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 and – after only three games – building an army of Bostonian Orks, kehd. The Sickness is in him.
The younger brother, now adrift in a strange and foreign land painted in the myriad hues of nostalgia (but mostly black).
CHRIS: Welcome back again folks! I hope you’re ready for another dose of our particular nonsense. We’ve outlined our bad decisions in the past two installments, but now it’s time to turn those theoreticals into practicals!
We’ve “harangued” some “friends” into doing this “Crusade” with us, so it’s not just Drew and I going back and forth. Four players will give it a bit of variety and make for a much more interesting column for you, dear reader, as we get a mix of factions and levels of experience with the game. And for us it means we get to interact with people outside our gene pool and/or spouses, which is an incredible relief seriously you have no goddamn idea.
DREW: Our lovely and talented partners in this escapade are Allan, whom I have known for decades (!!) and who lives close enough that I could hit his patio door with a decent Nerf gun, and Josh, who was responsible for getting Chris into minis gaming in the first place so this is his penance. Allan is bringing his Salamanders and Josh is bringing his ‘Crons. If that mix seems familiar, it’s almost like I mentioned them specifically last time like an incredibly low-rent Nostradamus. I’m going to say Nostradumbass before Chris does.
CHRIS: Nostradu… dammit! Next time, gadget, next time. Step One is to gather our forces and set up our starting Order of Battle. As we noted last time, that starts out as a 50 PL force that we will draw our armies for individual games from. On top of that 50 PL we also get five Requisition Points that we can use to increase the available Supply Limit/Power Level, make existing units bigger, introduce new units that have upgrade stratagems, or buy Traits and Relics for our warlord.
I looked over the pile of Orks I’ve acquired and threw it all into the old List Builder. And then I came to an important realization: bunches of Boyz with all their S4 AP0 D1 attacks are going to bounce off anything with armor like mosquitos off a freight train. Let me just check my notes on the armies I’ll be up against – hm, okay, yeah, I’m fucked. Sure I can be the Great Green Speedbump that my better armed and armored enemies will have to chew through but I’m not sure they’ll notice as they roll over my 6+ Saves. Maybe I should have found a softer, squishier corner of the galaxy to invade. Where do you keep your pre-schools? We’ll start there.
DREW: Jesus! Slow your roll there, Anakin.
CHRIS: Yeah, the Goonhammer editors are telling me that mass infanticide is not something we should be encouraging or advocating, so back to the list builder I go, looking for anything with a little more oomph than the classic slugga/choppa combo. I added a couple rokkit launchers into the sea of Boyz – they won’t hit anything but I can pretend they’ll help. I also have some Buggies and Warbikes from Speed Freeks, and at least the Shokkjump Dragsta has some punch, the Boomdakka Snazzwagon less so but has the advantage of already being painted. Those and a unit of Bikes to get across the board fast and cause problems while my Boyz Trukk around and grab objectives, okay good.
And this is where I had my second realization. We’re starting with 50 PL OoBs and only playing four games. We’re not going to be getting up to 2000 point games, most likely sticking with Incursion level. Which means 44”x30” boards, so loading up on Buggies and Bikes really doesn’t make a ton of sense. Nor does pouring points into a Trukk or Battlewagon. I can waddle across a board that small just fine, thank you, maybe making better use of less expensive Kommandos or Stormboyz to get into interesting places.
All of which still means I need something with both some offensive power and maybe some durability to sit on objectives. Back to the list builder, crunching numbers again, realizing I’m probably going to need to buy something to fill in that gap, and a golden shining light fell on maybe my favorite Ork unit – Mega Nobz! I like big tanky things and I cannot lie. Man-o-Wars were my favorite unit in Khador when I played Warmachine (and they were terrible, which only made me love them more). So it stands to reason that Nobz in Ripley’s cargo loader would be right in my wheelhouse.
(We’ll skip over my third realization, where one box of Mega Nobz plus the stuff Josh wanted was about $5 short of getting me to the discount tier from my favorite online retailer so I had to order two boxes. As has been well established in this column and in my personal life, bad decisions are kind of a specialty of mine.)
DREW: Wow, you sure put a lot of thought into that. I’m genuinely impressed.
CHRIS: it’s almost like I have a problem or something.
DREW: Oh, no, you got a lot of problems if that preschool thing is anything to go by. Anyway, I don’t know Josh’s skelebot situation but I know Allan has a deep bench of Salamanders to pull from and he’s pretty canny about the higher levels of the game. It’s clear that a good chunk of this campaign is going to be decided by careful planning, consideration, and selection of units at this stage since we won’t get to a very large Supply Limit and our games are going to be equally small so all units in a match will matter a lot.
