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Kill Team Guide: Initiative and Movement Tips and Tricks

Winning initiative doesn’t necessarily give you all the advantages in a turn of Kill Team, and in fact can hamper your efforts in the movement phase. Looking at these two phases together reveals some nifty tips and tricks.

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The Kill Team rule set is almost identical to normal 40K, and in fact some of you might recognise it as the ad hoc rule set you came up with yourself when you first started. You know, the one where your battlefield was the kitchen table with mugs and napkins for scenery, and you and your buddy had just finished building maybe three models each. You didn’t play full units and each mode was a hero, and you certainly didn’t understand Leadership checks.

There are differences which translate 40K into a skirmish rule set, and I prefer this to standard 40K (at least for now).

Initiative Phase

This is a significant change and affects the whole of the turn. Traditionally Games Worksop systems have followed an “I go, You go” format. This has always led to whoever getting first turn having an advantage, particularly if the had long range guns. Deploying first if you have first turn is meant to mitigate the potential for alpha strikes, as the other player can just block line of sight.

Winning initiative in Kill Team means that the winning player goes first in all phases. That’s a big advantage, and worth having, but there is a balance to it. And you’ll need to know about X-Wing Miniatures to see it.

In X-Wing each model has a pilot level, with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest. Obviously, higher level pilots are more expensive in points. In the “Shooting” phase, higher level pilots go first. Which makes sense, if you’re a better pilot you can get your shots off first.

In the movement phase, lower level pilots go first. Which doesn’t make much sense, since you’d think higher level pilots would have faster reflexes and therefore get their plan going faster. But moving after the lower pilots have done so means that they can react to what is happening on the battlefield. Usually this means activating a special skill or manoeuvre, the classic being a Tie Fighter barrel roll out of a firing arc, or behind a new target.

A similar dynamic exists in Kill Team.

Movement Phase

If you’ve lost Initiative, then you technically have advantage in the movement phase. Granted your opponent can jump onto an objective faster than you, but there are several scenarios where your lead is apparent. I’ll get into them after a brief description of the movement phase.

In this phase, one player moves all his models first, and then the next player does.

The movement phase is slightly different to standard 40K, in that a model has 5 choices to make:

  • Move normally
  • Move and Advance (as per normal 40K)
  • Charge 
  • Ready
  • Fall Back (as per normal 40K)

The ready action means they can shoot before moving models in the Shooting phase, like the old Overwatch rule used to do in 2nd Edition (maybe? That was a long time ago…).

Charging is different here, in that a model cannot move before charging. There are some challenges here, such as the need to charge out of cover or be out in the open in the previous turn. Remember your average Charge Distance in 7-inches.

And here is where your advantage for losing Initiative kicks in. Models that charge and fail cannot shoot in the next turn, which means that model that charged is a sitting duck… and you can manoeuvre your troops to take advantage of that.

You also have two reactions to a charge. Traditional Overwatch, blazing away with guns and hitting on 6s. Unlike normal 40K you can Overwatch as many times as you like. You can also retreat 3-inches to put yourself out of Charge range and ensure your trap can be set up.

Even the Ready action has its down side if you go first. Imagine this, as happened in my first game of Kill Team. Heavy bolter armed Space Marine readies for a perfect burst on the leader of a Scion squad. It’s textbook, and the guy is dead to rights about to get gunned down by this super human soldier.

The Scion runs behind a wall.

So you can see how you can turn the situation to your advantage, and how you can trip yourself up if you’re not careful.

One quick tip for faster games, in Kill Team vertical movement counts as part of your models Move distance. A good rule of thumb is to just treat one models height as 3-inches. That’s effectively one floor up.

Next time we’ll look at the fighting phases and the morale phase. Let me know if there’s any other tips you’ve picked up for Movement before then!

Until next time.


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