Kill Team: Salvation review: "A breeding ground for memorable moments"

A Space Marine Scout faces off with Striking Scorpions on a rig in Kill Team: Salvation
(Image: © Benjamin Abbott)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Those beautiful new units (with compelling mechanics and powerful loadouts) will probably draw you in to Kill Team: Salvation, but its novel environmental hazards and campaign should keep you there. Just be warned - this isn't a starter set, and it doesn't come with the rules or tools you need to learn Kill Team. Next, it's at its best with the Bheta-Decima scenery box... which is sold separately. While these aren't catastrophic issues, they are worth bearing in mind. However, if you already have terrain, are willing to shell out for Bheta-Decima, or are happy with old-fashioned stacks of books for scenery, you'll find a lot to love here. This season of Kill Team is off to a good start as a result.


  • +

    Gorgeous new models

  • +

    Interesting environmental effects

  • +

    Compelling narrative campaign

  • +

    Engaging Kill Teams


  • -

    Needs terrain box to be at its best

  • -

    Not for beginners

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

I'd just settled into my first game of Kill Team: Salvation when it all went wrong.

In my defence, I had no choice. If you give me a grapnel-wielding Space Marine that launches into melee like a grumpy Spider-Man, I'm obligated to break out that bad boy as soon as possible. So I did. Unfortunately, this fit of madness sent me right into the lap of… well, let's just say it would have been kinder to hurl my model onto the board's acidic sea. Tackling a Striking Scorpion Exarch (arguably the deadliest character in the Kill Team: Salvation box) is ballsy at best and phenomenally stupid at worst.

Suffice to say, it didn't go well.

That's what defines this new season of Kill Team for me. It's a breeding ground for memorable moments that should give veterans plenty to sink their chainswords into, but will also help newcomers fall in love with this game. Is it perfect? No. There are some odd decisions that hold it back. But overall, I was a big fan.

Features & design

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Play if you enjoyWarcry, 40K, The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms, Aeldari
  • Brand-new sculpts of outdated units
  • Includes an intriguing new campaign
  • Not a starter set - no rules or tools

If you're new to all this, Kill Team is a leaner, faster game than Warhammer 40,000 despite sharing a lot of the same DNA.  The models are cross-compatible and it'll feel familiar to 40K players, but this is much easier to get your head around. (Perfect for beginners, in other words.)

This particular box set marks the start of a new narrative season, and introduces two opposing forces that'll battle through it. However, it's worth noting that Salvation is not a Kill Team Starter Set – you will need the rules, tokens, and tools to play. Instead, what it does provide are those unique Kill Teams, their data cards with all the relevant stats, some scenery, lots of lore, and a fresh campaign to tackle. 

In terms of those units, the sculpts are beautiful. While the Space Marine Scouts have needed an update for a while, it's the Scorpions that benefit most here. These new minis are so much more elegant and dynamic than their predecessors, which are pretty long in the tooth nowadays. Because these models won't be available separately for a little while (much like the Space Marine Scouts), Aeldari 40K players will probably be watching Salvation closely.

Kill Team: Salvation box and contents

(Image credit: Benjamin Abbott)

The book is equally classy. As always, this is a premium tome that feels half artbook, half rules list. There are pages of background explaining why everyone's scrapping, and although it's not as extensive as the fluff found in something like Legions Imperialis, it's more than enough to immerse you in the plot.

So far, so good. My main gripe? Well, that comes with terrain. 

Even though the featured scenery is just as well-made as the warriors that'll be fighting over it, they're the tip of the iceberg. The book, its scenarios, and mechanics (largely revolving around limited line of sight) revolve around the multi-part rigs found in the Bheta-Decima pack. While you could make do without this, it feels pretty integral nonetheless – to the point that I wonder if it was originally part of the box.

We'll presumably be battling across this industrial hellscape for months to come, so I'm of a mind that this may have benefitted from the starter set treatment with everything being inside one box

I appreciate that many are happy with the terrain they already have and would prefer to just grab those Kill Teams (this approach led to Warcry: Hunter and Hunted being a slimmer set without a board's worth of greebles), Bheta-Decima seems important enough that an exception could have been made in this instance. We'll presumably be battling across this industrial hellscape for months to come, so I'm of a mind that this may have benefitted from the starter set treatment with everything being inside one box. However, I understand that some are only interested in those Scout or Scorpion models, so it's all swings and roundabouts.

Speaking of which, here's an overview of those squads.

Space Marine Scouts
This group of rookies are the definition of beginner-friendly. While they only have a couple of actions per turn and most are jack-of-all-trades, they're resilient and can definitely hold their own in combat. A handful of specialists (such as a sniper and heavy gunner) spice things up, along with a hunter that packs a grappling gun for quick traversal.

Striking Scorpions
These space elves are close combat experts – if they get in close, you're screwed. Despite being uniform so far as equipment goes (with the exception of the Exarch leader), they carry Mandi-Blasters for instant damage and then go to town with chainswords. They have sidearms for short-range shooting too.


A Striking Scorpion Exarch and Space Marine Scout face off in Kill Team: Salvation

(Image credit: Benjamin Abbott)
  • Both Kill Teams are deadly
  • Scenarios make good use of elevation
  • Bheta-Decima terrain is best for Salvation

When blades are locked and bullets start flying, both Kill Teams in Salvation show why they're a force to be reckoned with. The Space Marine Scouts are fantastic generalists with a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach. Meanwhile, the Striking Scorpions are your classic glass cannons that hit like a ton of bricks but can't take much punishment – if the Scouts are a hammer, they're the scalpel.

