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, and oh my god how do later batches of that black color not match the earlier bottle?!).
The true veteran who has been in the game longer than either of these chucklefucks and who casually dunks on either of their painting skills in his sleep. They’re not bitter.
Long time 40k sideliner. Dabbled in 5th edition, now back thanks to the pandemic to give it another go. Entering his third decade of miniature gaming; if you cannot die until you paint all your miniatures he will still be painting at the heat death of the universe.
CHRIS: Welcome back again dear reader(s)! We’ve got another exciting and humiliating set of battle reports lined up for you! This week I faced off against Josh’s Necrons again, and Drew took on Allan’s Salamanders once more. This was a step-up week and we jumped from 25 PL to 50, and thus to Incursion missions.
DREW: As we mentioned last time, we wanted to implement a special rule for this game. After some discussion, we both agreed that there wasn’t going to be any particular set of penalty conditions that would affect all sides equally, and also penalties are boring. Instead, we decided to go with something a little more active, something each side could decide to use and which tied into the narrative of the campaign a bit more.
At this stage in the campaign, all the parties involved have made their way to Vordanis Minor, the center of the absolute fuckstorm of betrayals and warfare that ripped this system apart. Formerly a Feudal World which served as a recruitment world for a Dark Angels successor, Vordanis Minor is ringed with a dazzling array of satellites from which the Planetary Governor and the Astartes could monitor the surface, and with the former owners now smeared against the walls and floors this array is now up for grabs. Each faction will get one free use of the Orbital Bombardment stratagem as a result of their forces in the void jockeying for control of the various missile clusters, rail cannons, and hypersonic death ray lasers aboard these satellites. The actual mission, of course, will still be randomized, so we have no way of planning ahead as to how to best use these.
CHRIS: And guess what? Josh and I both completely forgot to use the Orbital Bombardment strat, despite the fact that we talked right before the game about how it would be cool. I was too busy watching my beautiful green boys reenact the Battle of Cannae (which side? Read on…), I don’t know what his excuse was.
After our last game, Josh increased his unit of Warriors from 10 to 20, and his Skorpekh Destroyers from 3 to 6. I really wanted to kick one of my units of Boyz up to a full 30 models, but I only had 1 RP to work with, and I needed both Fresh Recruits to add new models and to increase my Supply Limit. so I dropped my Big Mek with Kustom Force Field from my Order of Battle, freeing up 4 PL and used the RP for the Recruits requisition. I figured my Deathskulls already had a 6++ invuln save, and my two big blobs of Boyz were ‘Ardboys so had a 5+ normal save, so I probably didn’t need the Kustom Force Field as much.
See that, gentle reader? That’s called hubris. Remember it for later.
DREW: “It’ll be fine, I got this” is a magical phrase on par with “as above, so below” and is crucial to the summoning of consequences. You might as well have said “hold my beer.”
On my end, I just kept recruiting people. It turns out that I don’t really have a lot of upgrades that I might want to throw on units, so more is better. I grabbed another unit of Khornate Raptors, dubbed the Tormentors, who are equipped identically to the existing and shamed Raptors known as the Forgotten. Allan had some Battle Honours that got added on after last game but not much else in terms of RP spending.
CHRIS: Josh and I got together (no ham this time, sadly) on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for some Deckhammer. Josh rolled the mission and came up with Behind Enemy Lines. I’d read up on the Crusade Incursion missions and knew that this mission punished slow moving armies, so my stubby little Ork legs were not thrilled but there you go. The mission revolves around each army trying to get to the opponent’s side of the board and take an Exfiltration action to be removed from the game. Points are scored based on the PL of units that you exfiltrate and also for any rounds you prevent your opponent from leaving the board. And also stuff like Da Jump doesn’t work. Lovely.
Deployment zones are 10” back from the center line on each side. Incursion still uses a 44”x30” board so that leaves 5” of deployment zone. Not great for cramming in a horde army! But at least I had a shorter distance to go to get to the other side of the board.
We selected our Agendas – getting two at Incursion level, and this was hard because a) there are no objectives, b) you don’t really hang around in the enemy deployment zone at the end of the game, and c) since it takes an action to exfiltrate off the board and you only have five rounds you probably don’t want anything that makes you take an action rather than Keep Moving and Kill Stuff. Josh and I both picked Kingslayer. He picked Cull the Hordes which, yep, I certainly qualify. I took Scry Battle Plans which turned out to not be a great call but I was hoping to get my Weirdboy, Keytar Bear, some juicy XPs.
