“Who Let You Do That?”: Prime Examples of Power-Gaming Shenanigans

by Kenton Kilgore

I’ve been playing 40K with my friend and fellow Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel since the game debuted in 1987.  Our games are almost always very casual and fun, and we have a great time.

Often, one of us will surprise the other with a fiendish and blisteringly effective—but perfectly legal—unit, item of wargear, stratagem, formation, or combination thereof.  Whereupon, the one being surprised by this power-gaming will good-naturedly ask, “Who let you do that?”


As I was recently reviewing and revising (as I often do) some of my army lists, I came across two opportunities for such shenanigans.  Though I almost—ALMOST—feel dirty for doing so, I jumped on those opportunities with both feet.  For your entertainment and education, allow me to share these two examples of power-gaming jackanapery.

“Who Let You Do That?”: Shooting Phase Edition

Long-time Jungle visitors will probably know that I have an army of “Space Dwarves” (don’t call them Squats!) named the Dvergar Steeljacks.  For many years, I used the rules for Orks for them, but I switched because Pat and my brother-in-law Drew play Greenskins, and I didn’t see the need for another such army in our little gaming circle.

I experimented with the rules from Codex: Genestealer Cults, and while I created an effective list, I didn’t find it interesting to play.  Then, I discovered Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus.

While I would prefer if your average AM infantryman (“infantry-cyborg?”) had Toughness 4, to better reflect dwarves’ sturdiness, I’m nevertheless quite pleased with the how the rules let me field a horde of high-tech dudes.

One of my two Dvergar lists is based on dominating the Shooting Phase.  The other day, I realized that I could replace the five Skorpius Disintegrator tanks—certainly, no slouches in the dakka department—with six Kastelan Robots.  And why would I do such a thing?

Because for 1 point less per model than how I had been running my Disintegrators, with heavy stubbers, a disruptor missile launcher, and a belleros energy cannon, I could take ‘bots, each with three heavy phosphor blasters. HPhB’s are 36″ range, Heavy 3, S6, AP -2, D1, and units fired upon don’t get bonuses for being in cover.

That’s not sad, but the “WLYDT?” part comes along when one factors in Battle Protocols. BPs are three operational modes that Kbots must use during the game.  The key one for our discussion is the Protector Protocol, which states:

When this battle protocol is in effect, this unit cannot move or charge, but you can double the number of shots it makes with each of its ranged weapons—i.e., the heavy phosphor blaster’s Type becomes Heavy 6.

I was an English major back in college, but even I can do the math on this:

3 shots for each blaster x 3 blasters for each Kbot = 9 shots per Kbot x 2 for Protector Protocol = 18 shots per Kbot x 6 Kbots = 108 shots per round.

Yes, Froggy, you read that correctly: 108 shots, each at 36″ range, S6, AP -2, D1, ignoring cover, per round.  All for 110 points per Kastelan Robot, or 660 for the bunch.

That’s a lot of points, but the rest of your shooty Adeptus Mech can be pretty cheap.  In addition to those 6 Kbots, my 2000-point army has 80 Skitarri Vanguard, 9 Kataphron Destroyers, and 4 Tech-Priest Engineers.

Hordes of Dvergar Steeljacks

By the way, you can have up to six KBots in a unit.  They count as Heavy Support, and in most Detachments, you can have three HS units.  So, you could, for 1,980 points (perhaps in an Apocalypse game?) have up to 18 of these bad boys, each firing 6 shots, for a total of 324 shots a turn.

Say it with me: “Who let you do that?”

“Who Let You Do That?” Fight Phase Edition

If you have even a smidge of familiarity with Chaos Daemons, you most likely know that Bloodthirsters of Khorne are bad news to play against.  Or, as I recently told one of the Becker Boys before our latest game: “Not only do you not want this thing charging your guys, you don’t even want them to be in the same time zone as it.”

There are three varieties of Bloodthirster, but my favorite is the BT of Insensate Rage, the Ivan Drago of 40K.  Its WS 2+, S7, T7, W16, and A6 are just the beginning of its brutal potential.

Yes, the beginning.  Because it’s a Daemon of Khorne, the BTIR (“Biter?”) has the Unstoppable Ferocity rule, which grants it +1 to its Strength and Attacks on the turn when it charges, is charged, or does a Heroic Intervention.

