Sergeant Coranos lead his team into the Kill Zone. Weeks of this relentless assault against the Genestealer Cult of Dalflagos - Xoxigar Tertium’s thrist largest city - had brought them to this point. The Inquisitor, Lord Inquisitor Drusilla Kyros, and her agents, acolytes and adepts has proven amazingly efficient in there collection of intelligence. Every time Sergeant Coranos and his team returned from one mission, they already the next target and location for the next. They were never wrong.
This mission would deliver a crushing blow to the Genestealer Cult that had reduced nearly the entire city to rubble since they first rose up against the local Enforcerers nearly a year ago and gone on to clash with the Xoxigar PDF, and then later the off-world Astra Militarum that had been brought in to contain the uprising. They had had little success.
If the intelligence proved correct, and it ALWAYS was, they were walking into the Patriarchs Lair. As they moved in, however, they did not encounter any resistance. This labyrinthine warren of tunnels under the shattered city should have been swarming with lookouts and guards.. Teams Factus and Mologhai were on standby - in holding patterns in Corvus Blackstar high above, ready to swoop down when and where they were needed. Teams Danithor and Shal'Dar were in blocking positions, ready to catch any squirters - enemy that attempted to flee the lair via any of the other exits.
Was this a Trap they’s been lured into? Had the inquisitor and her minions finally and gotten it completely wrong?
Soon it became clear whey they were not meeting any opposition. Bodies and parts of bodies. Everywhere. It was a scene of utter carnage. The deeper they got into the labyrinthine den, the more slaughter they encountered.
Finally, they entered what should have been the Patriarch throne room at the heart of the lair. The grisly scene was like nothing these veterans of the Death Watch had ever seen before. It was like the Charnel House repository of a Corpse Starch Factorum. It was impossible to tell just how many bodies there had been in here as all had been utterly shredded. The walls were painted thickly with their blood and viscera. In the middle of it all was the still steaming, dismembered body of the Patriarch, dismembered to the point of only being recognizable by the bulk of the detached parts which lay about.
And amongst it all… were etherial shimmering forms - tall and lithe and almost graceful - the exact opposite of what they expected to encounter and come her to annihilate… but Xenos, just the same…
One of them spoke in a lilting, sing-songy voice. The word was clear; “Monkeigh…”
Brother Scamedes closed down the conversation by shouting “STOW IT XENOS SCUM” and opened up with his Deathwatch Shotgun!
All Hell broke loose…
(Well that was the fluff I originally wrote before we sat down to play... but then we couldn't really find a basic Kill-ALL-The-Enemy scenario or a Get-Off-The-Table-Escaping-Past-The-Opposition scenario (like there had been in previous editions)... so we used the Loot and Salvage scenario (Mission 1.1) from the new Kill Team Core Book...)
The Xenos didn't engage, they seemed to be quickly darting around the piles of dead and collecting samples and looting equipment - samples and evidence that the Inquisitor would no doubt want for herself - they had to be stopped!
As per Mission 1.1 - Loot and Salvage - there were six Objective markers on the table. If an operative was within [Triangle] of the objective marker and in control of it, they could do a LOOT AND SALVAGE action for 1 Action Point - each time this was done, that side gained 1 Victory Point - each objective marker could be looted once per Turning Point and a maximum of three times per game and a maximum of 4VP could be gained, per side, per Turning Point.
Sergeant Laescos Coranos - Deathwatch Veteran Watch Sergeant - Xenophase Blade and Storm Shield
Brother Borealis Issolis - Deathwatch Veteran [Heavy Gunner] - Infernus Heavy Bolter
Brother Nasirdan Cannistus - Deathwatch Veteran [Warrior]- Stalker Pattern Bolt Gun
Brother Icasos Scamedes - Deathwatch Veteran [Warrior] - Deathwatch Shotgun
Brother Benatos Diodexious - Deathwatch Veteran [Gunner]- Combi-Plasma
the Master of Ceremonies - Player [Leader] - Shuriken Pistol and Power Sword
The Merchant - Player [Warrior] - Shuriken Pistol and Harlequin's Embrace
The Bard - Player [Warrior] - Shuriken Pistol and Harlequin's Blade
The Queen - Player [Warrior] - Shuriken Pistol and Harlequin's Blade
The Witch - Player [Warrior] - Shuriken Pistol and Harlequin's Blade
The Prince - Player [Warrior] - Shuriken Pistol and Harlequin's Blade
The Maid- Player [Gunner] - Fusion Pistol and Harlequin's Kiss
The Fool - Player [Gunner] - Neuro Disruptor and Harlequin's Kiss
To be honest, we skipped past a few things - setting up a base of operations, the scouting thing, other stuff - I had watched the How To Play videos (which do a pretty good job of summarizing the basics of how to play the game) and I had started reading the basic core rules - but had only skimmed the Narrative Play scenarios and campaign section. Finnegan had done neither. It was getting late in the day and we just wanted to play...
