Against the Sons of Magnus

A small warband of the traitorous Thousand Sons legion attempted to enslave the faithful on the insignificant monastic planet of Zusammen 2-19. No chaotic incursion can go unchecked, however, and a kill team of Eremoi descended to the surface to fight the sorcerous betrayers in the streets of this tiny shrineworld’s capital, Aprilis.

My six man team featured both available scouts with missile launchers, as I was eager to try out that build. The whole team consisted of:

– Scout Sergeant: sniper rifle & camo cloak, Leader

– Intercessor Gunner: auspex, auxiliary grenade launcher, Comms

– Scout Gunner: missile launcher & camo cloak, Heavy

– Tactical Sergeant: combi-plasma, Sniper

– Intercessor Sergeant: auto-bolt rifle, power sword

– Scout Gunner: missile launcher & camo cloak

My brother-in-law Will commanded the Thousand Sons, bringing five Rubric Marines and an Aspiring Sorcerer. His specialists were Combat, Demolitions, and Sniper. One standard Rubric bore the Icon of Flame.

Will’s writing up a tactical review of the Thousand Sons, so keep an eye out for that in the days ahead.

The mission was Recover Intelligence, which we usually play. It seems the most balanced of the Core missions and usually leads to dynamic games.

Will won the initiative and camped half his forces at each of the two objectives on his side of the board. I secured the objectives near my deployment zone, but also rushed the middle with my Tactical and Intercessor Sergeants.

Will’s psybolt put a licking on my Intercessor, who nevertheless stood tall due to his two wounds. I took out a Rubric with a krak missile and another with an overcharged plasma blast…

… that also wiped out my Sniper when he rolled a one on his reroll! I chose not to use Death Denied in order to ensure the survival of my wounded Intercessor.

I didn’t need it, as Will managed a flesh wound but didn’t put him out of action. I thus scored five points to Will’s two in the first battle round. But for the self-immolation of my plasma gunner, things were looking good.

Round two featured more sharp shooting from the Astartes, as my Leader (who was safely tucked away in cover with his camo cloak draped around him) managed a mortal wound of his own when he rolled a six to wound on a Rubric Marine. That might be the first time I’ve ever procced the sniper rifle’s special rule, and it felt pretty sweet!

My Intercessor Sergeant did go down in the second frame. He suffered a second flesh wound at the hands of the sorcerer and succumbed to a shot from an inferno boltgun. I chose not to preserve him with three wounds, and so gave up a chance at another three points. I hoped my substantial lead would hold up. I nearly came to regret this decision!

Turn three was a huge turn for Will. The Thousand Sons now prepared to take the offensive…

… and quickly seized the center objective.

I moved my leader into line-of-sight and readied up the rest my team, confident I could eliminate most, if not all, of the enemy forces. I expected to force a break test, at the very least.

Instead, the Emperor withdrew his guiding hand and the good guys whiffed on everything. I had four command points to start the turn and used two to Deny Death when it came for my Comms specialist.

Because my leader made a critical error and unnecessarily surrendered control of his objective when he drew a bead on the Aspiring Sorcerer, I only scored one point in round three to Will’s four! We went into the final turn (we’ve been following LVO rules and ending on turn four) tied at eight points apiece.

After strongly considering another round of shooting, as I did have two missile launchers and a grenade launcher, I finally decided to trust in the Emperor’s protection and storm the central objective with my three nearby units. I knew my brave soldiers wouldn’t get a chance to shoot, and the Thousand Sons, already in prime position, readied to fire across the ruins at us.

Will took my Comms Intercessor out of action with a psybolt, but I Denied Death and turned it into a flesh wound. In the shooting phase, my one readied model, a missile launcher scout posted up on Will’s flank, rolled a one to wound on a krak missile fired at the Aspiring Sorcerer. I was sorely tempted to reroll, but made the safer play and kept up two command points for another Death Denied in the shooting phase. On Will’s second roll he wounded the staggering Intercessor with a inferno boltgun. At AP-2 I needed a five up to save, and…

… the Master of Mankind’s light shone down upon his beleaguered son! I got the five, which sealed the win. Even had Will’s last Rubric Marine taken a Dark Angel down, I had the command points for Death Denied and the models to control the center objective.

In a very tense and tactical game, I came out ahead, 12-9. The result could easily have swung in Will’s favor if the fickle dice gods had smiled upon his wicked plans in the final turn.


I was largely pleased with how my strategy played out on the table. I used Primaris models to soak mortal wounds from the Sorcerer and leaned on Death Denied to keep my models on the high value objective in the center of the board.

My missile scouts kept to cover and only permitted long range shots, dropping the Rubrics’ chances to six up. The non-specialist found an ideal perch and never moved, while the heavy specialist kept maneuvering himself into optimal position to control an objective while hammering away at the far corner.

