TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2021, Part 12: Practice, Practice, Practice

Welcome back, Dear Reader, to my ongoing quest to achieve some level of competitive respectability in Warhammer 40,000. Last week I talked about hastily scrambling to build a table mimicking the terrain at the GW US Open events, then getting dumpstered on it by Rob’s Salamanders. The following week I was traveling a bit for work, but I was able to get another practice game in again this past weekend. But before that, I got in a little game against my buddy Chirlin up in New York.

Traveling with minis is always a nerve-wracking exercise. By car, it’s not too bad – just load up a case and drop that bad boy in the trunk and don’t leave it in 100-degree heat. But flying is a different matter altogether. You basically never, ever want to check a back with minis, so that typically means that your carry-on bag will be a minis case. This is fine if you’re going to check the bag with all your clothes and the like, but I’m not checking a bag unless I absolutely have to. It’s not because i don’t trust the airlines – though I don’t – it’s because I want to get my bag out of that overhead compartment and run as fast as I can to the airport exit. I’m not a stand-up-as-soon-as-the-plane-stops kind of asshole, but the moment those wheels hit the tarmac I want to be home. The last thing I want to do is stand around for 30-40 minutes waiting for my bag to get dropped onto the baggage claim conveyor.

I own one of these for when I need to fit the minis I’m traveling with in a backpack.

As a result, I’m always traveling with the bare minimum amount of luggage I can get away with. If I’m going anywhere for fewer than 3 days, I’m traveling with just a backpack. If I’m gonna be gone up to a week and don’t have any washer/dryer, I’ll take my Nike duffel. The only time I’m checking a bag is for trips longer than a week or when I need special clothing or gear, and on more than one occasion I’ve just resolved to buy certain things on arrival.

As you might imagine, this can create some conflicts when I travel with the missus, since she wants “options” and “doesn’t want to wear the same jeans 3-4 days of the trip” or some bullshit. Anything over one day and she wants to check a bag. It’s madness, dear reader.

This is going to be difficult

Game 1: 1,000 Points Against AdMech

For a two-day, three-night trip to NYC, I need just enough clothing to necessitate taking my duffel bag, but not enough to fill it, leaving me with just enough room to try and fit some minis. But they had to fit in the leftover space in my bag. That meant a full minis case wasn’t really an option, so I was basically going to be stuck taking whatever I could fit into my Citadel carrying case (shown above). As it turns out, that was about 1,000 points exactly of Death Guard. So, after arriving in Jersey City on Tuesday night and gorging myself on Chinese food, my buddy Chirlin and I sat down to play an Incursion-sized game of 40k.

My List

A Death Guard Incursion force. Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

+++ Death Guard Patrol Detachment (4 CP, 992 points) +++

Plague Company: The Inexorable

HQ: Lord of Contagion w/Manreaper + Orb of Desiccation, WARLORD: Ferric Blight
HQ: Malignant Plaguecaster, Powers: Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

Troops: Plaguemarines x6, Flail of Corruption
Troops: Plaguemarines x6, Flail of Corruption

EL: Blightlord Terminators x7, Flail of Corruption, Reaper Autocannon, Combi+Bolter + Bubotic Axe, Relic: Plague Skull of Glothila
EL: Foul Blightspawn, Relic: Revolting Stench-Vats, Plaguechosen: Arch-Contaminator
EL: Biologus Putrifier
EL: Tallyman

+++ 992 Points +++

Most of the decisions in this list came down to how many miniatures I could fit in the carrying case I had. Which of course meant that Poxwalkers were out. Deathshroud are more points per model but have big scythes and take up a bunch of space. So blightlords it was, and that meant basically replicating my standard 2k list only without the fire support from drones and crawlers. The same premise is at play here – the blightlords are a large, difficult-to-kill blob that can be a TTL target and will be near-impossible to focus fire off the table at smaller point value games. The Lord of Contagion with the Manreaper has a smaller base and profile than the Dark Imperium one, so he’s in.

Chirlin’s List

+++ Adeptus Mechanicus Battalion Detachment (5 CP, 995 points) +++

Forge World Choice: Forge World: Mars
+ Stratagems + Stratagem: Mechanicus Locum [-1CP]:

HQ: Skitarii Marshal [3 PL, 45pts]: Mechanicus Locum, Warlord Trait (Codex 5): Firepoint Telemetry Cache
HQ: Tech-Priest Manipulus [6 PL, 100pts]: Magi, Magnarail lance, Relic: Raiment of the Technomartyr, Warlord

Troops: Kataphron Destroyers [14 PL, 240pts]
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster
. Kataphron Destroyer: Heavy Grav-Cannon, Phosphor Blaster

