Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) teaches his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 but somewhere along the line they lost that thread and this is what we ended up with instead. Catch up on their past adventures here.
Meet the Battle Bros
The older of the two brothers, but newer to the game. “Learned” to play Iron Hands and Bostonian Orks.
The younger brother, more experienced in the world of Hams but probably worse.
CHRIS: So yeah, this challenge game. As we said last time:
Our friends and also real-life brothers Dozer and Moonpig wanted to throw down with us at CaptainCon, a local con happening in February. I go every year – it started as mainly a Warmahordes thing but has grown into more. I had to convince Drew to actually attend, which I knew would be tough because a) it’s farther away for him and b) there will be nerds there and the only thing he hates more than Mondays are nerds.
DREW: Also the only other time I’ve been to this venue, it was hosting a fetish convention. Really hoping they didn’t double book, as I really don’t want to see the Venn diagram of those crowds.
CHRIS: In 2019 they had some evangelical thing going on at the same time as CaptainCon. Had some sincere and nice elevator conversations about the games and the models. If I’d had a tray of Slaaneshi tittysnakes instead of Titanicus models I bet it would have gone very differently.
One thing I was unsure of for our challenge was exactly how doubles games work in 40k. Do we share a big basket of CPs? Since we’re at least technically “allies” (more on this later) are there any waivers or asterisks around keyword limitations that would let us benefit from each others’ strats and abilities? A quick Google shows there are plenty of doubles GTs out there and each one seems to have its own way of doing things. Super helpful.
DREW: While we were literally in the middle of writing this column James Workshop gave us the “gift” of multiplayer rules. It’s almost like he read our column. It’s especially like that because they’re absolutely worthless to us; the rules are for a free-for-all game and we’re playing a doubles match. This is absolutely in line with our brand.
Thankfully, Workshop-senpai also provided rules for playing Doubles at Warhammer World, but those are also weirdly limiting. Of particular note: “The same Datasheet cannot be included in both players’ armies.” So if you have a Tactical Squad, I can’t also have a Tactical Squad. Here’s my brave yet controversial opinion: this is extremely dumb. The best case scenario that I can see for it is keeping you from bringing what used to be called a special character, like Roboute Guilliman, while I bring his identical twin brother Goboute “Call Me Landfill” Ruilliman.
CHRIS: Yeah, that’s weird and dumb. Like us! I think most of this will work though. To wit, that each of us would have a fully self-contained 1000 point army complete with Warlord, we share a pool of Command Points (12), deploying two units at a time – one for each player – as we alternate, and we can’t both play the same Stratagem in the same phase or use the same psychic power in the same turn.
And I think since this is a friendly game (or at least friendlier than the you vs me games) we can jettison the same Datasheet rule and the “no sharing points in building armies” rule.
Which leaves us with the question of what armies to bring? Sadly it sounds like unless we’re playing the exact same faction or chapter there’s no benefit we’ll share.
DREW: Yeah, the keyword system put a pretty effective stop to any sort of horseshit like that. No double-dipping on special abilities or whatever. Honestly, I’m very happy about that. I don’t think you were in the hobby back in the day when Azrael could just swagger across the board surrounded by a massive blob of fresh-faced Guard shmucks who all had rerollable 4++. I’d say that you should be glad that you never had to deal with the tomfoolery that was the Allies Matrix, but I just realized that’s the exact sort of overcomplicated bullshit that you would want.You might just be sad that it didn’t have a critical hit table with 725 possible results.
CHRIS: I think for the first time in our column I kind of don’t want to start a new army for this, especially with only six weeks to go. Although I bet I could paint up a Knight and a couple Armigers in that time super easy…
But both of us playing Space Marines probably makes sense, thematically if not so you can remind me of all the rules I’ll inevitably forget. And if I’m playing Iron Hands I should probably just lean in hard on the heavy weapons/anti tank thing. Load up on dreads and vehicles and guns for whatever they have that looks the most solid.
DREW: I waffled about this for a long time. Do I want to use my Chaos, my newly beloved traitor idiots? Honestly, not really, not until the new codex drops.
CHRIS: It will drop the week after our game. February 11. You heard it here first, kids!
DREW: In the meantime, that one Wound life just ain’t for me. Sure, we got a little drip feed of improvement with the buff to Death to the False Emperor, but that’s absolutely a temporary thing. I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re just going to get the extra attack baked into their profile along with an extra Wound, but remember that I’m also the guy that said we were absolutely not getting 9th edition and look what happened. I think I should also therefore keep my mouth shut about plastic Heresy; even this brief mention might get the Code 30 Pepe Silvia squad to dogpile me.
So that leaves me with Nids, Deathwatch, my purple Fists, or somehow figuring out a way to massage my Horus Heresy Iron Warios into a 9th edition force. The Readers have already seen the Nids and the purple boys, and I’d rather use something that hasn’t seen the table yet. I’ve tried to figure out options for the 30k conversion and it just doesn’t work. The units are either too specialized or have too many special/heavy weapon options to translate into 40k.
So that leaves us with Deathwatch! I’m sure nothing will go wrong with having two different sets of black Space Marines on the table and that any photography will be dynamic and varied as a result.
