TheChirurgeon’s Road Through 2023, Part 27: End of the Road

Welcome, Dear Reader, to the final stop on my journey through 2023. Last Time Around I talked about my time at the 2023 World Championships and Grand Narrative in Atlanta. I intimated I might be going to a tournament, but that didn’t end up being in the cards – had other family stuff to attend to. Let’s review 2023. As a quick note, if you missed any of my updates this year, you can find them in the links below.

TheChirurgeon's Road Through 2023 Series - Click to Expand

2023 by the Numbers

  • 87 games of Warhammer 40k played
  • 65.5% Win Rate
  • 9 events attended
  • 27 Road Through articles written

Games by faction:

  • Death Guard – 46
  • World Eaters – 16
  • Thousand Sons – 15
  • Chaos Space Marines – 10

That’s down a bit from last year, when my total was 102 games, but that doesn’t take into account that we had a new edition drop this year. If we reduce things to just 10th edition, I I’ve played 47 games so far with a 77.8% win rate, mostly running Death Guard but with plenty of Thousand Sons and Chaos Space Marines games in the mix.

Want to know the craziest stat for me? So far in 10th edition I have a 100% win rate going first. I was actually shocked to see that, but checking Tabletop Battles it’s true. I’ve won 100% of my 10th games going first and 70.4% of them going second. That seems unsustainable, and I’m likely to drop a game going first next year but for now I’m gonna ride high on that bullshit.

Let’s talk about some of the key things I accomplished this year and cover some of the highs and lows.

Finally Breaking Through the X-1 Barrier

I attended nine events this year – two RTTs over at Asgard, one doubles event at my local Warhammer store, four GW Open events, Warzone Houston, and the Grand Narrative at the World Championships in Atlanta. Across those I hit several key milestones, and I’m proud of all of them in different ways.

  • At Warhammer Fest in Manchester in April, I had my first ever 4-0 start, taking my Death Guard to a 4-0 start (at the end of 9th edition!) before dropping games to Anthony Chew and Ruud Steenbakkers in round 5 and 6. I dropped the event before Day 3 and tanked my ranking a bit in the process but ultimately that 4-0 start is the big milestone for me. I’d had plenty of 4-2 finishes before that but they’d all involved a 3-0 start at best.
  • At Warzone Houston, I finally had my first finish better than 4-2, finishing 4-1-1 after tying another Death Guard player in the first round. Could have been better, but I’m happy with that outcome and didn’t want to screw him over after we ran short on time.
  • At Tampa, I finally had my first x-1 finish, going 7-1 and finishing 4-0 in the x-1 bracket. I had a great first day ending up 5-1 and while that put me in the running for Best Overall, my Death Guard where nowhere near good enough to beat out Sascha Edelkraut’s amazing Imperial Fists. Still, I played 8 incredibly chill and good opponents en route to a 7-1 finish, giving me both my first 5-1 and 7-1 finishes. After three years of well, not grinding per se, but playing competitively, that felt fucking great. 

What Changed?

It’s hard to put my finger on what changed, to be honest. I’m definitely better than I was a year ago. I’m definitely playing better lists than I was, and making better tweaks to them than I used to. While I’m still largely playing with a best painted/best overall goal in mind, I’m putting more work into building good lists, and painting things to get those ready. As part of this, I’m also putting together better game plans, and I have a stronger handle on how to win games in 10th edition. Part of that is just that games are much less dependent on how good my faction secondaries are – I can actually build around a plan for every game/secondary draw sequence, rather than needing to plan for a specific trio of secondaries and being boned if I can’t take the “good” one that’s an auto-15 points.

When it comes to building the lists themselves, that means having units which can do actions and interfere with the opponent, which became a much bigger deal with my Death Guard. Nurglings are the saving unit there, working well to show up anywhere on the table and do an action, or just sit in front of an opponent and fuck up their movement. If I were to go back to Thousand Sons, I’d almost certainly incorporate the Changeling and maybe the Blue Scribes to accomplish the same task

I’ve also started deploying with a bit more intent, and I’ve gotten better at planning deployments for when I don’t go first. Learning how to use Strategic Reserves was part of this – I’ve learned when to put units in reserves, mostly when an opponent has indirect fire that can threaten them early in the game.

