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Kill Team and the UK School League

Some good news from Games Workshop, in that the Kill Team rule set is going to be used for the School League tournament. This neatly solves several problems that the larger 40K game has for school clubs, and new players in particular.

kill team warhammer 40k 40000 school league games workshop

I like Kill Team. A lot. 

Making a variety of small armies is pretty much my forte in 40K, and I very rarely build a force beyond 1,000 points. There are a few reasons for this, attention span of a cat being one of them, but I'm also professionally obligated to do so. Since I run a school club crafting easy to achieve starter armies is pretty much all I do (apart from scenery, setting up tournaments and mediating disputes. And undercoating batches, painting tutorials for newbies and running started games... and more.)

And now the School's League has gone for Kill Team as the rule set for this year. 

This is nothing but good.

Outlining the pros now:

  • 30-minute games
  • 5 model armies
  • No codex needed to get started
  • Small battlefields
  • So much less to keep track of in a game
The cons are as follows:

  • Unknown meta
Shorter games are great. Even a 500-point game for a beginner can last up to an hour, and when your club time is about 55 minutes including the time it takes to get stuff out of the cupboard battles often end in a frustrating draw. And that draw usually follows 5 minutes of looking up a specific rule, after 5 minutes of finding out just which book that rule might be in!

Single squads instead of armies should be obvious in benefits. Quite often Students will be expected to pay upwards of £100 to get going, even for a school league. And that’s £100 of fairly rubbish non-meta units that are just affordable. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever faced off against a Space Marine player with nothing but Tactical squads and Dreadnoughts, having just bought the Start Collecting set 3 times to stay under budget.

It’s also much better in terms of getting an army to battlefield. It takes about 2-3 weeks of school time to get a single squad done. I know that seems like a long time, but you must be realistic with time expectations of kids. Homework and everything else they do eats into their “free time”. If you have teenage kids yourself, really think about how much time they have that isn’t occupied (although asking that during the Summer holidays is probably going to give skewed results). Provided they are handing in homework on time, they probably don’t have the time or energy to sit down for an hour to base coat an army.

Something I’m sure has bedevilled parents that have shelled out a large chunk of money on models is the tendency of kids to just put whatever war gear they like on their models. You know… “‘cause it looks sick.” I have stray of Space Wolves right now who could only charitably be fielded as Wolf Guard, and not even particularly useful.

And you have to get annoyed at that. £20 worth of models are now fairly useless on table top. And what’s worse is that you have to be annoyed at all. Creatively putting the kits together should be what Warhammer is all about.

Kill Team, with its broadly customisable and small squads solves these issues quite well.

The downside to the game is that it is quite new. We’re not quite sure what the best set ups are, and how each of the factions will function. Presumably they will work in similar fashions to their main 40K counterparts, but we’ll see. Not a problem at all for established players but knowing how to guide a student looking for a particular play style is a professional obligation for myself.

Speaking of professional obligations, I will be dissecting and analysing the rule set presented in Kill Team over the next few weeks. My position as club owner requires me to be an expert on the game and writing about it is one of the best ways to get there.

Until next time!

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  1. Just a personal preference, of course, but I'd consider 'Unknown meta' as a pro.

    When there's a seismic shift to an established meta, or when a new edition or game is introduced, there's a period of time where everything feels possible. Discovery is paramount, and all options are at your disposal. I think that experimentation phase is really exciting, but it's also something few players get to partake in. It's usually limited to the hardcore players with massive collections so there aren't many who get to enjoy it due to the higher costs with trying new models or whole new army lists - it's best to wait to see what sticks before investing to avoid having that investment wasted.

    Kill Team requires a much smaller initial investment, so you can experiment much more freely. I think that's really great, and I think that will result in a more fluid local meta for many players.

    1. I agree entirely. The fact that I can move on to experiment with a new army after just finishing one squad is a big draw for me and my cat like attention span!

      The only downside to me as a teacher is recommending a faction to a student. Whilst we can broadly say the theme of a kill team is the same as an army in 40K, there's going to be a teething period before I can give solid recommendations about specific play styles.

  2. While there are certainly armies which might be better (or worse) for a given player's style of play, I think the most important factor is "which faction do you like the most?"
    Whether that's due to rules that the player finds interesting, or they like the appearance of given models, or the fluff or whatever, it's important that the player *likes* the army they're going to play.

    I believe that if you like your given faction choice, you're more likely to want to build, paint, and ultimately play them. And you'll have more fun too! I'd go so far as to say that it's more fun to lose with a team you love, than to win with a team that you play for no other reason than overwhelming power.

    For instance, it's probably no fun for a player to face an opponent who has a Deathwatch squad with four Frag Cannons, but in the long run, it's probably not much fun to actually *use* that squad, either. It's got to be exciting to mow down all opposition in round one, but after the initial thrill wear off, no one's really having any fun. And it makes it harder to find opponents.

    1. Thanks for commenting, and yes you're right. Any game system is about fun, Your Dudes, and making sure you actually get a game.

      I have a problem in that I need to prep students fairly rapidly for a competitive tournament. Being a good teacher means knowing about the 4 Frag Cannon set-up and being able to advise on a Faction specific counter... hopefully before they get to table.


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