Review the new Tac Ops and mission card pack update for Kill Team!
Welcome to my review for the Critical Ops Tac Op and Mission Pack update for Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team. I go over this new product in-depth, covering the new missions, Tac Ops and Matched Play changes. Find out why this is simultaneously the best and worst update for Kill Team yet! Thanks goes to Games Workshop who provided this for me to review for free. As always I aim to be honest, impartial and constructively critical.
I’ve also done this as a more in-depth YouTube video which you can watch here:
What’s in the Box
The Critical Ops update comes in a cardboard box with 44 new cards and a small leaflet with matched play updates for games of Kill Team. This is an essential update to the main game with nice packaging that holds it all. While it may sound silly, the box is really nice and holds everything perfectly. However, if you want to sleeve these cards, they are tarot card size so any card sleeves that fit 120mm x 70mm cards will work perfectly.
Within this box you gain 9 new mission cards. These new layouts give 3 new layouts for horizontal, vertical and diagonal deployments. The variation is nice and all they layouts are pretty good. However, their real strength comes when combined with the new mission cards.
Each layout is categorised by the above card. This basically helps show you what all the markings and colours mean, which become very important when it comes to Tac Ops.
Missions have now 3 main categories: either loot, secure or capture. Loot is basically from Loot and Salvage, Secure from Domination and Capture from Seize Ground. You select one of these after selecting a layout card. While it does seem limiting at first and cuts down on the variation of mission types we currently have, the varied combination of layout and various mission cards allows for lots more variety of games.
Tac Ops have all been updated. No new archetypes but they replace the ones currently printed in the core book. Each archetype has 6 Tac Ops like previously.
Security has the most and least changes at the same time. They’ve had a few Tac Ops that haven’t been changed (as Security was the best archetype) but those that have had quite the shakeup. Hold Them Back is an updated Hold the Line, requiring you to have no enemy operatives in your table half which tones it down in power quite a bit. Secure Centre Line is a new Tac Op you reveal after the first turning point and functions like Central Control but for the centre line of the board instead of just the middle. It’s a very interesting Tac Op that is good but also not easy to score.
Seek and Destroy
Seek and Destroy has had a similar update to Security. Rout just has clearer wording, which is fine. Eliminate Guards is a really great Tac Op and is a nice counter to Security. Assassinate Target is also a revamped Challenge. It might be a little too strong but it’s much more evenly balanced than its original iteration.
Recon probably has had the most change with basically all the Tac Ops being new. There is a revamped focus on being closer to the enemy dropzone. Surge Forward is a good example of this and kinda mirrors Seize Ground. Outflank replaces Triangulate, it becomes harder to get 1VP but easier to max, which makes it a little weird. Secure Vantage is revamped Vantage. It’s quite a bit worse for certain teams (like Voidscarred Corsairs) but helps teams that are mostly APL2 without much access to APL modification.
Infiltration has also had a big shakeup. It still retains its focus of trying to spy on the enemy but Stalk Target takes it to an extreme that is too far. Way too many stipulations to score reliably. Gather Surveillance is much better and fits a lot of teams who can run Infiltration. Implant returns as the love/hate staple, easy to get 1VP but hard to max.
You also get 3 faction Tac Op cards numbered 1 to 3. These stand-in for your faction Tac Ops, obviously. While people wanted faction Tac Ops printed individually, I’m still okay with how it is being handled currently. Especially with how many bespoke kill teams we have now.
Scouting Phase Changes
Now…we get to the bad changes. Easily some of the worst the game has ever had. First up we’ve had changes to 2 of the 3 scouting options. Fortify lets you place a barricade on a vantage point (normal barricades cannot do this) and Recon now lets you fly.
Let’s talk about Fortify. This is easily broken for any team that has access to silent weapon operatives. Like, I don’t know, Pathfinders and Vet Guard. If your opponent has no way to deal with this, they can automatically lose games. Not only that, but the Fortify change means open vantage points in or near drop zones (vantage points that provide no cover) now are utterly broken so TO’s have to change all drop zones so that no vantage point is within blue. It’s so bad, it will even cause more confusion as people will ask why they can’t put normal barricades on vantage points etc. I understand wanting to buff Fortify but this is the wrong way to do it. Would have much rather had the option of using 2 barricades etc.
Next is the change to Recon. Originally I was mixed on this but after more thought and testing, this is also broken. Because the dash now has fly, you can fly onto a vantage point nearby and immediately shoot at people in drop zones, especially damaging if you have blast weapons. Again, another change that doesn’t seem to have been thought through properly. Combined with the new change to Fortify, TOs/people setting up terrain now have to make sure vantage points are more than blue from drop zones to try and balance these bizarre scouting changes. Also Phobos players feel like they are being robbed with their jump shoot insertion packs.