CHRIS: Maybe we should have pushed Dozer and Moonpig into playing Black Templars and Raven Guard and just Spider-Man meme our way through the game. But instead they chose Orks! Possibly largely motivated by Dozer’s desire to field d2 Stompas, regardless of how bad and dumb they are, because they are awesome and bad and dumb. We have truly found kindred spirits here.
I won’t lie: I’m tempted to throw my Repulsor Executioner into my list.But that’s a whole lot of points in one explodey package, and the changes in 9th kind of made it less fun/absurd to play. It has the advantage of being able to schlep thicc bois, like Eradicators or Heavy Intercessors toting heavy weapons up the board. The only problem I see there is that as cool as those models are, they are not themselves vehicles.
DREW: Don’t be so hard on them. Those Thiccums are trying their hardest to be vehicles – many of them already cost too much for something that isn’t worth it, just like so many Marines vehicle options or a date with me.
CHRIS: If I’m really leaning in to Iron Hands thematically everything in my list should be made of metal with nary a scrap of flesh in sight. So it’s time to live the dream of Oops, All Dreadnoughts!
++ Vanguard Detachment 4 CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Iron Hands) [44 PL, 955pts, -2CP] ++
Librarian in Phobos Armour [6 PL, 125pts]: Blessing of the Machine God, Psysteel Armor, Reforge, bolt pistol, camo cloak, Chapter Command: Chief Librarian, force sword, Smite
Primaris Techmarine [5 PL, 100pts]: Chapter Command: Master of the Forge, forge bolter, grav-pistol, mechadendrite, Omnissian power axe, servo-arm, Target Protocols, The Ironstone, Warlord
Redemptor Dreadnought [9 PL, 185pts]: 2x fragstorm grenade launchers, icarus rocket pod, macro plasma incinerator, onslaught gatling cannon, Redemptor fist
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought [8 PL, 215pts, -1CP]: cyclone missile launcher, 2x twin lascannon
Relic Contemptor Dreadnought [8 PL, 175pts, -1CP]: cyclone missile launcher, 2x twin volkite culverin
Venerable Dreadnought [8 PL, 155pts]: twin lascannon, Dreadnought combat weapon w/storm bolter
+++955 points, -2 CP +++
Sadly some concessions have to be made to include a couple still (for now) living Marines. The Master of the Forge Warlord is just a must and, I think, excusable. I know the Librarian does awesome stuff with the Technomancy discipline, but it still feels a little cheaty to me, in that he’s not a Dreadnought. I could add a vanilla box dread for his points!
DREW: Is it legal to have pre-dread Marines in this list? Yes. Will I shake my head and silently judge you for doing so every time I’m reminded the model exists? Frequent readers of this column might think our formulaic humor would dictate the answer is “also yes” but surprisingly that’s not correct! I will judge you out loud, although it may just be a deep sigh as is the passive-aggressive way of our people. The ensuing drag on the cheapest cigarettes known to man is both optional and implied.
CHRIS: Believe me, I considered asking dispensation to take a Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought for my HQ. But the Techmarine and the Librarian being able to repair stuff is key to the main theme of the list: be annoying as fuck to kill. I actually briefly worried that this list might be too effective, then I remembered I’m going to be the one playing it and that ratchets down the ceiling super hard. I fully expect four of my six models will chain explode round 1, taking out my remaining two and likely a good chunk of Drew’s force.
And yes readers, I hear you asking why two Relic Contemptors and not two Redemptors instead. The simple truth is I only have one Redemptor and am too lazy to buy and paint another one, but I do have two Contemptors because they’re old and dopey looking and I love them. Sure, I could give in to temptation and buy another Redemptor but I’m trying to make this list around what I have and not buy more stuff. Because you know if I were to be buying models just for this game, why not go big?
My role in this game, it’s fairly clear, is to stay back and rain heavy weapon death upon our beefiest foes, whilst your Deathwatch wade in and murder anything with a pulse. Do Orks have pulses? They bleed so I guess they must, unless that blood is just sap. Anyway, do I have that right?
DREW: In theory, sure, but only in theory. See, my Deathwatch are kind of a mixed bag. I’m pretty sure I made a point in some previous article about building an army using the models you have versus planning out purchases, but my decrepit brain can’t find it so I’ll summarize: it’s always better to have a plan, even if it goes off the rails a little. If you’re down to “well, this is what I won on eBay while hopped up on Sudafed so I have to make it work” it’s always going to be an awkward fit.
Guess which of those describes my Deathwatch. I’ll wait.
Actually, once again you’re slightly wrong! It’s a horrible mismatch of me falling for GW marketing and my planning gone horribly awry. If you don’t know, Reader, back in 2018 GW put out a version of Kill Team that seemed really cool at first but then turned out to be a bigger disappointment than a Democratic presidency or, as previously established, dating me.
CHRIS: KT18 is a perfectly fine game if you like just kind of flailing around ineffectively and watching your shots fail to penetrate, so yes, your analogies are apt.
