Battle Bros: Chapter IV: the Bad, The Bad, and the Janky

BATTLE BROS. is the continuing biweekly saga where Drew (PantsOptional) tries to teach his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40K without throttling him to death first. I have money on the throttling. Check out parts I, II, and III here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, but newer to the game. Learning to play Iron Hands.


The younger brother, holding his brother’s hand through this terrible ordeal.

DREW: If there’s one that I’ve learned from the “two white dudes talk about dumb stuff” form of entertainment, aka podcasting, it’s that every episode is someone’s first, so let’s hit ‘em with a quick recap:

First you waffled for hell of months as to whether or not you were going to get into 40k. Then you fell face-first into a pile of Marines while insisting you were only in it for Kill Team, and while Scrooge McDucking in said pile you wondered “should I maybe actually play Marines?” You could not have been given a greater signal from the universe if a Stormhawk Interceptor crashed through your window on a moonlit night commanding you to become a bat play with robot soldier dolls. Finally you had an incredible amount of derailing questions that I probably still haven’t answered properly and likely never will.

Now you’re going to hit me with some lists, and after the eyes of our Dear Reader (almost assuredly not plural) glaze over, I will tell you why you should be ashamed of yourself.

CHRIS: I don’t think the Goonhammer HQ Server Farm has enough storage for all the reasons I should be ashamed of myself, but if you stick to game-wise we might be okay. 

Now, when putting these lists together I went mostly with stuff I already have, but not entirely. I’m using this column to work out a shopping list in my head, seeing what things I may want now that the Promised Land of GW is open unto us once more (and while we wait for the blessed return of ForgeWorld). I didn’t go hog wild – there’s no Astraeus in here – but things like arms for my Relic Contemptor or our favorite thicc bois the Centurions are still on my wish list. God, I love those Centurions. I just wish they could, you know, move. At all.

Eliminators. Pew Pew.

DREW: Before we break this down, lemme give you a little background so you know where I’m coming from. Like I said way back in Chapter I, I came up in this hobby with a lot of folk who played fairly competitively. I don’t know how much of a factor that might be in my play style and we can go on for a truly boring amount of time about nature versus nurture, but I like to think that it affected the player that I am now. 

To me, a unit has to be good to some degree to be enjoyable to play. I don’t think that this is a huge problem; if you’re playing D&D, for example, you want your character to be able to succeed at something rather than just standing around “earning your fun” while everyone else does cool things all the time. The same thing applies to 40k: in order for something to be fun for me, they have to be mechanically viable to some degree. There’s always some leeway for new model syndrome, of course; one of the last games I played was with 90% new models and I loved it. The fact that I dropped a Captain, a Lieutenant, and a Chaplain with Catechism of Fire near my squad of Imperial Fist Aggressors and a ten-model squad of Hellblasters all has nothing to do with that, honest.

With that in mind: bring on the shitty!

CHRIS: Let’s start off small, 1000 points to get my feet under me. You told me to make a Patrol Detachment, which was cruel and unusual because I’m limited to only 2 Elites and 2 Heavy Support slots. How am I supposed to fit four tanks and into that? Have you looked at what chapter I’m playing? I can’t work under these conditions! 

Babby's First Warcrime (1000 pts) - Click to expand

Patrol Detachment (0 CP, 998pts)


Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought: Catechism of Fire, Twin lascannon (167 pts)
Chapter Master in Gravis Armor: Stratagem: Chapter Master (-2CP), The Ironstone (108 pts)

+ Troops+

Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chainsword, (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chainsword, (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chainsword, (85 pts)

+ Elites+

Invictor Tactical Warsuit Twin ironhail autocannon (136 pts)
Primaris Apothecary Father of the Future, Stratagem: Chief Apothecary, Warlord (-1CP, 60 pts)

+ Heavy Support+

Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought: Cyclone missile launcher, Two twin lascannons (200 pts)
Eliminator Squad (3): Bolt Sniper Rifle (72 pts)


DREW: Two and a half Dreads in a thousand points. I see you’re here to make friends. And such restraint – look at you deciding not to fill the absolute minimums for Troops requirements so you could stick another Dread in there!

CHRIS: Don’t tempt me. I love my big stompy not-a-robots.

Here comes a husky lad!

