PantsOptional’s Road through Crusade, Part 1: Decisions Were Made

Hello again friends. It’s me, your “favorite” Battle Bro, flying solo in a brand new adventure just for you. Half the Bros, one-quarter the charisma. Let’s start this off right: Do you love Crusade? If the answer is “yes”, then you’ve come to the right place. If it’s “no” then the article title probably should have been your warning on this one but you’re already here so just buckle up. If the answer is “maybe” then as a fellow decision-hater I respect that and you should keep reading.

If by any chance there are some of you out there who are unfamiliar with the concept of Crusade, here’s a quick primer. Crusade is a mode of play for Warhammer 40k that focuses on campaign play with a focus on creating a narrative through play. Your army grows over the course of the campaign and the units gain various drawbacks and benefits, with each faction* getting its own little mini-game that helps tell their story.

*Not applicable for Adeptus Astartes or Necrons, offer valid in 48 states.

Back in early September the first stirrings of a local Crusade campaign started to make their way around the FLGS. I haven’t been playing nearly as much as I’d like lately and this seemed like a great way to kick me out of that rut. Longtime Battle Bros readers will already know three things about my brand:

  • I absolutely love the core concept of Crusade;
  • Hyper-competitive tournament play leaves a bad taste in my mouth; and
  • I’m pretty fucking bad at this game and I do not care.

With all this in mind I was tentatively in and wanted to know more. Early on the campaign runner Vee (whomst I would later discover to be a Goonhammer Patron and a Big Rob Art Appreciator) laid out some ground rules. The campaign was adapted for local use with permission from the Echoes from the Void campaign source material created by Bolters at Dawn, a gaming club in Ohio. In the interest of clarity: they have not sponsored this column in any way, nor should this column be considered an official Goonhammer endorsement, but I will personally say that they are rad so give them some clicks and views why doncha?

Echoes from the Void, 2022 Crusade League, Bolters at Dawn
Look at their banner – smooth, crisp, tasteful, all the things I ain’t. Credit: Bolters at Dawn.

I’ll get into the details in a moment, but one thing that caught my attention and solidified my participation was that we will use Administratum to track and run the campaign. Hell yeah. Having run one incredibly small Crusade campaign I knew much paperwork it entailed. Back in Season Two we used some sort of homemade Excel tracker but it was very much an improvised solution. Administratum is a dedicated Crusade campaign management tool created by our very own Pendulin which should serve to make all of that much easier. I haven’t had much chance to use it before but at this point all we’ve done is sign up and create/import our rosters and already I’m quite happy with it.

Our local permutation of the Echoes of the Void campaign is a five chapter structure in which small teams of players duke it out rather than being a free-for-all. Each chapter has some small form of alteration to the mission set along the lines of bonus objectives that contribute toward your team’s collective score for the end of the chapter along with match victories and painting goals. There’s also a little bit of houseruling to switch to points instead of PL and to incorporate Matched Play dataslate updates like Armour of Contempt or the much-needed shift in last-turn scoring. Finally above and beyond all that each player that has completed the required number of matches for a chapter can play a match of Kill Team for a short-term special bonus like granting one Deep Strike to any unit free of charge.

Some of you reading that last paragraph may be thinking that’s a whole lot of stuff on top of the existing Crusade rules and the faction-based minigames, and you may be right. However, some amount of that is necessary for balance, and the rest of it adds unique flair. If this was a weekend event like the GHO or NOVA it would probably result in some Pepe Silvia style crazed ranting, but spaced out over the course of six months it should work fine. (I say that now. Check back with me in three months when all my models have mutated into Chaos Spawn or received so many Battle Scars and Honours that their datasheets are three pages long.)

With the basics of the campaign in mind, let’s first take a look at what I decided to bring to the table, lay some ground rules for the future, and see the wild shit that everyone else came up with. If you read Season Two of Battle Bros (and if you did, why) you’ll recognize the core of what I’ve laid down: Black Legion Fuckboys are in full effect. Okay, they actually call themselves something else but the concept is easy to grasp – a collection of rejects, renegades, and outcasts from other Warbands/Legions/Chapters. Okay, fine, they’re the space murder version of the Bad News Bears, or the Mighty Ducks, or if you’re me, the Leonardo Leonardo Escort Service.

Black Legion miniatures arrayed
The Bloodied Outcasts, bringing something back. It’s not “sexy” but it’s something.