Troops: Skitarii Rangers [4 PL, 85pts]: Enhanced Data-Tether
. Ranger Alpha: Galvanic Rifle
. 9x Skitarii Ranger: 9x Galvanic Rifle

Troops: Skitarii Vanguards [4 PL, 85pts]: Enhanced Data-Tether
. 9x Skitarii Vanguard: 9x Radium Carbine
. Vanguard Alpha: Radium Carbine

EL: Sicarian Ruststalkers [4 PL, 85pts]
. Ruststalker Princeps (Razor)
. 4x Sicarian Ruststalker (Razor/Chordclaw): 4x Chordclaw, 4x Transonic Razor

EL: Sicarian Ruststalkers [4 PL, 85pts]
. Ruststalker Princeps (Razor)
. 4x Sicarian Ruststalker (Razor/Chordclaw): 4x Chordclaw, 4x Transonic Razor

HS: Heavy Support + Onager Dunecrawler [6 PL, 125pts]: Broad Spectrum Data-Tether, Cognis Heavy Stubber
. Neutron Laser and Cognis Heavy Stubber: Cognis Heavy Stubber

HS: Skorpius Disintegrator [8 PL, 145pts]: Belleros Energy Cannon

++ Total: [53 PL, 5CP, 995pts] ++

The biggest issue I have to worry about in Chirlin’s army are the Kataphrons. They’re pretty nasty and tough to take down, so I need to be quick about rushing them with the blightlords before they can cause too much damage and use Wrath of Mars to drop a buttload of mortal wounds on me. The Skorpius is also annoying, but the Belleros is mostly going to be weakening my objective holders.

The Mission: Shifting Front (Eternal War)

Something to note: There’s no center table objective on this map; I just didn’t have the map drawn in the backend and I’m not going to for this one-off. There are only the four cardinal objectives. Also the extra rule on this mission is that you only get your battle-forged CP each turn if you control your DZ objective, which is kind of a neat touch.

Secondary Objectives

We’re playing Eternal War, which means different secondary objectives from the comp set. Chirlin doesn’t own a copy of either the 2020 or 2021 GT mission packs and to be honest since we’re playing Incursion it kind of doesn’t matter anyways.

My Secondary Objectives

  • Attrition
  • Slay the Warlord
  • Spread the Sickness

Chirlin’s Secondary Objectives

  • Assassinate
  • Engage on All Fronts
  • Abhor the Witch

Incursion games frequently leave you on sub-max points but I’ve given Chirlin all he needs to get max points on Assassinate, though his remaining options aren’t as good. He takes Engage, hoping to score it with his Sicarans, and Abhor for 5 easy points if he can kill my Plaguecaster. I take Attrition, since here it’s worth 4 juicy points per round, and I’ll settle for Slay since an 8-point warlord bonus is pretty great. Spread is my third option here and I think I can make 6-9 points off it, which in Incursion is pretty good.

Deployment – AdMech have the first turn

I’m going second, but I feel pretty good about this. My plan is to walk the Blightlords up the right side of the table and wipe out the Kataphrons (in the upper-right corner there) as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Plague Marines can hold the other two for as long as possible. Chirlin rolls his army up a big and ends up taking out three terminators.

The Blightlords do their thing

That’s not ideal but it works out as the remaining Blightlords get the blessing of the Putrifier and charge in, wiping out the Kataphrons, then consolidate into the Dunecrawler. Chirlin’s Sicarans come in and charge my Plague Marines on the left side, but only gets 1 kill and the plague marines murder them. Then the second squad of Sicarans charge in and one plague marine survives and does a number on those.

Blightlord cleanup duty

We call it on round 4 when the Blightlords clean out the Skitarii Marshal and the rest of the Vanguard. I score Attrition on rounds 2-5 for 15 points, I’ve got my Slay points, and 6 on Spread. Chirlin gets a big score when my Plaguecaster is caught out of position and he can just blast it with the Skorpius, earning him 8 points, and he scores 4 on Engage, but can’t get any other characters.

Result: 84-42, Victory

A fun game and a good palette cleanser between bigger games. It’s fun to sit down and run through one of these in an hour and not think too much about Stratagems.


Game 2: Tournament Practice vs. Erik’s Deathwatch

After three days in NYC it was back home to Houston and time for the real practice. Another local Houston player I hadn’t gamed against yet, Erik, had asked me about getting in a practice game and I was happy to oblige. Erik’s also planning a trip to Austin in November and running Deathwatch, and while the new book had just hit shelves, he had already put together an army using the new Kill Team Strike Force army of renown rules.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

My List

Before we dive in, we should do a quick recap of my list. This is the same list I’m always bringing, and is the same one I took to New Orleans.

