Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team is a tabletop skirmish game with great depth – and great depth is often achieved through having lots and lots of special rules to help you simulate a detailed game experience.
In this article, we go through the most common Kill Team weapon special rules in the game, what they mean, how they work, what they’re good for, and how to counter them.
Kill Team Weapon Special Rules: How this article is structured
There are tons of things in Kill Team that you could casually refer to as “Special Rules”, but in the game’s terminology, Special Rules are always rules that a weapon has which are always in effect, rather than Critical Hit Rules, which are only in effect when you score a critical hit. There are a few faction-specific Special Rules that aren’t listed here, but they’re very rare.
Below we go through each special rule and explain exactly what it does.
APx makes it harder for targets to defend against your shooting attacks.
APx stands for Armour Penetration (X), where X is a numerical value, usually 1 or 2. If a weapon has Armour Penetration 1, it means that you lower the Defence characteristic of your target by 1 when you shoot with that weapon.
If you lower the Defence of a target, it has to roll fewer dice when trying to roll saves against your attack, so a weapon with AP1 would usually make a target go from 3 Defence Dice to 2. APx only ever occurs on ranged weapons – look for stuff like Brutal to worsen your target’s defenses in close combat.
Barrage makes targets measure Cover from above rather than from the side.
Barrage is a Special Rule for mortars and other stuff that lands on your target from above. It simply states that rather than determining Cover by checking if any part of the target’s base is covered by terrain when measuring in a straight line from the attacker to the target, Cover is instead determined from directly above.
This can make Barrage weapons great for taking out snipers at Vantage Points, or just well-fortified targets in general. It also means that placing your operatives under stuff is a good way of countering Barrage weapons.
Balanced makes it easier to hit your target.
Balanced is really simple: If you Shoot or fight in combat with a weapon with this Special Rule, you can reroll one of your attack dice. It doesn’t sound like much if you’re used to rolling dozens of dice in Warhammer 40,000, but rerolling one of 3 or 4 attack dice on a weapon is a big deal. There are definitely better reroll rules further down the list, but don’t disregard this one at all – it’s a good upgrade often found on otherwise average weapons.
Blast X allows your weapon to hit multiple targets within a small area.
The first time you stumble upon the Blast X rule, it’ll probably be on a grenade. Blast X means that when you Shoot with a weapon with this rule, you don’t just roll your attack dice against your target, but also against each other operative that’s within X (so, for example, Circle) distance of that target, as long as they’re Visible and not in Cover. You don’t split your attack dice between targets: you roll your full attack against each operative within the area designated by the rule, so it can be really devastating against tight groups of enemies.
This makes Blast X a must-have against “horde” kill teams with lots of operatives with a Group Activation of 2 or more. The one thing to remember about Blast X, however, is that the rules say that you make an attack against “each other operative Visible”, not “each other enemy operative Visible”, so keep your own operatives far away from the Blast area to avoid scoring a couple of own goals in addition to the enemies you take down with your grenades and other explosives.
Brutal makes it very difficult for enemies to parry your melee attacks.
Brutal is amazing: It only occurs on close combat weapons, and it makes it impossible for your opponent to Parry that weapon with anything but critical hits when fighting in combat. Simply put, this means most weapons will only have a 1 in 6 chance to parry your strikes!
Brutal is often paired with pretty high damage on a weapon, so if your operative has a weapon with the Brutal Special Rule, it means that operative is meant to get up close and personal with the enemy. It’s good against all sorts of enemies, but it does mean your opponent will have to use most of their attack dice to Strike, so prepare to take some damage as well. Also, it isn’t as effective against weapons with Lethal 5+, so try not to use it against operatives with Power Weapons.
Ceaseless prevents you from auto-failing when you roll your attack dice.
In Kill Team, an attack roll of 1 automatically fails, regardless of any modifiers to it. With Ceaseless, you don’t have to worry about that, since the Special Rule lets you reroll any attack rolls of 1. This is obviously great, not just because you avoid auto-failing, but also because rolling a 1 is now a good thing, since it lets you reroll with a chance of hitting or even scoring a critical hit. This means weapons with Ceaseless are generally more reliable than weapons without it – and it can be found on ranged weapons and close combat weapons alike.
Fusillade lets you divide your attacks between multiple targets.
Fusillade is a bit like Blast: It lets you target multiple enemy operatives within Circle/2 Inches of the original target of a shooting attack. However, it differs from Blast in two important ways: First , you don’t make a full shooting attack against each of those targets. Instead, you split your dice between targets, so that if you have 4 attacks on your weapon with Fusillade, 2 attacks could go to 1 target, 1 could go to a second target, and 1 could go to a third target.
This means you won’t do as much damage to each target, but maybe hitting with 1 dice is all you need to take each target out? Second, you get to choose your targets, so there’s no risk of hitting nearby friendly operatives with a weapon with Fusillade. The Special Rule is often found on heavy automatic weapons such as machine guns, and it’s great for taking down hordes of weak enemy operatives.
