Battle Bros: Season Three, Chapter III: Sure It’s A Plan, But Is It Kunnin’?

Battle Bros is an ongoing bi-weekly column where Drew (PantsOptional) taught his brother Chris (head58) how to play Warhammer 40,000 and now they’ve been challenged by rival Bros. 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 increasingly obviously worse. Still cooler and gooder because he writes the final draft before publication and can sneak this kind of crap in.

DREW: Welcome back, friendos, to a whole new year of our incompetence. Thank Zod we had a bit of a publication delay – we almost had Battle Bros for an unprecedented three weeks in a row. If you’re not sick of us yet, that would have done it, and also please let us know how that’s possible that you aren’t because we sure are.

CHRIS: Seriously, you have no idea. One of us alone is a burden. Get both of us together and it’s unbearable.

And yet that’s what we did for YOU, dear reader, on Christmas Eve Day – Drew and I convened a meeting of the “minds” to slam some hams in advance of our upcoming Battle Bros Challenge. We thought this would be a good idea because a) I haven’t played 40k since the end of our second season, b) I haven’t played Iron Hands since the end of our first season, and c) I had very little idea what I was doing even then.

We figured we’d split things out into two roughly 1000-point games: one where Drew runs his Deathwatch half and one where I run my Iron Hands half. We’d throw both of these against some Orks and see how our lists fared, where we needed to make adjustments, etc. It’s dangerously close to an Actual Plan! Maybe not a good one, but baby steps.

That’s funny, the inadequacy doesn’t look as bad from out here.

DREW: I’ll let you all know a little secret right now: we kind of already know what Dozer and Moonpig have in terms of a list. I told them “take some time and get something together, you’ve got months so no rush.” They sent something back to us in less than fifteen minutes, and nothing has ever so completely convinced me that someone “gets” this column. Dozer told us he didn’t want to move a whole bunch of models because he was lazy, and then handed us a list with over 75 infantry models alone. To see a thing that is odious and then to do it anyway for no good reason, that is the Bros way.

CHRIS: They will know our ways as if born to them. But there’s one key element missing from their approach: endless hemming and hawing. Can one truly be a Battle Bro without bottomless self-doubt? Putting a list together that quickly suggests a level of confidence that is both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Much like the list itself.

DREW: Cards on the table time, I peed a little when I saw the list. Metaphorically, mind you, not literally – I may be Old but I’m not That Old. I’ve played a lot of games against Orks over the years; my main opponent for some time almost exclusively played them in 6th and 7th, and then of course there’s last season. But in all that time I’ve never stared down the barrel of the Prophet of the Waaagh himself, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka.

His damage output isn’t what scares me – it’s high enough that it’s more of an existential threat than anything else. The damage is Large Number, and might as well be infinity for my purposes, so why worry about it? Just accept that whatever he waddles up to will die instantly. No, what scares me is just how hard it’s going to be to take him off the table. It may be an article from 8th edition, but this analysis hasn’t really fundamentally changed; if you don’t want to read all that “good at 40k” content just understand that he’s dead fucking hard. Is it too late to start Necrons and get a Nightbringer on the table for February?

CHRIS: I hope not, he says while windmill slamming the BUY button on every Hammerhead available.

But we made our black armored transhuman bed, and now we must lie in it. Fine. We decided that Drew would face the green tide first. Since his half of our army is intended to chew through piles and piles of infantry I pulled the stuff from Dozer’s list that he’ll be addressing. Theoretical into Practical. Plus I left in some parts that I knew would give him trouble, because I’m a dick like that.

Ork Practice List Phase 1: Da Squishy Stuff
+ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Orks – Goffs) [57 PL, 1,020pts, 6CP] ++

  • HQ

Ghazghkull Thraka [15 PL, 300pts]: Gork’s Klaw, Mork’s Roar, stikkbombs, Warlord (Proper Killy)

  • Troops 

Boyz [15 PL, 275pts]
. Boss Nob : big choppa, slugga, stikkbombs
. 29x Ork Boy w/ slugga & choppa

Boyz [15 PL, 275pts]
. Boss Nob: big choppa, slugga, stikkbombs
. 29x Ork Boy w/ slugga & choppa

  • Heavy Support

Deff Dreads [12 PL, 170pts]
. Deff Dread: 4 dread klaws
. Deff Dread: 4 dread klaws

Okay, Dozer’s list only had two units of 26 Boyz each, but it also had a blob of 26 Grots so I felt comfortable cheating a bit and rounding up to 30. Since our Crusade in Season Two was just before the Ork codex dropped I had forgotten that Boyz lost their “extra attack if more than 20 in a unit” thing, which made me very sad later on.

