In today’s article, we’re going to be looking at the brand new Kill Team Starter Set box – the slimmed down version of Kill Team: Octarius – that Games Workshop were kind enough to send over to me for review, and it reminded me of something rather special. And if I’m right, it could be the best advert for the hobby since the 1990s. Let’s discuss.
Now, that might be a bit of a bold call, but I genuinely think there’s something about this box that could encourage a lot of people to join the hobby. For a start, just look at that box art. That is human soldiers fighting monsters in a very cinematic way. The font is all militaristic, the colours are bright and bold, and it has that ever wonderful name “Warhammer” in the title there. Were I a 9 year old boy again, I’d see that and just think “Wow. I want that” and a lot of credit has to go to the people who laid out that box cover.
Back when I was a 9 year old boy (and this is going to show my age a bit), Christmas wish-listing involved looking through big catalogues that were delivered to our house. I’d flick through the back section where all the kids toys were, and between the Sega Game Gears, Thundercat Playsets, and Lego Pirate stuff, I would see this:
Now, you might be about to criticise me for the resolution of image I’ve used there, but I’ve done that for a very good reason – that was often what you saw in the catalogue. I didn’t know what it was, but it had loads of toy soldiers, terrain, amazing pictures and bright colours – and loads of cardboard explosions too! For me, it would be a boxed set that would kick off a lifetime obsession, but that was back in the very early 1990s. I genuinely think that this Kill Team box could well perform a similar function in the early 2020s. And boy am I feeling old right now.
The Octarius box that came out recently is big and overwhelming – it’s a hefty hit of the hobby drug that we who are already all in on the plastic crack wagon, love to devour. But it’s hefty and pricy and it requires a fair bit of pre-existing knowledge to be truly exciting. This box is slimmer, and lighter. You don’t feel too precious about the cover of the box because it’s not quite as shiny. This isn’t something to be savoured by well-worn hobbyists, but instead it’s a shiny lure to fresher eyes. This is the box you should put into catalogues today, not that those are really a thing anymore (thanks, internet).
I spoke about this recently too – have the plastic as the first thing people see when they open the box. It’s the most exciting bit of the product, and I’m glad GW are continuing to do this after those years of extra boxes and cardboard inserts. Get to the good stuff early.
You get a little less terrain in this box, but in terms of actual minis, you still have the Orks and the Guardsmen and they continue to look amazing. These miniatures are some of the best examples of the sculpting craft and they’ll appeal to those new hobbyists who like to play as humans (because they can imagine themselves fighting monsters in the future) and those who like to be aliens (because they like new and interesting things). And the humour of the Orks in particular is a real win in this box – definitely better than 40 monopose boys and gretchin and a cardboard dreadnought for sure! Furthermore, the small numbers of miniatures involved in Kill Team are a lot less intimidating than the vast armies needed to play big 40k.
This makes me very happy too. Once you get past the sprues and a single cardboard insert, this is all that’s left, and while we seasoned gamers demand vast quantities of bits, bells and whistles, if you’re coming into this as a newbie, it’s nicer to have a small set of rules and the basics to get you going. This looks genuinely friendly and hopefully the rules are easy enough for new players to digest. I remain unconvinced about the whole “move two triangles and a hexagon” when you could just say however many inches it is, but that’s a minor gripe really.
But I’m serious about how appealing I think this box will be to new players. It’s a great gateway option, and while of course there are starter sets available for 40k and AoS, I think this Kill Team box presents a better option. The rules are simpler, the models represent complete units, and those colours and that artwork – I really think GW are onto a winner here. Especially if they can get into toy stores and, well, whatever pass for catalogues now in the 2020s. This box gets two thumbs up from me, and I hope it brings lots of new blood into the hobby. Onwards!