Monday, July 12, 2010

Kill Team: What We Have Learned So Far

As you will likely have noticed from last week, Ref Pitmann and I have shoehorned a decent number of Kill Team games in recently, and we’re hoping to add to that tally in the reasonably near future. In particular, we’ve got a grand, unique Kill Team Battle Report on the horizon that should make a distinct impression. But more on that when the orbits are properly aligned…

In the mean time, here is a synopsis of what we have learned from our misadventures thus far:

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: on our first night, we stuffed three games into two hours –which includes initial army selections and post-game banter. That’s remarkable. Really. If, like me, time is not available with the ease and gentle comfort as it once was, these games are an ideal way to fill that hobby-shaped hole in your life without necessitating an entire evening (or day) of effort.

SPACE MATTERS: We tested out a 4x4 table, and we didn’t touch at least half or more of the area available. Next time, I suspect that we will be working on a 3x3 table or even slightly smaller. The extra space is not only unnecessary, it tends to deaden the effect of the next point…

TERRAIN MATTERS MORE: despite the shrinking table size suggested above, we will very likely still use the same amount of terrain as on the slightly larger table, perhaps even more. I recommend a very, very crowded board –unnaturally so. I crowded the 4x4 board to the point that I was almost uncomfortable and, in the end, the games would have benefited from even more. Indeed, the games were most competitive and strategically interesting when we forced ourselves to negotiate the corners, consider the angles, calculate the subtle inches. The games were least compelling when we found ourselves simply squaring off across Main Street for a wild west shout-out. Although it may seem excessive, exceptional and staggered amounts of terrain will keep the game focused on finesse rather than simple “roll it out” statistical probabilities.

BROKEN: Terminators are just about broken in small games like this. Groups of Terminators are even moreso. I suspect that there are other units of a similar ilk, but in our fast games Pitmann’s crowd of Termies, particularly when they were operating as a block, were unassailable. In my first run with the 0-3 Onorevoli, only the third game was genuinely competitive, and that was because I managed to split his force slightly with diversionary Bikers. Once that was accomplished, I had a chance to crack the shell, so to speak, and the game could quite easily have gone either way. Otherwise, groups of hard-as-nails units are going to be tricky in this kind of game.

FLUFF-TASTIC: The regular reader will not be surprised to hear me say this, but I think these games are ideally suited for fluff-heavy narrative games (including models created specifically for this purpose) and as supplemental elements to more grand narrative campaigns (hint). I intend to use them for precisely this purpose in the future (bigger hint). A decent and proper attention to fluff should also help mitigate the broken nature of certain elements mentioned above. If the fluff calls for five Terminators in a Kill Team, then it calls for five Terminators in a Kill Team. So it goes.

IN DEFENSE OF HOUSE RULES (FLUFF P.2): Without a doubt, last week will have seemed strange to a number of you (and thank you for telling me so) on account of the peculiar force organization I outlined with such blithe confidence. To explain/recap, Ref P and I have chosen to ignore unit minimums* so that one can create odd but dynamic armies. Ideally, this is designed to bring personality and character back to KT games, which otherwise gets left aside with the HQ choices. As my good friend Roberto Vo5 has said, why wouldn't a single Terminator be sent out to lead a small investigative dispatch? Indeed!

See you Wednesday.

*a more detailed explanation: We ignore minimums provided the unit is less than one -so that one might choose a single Terminator, or three Tactical Marines, for a mission. These mini units are allowed to take Special Weapons as normal, but one cannot select another unit, nor another SW until that unit meets all standard requirements -so you would still need, for example, 10 CSM to get two Meltas on the table. This allows one to deploy a single Terminator as a kind of Mission Captain, but disallows an exploitative six plague marine with melta list. That would be crass. Anyway, it works for us.


Mordian7th said...

Very cool stuff - As a long time Necromunda player, Kill Team definitely appeals to me. You hit the nail on the head re: terrain as well - when you're (generally) not worried about having room for vehicles to maneuver, the more terrain you can pack in the better. It makes for a better game, and usually the table ends up looking really neat as well! I like the house rules you're using as well, we'll have to try that locally!

Big Jim said...

Great post bud.

I think using house rules is the best way to play kill teams.

I look forward to the next installment of Kill teams.


Gotthammer said...

Fully agreed with you on the terrain - I've played with a 6x4 table's worth of terrain and found it could have done with more, and I use a lot of terrain as is!

I like the house rule about mini units, it really allows for some much fluffier builds, especially armies with big minimum units like Orks.

Rabidchild said...

I think this will be an excellent direction to take with my recurring nemesis as well. :) We tend to favor narrative as well, so this seems terrific. Cheers

sonsoftaurus said...

I've only gotten a couple of KT games in ( :-( ) but thought that the 4x4 was OK, but 3x3 would be fine too.

House rules are definitely the way to go, and indeed in many cases are required in order to get other rules to interact with KT's changes. Modified scenarios would also be good, like adjusting point levels, adding hidden setup for one side, Mordheim-like loot hunts, etc.

Brian said...

@ Mordian. Thanks. I hope the "adjusted" rules work out for you. We've found it very helpful in actually hitting 200pts. Otherwise, it can get a bit complicated.

@ Big Jim. Thank you. I think you'll like what's on the horizon.

@ Goth. I never even considered Orks in KT. That must get messy fast.

@ Rabidchild. Cheers. Particularly among "frienemies" (as they say), these kinds of rulesets can be tremendous fun.

@ Sons of Taurus. 4x4 does work quite well. We found, however, that we were neglecting parts of the table and could add to the "pressure cooker" feel of the games by tightening the space a bit.

Also, I like where you're going with the Mordheim idea.

Cheers one and all.