Codex Supplement: Iron Hands – The Goonhammer Review

The Iron Hands, who are they? Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten – until recently, it seemed like Games Workshop had too. All that’s changed now though. Following the release of the recent Codex: Space Marines, the Iron Hands have a supplement of their very own, and a new plastic Primaris character to go with it (spoiler: you’re going to get sick of seeing this guy really fast). If you have a fedora in your closet and love talking about Pure Rational Thought, and/or cutting off bits and pieces of your body and replacing them with cybernetic limbs, then the Iron Hands are for you.

Iron Hands Intercessor

Iron Hands Intercessor. Credit: RichyP

Army Rules

In addition to the faction rules laid out in Codex: Space Marines, Iron Hands get some additional rules of their own. But before we dive into those, let’s cover what you need to do to get access to them. We’ve covered this before in our Ultramarines and White Scars reviews, so if you already know this part, feel free to skip ahead to “The Units” once you’ve read about the army core rules.

Accessing These Rules

For most of 8th edition, you’ve only technically gotten access to the full suite of subfaction (i.e. “Iron Hands”) specific rules if your army has literally used the IRON HANDS keyword. Homebrew chapters could choose a trait, but wouldn’t get stratagem, trait or relic access (meaning that in tournaments people just used the main keywords).

That’s changed, and you can now get access to 95% of what’s in this book if you are an Iron Hands successor chapter. We broke those rules down in part 1 of our main book review, and importantly “successor chapters” in this case includes those using the “build your own” traits.

The Iron Hands Chapter Tactic got a massive overhaul in the new codex, giving them three separate benefits: The first is the ability to ignore wounds on a D6 roll of a 6+ (which they already had), which effectively gives additional wounds to the entire army and is better than it was before thanks to now applying to vehicles. The second (and new) ability gives them the ability to hit in Overwatch on a 5 or 6, and the third (also new) ability lets Iron Hands vehicles double their remaining wounds count when determining which profile to use. You might feel like these are strongly pushing Iron Hands toward the use of vehicles and, well, you’d be right. Check back for our Hammer of Math article on Monday where we’ll talk about just how resilent Iron Hands vehicles can be. Over the course of this review we’re going to see how the combination of powers and abilities that Iron Hands have access to, paired with the specific units that are affected by them, changes them from being an afterthought in the old codex to potentially the most powerful faction in the post-Marines meta.

You may decide that you want to look elsewhere from the main chapter tactic and be wondering whether these rules apply to you if you pick successor traits, and how you might best use them. For now, we just need to establish that Successor chapters can get most (or in fact with CP expenditure, all) of what’s here, and keep that in mind until we cover them in detail. The breakdown of how to get these abilities is as follows.

Successor Chapter Rules - Click to Expand

  1. If every model in your army is IRON HANDS or are from the same Iron Hands successor chapter, models with the Combat Doctrine ability gain the “Calculated Fury” ability. This is an improvement to the Tactical doctrine and we’ll talk about that in a moment.
  2. IRON HANDS detachments and Iron Hands successor detachments can make use of the stratagems and psychic powers in this book.
  3. If your warlord is IRON HANDS you can freely choose from normal Codex: Space Marines relics, and/or use either the Relics of Medusa or the Special Issue Wargear pages in this book.
  4. If your warlord is from an Iron Hands successor, you can normally only use the Codex: Space Marines relics or the Special Issue Wargear page in this book to pick relics, and can access one of the relics on the Relics of Medusa page via a stratagem.
  5. If your warlord is IRON HANDS or a Iron Hands successor, you can pick his trait from the list in here

This might seem to be needlessly complicating things, but there are actually some subtleties of who gets what in various soup scenarios. Basically:

  • You are pure Iron Hands – you get everything. Hooray!
  • You are a pure Iron Hands successor – you get almost everything. Hooray?
  • You have a soup list with at least one full Iron Hands/successor detachment – you unlock the stratagems. Iron Hands/successor Librarians in that detachment can use the powers, but if for some reason you have an Iron Hand Librarian in another detachment they can’t.
  • You have a soup list with some Iron Hands/successor characters in it:
    • If one of those characters is your warlord, you can use the special trait table for him, and can use relics from this book.
    • If none of those characters is your warlord, you can’t use the relics from this book, even if you buy an extra relic and add it to an Iron Hands character. However, if you add a warlord trait to a Iron Hands character via the “Exemplar of the Chapter” stratagem they can use the traits table – or at least you can as currently worded.