Anyway, my force is Start Collecting: Chaos Space Marines. Nothing else, done.
Okay, fiiiiiine. I’ll put some other things into it. I finished my flying Sorcerer conversion so I’ll drop that in there, and I’ll toss some Raptors in as well. Given the board size you mentioned I’m pretty sure that this will mean some first turn charges which may not be the best solution but I don’t remember at any point saying I was good at this game.
CHRIS: I have to say realizing how small the board will be has me thinking about Goffs instead of Deathskulls. Plus when I lose I can blame it on a crappy Kultur.
DREW: I’ll just blame it on Chaos Marines still being 1 wound smallbois. GW, GW, lama sabachtani?
Before we go into detail about the structure of the campaign and the individual Orders of Battle, we need to jump in the wayback machine all the way to last column where you also uttered prophecy: “And some story bits will undoubtedly emerge during play.” You couldn’t have known at the time how true that was, because Allan sent me his list and then pointed out something I hadn’t noticed at first: his Primaris Apothecary is literally his character from the Wrath and Glory RPG campaign set in the Imperium Nihilus that I ran over the last few years.
This changes everything. Suddenly the lackluster “idk, bad things maybe” setup we half-assed in the last column is gone and I know exactly what this campaign is all about. Without getting too “tell me about your character,” part of the campaign involved finding an ancient Necron laboratory/prison from the War in Heaven which held something that looked a hell of a lot like a Krork or a Primork. Everybody and their mother in the local Imperium got involved in a slapping match to either control this thing, prevent someone else from controlling it, or (try to) kill it. It’s not a big leap of logic to say that between the factions involved in Keystone Kopping it up in the area, someone – maybe everyone – screwed up hard.
So here’s where things stand. Apothecary Val’kyr returns to the Vordanis system with an expeditionary force in search of ancient artifacts and sleeping threats, only to find that the warring factions have left the system a smoking ruin. (It’s odd how often that happens when the Marines Malevolent show up.) The Necrons showed up because they got a signal about this facility being breached and last I checked their progress reports said they Need Improvement in both “sharing their toys” and “playing well with others.” Abaddon sent the Black Legion here since his boner for weird blackstone constructs is only eclipsed by the Mechanicus roboner for that same stuff. The Orks heard the call of the Krork as it slipped out of stasis for a moment, and in typical Ork fashion they don’t know who they are, they don’t know why they’re here, all they know is they must Waaagh!
CHRIS: Very cool. It gives us a framework without being overbearing on the details and it’s a solid hook for all the factions involved. I can’t wait to rescue Primork Whitey Bulger from stasis!
DREW: He rolls up in a Trukk, hands you a stack of teef and tells you to get the fuck out of your hab because it’s his now, then gives your juve a shoota to play with. Quality dude. As you mentioned before, this is going to be a four-battle Crusade campaign, with each matchup increasing in complexity as follows:
Round One: Random Mission. We’re going to simply roll a random mission from the core book for each pairing. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. This round will be Drew versus Allan, Chris versus Josh. Side note, we’re going to be quaransponsible about this, don’t fucking @ us.
Round Two: Pre-selected Mission. You and me, baby! We’ll pick a specific mission and play that out. Allan and Josh don’t really have a good way to play against each other so we’ll throw them an equal amount of XP and RP after this one for use in the third battle.
Round Three: Random Mission, House Rules, same matchups as Battle 1. If we were doing a longer campaign or one with more people I might add in something like the investigation points system from Beyond the Veil, where our forces slowly piece together the location of Ork Chungus. Maybe we could think about that if we expand this out to a bigger campaign after the world becomes inhabitable again but that time ain’t now. Instead, we’ll add in one benefit and one drawback to the match, carefully considered to apply regardless of army.
Round Four: Custom Mission. Yeah, you heard right. The guys who barely understand the game will make their own mission. I’m sure it’ll be fine. This’ll be me and you again and I swear to Zod if you break out some surprise Malört again I’m leaving as soon as I arrive.
CHRIS: Don’t threaten me with a good time. All that sounds solid. We’ll figure something for Allan and Josh, maybe they play against each of us but dressed up as them. Or wearing their faces! Or maybe we have them write up an army list and I proxy Allan’s army against Josh while you proxy Josh’s against Allan. Comedy antics would certainly ensue!
DREW: Hold up, faces? What?
CHRIS: Don’t worry about it.
DREW: I feel like we’ve talked enough, so let’s get down to what everyone always wants to see: giant content dumps of lists!
