Kill Team: Into the Dark is only the start of a massive new tale in the 40K world
Let's name it 'Space Hulk proximity'
Games Workshop’s small-unit skirmish game Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team is in great shape right now, thanks to a refresh of the core rulebook in 2021. The action is rapid and fluid, and it keeps the tiny physical footprint and low model count that it had when it first launched. Unfortunately, the product line has a lot in common with old Star Trek movies in that every good expansion is promptly followed by a bad one.
Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team: Into the Dark, which is available for pre-order as of September 3, is more Wrath of Khan than Search for Spock. Every miniature in this package is totally new, including the landscape. It even has a faction that has never been seen in three dimensions before. It’s also the first in a year-long cycle of Kill Team releases that will hopefully bring new life to one of the franchise’s most iconic locales – the space hulk.
Please keep in mind that I did not create Space Hulk, the legendary 1989 board game that fights Space Marine Terminators against Tyranid Genestealers. Into the Dark is set on a space hulk, which are common in the 40K universe. These swarms of derelict space ships, asteroids, and other junk flash in and out of existence, appearing apparently at random across the cosmos. They may hold precious treasures on occasion, but they are also home to a variety of fallen monsters, including Chaos Space Marines, Asuryani Eldar, and worse. The Gallowdark is the name given to this specific space hulk, and Into the Dark takes set on a very small area of it, aboard the human-made spacecraft Glory of Terra Triumphant.
The topography, which depicts the intricate hallways of the doomed vessel in thick gray polystyrene, is what makes Into the Dark so unique. Each wall panel is adorned with skulls, of course, but also with computer displays, wires, and other grimdark industrial trinkets. Each of the 16 wall panels is already aged, with dings, dents, and gouges molded into the surface. It’s a breeze to paint them with rattle cans, and you’re only a wash away from being finished.
However, the terrain rewards extra attention, particularly for those wishing to learn new talents. I tried my hand at airbrushing in some object source lighting for Polygon’s build, which is the reflection of light sources as they would naturally reflect off of surrounding objects. I think it wonderfully communicates the muted, monochromatic effect of lighting up a pitch-black room with a flashlight when combined with a very high zenithal application of a silver metallic spray paint.I also slapped some cheeky in-fiction propaganda posters up it that I’d been saving for just such an occasion. You might take it a step further by making a textured foundation with holes at regular intervals for LED lights, which would resemble the more intriguing side of the accompanying double-sided battle mat.
The miniatures in this kit are also open to tinkering and modification. Pose and weapon possibilities abound for both the Imperial Navy Breachers and the Kroot Farstalker Kinband. The Breachers in particular are quite simple to paint, and they’re an excellent starting point for any novices to the game in your group.
The included paperback sourcebook mentions several obscure races such as the Fra’al and the Khrave, but there are also completely new entities such as the Larvae of Silica and the Eclosions of the Metal, both of which are described as “artificial species granted intelligence by their now extinct creators.” For millennia, the four species are claimed to have “established villages and waged wars across the Gallowdark.”
The additional features in the sourcebook, like the legendary missing primarchs, founding fathers of the earliest Space Marine chapters, are lore gifts to hobbyists and kitbashers – open gaps in the greater world that committed fans may fill with their own creations.
In terms of the rulebook, aside from the units and perks, there are no significant changes to the overall flow of play in Into the Dark. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, because the fundamental rules are fantastic. However, there are many new regulations in the Gallowdark’s limited habitat. Some affect how and when you can interrupt or shoot during your opponent’s turn, while others modify how and when you can open and close doors. Into the Dark also boosts the effectiveness of explosives and area-of-effect weaponry.
Kill Team, like Games Workshop’s previous small-unit skirmish games Necromunda and Warcry, is an extremely vertical game that encourages players to maneuver their soldiers off the main route by using multi-level terrain. Into the Dark is officially two-dimensional, thus climbing up and over the walls is technically against the rules.
As a result, Into the Dark is comparable to Kill Team’s most catastrophic release, Pariah Nexus. However, whereas the terrain rules in that game were effectively developed specifically for the factions that came in that specific box, the rules this time around are far more broadly applicable. I can easily imagine any group doing well in the Gallowdark; they’ll simply need to alter their approach by leaving their long-range snipers at home, among other things. That’s excellent news, because numerous groups will be competing for control of that region in the following year.
Into the Dark is the first of Kill Team’s three “major quarterly expansions.” The roadmap, which was issued on August 25, identifies them as Shadowvaults, Soulshackle, and Gallowfall, and pledges the involvement of many more factions from the 40K world. If history is any guide, the terrain in those kits will be entirely interoperable across the whole Kill Team series, and maybe beyond. If you buy all four boxes, you should have enough terrain for at least one game of Zone Mortalis, the fan-favorite two-dimensional variation of the Horus Heresy rulebook.
Regardless of the Gallowdark season’s success or failure, this Kill Team release seems essential. There’s plenty here for everyone, including terrain collectors and enthusiasts, Kill Team diehards, those who went all in on the newest Horus Heresy boxed set, and even utter newbies to the hobby. Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team: Into the Dark is an excellent Games Workshop offering that comes highly recommended.