Battle Bros: Season Two, Chapter I: Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

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 in season one here.

Meet the Battle Bros


The older of the two brothers, but new to the game. Learning to play Iron Hands. The Sickness is in him.


The younger brother, now adrift in a strange and foreign land.

DREW: You all thought you were safe from more of this stupid column? Fools! Well… okay, to be honest, so did I. “The column has run its course,” I thought, “no more yammering on about Space Jam or weird 70s Muppet Show acts in an attempt to dunk on Chris publicly. I don’t have to show my ass about my rules knowledge anymore and we don’t have to fill the page with pictures of Spider-Man his cat!”

And then I got owned. Horribly, ruthlessly owned.

CHRIS: There’s very little I love more in this world than you getting owned. I’m over here singing “Tell me more, tell me more” like I’m Olivia Newton-Goddamn-John. Just in case anyone had forgotten I’m now within my fifth decade in this festering hellworld. 

DREW: That doesn’t make me John Travolta, does it? I object to that on several deeply important levels but if that means we fly off in a car at the end of this season then I guess I can be Xenu’s ride or die.

Some backstory: We were both part of a Secret Santa that is loosely affiliated with Goonhammer. If you listen to the 40k Badcast, it’s the same one that Dan and Campbell are in. This was my first year participating and in my setup card for it I mentioned that I was “Chaos-curious.” I didn’t really know what to expect – I honestly figured that didn’t leave much out there and I haven’t really talked much about my Chaos army from back in the day, but just after Thanksgiving I got the answer:

A picture of a Discord conversation
what did you do to me, Discord user tasty_food

So I guess I have a fourth army now! I immediately went to the FLGS and picked up a Daemon Prince to round it out, and while I was there I believe you were looking for something as well, no?

CHRIS: Yeah, I find myself drawing dangerously close to the end of my Iron Hands queue. In fact I only have four models remaining to paint at the time of this writing (Indomitus Chaplain, Chaplain Dreadnought, and two Centurions, which apparently only exist in 9th to make Reivers look okay in comparison). That’s not my entire queue by any means – I have a handful of Titanicus stompy rabbits, a few Star Wars Legion solos, a pile of Necromunda musclebois that’s kind of embarrassing for a game I’ve never played, and a bunch of Guild Ball I want to finish out. Shut up, it was a really good game.

I’d started looking at the various Goonhammer Ork articles, and my fate was sealed. As I said way back in Season 1 Chapter 2 I love the hell out of the dumb Ork aesthetic and melee is my preferred combat style. As much as I love my Iron Hands I think I picked the wrong chapter for me. I should have gone with Blood Angels or Black Templars or something more choppy/stabby. Not Space Wolves though. Despite all impressions I do have some dignity. Hilariously I had picked Iron Hands mainly because I had a bunch of models already painted up from Kill Team and I think I used four of them in my 40k army. Well, I’m not going to repaint them now, may as well start something new! 

So yeah, orks. With a grand total of 2.5 games of 40k under my belt, I’m looking at a second army. I really fucking hate being me sometimes.

DREW: I do want to clarify: as much as I might talk about getting owned by my Secret Santa, I absolutely fucking love it. I had a Black Legion army back in edition 3/3.5 in my college days, and though I was a lazy bastard who thought black primer was okay for the main color and I never once won a game I have a lot of fond memories of that time. Chaos was absurdly customizable and had a lot of really flavorful (and often absolutely bullshit) abilities compared to the vanilla Marines rules, plus I got to go hogwild with creating funky colors for the Possessed when I really should have been going to class.

After the initial shock settled, I was faced with a huge choice and an accompanying amount of analysis paralysis: what should these become? Not just what Legion Traits do I use, but how do I paint them? I thought briefly about painting them up as My Original Warband Do Not Steal and just running whatever Traits seemed appropriate, but I’ve basically already done that with both my Tyranids and my loyalist Marines. Alpha Legion and Iron Warriors didn’t fit well to me, as this box made heavy use of daemon possession and that just didn’t mesh with my vision of those Legions as disdainful of the powers of the Warp; Night Lords were out because I love their idiot wingaling helmets but don’t want to source a billion of them or paint lightning. Once I dismissed the World Eaters for requiring cult models that are old enough to drink and Emperor’s Children for not really having models at all, it came down to three choices:

1. Creations of Bile: I’ll admit to being easily influenced by whatever I’ve read recently. After finishing ADB’s Night Lords trilogy, I made a Night Lords kill team that borrowed heavily from their scavenger aesthetic. Similarly, I finished the Bile series not too long ago and the new Creations of Bile army seemed rad as hell. The downside, of course, is that every army requires Bile which limits composition somewhat. They also don’t have a unified color scheme, which for some people wouldn’t be a turnoff but I like to have a common element.

CHRIS: I haven’t read any of the Bile stuff, so while I dig the ethically challenged mad scientist vibe I have to agree. Might make for some interesting conversions as you could go all Island of Doctor Moreau and depict Val Kilmer’s transformation into Marlon Brando. But too haphazard.