My Death Guard - Click to Expand

+++ Death Guard Battalion Detachment (-3 CP, 2,000 points) +++

Plague Company: The Inexorable
Extra Relic (-1 CP)

Extra WL Trait (-1 CP)

HQ: Death Guard Chaos Lord w/Power Sword, Bolt Pistol, WARLORD: Ferric Blight, RELIC: Plaguebringer
HQ: Malignant plaguecaster, POWERS: Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

TP: Plague marines x5: Flail, Champion: Bolter and Plague Knife
TP: Plague marines x5: Flail, Champion: Bolter and Plague Knife
TP: Poxwalkers x10
TP: Poxwalkers x10

EL: Blightlord Terminators x10: 2x flail, 2x reaper autocannon + Combi-bolter, 5x axe + combi-bolter, Champion: Combi-bolter + Bubotic Axe, Plague Skull of Glothila (-1 CP)
EL: Deathshroud Terminators x3
EL: Foul Blightspawn: Relic: Revolting stench-vats, Plaguechosen: Arch-Contaminator
EL: Biologus Putrifier
EL: Tallyman, Relic: Tollkeeper

HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon
HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon

FA: Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Fleshmower
FA: Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Heavy Blight Launcher

DT: Chaos Rhino

+++ 2,000 points, 9 CP +++


As always, the plan is to use the Blightlords as a kind of Deathstar with character support, walk them forward and hold the middle of the table and make opponents regret coming to them. The other half of the force can do similar nasty things, but how I split them and use them will depend on the mission, objectives placement, and terrain layout.

Erik’s List

Erik's Deathwatch - Click to Expand

+++ Deathwatch Battalion Detachment (7 CP , 1999 points) +++

Stratagem: Sanction of the Black Vault [-1CP]
Stratagem: Sanction of the Black Vault [-1CP]
Strategem: Relics of the Chapter [-1CP]: Number of Extra Relics

+ HQ +

Lieutenants [4 PL, -1CP, 75pts]
. Lieutenant in Reiver Armour: 1. Shoot and Fade, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter

Primaris Captain [5 PL, 105pts]: Dominus Aegis
. Heavy bolt pistol, Master-crafted power sword and Relic shield: Master-crafted power sword, Relic Shield

Primaris Chaplain on Bike [7 PL, 140pts]: 5. Recitation of Focus, 6. Canticle of Hate (Aura), Chapter Command: Master of Sanctity, Litany of Hate, The Beacon Angelis, Warlord, Wise Orator

+ Troops +

Fortis Kill Team [17 PL, 285pts]: Dominatus
. 5x Hellblaster w/ Assault plasma incinerator: 5x Assault Plasma Incinerator, 5x Bolt pistol, 5x Frag & Krak grenades
. Intercessor Sergeant: Auto Bolt Rifle
. 4x Intercessor w/ Auto Bolt Rifle: 4x Auto Bolt Rifle, 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

Indomitor Kill Team [25 PL, 380pts]: Aquila
. 5x Eradicator w/ Melta Rifle: 5x Bolt pistol, 5x Melta rifle
. Heavy Intercessor Sergeant: Hellstorm Bolt Rifle
. 4x Heavy Intercessor w/ Hellstorm Bolt Rifle: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Hellstorm Bolt Rifle

Proteus Kill Team [19 PL, 275pts]: Dominatus, Jump Packs
. Deathwatch Veteran: Astartes Chainsword, Deathwatch Boltgun
. Deathwatch Veteran: Astartes Chainsword, Deathwatch Boltgun
. Deathwatch Veteran: Astartes Chainsword, Deathwatch Boltgun
. Deathwatch Veteran: Astartes Chainsword, Deathwatch Boltgun
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Watch Sergeant: Astartes Chainsword, Storm shield
Proteus Kill Team [17 PL, 324pts]: Aquila
. Black Shield: 2x Lightning Claw
. Deathwatch Terminator
. . Thunder hammer and Storm shield: Thunder hammer
. Deathwatch Terminator
. . Thunder hammer and Storm shield: Thunder hammer
. Deathwatch Veteran: Deathwatch Boltgun, Storm shield
. Deathwatch Veteran: Deathwatch Boltgun, Storm shield
. Deathwatch Veteran: Deathwatch Boltgun, Storm shield
. Deathwatch Veteran: Deathwatch Boltgun, Storm shield
. Vanguard Veteran: Lightning Claw, Storm shield
. Veteran Biker
. Watch Sergeant: Heavy thunder hammer

Spectrus Kill Team [20 PL, 300pts]: Malleus
. 5x Eliminator w/ Las Fusil: 5x Bolt pistol, 5x Camo cloak, 5x Frag & Krak grenades, 5x Las Fusil
. 4x Infiltrator: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Marksman bolt carbine
. Infiltrator Sergeant

