Battle Bros is an ongoing biweekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) teaches his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 and Sweet Merciful Dumptrucks now they’re actually playing a game?!?!? 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. Has been through a training montage and is ready to throw down.
The younger brother, holding his brother’s hand through this terrible ordeal.
DREW: Friends, you suckered me.
I promised you that I Play What You Say, and out of two Marines choices and Nids, you overwhelmingly chose the bugs. You are all true sadists and I love you for it.
CHRIS: Thank you, dear readers. Your payments are in the mail.
CHRIS: Oh God, I hate making lists, I’m going to make the wrong choices and screw everything up. Do I have enough armor piercing tech? Do I have enough bodies to hold objectives and shield my characters? Where did all my Command Points go? I will never remember all these strats. I. Am. Fucked.
DREW: It’s a good thing that I don’t actually have a lot of points worth of Tyranids. A lot of my list came down to “okay, what can I actually put on the table?” That said, the points shift to 9th really screwed me over – I made the list in both 8th and 9th versions as a comparison and I lost something like 150 points. That would have been enough of a gap that I could have started playing around with adding something like a Hive Tyrant and wouldn’t have had to drop much for it either.
DAY OF GAMEChris’s List (980 pts because I am Bad at Numbers) - Click to Expand
Chapter Master: Stratagem: Chapter Master (-2CP), Storm shield, Teeth of Terra (Relics of the Chapter -1CP)
Lieutenant in Phobos Armor
Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifle, Aux Grenade Launcher, Sergeant w Chainsword
Intercessor Squad (5): Stalker Bolt rifle, Aux Grenade Launcher, Sergeant w Chainsword
Infiltrator Squad (5): Comms Array
Infiltrator Squad (5): Comms Array
Primaris Apothecary Father of the Future, Stratagem: Chief Apothecary (-1CP), The Vox Espiritum, Warlord
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought: Cyclone missile launcher, Two twin lascannons
+ Heavy Support+
Eliminator Squad (3): Bolt Sniper Rifle
CHRIS: The general goal of my list was survivability. I put the Vox Espiritum relic on my Apothecary Warlord to boost the range of his FNP aura to 9” and his Narthecium to 6”, hoping to have enough of a bubble to keep my troops alive and squatting on objectives. The Infiltrators with the Comms would deploy onto objectives upfield and have the benefit of rerolling 1s on wounds from LT, and hopefully they could survive long enough with just their own 6+++ for the Apothecary and a Wall o’ Intercessors to move up to them. The Captain would be behind another Intercessor Squad and move up to where he could emerge and smash face. The Eliminators would pick off characters or maybe smaller beasts, and the Contemptor would laser to death everything you love. But in general I was relying on resilience more than offense. In retrospect spending 4 of my 6 starting CP pregame hurt – I never had enough to really even think about using them for anything more than overwatch and the occasional reroll. But I definitely got my money’s worth out of those 4 points.Drew’s List - Hive Fleet Snagglepuss (aka Kraken) - 997 pts - Click to Expand
Patrol Detachment, 5 CP
+ HQ +
Broodlord: Resonance Barb, Synaptic Lure
+ Troops +
Genestealers (16): scything talons, rending claws, 4 acid maws, adrenal webs
Termagants (20): 14 fleshborers, 6 devourers
Tyranid Warriors (3): boneswords, spinefists
+ Elites +
Hive Guard (3): impaler cannons
+ Heavy Support +
Carnifex: Adrenal glands, spore cysts, tusks, bone mace, monstrous scything talons
Trygon: Adrenal glands, biostatic rattle, dermic symbiosis
DREW: Like I said, I don’t actually have all that much in the way of Tyranids – I was building it out in 2017 and 2018 but stalled out partway through. It’s definitely an army that’s made for larger games- the full loadout involves a Flyrant, Ripper Swarms for cheap objective holders, a Trygon Prime in the place of the Trygon, and future plans to expand out into mid-size bugs like zoanthropes or Lictors. I had planned to put in Raveners at some point but I just can’t see a way to make them work nowadays, especially with these board sizes built for ants.
With this particular list I was really hoping you would see the Trygon and the Carnifex and focus them down while ignoring the true threat, the Genestealers. Or maybe to panic and jump off the deck. Both of those would work for me.
CHRIS: When you first showed me your list and I saw the huge units of Genestealers and Termigaunts, plus two big nasty beasties, my heart sank. There’s no way I’m going to survive all that stuff, let alone chew through it. And when you got the roll to go first and I saw you rocket across the board I really understood what it must feel like to be a Guardsman or just some plain random schlub in the 40k universe and see a horde of stuff come surging at you. I feel I should be recognized for not peeing myself then and there.