On the table I feel like I’m making fewer mistakes, and while I don’t think my general knowledge of the game in 10th is that much better – I have no idea what half of the army rules are for some of these other factions – I do feel like I have a better handle on the edition as a whole, and part of that is just that it’s much less complicated than 9th edition was. I used to feel like I needed to play against a faction once or twice to be able to beat them but I’m much better now at taking down an opponent in the first game against them.

How do I Improve From Here?

That’s a great question, and one I’m not sure I have an answer to. I’m planning on doing the GW Open events again next year, plus a few RTTs and whatever Houston GTs come my way. I’ll likely wait to see how things shake out in the Q1 dataslate before I make a final determination on my army for early next year but currently it looks like I need to adjust my Death Guard strategy to one more focused on plague marines, which is just fine from a model perspective for me but means I need to paint another couple of Biologus Putrifiers and maybe a War Dog or two, depending on how hard I want to go down that route.

From a play standpoint, I mostly just need to spend a bit more time reading event packs and planning for specific list archetypes – something I don’t do right now. I usually just kind of roll up to the table, shrug off my opponents’ attempts to tell me about their armies, and proceed with my game plan regardless of what they can do. And honestly, that’s pretty fine most of the time but there are definitely ways I can fine tune my play and I’ll need to do that against better players.

At the very least, I need to finally win a fucking RTT in 2024. Put that on the big board.


Oh man, I painted a ton of stuff this year, but a bunch of it was random stuff, like terrain for the GHO or one-off minis for a How to Paint article. Let’s go through the list, though.


Finished, mostly

I kicked the year off getting back into my Death Guard bullshit, and that started with painting some more plague marines – 9th edition point changes had made all Death Guard wargear free, and suddenly 10-model units running two cleavers were the absolute shit, throwing out six attacks that could hit for D6 damage each. I also painted up about one half of my Into the Dark terrain. Still need to do the other half, but man does that shit take forever to disassemble and paint. I’ll get to it soon. Probably.


February hit and with it, Codex: World Eaters. I was of course, bound to play the faction, but depressingly stymied by the small number of models I could reuse from my Khorne Daemonkin. The land raider and rhinos are still good, but the raptors and bikes just can’t be fielded, which sucks. I’ve got about a third of my World Eaters painted at this point and while they’re pretty solid, I don’t love taking armies that aren’t finished to events or playing games with them. They’re on my list to make progress with.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgoen” Jones

Part of what slowed my World Eaters progress was getting another killer Chaos model like a month later, and having to paint Vashtorr. OK, I didn’t have to paint Vashtorr, but I really wanted to get showcased on WarCom. I’d end up taking Vashtorr’s special detachment to a charity event where you could buy re-rolls by donating money to the Houston Food Bank. From there I’d buy my way to victory by donating around two hundo, plus some additional funding from the rad Goonhammer patrons. Even then I would only finish second at the event thanks to a low battle point score in round 1.


I was once again waylaid by a new model release, this time the Lion, who I was happy to paint. In addition to him I got a few more Death Guard models painted – mostly more marines and Blightlords. This marked three big models in three months, and was a massive drain on my hobby time, though I was happy to paint them. I ended up giving the Lion to Greg as a gift.

The basilica on Parasbine. It’s the big one in the middle there.


Another major focus of my hobby time in late April was building terrain and helping things get set up for the Vadinax campaign finale in Houston. THe biggest par tof that was building this massive cathedrum for our finale – still the largest terrain piece I’ve ever worked on.


Tufts added. Just trees to go

Much of my May hobby progress was spent on World Eaters, then realizing I couldn’t finish them, and switching back to Death Guard. A big part of this was building a Display Board for my Death Guard, and you can find that whole process in Part 8 of my series. I still had a few things to do with my Death Guard on top of the display board, mostly touching up some existing vehicles and adding small details in places where my models could use some improvement.


World Eaters Terminators may be terrible but I love the conversion opportunity too much

I kicked off June doing more last-minute hobby work for the KC Open, then played a stream game with my Death Guard against teammate Goatboy and was promptly sick of 9th edition despite still having to play a full team tournament of it. It would turn out that Death Guard would be pretty fucking terrible in early 10th edition, so I made the switch back to Thousand Sons, and would end up having to do a ton of touch up work on them for the GW US Open event in Tacoma in early July.


