Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rundown and Review on Special Operation: Kill Zone

Old School here to talk about a game I recently picked up at Adepticon called Special Operation: Kill Zone. The brainchild of Big Jim from Galaxy in Flames and Brian of A Gentleman's Ones ( and some heavy playtesting from key members of the blogosphere), the game takes a spin off the old Kill Team mission and brings it into the modern gameplay system, streamlined to provide fast, bloody games where the victor is often the player with the most brains backing his Team's brawn.

Here is a quick rundown and review with some of my insight in green (and some not in green, lol)

The game is played on a 4x4 table and should make use of a mix of terrain, including LOS blocking pieces such as columns, walls and doors (which add quite a bit to the missions as they can be removed and replaced), limited area terrain, features with varied elevation and open spaces. - This adds up to players putting serious thought into how they are going to negotiate the terrain to complete objectives while not exposing themselves to enemy fire while also supporting their team members.

Each team is a collection of individual models, each independent for all gaming purposes, including each phase of the game. - Basically, while you only have 250 points to work with, you are actually controlling between 5 and 20 individual units, think 40k but in smaller terms. The stakes are high as each failed save results in a unit lost, one less target you can engage and one less unit you have to move or control objectives.

Also, due to the one man units, you could take out priority targets very easily if the opponent didn't place his units correctly (and vice-versa), making the game take on a very strategic aspect in terms of movement and placement.

This is where the movement phase and consolidation through Close Combat come into play. Each model can move it's standard movement, usually 6" (with difficult terrain moving 4"). Also, in the movement phase, each model can run the same distance, making it possible to move 12" in the movement phase. This will keep you from shooting, but if you are fleet, you may still assault. Consolidation from winning CC is 4" - Now, I brought a genestealer infestation, backed by the Broodlord and a Lictor (who gained infiltrate for losing Chameliotic Skin - more on infiltrate later). What this enabled me to do was rush forward 12", double up assault on targets to ensure success and then consolidate 4" into LOS or cover. Combined with Infiltration and mostly guaranteed movement, made it possible to rapidly capitalize on bad movement choices by my opponent, allowing me to take out shooting elements and basically doubling my chances of surviving the next turn.

On the flip side, I was sure to die from bolter fire, so if I made mistakes or didn't play smart, I would be toast.

Friends with benefits: The games we played at Adepticon were four players with a team mate chosen by table position dependant on the mission packet - so some missions would be played with your opponent deployed next to you, while others would have him across or diagonal from you. - This is where infiltration brought a real advantage to the board. In one mission, I was able to deploy my whole force in the same corner as my partner across the board, allowing us the ability to push out and control three quarters of the board through fire and assault all the while, we could count on each other for support.

Missions and Secondary Objectives: The missions usually include a standard objective like carrying high value targets off the board, controlling an area, escaping through the enemy deployment zone ect. Completing the mission objective would award the victor points. Also, mission points could be earned by killing the opponent's models in most missions (something I excelled at).  - This brought a good balancing factor to the table as some armies are better at certain phases of the game and others are just more efficient at killing.

The Secondary - or - Secret objectives were drawn from a deck of cards by each player and not revealed until the end. The ones I received typically revolved around having one while live through the game while achieving a number of kills. Typically these objectives were difficult to win, but kept people on their toes because you were never quite certain of your opponent's motives throughout the game. - Given the difficulty of some of the secret objectives, I only attempted to win those points in one game (and succeeded). If you can manage to kill enough and also pull of your secondary mission, you may even eke out a victory over an opponent who took the overall mission.

Fate Cards: Fate cards were pretty fun and interesting and were also secretive. They can either be game-changing, situational or just plain useless, but such is fate - the fickle mistress! - I drew one card that gave a unit fleet (not useful to me, but could have been game changing for other units like a Reaver Jetbike Team Leader). Another game, I had the chance to take away a unit's USR and use it for myself for a turn - very useful. In that same game, my opponent made my Broodlord go to ground for a turn, allowing his Stearngaurd Sgt to back into a better piece of terrain and also complete a secondary objective (game-changing).

The last thing I want to cover in the basic run-down is the Kill Zone armoury. Each team can select upgrades from the Kill Zone rule book. - For myself, I took an assault grenade upgrade for all but one of my models (genestealers with assault grenades, yay!) and I beefed up the toughness of my Lictor to T5, which made it all but certain he would not get insta-killed. These upgrades are not to be taken lightly as spending too much here can handi-cap your team, while a couple smart choices can optimize your team.

With all of that being said, I just wanted to lay this article down as a primer for my next article, which will cover my genestealer infestation roster and building effective Kill Zone Teams.

I do want to touch on my personal opinion of the game and rules system as a whole while I am at it though. I just want to say that this game is very legit, especially considering it was born from the community vice an actual Games Workshop studio. The rules, like running in the movement phase, make the game play faster and smoother. The overall rules are different enough from 40k to allow for a unique and fun experience, while familiar enough to make it easy for 40k players of any experience level to pick up. Sure, there are missions, objective cards and fates that could use a little tweaking, but all game systems have that (even well-established ones).

As a side note, a real benefit for hobbyists is that you can build these small armies out of one or two box sets or with spare models and bits. This helps scratch that second army itch and allows you to branch out with your painting and modelling without breaking the budget.

I plan to host a demo in my area in the next two weeks for our group (all hardened 40k veterans) and hopefully incorporate it into a campaign system and maybe even a stand alone event (possibly like a quick-fire challenge at a tourney too).

If you want to know more about Kill Zone or want to check out rules, visit Galaxy in Flames and follow the links. If you want to see some great tables and talk to the man behind the Adepticon Kill Zone event, check out A Gentleman's Ones. Thanks for playing along (and many thanks to Brain for all the work at Adepticon) and be on the look out for more Kill Zone articles from DFG.


  1. Consider me interested!

    We'll have to try out a game Saturday.

  2. Edit: wrong link. Fixed.

    Been having a blast with Killzone the past several months. The AdeptiCon missions and rules addendum can be found here:


    Some additional rules for doors and the like that are not covered in the SO: KZ book.

  3. Thanks, Matthias, that does clear up the doors. I thought I had skipped a section when we started playing.

  4. Killzone definitely sounds interesting. Count me in for trying it at the flgs

  5. I think I'm gonna try this with my gaming group. It might not be until after the summer, though, because we're starting our 40k Campaign (The Devouring of Reth) and we'll be doing Necromunda this summer as well.

    Will let you know how it goes if we do play it.

  6. This is very necromunda without the experience portion. Although I would like to see something like that for a campaign.

    I am looking forward to trying this this week when I make it up to the FLGS.

  7. Cheers, Old School, for the kind words and the feedback. Both are tremendously welcome. Moreover, it was great fun meeting you at AdeptiCon. Next year, I hope to be able to join you for some of the un-timed merriment after the gaming has settled. If the state of you guys on Sunday morning was any indication at all... well. I'll start training now.

    With regard to Killzone, our ultimate goal is to make something really quite solid. And while we realize that this dynamic is less than a year old, we are very keen to refine it, make it better, tighten it up -starting now. The team (so to speak) learned a lot at AdeptiCon, and I really appreciate your participation. We would all be extremely grateful for any/all specific help you might offer.

    We are already planning an Killzone experience that will be much, much better for next year -brand new and much more challenging tables included. oh my.

    Cheers again.

  8. So, OST, when you planning on doing Killzone Demo day at the store?