The takeaway is that you have to have a decent commitment to Iron Hands to get much out of this – you can add a Knight alongside your otherwise Iron Hands army and get everything except the Doctrine, but you can’t make a Supreme Command of Librarians from three different chapters and stick the best relic from each book on each. This is almost certainly what the rather more restrictive wording is intended to prevent, so good job, GW.

Doctrine – Calculated Fury

The Iron Hands doctrine buff really goes all-in on Heavy Weapons. At first glance, it looks similar to the Ultramarines trait but has some differences – on the upside Iron Hands get their doctrine from turn one (and will frequently stay in devastator all game), but on the downside they do not count as being stationary (they just ignore the penalty for moving and shooting), losing some of the interactions Ultramarines get such as with Aggressors. The re-roll ability also ensures that they don’t need the same Captain support that other Marines need and so will benefit more from taking Lieutenants. As with most Iron Hands rules, where this really shines will be on Dreadnoughts and Vehicles, which can now re-position with impunity and theoretically operate away from some of the standard support units Marines rely on (although as we’ll see, may not want to).

The Unit

Iron Father Feirros

Credit: Games Workshop

The Iron Hands only have one unique unit – Iron Father Feirros. This guy is a super powered gravis armored Techmarine, throwing buffs to all your nearby units and providing a more reliable repair. He has two buffs for your units – each Shooting phase he can boost one unit to BS 2+, and any infantry unit within 6″ gets a 5+ invulnerable save all the time. He also repairs for a flat 3 wounds instead of a Techmarine’s D3 wounds, and has a personal 5+ “feel no pain”. He’s no slouch at killing either, mounting what’s effectively a master-crafted heavy bolter on his shoulder, and wielding a S7 D2 power axe (although his WS is only 3+, meaning melee isn’t his real strength).

Feirros is a tremendous force multiplier and is going to be a linchpin in many Iron Hands armies Iron Hands have a great many defensive synergies within their stratagems and psychic powers, and relics, so between this guy and a Librarian you’re going to end up with vehicles that are an absolute nightmare to shift and can restore a surefire 3 wounds – usually enough to operate at the top bracket again – if your opponent fails to kill them. We’ll be covering those specific stratagems, powers, and relics in the subsequent sections of this review. For now what you need to know is that at only 110 points, this guy is a steal.

Other Units

In addition to Feirros, there are a few regular Space Marines units that particularly stand out.

  • Repulsor Executioners: The chapter tactic providing the 6+++ Feel No Pain, and the Ironstone relic (see more below – much like Feirros, you’re going to hate seeing this thing) make the Repulsor gains enough durability to have a good chance of surviving an alpha strike. After it lives, the Iron Hands have many ways to repair a vehicle, and it is significantly harder to degrade. The Executioner is rapidly becoming a mainstay of tournament lists anyway, and Iron Hands push them to ridiculous heights.
Imperial Fists Repulsor Executioner

Imperial Fists Repulsor Executioner. Credit: Jack Hunter

  • Leviathan Dreadnoughts: As with the Repulsor, everything combines with the native Toughness 8, 2+ armor save, and 4++ invulnerable save to create an incredibly durable vehicle that can easily be repaired. As an added bonus, the Leviathan can use the Duty Eternal stratagem from the core book to take half damage, reducing a max-roll lascannon shot from 6 damage to 2 when combined with the Ironstone (seriously, just assume every Iron Hands list includes this).
  • Venerable and Mortis Dreadnoughts: These Dreadnoughts can use the March of the Ancients stratagem before the battle begins to become characters, and they have few enough wounds to become untargetable. With the ability of these Dreadnoughts to take ranged weapons on both arms, an Iron Hands player can have a firebase that is extremely difficult to put any shots into on the first few turns of the game.
  • Suppressors: With the codex points drop Suppressors became a very interesting unit, bringing a bit of extra autocannon fire into a Space Marine army for not many points. Iron Hands Suppressors can freely move around to take advantage of FLY for positioning, and have a native reroll that mitigates the need for support characters.
  • Stormtalon Gunships: Prior to the new Space Marines codex the Stormtalon was priced a little bit too high, and it lost the mobility that it was paying for in order to stick near re-rolls. The new codex dropped the cost of the base hull, and the Iron Hands doctrine allows it to stay in supersonic mode without either a hit penalty or losing re-rolls, making the Stormtalon more effective at crossing the board to hit hiding units or take out characters.
    Wings Note: I honestly think the Stormhawk might be even better; its base build is cheaper and has more shots, and is an excellent counter to the prevalence of fliers in the current metagame. 
  • Thunderfire Cannons: These are already great in general but they’re even better here than normal, as the special doctrine means they don’t need character babysitting and having extra discount Techmarines around is great for the Hands. The Techmarines can also be handed a relic, and potentially provide a useful body to chuck The Tempered Helm on.
  • Astraeus: If you want to run an Astraeus, this is the way to do it. Between the gigantic durability boosts of the Ironstone and Psysteel Armour (remembering that it has a 2+) combined with not degrading until it’s nearly dead (this keeps the void shields operating at their highest tier much longer), Cawl’s largest resin son looks positively good in this army.
Astraeus

