Ruthless Efficiency: One-Box Kill Teams and You

Games Workshop are mere days away from unleashing Kill Team. People across pre-Unification Terra are feverishly cutting and sticking bits to other bits. Construction crews from here to Sydney work day and night building townships that stretch as far as the other side of the kitchen table. Not a minute goes by where a hobbyist isn’t face deep in their notes looking for an army idea they never took on but which the Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team game system openly accommodates.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And it can be. So often when we hear about a model having ‘unique character’ it’s the product of a long-time hobbyist dredging up bits from the days before people stopped weaving scarves from asbestos. This can make Kill Team a scary proposition to someone new to Kill Team or even the whole 40k universe. That thought plagued me for a week. Tormented me. Brought me down. If nothing else, it made me sad.

Well maybe sad. I also haven’t eaten for three hours. I’m either full of sorrow for people filled with doubt over what to include in their Kill Team or my hankering for doughnuts has escaped my control.

But don’t worry. After this rambling you’ll find 40k kits which, in my opinion, offer an exceptional collection of opportunities for Kill Team. They are, I hope, cheap and single kit affairs perfect for a small project while not stymieing creativity or flexibility when you get down to the local gaming store and play a game.

Quick note: I don’t have a copy of the Kill Team book yet. All the suggestions you’ll find below are based upon what we know at the time I published this. I’ll admit to making more than a few rules assumptions too. If you want to see more, the Warhammer Community website has a great index packed with information on each Kill Team. There’s also a slicker, fancier segment for Kill Team on the Warhammer 40,000 site. Right, Enough of that. Let’s get to the kits!

Skitarii Vanguard/Rangers

Let’s start with the favoured troops of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Amalgamations of meat and machine, these soldiers potter around at the beck and call of high-ranking techpriests as easily enamoured with motorised cutlery as a good old fashioned scrap in a promethium refinery. So why the hell did I pick a bunch of mindless soldiers in a list intended to help build characterful Kill Teams?

skitarii top shot

Well first, Skitarii Rangers/Vanguard aren’t actually mindless automatons like Necrons. Their Alphas have a degree of autonomy that puts most human (and squishy) Imperial Guardsman to shame.

What the Skitarii kit offers your Kill Team is an impressive variety in the looks department. Foremost are the heads. I’ll maintain to the day I fall of this planet that hooded Skitarii hefting archaic rifles and everybody’s favourite twister of tongues the Transuranic Arquebus look downright perfect. Nothing shouts sniper like a gun the length of the Mechanicus servant holding it. The stand keeping the barrel from wedging itself in every gutter from here to the Ultima Segmentum is the icing on a semi-metallic cake. Perfect for a Sniper, wouldn’t you say?

Close and long range weapons are plentiful on the sprue. I mean this in the most genuine way possible. Only a handful of other kits available to Kill Team teams come close. Not even the Adeptus Astartes Tacticals can boast such an array from their kit. Specialist weapons are nice and all but there’s a distinct sweetness to a sprue offering a true half-n-half mix like that of the Skitarii.

Where it stumbles however is in melee. An Alpha might find some nice stabby or rendy bits but on the whole, Skitarii teams need Ruststalkers to stand the faintest antibacterial incense-heavy whiff of hope against Genestealers, Wyches, or plain angry Orks in combat.

skitarii middle shot

But you don’t come to the Adeptus Mechanicus to dirty your mechadendrites in hand to hand.  You call them when you plan on reducing your enemies to bullet-riddled radioactive paste.

The true standout from the Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii kit for me in Kill Team though is the spares. Oh those options. Need a Comms specialist? Those fancy antennae should come in handy. Has one of your Rangers got a penchant for marking enemy targets? Give them a snazzy Omnispex to guide any Snipers in. Nothing makes a Skitarii smile like an efficient use of explosives. Just don’t stare when the pearly whites come out. I still suffer the nightmares. Imagine James Bond’s Jaws, but with a big gun and a radioactive glow.

Oh and how can we ignore those Vanguard heads? Pure and simple beauty in plastic. Even if they don’t find a place in your Kill Team, your bitz box will thank you.

Heretic Astartes/Chaos Space Marines

Oh boy. This kit. It remembers the day when the Save Icon promised 1.44 megabytes of physical media storage. When it came onto the scene The Cloud was what we thought rain came from.  With the shiny new Plague Marines, Rubric Marines, Primaris Space Marines and the Mark III & IV, the Heretic Astartes kit is oft-maligned rather than loved.


But for Kill Team opportunities, oh boy. Narratively and practically,  more potential gushes from the Chaos Space Marine kit than many, many others in the Warhammer 40,000 range. A key element across making an effective Kill Team looks to prioritise flexibility over a force built around one neat trick apothecaries hate. Lovers of long-distance murder will find plenty of Boltguns to pop heads. There’s even a Heavy Bolter hidden away in the kit, the perfect solution for most problems in Kill Team. Then you’ve got the Meltagun, Flamer, and Plasma Gun hanging around in the kit.