DREW: Deathwatch have always fascinated me to some degree. They were first introduced back in my first foray into the hobby and the Fantasy Flight role-playing game, bloated though it may be, was my first introduction into the 40k RPG scene. There’s just something great about the notion of a bunch of extremely broken cult soldiers from wildly different backgrounds having to learn to work as a team while also adapting to unorthodox structure and tactics. Plus you finally get to use all those damn transfers you’ve just tucked away in a Ziploc because you don’t play Salamanders or Blood Angels.
So when this new version of Kill Team came out and Deathwatch seemed to be not just viable, but also in cases hilariously broken, I absolutely jumped on board. That lasted for about as long as a league played out, and then I don’t think anyone in our area ever played it again. GW had done their job, though. They got me with the first hit, like any good dealer. It was only a matter of time before I crossed the line from “I have a Kill Team” to “I have to assemble this assorted team of weirdos into an actual army oh God why.”
CHRIS: This was exactly why I picked up Iron Hands and Orks, my first step into Sickness. And now look where I am. GW may have some issues but they have a little red targeting dot firmly secured on our wallets.
DREW: Smash cut to not too long ago, when I had built out somewhat and had gone through the pain in the ass of sourcing shoulder pads and storm shields in a plan to do what some might call “bullying.” There was a period of time in which the storm shield and storm bolter combo meal was absolutely amazing, just pissing out loads of Special Ammo while ignoring incoming fire. Those of you who’ve done things like “keeping up with trends” or “reading the Codex Supplement” or “understanding Drew’s patterns” will be able to see that this was a path to ruin. Much like the Torko Borko Mexican Pizza, that glory is lost to time as that combo first got point-nerfed and then had the Special Ammo portion removed entirely.
So now I have this army that’s sort of half-planned and half-happenstance. Thankfully the army’s special rules are generally pretty good at taking on Xenos of all stripes and at bullying a specific kind of Xenos so that should go a long way. Specifically, being able to lay down suppressive fire into an incoming Ork charge and potentially prevent it is extremely my jam. Naturally this is why I’ve opted to go for melee, because why would I do something smart? Let’s take a look at my initial list.
++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium – Adeptus Astartes – Deathwatch) [48 PL, 6CP, 1,015pts] ++
Chaplain in Terminator Armour [6 PL, 95pts]: Canticle of Hate (Aura), crozius arcanum, Litany of Hate, storm bolter
Watch Master [7 PL, 130pts]: The Ties That Bind (Aura), The Tome of Ectoclades, vigil spear, Warlord
Assault Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 115pts]
. 4x Assault Intercessor: 4x Astartes chainsword, 4x heavy bolt pistol
. Assault Intercessor Sgt: Frag & Krak grenades, heavy bolt pistol, thunder hammer
Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 105pts]:
. 4x Intercessors: 4x bolt rifle
. Intercessor Sergeant : bolt rifle power sword
Terminator Squad [9 PL, 215pts]
. Terminator Sergeant: power sword, storm bolter
. Terminator w/ Heavy Weapon: power fist, cyclone missile launcher, storm bolter
. 3x Terminator w/ Power fist: 3x power fist, 3x storm bolter
- Fast Attack
Outrider Squad [6 PL, 150pts]
. 2x Outrider [100pts]: 2x Astartes chainsword, 2x heavy bolt pistol, 2x twin bolt rifle
. Outrider Sgt [50pts]: Astartes chainsword, heavy bolt pistol, twin bolt rifle
Corvus Blackstar [10 PL, 200pts]: hurricane bolter, auspex array, twin assault cannon, 2x stormstrike missile launchers
+++ 1,010 points, 6 CP +++
CHRIS: I like how all this is stuff with murderswords and smashofists and then PLANE. Although to be honest meleeing someone with a plane would be metal as hell. So like I said, my big stompy robocoffins (and Da Plane) provide a ton of covering fire turn 1 while your stuff moseys up the board into melee against the probable massive blob of Boyz? I have all kinds of yummy bonuses with my heavy weapons in Devastator doctrine anyway so that works nicely for me. Not so great against swarms of things but I can take a chunk out of the big stuff.
DREW: You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. You’ve seen the Blackstar in action before when we playtested The Magnificent Seven so you know it just rips out fire like Dad after chili night. I’ll admit I’m missing out a little by having the stormstrike missile launcher instead of the blackstar rocket launcher, as some Blast weaponry would go great against the Ork hordes. However I modeled it with the stormstrike and even though you almost certainly couldn’t tell the difference I would know, and that’s the greatest shame source of all.
CHRIS: Having said this we will, of course, go second and everything we love will be dead by the bottom of 1.
And since all of this is me just speculating about an army I haven’t played since (checks notes) summer 2020 it would probably be good for us to get in a couple practice games. Gives us the chance to be pre-disappointed in ourselves and maybe see if we need to tweak our lists a little. Who knows, maybe Santa will leave an Astraeus under our trees?
DREW: I’d honestly prefer being thrown into a sack and dragged to Hell.
Next Time: Jingle Bells, Nurgle Smells, Ghazghkull Laid an Egg
How bad is our plan? Pretty bad, sure, but we’ll find out just how much of a stinker it really us when we come back in the new year. In the meantime… watch this space.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.