Chris's List - Click to Expand
+ 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)
+ Troops +
Reveah Raidas – Boyz (20): 19 w/Sluggas and choppas, 1 w/rokkit launcha, 2 tankbusta bombs, ‘Ard Boyz (PL 8, 1 Crusade Point)
Allston Ratz– Boyz (30): 27 w/Sluggas and choppas, 3 w/rokkit launcha, 3 tankbusta bombs, ‘Ard Boyz (PL 8, 1 Crusade Point)
Framinghammas – Boyz (10): 9 w/Shootas, 1 w/rokkit launcha, 1 tankbusta bomb (PL 4)
+ Elites +
Lucky’s Krew – Meganobz (3): Double 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's List - Click to Expand
+ 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)
+ Troops +
Immortals (5): Gauss blasters (PL 4)
Necron Warriors (20): Gauss reapers (PL 12)
+ Elites +
Canoptek Spyder: Particle beamers (PL 4)
Skorpekh Destroyers (6): Hyperphase threshers, hyperphase reap-blade (PL 10)
+ Fast Attack +
Canoptek Scarab Swarms (5) (PL 4)
Tomb Blades (3): Gauss blasters (PL 4)
Long and short here, Josh kicked my ass. Things started off poorly when he went first and vaporized an entire unit of my shoota Boyz. But then things got worse when on the bottom of 1 I got greedy and tried a multi-target charge. His Overlord was 8” away, his Warriors were 7”. Not unreasonable, especially with a reroll. And yes, I failed the charge and my beautiful Allston Ratz, my 30 Boy unit, was left standing there with their green dicks swinging in the wind (we have it on the foremost authority that yes, Orks got nards).
We both recognized right there that this was probably game, set, and match. Sure enough at the top of round 2 the Necrons wiped that unit entirely off the board, denying me the opportunity to use Unstoppable Green Tide. Sub-optimal!
DREW: Look at all these tears I weep for you. Truly, yours is the direst of fates. Fucko.
CHRIS: I eagerly await the news of your utter destruction. Also of how badly your game went. Other mistakes included getting my Boomdakka Snazzwagon tied up in melee, but frankly there was nowhere else to go with it. It tied up his Canoptek Spyder for pretty much the whole game but even when it exploded it did very little work. Also my other big blob of Boyz, the Reveah Raidas, were getting torn apart by his Destroyers, and I used Insane Bravery to auto-pass their morale check. Turns out that was the wrong play. There were 11 boyz surviving of the original 20 in that unit. Just over half. Guess what needs a unit to be under half starting strength? Unstoppable Green Tide. If I’d failed the morale check I’d likely have lost a couple models and could have brought the whole blob back in and then charged the Destroyers. As it was they just got slowly chopped to death.
I did manage to get Banga Yuey, my Warboss, up in things and kill his Overlord before he in turn was pulped by Warriors. Keytar Bear got charged by a sole remaining Immortal and Josh’s Royal Warden, but the unlikely melee duel of the Weirdboy and the Warden exchanged blows for two full rounds before the Bear finally triumphed and was subsequently mowed down by those same Warriors.
Lastly it wouldn’t be a battle report without some bitching about dice. Mine were cold. as. Fuck. I think I triggered Dakka Dakka Dakka on maybe three dice all game. And I couldn’t make saves to, well, save my life. The Necrons brought too much firepower and high AP stuff to the dance. You know what would have really helped? A BIG MEK WITH A KUSTOM FORCE FIELD.
DREW: Hold up a second. All your units have an invulnerable save to cover for the fact that most of their armor saves basically represent them wearing tank-tops, flip-flops, and casual racism. Was AP really a factor here?
CHRIS: Only in that it’s a 6++. Would it have made a big difference if I had a 5++ bubble instead? Maybe, don’t know, couldn’t have been worse though. Josh completely tabled me at the top of 5 and won with a decisive 79-20 score (damn you, painting points, denying him the perfect score!). I killed a total of three things – his Overlord, Warden, and Immortals.Josh claimed both his Agendas, and my warboss got Kingslayer but I couldn’t get a second Scry action because my Weirdboy was engaged and then he was dead. Keytar Bear was definitely my MVP for hanging in there as long as he did, but just failed to level up. Also he failed the Out of Action check and now has a Deep Concussion, meaning he can’t use stratagems. I can probably live with that. Banga Yuey earned enough XP to become Blooded and somehow got his hands on a Conversion Field, which will give him a 4++ Invuln save. Woop Woop!
DREW: Excuse me, sir. The Battle Bros column is a Juggalo-free zone. That shit lives in the Badcast five dollar Patreon tier. This has been your first and only warning.
CHRIS: Josh’s Overlord failed his Out of Action check, resulting in Creeping Madness, which would be bad if he had any more games left in this Crusade – he would lose My Will be Done and the ability to issue Command Protocols. But he did get an exciting Dynastic Epithet – Celestial Ruler of the Divine Right, which we agreed sounded completely on point for someone suffering Creeping Madness.