What also made me pretty sad was the almost complete lack of shooting in this list. Sluggas, Ghaz’s gun, and that’s it. All the big guns in Dozer’s army are on the Stompa. This meant I had no realistic way to engage Drew’s Blackstar.

I certainly had enough actual Boyz models to make this list happen. But I’d never gotten around to assembling Ghaz and the two Deff Dreads I’d impulse bought and now had been planning on selling. So I had to do a little proxying based on what I had available that used the right base sizes.

So this is what it sounds like when Orks cry

Yes, that is an Adeptus Titanicus Warhound covered in rhinestones back there. It’s part of my Legio Paislax – the Weeping Doves – a Prince-themed Legio hailing from Forgeworld Minnetonka. Go ask your parents about the 1984 classic film Purple Rain. It’s my proxy for Ghaz. The Dreadnoughts are proxies for Deff Dreads.

DREW: Before the game you had me try your latest “invention.” By which I mean a combination of eggnog, Fireball cinnamon whiskey, and Malört. Friends, I won’t mince words: I considered headbutting him on the spot after drinking this. It was vile beyond words; this cursed liquid is not fit for human consumption. Who the hell drinks eggnog anyway?

CHRIS: I saw there was a place in Chicago that had a machine that made soft serve ice cream (or “creemee” in the parlance of central Massachusetts) from Malört and Fireball’s own cinnamon nog. I was unable to find said nog on my own, so I had to start from the ground up. I’m truly proud to say it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever consumed, and I’m glad you were there to share the Hallmark holiday moment with me.

On to the game! We picked our secondaries and rolled up an Incursion mission from the soon to be outdated 2021 Grand Tournament book: “Rise of the Machine Spirit.” Fairly straight-forward, deployment in the corners with an 18” diameter circle cut out in the middle. Better than short edge deployment, since my one and only plan going in was “engage quickly and don’t die on the way in.”

DREW: If I look close enough at my dating history that was also my plan there as well. I think we probably could have done better picking secondaries, but it gave us something to think about. In the Bro-down Showdown, they’re going to have a major advantage in that they can just pick from the core options and Ork secondaries; we’re going to have to figure out which of the Chapter secondaries we want to use. I foresee a complete breakdown of teamwork at this early stage and welcome it.

CHRIS: I will say the Ork secondaries aren’t great. Green Tide is just Engage on All Fronts, but you need to do so with units of 11 or more. Those big blobs of Boyz and Grots aren’t going to remain big blobs for that long. Same with Stomp ‘Em Good :: Grind Them Down. Da Biggest And Da Best is good if your Warlord is going to be wading in and deleting stuff, but I don’t see how that applies here. Get Da Good Bitz is similar to Raise the Banners but you’re limited to only 3 objective markers and every unit that’s performing an Action is a unit that’s not killing something we love, so sure, please go ahead and take that.

DREW: All that said, we are absolutely going to take Oaths of Moment because it does so much fucking work. Three different options for scoring? Yes please, and thank you. I’m still unsure about taking action-related secondaries in a game that’s almost certain to pressure us from the very first round, but I’m keeping Raise the Banners in my back pocket just in case.

Regarding the actual match: as is the Bros method, we’ll skip the round-by-round analysis and hit some of the bigger points instead. My first observation is Orks are always faster than I anticipate, even on foot. Granted, we had a smaller board than we’ll be using in the proper match, but pulling off a first turn Waaagh! with a good Advance roll put you on me from the start. I’m not bitter that my Stem the Green Tide failed to kill even one of the thirty Boyz coming at me, not at all. Thankfully the terrain and the size of your unit (shut up) worked against you and you only managed to kill two of my Outriders, which I totally wasn’t planning on using for a one-two punch against your backlines and I’m not bitter at all about losing.

Well it was about that time that them Ork Boyz realized what “Fall Back” meant.