DREW: Let me start off by saying: I would be more than happy to play against this. It seems like you would have a lot of fun with your new toys, and I would love to pick them apart. And that’s an important word: toys. Half of this list is tied up in three units. Other than those, you have something like seventeen models that are okay moving around the board. There’s a (fairly sexist) adage in this game regarding the priority of toys and boys, and if it doesn’t apply here then I’m not sure where it does.

CHRIS: Well, to be honest I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, and where I should come down on the infantry : tanky shit ratio. From reading Start Competing: Space Marines Tactics, Volumes I-VII and lesser stuff online I know that Iron Hands go more for the tanky shit. Now 99% of that was before the February FAQ (which impossibly was only 3 months ago) since nobody has had much of a chance to get games on the table since then and work out a new “meta” for Iron Hands. I’ve seen comments that people are thinking it will shift more to swarms of Intercessors but others saying it won’t change their lists considerably. I didn’t go through and count up how many Heavy vs Assault/Rapid Fire weapons I have in that list, maybe I should. But my intent here was ‘big tough things that are hard to kill.” And also to include a hypothetical Chaplain dread once in my life before they get indexed to oblivion.

DREW: You also went real hard in the paint on this pre-game, and that might prove to be your downfall. Walking around with zero Command Points is a bold choice, in the same way that tying some nice brisket to your legs and walking around in a tiger pen is bold. It won’t be as bad as if you did this in a game where I might have more than a handful of CP, but I predict that it’s going to be painful not to be able to use any Stratagems.

CHRIS: Bro. 



YOU are the one who said Patrol. I could have done this in a Battalion and be fine for CPs. Assuming you met this with a Patrol as well you’re not going to have many more. Yeah I blew through my 3 Battle Forged Command Points on Chapter Master and Chief Apothecary but they’re soooo good. Although, in retrospect, if I only have 3 infantry units that Father of the Future isn’t going to be helping me out as much as it could. Maybe I swap out the Chaplain dread for two more Intercessor units or something. This list didn’t really have much of a plan beyond “be tanky and shoot a lot of things.”

Let’s move on though to my second list, which does have a plan. And that plan is “im in ur deployment zone, killin ur d00dz.”

DEEP HURTING (2000 pts) - Click to expand

++Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 924 pts)


Captain: Jump Pack, Storm shield, Thunder hammer (143pts)
Lieutenant in Phobos Armour: Grav-chute (81 pts)


Incursor Squad (5): (95 pts)
Infiltrator Squad (5): (110 pts)
Infiltrator Squad (5): (110 pts)

+ Elites [6 PL, 136pts] +

Invictor Tactical Warsuit Twin ironhail autocannon (136 pts)

+ Fast Attack [7 PL, 177pts] +

Inceptor Squad (3): Plasma Exterminator x2 (177 pts)

+ Heavy Support [4 PL, 72pts] +

Eliminator Squad (3): Bolt Sniper Rifle (72 pts)

++ Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 1076 pts)

+HQ +

Chapter Master in Gravis Armor: Stratagem: Chapter Master (-2CP), The Tempered Helm (108 pts)
Primaris Lieutenant: Master crafted Stalker bolt rifle, Power sword (69 pts)

+Troops +

Infiltrator Squad (5): (110 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Power sword, (89 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Power fist, (94 pts)


Invictor Tactical Warsuit Twin ironhail autocannon (136 pts)
Primaris Apothecary Father of the Future, Stratagem: Chief Apothecary, Warlord (-1CP, 60 pts)

+Heavy Support +

Centurion Devastator Squad (3): Grav-cannon and grav-amp, Hurricane bolter (210 pts)
Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought: Cyclone missile launcher, Two twin lascannons (200 pts) [/Read More]


DREW: You know what? Overall, I don’t hate this. I don’t love it by any stretch, but I honestly thought you were going to come to me with some real dog shit. Just straight up, tracked into the house on a hot summer day, ground into the tread of your sneakers with some loose grass dog shit

CHRIS: You vetoed my “35 units of Scouts and a Chief Apothecary” in our pre-column chat.

DREW: The first thing that stands out to me is that in terms of deployment, this list is about as aggressive as a chimpanzee is in Joe Rogan’s imagination. This are a lot of units that are deploying via Concealed Positions and that’s really going to start putting pressure on an opponent right out of the gate. That’s very bold, and you’re going to have to back up that play right out of the gate – the first turn is going to define the rest of the game for you in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t count on your FNP seeing you through as much as you might think. On the other hand, pretty much every enemy unit that I might warn you about for this list – snipers, fast melee units, anti-infantry vehicles/monsters – is something that’s going to be a problem for just about any list. 