It should be noted that this is the first game Josh has won with Necrons ever after playing them off and on for more than 15 years! I shall endeavor to make it his last!
So there you have it. Narratively my Orks were rushing toward the fallen ancient laboratory while the Necrons were rushing away, and they just steamrolled my beautiful Boyz on their way out. What could be so terrifying in there that caused them to abandon pursuit? Probably nothing to worry about – onward!
DREW: So, your game got decided in the first turn, huh? Amateur. Our game, as near as I can tell, got decided in the pre-game roll-off for Attacker and Defender.
Drew's List - Click to Expand
+ 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 and 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)
+ Fast Attack +
The Forgotten – Raptors (5): Bolt pistols and chainswords, Mark of Khorne, Raptor Champion with plasma pistol and lightning claw, Icon of Wrath, Disgraced (PL 5)
Tormentors – Raptors (5): Bolt pistols and chainswords, Mark of Khorne, Raptor Champion with plasma pistol and lightning claw, Icon of Wrath (PL 5)
+ Heavy Support +
Panoply of Pleasure – Obliterators (2): Mark of Slaanesh, Veteran Warriors (PL 10, 1 Crusade Points)
Ecstasy of Destruction– Havocs (5): Missile launchers, Champion with flamer and chainsword, Mark of Slaanesh (PL 7)
Allan's List - Click to Expand
+ HQ +
N’Varr Dra’kar – Primaris Lieutenant: Patient and Determined, Swift and Agile, Master-crafted power sword (PL 4, 2 Crusade points)
Vulkan He’stan: Anvil of Strength, Gauntlet of the Forge, Spear of Vulkan (PL 7)
+ Troops +
Intercessor Squad Bandi’sha – Assault Intercessor Squad (5): Fleet of Foot, 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: Miraculous Constitution, Custodian of the Future (PL 4, 2 Crusade points)
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: We ended up with The Ritual, which is a mildly complex mission – the Defender scores by having their Warlord hang out in a 6” wide circle on the map to perform a ritual by way of one or two different Actions. The Attacker scores by putting the enemy Warlord in the dirt. Both of them have the Seize Ground objective, which scores from claiming two objective markers and having more objective markers than your opponent. As a further complication, the Defender’s Warlord needs space for the ritual, so you can’t have any terrain or objectives within 6” of the center of the circle.
With that in mind, look at the lists above and think about which one would do well camping a handful of backfield objectives and bubbling up around a central point, and which one would do well to rush that bubble with murderous intent. If you guessed that the army that’s built to rocket, rush, and teleport across the map to take the first opportunity to Clockwork Orange the enemy would be the one to have to turtle up, then you’ve started to get the hang of this column.
That’s not to say that everything hinged on this setup – I screwed up really early on by pizza’ing when I should have french fried.
CHRIS: Are you smelling toast? How many states are there? What the fuck does that even mean?
DREW: This is why people don’t have to ask how old you are. You’re broadcasting that shit like RKO.
The temptation of the Ritual as an easy scoring method was too great. I really should have sent my Lord across with the Raptors and the Sorcerer to play Dr. Astartes Popper, but instead I sat around like a fool.
CHRIS: Ah, doing nothing! A proud family tradition going back generations!
DREW: Allan started off strong by leafblowing Adharak’s Reavers off the board with his Redemptor and using the rest of his units to burst a couple of the Havocs as well as one of the Tormentor Raptors while he advanced up the board with the Outriders and the character conga line. Honestly, that Redemptor had me in flashbacks to Chris’s goddamn horseshit Iron Hands Redemptor that could not die, and so when it was my turn I Deep Struck my Obliterators behind it in the hope that they could strip it down to parts. Hope, friends, is a curse.
I pushed Kaothol, the Forgotten, and remainder of the Tormentors forward to tie up his Outriders in melee. The plan was to get them stuck in melee into Allan’s turn, at which point I would leapfrog onto his backfield Intercessors and spend the rest of the match charging various infantry squads. So when he killed the Tormentors outright during my first turn I wasn’t exactly surprised. It felt familiar, like coming home. Go back and read the last sentence of the previous paragraph.
The second turn went basically according to the numbers. Allan turned his Redemptor around to blast the Obliterators and tied them up in melee when they (to the surprise of all) didn’t instantly evaporate. For their part, the Obliterators did a number on the Redemptor and most importantly kept it from shooting other units for a turn, for which I am eternally grateful.
When I said it went by the numbers, that also means that this is when I made a huge mistake that was really where I lost the game. Having felt foolish keeping a beatstick like Valac Oathbreaker sitting in a killbox, I decided to go for broke and launch him up the board to get stuck in the Outrider/Raptor/Sorcerer mosh pit. He’s incredibly mobile between having a 12” FLY movement and being able to advance and charge in the same turn, so this wasn’t much of an issue. The issue was when the last of the Outriders somehow died to bolt pistol fire from the Raptors, leaving the three units sitting in the middle of nowhere like sitting ducks. This was probably the worst thing that could have happened at that particular time and I spent probably six, maybe seven minutes clutching the sides of my head and discovering fun new combinations of obscenities.