+ Elites +

Primaris Apothecary [5 PL, -1CP, 115pts]: Chapter Command: Chief Apothecary, Selfless Healer, Stratagem: Hero of the Chapter

++ Total: [119 PL, 7CP, 1,999pts] ++


Erik’s running the new Army of Renown, which means he gets to double up on kill team specialisms. The biggest disadvantages here are that 1. There’s a lot to remember and Erik will struggle to do that in game 1 with the new army, and 2. I don’t have anything that’s a great target for his “spend 3 CP to make every hit auto-wound” stratagem. There are some OK targets in the Bloat-Drones and PBCs, but the former are only 9 wounds and the latter are going to be hard to get to.

The Mission: Scorched Earth

We’re back on Scorched Earth again. Random selection will do that, from time to time. Next time I’m playing another hammer-and-anvil deployment mission.

My Secondaries:

  • No Prisoners
  • Spread the Sickness
  • Assassination

I can score up to 11-12 for No Prisoners depending on how his Apothecary does and the progressive scoring nature on it will be helpful this game. I don’t love my odds on TTL with the PBCs just because I know Erik can teleport his Eradicators around, and Assassination is worth up to 13 here, which isn’t bad. Spread should also get me 9-12 on this map. These aren’t amazing, but they’re the best options, I think.

Erik’s Secondaries:

  • Stranglehold
  • Retrieve Octarius Data
  • To the Last – the Proteus Kill Team, the Spectrus Kill Team, and the Indomitor Kill Team

RoD is an easy one for Deathwatch and I can see the value on To the Last – simply pull injured units back into reserves for teleporting before they die in order to keep them from giving up points. The only tough one here is Stranglehold – on this map I can prevent it by holding three objectives, and eventually that will be what costs Erik the game.

Deployment. I am for something conservative

This time around I opt to go very conservative with deployment – I learned enough hard lessons last week. Nothing gets put out in the open. This pays off when I end up losing the first turn roll.

Erik moves his Infiltrators out to the left middle objective and calls it a turn, claiming 3 points for Stranglehold. Now we’re on the problem. At this point, I can score 6 points for Spread if I never leave, but i have to kill some things. We’ll both get 40 on primaries just castling – it’s hold one/hold two on a 6-objective map – but he’ll consistently outpace me on Stranglehold, and win 55-46 unless I can go out there and start scoring. So my strategy here is to essentially move out to the midfield objective on the right, hold that, and force his (weaker) flank to come to me on the objective. His eradicators and heavy intercessors are stuck too deep in his other ruin to come out and play quickly, so this will force him to come to me. And by “me,” I mean “my fleshmower.”

The gang’s all here


I move out and take shots at the Infiltrators, killing a few and forcing Erik to rez one with his Apothecary. then I use the terrain to my advantage and charge Erik’s vanvets with the Fleshmower, as shown above. He’ll kill a few but largely bounce off their stupid storm shields. Erik will come out of his shell with the Terminators and Vanvets to go on the offensive, then spend 2 turns not quite killing my plague marines before they’re able to finish the job.

Good job, lads

That’s bad news, since it means Erik stops getting Stranglehold points after round 3 (he previously had the advantage of more ObSec models to keep it up). He’ll eventually teleport the Eradicators and Heavy Intercessors over here to do some work and finish off the plague marines.

But in the meantime, the Blightlords get bored of sitting in cover and make the trip out, bolstered by Erik putting a Fortis Kill Team close enough that they could charge it.

go go blightlords

They plow through a good chunk of Erik’s army and end up killing his Lieutenant and Captain, netting me 7 points. I’m also able to kill the Apothecary, who is now out of position, for another big bonus. At this point I’ve lost the rhino, both bloat-drones, and both units of plague marines but the Sorcerer is still throwing out mortal wounds – and uses them to kill the Chaplain. Erik has has even less on the ground. We call it a game and talk out the remaining points. There’s not a ton – Erik will score 40 on primary, plus he maxed RoD, while scoring 12 on Stranglehold and 13 on To the Last since the best I could do was killing a combat squad of Infiltrators.

Result: 86-84, Victory

This was a really close game, and one I wasn’t sure about until the end of round 4. There was a lot going on, and a lot of moving pieces to keep track of. The new Deathwatch army is interesting, and I suspect that I got lucky this time playing against a first attempt at it. Still, Erik was a great player to go up against and I’d play him again. The game itself was great practice overall.


Next Time: Even More Practice

Right now there’s more practice games in my future but I’ll continue to work on hobby projects and look for ways to improve things with my practice games. Till then, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at