I took on the stalwart Space Marines during my tests, and despite normally being a follower of Chaos, I came to love them. They have enough wounds to compensate for any tactical faux pas and are thoroughly reliable in every other respect. No matter whether they're shooting or smacking opponents upside the head, they pack a punch. Their leader is particularly dangerous thanks to his chainsword, and those specialists can turn foes into a fine red mist if you position them correctly. (Thanks to the 'Heavy' keyword that stops them from firing after movement, you need to make sure they can get a bead on enemies ASAP unless you want them to be twiddling their thumbs.) 

Bheta-Decima terrain

Scenery from Kill Team: Salvation Bheta-Decima box

(Image credit: Benjamin Abbott)

Although you can manage with other scenery or a make-shift battlefield of books and boxes, the contents of Bheta-Decima are the best companion to Kill Team: Salvation... to the point that I wonder if they were originally going to be packaged together. Despite being easy to put together, these sea-based rigs are tremendously detailed and therefore easy to paint quickly.

Their Spec-Ops are particularly thematic, though I found these a little trickier to use – they often rely on you starting with a Conceal action and switching to Engage, so require some forward thinking. Their ability cards are more straightforward though, and I found them to be worth their weight in gold because they let me fire or fight twice in a single turn.

Still, that's not to say the Scorpions are outmatched. The Aeldari may be squishier than their opponents, but they're arguably more dangerous. I came to fear them in short order, especially the Exarch; they could carve through my men as if they were butter. So long as you can utilize cover and get right in your enemy's grill, you can steamroller them.

Their equipment and abilities are all about making that as easy as possible. Some of the best help you close that distance at a sprint,  letting you get into melee before the other player is able to react.

The setting's rules certainly help kick things up a notch. Because of mist and spray coming off the toxic ocean, visibility beyond two white measures (six inches) is limited when shooting across that hazardous area. Similarly, the varying heights of the Bheta-Decima terrain – which the books use in examples  – help provide vantage points as well as cover. Both players can take advantage of this if they're clever. The Scouts should use it to gain elevation, establish sight-lines, and keep enemies at a distance; at the other end of the scale, the Scorpions have to use that inclement weather to hide their advance.

Bheta-Decima is a borderline must-have. I don't think I'd have enjoyed the experience as much without it

Both my opponent and I (our own Guides Writer Will Sawyer) won a game each during testing, and the two sides seemed evenly matched. Actually, I wouldn't have claimed victory in that first session if my opponent hadn't been so unlucky with dice – as I mentioned earlier, I made some silly mistakes and only managed to claw it back through sheer luck and some well-placed boltgun rounds. 

The scenarios we ran kept us on our toes too. Both revolved around controlling or looting objectives scattered across the board, so plenty of wheeling and dealing was needed to stay in prime position. I'd happily play those again or start a full campaign with fellow GamesRadar+ staff, so I guess you could say that was a success. Even with different Kill Teams, actually. I don't agree with the rumblings I've seen about how some will have an advantage over others; the blinding mists put paid to any with abilities to ignore partially obscured targets.

My main criticism? It comes back to that scenery. Unless you have something similar or one of the best 3D printers to make your own board, Bheta-Decima is a borderline must-have. I don't think I'd have enjoyed the experience as much without it, so definitely give some thought to that before diving in. So long as it gets lots of use during this season, it's a worthwhile purchase.

Should you buy Kill Team: Salvation?

A Striking Scorpion faces the foreground as a Space Marine Scout sneaks up from behind in Kill Team: Salvation

(Image credit: Benjamin Abbott)

If you're in need of some Scorpions or Scouts for your armies, you should absolutely consider picking up this set; it's the quickest way of getting those models. As for Kill Team fans, this is a solid addition with plenty of new wrinkles to enrich the game.

A lot hinges on whether you're going to buy the terrain set, though. If you are, or you can grab an equivalent, you'll get the most out of Salvation. Otherwise, it may feel as if you've got half a product. 

It's not really for beginners either. Well, not unless you can get the core rules, tools, and tokens separately. Salvation doesn't tell you how to play the game, only enhance it.

That said, I would definitely recommend learning. Kill Team is a great game, and Salvation is a good example of why. 

Buy it if...

✅ You want to spice up Kill Team or start a new campaign
If you're an existing player of the skirmish game, you will appreciate the extra spice of Salvation. Just make sure you have terrain, or are ready to grab Bheta-Decima.

✅ You want those new minis
The Striking Scorpions and Space Marine Scouts are both gorgeous sets, not to mention compatible with 40K. That means Salvation is an early way of getting both for your armies.

Don't buy it if...

❌ You're new to Kill Team
This isn't a starter set, so won't suit total newcomers. Grab the core rules and tools first!

You don't have, or don't want to buy, terrain
Because Salvation needs scenery to be at its best (regardless of whether that's Bheta-Decima or an equivalent setup), be wary if you don't own anything suitable and aren't keen on making/buying the relevant terrain.

How we tested Kill Team: Salvation

I spent weeks reading through the Kill Team: Salvation book, constructing and painting the Space Marine Scouts, and putting together Bheta-Decima for them to fight over. Our own Will Sawyer (an Aeldari fan) also spent that time building and painting the Striking Scorpions so that we could battle one another. We then played a couple of matches drawn straight from the book.

More info

Available platformsTabletop Gaming
Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to lists of the very best Lego. I've also been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.