Kill Team House Rules - what have you seen/played?

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A friend and I recently played through our first Kill Team campaign - the narrative campaign from Kill Team: Rogue Trader. We had a blast and have agreed to play another.

This time we'll be playing more of a sprawling campaign of our own design, split over 3 acts pitching a ragtag group of Ecclesiarchy (survivors of a planet wide war that's left the place in ruins) and The Inquisition against a chaos cult of Nurgle, their Death Guard leaders and whatever horrible gribblies they can summon up or construct from the corpses of the dead.

Our first campaign was played by the book with one exception: after a couple of practice games, we ruled that no single tactic could be used more than once per game (with any mission critical tactics exempt from the limit) and we loved the result

So, I'm on the look out for any interesting house rules to add to our next campaign. Have you written any that you'd recommend? Or played in a campaign where some great house rules were in effect? Or just seen something online that looks interesting? I'm not looking to radically change the game at all (we both really enjoyed the level of in play detail in the rules, and felt that experience and advancement are also pitched at the right level of complexity), just subtly improve it here and there if possible.

In particular, I'm interested to see what people have done with the Resources facet of the game - in the base game, the four resources (Materiel, Morale, Territory and Intelligence) could provide great flavour for a kill team (e.g. an Inquisition kill team having more Intelligence at the cost of Territory), but because you get reduced to a Guerrilla Faction as soon as any resource drops below 0, and have no way to foretell which scenarios you may play ahead of time (each scenario causes different resources to drop if you lose), you're incentivised to have a more or less even amount of each at the start to hedge against an early loss.

Furthermore, I think it would be nice for the resources to have some in game effect apart from just being an abstract tracker of your Kill Team's success or failure. While the Territory resource and your total Resources have a minor impact on scenario selection I think this could be developed further. What if having high Morale gave you a break test re-roll, for example? Materiel could obviously afford it's Kill Team with bonus points to spend each game. And so on.

Don't let my focus on Resources stop you posting anything else you think is worth consideration, though!
 

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Gang Hero
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In absence of any suggestions I'll post what we've eventually adopted and what we are thinking about testing.

First, these are the house rules we have in our current campaign:

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ONE USE TACTICS

Problem: Some tactics are plainly better than others, and the temptation is to use these whenever you can. This leads to repetitive gameplay. Additionally, there are a LOT of tactics cards available to most Kill Teams; the sheer number of options available slows the game, is a bit bewildering and again leads to the same ones being reused just because it's easy.

Solution: During a game, each Tactic can only be used once. The only exception to this is mission specific Tactics that are required to complete a mission. Agree which, if any, of the mission specific Tactics can be used multiple times at the start of each game.

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MEANINGFUL RESOURCES

Problem
: A Kill Team's resources could provide great flavour for a kill team (e.g. an Inquisition kill team having more Intelligence at the cost of Territory), but because you get reduced to a Guerrilla Faction as soon as any resource drops below 0, and have no way to foretell which scenarios you may play ahead of time (each scenario causes different resources to drop if you lose), you're incentivised to have a more or less even amount of each at the start to hedge against an early loss, leading to bland resource allocation.

Solution: We start with 8 resource points to be spent as a player sees fit.

The normal rules that dictate a player’s faction becomes a Guerrilla Faction and loses the campaign once any resource drops to 0 are ignored. Instead, a Kill Team’s resources have the following effect:
  • Intelligence – if a Kill Team’s intelligence is 5 or higher, you can choose 2 Strategies during the scouting phase instead of 1.
  • Morale – if a Kill Team’s morale is 5 or higher, you may reroll one failed break test each mission.
  • Materiel – if a Kill Team’s materiel is 5 or higher, your points limit for each mission is increased by 10%.
  • Territory – if a Kill Team’s territory is 5 or higher, add 1 to your result when determining who chooses the mission (we use a die roll for this, with the winner of the previous mission rolling 2 dice and choosing the highest).
These additional effects cannot be claimed while any resource is at 0. No resource can drop below 0.

The campaign outcome is ideally determined narratively but if that cannot be achieved the plaer with the highest sum of all resources wins.

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COMMANDER SPECIALISMS

Problem
: Kill Team Commanders introduced tonnes of cool new specialisms but only 1 model (your commander!) can take them meaning most won't see the light of day.

