Your List Sucks: The One-Box Challenge: Xenos

We kicked off the One-Box Challenge recently, our newest and perhaps worst idea. The premise is simple: using only the contents of one single box from Games Workshop, construct a legal thousand point army. This is dangerous and untested new technology, but we remain committed to advancing the state of the art in the 40k meta. Today we’re looking at the non-Aeldari Xenos races. Eldar get their own post.

Welcome back to one of our best ideas yet. This week we’re looking at the best armies you could assemble by buying a single box of minis over and over, then we’re gonna have them face off at some point to determine which is the best one. If you missed the general ground rules or the first installment of the series, you can find it here.

Tau Crises Suit


Easily the most iconic unit in the T’au Empire all the way back to their initial release in 3rd edition, the Crisis suit has never exactly been “great”, but in a Farsight Enclaves detachment they can still put in a degree of work. I chose this kit because it includes drones, which lets us mix things up a bit, and because I find the lack of troops freeing. You already weren’t going to score anything on Primary objectives anyway, so you may as well not bother pretending that you care about Objective Secured. This one was tricky, because the best gun to put on the suits is the Cyclic Ion Blaster, which isn’t actually in the box. We will soldier on, and make do.

a shameful Tau
Tau Commander, tank-ish. Credit: Greg Chiasson

Shopping List

$300, 4 boxes of XV-8 Crisis Suits

GREGNOTE: Vre’kais reminded me of this, and it’s worth noting here: we don’t allow Combat Patrol or Starts Collecting boxes for this challenge specifically, but as a general rule, don’t buy the Crisis Suit box. If you have serious plans to start a Tau army using more than one box, the Start Collecting is a great way to go. It includes the full XV-8 kit, but for an extra twenty bucks over buying just the suits, you get a full squad of Fire Warriors/Breachers, two extra drones, and an Ethereal. Outside the bounds of this one particular challenge, that’s generally going to be the better buy 100% of the time. 

Army List

T’au Empire Vanguard Detachment (1000 points) -6CP

Custom Sept traits: Up-gunned, Hardened Warheads

Stratagem: Emergency Dispensation (2 relics, 3CP)

HQ: Crisis Suit Commander: 4x Fusion Blaster, Relic: Puretide Engram Chip. Warlord Trait: Through Boldness, Victory (150)

EL: XV-8 Crisis Battlesuits: 3x Crisis Battlesuits with Burst Cannon, Missile Pod, and Plasma Rifle (168)

EL: Crisis Bodyguard: 3x Crisis Bodyguards with 3 Burst Cannons, 1x Crisis Bodyguard with 2 Fusion Blasters/Iridium battlesuit, 6xShield Drones. Relic: Gatling Burst Cannons (322)

EL: Crisis Bodyguard: 3x Crisis Bodyguards with 3 Missile Pods, 1x Crisis Bodyguard with 2 Fusion Blasters/drone controller/Iridium battlesuit, 6x Gun Drones. Relic: Cross-linked Stabilizer Jets (360)

I’ve got some explaining to do.

This concept actually works almost too well, in that fitting it into a thousand points leaves a lot of plastic un-clipped. By using all the drones and expensive weapons or support systems, you can easily get 1250+ points out of four boxes. And you need all four – the squads are minimum size 3 (and 3 squads), so the Commander requires a fourth box. The drones are all attached to the Crisis units, which saves some points (10 or 15 per) over putting them in Tactical Drones units (inexplicably 20 points each).

There’s a ton of options to choose from, and correspondingly a maddening number of different ways to build this out, so this is just a general guide. We put these in a custom sept to get an extra point of AP on both main types of gun – burst cannons and missile pods – but using Farsight Enclaves instead could work, to make up for the complete lack of markerlight support. Alternatively, just swap the gun drones for marker drones.

Keeping track of the weapons to make sure I didn’t overstep the bounds of the kit was the biggest headache of this entire exercise. One box contains 3 (each) Bursts Cannon, Missiles Pod, Flames Thrower, or Plasmas Rifle, and 4 Fusions Blaster. There are zero Cyclics Ion Blaster or Airsbursting Fragmentations Projector. You only get enough top parts to make 6 drones, but enough bottom parts for 9 (that is, 6 total, but only up to 3 each of marker, gun, or shield).  Fortunately, having 4 sets results in basically “enough” of any given option. 