Just a quick note here. If you don’t overcharge that Plasma Gun, you’re doing it wrong.

Not bad so far, but its the rest of the kit that elevates it beyond many others. You want Bolt Pistols and Chainswords? Well it’s your lucky day because the Chaos Space Marines kit is heaving with enough to arm all ten of our boys in multifarious warp colours for a one-to-one meeting with whoever’s face needs carving off.

As far as creating individual character goes the Chaos Space Marines kit continues to stave off  disappointment. Enough different helmets await clipping off the sprue to give each member of your Kill Team a unique countenance, and that’s before the knives and kit packs offer another bucket of freedom to forge a force of Long War Veterans eager to cause a ruckus in Hive Kentuckus.

CSM art

Oh and did I forget to mention that the kit’s command sprue carries one head for each of the four major chaos gods, plus the classic Chaos Space Marine Aspiring Champion helmet of medieval knight meets angry goat we all know and love?

Now unlike the Skitarii or some other expendable servants of the False Emperor, it’s highly unlikely you will ever get to field a full box worth of ten Heretic Astartes. While it hurts to leave models unloved and untouched on a shelf, you may sleep well knowing you can swap out specific special weapons or Chaos God Marks on the fly with no need to buy a second kit.

Want to take your Chaos Space Marine Kill Team even further? Pick up a Possessed kit. There’s no place for Possessed Marines in Kill Team (yet…) but the plethora of parts available in it gives you more than enough to personalise one or even two dozen Chaos Space Marines.

Deathwatch Kill Team

You knew this was coming. Do I even need to explain it? It says Kill Team right on the box. Above everything else, Deathwatch are built to excel in this new game system. Now while I must admit they don’t have the same capacity for visual flourishes opportunities as the two aforementioned kits in this article, there is a rich vein of character ripe for militarisation in weapon selections alone.

deathwatch top

And combined with the Chapter specific shoulder pads in the kit, it’s hard not to recommend the Deathwatch for a narrative jolly into Kill Team.

Power Swords, Power Mauls and a pair of Storm Shields offer plenty of sources for some close combat nastiness.  If you have an insatiable need to want to collapse skulls, there’s are TWO Heavy Thunder Hammers. No better too exists in the Imperium for those of us who want to nail whatever they don’t like into the nearest walkway.

Not a fan of getting your hands dirty? Then welcome to a kit with a bunch of standard Boltguns a Stalker Pattern Boltgun made for punishing anything. It’s important to note too that the normal Boltguns are all single handed, allowing you to kit out a Deathwatch marine with a sword or maul to take on any situation. Hate flexibility? Then put that Stalker Pattern Boltgun to use.

Deathwatch Topper

In a weird twist, the heavy weapons available to Deathwatch Kill Teams are more flexible than a lot of other heavier infantry. Frag Cannons give you access to a long range shot with the strength to stop a charging Lictor or a close up and personal frag burst that wouldn’t struggle to put down a Termagant horde. Oh and we can’t forget the Infernus Heavy Bolter, a mind-boggling marriage of Heavy Bolter and Flamer which are just begging for an Imperial Fist Deathwatch Veterans to bear them into battle. Hold the line, then set it on fire.

I’d call this the perfect box for a foray into Kill Team, but if I did, I’d be lying. Even if you give out Stormshields and have the best luck in the world, you’ve only got 5 wounds on the table. Not a deal breaker though it’s something to think about.

Or perhaps this exemplifies Kill Team to you. A crack team sent down to a war zone to take out an enemy threat before it affects the wider battle. In games they’re likely to cause your opponents significant havoc, but it is in narrative climbs where character trumps ability for a memorable time that a single box of Deathwatch Marines will shine.

Plague Marines

You wanted character? Well what’s more characterful than intestines looping round your ankles and a reeking miasma that could curdle promethium? Let’s look at the Plague Marines kit.

Plague Marines top

I’ll level with you here. This spot was originally for Adeptus Astartes Tactical Squads. But then I took a few minutes to investigate. Honestly, it doesn’t stand out. That’s not to say it’s a bad kit for creating a characterful Kill Team by any stretch of the imagination (Yep. You’re allowed to imagine here. Just don’t tell the servo skull). Far as visual flourishes and weapons opens go, though, there isn’t that much going on outside of some fun with poses. So I gave its place to the Death Guard box.