ALLAN: Val’kyr returns to Nocturne after escaping Imperium Nihilus and reports everything that happened, using suit data as corroboration. He expects some form of censure for the compromises (allying with the Aeldari) and the crimes (murdering an Inquisitor and his entourage – although he feels no guilt or regret over that one).
His brander priest is about to administer brands of shame (that he chose, before the Chapter had even made final judgment) when Lt. Dra’kar, his old friend from before the Great Rift who Val’kyr performed the surgeries to cross the Rubicon Primaris, barges in enthusiastically and tells Val’kyr that the Forgefather believes some of the things Val’kyr saw correspond with the Tome of Fire! The next thing he knows, he’s now part of Vulkan He’stan’s quest back into Imperium Nihilus, all considerations of censure wiped clean. So yeah, he’s kind of grumpy.
DREW: Right out of the gate I see a big, bold choice and I am here for it. Named characters can’t gain XP and can’t get Battle Honours, but since this is a short campaign that’s probably fine. It also locks him out of taking the Anvil of Strength Warlord Trait on anyone else in the Order of Battle, which might be more awkward. That narrative shift by bringing Vulkan Jr. also adds a lot of flavor. He’s looking for the clues that lead to the Artefacts of Vulkan ostensibly so they can bring back their Primarch, but looking at the track record there’s a pretty good chance He’stan duct tapes whatever they find on his own armor.
The Forgefather Brings Light Into Nihilus
Adeptus Astartes – Salamanders, PL 47
+ HQ +
N’Varr Dra’kar – Primaris Lieutenant: Master-crafted power sword (PL 4)
Vulkan He’stan: Anvil of Strength, Gauntlet of the Forge, Spear of Vulkan (PL 7)
+ Troops +
Intercessor Squad Bandi’sha – Assault Intercessor Squad (5): Heavy bolt pistols, chainswords, Assault Intercessor Sergeant with hand flamer and thunder hammer (PL 5)
Intercessor Squad Ur’Venn – Intercessor Squad (5): Bolt rifles, Astartes grenade launcher, Intercessor Sergeant with chainsword, plasma pistol (PL 5)
+ Elites +
Amann Val’kyr – Primaris Apothecary (PL 4)
Honored Brother Felk’ohn – Redemptor Dreadnought: Fragstorm grenade launchers, heavy flamer, heavy onslaught gatling cannon (PL 9)
+ Fast Attack +
Outrider Squad T’Kell – Outrider Squad (3) (PL 6)
+ Heavy Support +
Eradicator Squad Iegan – Eradicator Squad (3): Melta rifles (PL 7)
DREW: My concept for this force is that they really epitomize the hodge-podge nature of the Black Legion. Sure, there are some old-school Sons of Horus who just stayed on through yet another change of name and palette, but a lot of these Traitors are refugees from other warbands, Legions, or even Chapters. To that end I decided to give many of them a splash of color and their old army symbol, just like the Deathwatch. I know that in theory Abaddon said that no one was supposed to keep their old heraldry and everyone repaints everything black for solidarity, but Abbie, baby, that’s booooooooring. These may be a bunch of dumb assholes but they’re not dull assholes.
Also, I lied earlier in the column about my force being just the box and some Raptors: I converted up a flying Chaos Lord with claws and so I’ll be putting him in instead of my Master of Possession. He came in a little over budget so I used the Increase Supply Limit Requisition to squeeze him in, as well as the Relic and Warlord Trait Requisitions because I don’t know better than to put all my eggs in one basket. To be fair, it’s a basket that’ll smash the absolute hell out of just about any infantry unit on the board if it starts within about two feet of the unit.
