Battle Bros: Chapter IX: The Rise of the Bros

Battle Bros is an ongoing biweekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) teaches his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 NINTH EDITION!!!  Catch up on their past adventures here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, but new to the game. Learning to play Iron Hands. Loves big stompy robots and hates weak flesh.


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


CHRIS: Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for weeks! Literally we have still been here but you’d never know it based on the page clicks – you try writing about a different system on a mainly Warhammer site the week the new edition rules drop!

But now we have those rules so we can come back to the intended purpose of this column: me being too dumb to learn 40k!

DREW: If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the course of the past month or so, it’s that whatever we publish will immediately be overshadowed by major world events or announcements from GW, so I’m excited to see what happens in about… twelve seconds.

EDITOR ROB: Dammit Drew don’t you put that voodoo on us. I have plans for this weekend.

CHRIS: I mean, we’ve had to rewrite chunks of this piece like three or four times already this week. I’m sure between when we submit it and when it comes out three more Primarchs will have returned, Cawl will execute Order 66 and flip the Primaris to be loyal to him alone, and Harlequins will be squatted. 

DREW: Now look, smarter people than either of us have already picked apart the rules with things like “strategic thinking” and “tactical acumen” and “reading comprehension” so we won’t go over everything that’s already been covered but rather the stuff that’s tripping you up specifically. Think of our coverage more like a can of fix-a-flat, but without the decades-long association to a weird Boston con man.

CHRIS:  I tried reading the new “quick start” 9th rules after a day of fighting with Comcast so I was probably already in a Bad Place but I found them pretty confusing in places. I’m coming at this as the outsider trying to get into the game having never played before and only briefly skimming the 8th edition rules (I expected to make you do all the heavy lifting here). So I’d think this free rules intro would be written in a way to be accessible to someone exactly like me. But  in places it gets itself twisted up in itself and relies on the familiarity of long-time players who know this stuff cold. 

For example, the “Look Out, Sir!” sidebar melted my brain: 

Credit: Warhammer Community

Once I’ve unpacked this and flowcharted it out I can see where it’s going but if I didn’t have an advanced degree in Rolemaster and like making Burning Wheel characters for fun I would likely bounce right off this kind of language. Also “friendly” confused the heck out of me because I initially read that to mean my units not “units in the same army as the Character.” I blame this mostly on my Warmachine background because that’s what it means there – friendly models are yours, enemy models are your opponent’s. I went back and read the paragraph defining what friendly and enemy mean here, and it’s internally consistent, so I’m just being thick. 

Also: “fewer,” dammit, not “less.” The ghost of William Safire is going to haunt you eternally.       

DREW: You know, it makes sense that you need some schooling on what “friendly” means given that both of our usual interactions with humans involve the internal question “oh god why is this person talking to me?” You’re doing it right now, I can tell.

CHRIS: (gestures wildly at Iron Hands and AdMech obsession)

DREW: In this case it has a very specific meaning, and that is “a unit in the same army.” That’s all, no more, no less. It doesn’t mean that your Chaplain and Librarian will text each other at 11 PM for an impromptu Fourthmeal trip to the Bell or that your Broodlord can count on the Warriors to help him move a futon.

Also: it’s “less” because it’s not counting individual Wounds, it’s counting the value of the characteristic. William Safire can eat my entire ass with chimichurri and a side of jicama slaw for a host of reasons, but in this case his prescriptive pedantry has served me well by backfiring on you. 

CHRIS: We’re making William Safire jibes. If we had any readers at all, we’ve surely lost them now. Tune in next time when we talk about our favorite Mummenschanz performances and explore the comedy stylings of Dom Deluise.

DREW: Motherfucker, you lost me on whatever the hell a Mummenschanz is. It sounds like after you see it your name goes on the kind of list that requires you to inform your neighbors.

CHRIS: The 70s were a hell of a decade my dude. German mimes with Post-it note faces. And speaking of things that would not permeate into my brain: allocating attacks. The target player allocates wounds to individual models in the unit before making saves, and the wound has to be allocated to a model that has “already lost any wounds or has already had attacks allocated to it this phase.”

So I shoot at a bunch of boyz with 4 bolt rifles and a grenade, let’s say I do the grenade first and kill some but one makes his save. Then I do the bolt rifle attacks and say end up with 6 hits/4 wounds.  All those wounds must be allocated to that one boy who saved vs the grenade, because he’s the only one still alive who had an attack allocated against him this phase? And so even if he gets wiped out the rest of the damage just goes away rather than spilling over onto other boyz. Am I getting the allocation thing right? Or are the attacks resolved one at a time?