Solution: With your opponent’s permission these may be used by any Specialist, not just Commanders. Zealot has no obvious parallels with existing available Specialisms, but otherwise here is a guide as to what might be available to a Specialist:

Normally has access to…Now also has access to…
CombatMelee, Ferocity
CommsLogistics
DemolitionsLogistics, Strength
HeavyShooting
LeaderLeadership, Strategist
Medic-
ScoutStealth
SniperShooting
VeteranFortitude, Melee, Shooting
Any specialism and is a PsykerPsyker

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FIRE TEAM ADVANCEMENT

Problem
: Fire Team advancement is random and may lead to incongruous developments, e.g. a shooty fire team gaining a combat upgrade.

Solution: When a Fire Team gains experience, players may choose an advance from the advance table on page 205 instead of rolling for it, as long as the other players agree that the chosen advance is in character for the faction or the way the Fire Team is developing in the story. If the players cannot agree, roll randomly as usual instead.

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COMMANDER ADVANCEMENT

Problem
: Commanders don't gain experience or advance - instead they are simply purchased at a certain level. This means the fun part of the post battle sequence and the satisfaction of seeing a character evolve is denied to your most important model and story piece.

Solution: Ignore the rules for advancement (or lack of) in the Commander book. Commanders start at Level 1 and advance like any other specialist, gaining 1 experience point for taking part in a mission, and 1 experience point if they used one of their tactics. In addition, commanders gain 1 experience point for winning a game.
 
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Gang Hero
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And here is what we are further considering testing:

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CLOSE COMBAT REBALANCING & ALTERNATE MOVE

Problem: Close combat is arguably too dominant in Kill Team, because:
  1. The board is tiny and deployment zones mean that you are often in charge range on turn 1, if not then certainly by turn 2.
  2. The charge happens as part of the movement phase, before anyone can shoot you
  3. Hitting on a 6 means overwatch sucks the big one, so there is little disincentive to charg (unless the guy you're charging has a flamer).
  4. You can consolidate into another combat - 3", which is often easy to do due to the small board
  5. Retreating from combat is 3", and means you can't do anything else that turn - so you most often end up getting charged again
  6. You can't shoot into combat
Adding to the slightly disatisfying feeling is the fact that who goes first in the movement phase is decided purely on a dice roll. So, as a shooty kill team vs a combat oriented one, you can easily find youself, through no fault of your own, with the majority of your models locked in combat very early in the game. The push towards combat is so great that in fact even with a shooty model I tend to find myself thinking about charging when in range and the opportunity presents itself - because otherwise you're getting charged anyway!

Potential House Rule: Rather than being "I Go, You Go", the movement phase is now an alternate activation phase, just like shooting and combat.

Also, a READIED model making an Overwatch attack shoots at -1 to hit, instead of hitting only on a 6.

These relatively small changes might be enough to tip the balance slightly back to shooting, and mean that its no longer a no brainer to pile your shooty guys into combat when they're in range - instead, readying your rifle is a meaningful thing to do when faced with a nearby combatant with a big sword.

Of course, it might also make it too easy to infinitely retreat 6" and shoot, and stay pretty safely out of combat range, however the Kill Team board isn't exactly that big, and by doing this, you are being forced off of objectives and aren't readying which has consequences in the shooting phase too.

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ARC OF SIGHT

Problem
: In Kill Team, there is little point in moving tactically to gain flanking positions making the game sometimes feel like a rather simplistic simulation.

Potential House Rule:
  • Models have a 180 arc of sight to the front.
  • A model that shoots a target from outside the targets arc of sight gains +1 to hit.
  • A model that charges a target from outside the targets arc of sight gains +1 to hit on the turn it charges.
  • A model cannot shoot or fire overwatch at a model outside of its 180 arc of sight.
  • Armour saves from shields can only be used on shooting attacks if the shooter is in the targets arc of sight.
Combined with the above rules about alternate movement, this may add a degree of tactical play to the game that currently doesn't exist. Overwatch is now more lethal in general, but a flanking combatant can ignore it entirely.

And, I just like that storm shields aren't able to deflect bullets coming from behind!

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VARIABLE ADVANCE COSTS

Problem:
Currently, advancing a level increases the cost of a fire team member by 1pt, a specialist by 4 pts and a commander by 12pts (or 25 if you haven't adopted my house rules). However, the value of an advancement varies considerably according to the strength of the model gaining the advance. For example, a model with more toughness, better armour and more wounds will stay on the battlefield longer and therefore get to use it's newly gained abilities more times than a weak and poorly armoured one. A model that gains an attack will get more use out of that attack if it has a higher move and WS. And so on.

