Sunday, 22 September 2013

New Codex: Space Marines - some thoughts on Iron Hands

It's now been two weeks since the new Space Marine Codex was released, and I'm sure that you've all had lots of time to consider the tactical implications of the new list.

I'm not a big-time 40k player - real life and painting tends to get in the way of playing games for me - but I do try to stay up-to-date with the latest rules.

For my own part, I was most interested in the new Chapter Tactics rules. I have several Marine armies - and until last year I owned an Iron Hands army. Today I'm going to look at the Iron Hands rules and consider some ways of using them...

1. The basics
Firstly, let's look at the Iron Hands rules:
  • All vehicles benefit from It Will Not Die (surely the special rule with the coolest name in the entire game...!);
  • All characters benefit from It Will Not Die (hereinafter "IWND");
  • All units with the Chapter Tactics rule (so most infantry) benefit from Feel No Pain (6+);
  • Techmarines and Masters of the Forge add +1 to Blessings of the Omnissiah rolls.
Iron Hands armies (or their successors) receive these rules for free!  

I consider the addition of IWND to be a great boon for most mech armies. That rule in particular suggests an army based around vehicles and dreadnoughts...

All photos are from an Iron Hands army which I painted 
and sold last year - a 5th edition drop pod army.

2. Making the most of IWND on vehicles
IWND allows regeneration of Hull Points, at the end of each turn, on a roll of 5+. 

So, your vehicle has to be operational to benefit from the rule. The biggest issue with IWND is that a single melta shot can destroy a vehicle, thus ignoring IWND. This is a fair point to make, but it ignores the prospect that some vehicles can be very difficult to take down without melta.

So, particular vehicles on which to focus include:
  • Land Raiders - AV 14, particularly of the ranged variety, so that they are kept well out of melta range;
  • Vindicators - AV 13; a more tricky vehicle because of it's limited-range gun, but for some armies again a difficult target to bring down;
  • Predators - AV 13; all varieties have a decent range
  • Ironclad Dreadnought - AV13, although note that without HK missiles he's going to be walking (or podding) right into melta range
  • Dreadnoughts and Venerable Dreadnoughts - AV12, but in volume they can be threatening (although note the change in rules on the Venerable Dreadnought: this in my view makes IWND less useful to the Ven Dread, as a penetrating hit causes a loss of a HP as well as the roll on the damage table).
Then, we have vehicles such as the Storm Talon and Storm Raven which ignore the 2d6 melta rule, so for air support they are definitely in. 

IWND can also be useful if your army focuses on "target saturation". By this, I mean flooding the board with lower AV tanks - such as AV11 Razorbacks and Rhinos. This forces your opponent to focus on a particular tank, as opposed to stunning or shaking several to hold your army back. 

Although pricy, extra armour can also be helpful on Iron Hands tanks - allowing you to potentially retreat out of melta range, and possibly live to fight another day...

Higher AV, higher HP vehicles, with longer threat ranges, are the way to go for Iron Hands armies.

3. Making the most of IWND (and FNP) on characters
IWND is a real benefit to multi-wound characters, such as Chapter Masters and Captains. To a lesser extent, the same is true of the Master of the Forge (the erstwhile Iron Father substitute). 

Certain wargear can also make your characters an incredible annoyance with IWND and FNP:
  • Bike - making characters T5, obviating the Instant Death rule in most circumstances;
  • Storm shield - 3++ save;
  • Artificer Armour - 2+ save, better than Terminator armour in my opinion;
  • Terminator Armour - 2+ and 5++ saves, but because of other rules this isn't as good as Artificer Armour - still a fluffy choice for an Iron Hands army though; 
  • Shield Eternal - especially on a bike...
  • Armour Indominatus

An utterly lethal CC monster is a Chapter Master on a bike, with a thunder hammer, artificer armour, Shield Eternal and a thunder hammer. (Although he's also a little pricy for my blood!)