Look Out Sir Summarized

DREW: This is exactly the kind of tiny rule change that’s going to fuck me up for at least two months, so good spotting. That said, you’re getting the allocations wrong. It doesn’t mean that the rest of the attacks can only kill him and that the rest of the unit is safe. Note the part at the top of the page where it mentions that this sequence is used to resolve attacks one at a time. Essentially, this becomes a “slow roll” situation where you keep resolving attacks one at a time against him until he dies at which point you proceed to allocate the rest of the attacks to the rest of the unit. 

I’m a little surprised they made the change because most of the time that I would have chosen to allocate them that way anyway. It does get around corner cases like “oh shit, better use my Deathwatch Veteran with a storm shield to tank the plasma shots, the regular power armor Vets can save against the lasguns” so that you have to tank everything with that storm shield Vet now.

Lemme see if I can break it down a little more for you.

  1. Your dudes throw a grenade into the mob of Boyz, killing some but one makes his save. Let’s call him Carl.
  2. Your dudes follow up with bolt rifles, rolling to hit and wound en masse.
  3. At this point, you start making saves for Carl one at a time until he dies.
  4. After Carl dies, you can then just roll saves en masse because it don’t matter, none of this matters.

Corrode: for the sake of confusion here, if Carl has the same saving throw as the rest of the unit, it doesn’t actually matter if you just roll all the saves together as long as you remember that if you fail any you need to pull him out first.

CHRIS: Ok, that makes a lot more sense. And rolling saves en masse after Carl dies doesn’t really matter unless you roll more successful saves than failed ones, in which case you need to designate which one(s) took the hit and survived, yes? Probably going to need some markers or tokens to keep track of that.

I guess that also makes me wonder if there’s an optimal order to throwing attacks out there for the greatest tactical advantage. That’s another thing I’ll be really bad at.

DREW: Hey, would ya look at that, I got this dictionary right here open to a convenient page. Ahem.

See also: you

CHRIS: How else would paralyze myself with indecision?  I do want to say it’s weird how some pieces of 40k are “you-go-i-go” and some are “I do all my stuff while you wait around.” Deployment moved to UGOIGO to join Fight and Morale. Honestly having played mostly skirmish games that do UGOIGO I really prefer it. I have no idea how it would work on this scale, but Legion is almost as big and that manages just fine.

It’s a little weird that they put a page each for transports and aircraft in these core rules but nothing about terrain? I absolutely love the way they’re doing terrain with keywords that tell you exactly what it does. Great flexibility without arguments over whether this is a wall or just a pile of crates.

DREW: I love that you think that clear and concise definition will keep gamers from arguing over the dumbest possible misreadings of rules. That absolutely highlights the fact that game stores have been closed for months. Also that you don’t read comments, which shows an amount of self-preservation instinct I didn’t think was present in our bloodline. 

CHRIS: Comments sections are not a place of honor. But yes, gamers are contentious scum. Except Goonhammer patrons of course. 

Next on my new edition anxiety hit list: how worried should I be about any of the lists I made previously surviving the transition to 9th intact? Like I said before, Warmahordes’s move from 2nd to 3rd completely shook up point costs and gave new stats to everything. I know we won’t get all new datasheets day 1 but how much do they usually change units between editions? 

DREW: There isn’t an answer that’s going to stop you from hyperventilating about this, but you’re about 90% okay. They’ve already said that you’ll be able to use the current codices, and most of your units are either relatively new units or are just like you – basic as hell. 

One of the unit invalidation problems with the transition from 7th to 8th, aside from the conversion-only models that fell into the abyss that is Legends, was that some of the composite armies just fell apart as their factions got redesigned. My personal Inquisitorial Detachment fractured into three different factions and some of the units disappeared entirely. I know a guy who played Nurgle CSM with allied Renegades and Heretics in 7th, focusing on Bikers and daemon engines as well as the standard daemons and Plague Marines. Due to the Death Guard emerging as their own faction in 8th separate from CSM, his force is basically unplayable as-is.

Some people out there have started theorizing that we’ll see anything that doesn’t have a plastic kit in the Codex get thrown to Legends, but frankly I just don’t see it. Thunderfires, for example, are obviously not going anywhere aside from potentially out of the army case and onto a back shelf. As someone who plays Imperial Fists, the points changes to those and some other dearly beloved units like Centurions don’t feel great, though I get why they did it. (Dr. Andretti also put me on a high potassium regimen after I saw the Nids changes.)

CHRIS: As someone with two unassembled Thunderfires on the workbench I’m sad at the points increase but glad they at least didn’t get consigned to Legends (slow pan across a sepia picture of a Chaplain Dreadnought with Ashokan Farewell playing in the background)

“Woo hoo! We made it through! Hi five, bro!”