This issue is such that for Fire Team cannon fodder like cultists, gaining a level increases the cost of the model by 33% for a fairly negligible benefit in game - it's not hard to imagine that gaining an advance is something you want to actively avoid. Conversely, a Primaris Marine fire team members cost increases by around 6%. An imperial guard specialist has his cost roughly doubled when he advances, but still remains a very fragile model, while a Primaris Marine who might reasonably expect to survive an entire game and be able to use his new abilties 4-6 times only has his cost increased by about 20-25%.


Potential Solution: Rather than being a flat rate, advances increase the pts cost of all models by a % of the base models pts cost (including wargear), rounding down. I suggest 25% as a starting value to test with. Under this system, the cost of a cultist FT member remains the same if the Fire Team advances. A guardsman specialist has his cost increased by 1-2 points more per level, rather than 4. And only powerful marine level models and 100pt+ commanders pay the sort of prices set out in the base rules.
 
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Mr. Litotes

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@Fold Thanks for posting all these rules and ideas. I also like your Problem/Solution format, and your posts have lots of white space and look very clean.

We have tried to only a few house rules thus far. Mainly because I haven't strong-armed all my gamer friends into committing to a big campaign or Kill Team game night.

POINT BLANK OVERWATCH

Problem
: On battlefields with dense terrain (which we think is the best way to play) miniatures charging from outside of line of sight are very powerful.

Solution: The Point Blank Overwatch tactic from Rogue Trader and Arena is a universal tactic available to all factions. Without combining this house rule with the others already mentioned, this house rule gives shooting factions/miniatures the option of shooting overwatch, but it is still limited to once per phase. So a dynamic developes between the player who expects to be charged versus the player who plans to charge. Will you send in a decoy charger to soak up that one Point Blank Overwatch tactic your opponent can use, or will not bother and take your chances. The defending player might try to save his one Point Blank Overwatch for that phase until a more deadly foe tries to charge him, which assumes that the other charger fails their charge, of course. A risky proposition. This affects the design of your kill team as well as your tactics in-game. Suddenly an extra model or two to absorb overwatch begins to seem like a good idea.


I will post more ideas/house rules as I think of them.
 
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Gang Hero
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@Fold Thanks for posting all these rules and ideas. I also like your Problem/Solution format, and your posts have lots of white space and look very clean.

We have tried to only a few house rules thus far. Mainly because I haven't strong-armed all my gamer friends into committing to a big campaign or Kill Team game night.

POINT BLANK OVERWATCH

Problem: On battlefields with dense terrain (which we think is the best way to play) miniatures charging from outside of line of sight are very powerful.

Solution: The Point Blank Overwatch tactic from Rogue Trader and Arena is a universal tactic available to all factions. Without combining this house rule with the others already mentioned, this house rule gives shooting factions/miniatures the option of shooting overwatch, but it is still limited to once per phase. So a dynamic developes between the player who expects to be charged versus the player who plans to charge. Will you send in a decoy charger to soak up that one Point Blank Overwatch tactic your opponent can use, or will not bother and take your chances. The defending player might try to save his one Point Blank Overwatch for that phase until a more deadly foe tries to charge him, which assumes that the other charger fails their charge, of course. A risky proposition. This affects the design of your kill team as well as your tactics in-game. Suddenly an extra model or two to absorb overwatch begins to seem like a good idea.


I will post more ideas/house rules as I think of them.
Thanks for the comment!

I too have been thinking about point blank overwatch, especially in the context of testing 180 arc of sight rules. However, in my experience no one would ever use that tactic unless armed with a flamer, or possibly a weapon with an awful lot of shots. Normal overwatch hitting on a 6 is just too weak to spend a precious command point on! Have you found it to actually be used?

In my new overwatch rule, I’m considering just always allowing overwatch, but adding an additional -1 penalty if the target started out of line of sight. Or, allowing it but only hitting on a 6.
 
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Mr. Litotes

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I too have been thinking about point blank overwatch, especially in the context of testing 180 arc of sight rules. However, in my experience no one would ever use that tactic unless armed with a flamer, or possibly a weapon with an awful lot of shots. Normal overwatch hitting on a 6 is just too weak to spend a precious command point on! Have you found it to actually be used?
Sometimes you have a model that you REALLY don't want to be tied up in melee combat. Suppose your Heavy or Sniper is setting up for a critical shot next turn and then some sneaky enemy wants to charge them from around a corner? It might be worthwhile to burn one Command Point in the hopes of foiling an enemy charge. Yes, flamer-type weapons are the best options for this, but a frag grenade gets D6 shots and one might be a 6.

