Thursday, 2 August 2018

Kill Team / 40k Differences from a Tau Perspective

By now there’s quite a few Kill team reviews and many of those go over the differences between the 40k and Kill Team rules.  For this post I wanted to go over the differences that specifically affect the Tau army.  So without pause here we go...

Markerlights Table

The first change that is noticed is the markerlight table is better than 40k:

Hey it’s shorter (due to losing the seeker/destroyer missile line), you only need 4 markerlights to get to the +1 to hit level.  This initially sounds great, but due to the increased number of negative to hit modifiers in Kill Team (I’ll come onto that shortly) it’ll be harder to get to that level.  Next you’ll have way less markerlights in a Kill team that you will in 40k, and lastly you’ll be affecting a single enemy model rather than a entire unit.  All these factors means markerlights are worth much less (even considering pathfinders only cost 75% of their 40k cost).  The resources needed to get +1 to hit on a single model, may only benefit the first short, eg. with other buffs a rail rifle gunner, particularly within 15” should kill the markerlighted target.

There is one thing to offset these issues, and that is the Uplinked Markerlight stratagem.  Like 40k it changes one markerlight hit into D3+1, but it costs 2 Command points, which makes it very expensive compared with 40k, as you only get 2 command points a turn (and that’s if you still have your leader alive).  These two command points have three very very good competing uses (each only costing 1 command point each):

  • The generic dice reroll
  • Sniper Stratgem (allows a Sniper specialist to get +1 to hit)
  • Heavy Stratagem (allows a Stealth suit Heavy specialist to fire 5 rather than 4 shots with his burst cannon)

Overall I think means its not worth investing too much in markerlights, and having only a few to get the first markerlight hit to reroll 1s for overcharging Ion Rifles.

Negative Modifiers To Hit

Anyone who’s played any of the -1 to hit armies in 40k, particularly Eldar which stack the neg modifiers know how deliberating it is to the Tau shooting.  Additional negative to hit modifiers in Kill team include:

  • Firing at over half range
  • Firing at a model that is obscured
  • Having a flesh wound

It’s important to reduce the negative modifiers, and a key to that is closing the distance.  Let’s look at the basic fire warrior firing at an enemy in the open, at 15-30” its 1 shot on 5+, at 15” or less it increases to 2 shots on 4+ thats triple the damage on average for getting within half range.  Sorry this is another edition your carbine armed fire warriors will not see any play.

When firing at an obscured model its 4 times as much damage firing with 15” compared to over 15" range.  This leads me to conclude that the best Tau playstyle is likely to be getting within rapid fire range, while hopefully staying obscured, with the intention of killing your target but not leaving yourself too open to retaliation.

What can help with those Negative Modifiers:
1) Use longer range weapons and play aggressively so its easy to get within half range
2) The Comms specialist can give a nearby model +1 to hit
3) The Recon drone can allow a nearby model to ignore the obscured penalty
4) Throw more shots, eg. Stealth Suit with a burst cannon Heavy specialist (for 5 shots), or gun drones.

 A quick note on Gun drones.  Gun drones seem bad when you consider they are BS5+ with no drone controller in the game, but they can advance for 8+D6 movement and fire at 18” on obscured targets on 6’s (6s always hit in Kill Team), that's only 1 less than normal even with a -3 to-hit modifier.  Remember though that if the target it not obscured a fire warrior would get 2 shots at 4+ to hit just a bit (3” inches) closer, so consider 1-2 gun drones to fire at those obscured targets using their speed to outflank the enemy with the Stealth Suit(s).  With so many negative modifiers in Kill Team I’ve seem some people saying the only competitive Tau Kill Team will be one with all but 2-3 members being Gun drones.  I’m not convinced yet, but time will tell, plus I don’t think I’d enjoy playing a Kill Team where I’m just rolling lots of dice needing 6s.

Although Kill Team in general, and the way I think Tau will need to play, will be at closer ranges than we’d like to play a 40k game, I think charging is not as much of an issue, as charging happens in the move phase and it a straight 2D6 charge, not the normal move and then a 2D6 charge.

Although this is not strictly true, because it is possible to get a normal move, and then a 2D6 charge by doing it in two parts.  The enemy can move and advance in one turn, and then if they get to move first in the next turn they can immediately do the 2D6 charge, so be wary about getting too close to models which haven’t moved yet.

