Team Building: An Inside Look at Killzone Design #2

Reposted from A Gentleman's Ones (02.24.12).

This series of posts, apart from getting the gears engaged as we spin into AdeptiCon and the Killzone events featured therein, is designed to offer insight into the machinations that formed Killzone into the hearty and robust mechanism that it is currently. More than simple promotion of the game itself, this series hopes to present a kind of RaI blueprint for how we got from the broad (and largely unmanageable) Kill Teams dynamic suggested in previous 40K editions and loosely suggested in the contemporary Battle Missions book, to last year’s Special Operations: Killzone ruleset, and finally to the extraordinarily fun, rounded dynamic that we have conjured for AdeptiCon this year.

This first installment covers some ground that might already be familiar to enthusiasts of Joe and Skarvald’s timely and sporting blog (Wolves for the Wolf God. Go check it out if you are unfamiliar), but the topic is worth visiting once more. Although the series might cover some expected territory, the idea –simply- is to discuss what on earth we were thinking.

For those of you not versed or familiar, there are a number of basic restrictions that act as the foundation for a standard team -250 points. These restrictions are essential and act as the leveling skeleton upon which all teams are built. There are a few simple guidelines that I will not discuss here for practicality’s sake –so please have a gander at the larger ruleset for the whole picture.

This first set of restrictions act almost exactly as they did in the original version last year.

Imperial Guard Stormtroopers take cover from Orks.  Space Marine Scouts protect an critical objective.
Standard Restrictions: a team may select a limited number of models with the following attributes:
  • 0-2 models with a 2+ armor save
  • 0-2 models with 3 wounds
  • 0-2 models with 3+ invulnerable saves
  • 0-2 models with Jump Infantry designation
  • 0-2 models with Bike/Jetbike, and/or Cavalry/Beasts designation
So a valid team could have two Chaos Terminators, two Raptors, and two Chaos Bikers… and so on. This mechanism helps curb potential abuses and also keeps the spirit of Special Operations teams appropriately aligned –genuinely spec ops stuff, prepared for all situations. Likewise, these characteristics stack, so a TH/SS Terminator fills both a 2+ armor save and a 3+ invulnerable slot.

That solved the basic problem of potentially imbalanced team structures, but there was another lingering issue with armaments and upgrades. Thus the inspiration for a second set of restrictions intended to remedy a very complicated and troublesome problem; we wrung our hands about this one for weeks and weeks and weeks during the revision process. Previously, we had suggested that there could only be a limited number of weapons upgrades for participants in any given “squad”; however, this left quite a few armies with basic troops choices that already enjoyed a kind of MEQ upgrade equivalent (looking at you Eldar Fire Dragons). Without heavy redaction to each and every weapon option in each and every codex, our first stab at remedy would be ineffectual.

I think Joe gets credit for this one.

Sapce Marine Scouts take up position near a bulkhead.  An Imperial Guard Operations Team advances towards an objective.
Weapon Restrictions: Killzone teams identify four basic type of non-standard and limited weapons. In any mission, a team may field the following number of non-standard weaponry:
  • 0-3 Template - designated Template
  • 0-3 Incisive - with AP2 or lower
  • 0-3 Suppressive - with 3 or more shots
  • 0-3 Heavy weapons - designated Heavy.
Once again, these characteristics stack, so a Lascannon fills both an Incisive and a Heavy slot. Likewise, models with variable weapons and weapon types count 1 for each available or potential characteristic (thus a Chaos Obliterator tallies 1 Template, 1 Incisive, and 1 Heavy regardless).

In this manner, we have addressed the kind of weapon on the table, and thus circumvented the weapon upgrade consideration entirely. The basic pricing of a basic weapon for any given race still operates in relation to all the others (for better and for worse), and in the same gesture potentially formidable weaponry takes the proverbial knee before upsetting all semblance of balance at such a limited points value. Result.

With those basic guidelines, you have the heart of the matter.

Find out more about Special Operations: Killzone at AdeptiCon 2012 over at b. smoove's blog, A Gentleman's Ones.

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