Kill Team: Pariah Nexus – A Review

The latest Kill Team expansion – Pariah Nexus, has been unleashed onto the world with a mixed reception from the Warhammer Community. It’s easy to understand why.

This boxset is so problematic that it’s difficult to know where to start.

It’s not a bad boxset per se but bearing in mind it’s a Kill Team expansion – not a starter set, it makes little sense.

Not least because it contains two of the most coveted new releases for Primaris Space Marines and Necrons in addition to some scenery and additional rules for Kill Team.

So who is this boxset for exactly?

Copyright Games Workshop – all rights reserved

Collectors of both Space Marines and Necrons will feel the magpie like pull of the new and shiny models. Especially as both the Primaris Heavy Intercessors and the Necron Flayed Ones have been eagerly anticipated since they were first revealed.

Games Workshop, up until recently, has also been deliberately evasive about when we could expect their release. We now see why.

Kill Team players want the book because it contains rules for the new units introduced with the updated Space Marine and Necron codices, as well as some additional rules for CQB and a cool narrative campaign.

But unless you’re a Kill Team player who collects both Necrons and Primaris Space Marines, this box is very expensive – £95 – for what it is. Especially as there are no core rules in it, at all. Not even starter rules to whet the whistle of a potential new gamer.

To be candid, the reason I bought the box was because my eldest daughter is now collecting Necrons so it made sense for us to go halves on the box. Between that and the generous discount of an independent stockist, it actually made it a reasonable purchase for both of us. She got some Flayed Ones and some cool scenery. I got the Heavy Intercessors and the book. Everyone’s a winner. At least in our house.

THE BOOK

As mentioned, the Pariah Nexus is the fourth expansion for Kill Team and the first book that’s been given a narrative title. Compared to Commanders, Elites and Kill Zones.

The book – as one would expect from Games Workshop – is a premium, full colour affair full of lush artwork, clean layout and clear diagrams.

It covers the Pariah Nexus from a fluff perspective then proceeds to introduce Space Marines and Necrons to the reader. I’m a little confused by this as having been deliberately positioned as an expansion, it’s reasonable to assume players would have some idea who these two warring factions are.

If it were a starter set then, by all means, set up the exposition. But also include the core rules.

The rest of the book covers the additional rules which – with the fold out game board – essentially turns Kill Team into Space Crusade. That’s not a complaint – Space Crusade was a fantastic game and was the very first time Necrons were introduced to the 40k Universe. Although they were referred to as androids and it’s more hinted than explicitly stated that they were Necrons.

In fairness, the new rules are very cool and add a sense of claustrophobia to Kill Team that I’ve wanted since the original book came out. It also gives gamers the opportunity to make Kill Team as portable as it always should have been and highlights my biggest bug bear with it as a game.

Kill Team games are meant to be short, snappy and intense. 40k in 40 minutes in all but name but with some cool character progression and campaign stuff thrown in for good measure.

But rather than focusing on keep it short, snappy and intense, the development team seem hell bent on making it as bloated as previous editions of 40k. Failing to learn the lessons of 3rd, 8th and 9th editions of Warhammer 40,000.

That aside (for now), the rules for doors, walls choke points and ‘ultra-close confines tactics’ like Point-Blank Overwatch all help to add a layer of desperation that players of Space Hulk will be familiar with.

It’s a nice change of pace and players who like the idea of Necromunda but can’t be bothered with the faff of collecting a gang will like the depth this supplement brings.

Also included in the book are scenarios specifically for use with the double sided board included in the box. This is good from the point of view that the board has a genuine purpose. Although I suspect the book will be released on its own eventually forcing games to buy the board as well to get the most value.

The board itself looks very pretty, managing to convey the brooding malice of a Necron tomb, despite being entirely 2D. The production value isn’t great though. My board tore the first time I folded it back up and I can’t imagine I’m alone in this. Repeated use of the board will wear it out very quickly.

Something like the Space Hulk/Blackstone Fortress tiles would have been a more robust solution but most likely would have jacked the price up.

The rest of the book is made up of Kill Team lists for Space Marines and Necrons. As far as I can tell it’s a comprehensive list, rather than a bolt-on. All the units are in there along with Chapter tactics, psychic powers, Adeptus Astartes tactics and Deathwatch tactics.

Similarly the Necron section includes all the units you can take and Dynastic codes to spice things up a bit.

So if you collect either Kill Team, this boxset is more or less an essential purchase. Which is sort of my problem with the entire box. £95 is tough to justify if you only want half the contents and it shouldn’t fall to the individual to find a buyer for the rest.