One advantage to a roster without a heavy bolter is the ability to spam Death Denied. I used it twice and kept it in reserve on the final turn, and the tactic proved the difference today. With the heavy bolter, the temptation to throw out mortal wounds with Hellfire Shells – especially against Rubrics, with their All Is Dust two up save – is very high.

We had a great time fighting a bitter skirmish. In the end, the valor of the Astartes proved superior to the mystical machinations of the Thousand Sons. Though the reverent millions of Zusammen 2-19 may never know the danger from which the Eremoi saved them, the mighty space marines have once again proven the inevitability of a galaxy lit by the Emperor’s holy light.

Missile Accomplished

I managed to wrap this fellow up in two sessions.

I’m eager to try out some Kill Team line-ups with two missile launchers. They’re expensive, so compromises will have to be made, but these ultra-long range heavies pose a major threat to everything on the board from the first turn. Stay tuned for results in upcoming battle reports, and expect my judgement on this strategy in future installments of Command Academy.

I painted this guy for the tabletop, but I always aim for a fairly high standard within those parameters. This one’s not as lovely as most of his peers, but, hey, I got him done quickly!

I’m glad I’m at the limit for this unit, because these snipers are a pain to convert for missile launchers!

Command Academy: Astartes Overview

Because I know the ins & outs of space marines far better than any other Kill Team faction, I’ll start this series of Academy articles by diving into some general ideas about the faction.

An Elite Force

Astartes are expensive. There’s no way around that. Even our ‘cheap’ units, scouts, cost 10 points, twice the going rate of a guardsman and over three times the cost of a poxwalker. True, they’re essentially a space marine with a worse save, but it’s far from obvious that they’re a bargain at that cost.

Against almost everyone you are likely to fight with fewer bodies on the table. So what are you getting for that cost?

– Good armor: 3+ for tactical marines, reivers, and intercessors. 4+ for scouts. With a constricted dice flow (lots of penalties to hit, lots of low strength weapons), the save on marines can give a lot of teams fits.

– Stiff morale: leadership 7 and a re-roll on failed Nerve tests means your models should rarely, if ever, find themselves shaken.

– That extra half wound: ok, that’s exaggerating, but Transhuman Physiology, which allows all space marine models to ignore the effects of one flesh wound on hit rolls, keeps your guys fighting at peak efficiency even after they’ve been poked. Given how few models you’ll have, this is an important ability that can turn the tide of battle over the course of the game as opposing models lose the ability to reliably score hits.

– Options, options, options: the Astartes have more wargear options (33) than any other team, along with four unit types. Many of those loadouts are unlikely to see play (meltagun, anyone?), but there are plenty of good ones that have a place on your command roster. You’ll rarely enjoy a walk in the park, but the scope of your toolbox should give you game against all opponents.

– Versatile weapons: though limited in how many of certain weapons (e.g. plasma) the Emperor’s finest can take, some of the best guns can be applied in dramatically different ways. Thus, you can plan for cultist spam and still sit pretty if you find yourself up against heretic Astartes. It also allows you to capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves in the course of the game, employing the ideal weapon each time.

– Accurate shooting: marines can take the Sniper and Comms specializations, plus two auspexes on their team. When you want to hit something, you will.

– Pistols: All Astartes come equipped with a pistol. For a survivable team like the space marines, it pays to get a shooting phase should melee combat continue past the first round.

– Primaris marines: this might raise a few eyebrows, as some people don’t like primaris marines for various reasons, but they grant your team access to 2 wound models with 2 attacks base. There are reasons not to take them, but a few should find their way into almost any list. In another article I’ll detail some primaris set-ups that have a lot to offer your team.

– Four sergeants: All four unit types feature a sergeant option. The scout offers a cheap leader you can hide on a rear objective, the reiver can easily become a 5 attack melee meat grinder, the intercessor represents incredible versatility on the battlefield, and the tactical marine is the most flexible slot in the faction. Because you’ll usually be running more than one, you should be taking break tests at leadership 8 if necessary.

– Powerful tactics: we’ll cover these in a later article, so suffice it to say that the Astartes have some great tactics. 2 command points to turn out-of-action into a flesh wound, no questions asked? Yes, please!

What Can You Do For Me?

Space marines perform best when each team member fulfills a specific role. Though they’re not nearly as one-sided as certain teams and can do a bit of everything in a pinch, Astartes really work best when each team member contributes as efficiently as possible to the overall strategy.

This requires the use of your command roster to lay out the best possible combination of troops for each match-up. With such a small team at your disposal, you’ll need each member to perform his task well, often without a lot of redundancy.

Specializations need to be carefully chosen and wisely deployed. Do I take a heavy, sniper, or demolitions specialization on that heavy bolter? That depends what you think will give you the greatest edge against the enemy you’re facing and how you intend to make use of the gun’s capabilities. Some weapons work well without a specialization behind them, leaving you room to maximize the effectiveness of others. Others require a specialist to bring out their full potential.

Yeah, but How Good Are They?