CHRIS: All I took away from that was that Joe Rogan has an issue with chimps, which I did not know but is the least surprising thing I’ve ever heard.

I have to say, I’m not sure why I have two Invictors in there. I mean they’re good but double up good? 

DREW: Are they double up good? Is apple pie delicious? As a fat kid, I say: absolutely, and not just served hot with a thin slice of cheddar on top like Dad used to do even though that was kind of weird. But yes, also about the Invictors. For 136 points you get a model that can scout deploy, has a 10” move at the top of its profile, and can close with a nasty set of shots before it gets into melee with a S14 AP-3 D3 attack. Yes, these are terrible, please drop them from your list I WILL NOT TAKE ANY QUESTIONS AT THIS TIME, THANK YOU.

CHRIS: Okay, so keep the starter coffins, gotcha. Also damn you I want a piece of apple pie right now. Dad wasn’t right about a lot, and the cheese thing was weird, but he nailed it on that one.

Intercessors of the Third and Fourth Clave, Clan Borrgos.

So you didn’t hate that list. That tells me I’m not trying hard enough. Entirely too playable. How about this one where I just throw big nasty things at you and stand on objectives not dying all day long? 

The Tide of Iron (2000 pts) - Click to expand

++Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 1016 pts)


Chapter Master in Gravis Armor: Stratagem: Chapter Master (-2CP), The Ironstone (108 pts)
Primaris Lieutenant: Master crafted auto bolt rifle, (69 pts)


Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)

+ Heavy Support+

Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought: Two twin lascannons (168 pts)
Repulsor Executioner: Heavy Laser Destroyer] (324 pts)
Thunderfire Cannon: (92 pts)

++ Battalion Detachment (+5CP, 987 pts)


Iron Father Feirros: (110 pts)
Techmarine [4 PL, -1CP, 45pts]: Boltgun, Chainsword, Master of the Machine (-1C CP), Stratagem: Master of the Forge (-1 CP), Warlord (45 pts)

+ Troops+

Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Sergeant w Chain sword (85 pts)


Invictor Tactical Warsuit: Twin ironhail autocannon (136 pts)
Redemptor Dreadnought: 2x Storm Bolters, Onslaught Gatling Cannon (155 pts)
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought 2x Dreadnought combat weapon, 2x Storm bolter (144 pts)
Venerable Dreadnought: Twin lascannon, Combat Weapon, Storm bolter (142 pts)


CHRIS: This is probably my favorite of the three, but it’s a) very straightforward and b) direct out of late 2019 so maybe it doesn’t work so well in these trying post FAQ times. The biggest problem though is that I’m over by 3 points! I’ve already trimmed down more than I want to. Please don’t make me take scouts!

Iron Father Feirros, or Papa Armsalot, which spellcheck wants to correct to Fartsalot. You’re welcome.

DREW: That’s not really as big of a problem as you might think. Sure, in a tournament setting you would have a problem. But in a friendly game, anyone who tells you to pack up your army and head home because you’re three points over is someone you probably don’t want to play against anyway. They’re not wrong, they’re just an asshole. A handful of points isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and depending on your opponent’s army that might just mean that they tack on another cheap model or piece of wargear. 

Instead, you should worry about coming in under the total. Unlike Kill Team, you don’t get any compensation for bringing fewer points to the table than the other person. I don’t think that’s really an issue with this list but it’s definitely something that can come up, especially in any list with a lot of high point value vehicles/monsters. It’s easy to make up a deficit of eight to ten points with an army like Tyranids where you can fill that gap with a couple of Termagants, but unless you can add in something like pintle-mounted weapons, it’s more difficult to do it with Marines. (Don’t @ me about Servitors unless you really want to fill an Elites slot with them.)

CHRIS: I still would feel really wrong coming to a table being over the point limit, friendly or not. Rules are rules. You know I’m the Bertiest Bert who ever Berted. I wouldn’t mind a bit if my opponent showed up slightly over, but I’ll be damned if I will. So what would you drop? Change the Primaris Lieutenant to a regular Lieutenant? Swap the Thunderfire for some Infiltrators and some change? Get rid of the Executioner for 2-5 other more reasonably priced things?