CHRIS: Classic overreaching. Will we ever learn? That question is rhetorical. No, no we won’t. If you’d left Valac back where he was supposed to be, cooling his heels and scoring points, maybe things would have gone right for you, just like if I had charged only one unit and not two. But it’s very Black Legion to say “fuck it, this is boring, I’m gonna go kill something!” so there you go.
DREW: See, look at that, you’re doing all my justification for me so I don’t have to. During my third turn, I decided it was time for Orbital Bombardment, and I had just the place – right next to all his characters. This is when I discovered that despite having written thousands of words on this game, I apparently never learned to read. Did you know that Orbital Bombardment changed in the transition to 8th to 9th? I certainly didn’t, because it had been such a godawful waste of Command Points for so long I never bothered to look at it!
What it used to do, and what my sleep-deprived brain thought it still did, was to instantly drop an explosion on a certain point on the map which had a 50/50 shot at tossing D3 mortal wounds at units in its area. Cut to what it actually does, which is to drop a marker point during your Command Phase which explodes during your next Command Phase, with a +1 to the roll to deal those wounds to units closer to the center of the explosion and bumping the damage up to D6 on a 6+. Though it kind of soured me in the moment, I actually really like this change – it forces your opponent to make decisions about moving away from the explosion, makes the placement of the explosion more important since it gives the center some real teeth, and most importantly it reminds me of playing Starcraft back in college.
The explosion didn’t do much, Valac got erased due to a combination of concentrated fire from the Eradicators and the Redemptor and that goddamn lieutenant showing up in melee again, and after that it kind of became an exercise in mopping up for Allan. Kaothol managed to sneak in a quick bit of murder on N’Varr as revenge for his fallen Chaos Lord but exploded horribly soon thereafter, which worked out really well as you’ll see later. Eventually after Allan forced Shame’s Blade off their objective marker with his Orbital Bombardment, this superstar of an Intercessor Sergeant found himself in a position to do the most 40k thing possible. He could shoot the last of the Chaos Marines, sure – but if he supercharged his plasma pistol he could all but guarantee the kill as long as he didn’t roll a 1 and explode.
Of course he didn’t explode. Why would you think he would? Go back and reread the column from day one.
CHRIS: For us, it totally would have. I didn’t even know those things had a “Not Explode” option!
DREW: Frankly, I don’t know why they bother putting one on. After all was said and done and the game was clearly won by Allan 70 to 40, we simply had to do the post-game paperwork. Valac Oathbreaker earned himself the Chest Wound Battle Scar which I will absolutely remove with Requisition Points since losing a permanent Wound on a model that only has five to begin with is super rough, and the Shame’s Blade unit of Chaos Marines ended up with Battle-Weary, which reduces their ability to both take actions and earn XP. On the flip side, my Agendas were Reaper and Lord of the Warp, so when combined with making Kaothol the Sorcerer my MVP he managed to level up and I also bought him a Conversion Field because it’s way too good. The Raptors unit The Forgotten also leveled up and the random roll gave me… Battle-Tested. Huh. Well, they tried.
On Allan’s side, he gained a truly disturbing amount of XP as ATSKNF procced something like seven times. I know I said it was great last time, but I’m starting to think it might be a little too great; it seems like an Astartes force can really start Katamari-ing XP in a long-term campaign. His MVP was the Redemptor, which makes sense because it put in a severe amount of work hosing bullets into… well, everything really, and. The Redemptor upgraded with Repair Systems which regenerates Wounds, Intercessor Squad Ur’Venn ended up getting Veteran Warriors, and his Apothecary Val’kyr got Master of Physiology which lets him ignore one Out of Action test for his force per game. Not bad, all in all.
CHRIS: And there we have it! We both suck. But which of us sucks harder? The final game of this campaign will tell the tale, and ensure bragging rights until one of you handcuffs themselves to the doors of Goonhammer HQ demanding a Season 3.
But we don’t want to just roll a random mission for such an important game. We’re going to design our own scenario, with
blackjack and hookers deadly traps and bottomless pits. We’ve been game mastering role-playing games since probably before most of you readers were born so we’ll put our best Gygaxian hats on to build up the lost Necron lab/prison/torture facility, and the Primork at the End of the Book.
Next Time: If You’re Such an Expert, Make It Yourself
Can two inept morons design a functional mission between the two of them? Look, it can’t be worse than some of the shit we saw in 7th Edition.
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.