DREW: I want my legions of unbridled chaos to have some underpinning order, damn it. Moving on:

2. Black Legion: This was my second army back in the day. I couldn’t begin to tell you what I had aside from some Possessed and a flying Sorcerer Lord with master-crafted lightning claws who I kept throwing as quickly as possible into the enemy without any support whatsoever. I told you I didn’t win a single game. I had my fun in the conversions/kitbashes and the weird/gross colors that I improvised for the Possessed, and part of me kind of wants to do that again. That said, I already did a primarily black force with Deathwatch and I haven’t even really begun to take them out for a spin.

CHRIS: Having to do a second army in the same color palette is a small price to pay for getting to use Abaddon. That model absolutely fucks. Although all I know about Black Legion, besides being a great My Chemical Romance song, is that Abaddon said “that Horus was a total loser, I’m gonna make my own legion, with blackjack and hookers!” and then proceeded to launch 12 successive failed crusades before maybe kind of winning one probably by accident. And that 1-13 standing is about right with your track record in the game, so this is a good fit.

DREW: Don’t forget retroactively declaring that actually, you won the first twelve too because of perfectly valid reasons that you’ve just thought of. Next up:

3. Word Bearers: This box is practically made for these guys! It’s got daemon engines, weird possessed dudes of multiple types, and a psyker that’s laser-focused on supporting daemons like the Greater Possessed, Obliterators, and a Venomcrawler. Plus I haven’t done red as a primary color for anything and that would — wait a second. Who are the most famous Word Bearers? Lorgar and Erebus, you say? Legio XVII, I’m afraid I cannot play you. My doctor told me I am not allowed to be a Word Bearers Guy.

Do not try to score obscura by telling the Medicae you have glaucoma

CHRIS: There’s not a lot of room for my opinion of you to go down but if you’d chosen Word Bearers OR started taking medical advice from Greg somehow I’d have found a way.

DREW: Come for the poorly thought out 40k opinions, stay for the familial love. Anyway, good news, Black Legion: nostalgia wins! I’ve already bought that Daemon Prince and eBayed up another Master of Possession and bits to make a flying Chaos Sorcerer, so I guess I’m fully on the path to my old bullshit. Enough about me, though, fucko: let’s talk about you. You know what you did.

CHRIS: In my defense, I hemmed and hawed for almost a full month this time. The problem is that I was, once again, close to being done. I was going into 2021 with a very reasonably sized unpainted list, I could have an empty bench by the end of the year. Of course, nature abhors an empty painting queue and I’m not quite dumb enough to think that would actually happen. But a hordes army? I looked at an Ork list from a recent Competitive Innovations column, saw one with 150 Boyz, and promptly shat myself in terror. What the hell was I thinking? I should look at something at least plausibly attainable, like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon or developing a sense of self-worth. Getting elbow deep into Orks is exactly the opposite of “being done.”  It is a bridge too far!

DREW: He’s beating around the bush. He sent me this email, with the accompanying caption as its text.


CHRIS: So yeah, I bought Ghazghkull Thraka and a box of Boyz today. I like my local store a lot and I want them to stay afloat. And if I have to buy into a second army to make that happen, by God that’s what I’ll do. 

I’ll also note that this is at least 35% SRM’s fault, because we were bantering Boston-based Ork themes back and forth; the buggy and bikers I have from the Speed Freeks game are decked out in Boston sports attire and throwing steaming hot cups of Dunkin’ in place of burna bottles. Can I extend that weapons grade idiocy to an entire army? I guess we’ll find out together, dear reader.

Braydeez Nutz Credit: Head58

DREW: They call the fuel “burnin’ brew,” and it’s about the same temperature as a black coffee from Dunkin’. 

I think you’re onto something here, though – Boston and Orks go together like Moxie and Malört. Language that’s incomprehensible gibberish to everyone else, complete inability to drive like a normal person, and a staggering amount of provincial arrogance – hell, the only difference between these two cultures is that Orks are probably a little less racist.

Plus, as two lifelong New Englanders, we’ve seen our sports fans. We know that they’re basically one coat of green paint away from having to check on the Mob Rule table. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a super big fan, either. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched the Super Bowl in February 2002 with a bunch of other 40k nerds in a college dorm basement and we screamed so loud at that TV that we damn near started a Waaagh even if it was just against the annoyed dude from one floor up who was trying to sleep.

The most important point is staring us right in the face, though. Orks seem incapable of ending a word on an “r” sound, and instead they just talk louder to cover up for it. There’s no such thing as a “Burner” Boy, they don’t fly in “bombers”, and they definitely can’t “park their trukks in Harvard Yard”.

CHRIS: For your information we New Englanders use every part of the phoneme.  We save those “r”s and drop them in at the end of words like “sofa” or “pajama.” But otherwise spot on. Sure, some Orks may be all “ello, guvnah” and “wots all this then” and “chicken and broccoli” but Orks is from all over, so why can’t some sound like Ben and Matty? 

DREW: The only flaw in the plan is that I don’t think Orks know what apples are. Aside from that, it’s a perfect plan and nothing could go wrong.


Next Time: Building Armies and the Crusade Begins

Next time around, we’ll talk about building out these armies – and starting our Crusade. Until then stay well, all twelve of you!


Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at