All set up and ready to go.
My team all started with Conceal orders - which, if they could remain in cover, would mean they woulnd't be valid targets for the Deathwatch's brutal distance shooting. The Harlequins only have VERY short ranged weaponry (6" maximum range).
The Merchant and The Queen sneaking up to grab... whatever the hell it is they are after amongst the piles of Genestealer cultists they had just finished slaughtering.
The Master, The Fool, and the Bard sticking to the shadows as well.
The Witch, The Prince and The Maid, likewise have eyes on their objective.
All of my Kill Team were within easy reach of one, or in most cases, two of the objectives that they could potentially loot in the first Turning Point.
Brother Cannistus and Brother Scamedes advance into the Lair's central chamber on their left flank.
Brother Issolis and Brother Diodexious, the team's gunners, took up a position in the middle
The Watch Sergeant took the right flank.
Both of us had elite Kill Teams - all of the Operatives had an APL (Action Point Limit) of three (only Space Marines and HArlequins have this many APL - everyone else has two). I was curious to see how this worked out - on the surface it seemed like they would be able to do lots more... but there are a number of actions that you can only take ONCE per activation... and a lot that you can only do if you HAVEN'T taken particular other ones. You cannot charge if you have taken a move or a dash action... which seems odd - one would think this is EXACTLY what Harlequins should be able to do - move, then charge, then fight - dancing across the battlefield faster than anyone can see and ending directly into a brutal melee... seems like their thing...? We shall see.
TURNING POINT ONE
Or... Act One of The Dance - as the Harlequins would call it!
The game is played in four "Turning Points"
Normally Scouting would determine who had the initiative for the first Turning Point... we just rolled and Finnegan won...
I used the Prismatic Blur Strategic Ploy - as I would every Thurning Point, throughout the game - as it essentially would make all the Harlequins harder to hit if targeted after they moved all turn. I figured I'd be moving about a lot, so....
I also revealed a Tac Ops card that would score me points if my leader took out his leader. We hadn't had a chance to really look through all the options, so these turned out to be useless for both of us...
Sergeant Coranos kicked things off by moving to the closest objective and looting it.
Still having one Action Point remaining, he decided to carry on to the next one - to contest it!
The witch danced out into the middle of the lair to extract something from the dead Genestealer Primarch. This was a bit of a gamble, as she had little cover there... but I knew the two closest Deathwatch were the gunners and both were carrying Heavy weapons - which meant they would NOT be able to shoot them THIS turn - as neither had LOS to her and would first have to move out.
Brother Issolis, with his Infernus Heavy Bolter, DID move out - which was a little bit terrifying...
As the Harlequins had more troops than the Deathwatch team, the Deathwatch would potentially get a couple rounds of Overwatch fire... When it's your turn to activate, and all your troops have already activated, you can take an overwatch shot - this can be done once per turn, per operative and only while your opponent has more stuff to activate. As it IS a separate activation, we figured the gunner WOULD be able to fire the Heavy Bolter as part of an Overwatch activation! Yikes! The Ballistic Skill is reduced... but still!
The Prince moved up in silence, and extracted dataslates and other paraphenalia from the corpses of the slaughtered Genestealer Cultists.
Brother Diodexious moved up, stowed his Combi-Plasma, and retrieved his bio-sample kit that the Inquisitor had provided them all with to extract some genetic samples from some of the dead Genestealer Cultists that littered the floors and walls.
The Queen moved up to a pile of the dead Cultists, opposite the Deathwatch Sergeant... and just stood there, watching him in silence.
She could not engage, having a conceal order, and couldn't do the Loot action, as she did not control the objective. I figured she was safe to stand there this turn, as the Sergeant was armed with Melee weapons only and had already activated this turn.
Brother Cannistus, with his Stalker Pattern Bolt Gun, moved out to join Brother Issolis in the open with a clear view of the central chamber... things were looking dire for The Witch.