The Bloodied Outcasts
Heretic Astartes, Black Legion, PL 51
Requisitions spent: Warlord Trait, Relic, Supply Limit
+ HQ +
Valac Oathbreaker – Chaos Lord: Black-clad Brute, jump pack, 2 lightning claws, Mark of Khorne, Talisman of Burning Blood (PL 7, 2 Crusade points)
Kaothol Naxos – Sorcerer: Force axe, jump pack, no Chaos Mark, Prescience, Warptime (PL 6)
+ Troops +
Adharak’s Reavers – Chaos Space Marines (5): Bolt pistols and chainswords, plasma gun, Mark of Khorne, Aspiring Champion with chainaxe, plasma pistol, Icon of Wrath (PL 4)
Shame’s Blade – Chaos Space Marines (5): Boltguns, autocannon, no Chaos Mark, Aspiring Champion with chainsword and bolt pistol (PL 4)
+ Elites +
Berek the Headsman and Darad Iagath, the Eight-Blessed – Greater Possessed (2): Mark of Khorne (PL 8)
+ Fast Attack +
The Forgotten – Raptors (5): Bolt pistols and chainswords, Mark of Khorne, Raptor Champion with plasma pistol, lighting claw, Icon of Wrath (PL 5)
+ Heavy Support +
Panoply of Pleasure – Obliterators (2): Mark of Slaanesh (PL 10)
Scyzhar the Malefic – Venomcrawler: no Chaos Mark (PL 7)
CHRIS: I blathered on about my reasoning for taking what I have above. In-game, we were just another waaagh out of Bawston. This warband is doing what all warbands do: living their best life and being the only people having fun in the 40Kverse, which in this case means beating people to death and taking their stuff. And enjoying a refreshing iced Dunkins on a cold winter day while they do it. When their weirdboy heard a brief yet powerful whisper through the immaterium: “Yaaankeeeees suuuuuuuck!” Knowing that if they heard it other would too, Braydeez Nutz packed up and headed to the Vordanis system as fast as their stubby little green legs would carry them.
(and in typical Chris fashion, I changed this list seven times while writing it up here!)
Orks – Deathskulls, PL 50
Requisitions spent: Warlord Trait, Relic, Specialist Reinforcements (3)
+ HQ +
Banga Yuey – Warboss: Kombi-weapon with rokkit launcha, Da Killa Klaw, Brutal but Kunnin (PL 4, 2 Crusade points)
Keytaah Beah – Weirdboy: Da Jump, Warpath, Warphead (PL 4, 1 Crusade Point)
Klak – Big Mek W/ Kustom Force Field (PL 4)
+ Troops +
Reveah Raidas – Boyz (20): Sluggas, choppas, rokkit launcha, tankbusta bombs, ‘Ard Boyz (PL 8, 1 Crusade Point)
Allston Ratz– Boyz (20): Sluggas, choppas, rokkit launcha, tankbusta bombs, ‘Ard Boyz (PL 8, 1 Crusade Point)
Framinghammas – Boyz (10): Shootas, rokkit launcha, tankbusta bomb (PL 4)
+ Elites +
Lucky’s Krew – Meganobz (3): Killsaws (PL 6)
The Morky Morky Waaaghtones – Tankbustas (5): Rokkit launchas (PL4)
+ Fast Attack +
Roadrunna – Boomdakka Snazzwagon (1) (PL 5)
+ Heavy Support +
Ol’ Ironsidez – Mek Gunz (1): Smasha gun (PL3)
JOSH: My Necrons last made an appearance way back in 5th edition. After going 0-5-1 they retired to the back of the closet for the next eleven years before making their Resurrection Protocol roll for 9th edition. Sporting a new look with the Indomitus box set, this rag-tag collection of odds and ends seeks redemption, vengeance, and hopefully fewer 1’s.
Necrons – Mephrit
Requisitions spent: Warlord Trait, Relic (2), Fresh Recruits (2)
+ HQ +
Overlord: Orb of Eternity, Resurrection Orb, staff of light, Thrall of the Silent King (PL 6, 2 Crusade Points)
Royal Warden: Conduit of stars (PL 4, 1 Crusade Point)
Technomancer: Canoptek cloak (PL 4)
+ Troops +
Immortals (5): Gauss blasters (PL 4)
Immortals (5): Tesla carbines (PL 4)
Necron Warriors (10): Gauss reapers (PL 6)
Necron Warriors (10): Gauss flayers (PL 6)
+ Elites +
Canoptek Spyder: Particle beamers (PL 4)
Cryptothralls (2) (PL 2)
Skorpekh Destroyers (3): Hyperphase threshers, hyperphase reap-blade (PL 5)
Triarch Stalker: Twin heavy gauss cannon (PL 7)
+ Fast Attack +
Canoptek Scarab Swarms (5) (PL 4)
Tomb Blades (3): Gauss blasters (PL 4)
DREW: So there you have it folks. Four lists, alike in dignity, in fair Vordanis where we make our scene. Will one of us triumph? Statistically it has to happen, but if our nation has taught is anything, it’s that four middle age white guys will damn well find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Leave your feedback in the comments here and/or on Facebook, and place your bets on who will come out ahead, who will be left in the dust, and whether Chris’s clearly degrading mental health is the result of a year of pandemic isolation or a year of working with me to make this dumb bullshit.
Next Time: We Made ‘Em Kiss
We’ll see you next time and talk about Round One and its
tragic worthwhile existent results.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.