Battle Bros, Season Three, Chapter VI: One Bro Leaves

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 but COVID done boned that. 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. Slowly being driven insane by WordPress.

CHRIS: Let me ask you a question, dear brother: have you ever Belvedered yourself? Just straight up sat on your own balls? I’ll admit I haven’t but I have to imagine it would feel a lot like this game.

DREW: Dogg, you have related the story of my life, and I am here to tell you this game was significantly better than squashin’ ‘em. For one thing, neither of us had to walk it off nor did it involve humiliating ourselves in front of Mr. Baseball.

For those of you just coming in for the first time, I question your decision but I’ll catch you up. For months we planned on having Season Three culminate in a showdown against a pair of rival Bros, Dozer and Moonpig. We spent weeks planning and preparing, including a number of drives through extremely questionable weather to practice for the duel. Then COVID held us down and jammed snow in our faces like a neighborhood bully and we had to call an audible and postpone the match. This turned out to be for the best between the reports on mask protocol adherence from the convention site and the fact that we would have had to drive for hours in a school-canceling ice storm to get there.

So we turned to you to figure out what we should do because we are both lazy and indecisive, and also because some broken part of us insists we must please the Reader above all else. We ended up preparing for Brotherdome, a Bros-themed Blunderdome in which we designed the crappiest lists possible out of what we have and then handed the lists to each other to play. And so as has been our tradition thus far I drove out once again in the falling snow to get this shit over with already.

CHRIS: And for once I didn’t make you drink anything vile! I had dabbled with a Clamato/Malört cocktail the evening before but it was too horrible to give to even you. Plus I feared eventual retaliation.

Two seconds after chugging it

Now at the last minute, just before publishing our column last time, I had to make a list swap. Originally I’d included a unit of Flamestorm Aggressors, but when I went to my case I discovered I’d glued on the Boltstorm gauntlets. I never do that – I magnetize everything for fear of a future edition change making current pure garbage eventually good again. But in this case I guess I thought the Flamestorm gauntlets were just so unsalvageably terrible that I don’t even think I kept the bits! So I swapped in for a unit of bolter Inceptors and hoped they wouldn’t be actually good. This is called foreshadowing.

DREW: During setup I realized that while I had taken my army case with my infantry along with me, I had left behind my vehicles case. I didn’t have any vehicles, so why take it? Play the home game with me, friends: of course I left something I needed in the vehicles case. Centurions are infantry, true, but they’re also about twice the size of Tactical Marines and so they needed to live in the vehicle case. Thankfully we managed to find an acceptable substitute in terms of base size, and so the part of my Centurions would be played by the baller-ass droids known as droidekas.

Centurions, honest

CHRIS: You valiantly looked for something else to swap in for the Centurions, but 250 points is a big hole to fill with garbage. And it turned out fine because two of the three droidekas were shot off the board at the top of round 1 so it really didn’t matter at all.

Long time readers (why? Just why?) will know we don’t give shot by shot breakdowns because that would get in the way of our witty repartee and self-loathing.

We had the Nachmund/GT 2022 book available after all so we used that with all its funky new Matched Play rules. The mission we rolled was Reconnaissance Mission which uses diagonal deployment zones and like all Nachmund missions has two Primary Objectives (good old Take and Hold and Recon Sweep, which requires an action that is completed faster if attempted with ObSec or Fast Attack units). We had to take two of our three Secondaries from the Nachmund options – I took Assassinate and Behind Enemy Lines and selected Oaths of Moment for my third.

DREW: Mirror match strikes again as I picked Assassinate, Oaths of Moment, and Retrieve Nachmund Data. Oaths of Moment is just too good to pass up. A few extra Victory Points for doing what Marines do, more or less? Absolutely. We also both took Assassinate because we had extremely squishy Warlords and getting the points for killing them would be easy. While you took the extremely onerous task of getting into my side of the board with Behind Enemy Lines, I opted for Nachmund Data since I planned to just camp my backfield objectives anyway for Recon Data so why not double down? Yes, I probably should have picked Deploy Teleport Homer and sure there’s a chance to fail Nachmund Data but in fairness I must refer you back to the very first column w/r/t my skill.