Heavy limits how you can move in the same activation as firing a weapon with this rule.
Heavy isn’t a bonus to have on a weapon: It prevents you from shooting a weapon with this rule in the same activation as performing a Charge, Fall Back or Normal Move. Instead of being a bonus, Heavy is more of a trade-off: If a weapon has Heavy, it means it’s a big gun that can do a lot of damage. You can find it on long range rifles, missile launchers and heavy machine guns.
A really important thing to remember, however, is that Heavy specifies certain kinds of move actions you can’t make, but not all of them: You can still perform a Dash action in the same activation as firing a Heavy weapon, and that’s still Square/3 inches, so you can reposition yourself before shooting if you want to – you just can’t run across the battlefield before shooting rockets at your foes.
Hot can damage your operative if it shoots with a weapon with this rule.
When an operative shoots with a Hot weapon, each attack dice roll of 1 that’s discarded (so not rerolled) does 3 mortal wounds to the shooter, not the target of the attack. The Hot Special Rule represents weapons that are dangerous and unstable, such as Plasma weapons or supercharged lasguns.
As in all other 40k games, these kinds of weapons are really fun to use due to the random element and the excitement of high risk/high reward play, but if you really don’t want to lose an operative with a Hot weapon, make sure you have a way to reroll dice, such as from a Tactical Ploy.
Indirect lets you ignore Cover when shooting.
Indirect is often found on grenades and other weapons that are thrown/launched at your enemy rather than fired from the barrel of a gun. When shooting a weapon with Indirect, enemy targets are simply not treated as being in Cover. This means you can shoot stuff that’s behind barricades if it’s otherwise not Obscured and so on, and it makes Indirect weapons amazing for taking out snipers. You still have to have Line of Sight, though. Either way, make sure to have some kind of weapon in your arsenal with Indirect in case the enemy sets up an otherwise unbeatable gunline somewhere – you can almost always take some kind of grenade as Equipment.
Lethal X makes it easier to score critical hits.
Lethal X is an excellent Special Rule with no downsides at all. It means that, rather than only scoring critical hits on rolls of 6, your weapon scores critical hits on rolls with the X value of the rule (usually 5) and up. This significantly increases your chance of rolling critical hits, and more critical hits is alway better. It’s often found on Power Weapons and on especially good ranged weapons. In the first season of the game, Lethal X was generally regarded as the best Special Rule out there. Never leave home without it.
Limited weapons can only be used once per battle.
If a weapon has the Limited Special Rule, you can only make one attack action with it per battle. This is, naturally, a rule that mostly shows up on grenades, explosives and other stuff that is destroyed when you fire it.
No Cover prevents enemies from getting automatic succesful saves from being in Cover.
Weapons with the No Cover Special Rule doesn’t completely negate Cover for targets you shoot at with it (they can still be ineligible targets due to cover because they have Conceal order and so on), but it prevents them from automatically retaining one of their Defense Dice due to being in Cover. It’s not the best rule around, but it’s good for getting the upper hand against enemies in fortified positions.
Relentless makes it much easier to hit your target.
Relentless is another Special Rule that’s among the best you can find: It simply lets you reroll all of your attack dice with a weapon with this rule – or reroll some of them. You can, of course, only reroll once per action, but it’s still amazing. Look for it on both ranged and melee weapons.
Rng X defines how far you can shoot.
Rng X (where X is replaced with one of the geometrical figures that represent distances in Kill Team, such as Circle or Square) defines the range of a ranged weapon with this rule. Most ranged weapons don’t have this rule, of course: Kill Team generally assumes that ranged weapons have unlimited range because the battlefields in the game are small enough for any rifle-type weapon to be accurate at distances all the way across gaming area, so most weapons don’t need this rule.
Instead, the rule is used for shotguns and small arms such as pistols to simulate their lowered accuracy or the fact that they use ammunition that can’t travel that far. Ranged weapons with this Special Rule aren’t great in killzones with little cover and many open spaces, but in Into The Dark games, anything with a Rng Pentagon rule is almost as good as one with unlimited range due to the tight and twisting corridors of the killzone.
Silent weapons can be fired from concealment.
A weapon with the Silent Special Rule is great if you plan to sneak up on your enemy: Unlike other weapons, it can be used for shooting actions even by operatives with a Conceal order. Some sniper rifles have this rule, as well as other guns with mounted silencers or without explosive ammunition.
Torrent X lets you hit multiple targets close to each other.
Torrent X is a bit like Blast X in that it can hit multiple targets within an area – viable targets are just assigned in a different way. With Torrent X, you can make a full shooting attack against your target and each other target within X distance (so, for example, Circle/2 inches) of the target and within X distance of everyone else you’re attacking within that shooting action.
This means targets have to be a bit closer to each other to be valid targets, but an important “can” in the rule means that you don’t have to attack anyone other than your primary target, once again making the weapon safe for attacking enemies close to your own operatives. Torrent X is mostly found on flamethrowers and other weapons that work in the same way.