Part of my reasoning behind this choice for a single box Kill Team is, like the aforementioned Deathwatch, the sheer flexibility on offer. You’ve got your typical Melta Gun, Plasma Gun and Plasma pistol which everything wearing power armour seems to get and a smattering of more specialised melee weapons for a unit champion. Nothing fancy so far, I know,

Then it gets interesting. Connoisseurs of contagion will also find the best looking weapon in the entire Death Guard arsenal the Blightlauncher or the vile Heavy Plague Belcher. Both fine weapons suited to urban uncleansing duty. Unless you’re more inclined to beat your foe to a disease riddle pulp up close.

plague marine art

Again, the Plague Marine kit pulls through. Big axes, small axes, maces, and knives are all up for grabs and, most importantly of all, look the part.

Speaking of looks, this is where we come to both the Plague Marine Kits greatest boon and most glaring flaw. Let’s address the bad first. Earlier in this segment I mentioned the amount of posing options available on an Adeptus Astartes Tactical Squad kit. Now I don’t know about you, but I find turning left or right is far easier when I use my waist. Plague Marines seem to have a different take on this as, while the majority of their weapons can be held in a number of ways, they can’t summon up the strength to lean or twist. It’s no surprise; you try staying as lithe as a twenty-year-old gymnast when your body’s pumped with more pathogens than a ball pit at a sewage plant. While it’s not likely to cause you an issue if Plague Marines only tempt you for Kill Team, it’s worth consideration should the Death Guard bug bite.

Bring some mosquito spray… Or a biohazard team.

On the flipside, those more solid waist-torso arrangements make Plague Marines a canvas the Citadel Design Team went to town on. Pustules, sores, tentacles and daemonic maws are just some of the delights waiting for your Kill Team. It doesn’t end there either as the kit has 16(!) variant heads. Any Kill Team needs exceptional individuals and nothing’s more individual than a basket of hats.

There’s one more kit to go in this list but I cannot stress enough just how characterful a Plague Marine Kill Team can be. It’s oozing with potential.

Come on you knew I’d slip that pun in somewhere…

Neophyte Hybrids

Ah the Genestealer Cults. Remember the glory days of scratch-built purple limousine transports hauling a cult leader and their retinue through the streets?

Then you’re too old to be playing wargames. Nah just kidding.


In the back end of Warhammer 40,000’s 7th Edition the forces of the Genestealer Cults had a resurgence in a big way. Deathwatch Overkill brought them back from obscurity and then the minds at Games Workshop decided it was time they got a codex again.

As a result, devotees of the Four-Armed Emperor are everywhere, so what better place for them than the claustrophobic gangways and industrial complexes of Kill Team. I mean come on. Just look at them. If those mining suits and visors don’t scream “Armed Uprising in Forge Sector 9128-BV-Theta” I don’t know what will. Aesthetically, their ragtag outfits and affectation for re-purposed industrial tools are a snug fit. When they’re in amongst a Sector Mechanicus board one would be forgiven for thinking them workers rather than angry, manipulative xenos hybrids.

No wonder they’re such a problem.

Besides their obvious looks, the options the kit brings to the fore exemplify in no uncertain terms the values of a non-elite Kill Team. Whether it be Autoguns for long range killing power (as much as a Lasgun equivalent can possess at any rate) and Mining Lasers to tear the enemy apart like a Roland Emmerich move or enough shotguns to say an up-close and personal hello to everybody’s little friend, the Neophyte Hybrid box won’t leave you bereft of options.


So that’s my personal five choices for single-box warbands in Kill Team. While they might not be the optimal choices available to each faction, each one lets you embrace the very soul of Kill Team’s storytelling potential while not burning your wallet or your chances at a competitive game.

The sharp-eyed out there will have noticed a link between two of these kits. The Skitarii and Genestealers are both available in the Kill Team Starter Set. If you’re considering both, this mammoth Starter Set gives you a unit of each and the rules, cards, board, and scenery at an incredible discount.

Besides, it’s not like there’s anything else to buy right now. Well except Soul Wars and Imperial Knights and new Stormcast and Nighthaunt and everything else and the coming Adeptus Titanicus.

Keep an eye on this blog or find me over on Twitter if Kill Team is your thing. There’s more coming from me on this site for it. So much more.

Assuming the planet hasn’t boiled to lava by then…


  1. Nice read buddy, I keep looking at the Plague Marine box when I’m at my local store….I think its just a matter of time before it finds a way home with me.



  2. […] Ruthless Efficiency: One-Box Kill Teams and You @ Vincent Knotley’s Hobby Blog – There are a lot of Kill Team articles kicking around just now, which is understandable given that the new boxed set is coming out soon.  This article is a series of musings on different Kill Teams that can be made up of just one box.  I agree with most of what the author says, but I do need to defend the Chaos Space Marines box.  I remember when this set came out and it was amazing when it was released and was such a huge improvement over the basic, uninspiring models that came before.  I feel they hold up reasonably well.  But yeah, the article is good, with the author nipping through several different boxed and considering their suitability for the new game. […]



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