Also note that all characters benefit from IWND, not just independent characters. In reality, that distinction is quite a fine one - because characters such as sergeants very rarely have more than W1. However, the Centurion sergeant has W2 so he's a potential beneficiary of this rule (and also 2+ and T5).

Take multiple HQs/characters if possible, and maximise the use of IWND and FNP through protective wargear.

4. Use Techmarines and Masters of the Forge
Both of the above add +1 to their Blessings rolls! Combined with IWND, this is another decent boon for vehicle survivability. So, Techmarines and Masters are definitely in as potential HQ choices. 

Another suggestion is to mount either of these choices on bikes - thereby increasing their survivability, and also their manoeuvrability around your potential vehicle park. A Master of the Forge with a full servo-harness will usually be repairing vehicles on a 2+! 

On a static Techmarine, servitors are also a potential upgrade (but they are pricy, so don't go silly on this upgrade!).

The bike on a Techmarine also makes the Conversion Beamer upgrade a decent choice (but be aware that you'll lose your servo-harness, so choose carefully as to your role for such a character).

Take Masters of the Forge and Techmarines, on bikes in possible, to maximise use of the Blessings and IWND rules.

5. Use troops that will benefit from FNP
Obviously all infantry will benefit from FNP. The rules isn't a game-breaker - it's only 6+ - but it's a nice addition. 

Maximise use of this rule by including multiple troop choices in your lists. In particular, Terminators will benefit from this rule. It's just another barrier to removing your models through small arms fire!

FNP can also impact how you use your troops. For example, imbedding Scouts with camo cloaks in ruins can make them very survivable in many lists: add FNP, and those little guys can be especially annoying to remove...

Choice infantry that will benefit from FNP!

My prospective 1500 point list under the new codex will be:

Techmarine on bike with conversion beamer

Ironclad Dreadnought with heavy flamer and two HK missiles in drop pod
Ironclad Dreadnought with heavy flamer and two HK missiles in drop pod

Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked lascannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked lascannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked assault cannon
Tactical Squad (5 men) with combi-plasma and plasma gun, in Razorback with twin-linked assault cannon

Techmarine with Thunderfire cannon

So, what are your views on the new codex and the Iron Hands in particular? Feel free to leave a comment!


  1. I think razorbacks aren't a good choice as they'll die turn 2 when flyers show up. Re invest the points in combi's on the sargs and a scoutsquad for the hq to attach to.

    1. Hmm, my list actually already had combi-plasmas but I forgot about them - now added in amended list.

      Got to disagree with you on the Razorbacks though - they'll pump out firepower. They're more scared of meltas than flyers! For the HQ, I'd really like to add a grav-gun biker squad at 2000 points - I'll be keeping away from scouts as he's on a bike, and they would limit his mobility

  2. Master of the forge and Techmarine will repair on their own on 3+ at best, not 2+. 5+ base, +1 from harnes, +1 for blessing giving you 3+.

    1. I think you're right on that, but I got those calculations from the war gear section. It says that the servo-harness grants an extra servo arm, so I figured:

      5+ starting repair roll
      +1 for harness (from unit description)
      +1 for extra servo arm (if description is right)
      +1 for Iron Hands blessing

      ... But I may have interpreted the description in correctly...

      Another trick I've just seen described on a forum: equipment your Master of the Forge with a conversion Beamer, then plant him in a unit of Centurions. As they are slow and purposeful, and the rule description applies to models joining he squad as well, he effectively becomes relentless... I guess that it might work with missile launcher and lascannon equipped Centurions - although if I was going to run these dudes I'd want to give them grav-cannons...

  3. Randomly stumbled across your blog, just wanted to say I am the person who purchased your Iron Hands, and that they are doing quite well in 6th edition.

    1. Small world! I often wonder what happens to armies after I sell them... Glad they are performing well in 6th - as you can see, I'm actually doing them again for this edition!