It also possesses the Deathbringer rule, which states that each unmodified hit roll of 6 made by it in the Fight Phase scores 2 hits instead of 1.

“But, wait!” as Pat likes to exclaim, finger pointed straight up, “there’s more!”  The Biter uses a great axe of Khorne, which may be used in melee in either of two modes.  Mode #1 is Mighty Strike:

Mighty Strike: Sx2, AP -4, Dd6.  Each time you roll to determine how much damage this weapon inflicts, roll 2 dice and discard the lower result.

This mode is perfect for attacking vehicles, even tough hombres like Land Raiders.  On the charge*, Drago the Daemon will get 7 Attacks (base of 6, +1 for UF), hitting on 2’s or higher.  And remember, each 6 you roll “to hit” counts as 2 hits, not 1.

*Assuming he hasn’t taken more than 8 Wounds, because some of the Bloodthirster’s characteristics change as it suffers damage, similar to how many Vehicles do.

Using Mighty Strike, hits are at Strength 16 (base of 7, +1 for UF, x2 for Mighty Strike), which wounds even a Land Raider (T8) on a 2+.  AP -4 means that a ‘Raider saves only on a 6—most vehicles will get no save at all.

Damage for each hit is 2d6, discarding the lowest die.  In a recent game, this guy was routinely inflicting 20+ Wounds of damage per round vs tanks.

SFAIK, every vehicle that has the keyword <FLY> may not be assaulted except by units that also have that keyword.  Guess what?  The Biter can also <FLY>.  Meaning that if you let your Flyer (as they were called in earlier editions) get too close, you might have a reenactment of this:

What’s that, you say?  You’d never let that happen?  One would hope not, but you may not have a choice, because the Biter has a Move of 12.”  And while it cannot (thank the Emperor!) charge after it Advances, there’s no reason for it to NOT Advance every turn it moves, as it has no shooting to consider.

As mentioned, there are two modes for the great axe of Khorne.  The other is Sweeping Blow:

Sweeping Blow: S as User, AP -2, D1.  Make 2 hit rolls instead of 1 for each attack made with this weapon.

This mode is perfect for taking out infantry.  On the charge, Drago the Daemon gets 14 Attacks (base of 6, +1 for UF, x2), hitting on 2’s or higher, and counting all 6’s rolled as 2 hits, thanks to the Deathbringer rule.

Hits are only (“only”) at S8, wounding Space Marines, Orks, Necrons, and anything else with T4 and below on 2+.  AP is -2, so Marines save on 5’s or 6’s.  When a Biter charges almost any squad, expect to see lots of this:

“But, wait! There’s more!”  As in, a happy little Chaos Daemon Stratagem called Frenetic Bloodlust, which, for 3 Command Points, does this:

Use this Stratagem at the end of any Fight phase.  Select one of your <KHORNE DAEMON> units—that unit can immediately fight again.

So, yeah: Drago can charge your squad of Marines, or your mob of Boyz, or your brood of Termagants; roll 14 Attacks and chop down a whole bunch of your guys; shrug off your hits (as mentioned, he’s T7, W16, Sv 3+, with a 5+ invulnerable save because of the Daemonic rule); then do another 12 Attacks at S7 (not 14 Attacks at S8, because Unstoppable Ferocity only lasts until the end of the turn).  And don’t forget Deathbringer.

While it’s true that a Biter comes in a hefty 230 points and only one to a unit, they’re HQ, so depending on the Detachment you’re fielding, you can have 2, 3, or even 5 (if you’re using a Brigade or a Supreme Command) of them in your army, points permitting, of course.

Once you have more than one, the beauty of force multiplication kicks in, because if one is good, two is moy bueno, and three or more is disproportionately better.  A lot of armies can deal with a single Biter, but even those who can, struggle against two.

How often would you actually see 2 or even 3 Bloodthirsters in a non-Apocalypse game?  The odds are pretty good, especially if, like me, your opponent runs an all-Khorne army.

Yes, Biters are 230 points, but Bloodletters, the single Khorne Troop choice, are a mere 7 points a pop (and don’t suck, either).  My 2000-point list has 2 Biters, and I could easily fit in a third if I ditched my Daemon Prince and 2 Bloodcrushers.

Say it with me: “Who let you do that?”