The MODELS

As stated, this box comes with a unit of Heavy Intercessors, a new Primaris Captain in Gravis armour, a unit of new Necron Flayed Ones and a Chronomancer. You also get some groovy Necron scenery.

There’s little that can be said about the scenery other than it’s very cool. It’ll make a nice addition to any gaming board. More so if you’ve already purchased the Convergence of Dominion set. The various bits and bobs serve a practical purpose in the Pariah Nexus scenarios to break up the board, provide cover and objectives etc.

They’re great but they’re not why anyone is going to buy the boxset.

Copyright Games Workshop – all rights reserved

Primaris Captain with master crafted heavy bolt rifle

Hardly a catchy name but this model more than makes up for it with its imposing bulk. I’ve been fairly underwhelmed by all the Primaris captain models thus far. While I appreciate these characters are meant to be heroic and inspiring, they all fall a little flat. Notably so when compared to the energy of Librarian in Phobos armour, the Indomitus Chaplain or the thousands of Lieutenant variants.

Generally speaking, the only discerning details that a captain has over any other model is the ornamentation on their armour, rather than the excitement captured in the model. All of which is quite at odds with heroic deeds they’re meant to be achieving on an hourly basis.

This new Primaris captain is no exception. It looks great and will no doubt be fun to paint, but as an army commander in the thick of the fighting it’s very out of place. Ranked up on a shelf with the rest of the army, a model like that looks awesome, and there’s a lot of detail on that model to keep most painters happy.

It would be just to have a captain model that feels like it does some actual fighting. As opposed to dramatic effect.

Feet planted with heavy bolt rifle levelled would have looked infinitely cooler. I suspect there will be more than a few hobbyists who use the Heavy Intercessors to convert a captain of their own doing just that.

As a kit, though, it’s fine. It goes together well and all the pieces help to build strength within the kit so the finished article feels robust.

The only thing to watch out for is the rebar poking out of the obligatory rubble is quite flimsy. I bent it a couple of times during the building process. As it turns out it adds to the authenticity but be warned it’s pretty easy to break.

Primaris Heavy Intercessors

One of the most pleasant surprises about the Pariah Nexus box is that all the models are the same multipart kits that will be released in the coming months. As opposed to easy builds as with the Indomitus box. I don’t know why I assumed they’d be easy builds but it was pleasing all the same.

Not least because Heavy Intercessors have a similar level of flexibility with their heavy bolt rifles and heavy bolters that regular Intercessors do with their load out. Getting that choice is definitely something I wanted as I’d already decided I wanted to give my Heavy Intercessors the Hellstorm variant.

Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

Although multipart is a relative term with Games Workshop’s move to wards fixed builds. Like their Intercessor brothers, the Heavy Intercessor bodies can only be built in one way, leaving you with only the arms and heads to pose with an freedom.

It’s a minor bug bear when compared to how insanely cool the models look when built and ranked up together on the table, but a shame nonetheless.

They are seriously meaty models with weapons that look like they were inspired by the Morita Assault Rifle from Starship Troopers. Not a complaint, just an observation.

They go together nicely with the only mild annoyance being to remember to glue the pistol grip hand to the right arm more or less straight away so it’s properly set when you stick the arms on. Otherwise the weight of the heavy bolt rifle can cause everything to droop. And no one wants a droopy bolt rifle.

On the board Heavy Intercessors effectively replace the heavy firepower element that Terminators use to provide, with Aggressors providing ordnance and the ability to punch things very hard. Pairing these units will provide a very durable mobile gun line and punch-things delivery system.

Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

Three wounds and toughness five makes Heavy Intercessors (and Aggressors) tough to kill. Coupled with the range and power of the heavy bolt rifles, more than makes up for the inch of movement they have to sacrifice.

They are pricy for what they are, however, and they will inevitably draw a lot of firepower. Especially if you partner them up with a unit of Aggressors. Although if your opponents is pouring fire into them then they’re not shooting at anything else, so there’s an upside.

Copyright Games Workshop – all rights reserved

Necron Chronomancer

One of the coolest things about the Necrons is the variety and look of their characters. They have a character to meet almost every need. Like an evil iPhone. Or a regular iPhone…

Chronomancers are the Apple Necron App that allows you to manipulate time. They have a cornucopia of gadgets that basically makes it super easy for the model to duff up everyone else while making it a considerable inconvenience for anyone to duff them up in return.

Like all the Necron character models, the Chronomancer boarders on the insane, walking around of tendrils and wielding various temporal weaponry and frozen moments of time. Because why not?