But now that we know where the points are going to be, once we get that and full rules in a non “horny cowboy” format we’ll be good to go for our game. 

DREW: I hate that I know exactly what you mean by that and I really wish I didn’t. Reader, we’re not gonna explain that one but if you know, you know. Think of it like the end of a big ol’ Silver Age issue of Superman, with Clark winking directly at the reader. Except with hornt cowpokes.

CHRIS: The only other thing standing in our way is global pandemic and lol if you think that’s going away any time soon. So here’s what I’m proposing: Deckhammer. You come here, we set up on my back deck in the wonderful New England July humidity, we keep the board between us and mask up and we do this thing. 

DREW: You’re just trying to get me killed by turkeys so you can take my models.

CHRIS: There’s usually only two turkeys that wander around my neighborhood and I don’t have full confidence they’d get the job done. I think the greater danger is my cat stealing your models. He’s moved on from just Reivers. 

He hates these hams! stay away from the hams!

The last thing to note this week, the part I knew I’d be excited about, is the Crusade campaign format. This definitely looks like it will scratch my “let me tell you about my character” itch. When I started playing Warmachine I had a whole backstory for my Khadoran force, along with clever Black Company-esque nicknames for some of the soldiers and their own battalion flag. Then I learned nobody else did that and I was Bummed. Crusade lets me get that back, and follow the exploits of Brother Gratiax (that Intercessor holding the auspex) as he moves from battle to battle. Also it gives me homework and lets me rock out in Excel, one of the few things I’m good at!

DREW: Oh man, are you trying to tell me that absurd amounts of bookkeeping are something that you’re looking forward to? I’m absolutely floored by this shocking revelation. 

CHRIS: Also, since I’m playing Iron Hands, I think I’m required, whenever one of my marines takes a Battle Scar, to lop a limb off the model and replace it with cybernetics. This is the way.

DREW: I hate to tell you, but if you check the rules closely it’s not the model that gets the bionic hand, it’s you. Get that cleaver ready, fucko. 

For real, though, it’s not just the ranch hands that are sprung. I am jazzed as fuck about the idea of playing a for realsies campaign to the point that I’m actually considering drawing up a map and writing up locations – all the shit that people don’t really remember when they talk about campaigns they’ve played in before. Don’t @ me, people, you know it’s true – you only really remember the matches themselves where crazy shit happened like a Bloodthirster getting mowed down by a Rhino during a failed Death or Glory test.

CHRIS: The only thing that makes me sad is just before they announced 9th and the whole Crusade thing, my buddy Josh and I decided to get elbow deep into Necromunda and run a campaign for the two of us. Now that seems to have been put on the back burner since we both have more money than sense and are pivoting into 40k hard. I have to say the new detachment rules seem to allow for mixing stuff up, and that AdMech/Knight army keeps whispering sweetly into my ear. But I am not buying anything new until I see how everything shakes out. Probably. 

DREW: This is probably the wrong time to tell you that you could run Iron Hands, AdMech, and Knights all in one Crusade force. Now hold on – hold on – before you “How’s Annie” your face through the screen in your excitement, remember that you won’t necessarily be able to combine them all in a single Battle-forged army without losing some oomph.

CHRIS: This may come as a shock but I do actually listen to you from time to time, and I know the whole Combat Doctrines thing isn’t going anywhere until there’s a new Space Marine codex, and considering they just got one I’m not expecting that any time soon.

DREW: Yeah, that really would be a dumb idea, huh? Really weird of them to do? Like releasing a book a month before a new edition that has aspects invalidated by the new edition despite claims that the book was designed with the new edition in mind? Yeah…

Speaking of dumb ideas, let’s do this. Deckhammer. You, me, a thousand points, Only War mission out of the basic rules. This is your “baby’s first game” so we’ll keep the floaties on for now while you’re learning – if you forget a rule and screw it up we can go back and get it right. Definitely you that will do that, not me.

“Unrelated”: how long does it take to get a bottle of Malört here?

CHRIS: Can’t send booze through the mail here in Puritan Massachusetts. Believe me, I’ve looked into it. Thanks, Cotton Mather.

DREW:  But wait, there’s more! We’re doing this shit, Readers, and we want to involve you

I have three different armies that I could bring out at the 1k point mark for this intro game. Do I bring Tyranids, Deathwatch, or Imperial Fists? You Make Da Cal – excuse me, I’ve just been informed by legal that if i use that phrase Dan and SRM are allowed to break my legs.

I Play What You Say! Fill out our hot and sexy ranked-choice poll to force me to play whatever you pick!


Hey, making progress! I just might fini…wait, we’re playing when?

Next Time on BATTLE BROS:

These chucklefucks actually play a game! I mean, it could happen, right?


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