On balance I’d say they’re somewhere in the middle. Some factions just have busted mechanics, and they tend to lean on one strategy that others can do little to disrupt. The individual efficiency of Astartes isn’t ideal, as all those elite qualities come at a price in points. On the flip side, when your opponent manages to impose his style of play on you, you’ve got a chance to beat him at his own game.

As I said above, marines have the versatility to put forth a respectable foil to whatever sits across the table from you. Smaller teams mean that your command roster can be stocked with highly differentiated elements suited to a particular purpose. You won’t be able to create the kind of mismatches that more linear teams can, but neither should you face an insurmountable hard counter, either.

With intelligent and opportunistic play, space marines will serve you well on the tabletop. Their flexibility makes them a fairly forgiving force, but they need judicious command to really shine.


I’ll be back with more articles delving further into possibilities of the Adeptus Astartes in Kill Team. In the process, I’ll be building, painting, and testing new models to offer a fuller picture of the faction.

Please feel free to comment on this and other Command Academy content. I’m always eager to hear someone’s different perspective, relevant experience, or shared enthusiasm.

All glory to the Emperor of Mankind!

Introducing Kill Team Command Academy

Because I love playing Kill Team, talking about Kill Team, and thinking about Kill Team, I’ve decided to start a collection of articles on various strategic and tactical dimensions of the game.

These articles are aimed more at recreational rather than competitive play. I’m not teaching you how to min-max the most dominant factions. That said, I intend to offer what I hope will prove good advice for those wishing to play the game at a higher level and have fun doing it. Even in narrative-driven games, the tension of a tight showdown lends urgency to the story.

My playgroup at this point is small, and I’m hoping to expand it. We do have a lot of teams, though, as you may know from my battle reports.

The judgements you’ll find in the Command Academy are just that: our judgements. I invite you to comment when you disagree, have questions, or can offer other feedback. Let me know if you like what we’re doing or have a topic in mind you’d like us to try to address.



Adeptus Astartes



What’s That I See?

You can never have enough missile launchers!

A couple of friends came over today and we painted in my hobby room for several hours. It was a great time and we all got a lot done. I wanted to work on something I’d see on the battlefield soon, so I worked on this little scout with a camo cloak & a missile launcher.

I’m not entirely happy with this conversion, but he’ll look fine on the tabletop. These scouts paint up very quickly, which is nice. I might even be able to get him finished in the next day or two.

More Boys for the Cause

Because you can never have enough choices…

… here are some kitbashes of a tactical gunner toting a flamer and a tac sergeant with a chainsword & plasma pistol.

I’m gradually pushing up against the twenty man roster limit, which is exciting. I need an incentive to start a new army!

Death to the False Emp… er… Death to the Traitors!

Will showed up last night with a team of GW’s terrific looking new heretic Astartes (mostly) painted. He’s going with an Alpha Legion paint scheme, which looks great on these detailed models. I played my Eremoi Dark Angels as usual.

We played a match with five objectives, scoring points after each turn. Control of closer objectives was worth one point each, those on the opponent’s side were worth two, and the central objective granted three points to anyone brave enough to take it.

I gotta say, I still love the way the board & ruins look. Might have to make another board soon!

This was my view at the start of the game. It was my first time using the recently finished reiver. I put together a list to fit him in, thinking it probably wasn’t optimal. As it turned out, the list was pretty well tuned. Will fielded five chaos space marines and six cultists.

Wait! Where are all those models?!

Will had a huge mob of baddies clumped together behind a wall to start the game. He had a good plan and stuck to it.

On turn two Will had two marines hiding behind three cultists, threatening the three-point central objective. This was the critical moment of the game.

My overwhelming firepower, most of which had not moved after repositioning on the first turn, was able to chew through the cultists and take down one of the marines. The final marine was not within two inches of the objective and did not earn Will the two points. Had I taken down even one fewer heretic, I would have lost the game.

My reiver didn’t kill anything, but did pull the mighty zealot (power sword & plasma pistol) off the center when he threatened Will’s control of one of the rear objectives. While it saved me the three points, it locked up all my shooting for a turn. In the shot above my reiver has already died from a Icon of Flame-induced mortal wound and a stab from a power sword.

Headed into the final turn!

The heretic zealot got back to the middle in a last ditch effort to steal the game, but the Eremoi shot him off. It took almost all my pieces to get him, and I even had to reroll the final injury roll to take him out. I had nothing left to fire at his cultists in the back corner, but managed to fire a frag missile down the alley at the marine & cultist holding down the objective in the open. I managed to blast the marine, but his cultist withstood another attack and held on to the objective to secure a 8-8 tie.

Will played far more aggressively and dynamically, but my superior weapons did just enough to hold on for the tie. We both made some opportunistic plays.

I’d say that the vicissitudes of war helped me out. I got his plasma gunner on turn one, which could easily have helped him dislodge some of my loyalists from their nests.

Despite the poor reputation of chaos space marines in Kill Team, I was impressed by what Will brought to the table and definitely know I was fortunate to leave with a tie. The Emperor protects!