DREW: I have never cursed myself more for throwing away that weird “peeing boy” statue that I got from our great-aunt. Think what a great trophy that would have made just for that moment.
CHRIS: That was definitely a thing that someone made lovingly from ceramic and that I had happily forgotten. Similarly, that first unit of Infiltrators, bravely and unnecessarily holding the strange infant-sized escape rocket objective, were thrown away almost immediately and had zero impact on the game. Concealed Positions seemed like such a good idea on paper, until they were being ripped apart by ravenous xenos. Thank you for your service. So yeah, I couldn’t really ignore them as you’d hoped.
At the bottom of turn one I really thought it was all over. I’d cleared some of the Genestealers but not a lot, my Relic Contemptor which was 21% of my points had done exactly one point of damage to the to-rapidly approaching Trygon, the Eliminators on the other flank failed to really dent the Carnifex, and you were in control of about 80% of the board space. Then at the top of 2 you said “Watch as I quadruple your score.” I was a Classics major in college; I’ve read a lot of classical Greek literature. This was a moment of hubris that would make Creon sit back and say “Damn, son!”
DREW: You ever get that little voice in your head that says “hey maybe you shouldn’t do that?” You do? Tell me, what’s it like?
By trying to do two things at once here with the Genestealers – holding an objective and tying up the stalker Intercessors – I essentially failed at both. I should have dedicated to wrapping your other Infiltrators and chewing them to death, but I had too much faith in the survivability of the Stealers and also my brain had been baking in the sun for multiples of hours.
CHRIS: By the end of round 2 things had really turned around. My “survive” plan had mostly worked. My Chapter Master wielding the super badass Teeth of Terra relic chainsword did some WORK this turn and took out Drew’s Broodlord, while the Intercessors and Infiltrators cleaned up the Genestealers. Then my Apothecary healed up the pretty seriously fucked up Chapter Master, which was incredibly frustrating to Drew. The Contemptor was, again, a useless chunk of resin and I hated it.
DREW: I knew the Chop Cap was going to put in some work, but I really thought I had a little more time than that especially after the Broodlord dunked the Cap hard enough to shatter the backboard. The Carnifex did its job by jumping in on the Eliminators and turning them into a hot pile of carnitas. I did enjoy the Contemptor basically waddling across the map crying to himself the whole time. Did the Hands recruit him from an ‘80s movie about kids who stunk at Little League?
CHRIS: I think Brother Whatshisname inside the Contemptor felt me reaching out to pull the plug on him if he failed me again because he really came through as he and Captain Chainsword finished off the Trygon, while LT and the Intercessors somehow managed to put down the Carnifex. I really didn’t think that was going to work. And the Infiltrators were somehow still alive and contesting the objective against his Warriors.
DREW: That’s not really too surprising. The Warriors were there to provide Synapse to the Hive Guard and to hold objectives. I absolutely should have moved them up sooner to the other objective but I honestly didn’t expect a charge on the Termagants – I figured that with the Carnifex there the stalker Intercessors were going to come around the other side to sandwich him.
CHRIS: Let it never be said that I do the predictable or good thing. Round 4 was some cleaning up and my dice continued to be super hot. Good Old Chapter Master McBadass ran something like 16” across the board to finish off the Warriors and the Contemptor dumped a steaming hot load of lascannon fire into those things hiding behind the ruin that I never actually saw all game. That cleared the board and that was
DREW: I never claimed to be good at this game. That’s a bedrock principle. I feel only pride in allowing you the place of honor to push the button on my phone and play our people’s song of victory.
CHRIS: Okay, post-game takeaways. I thought it was interesting that we had zero uses of “Look Out, Sir”, no Heroic Interventions, and not even that many strats used. The ones that we did use were mostly Overwatch or Command Reroll, very little of the more complicated stuff. On my end that was mostly because I was almost always out of CP – only having 2 going into the first turn was rough and I never recovered from that. But my point here is this was really a basic game without a lot of the frills and I didn’t feel in over my head at any point, rules-wise. I’m sure once we double up the points worth of models on the table and the starting CP I’ll be feeling the complexity more.
DREW: You didn’t use a lot of strats because you were starved for CP the entire game. I used a good handful but the one that really shined for me was that first turn Opportunistic Advance. My Genestealers started right at the edge of my deployment zone and by the end of my first Movement Phase they were 28” across a board that was only 44” wide. Like you say, that determined the flow of the game right there – I indicated them far too soon as a major threat.
Another rule completely failed to come up in this game, somewhat unsurprisingly: Morale. Every time that it would have come into play, the affected units either had no chance to fail or they were wiped out entirely. The middle ground simply did not exist for either of us.
