Battle Bros Season Four, Chapter VIII: Burning Sensations

THE BROS ARE BACK and they’re not alone. See which innocent souls they’ve dragged into the foolishness of Necbromunda. Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) taught his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 and now is being hoisted by his own petard as he learns Necromunda. Catch up on their past adventures here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, and for once the more experienced in what is to come.


The younger brother, slowly realizing the horrors he has unleashed upon himself.


DREW: As I write this a heat wave descends upon us. Heat waves in the Northeast might not raise the same alarming sorts of temperatures as they do elsewhere but they’re brutal in different ways. The air around you becomes palpably oppressive, like constantly walking through a thick set of curtains. Rest and respite become impossible and you might start to behave in strange ways. We’re not really as prepared for it as others might be so it might as well be catching us by surprise.

In other words, it’s a great backdrop for a pair of games which (spoiler alert) both contained a “medically inadvisable amount of fire.” It also might explain why my inane ramblings are even more inane than usual this week or why in the writing process I find myself staring at sentence fragments for minutes on end like I’m trying to decipher the mystery of the Somerton Man.

CHRIS: Just be glad I haven’t encoded my game recaps in nonsensical botanical drawings. Yet. The worst thing about a New England heatwave is, as they say, the humidity rather than the heat. I’m sure this is revenge for what we do to lobsters.

DREW: We make them race on the kitchen floor? Oh, right, no, the other part.

CHRIS: But despite all this we bravely toil on in the content mines for our evil overlords. After the thrilling games of last week we entered the Downtime part of the campaign. In this phase we could ransom any fighters who had been taken captive, which only applied to Allan. All fighters Recover so you can start the second half with a full slate. We also could promote any Juves or Prospects who have earned enough advancements to the next step on their career ladder, but honestly none of my Juves or Prospects have racked up enough XPs for even one advancement yet. This is probably because we’re playing an abbreviated campaign – in a full one each of us would make a challenge every week so we would have double the number of games. I’m sure it would help. That, and not seeing them wiped off the board having done basically nothing worthwhile. That would also be good.

The other big benefit of Downtime is that everybody receives 250 credits for free! The only restriction there is that the creds need to be spent on gear from your House list or on recruiting new folks.

DREW: Well this restriction works out great because I didn’t even know enough to spend it on anything else! My shopping list was pretty simple. Two of my people were killed, so I hired two replacements. Pay no attention to the fact that they look remarkably similar to their predecessors – that’s kind of how Barbie rolls anyway. Enter Physicist Barbie and Diplomat Barbie, and exeunt my credits, pursued by bear.

Others in our campaign chose more heretical recruitments.

Since we’re in the Takeover Phase of the Dominion campaign, this is Allan’s time to shine. You may remember he was unable to take any territories in the Occupation Phase, so at this point all of our fat and juicy territories are glistening on the vine for him to snatch away from us. Predictably, he challenged me at the Backstage area, also known as the Corpse Farm. The Corpse Grinders gain a special benefit from holding this territory so he’d have to be a fool not to go for it. Even I would.

After a brief discussion we consulted the Lost Zone Scenarios to find our mission. Technically we rolled and we determined the result properly but we both looked at the list and decided in our hearts we really both knew it kind of had to be Blood Rites anyway. For those unfamiliar with the scenario, the idea is that the forces of Chaos decide the time is ripe for a good ol’ blood sacrifice to He Who Walks Behind the Slaughterhouse. When a fighter is taken out of action in this scenario they essentially become an objective marker which the Chaos folks can then spend a double action carving up for the benefit of the Blood God – and because he doesn’t care from whence it flows they can even sacrifice their own fighters.

CHRIS: Thematically, I approve of the mission selection. I too would brutally sacrifice those near to me, brothers perhaps, for even a paltry favor of the gods.

DREW: No kidding… deployment on this one is pretty normal aside from the fact that the Defender (aka me) starts with significantly fewer fighters on the table than the Attacker and the rest of the Defender’s forces filter in as reinforcements over the course of the scenario. To make matters worse, the Defender’s fighters are determined randomly both in deployment as well as in reinforcement so I had to make the best with what I was given.

Look, you can tell already: this started poorly for me and you’ll be shocked to know it only became worse. I started with mostly lasguns on the table and not a lot else. This sounds great in theory as the CGC had to run all the way from their side of the map to my side in order to steal my precious blood and I had long range rifles, but I didn’t really account for the fact that Allan’s Initiates (aka Juves) had both the Infiltrate skill and hand flamers. In other words, they started the match by immediately popping around a corner very close by and roasting my poor murder mommies like so many Shubs and Zuuls in the depths of the Sloar.

Leading rapidly to this little cluster of disaster.

I really couldn’t recover from that. He pinned me down in my own deployment zone early on and every reinforcement which showed up did so one at a time with the worst possible randomization. I needed a long range weapon to take a shot at the Cultists which were in open view? Time for Weird Barbie to show up with her two pistols. Situation was ripe for a good Toxic melee weapon? Best I rolled was President Barbie’s shock whip.