DREW: Again: I wouldn’t worry about it, but that’s my Ernie nature coming to the fore like some sort of antimatter duplicate of you. Gun to my head, though? Toning that Primaris Lieutenant down to his short stack counterpart will probably be the easiest, although it will mean taking another model that isn’t Primaris, which seems to be something you want to avoid based on these lists.

CHRIS: Mainly it’s because I don’t have much non-Primaris that is table legal. Have to look into converting my handful of Tac Marines each with a different Heavy or Special weapon to Devastators or something. But going back to your point at the top of this piece re: unit selection, how do these lists look? Do I have anything in there that’s a complete dud, or something I don’t know about but am too stupid to know I don’t know about?

DREW: With all this Berting about three measly points, you almost pulled a sneaky on me. There’s a pretty famous video that’s a test of selective attention, where the viewer is supposed to count the number of times in the clip that people in white shirts pass a basketball to each other, while some people in black shirts mixed into the crowd also pass basketballs to each other. Side note:if you don’t know about this video, Dear Reader, go watch it from that link and take the test. It’s pretty interesting and I’m about to spoil the hell out of the major point of it that you’ll never be able to unsee: halfway through the clip someone in a gorilla costume walks through the frame, mugs around a little, and then walks off frame presumably to return it to Spirit Halloween. About half the people asked to take this test completely failed to see this dollar store Bigfoot the first time.

CHRIS: I just watched it and assumed the gorilla was distracting me from something else more subtle. Some people don’t notice that? How? Maybe decades of reading Silver Age comics have made me unable to NOT see gorillas.

DREW: That two-fist Relic Contemptor is your Basketball Gorilla. It doesn’t make a lot of sense why it’s there, and by the time I hit that point in the list my eyes refused to accept any more textual input, so it almost slid past me. I’m not sure what it’s doing there. This entire list is a slow-ish gun line bubbling up to keep vehicles alive and murdering the hell out of everything, and that Contemptor is the odd one out. There’s every chance that Relic Marciano there is going to get picked off especially if it runs ahead of the line to punch tanks to death. If it stays with the line, it doesn’t know when it’s going to get to the fireworks factory, and I’m not sure it ever will.

Unless there’s some great unseen rationale behind having it in there, I’d reconsider it. You could spend that 144 points in a number of different ways. You could add another Thunderfire Cannon, toss a little more anti-tank in there with another twin-las VenDread, or jam in another of those “awful” Invictor suits. Or – and this is a mildly impractical solution that would likely require some fairly pointless conversion to work, so it might be just the thing for you – you could replace it with a Mortis with two twin lascannons. The only thing better than a lascannon is a twin las, so it stands to reason that four lascannons is sixteen times as good. That’s just how math works.

CHRIS: Math does not lie. The idea behind the melee Contemptor was that they reroll 1s if they have two melee weapons and also that beating shit up with robots is cool and possibly even good. My plan was to send it up the board with an Invictor and a couple squads of Intercessors while everything else holds back and rains down molten death on everything you love. But maybe that’s actually two terrible plans where I should only be having one mostly bad one. Don’t split up my force, hunker down in reach of my Techmarine and Guy Fierros and just go full Hugh Glass. 

DREW: You want them to be turned into dude jerky by bears and then have their lives inaccurately fictionalized just so Leo can get his first Oscar? That’s a pretty wild ask for a game of 40k but I guess with enough green stuff anything is possible. For what it’s worth – Basketball Contemptor rushing the lines with a modest amount of backup isn’t necessarily a bad plan. It’s an interesting plan, and one that I don’t think I would make, but baby bird’s gotta fly out of the nest in his own way. 

After all this, I’m pretty satisfied that you can build a list without accidentally lighting yourself on fire. As you mentioned, none of these lists really correspond completely to what you have on hand. That’s okay – we can deal with that later, around the same time that we figure out how the hell we hit the big denouement of a game together when we’re on lockdown for ?? number of months. 

We’re nowhere near ready for that, though, so it’s a good thing that circumstances have forced you to get through your backlog. Next time, we’ll talk about the three ways to play, and we’ll look at scenarios as well. Until then, your mission is simple: keep painting, paintpig.

Let’s check in on Chris’s progress! Not Good!