Needless to say (but I will, anyway), these units, while jaw-droppingly destructive, are far from invincible; there’s a way to beat anything in 40k.  To wit, in a recent game, Bjorn the Fell-Handed shot up and charged one of my Biters, and fell-handed him his daemonic ass.

These are two examples that struck me recently; I’m sure I’ll uncover more.  If you know of some that are comparable, tell me in the comments.

When he isn’t playing or blogging about 40K, Kenton Kilgore writes killer SF/F for young adults, and adults who are still young.  This Wasted Land, his latest novel, isn’t your typical teenage love story.  It’s more like: Boy meets Girl –> Evil Witch takes Boy –> Girl goes to get Boy back.

He is also the author of Lost Dogs, the story of the end of the world as seen, heard–and smelled–by a dog.  His first novel was Dragontamer’s Daughters, like Little House on the Prairie…with dragons.  With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Visit kentonkilgore.com, and follow Kenton on Facebook for frequent posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.  You can also catch him on Instagram.

4 thoughts on ““Who Let You Do That?”: Prime Examples of Power-Gaming Shenanigans”

  1. You want one? Here’s one on the cheap side for you Kenton.

    So, the Master of Executions. A Chaos Space Marine HQ model that has 5 attacks in the close combat phase, each with an axe that hits at x2 strength, D3 Damage, and inflicts a Mortal Wound on a to hit of 6. So how can this become a mobile blender? First, give him the Mark of Slaanesh. You add the Intoxicating Elixir and that’s 6 attacks at Strength 10. And then depending on what of the two Slaaneshi legion/warbands, you do the following.

    Emperor’s Children: Combat Elixir Stratagem for the little extra boost, as well as the Flames of Spite Warlord Trait. This means that with every 6, you generate 2 Mortal Wounds. Then activate the Stratagem Excess of Violence, which means every time he kills a model that combat, he can make another attack. Against imperial units this means he ALSO gets Death to the False Emperor, generating more attacks with that 6. Oh, and he always strikes first

    Flawless Host: If you want, pick between Flames of Spite or the Ultimate Confidence trait – it depends how deeply you want to rely on the extra attacks. Flawless Host essentially get DTTFE on everyone (And twice over on Imperium) and then in the Fight Phase use We Cannot Fail, which lets you re-roll failed hits.

    The end result with either is a blender that, by design, could massacre its way through all sorts of infantry units, and take a decent chunk out of a vehicle, maybe even in a good case scenario take it out. And all this for, at latest, 60 points. The downsides? It’s a total glass cannon (The MoE has no Invulnerable Save) and both examples require a warlord trait and to be in close combat.

  2. Imperial Fists have some brutally effective shooting shenanigans I get up to regularly.

    First off, they always Ignore Cover. Awesome.

    Second, every time you roll a 6 to hit with any bolt weapon, you get a second auto-hit for free.

    Now you take a Techmarine, make him your warlord, and give him Master the Machine Trait. It gives all vehicles within 6″ +1 BS.

    Also take a Captain, spend 2 CP to upgrade him to a Chapter Master to allow you to re-roll all hits, not just failed hits.

    Also take a Chaplain with the Catechism of Fire for +1 to wound.

    Take a Land Raider Crusader with a pintle storm bolter. Drive it within 12″ of something you want to kill.

    Drop the bolter drill stratagem, which gives you an additional auto-hit for every 6 you roll to hit.

    And Turn 2 is even better, when you have to switch to Tactical Doctrine for -1 AP, but turn 1 works fine as well.

    That’s 28 bolter shots, hitting on 2’s. But you are going to go fishing for 6’s, to maximize bolter drill, so re-roll everything that isn’t a 6.
    For every 6, you get 2 free auto-hits, with +1 to wound, and in turn 2 and 3, that’s AP -1.

    Plus 12 Assault Cannon shots that on turn 1 are AP-2 that also benefit from hitting on 2+ and re-rolling to hit, with +1 to wound.

    I face Daemons regularly…I can’t remember the last time a Bloodthirster or Daemon Prince made it to my lines.

    Without needing a Techmarine;
    I prefer the durability of the Crusader, but it’s still brutal on a squad of Aggressors, with their average of ~57 shots.

    Inceptors are also a valid choice for this combo, with the Assault Bolters, and are AP-2 on turn 2, when they are most likely to Deep Strike.

    The shooting shennanigans are so much easier to pull off than their melee counterparts, it’s almost not fair.

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