I'm not sure WHY the Stalker Pattern Bolt Gun is a "Heavy" weapon... I get it's supposed to be their sniper weapon... but all it has that the other Boltguns have is AP1... it's not Silent or anything...?
The Merchant moved up to join The Queen, now the Harlequins controlled the objective marker, so the Merchant was able to preform the Loot action...
Perhaps Brothers Cannistus and Issolis were just a distraction... to draw the Harlequins attention... The Witch spoke to them "Monkeigh..." hoping an accord could be made - they both could extract what they needed and be on their way - there was no need for violence between then... Brother Scamedes ended that possibility, when he turned round the corner and shouted "STOW IT, XENOS SCUM!" and blasted The Witch with his Deathwatch Shotgun!
Finnegan rolled FOUR hits and I only rolled one success on my defence dice - 9 wounds! Enough to take her out!
Scamedes unleashed a volley of blasts from his shotgun and in a blinding light, the Harlequin disappeared!?
One of many things I like about this edition of Kill Team is it refers to those removed from the board as "incapacitated". So many games refer to those removed from the table as "killed" - even skirmish games with a strong campaign component where characters very rarely actually die... it's odd to remove something as "killed" and then roll for "recovery" or whatever to find out that it was fine, barely a scratch.
Actually I think the previous Kill Team used the phrase, "Out of Action"...?
The Maid, hearing the blast and the tell-tale sounds of one of her fellow players extracting themselves from The Dance, moved up to support The Prince and possibly position herself to bring The Dance to the Antagonist!
As there were no viable targets, the Deathwatch could not perform any Overwatch actions.
The Bard danced right past the Watch Sergeant and his fellow players to see if there was anything else to find where the Deargeant had previously been searching - did not have enough action points to loot it (and that objective had already been looted this Turning Point...)
Still no viable targets, the Deathwatch could not perform any Overwatch actions again.
Finally, The Master also moved to a position which would give him cover (and, having a conceal order would make him not a viable target), but positioned to dance out and strike at one of this opposites the following Turning Point.
Positions at the end of Turning Point One
TURNING POINT TWO
Once again Finnegan won the Initiative Roll. I think I actually rolled a ONE for every initiative roll-off all game...
I used the Prismatic Blur Strategic Ploy again and Finnegan used Bolter Discipline - which allowed him to do TWO shoot actions in an activation (normally only allowed to do one - regardless of how many Action Points you have...) as long as it's a Bolter... Which was really only three of his Operatives.
"Brothers! On me! I am surrounded!" called out Sergeant Coranos.
"On the move!" replied Brother Diodexious, quickly stowing his sample kit (after looting the objective a second time) and rushing to his sergeant's aid.
Rounding the corner the Deathwatch veteran spotted one of the Xenos and onleashed the power of his combi-plasma at it. For the briefest moment the cavern was filled with the blinding light of a sun - when the smoke cleared, the Xenos was no longer there... (three hits... one successful defence roll... TEN damage!)
The Queen grabbed another piece of the objective and lept over the pile of corpses to attack the Watch Sergeant, slashing with her Harlequin's Blade... but it was no match for the Sergeant with his Xenophase blade and Storm Shield... (She scored five hits... but the sergeant scorred two crits and two normal hits... she dealt 8 damage to the Sergeant before being taken out of action)
Following up, the Sergeant charged the other Xenos, despite his injuries, before it could strike. (Again, 2 crits and 2 normal hits against 4 hits - the Sergeant dealt 6 damage to The MERchant before being finished off himself!)
Melee combat... FAST AND DEADLY - especially when two melee powerhouses go toe-to-toe...
The Merchant danced past the fallen Sergeant over to the next objective and quickly snatched a few items before zinging off a few shots from his Shuriken Pistol at Brother Diodexious (causing 4 damage)
Ah... y'know what...? As I'm writing this I think I may have made a mistake here. The Merchant had been dealt 6 damage which is more than half his wounds and would have reduced his movement enough that I'm not sure he would have been able to make it to the Objective with ONE move - and thus have been able to loot AND shoot... Ah, well... learning game...
Brother Scamedes, having just blasted The Witch, turned the corner to find The Prince scavenging through Cultists bodies. He blasted a few large holes in The Prince and then started gathering up some of the things the PRince had dropped - not noticing The Maid was standing right there.