CHRIS: Necromunda taketh, and Necromunda taketh away.

DREW: At a certain point I wasn’t so much calling in reinforcements as I was actively feeding the Cultists. I’ve come close to Jokerizing in some games in the past (looking at you, GHO 2023), but this was the closest I have ever felt to truly becoming a Batman villain as children with fancy toys casually ripped me apart in an abandoned amusement park while a handful of violent psychotics in masks emerged from a cloud of concealing smoke to pulverize me. My ass-beating was legendary that day and will be sung long after I have passed into (extremely cautionary) myth. By the end of the day they had to identify my gangers from dental records which is difficult to do at 25mm scale.

On top of all this, my poor sweet lovely bounty hunter Ken was never chosen randomly so by the wall of rules text accompanying him he departed my gang with a firm double deuces held high. Oh, Ken. I had such high hopes for you which mostly involved trying to abuse the dual facts that I acquired you for free and you were a murder machine with a boltgun. I’m also definitely not mad that in a panic I started converting and painting a model for you at the last minute, finished it the day of the game, and then never had a chance to use it. Definitely not mad.

Once again a reminder of how this worked out for me.

CHRIS: Dang. And you know 100% if you had not finished his model he would have come up on the first draw. Sorry to see him go, but not sorry to not have to face his boltgun again.

With my Downtime credits I went on something of a shopping spree with the idea that I wanted a) my fighters not to die as easily and b) my fighters to kill things easier. So everybody who wasn’t a Juve/Prospect equipped an armored undersuit to help with their Saves. My ganger Mumps stuck a shiny new telescopic sight on his boltgun so maybe he will actually hit something before he runs out of ammo. And for when he does run out I also bought him a bolt pistol, so he won’t be completely useless.

I did briefly do some math and realized if I bought Pizz a set of Heavy Chain Cleavers like the Corpse Grinders had he would have a fairly decent shot at one-rounding a Cargo 8 Ridgehauler. Sadly those are gated to the CGC only, so you’re welcome.

Having more remaining credits than sense, I recruited a new ganger. Craw is a member of the Church of the Combat Shotgun, and also carries a smoke grenade. I used the benefit from PROF. WINKIE’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF SCIENCE to give Craw’s combat shotgun Blaze and Unstable, because that sounded fun. This was (yet) another rules oopsie-daisy, as Boons from territories are used in the post-battle sequence, and I had just recruited Craw. We can pretend I put the effect on Fizz’s combat shotgun, and they traded, or something. Whatever, don’t care. But bringing yet more fire to this game was maybe not the best call.

DREW: I’d normally say more fire can only improve things, but on top of my aforementioned hand flamer woes Goonhammer Editorial won’t let me talk about the List of things which should be set ablaze. Something about “legal responsibility” or at least “plausible deniability.”

CHRIS: Here’s a fun game: which Goonhammer author is secretly a Fed embedded in the staff to keep an eye on our radical leftist postings, and why is it Gunum? Anyway, Josh and I decided on the Gunk War scenario, not to be confused with Gunk Tank. In this one the defenders protect a big tank full of highly flammable Gunk in the center of the board. If the attackers can blow up the tank in five rounds they win! Also, there’s a big Ring-o-Fire around the tank, and the defenders deploy within the ring. Anybody moving through the ring picks up the Blaze condition, and there’s a penalty for shooting through it.

For reasons I can’t quite fathom I chose to be the defender. Maybe I was relying on my team’s beefiness. Maybe I would have done better as the attacker. An astute reader has probably sussed out that this game Did Not Go Well for me.

Terrain was also not my friend, because we had set up a big semicircle of gantry around the gunk tank, upon which Josh’s Squats could stand and rain fire down upon me. Fortunately the only thing more deadly in Necromunda than an unobstructed line of sight is falling from high places, so at least I had that going for me.

Brightly colored fish in a barrel. The ring of fire is at the edge of the octagonal platform.

I should mention that among other things Josh picked up the Claim Jumper during the Downtime. I’ll give the readers a minute to Google up the stats, but I declare this model 100% Grade A Bullshit. Solid stats, a Rapid Fire 2 autopistol, three very decent weapons depending on how much AP you need, frag and smoke grenades, mesh armor, the Fearsome skill which we love so much on Allan’s Corpse Grinders. But wait, he also has an awesome robot friend who helps him find d6x10 more credits in every loot casket. All this for the price of sixty credits! That’s about the price of a regular ganger with no gear or skills at all, let alone a treasure sniffing robot!! Utter, complete bullshit.

DREW: I spent probably about fifteen minutes flipping pages, confident you had fucked up and there would be some clause which invalidated some portion of this, but uh… no. No, the Claim Jumper really is just that broken. I think I need a drink or ten.