With the Goonhammer Open coming up in August, a lot of my hobby time in July was spent working on terrain for the event. The bulk of this work was building the terrain for Bantavera Station, an orbital mining facility situated on a series of asteroids orbiting the planet. This was a fun project, but I’m pretty sick of cutting and adding sand to foam now.


The summer was otherwise pretty quiet for me – I did a lot of terrain work, some small work here and there on my Death Guard, and mostly got outside and did stuff with the family. Look, I’m as disappointed as you are. What I did instead with most of my free art time was create a new set of banner images for the site – you may have seen them recently.


The new boys in town

September kicked off with some final list prep for Warzone Houston, mostly revolving around adding a second unit of Deathshroud terminators to my Death Guard army. I’ve had these yabbos sitting around for a long time now, and finally getting them painted feels pretty good. I’m currently running out of shelf space for my Death Guard, who are just packed in wall-to-wall with infantry right now. I have the entire model range for the army painted up now save the Malignifier, and it might be time to get that bad boy painted up as well.


I started doing more prep work, this time for the Tampa US Open event, and that meant painting more Plague Marines and doing more touch-up work on my Death Guard. I decided to add a second unit of plague marines to the army and that meant I needed more specific wargear lads. That’s the problem with Death Guard right now: I have a ton of bolter dickheads who just aren’t useful in any way, and so every time I want to add a new squad I have to paint new guys, which kind of sucks.

The finished board

Toward the end of October I also started my prep for Atlanta, pivoting to Chaos Space Marines. This started with the construction of a new display board. This one is smaller and a great deal more portable than the Death Guard display board, and quite a bit more modular, using some stained glass pieces I made for this event. It turned out great and I’m very happy with it.


November was an insanely busy hobby month for me, and kicked off with a ton of work prepping for the Narrative Finale in Atlanta. That meant completely revamping and retouching my older Black Legion models and building a whole new crew for the event. I put in a ton of work on them and I’m extremely happy with the results, even if they didn’t quite pay off – finishing 2nd was great, but a bit of a disappointment if I’m being honest.

Anyways, my Black Legion continue to be my best-painted army and it’s not particularly close. My Thousand Sons might get back up there if I can do some work on them – I’m planning on painting a new Magnus next year – but right now these guys are just really solid on a per-model basis. The shame of it is that they aren’t quite a good army right now – I’d need to do some additional painting and get a bunch of new models painted to get them there, and I’m just not into painting Accursed Cultists right now.


While there are always more Chaos marines to paint, I’ve been focusing on revamping our How to Paint Everything series over the last two months, and part of that has meant painting a lot of models to fill gaps in our coverage – usually for subfactions or techniques we haven’t covered. This has been a fun challenge, and has really been a good exercise in painting things I don’t normally get to paint. There’s something really fun about painting a single model in a scheme and knowing you don’t have to do it again 40 more times for a whole army.

These are largely part of a bigger plan to just revamp our entire how to paint article series – it’s a series that does well for us from a readership standpoint but is showing its age. The new updates really bring a lot more flavor to the series, make it easier to navigate, and make the steps for painting each model clearer. By the time I’m done I don’t think there will be a better set of tutorials for painting online and we’ll legitimately cover every faction and subfaction across 40k (and then after, Age of Sigmar).


See You Next Year

That wraps up my look at the year that was but you can bet I’ll be back next year with the Road Through 2024. I’m not entirely sure what kind of goals I need to set for myself at this point, but I’ll give it some thought and come back with something that makes sense for the next year. I’m also liable to revisit some older concepts a bit for the new readers and people who didn’t read through 2021 or 2022 when I was much, much worse at the game.

So check back in a week or two for the start of my 2024 series and if you enjoyed this series or there’s something you’d like to see in it, let me know in the comments below. I love reading your comments and seeing the feedback I get, and I’ve had many people come up to me over the past year to let me know they liked the series. I can’t tell you how great it is to hear that, so from the bottom of my heart: Thank you, Dear Reader, for stopping in and following along with me this year.

Best Wishes on a Happy New Year,


-Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


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