Skitarii Ranger squad from Kill Team

Work in Progress: Kill Team

Like a lot of crafting gamers, I have eleventy-jillion half-finished projects languishing around the game room. This week, I resolved to focus on just one and get it finished, so I can actually play the game. Most of my local gaming club plays Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K, so I’ll pick that one. Kind of. Actually, I’m going start small, by getting miniatures and terrain ready for Kill Team.

Warhammer 40K is a miniatures wargame pitting stalwart space marines against space aliens, space robots, space bugs, space demons, space elves, and space orks in the distant future. It’s a huge game, requiring scores of painted miniatures and several hardback rule books to play. You’ll invest hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours before you can field even a modest 40K army. Fortunately, GW has also released Kill Team, a skirmish-level wargame using many of the same miniatures. This makes it possible to play Kill Team while you slowly build up your 40k army.

I started working on my own Kill Team kit several months ago, gradually accumulating models, terrain and other necessary paraphernalia. Looking through my game projects in progress, I realized I’ve accumulated everything to play Kill Team. I just need to get it all assembled and on the table. This is going to be my main hobby project for the next few weeks, and I’ll post every few days to share my progress.

Getting Started with Kill Team

GW debuted the current version of Kill Team last summer with a huge, $150 starter set. That box included two full kill teams, a 22″ x 30″ playing surface, a massive amount of grim-dark gothic terrain, a rule book, dice, and tokens. The good news was that the Kill Team starter box was an amazing value for what it contained, at least by Games Workshop standards. The bad news was that it was a one-time deal; once the first run sold out, it was gone for good.

Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K: Kill TeamThat doesn’t mean you can’t start playing Kill Team now, though. GW is keeping the Kill Team Core Rule book in print, and several expansions are available. You can also use regular Warhammer 40K minis for Kill Team—they’re the same models, just with slightly different rules. There are rumors that a new starter set will come out some day, probably with different kill teams and terrain. When and if a new starter box does appear, I’ll probably pick it up for the the models and terrain.

But for now, I’m dining a la carte. I started out with the Kill Team Core Rules and a box of tactical space marines from my friendly local gaming store, Gamer’s Gauntlet in Mamaroneck, NY. A big set of miniatures paints from Amazon came next, followed by additional miniatures from eBay. I also began thinking about terrain, tokens, and other necessities. At this point, I’ve got everything I need figured out, and it’s just a question of pulling it all together.

Picking My Teams

40K has about twenty different factions to choose from. Adeptus Mechanicus, the steampunk cyborgs that create military technology for the Imperium of Man, were my first pick. I also wanted a second Kill Team faction that would serve as compatible ally for Ad Mech in 40K. Ad Mech can ally with other Imperials, such as Space Marines and Imperial Guard. I chose Space Marines because they are flexible, popular and easily available, both in 40K starter sets and on eBay. And since I intended to paint my Ad Mech units in their traditional Martian red color scheme, I decided on the yellow-armored Imperial Fists chapter of the Space Marines, thinking they’d look good together on the table.

Space Marines from Kill Team
My squad of Tactical Space Marines from the Imperial Fists chapter of Adeptus Astartes.

My first model purchase was a box of Tactical Space Marines, which are readily available and not too difficult to assemble. I quickly picked up a few more Marines on eBay, as well as a unit of Ad Mech Skitarii infantry, which can be built as either Vanguard skirmishers or Ranger snipers. By now, I’ve added several models to both factions, including the big, limited-time Ad Mech Battleforce box, Fist of the Omnissiah. (The Imperium has a thing for fists almost as bad as their fascination with skulls, it seems…) At this point, I’ve got at least a few of each type of unit available in Kill Team for both Space Marines (Scouts, Tactical Marines, Intercessors, and Reivers) and Ad Mech (Vanguard, Rangers, Ruststalkers and Infiltrators). I’ve got a lot of painting still to do, though…

Print-and-Play Kill Team?

Games Workshop and their fans are pretty adamant that you need actual GW models to play their games at conventions, game stores, and even club meetings. And the Kill Team rules aren’t available in any form other than printed books, so PDFs are not an option. So how does Kill Team fit into my print-and-play mission statement? One word answer: Terrain!

Babylon tower for Kill Team
Skitarii rangers occupy a tower built with Graffam’s Babylon: Toxic Sand building set.

I’ve been collecting SF-style papercraft terrain kits for a couple of years now, not really sure how I’d use them, but mostly because they are cool. Dave Graffam offers several excellent kits, and these are becoming the backbone of my Kill Team terrain collection. I’ve shown a few of Dave’s free SF models in a previous post. The images accompanying this post include a few pieces from Dave’s huge, modular Babylon: Toxic Sands SF buildings set, which looks great on an orange-red, Martian board designed for Ad Mech forces. This kit includes customizable building units, with separate walls and roofs, ranging from 4″ to 8″ square, that can be completely reconfigured every time you play. The Babylon kits include matching accessories as well, such as catwalks, stairs, ladders and supply crates. I’ve only put a few units together so far, but I’ll devote a whole post to the Babylon line soon.

The battlefield you see in the pictures on this page is the Scorched Earth RPG Encounter Mat, available from BattleMats through DriveThruRPG. I had this mat printed by VistaPrint as an outdoor vinyl banner for just a few dollars. (VistaPrint runs specials all the time; wait for a 50%-off deal, and jump on it!) I’ve had several mats printed this way for different games and environments. They look great, they hold up well, and they cost much less than commercially-available vinyl and neoprene game mats. Again, this is a topic I’ll cover in depth in the near future.

Next Steps

I figure I’m just a few weeks away from being totally kitted out for Kill Team. In that time, I should finish up two full kill teams, Ad Mech and Space Marines, painted and table-ready, as well as plenty of Babylon buildings to for them to kill each other in. I’ve already got my game mat, my dice, and my Kill Team tokens. (Oh, I have to show you how I made those tokens sometime, too!). Stay tuned over the next month, and I’ll keep you updated.

Until then, keep on printing (and painting!), and keep on playing!

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