Unwieldy weapons take more effort to use than normal weapons.
Normal attack actions cost 1 Action Point, but if a weapon has the Unwieldy Special Rule, an attack with them costs 1 additional Action Point, meaning that, unless you’re a Space Marine or something else with an Action Point Limit of 3, you absolutely can’t fire weapons with Unwieldy in the same activation as making a move action of any kind – so it’s basically Heavy+
Kill Team Weapon Critical Hit Rules
Critical hit rules are rules that only happen if you roll any critical hits with your weapon.
MWx does mortal wounds to your target.
MWx is one of the best critical hit rules out there. It does X mortal wounds (damage that you can’t roll saves against), where X is a number (usually 3 or 4) to the target for each critical hit retained.
The “retained” part is really important, since that means that the damage is done after you roll your attack dice, but before the target rolls its defense dice, so that you’ll still do the mortal wounds if the enemy rolls a critical save – you just won’t do the regular critical damage your weapon also does. If the enemy doesn’t roll a critical save (or two normal ones for each critical hit) you do you regular critical damage on top of the mortal wounds.
Px pierces the armour of your opponent.
A weapon with Px gains Armour Penetration x (see the first entry in this article) if it retains any critical hits. Px is one of the few critical hit rules that also affect your normal hits, since it affects the Defense dice total of your opponent regardless of whether the rest of your hits beyond the first critical hit are normal hits. Like Armour Penetration x, it’s great against enemies with good Save characteristics – who cares if you have a 2+ Save if you can only roll 1 or 2 Defence dice? Remember that Px is especially good on weapons with many attacks.
Reap X does mortal wounds to enemies around your target.
Reap X is a bit strange, but does a good job of simulating big melee weapons that cleave through multiple opponents. Whenever you strike with a critical hit in close combat with a weapon with Reap X, you do X mortal wounds to each enemy operative visible to your operative and within Triangle/1 inch of your original target. It’s usually Reap 1, or Reap 2 if you’re lucky, so you’re probably not going to kill multiple operatives in one strike with this weapon, but its a good incentive for the opponent to keep some distance between their operatives, so your opponent’s team probably won’t gang up on you as long as you have a Reap X weapon such as a big axe, halberd or sword.
Rending can give you an extra critical hit.
Rending weapons turn one of your normal hits into a critical hit if you already scored at least one critical hit in the same attack action. So, if you rolled 2 critical hits, you now have 3, and if you rolled 3 critical hits, you now have 4. This isn’t as good as just having Lethal 5+, but it’s still really great, especially if you have high critical damage or another cool critical hit rule.
Splash X does mortal wounds to multiple targets.
Splash X is the Reap X of ranged weapons: for each critical hit retained (see why this matters in the section on MWx) in a shooting attack made with a weapon with this rule, you do X mortal wounds to the target and to everyone (including friendlies!) within Circle/2 Inches of the target. Remember that this is in addition to any regular critical damage you’ll do with your critical hits. Circle/2 Inches is a pretty big area to do mortal wounds in, so it can really soften up a close concentration of weak enemies before you swoop in with some melee fighters to finish the job. Just get your friendly operatives out of the target zone before you shoot.
Stun hampers the target’s ability to perform actions and fight.
Stun can work in two different ways, depending on whether the weapon with this rule is a ranged weapon or a close combat weapon. If it’s a ranged weapon, it works like this: If you retain any critical hits with a shooting attack with this weapon, simply subtract 1 from the target’s Action Point Limit for the rest of the Turning Point.
If it’s a close combat weapon, the first time you strike with a critical hit in a combat with a weapon with the Stun rule, you can discard one of the opponent’s normal hits in addition to doing damage with your strike. The second time you strike with a critical hit in that combat, you subtract 1 from the Action Point Limit of the target for the rest of the Turning Point.
Debuffing the Action Point Limit of your target is great: It probably means it can’t move and shoot in the same activation, and it also becomes less valuable when determining control of an objective. This critical hit rule is often found on blunt melee weapons and weapons with some sort of electromagnetic discharge.
Kill Team Abilities
There are many, many more abilities in Kill Team than the ones listed here: every faction has their own list of them, some faction-specific, some specific to an operative type, but the two abilities listed here are so common, they earned themselves a spot in the core rules.
Invulnerable Save X+
Invulnerable Save X+ help you defend against armour-piercing weapons.
If your operative has the Invulnerable Save X+ (where X is a number, usually 4 or 5), this means it can use that Invulnerable Save when rolling defense dice against shooting attacks instead of its normal Save characteristic. The point of this is that your Invulnerable Save can’t be modified, and you can always use all your Defense dice for it, meaning that Armour Penetration X, for example, can’t take away any of your Defense dice. This is really helpful against kill teams skilled at debuffing your defenses.
Psychic Action means that an action uses the powers of the Warp.
Psychic Action doesn’t really do anything in itself, but it’s a keyword used to signify that an action is Psychic (such as casting Smite on an enemy with a psyker), so that the rules for Psychic actions in the core book applies to that action.