CHRIS: SIXTY CREDITS!! People at first assumed it had to be a typo and should be “160,” which would still be a bargain any day of the week. First activation out of the gate, Josh’s Drill Master (Champion) unloaded his almost-as-bullshit Rapid Fire 1 meltagun into Mumps, sending him immediately Out of Action. So much for that new scope. Eventually I would shoot the Drill Master, causing him to fall off a platform and land on Pizz, who then took care of business.

The meltagun was at the top of my “stuff what has to die now” list, but immediately behind him was Josh’s other Champion with an Ironhead boltgun, Obsidian. Fortunately for me he was up on a platform and in range of Craw’s Blaze-inducing combat shotgun. Obsidian made his Initiative check to not fall off the platform but was on fire and promptly ran off the platform. He survived the fall but spent the entire game running around on fire. It was maybe the only joy I had all day.

The first round also saw my Prospect Tommy-1 set on fire from Josh’s dude with an Ironhead flamer. Tommy was seriously injured but managed to put himself out and recovered at the end of the round. Go Tommy! Cap’n Smiley, my Sumpkroc, was not as resilient. He charged Josh’s Leader through the Ring-o-Fire, utterly whiffed his mighty chomp attack, caught on fire, and then was pummeled to death by a reaction attack. A brutal first round on both sides but so far it could have gone either way.

The only thing in greater abundance than fire is bad decisions.

But then that bullshit Claim Jumper charged Craw and put him down, which wasn’t great. It caused Pug, one of my Juves, to fail a Nerve test, but here’s the interesting bit – Pug was already on fire. According to those rules, when activated he should run in a random direction. But the Broken rules have a very specific flowchart of how the fighter must run away from danger. Which rule should trump here? Possibly the most “Necromunda” dilemma! Luckily for us, the Strength 3 hit Pug took from the fire when he activated Seriously Injured him, so the debate was moot! I love this stupid game!

DREW: (unavailable for comment, actively screaming incoherently)

CHRIS: My Goliaths bottled at the end of round 2, and it was largely downhill from there. I took some solace when the aforementioned bullshit Claim Jumper Broke and ran through the Ring-O-Fire, so he spent the remainder of the game aflame. That was nice.

Round three is where it really hit the fan. Pizz was finally able to mulch Josh’s Leader, but at the end of the round my own leader biffed his Cool check and fled the field for the second game in a row. This has significantly lowered his esteem in the eyes of his fellow fighters, and there will be Consequences.

So going into round four I only had two fighters remaining: Pizz and Tommy-1. And soon it was just Tommy, as Pizz had a giant target on him. Despite Tommy’s miraculous recovery from burning alive earlier, he had accomplished jack shit all game. I begin to suspect the storm welder isn’t a great weapon! But he made it through round four, and the Squats hadn’t damaged the Gunk Tank at all – the handful remaining didn’t have any weapons which could do any significant damage to it. If Tommy could just stay alive for one more round I would win!

DREW: The first search engine result for “storm welder” is a post talking about how it’s an overpriced piece of trash. I don’t remember if you already knew this, and I refuse to go back and re-read old columns to see if you did as that’s the text-based website version of “don’t scroll up” in Discord. Poster’s Bushido still applies in long form.

CHRIS: It is overpriced, yes, and it is Unstable with Rapid Fire 3. Which means you have decent odds of rolling an Ammo symbol on one of those three ammo dice (42% for at least one), then requiring a roll with a 50% chance to blow up and take the fighter out of action. And a possibility of more Ammo symbols, requiring more blow-up checks. Or on the other hand, the chance of up to 9 hits! And because it’s also Reckless those hits are evenly distributed among all eligible targets, friend or foe. If you think I wouldn’t take this weapon in a game you clearly don’t know me at all, which honestly – good on you.

Boss Jubb proved himself a coward who would desert a dying gang.

So anyway, Josh claimed the Ticket Booth territory from me at the end of the game. He also earned a ton of credits in the scenario, but had to do two Medical Escorts so easy come easy go. I earned absolutely bupkus for credits myself, but other than Pizz being Partially Deafened the Lasting Injury table was kind to me at least.

And of course only as I’m writing this up do I see that as the Defender I should have been able to roll 2d6 and take the lowest for Bottle checks. I’m not sure this would have made a difference, but maybe Boss Jubb wouldn’t have run off like a coward again.

My takeaways from this game are a) fire bad; and b) I will never, ever remember to play the Last Gasp tactics card when I have it, enabling a fighter to shoot or make a melee attack when they are taken Out of Action. I think this is the third game where I’ve completely failed to play this tactic, in case you were wondering exactly how bad I am at this game.

More proof of this to come next time, when I face Allan’s Corpse Grinders and Drew faces Josh’s Ironheads. Surely there won’t be as much fire and/or murder, right? We’re actually not sure because we’ve finally reached the point in a Battle Bros season where we’ve frittered away the month and a half of padding between having played games and the column going live, so we haven’t yet played these games.

DREW: (a completely different kind of incoherent screaming)

Next Time: Your Guess Is as Good as Ours

I mean, let’s find out if we even remember how to play at that point. One of us, I think you can guess who, almost certainly will not.

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