Astraeus (yes we know it’s Raven Guard. Imagine the decals are different). Credit: Dan Boyd

Psychic Powers

The Iron Hands now have their own psychic discipline, Technomancy. Iron Hands Librarians can choose to know all of their powers from this new discipline instead of the Librarius or Obscuration disciplines, so you can’t mix and match powers on the same Librarian. Technomancy focuses primarily on your vehicles and your durability, with power options for use either defensively or offensively.

  1. Blessing of the Machine God – WC5 (or 8 on TITANIC) – Add +1 to hit for a friendly vehicle within 12″ until your next Psychic phase. Similar to the popular Recitation of Focus chaplain litany, this has longer range and casts 83.34% of the time rather than 66.66%. Only works on vehicles, but you’re likely to have a lot of vehicles in an Iron Hands army. A
  2. Objuration Mechanicum – WC7 – Select one visible enemy unit within 18″. Ranged attacks cause a mortal wound to the firing unit on unmodified hit rolls of one. Useful against any enemy units that fire significant numbers of shots. Since mass low-damage fire is one of the best counters to the durability of an Iron Hands gunline, this power provides a solid deterrent. The relatively short range and high warp charge renders it hard to count on. There’s some stuff like Aggressors, punisher Russes and Vulture Gunships that this is absurdly rude against though, so keep an eye out for opportunities for it to excel. B-
  3. Fury of Medusa – WC6 – Pick a visible enemy model within 18″. Draw the shortest possible line between the psyker and target model, and roll 1d6 for each enemy unit it passes over and the target unit, adding 2 to the result if it’s a vehicle. On a 4-5 the unit suffers 1 mortal wound, on a 6+ it suffers D3. Beam powers have tended to be underwhelming but this can actually be a lot if you manage to line it up right against some armies. It probably still doesn’t get there when arrayed against the extreme power of some of the other choices here, but it’s actually a fine attempt at implementing this. C+
  4. Psysteel Armor – WC6 – Select a friendly Iron Hands unit within 12″, add 1 to armor saves (not invulns). Like cover, but stacks on top of it. Very useful if you’re facing a lot of AP-1 or AP-2 shooting that won’t be triggering the invulnerable save provided by Feirros. Given how much access Marines have to 2+ saves this is kind of ridiculous – something like Centurions in cover with this will be near impossible to shift. A
  5. Reforge – WC5 – Repair a visible Iron Hands vehicle within 3″ for D3 wounds. Turns your Librarian into a Techmarine, giving you an option to repair a second vehicle. Note that this cannot be used to repair a vehicle that’s already been repaired by a techmarine or Feirros. B+
    Wings Note: Visible sounds like an irrelevant rider but this does actually mean you can’t repair through a ruin wall or something. Watch out for that.
  6. Machine Flense – WC6 – Select a visible enemy vehicle within 18″. That vehicle suffers D3 mortal wounds, then select an enemy unit within 6″ of the vehicle. For each mortal wound the vehicle suffered, the unit takes a mortal wound on a 3+. A decent upgrade over Smite if you’re fighting a vehicle heavy opponent, which lets you potentially splash a wound or two onto a nearby unit or character. B

Biggest wins here are Blessing of the Machine God and Psysteel Armor, which combine to give your vehicles a strong survivability buff and an additional counter to things that have penalties to hit. For the “Techmarine chapter” this whole list is a surprisingly big win – it’s competitive with the White Scars for “best Marine lore.”