The maid blew a hole through Scamedes Power Armour with her fusion pistol, damaging one of his hearts!
She then charged right in an thrust her Halequin's Kiss into the hole and launched loops of monofilament wire through his innards, dropping the hulking beast.
Brother Cannistus moved up to where the Witch had been to see what she'd been rummaging through.
The Fool Finished gathering what he could where he was and then danced out into the open and blasted Cannistus with his Neuro Disruptor, scrambling his brain, before ducking behind some cover before the Heavy bolter could open up.
The cover wan't much help. Brother Issolis opened up with his Heavy Bolter spraying the area with rounds - it smashed away the boudler The Fool was hiding behind. When the dust settled, The Fool was no longer there.
The Master danced across the cavern and shot Brother Diodexious in the back. He took little notice.
TURNING POINT THREE
Again Finnegan got the initiative. We used the same old Strategic Ploys - Bolter Discipline, Prismatic Blur...
Brother Diodexious blasted away at The Merchant - twice - and finally took him down and then rushed forward to see what The merchant had been looking for amongst the corpses of the Cultists
The Maid moved forward and continued to gather that which they were looking for - staying well out of sight of Brother Issolis and his Infernus Heavy Bolter.
Lacking any targets, Brother Issolis moved forwad to search the corpse of the Patriarch for any useable intelligence.
The Master charged after Brother Diodexious and cut him down - then gathered some more items from the pile.
TURNING PONT FOUR
At this point Finnegan had one Deathwatch Trooper and I have two HArlequins on the table. All were out of sight of each other and standing next to an objective marker that could still be looted one more time (or within and easy move of one) there was no avantage to ever TRYING to attack one another, so we just said I looted two more, and he looted one and called it a day.
In the end The Harlequins scored TEN Victory points and the Deathwatch had scored seven.
We went through the post game sequence for fun.
Doing casualty rolls, most managed to recover from their wounds, but The Bard had a Critical Imparement (cannot perform Dash actions and cannot improve APL... IMPROVE!? How can you Imporve it!? what they heck would he DO with four action points anyway!?). The Bard died of his wounds and will need replacing.
Brother Diodexious also failed the casualty roll and then rolled DEATH on the Battle Scars table... but we noted a Requisition Point could be spent for a Medevac to ignore the effects of a roll on the Battle Scars table. So Finnegan did that - as Brother Diodexious would have gained the most experience points.
Operatives gain one experience point for each enemy Operative they take out plus one for each Victory Point they secured. Brother Diodexious would have scored FOUR - the most out of everyone... except if you are incapacitated during the action, the most you can gain is three.
We'll have to figure out Bases of Operation and Strategic Assets and all the other things you can do with Requisition points and Equipment Points and all that soon!
I like the game. I am excited to play more. I really like the activation sequence and how combats are resolved. I like the relatively simple force organization and the fact that I no longer have to face four freaking plasma guns.
A couple things I wish had been done better or that might be problematic...
We were playing with some pretty bad-ass Kill Teams. Both had Operatives that all had APL3 (most just have two action points) and weapons that dished out some SERIOUS hurt. The Harelquins were a bit brittle, but there were a few more of them. While I like the action point system - use it all the time in Necromunda and I love that game!
One problem with Operatives with 3 APL, is some of the restrictions and lack of options to spend those action points on... I mean, you can't shoot twice in an activation (Unless you're a marine and use the Bolter Discipline ploy) - and it's the same in Necromunda, BUT in Necromunda, if you don't move, you can spend an action point to AIM, thus improving your chances of hitting. If someone doesn't want or need to move and they just want to shoot someone they don't just lose an action point standing around.
In the same vein, You cannot use the Charge action in a turn where you have moved or dashed... What are Harlequins to do with all that APL then? That seems like it SHOULD be their thing move-charge-fight - I mean, sure, they can shoot-charge-fight... but the range on their pistols is shorter than their charge move!?
Also, the experience system feels like it could be a little unbalanced. I mean, Marines are super-killy-murder-machines... They are just going to SHRED lesser forces and gain PILES of experience points for each of the schmoes they wade through - their opponents will have a MUCH tougher time taking down said marines... and still only get one experience point for it, while their own dead casualites are giving up scores of XP to the marines.
These are relatively minor things, though. I'm hoping that lesser Kill Teams (with more numbers) will be able to SWARM objectives and score victory points (and gain experience) that way... before ultimately being eliminated by the Hard Hitting Marines.