CHRIS: I don’t think I fully appreciated exactly how bad the army you handed me was until a turn or two into the game. White Scar successors who still suffer the penalty for using Assault weapons after Advancing and who cannot charge after Advancing, but who still leaned hard on Advancing and Assault weapons in all their strats. These guys just had nothing.

DREW: For me, the disappointment was in the units themselves rather than the interaction with higher-level rules, specifically the Infiltrators. Don’t get me wrong, I hated almost every model you handed me because I cannot abide the look of Phobos armor. To me, Marines should be big and dumb and gaudy, not tacticool. I get that the difference between the two is just two different versions of what a fourteen-year-old thinks is cool, but these Tom Clancy video game looking motherfuckers just don’t do it for me and both their statline and weapons loadout are sheer unflavored gelatin level boring.

Seriously, just look at these fools

But listen, Reader: Infiltrators are a great example of why evaluating a unit is more than just looking at their stats, as I’ve said multiple times and failed to live by more times. Infiltrators are all about the bigger game, with special abilities that let them box out units that come in after turn one and deploy outside your deployment zone. Between that and generally spreading out my units during deployment there really was no place you could come in behind me and start to tear down my backfield.

Speaking of backfield, that’s exactly where I spent my first two turns since I had the luxury of relative safety. Most of my army either hung back or slowly lumbered up the field while my Reivers and Infiltrators took turns completing the Nachmund Data and Recon actions on their respective objectives. This meant that during their turns they mostly got paid to sit on their asses and play solitaire, but it also earned me a decent number of victory points.

CHRIS: While you did that I kind of sort of hunkered around my objectives but not in a way that scored me any points. Which I was later informed is how one wins this game. And which is very much not an White Scars way of playing, even if those Scars are from a catastrophically bad Founding with geneseed so watered down it’s like American beer.

The rest of your stuff moved up steadily and, led by your Centurions, chewed through a lot of my stuff. I tried bringing my Sniper Scouts in but misjudged their placement and left them out in the open with their rifles in their hands where they got absolutely slaughtered by Reivers a turn or two later. You, however, were able to bring your Inceptors in on my back edge and put most of my remaining forces into a wood chipper. Despite the valiant effort of my nigh-unkillable Bladeguard Ancient my forces evaporated like all my plans for awesome vacations in early 2020.

When the Ancients met in the middle we wanted to show them dueling with their banners, but it kinda looks like we just made them kiss. 100% on brand.

After obsessing over the game in my head for about 24 hours I think I’ve identified the two points where the game swung. First was in deployment. You handed me two 10-man units – Tactical marines and Devastators. And while you split your 10-man Infiltrators using their Combat Squad ability I didn’t. Part of this was because I didn’t know I could. I knew of units like Deff Dreads that had a special ability where you could split them up once they hit the table but I was unaware of what Combat Squad did. That’s totally on me. But even after you explained it to me I kept the big blobs together because I was still thinking like an Iron Hands player, that it would be harder for you to chew through full units. Turns out it wasn’t really that hard at all.

DREW: It was still pretty tough – look how long it took me to chew through that 10 strong unit of Devastators, after all. And for all that my Centurion hung on and just wouldn’t goddamn die, yours sat on the objective gathering points for something like three turns when it should have evaporated much earlier. But yes, after getting a taste of the Iron Hands life I absolutely understand why you thought your Marines were hardier fellows. Now, I completely agree with you about that being a pivotal decision, but I’m curious to hear your second point because there’s a lot of options as to what this could be, aside from the usual “the dice boned me.”

CHRIS: The dice swinging against me in round three was definitely part of my second point of failure: I became stupidly obsessed with killing your aforementioned unkillable Centurion, pouring everything I had at it. This was especially stupid because it was the one with the lascannons, which meant you may be taking out one or two marines a round rather than the many that the heavy bolters would delete. It shouldn’t have been my focus but I got locked in.