That's why this house rule is generally accepted by players, it addresses a frustrating aspect of the Kill Team rules (charging around corners), but it can only be used once per movement phase. It's effectiveness is generally limited, but it at least gives a kill team one chance to avoid being charged.
 

JawRippa

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While I like suggestions about making tactics a one use per battle thing, some factions just don't have access to a wide list of them. Compare CSM and normal SM for example. CSM will quickly run out of tactics to use.

Also I disagree on close combat being dominant, unless you are playing some really tight 2D maps. Reacting with Retreat reduces charge distance of enemy model by flat 3", enough to make a lot of charges impossible to accomplish. Deepstiking/arriving from flanks via reinforcements can be used to alpha-strike with shooting, but not with melee charges. And to top it off, if you didn't kill an enemy fighter and he retreats from you at the start of the movement phase, then you can only fallback yourself or stand still.
 
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Gang Hero
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Our experience is almost exclusively with the rogue trader campaign, so our maps were indeed very tight 2d ones. We’re continuing that sort of play with our next campaign which uses the sector sanctoris mat and terrain. In any case, the alternate move is a small nerf to combat and just an idea at the moment, will definitely report back when we have a chance to test.

As for tactics cards, CSM (I think?) have 3 standard ones, 5 universal, and then at least 3 for specialists, potentially 9. If a commander is used they will bring 1-3 more for their specialism and normally bring a unique one as well. The scenario often adds a couple. It’s more than enough to last a 4-6 turn game in my opinion.
 

Mr. Litotes

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Our experience is almost exclusively with the rogue trader campaign, so our maps were indeed very tight 2d ones. We’re continuing that sort of play with our next campaign which uses the sector sanctoris mat and terrain. In any case, the alternate move is a small nerf to combat and just an idea at the moment, will definitely report back when we have a chance to test.

As for tactics cards, CSM (I think?) have 3 standard ones, 5 universal, and then at least 3 for specialists, potentially 9. If a commander is used they will bring 1-3 more for their specialism and normally bring a unique one as well. The scenario often adds a couple. It’s more than enough to last a 4-6 turn game in my opinion.
I find the idea of making each Tactic useable only once per game interesting. I want to try it in a few games.
That said, not all tactics are created equal. I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every faction tactic, but I remember some factions have solid faction tactics meanwhile other factions have overpriced or useless tactics.

For instance, both myself and a friend play Chaos Space Marine kill teams. My CSM kill team worships Chaos Undivided while my friend's CSM kill team is dedicated to Slaanesh. Of the measly four tactics that CSM get, one is for Khorne models only. One of the other tactics costs 2CP and can cause an enemy model to suffer a mortal wound IF you roll a 4+ on a D6, and IF you model is within 1" of the enemy model, and IF you model is your leader. It is an expensive, risky and overly limited tactic. For myself and players in my group, those two tactics will never be used.

Maybe, the "Use each Tactic only once per game" idea could be tweaked a bit so that players could choose one Generic or Faction tactic that they could use multiple times. I know that when I play my Gellerpox Infected kill team I tend to use Rancid Vomit a lot to compensate for the team's almost complete lack of shooting. I love the Rancid Vomit tactic, it seems appropriately priced and unreliable enough that you could just be wasting 2CP.

@Fold I also heartily recommend that you play some games using 3D terrain. It is a considerably different experience than fighting in the indoor maps. I'm actually surprised that Kill Team manages to work so well in both environments. I sort of prefer 3D 40K/Necromunda style terrain for Kill Team, but having the option to take the narrative inside an enemy base, spacecraft, or abandoned tunnel complexes. Make sure you add some elevation to your 3D terrain, it can pleasantly and dramatically change how the game feels and plays.
 
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Gang Hero
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We probably will get around to 3d one day - Kill team is fast becoming the only way any of us want to play 40k.

I should add that in general we play narratively and we don’t have any interest in playing “power factions” (any with power armour and predominant T4 - even if they aren’t actually that dominant). We basically use kill team to play Inq28 type games. And if we found a faction to have a poor selection of tactics we would probably make up some more or select some from other factions that are relevant. No doubt this colours our view further.

We’d never allow players to pick even one tactic they can use repeatedly, as that defeats the whole point of the house rule in the first place - in fact I imagine that would lead to even more repetitive tactic use! But I’m well aware peoples mileage with these rules will vary!
 
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