We start off with some basic troops, a unit of Khornate Legionaries who are ready to party hard and a 10-block of Cultists who are the laziest models I have ever made and painted. I went with the tried-and-true option of “fallen guard” by sticking some headswaps and spiky bits on some Cadian infantry and slopping Contrast over them. Their job is literally to squat on objectives and die, and that’s reflected in the warband lore by them being just a bunch of fed up accountants and patent clerks who got pressed into penal service for trivial crimes but then rebelled because what the hell else would they do. They’re not the cream of the crop, and as implied by the late and beloved Mr. Savage, they will not rise to the top.

I’ll probably stick in more Legionaries at some point but that’s it for Cultists. I have more but they are boring and dumb, and they run contrary to the first rule I’m establishing for this campaign: I am going to make big moves, and to hell with whether or not they’re good ideas. This doctrine is what leads me to put a Helbrute and an Obliterator in this force. Yes, together they’re two models that take up over forty percent of my five hundred point total. Did you have a point? These dudes slap; additionally, a game in which they trip and fall on their asses and either do nothing or explode and take out my army is just as good as if not better than one in which they stomp the opposing force into a soup-like homogenate.

Speaking of dumb moves, I’m backing this all up with a Chaos Termi Sorcerer. Yes, I know the Dark Hereticus spells suck bricks through a straw, but I had just finished the model and I want to play with my new toys, damnit. I’m also not giving him a Mark at all. I would have already but frankly I ran out of points and I’ll probably have to do that with Requisition Points later. This actually works for me, as the idea of the character is a Thousand Sons Sorcerer on the run from his old Legion but of course he can’t escape Big Poppa Pump Tzeentch.

That’s me for now. It’s not a lot of models, which is a little worrisome, but I’m sure others in the campaign clock in around the same count. Let’s take a look at just a few of the lists. I haven’t really peeked at them ahead of time, so at the time of writing I’m discovering them along with you.

Vee – Elucia’s Roughnecks
I wasn’t ever all that great at math but there’s some sort of conversion rate between pictures and words, right? Well how about a picture with words?

A screenshot of Battlescribe showing far too many Conscripts
This may be what madness looks like. Credit: Vee

Jesus take the wheel. A 77 model list and 63 of those are Conscripts. This right here is the spirit of a true poster. Vee saw the assignment, understood it, and went for extra credit by embarking on a hell march of painting. This list might do really well at 500 points; sure, the Conscripts are truly awful as a unit, but it’s going to be hard to make a reasonable dent in those units. The great irony, of course, is that the high model count may be the downfall of this force as placing 77 models in the deployment zone of a 44”x30” map will prove to be “challenging” and “not at all frustrating” and possibly even “oh god why what have I done.”

Derek – Silver Banana Janitorial Services
A promising name, though sadly bereft of chromed-up fruit with mops. Turns out this is a Custodes force, with… nine models? I knew they’d have a low count but that’s worrisome. They got an early game in to start the campaign, and the star of this particular show appears to be the sword-and-board Contemptor-Galactus (I will not change this autocorrect) which has managed to earn itself a 5+ Feel No Pain, an extra Attack, and a reroll on charges. That’s pretty nasty, but again that low model count might be the deciding factor. Others might be scared of this list, but I’m looking forward to the challenge, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Dexion – MurderChicken Warband
Technically the “Bloodmange Kindred” according to the Kroot, but that name makes me feel like I owe about six hundo to the emergency vet, so I’m a stick with the chickens. This right here is what I am talking about. I don’t even know what’s in this army outside of the photo, I just know that every single model in this force is Kroot and even if it can’t technically/legally be Kroot, it’s converted to be Kroot. We got a Kroot Shaper, we got Vespids that I’m pretty sure are Kroot somehow, we got Kroot in Stealth Suits, we got got Kroot hangin’ off the sides of a Piranha pretending to be drones, we even got Kroot riding Great Knarlocs since we’re letting Legends minis in this thing, and… the word Kroot has now lost all meaning to me after writing it so much. You a wild one for this, Dexion.

More Kroot models than is sensible
They shoulda sent a poet. Credit: Dexion

That’s enough for now. We’ll showcase the rest of the teams and armies as the campaign goes on, and explore some of the systems and permutations like the tertiary objectives or the weird little faction minigames like the Ynarri and their Soul Points or the GSC takeover of a world or… whatever Kroot get. I have no clue and I’m pretty sure they don’t either.

Come on back and join us next time. We’ll catch up with the results of Chapter One, and you can see just how badly I screwed up. In the meantime, hit up the comments and talk amongst yourselves. I can’t explicitly endorse widespread betting on how long it will take me to lose a Warlord to Spawndom, but I can’t exactly stop you either. See you then!

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