Warlord Traits

Space Marine Contemptor

Space Marine Contemptor Dreadnought, Painted by Tyler “Coda” Moore

The Iron Hands pick up six warlord traits of their own, building off Merciless Logic from the codex. This is great news, as prior to the supplement Merciless Logic wasn’t a particularly interesting take, with characters lacking the volume of attacks for it to become a reliable choice. An important consideration while reviewing these, jumping ahead to stratagems, is that Iron Hands can make a Dreadnought a character, making them eligible to take these. We’ve reviewed them with this in mind.

  1. Adept of the Omnissiah: At the end of your Movement phase the Warlord can repair one friendly IRON HANDS VEHICLE within 1″ for 1 wound, or D3+1 if this model is a TECHMARINE. Potentially useful if you’re not taking Feirros, but you’re probably taking Feirros, and his reliable 3 (or 6, using the stratagem) wounds back will be more useful than the D3+1 here. C
  2. Will of Iron: The Warlord may deny 1 psychic power per turn, or 1 extra if it could already deny. Extra denies are very useful in an Iron Hands army, as much of your ability to reduce incoming damage applies to shooting and melee, not mortal wounds. B
  3. All Flesh is Weak: The Warlord gains a 5++ Feel No Pain. Of marginal use on most characters, but through use of the Hero of the Chapter and March of the Ancients stratagem this can be given to a Dreadnought, providing a solid boost to durability. B
  4. Student of History: When the Warlord consolidates it may move up to 6″ in any direction, not necessarily towards the nearest enemy model. A very useful trait both offensively and defensively, as your warlord can charge in, attack, and leave before being hit back, or if not blocked in the Warlord can leave combat after being charged, resulting in the charging unit hanging in the wind for the Iron Hands’ prodigious shooting. Another very interesting trait to apply to a Dreadnought, as it nearly prevents them from being locked into combat and wasting a turn of shooting. A
    Wings Note:
    There’s a particularly neat trick you can do here if your opponent doesn’t expect it. If you’ve got this on a unit and your opponent charges it then fights with something else first, you can interrupt combat with the unit, fight, then pull the unit far enough back that your opponent won’t be able to reach it with a pile in.
  5. Merciless Logic: Unmodified hit rolls of a 6 generate an additional attack. Generally not useful, as you’ll be generating nothing from shooting, and potentially one extra attack in melee. However, continuing the trend of these traits being incredibly useful on dreadnoughts, this trait will give you an average of three extra hits from a Leviathan shooting. B-
  6. Target Protocols: At the start of the Shooting phase, nominate one friendly IRON HANDS unit within 6″ of this warlord. Until the end of the phase, that unit may re-roll one hit roll, one wound roll and one damage roll. Potentially useful if you have some D6 damage weapons that you’d like to improve the reliability of, although some of the hit and wound re-rolls are likely to be wasted from already having Captain/Lieutenant around. B+
    Wings Note: 
    I’m looking at this and thinking c-beam Relic Contemptors, especially because the damage re-roll is a “full” re-roll, allowing you to pick up all three dice if you’ve low-rolled on the 3d3 damage. 

Relics

Iron Hands and their successors have access to two sets of relics. The first, Relics, are only available to Iron Hands normally, but successors can use the Bequeath by Iron Council stratagem to take a single one. The other set, Special-Issue Wargear, are available to successors freely and some can be given to squad Sergeants via the Scion of the Forge Stratagem.

Relics

A Deathwatch Veteran hailing from the Iron Hands. Credit: TheChirurgeon

The Relics are a mix of fairly generic weapons that you probably won’t build around, a couple useful items, and The Ironstone, which is one of the single best relics in the game and you will take in every list.