Overall we should have a good chance of rapid firing at a model trying to make close combat in Kill Team, where as we're used to some models charging us when they start the turn miles away in 40k.

Model and Weapon Changes
Drones are not as tough as 40k with their save reduced to 5+.  There is no way to get a drone controller in Kill Team, so drones are stuck with their poor BS5+.  Marker drones do not ignore the negative modifier for moving and firing a markerlight.  The Pulse and Grav drones while being a point cheaper will be benefiting a lot less models than in 40k.  Overall drones are a lot worse, but most are a lot cheaper at only 7 points.  However, the stand out is the Recon drone which, while being the same 7 points, has 2 wounds and can offset the obscured modifier for a nearby model.

One small but crucial weapon change is that Ion Rifle overheating is on an unmodified 1 to hit.  So if you get +1 to hit you can still overheat, but more importantly with all the negative to hit modifiers you don’t die on a 1-3 when you shoot at something with -2 to hit.  If you get 1 markerlight on your target (to reroll 1's to hit) they are quite reliable, and punch very hard for a 10-point model.

General Tau Kill Team Types

[I'll be using one of my Firesight Incursion team, as a Railrifle Sniper Specialist for my Kill team]
So far, I’ve seen two types of Tau Kill teams being used.  One is stealth suit based with 4 Stealth suits and 2 other members to fill out the remaining points.  This list is very fast, hard to hit with a natural -1 to hit modifier on top of all the usual Kill Team modifier and are also one of the toughest units in the game with 2 wounds, toughness 4, and a 3+ armour save.

The other type, is one that I am favouring which still uses a Stealth suit (as they are so good) with a mix of pathfinders (making use of their excellent gunners) and fire warriors (with their long range rapid fire guns).  Some drones are occasionally sprinkled in.

Here’s 2 youtube battle reports I’ve watched with each type to help you see what you prefer:

Primarchs Youtube Channel Steath Suits Battle Report 

FNP Wargamers Youtube channel Tau Kill Team Battle Report

Here's what I'll starting to play with, any comments, tips or criticism in the comments would be greatly appreciated:

Fire Warrior Shas’ui with Pulse Rifle & Markerlight, Leader Specialist
DS8 Tactical Support Turret with a Smart Missile System
Fire Warrior Shas’la with Pulse Rifle

Pathfinder Shas’la with Pulse Carbine & Markerlight, Comms Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Rail Rifle, Sniper Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle

Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Recon Drone with Burst Cannon

Stealth Suit Shas’vre with Burst Cannon, Heavy Specialist

 - I'll be painting a XV25 Stealth Suit and a DS8 Turret for this list, now that I've completed (bar basing some models) my new 40k Tau list, but that's another blog post.

Overall I really like the look of Kill team, and look forward to playing it, ie. take everything I say with a pinch of salt, but I’ll report on my experiences so stay tuned for more updates.

Let me know in the comments what you're initial thoughts on Kill Team are, what you'll be using, and what tactics you think will work best for the Tau.



  1. Haven’t played or bought it yet, but thanks for rundown. This might be the opportunity I’m seeking to field my Stealth Team, as nothing else is close to being painted!

    1. I'm using Kill Team as an excuse to paint up some new units a XV25 Stealth Suit (I've loads of XV15s), a trial paint scheme with it coming out of camouflage as a test before I paint my Ghostkeel, and a DS8 Turret (mine having been sitting in a case for a couple of years).

  2. It's unfortunate that GW didn't make the Stealth Suit kit a bit more flexible in terms of weapon options. If they had a Flamer available as a replacement for the Burst Cannon instead of just the Fusion Blaster, that could really help.

    1. GW now follow what's available in the kit, so until we get a new kit I don't think Stealths would be getting any new options. Also I don't think the Tau fluff would support more flamers. I sure the crisis suits only got them because they have been in the kit from the 1st crisis suits. Flamer range also stops the stealth suits from doing any damage from flamer to 18" range. Unless the flamer was much cheaper than the other weapons I think the Stealths are better with their current loadouts.

      Other loadouts auch as the missile pods would be great but a bit unbalancing without a huge points increase, and take the stealths away from their infiltration and scouting role to a heavy firepower role more suited to crisis suits and broadsides i bigger games.

      Thanks for the comment, how have your Kill team games been going so far ?

    2. Im gonna take Tau for the upcoming Kill Team match. Thanks to this rundown I might stand a chance :D

    3. Glad you liked it. Best of luck for your match.



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