but keep fighting in action movies. Rolling to take out of action is, uh... a complex part of the game and a really awkward part of the rules. It's sufficiently complex that there is literally a goonhammer article written about interpreting it, especially given that a lot of things are tied into it. The sum of it is that no matter how many shots have made it through the enemy armour, you still you only make one injury roll, though you roll as many dice as the Damage characteristic of the weapon which took the last wound off and pick the highest. You need a 4+ to take the enemy out of action, though this is modified by -1 if the target is obscured from the firing model AND the obscuring terrain is within 1" of the target model - you're basically throwing yourself behind cover to avoid the explosion.

Any wound which doesn't take you out of action inflicts a Flesh Wound (this is distinct from a Mortal Wound). Having a flesh wound impacts your ability to land hits in both close combat and shooting, and makes the next wound inflicted more likely to take you out of action. There's also Mortal Wounds, which are literally just a point of damage - you lose a wound, no armour saves involved. Since most models only have one wound, getting hit with a Mortal Wound is pretty big. That's why having access to Psybolt in the Psychic phase is so powerful - you get to inflict a free Mortal Wound, with limited penalty or trade off, which will either take the affected model right out of the game or massively impact their ability to hit you back later.

Some models also have invulnerable saves in addition to their normal save, which can't be affected by anything (including, as errata'd, positive modifiers). Your invuln is basically the threshold past which any more AP is ineffective. These also tend to be pretty rare.

The "standard" gun tends to be the Humble Bolter, which is wielded by Space Marines as their standard armament. It is a sub-machine gun that fires rocket propelled grenades. This translates to Rapid Fire 1, S4, with no AP. This means that a rocket propelled grenade has, when you crunch the math, about a 1/9 chance of actually hurting an 8 foot tall genetically engineered murder machine, and an 8/27 chance of hurting a regular human being just in case you want some context. Warhammer kind of has a problem reconciling the fluff with the actual in game effectiveness, and that's before you consider Flesh wounds (which is actually fine as far as i'm concerned - i expect my action movie heroes to get hit the shoulder and keep fighting).

The Fight Phase

Close combat happens during the Fight Phase. Much like the Shooting Phase, players take it in turns to pick models to fight, starting with those which charged in this phase (or count as such) during the Hammer of Wrath. After that, all other models (including their targets) can hit back. A lot of the time you're counting on the models that you charged with to take out everything in the Hammer of Wrath part of the Fight Phase.

When you pick a model to fight, first you pile in up to 3", having to move closer to the closest model. This means that you actually never want to move into base to base contact with an enemy model if you can avoid it when you charge, in case you need to pile around a bit and hit other models. You then select models within 1" to target with your melee attacks. If you charged in this turn, you can only target models you charged - which means that you can pile into other enemies to lock them into combat, but can't hit actually hit them. They can hit you though in their turn, but any model you really really want to pile into so they can't shoot is generally also pretty weedy in close combat so normally when you do it, it's a calculated risk. You then attack like in the shooting phase, with the number of attacks on your profile and choosing a close combat weapon if you have more than one.

Rolling to hit is modified by Flesh wounds on the attacker, and obscuring terrain in between the attacker and the target. So you can be sitting there ducking behind ruined walls as a guy swings a chainsword (it's a chainsaw, but also a sword - the standard close combat weapon in 40k) at you. After that, you can consolidate another 3", moving towards the closest enemy model again. So you can cut down the enemy you charged, then move right to the next one and lock them down.

The combat phases of Kill Team are also critical to getting to the feeling of tactical combat and the action movie inspiration. By making everyone a bit more Plasticine, models can take damage and keep swinging. On the other hand, because of the lack of models and corresponding dice rolls, a death early on in is pretty unfortunate - even then sometimes shooting, given the generally low accuracy (you are almost always at a -1 penalty for obscuring unless you have some special rules or equipment) means that you feel like your just whiffing until you actually get something. This exacerbates some of the balance issues in Kill Team, which we'll get to later, but in general, you want to be rolling as many dice as possible. When choosing weapons, more shots is almost always far more valuable than strength or AP. The real holy grail in Kill Team is a weapon with a few shots, high strength, high AP and damage - that being plasma weapons, which as we'll get to is probably the most broken thing in Kill Team.

Next time: Morale and Nerve