  • Axe of Medusa: Replaces a power axe at S+3 AP-3 D:3. A nasty melee weapon against most targets short of a Knight, and you can punch up into those with Might of Heroes. Not something you’ll build a list around though. It’s a real shame there are no valid Primaris users of this. B
  • Aegis Ferrum: Primaris only, increases Toughness by one and reduces all damage by one to a minimum of one. Stick this on a Gravis Captain for a really tough beatstick. B
  • The Mindforge: Replaces any type of force weapon for a S:x2 AP-3 D:d3 weapon. Essentially, a power fist without a hit penalty. Its cool, it’s flavorful, it makes a Librarian a lot better in combat… and there’s basically no reason to take it as Librarians are mediocre in the Fight phase.C
  • Betrayer’s Bane: Upgrades the melta half of a combi-melta to be Assault 2. Another cool and flavorful item that there’s not a lot of reason to competitively take. B
  • The Ironstone: At the beginning of the battle round, select one IRON HANDS VEHICLE within 3″ of the bearer of this relic. When resolving an attack against that vehicle, as long as it’s within 3″ of the bearer of the relic, reduce damage taken by one to a minimum of one. When taking any list with a single high-priority target, the Ironstone is a must-take. Any time you’re taking multiple vehicles it becomes much less vital, with your opponent knowing in advance which will receive the buff, but is still great at helping influence target priority or providing an additional way to buff vehicles. A
  • The Tempered Helm: While on the battlefield, roll a D6 for each Command Point you use for a stratagem. On a 5+, you gain one Command Point. You may only gain one Command Point per battle round. Command Point regeneration is very useful for soup-less Marine armies, which often end up running starved for CP. Rolling one die per CP you spend makes this a fairly reliable way to get CP back, so using the Relics of the Chapter stratagem to take this is going to be worthwhile in most games. A
  • The Gorgon’s Chain: A model with this relic has a 4++ invulnerable save. When resolving an attack made with a ranged weapon against that model, subtract one from the wound roll. Useful to give an invulnerable save to a model that doesn’t already have one – a Techmarine, Librarian, or Lieutenant for example. The to-wound penalty for ranged shooting can also be useful for added protection against snipers, but the invulnerable is the main draw of this relic. B

Special-Issue Wargear

The Iron Hands share the same four generic Special-Issue relics that we’ve seen across the other released supplements, and have an additional four unique relics. Three of them are quite useful, and the fourth is not bad, though none are something to build a list around.

  • Adamantine Mantle: Grants the bearer the ability to ignore lost wounds on a D6 roll of 5+. Solid, particularly for units that already have a 4+ invulnerable save and who won’t benefit as much from the defensive Relics. A decent fall back to have. B
  • Artificer Armour: Grants the bearer a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable save, bringing the total of possible characters with 2+ saves through relics for Marines to 2. Most useful for characters who lack an invulnerable save or can’t improve their save for whatever reason, such as jump pack Librarians or Lieutenants. B
  • Master-Crafted Weapon: Add +1 to the Damage of any weapon that’s not a relic and doesn’t have master crafted in its name already. This wargear has a pretty broad set of uses between damage 4 thunder hammer Captains, Aggressor sergeants firing 12 2-damage shots per turn at range, or Suppressor sergeants having the ideal gun for killing Custodians at flat 3 damage. Ideally you’d never be taking this as your free relic, but an excellent use of the “pay a CP for an extra relic” stratagem since being able to use it to buff up various units depending on your opponent’s army is a useful tool. A
  • Digital Weapons: Whenever the bearer fights they get to make an extra attack that causes a mortal wound if you hit. Cute but not really worth the relic slot. C
  • Auto-Medicae Bionics: If this model has lost any wounds, at the start of your turn it regains D3 lost wounds. Having a character heal themselves is useful, but D3 isn’t tremendously reliable, and there are a number of much stronger defensive relics available. C
  • Teeth of Mars: Like Teeth of Terra, but for killing vehicles. S: User AP-2 D:2, granting +1 attack when activated. If targeting a vehicle, strength changes to S:x2. This can be given to a character to whack a bunch of S:8 D2 hits into a vehicle, while not significantly sacrificing ability to clear chaff. Losing a point of AP compared to a power fist is regrettable, but balanced out by not having a to-hit penalty and gaining an extra attack. Especially good with Might of Heroes as it gets you to S10 for fighting tanks. B+
  • Haywire Bolts: When firing a bolt weapon, make only a single attack, but when attacking a VEHICLE an unmodified wound roll of 4-5 inflicts D3 mortal wounds in addition to normal damage, and a 6 inflicts 3 mortal wounds in addition to normal damage. These are a useful trick to throw on a stalker bolt rifle Captain, where you can tap vehicles at 36″ for a decent chance of putting a couple mortal wounds on. Similar to the Raven Guard’s option, it’s also pretty great on an Eliminator sergeant. B
  • Fortis-Pattern Data Spike: A neat little relic which lets you roll 2d3 and pick the highest for repairs. This works well when combined with the Adept of the Omnissiah warlord trait, giving you a Techmarine with improved repairs and reliability. Still doesn’t compare to Feirros, but what does? B-

Stratagems

This book gives the Iron Hands 16 unique stratagems, most of which focus around vehicles and shooting. The stratagems fit the fluff of the Iron Hands very well – they lean into the same things your characters, warlord traits, and relics want to do, so synergize well with the rest of your army.