Oh shit here he comes. Is he mad? He looks mad.

And my sniper Scouts who had popped in mid-field with zero cover should not have been shooting at it; they should have walked over into your deployment zone so I could have started scoring on Behind Enemy Lines and maybe take out those Eliminators you had hiding back there. I don’t know what happened to my brain that turn but I again locked in on the idea that I had to charge the Eliminators and I didn’t think I could get there. If they’d just shot the Eliminators instead then they couldn’t later have sniped out my last Centurion (who was squatting on an objective) or my Librarian. The Scouts would still have gotten eaten by Reivers but if I had those two models on the board longer I might have had a bit more of a chance.

The Inceptors turned out to be a Very Bad Time for my Devastators. Turns out six Assault 3 bolters can get some serious work done against regular old Marines.

Whatever do you mean?

Picking a Least Valuable Player unit from this burning tire fire is tricky. None of the units themselves were exceptionally terrible, they just didn’t work well together or synergize with the Chapter stuff I had to work with. I’ll give the Scouts the award I guess, just for being Scouts and not even having the decency to be ObSec anymore. They could have been okay if I’d deployed them smarter and engaged half a brain cell while using them. Instead they just served a much dumber purpose: making Reivers seem actually a little good.

DREW: I never thought I would write these truly abhorrent words but the Reivers were absolutely the star players of the match, simply by virtue of having knives. They notched up two different objective actions, butchered the Scouts and the Ancient, and then had moved on to push the Tacticals’ faces into the dirt. When everything around you is a sloppy pile of garbage doused in pigshit, having the least shit on you makes you a damn rock star. It does, however, make a cat sad that he can’t eat them.

Look how we made him sulk

CHRIS: So in the final analysis Drew made the inferior list and won the game. He is truly the worst brother I have ever had.

DREW: Final score: 75 – 40 in favor of me. As always I shall remain a gracious and polite victor, and though it gives me no pleasure you know what I must do.

I said this not long after the game but it bears repeating for the audience: despite this being the worst game of 40k I’ve played in a long, long while, it was probably the best game of 40k that I’ve played in recent memory. We didn’t have anything that we were preparing for, there were no stakes, and we each gave up control of the idea of building a good list. It was absolutely freeing to just be Bad at this. There’s probably some weird psychosexual lesson to learn there but as always I steadfastly refuse to learn lessons.

CHRIS: Learning is for winners, something neither of us will ever be. I agree that it was nice that there were no stakes and we could blame any terrible play on the utter dreck that we were forced to play with. But the armies weren’t quite bad enough to be stupid-fun, as we were limited by our actual model collections and neither of us is broken enough to buy 50 Drones or 87 Spores or any amount of Dark Angels. To be honest it felt a lot like back in my Warmachine days when I played Skorne – everything was very solidly, frustratingly meh and the sum of the parts was somehow less than the whole (thus the term “Skornergy”). I feel like we can be worse than this. But it was a lot of fun to see how frustrated you were with the Infiltrators and to have my last best hope be a Bladeguard Ancient beating dudes to death with his standard. Maybe I need to start trawling eBay at 3 AM looking for absolute garbage units at fire sale prices. Or just wait for a new edition when all my stuff is garbage and Assault Squads, Servitors, and Storm Speeders are the new hotness.

Okay I lied about being gracious and polite.

Next Time: See You Later, Space Barbie

Season Three is done, although feel free to put a Barry Bonds sized asterisk next to the word “done.” We haven’t played the Brodown, but we will at some point when logistics make that feasible. It’s entirely possible that this may occur during, or perhaps even after Season Four. For now, though, we return to our dreamless slumber and await the time when the stars will come, well, not so much right as come horribly fucked up, and we awaken to inflict our increasingly-diminishing returns brand of “humor” upon you all.

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