I’ve also cashed out all 3 remaining CP to put Cross-Linked Stabilizer Jets on one Crisis Bodyguard unit, and Gatling Burst Cannons on another. You weren’t using those Command Points anyway.

Competitive Outlook

Hoo boy. Weak codex, no ObSec, and zero starting CP. Hard times await. As far as expanding this to a full army, it’s not the worst start, but not the best either. T’au don’t really have a lot of good options and that’s unlikely to change, so whether this sets you up to expand to a full 2000 points is irrelevant: you shouldn’t do that either way, no matter what you started with.



Necrons have a lot of dual kits, which helps them immensely for this exercise. The problem however is building an HQ. Necron Warriors are a bit too weedy to be Necron Lords and Immortals don’t give you any of the bitz you need. For a while we tried to make something work with the Praetorians/Lychguard box, which could give us a credible Overlord Conversion plus two types of units to play with, but even that was an issue since it ran us into problems with the two-datasheet limit in Incursion. 

So Wings and I looked at the Necrons roster and realized that the Tesseract Vault was right there.

Yep, this list is two Tesseract Vaults, clocking in at 500 points each. Fite me, nerds.

Wings: Realising too late that surely this is now a two box list amiright folks?

Credit: Dan Dayon

Shopping List

$320, 2 boxes of Tesseract Vault.

Army List

Necrons Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment (-3 CP, 500 Points)

LoW: Tesseract Vault (LoW), Warlord, Time’s Arrow, Antimatter Meteor, Sky of Falling Stars, Cosmic Fire

Necrons Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment (-3 CP, 500 Points)

LoW: Tesseract Vault (LoW),  Time’s Arrow, Antimatter Meteor, Seismic Assault, Transdimensional Thunderbolt

Competitive Outlook

I’m gonna level with you: It doesn’t matter that this list starts on 0 CP, or that it gets no dynasty bonuses, or that it has no ObSec and only two models, or that it can only score 10 points for While We Stand, We Fight. I think this list is going to end every game in our bracket with two models remaining. Some of the other lists in the competition can’t even hurt it; the best they can hope for is that it doesn’t kill them all before they can score a bunch of points for objectives. And losing CP doesn’t matter since you can only use basic rulebook stratagems anyways, and of those only Command Re-Roll is going to be of any use. It also can’t move on the first turn of any game because of how big the models are in relation to the size of deployment zones in Incursion missions – all it can do is huck out some C’Tan powers. But it’s still gonna rumble forward and wipe out anything nearby thanks to a mix of C’Tan powers and guns.

Wings: By my measurements, on 4/9 GT2020 Incursion missions you’ll successfully be able to deploy one of these able to act normally on turn one. However, if you want to get really freaky about it (and what is the purpose of this list except to push the envelope in the dumbest possible way) on two more missions (the Dawn of War ones) you can technically deploy the Vaults already in control of the mid-board objectives. If you’re going for a stunlock deployment the only requirement is that you be touching your battlefield edge. Based on the measurements GW attest (>10″ on a side) the vault is at least 14″ diagonal, meaning that if one corner is touching your battlefield edge, the other can be 14″ onto the table – enough to reach the objectives on the 15″ mid-line. I’ve just gone and checked on my partially built one, and the protruding corner is about 4.5″ off the table, meaning the hull is just in touch for vertical objective control, so game on.

With that in mind, I think if this list dodges the Drukhari list specifically it has a great chance of taking the whole thing. It has an extremely strong secondary plan of Grind Them DownPurge the Vermin and Cut Off the Head (swapping out to Bring It Down for the few lists where the warlord can’t be Time’s Arrowed), and it going to table a lot of the builds in the contest very quickly.

Greg: No one should do this.




As with many of these armies, Tyranids’ biggest problem stems from overlap between their HQ choices and other units in the army. The choices here are going all Tyranid Warriors (Tyranid Prime), all Zoanthropes (Neurothrope), or all Carnifexes (Old One Eye). The only real choice here is Old One Eye, who can be built from the Carnifex brood box, which also lets you build one of three other Carnifex variants. From there the question just becomes “how many carnifexes can I fit into a 1,000 point list?” The answer is 8.