Despite appearances, the model goes together very well, with the tendrils forming a robust base so there’s no real risk of the model bending or warping. You also get the choice of building your Chronomancer with either the Aeonstave or Entropic Lance.

You can also choose if you want to have the cube from the Time Mantle open or closed. You also get three heads to choose from with varying chin lengths. So if you don’t want your Chronomancer to look like a mechanical Waluigi then you don’t have to.

They’re small things but it allows you to give your Chronomancer some variety, unlike the Primaris Captain.

As one would expect from Necron characters, the Chronomancer’s weaponry makes it formidable both at range and in close combat. The only real drawback is the strength and toughness of 4 and a 4+ save as with other ‘mancer models. But it also benefits from an 8 inch move so it’s an agile model to have. Its Chronometron also allows you to reroll a charge move from a friendly unit within 9inches – and give them an invulnerable save.

So used correctly, the Chronomancer is a really powerful addition to a Necron army.

Flayed Ones

Who doesn’t love a unit of Flayed Ones? Apart from the people whose skin they’ve borrowed. Flayed Ones in some ways, dictated the slightly more mental direction some of the Necron units have taken over the years.

The idea that a mechanical Edward Scissorhands could infiltrate an enemy camp by wearing the shredded remains of their victims was as laughable as it was gruesome. But spoke of a deeper corruption that the developers have expanded upon.

Now they are deranged killers, consumed with a desire to consume the flesh of the living, but forever incapable of doing. They’re actually quite tragic – as is much of the Necron background – albeit largely self-inflicted.

The new models are a huge improvement on past versions. Not least because they’re plastic. The metal models from back in the early noughties were cool but they’d fall apart if there was so much as a strong breeze.

The new multipart plastics though are super fiddly and with so many thing pointy bits you need to take care building and storing them because they will snap.

Also some of the feet have Velociraptor style hooks on them which frankly look ridiculous and I’d clip them off.

That aside they are very cool models and evoke the corrupted mindset the unit possess.

In terms of game play, the Flayed Ones on their own aren’t that much to write home about.

Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

They’re reasonable in close combat – with 3 attacks making them nasty enough if an entire unit is able to make contact with most opponents. The 4+ save will make it hard to keep them all up and running. However, it’s the special rules that make them worth taking…

Image taken from the Warhammer 40k app – all rights reserved

The ability to deploy 9 inches from an enemy unit and the ability to score additional hits makes them particularly nasty. Any opponent will have no choice but to deal with them rapidly or face either expensive heavy infantry or close combat units being bogged down in gruelling rounds of close combat or entire units of light infantry being swallowed whole.

The negative modifier to leadership as well makes squishier units like Guard particularly vulnerable as they’ll almost always lose the combat to models that go snip in the night.

Who should buy this box?

Honestly, I’m not sure. If you want the book, you have to buy the box. If you can’t wait for the models to be released individually, you have to buy the box. If you fall into both of those categories…you have to buy the box.

But it highlights the problem with Kill Team and Games Workshop’s new business model of endlessly churning out expansions. Kill Team is meant to be super quick, super slick gaming using a team of specialists hand picked etc etc etc.

As a core premise this is fine. Putting rules for commanders and elites in separate books ruins the super quick part because instead of occasionally flicking through one book, you have to flick through two. Or three. Or, depending on what you’re playing and what you’re using…five.

This reminds me of a few years ago when some friends of mine and I were gaming at Warhammer World. I looked up and realised that 80% of the gamers in the room weren’t rolling dice, they were reading rules. 7th edition was a fat bloated corpse of a game that crippled game play for the sake of over powered and often confusing rules.

8th and 9th editions stripped all that away but they don’t seem to have learned the same lesson with Kill Team.

Indeed I feel like they’ve missed the point with Kill Team all together. It would make much more sense to consolidate everything into one book – with an emphasis on speed of play – and some cool progression stuff.

Then release specific Kill Team conversion sprues so you can customise your Kill Teams to your heart’s content. You get to have a super cool collection of models for Kill Team that can also be incorporated into a main army, giving it greater flavour and narrative.

And let’s be honest, what self respecting hobbyist would stop at just their Kill Team?

My ramblings aside, each individual component of the Kill Team Pariah Nexus box is good. The models are awesome, the scenery and gaming board look great, albeit with limited use. The book provides Kill Team players with lots of interesting new rules to give the game greater depth.

As a boxset though, I’m not sure it really ticks enough boxes for it to be worthwhile. Working on the assumption that the models are being released separately around May time, some version of the book will likely come out too. In which case I’d hang on and save your money.