Infiltrate, change order, remains unchanged but it was already good to begin with.
Matched Play Changes
Sadly, there are more matched play changes. Starting off with the good, barricades have been changed to match the change in Into the Dark. Basically, barricades can’t be placed within white of each other. This eliminates the issue of barricade stacking and is a good change. Glad this was ported over, really good to see.
Tac Ops have also been changed. You basically select 3 instead of randomly drawing to make your 3 Tac Ops. While I preferred the old way, I can see the benefits of just selecting Tac Ops. Plus it speeds up the deployment/setup phase of the game.
Now for the bad, everyone now starts with 3CP instead of 2CP, meaing everyone gets 4CP at the start of turning point 1 over 3CP. This is a totally un-needed change. I guess it was done to help weaker teams but all this does is make the better teams even more efficient. Such a bad team that will only lead to more balance woes. Very strange as there was no problem with the current CP situation. Fear teams that already get free CP already, they are going to get much worse to fight. Not to mention Void Dancer Troupe who proved having too much CP was a problem.
Then we have deployment changes. Instead of deploying your kill team as a single group, you have to split them into 3 evenly numbered groups and alternate groups. Now, if Kill Team had infinite time for deployment, then I could see this being okay. However, as deployment was already the slowest part of Kill Team, this seems like an utterly bizarre change by making it even longer. If you only play casually then this won’t be too much of an issue, but this messes up timing for tournament play. Such a bad and confusing change.
Outside of those you also get alternate options for mission and Tac Op selection. These are nice for those who want to shakeup their games more and want a more random structure for their games. This part is a nice addition.
Critical Ops Overview
Overall I’m very confused by Kill Team Critical Ops. I love the new Tac Ops, missions, layouts and barricade change. These are all great and help improve the balance of the game. Tac Ops are far more closely balanced to each other, giving everyone viable archetypes to use. Missions have more variety and combinations now despite the loss of mission-specific rules while also being much more easier to choose for with mission selection. Barricades also having the updated ITD rules makes them better too without the barricade blocking you had previously.
The bad though, is really bad. Definitely some of the worst changes for the game. The change to Fortify is especially horrible but coupled with the change to Recon, extra CP and deployment really worries me about the game. Now I believe all these changes will be reversed eventually, for example there’s no way I can see Fortify lasting more than 1 to 3 months.
Now I know people may think I am jumping the gun, but I cannot stress how much these changes break certain aspects of the game. Very clearly so. I intend to abuse them until they are reverted back because they are so broken. It’s just really disappointing to see these changes when the pack came with so many good changes. I could do multiple in-depth articles and videos about why these changes are bad for Kill Team. Not because I only dislike them, but because I know how they can be easily manipulated to effectively break the game. Then you also have the deployment change which really slows down setup even more.
- Cards are a nice new standardised format
- Come in a nice box that holds everything neatly
- New missions are fun with lots of combinations that tournament and casual players will both enjoy
- Tac Ops are much more balanced with each other making them more viable as a whole for every faction
- Barricade placement gets better balanced rules
- The scouting changes fundamentally break deployment and vantage points near or in drop zones
- Deployment is now even longer than before, with more pre-game minimangement
- Extra CP feels un-needed and will likely become problematic for the already very strong teams
So overall would I recommend Kill Team Critical Ops? Yes! Despite how much I hate the bad changes, the net positive from everything else makes the game much better as a whole. Plus, even if you dislike the matched play changes, you can just use the new missions and Tac Ops only for an even better experience. I just really like the new Tac Ops and how missions are done with the 9 layouts and 3 missions. It really does outweigh the bad as overall this is a great product with just some really bad matched play changes that are likely to be fixed with FAQs/Erratas (I give Fortify 1 to 3 months, the other stuff 6 months max).
This is why it’s the best/worst update for me. The new Tac Ops and their selection just improves the in-game experience and the mission generation is so great. I can’t wait to see it being used in tournaments and events. If this becomes a yearly update for Kill Team, I’d be really happy. It shows Games Workshop’s faith in Kill Team and the determination to keep it up-to-date.
If you want to pick up Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team Shadowvaults you can pre-order it directly from the Games Workshop website or use my affiliate link at Element Games to net you a 25% to 15% discount at no additional cost to yourself while helping to support me and my work.
That’s pretty much it from me. So until next time, no matter what changes happen with matched play, remember there’s always hope as long as you can roll a crit!