Carnifexes. Photo: That Gobbo

Shopping List

$360, 4 boxes of Carnifex Broods

Army List

Tyranids Spearhead Detachment (-2 CP, 1,000 Points)

HQ: Old One Eye (220)

HS: Carnifexes: 3x with Monstrous Scything Talons, Heavy Venom Cannon (330)

HS: Carnifexes: 3x with Monstrous Scything Talons, Heavy Venom Cannon (330)

HS: Screamer-Killers: Screamer-Killer (120)

Competitive Outlook

This is not a good stepping stone for a competitive army. You would never want this many Carnifexes.

Greg: You can go straight to hell with that talk. Who doesn’t want a big pile of gribblies. I defy anyone reading this to see a list of massive beefcakes like this and not run out to the store and demand to buy every lumpy, spikey, boy they have in stock. Just fuck me up with meaty dudes, ruin my whole bank account with a load of these bad mamajamas. Let me make a mountain of Carnifexes on the floor and roll around in it.



Orks were an army I was excited to include in here, but ended up being a much bigger pain than expected. The first option considered was Mega-Armored Nobs, but “Big Meks and MANz” was too close to the Deathwing and Custodes lists, and I wanted to go for something new – to really showcase the load of bits that come in the Boyz box, and highlight the Orky tendencies of mashing things together and calling it something new. Call it the Taco Bell Menu approach to unit design: the same four ingredients, layered and shaped differently. The basic Boyz set has a huge amount of guns, which are basically all that differentiate them from Burnas and Kommandos, and it comes with a bonus Nob – a bit weedy by Nob standards, but still clearly distinctive. The rub ended up being HQs. Nothing in the Boyz kit can really stand in for a Warboss, the Meks are too specialized to plausibly bit-bash, and they couldn’t be bothered to include even ONE Grot, so Makari is out. We did manage to come up with one option, but it’s not ideal.

Credit: Kevin Genson

Shopping List

$288, 8 boxes of Ork Boyz 

Army List

Ork Vanguard Detachment (993) -3CP

Blood Axes

HQ: Boss Snikrot, Warlord (75)

TR: Boyz: 13 Shoota boyz (104)

TR: Boyz: 30 Shoota boyz (240)

TR: Boyz: 19 Shoota boyz, 1 boy with Big Shoota (165)

EL: Tankbustas: 5 boyz (85) 

EL: Kommandos: 5 boyz (45)

EL: Tankbustas: 5 boyz (85) 

EL: Nobs: 3x Nob with Choppa/Power Klaw, 4x Nob with Slugga/Power Klaw (189)

EDIT: Turns out there aren’t Burnas in the box, so we swapped those for more Tankbustas. They cost a bit more, so we dropped a couple of boyz to make up the difference. Oops.

We considered trying to pass off the Boyz Nob as a Warboss – that seemed like a reach, but with enough knives and the sneakiest bits you got, a passable Sniknot could happen. The Boyz are mostly plain with shootas to save knife bits for the Kommandos and heavy weapons/stikkbombs for the Burnas and Tankbustas, but feel free to swap loadouts around, bitz permitting. The intent here was to minimize how much cutting you’d have to do, in that it uses things more or less as they are on the sprue, but there’s certainly potential to get real wet and wild with conversions, if you’d rather. These are Orks, after all. 

Competitive Outlook

The specialist units are honestly too small to use in any serious context, but with only 8 of each special weapon to play with, it’s difficult to increase their sizes beyond the minimum. The core of 60+ Boyz is, and will likely remain, a good one, but with Ork updates on the horizon we can’t really encourage building this in real life. It presents enough bodies, and plays well enough with the Blood Axe Kultur, that it can have some staying power. The single available HQ sharply limits army construction, but since we’re not allowed to recommend buying Warbosses, and there’s inexplicably no Nob Lieutenant option in the book, this is the best we could do. 

Still, it’s seven different units and a kit-bashed character, out of a single troops box that was designed years ago, which is no mean feat.


Next Time: Lists We Missed and Reader Suggestions

That’s it for today, but check out the other posts in this incredibly pointless series if you want more bad ideas. Next time we’ll be looking at a few lists we missed, plus some fun reader suggestions we got. That’ll either be tomorrow or Monday, depending on how the schedule shakes out. In the meantime, please do not try this at home, and if you have any comments or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at