CHRIS: I’m really interested to see how terrain works out in more games. That’s the part I feel like I didn’t really understand going into this game (since it wasn’t in the core rules packet). You made a great terrain cheat sheet for me/us, and without it I would have been completely lost. But I didn’t feel like terrain really had a big impact on the game from my side of the table. I probably didn’t use it enough to my advantage.
If we were to play this game again, I don’t know that I’d double up on the Infiltrators again. They were decent but for the points I think I’d rather have more Intercessors or even Incursors since they have the mines and combat knives. Specifically against a melee horde army like Nids the Infiltrators were really out of their element. I definitely wouldn’t put a unit upfield on an objective where they’re not even going to be a speed bump. That was a rookie mistake. But then again, those two units really kept you from even considering tunneling the Trygon anywhere so maybe they were worth it.
DREW: The fact that the board was so small also had a lot to do with it: there wasn’t any place for me to pop the big boy out of a tunnel that would have been 9” away from your forces. Taking the Trygon was a huge gamble in the first place and I’ll admit it was probably a mistake – if I was going to go with a big point sink a Hive Tyrant would have really let me stretch my legs in the Psychic Phase as well as threaten the hell out of a bigger section of the board.
CHRIS: Also, I might not play outdoors on a deck that gets direct sun in the afternoon on one of the hottest weekends of the year. We spent most of the day 4 feet from each other tops, you ate dinner here afterward. I know we and our families are all pretty careful about going out and about, so assuming neither of us die of the Rona in the next 14 days I say we play our final Big Kid Pants match on my dining room table. Less chance of heatstroke or being killed by turkeys and/or whatever those death wasps around my place are, but much greater chance of my cat stealing our models, so overall it balances out.
DREW: I’m not going to say this again probably ever in my lifetime, but: you did good, kid.
But don’t get cocky! Like you say, we have another whole mission to play.
CHRIS: I’m extremely uncomfortable with receiving praise and promise to faceplant hard next time. At least you didn’t completely “Will” me – when I was starting to play Warmachine my wife was marginally interested and so our friend Will gave her an intro game. He utterly tabled her in like 2 turns, and he didn’t lose a single model. Thus ensuring she would never, ever play these games again. My main goal was to avoid that.
Now, for next time, word around the Goonhammer HQ Sumpkroc cooler is that the missions in the Grand Tournament Mission Pack are better structured than the Eternal War ones in the core book. Goonhammer’s own James “One_Wing” Grover speaks highly of “The Scouring” and he actually knows how to play this game really well, so rather than reinvent the wheel very, very badly we’ve decided to go with that one.
DREW: We’ve also agreed on some ground rules ahead of time, which is to say I dictated them and you said “sure, why not” with all of the decision-making capability our genetics can muster:
Rule 1: NO PEEKING
This is a blind match. Much like showing up to a tournament, neither of us will know the details of the other’s list ahead of time – not Warlord Traits, not Relics, not psychic powers, not even factions. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re probably going to bring Iron Hands, so at the end of the column I’ll reveal the faction that I’m bringing. It’ll be like the Monster at the End of this Book, but slightly less entertaining for anyone over the age of three.
RULE 2: NO PROXIES
This match is entirely done with models on hand. You fight with the army you’ve got and that you demoralize by denigrating them publicly. Conversions and third party models are fine but we’ll have no proxies standing in for a wishlisted unit, whether that’s a Land Speeder made out of a tube of Right Guard or a steaming dog turd standing in for a Mutilator. I will, however, accept a base covered with blood and smashed sprues in place of a Resurrection Ark. (The frustration will come through on its own.)
RULE 3: NO TAKEBACKS
“Oh darn,” you say in a casual game with one of your friends, “I forgot to move my Intercessors before I teleported my Terminators in. Can I just go back and move the Intercessors real quick?” This is not that game. There will be no stepping back in the turn to shoot with a unit that we forgot about, no re-rolling something if it slipped our minds and we moved on, none of that “nice people” shit. You have to learn how to play and also neither our column nor our relationship involve that level of genial sportsmanship. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.
CHRIS: Those are Cool and Good, and how I always play minis games anyway. I know it’s dumb and makes me buy more stuff than I really need but I don’t love proxying, and I will almost never put a model on the table that isn’t painted. And I don’t like takebacks – you offered me one in this game and I refused, because that’s how I learn: shame and failure. I’m also hugely hypocritical and hold myself to a higher standard than I hold other people and am usually fine with allowing my opponent takebacks or throwing a zip-loc of bits on the table and calling it an Ork army. So yeah, this is good. Bring it!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be ignoring my family and painting like a madman for the next week and a half.
DREW: I promised to underwhelmingly reveal what I would play for this at the end, and here we are. It’ll be my Saints Penitent, my Imperial Fists Successor Chapter which you can read more about here.
Prepare yourselves for… the Battle of the Banner Image!!!