CHRIS: If I hadn’t made the charge roll with my Boyz that first turn the game would have gone very differently. Also I was very amused that the Deff Dreads as configured gained absolutely no benefit from either the Waagh! Or Speed Waaagh! Not Core, no shooting. Classic Jorts. So I kept them back planning to either use them to hold objectives or waddle in like me after way too much Christmas day Chinese food to clean up what the Boyz couldn’t kill.

Should I have sent the second unit of Boyz in as well? Maybe, but the path was kind of choked with terrain and there wasn’t anywhere great for them to land. Instead I kept them back on the objective in my deployment zone where they did very little other than score me points for a couple rounds before they got slaughtered.

DREW: Let’s switch from that sodium-laden topic to my MVP of the day, the Corvus Blackstar. Did I use the Deathwatch transport plane for its intended purpose of delivering infantry? No, no I did not. Did I zoom over your models, dropping cluster bombs and making the twin assault cannons go BRR every round? Yes, yes I did. With the exception of one insanely terrible turn (twelve shots a turn hitting on 3+ and I get nine ones and two twos, fuck off) it put in work all damn day. I even managed to strip something like seven Wounds off Ghaz with it over a couple rounds, which is pretty impressive given the low rate of fire on the stormstrike missiles. With that in mind, remember this was only half of the Ork list and generally the half that can’t shoot down a plane so of course it did well. In the actual game, this thing’s gonna drop like an airliner that looked at Russian airspace.

CHRIS: Yeah that thing is going to be target number one for the Stompa, which is almost literally the other half of the Ork list. I did enjoy unloading 30 Sluggas into your plane as it zoomed past. I may have even done a single wound with them.

No wonder the Deathwatch didn’t recognize these two until it was too late

My Boyz who charged in tied up most of your stuff and sacrificed themselves valiantly just in time to make room for Ghaz and a Deff Dread to charge in and continue the work. At the end of the day pretty much everything was dead except Ghaz and the Corvus Blackstar, who couldn’t really hurt each other in any meaningful way. We called the game early in round 4 but I like to imagine you kept swooping past him singing “Danger Zone” while Ghaz just flipped the plane off and picked his teeth (sorry, teef) with an Astartes Chainsword that still had an arm attached to it.

DREW: My major takeaway from this game is that my instinct was correct regarding Ghaz. I ran some numbers on him after the game and it doesn’t look great; he has something like a 55% chance at worst of one-shotting the toughest unit that we can put on the board. That number is for his lowest number of attacks on his weakest profile; it goes up significantly for every other scenario. We also don’t have a lot in the way of chunking him down outside of the Shooting phase, so unless they make some positioning errors or we get off a good charge and I get lucky with a thunder hammer we’re looking at him rampaging around for at least four rounds. Hooray.

Pictured here: the end of the Charge Phase, when I just took all my Intercessors off the board before Rhinestone Ghazboy started swinging

CHRIS: I’m looking at my assemblage of Dreadnoughts and envisioning them saying “Mister Bro? I don’t feel so good” as Ghaz just ruins them. We have nothing in our lists, and nothing available to our armies really, that stands a chance if he gets up into them. Our best hope is to chip away at him, 4 Wounds of shooting at a time, and maybe some Smite damage but I seriously doubt Dozer and Moonpig are going to leave him where my Librarian can get a shot at him. Maybe a dread can charge in and smack him around some before being turned into modern art sculpture. He’s going to be a real problem, but then so’s the 40 wound monstrosity with every gun on the ice moon and potentially 18 D3 attacks. I honestly don’t know if we have the damage output to handle both those main threats, plus everything else.

DREW: Let me just underline again: these guys looked at the great combos and absolute bullshit that they could pull off with an Orks list and said “yes but what about the giant goofy model with the strictly okay rules, can we bring one of those please?” Have we found the Robins to our collective Batmans?

CHRIS: Batsman. But we’ll find out next time, when Drew pilots 975 points of Ghaz and Stompa plus whatever else into the faces of four-ish chonky robocoffins who probably don’t deserve what’s going to happen to them.

DREW: They know what they did.

Next Time: A Very Short Game Indeed

We test the Iron Hands armor against the harder elements of the Orks. Drew’s prediction: two turns, in the pan, done. Chris’s prediction: well you just bloody read it didn’t you?

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