  • Mercy is Weakness – 1CP: Use in either the Shooting or Fight phase when an Iron Hands unit is chosen to shoot or fight. Select one enemy unit. Until the end of the phase, every model in your Iron Hands unit that is able to must target that unit. Unmodified wound rolls of 6+ causes an additional wound against that enemy unit. Useful to activate if you have a squad or weapon with a significant volume of shooting, but not great on something like a Repulsor that will likely be splitting fire. B
    Wings Note: In a similar fashion to using Doom, this helps a lot if you’re trying to “punch up” with S4 stuff against a T8 target, as it literally doubles your damage output.
  • Methodical Firepower – 1CP: Put an Iron Hands unit into Devastator Doctrine for the turn, if not already there. We’re not entirely sure why an Iron Hands army would ever leave the Devastator Doctrine, but if you do need to change this will let you slip a key unit back in. B
  • March of the Ancients – 1CP: After nominating your warlord, pick a dreadnought. It gains the CHARACTER keyword, +1 attack, and +1 leadership. Incredibly useful to let you turn a dreadnought into a character, allowing you to screen. If you want to run something a bit off-meta you could also use this to boost up a punchy Contemptor or Redemptor into a melee threat. As we discussed earlier, it also opens up giving a warlord trait to a Dreadnought via Hero of the Chapter, or if you give this to your warlord (remember that a warlord does not need to be a character) they can take one trait from being the warlord and a second from Paragon of Iron. Limited to one use per game. A
  • Vengeance for Istvaan 5 – 1CP: Have one unit re-roll all hits in melee against Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, Night Lords, or Alpha Legion. Not entirely sure why this doesn’t cover the Emperor’s Children, as Fulgrim was the one who made Ferrus Manus a head shorter, but it’s not a tremendously useful stratagem in general – you may not have a strong melee unit to use this on, and even if you do, when was the last time anyone put Word Bearers on the table? D
  • Wrathful Machine Spirit – 2CP: Use in the Shooting or Fight phase when selecting a friendly Iron Hands vehicle model. Until the end of the phase, re-roll hit rolls. This one is great, it gives you an emergency Chapter Master for your best vehicle when you need one. You should rarely be aiming to use this but it’s an extremely powerful ability to have in the back pocket. A
  • Souls of Iron – 2CP: Deny a psychic power within 24″ of any of your units on a 4+. Definitely more reliable than attempting to deny with one of your Librarians (although you explicitly get to try that before you’re obliged to activate this), and vastly expands the area in which you can attempt to deny powers. Has always been one of the most powerful stratagems wherever it appears and Iron Hands in no way needed this on top of the rest of the nonsense they get. A+
  • Scion of the Forge – 1CP: Give a Sergeant the Adamantium Mantle, Artificer Armor, a Master Crafted Weapon, Digital Weapons, Teeth of Mars, or Haywire Bolts. Most likely to be used to mastercraft an Intercessor thunder hammer, but could also give a Sergeant the Teeth of Mars, which is both much cheaper and plausibly better. B
  • Reject the Flesh, Embrace the Machine – 1CP: Give an INFANTRY unit a 5+++ Feel No Pain, or a character with the All Flesh is Weak trait to a 4+++ Feel No Pain for the rest of the phase when targeted by an attack. Stack this with Transhuman Physiology to turn a unit of Intercessors into a real strong tar pit. Actually has more benefit for a Successor, as they won’t already have the 6+++. B+
  • Engine Purge – 2CP: In the Devastator Doctrine, any attacks with Heavy or Grenade weapons increase the AP of the attack by one on an unmodified 6 to wound. Effectively, when this goes off it takes the AP of your heavy weapon to two better than native, which is almost always going to push you to hit someones invulnerable save. The only real problem with this stratagem is that your AP is already going to be good, and most Space Marine armies have limited CP. B
    Wings Note: 
    You can stack a *lot* of low-mid AP heavy stuff, so I think this is pretty great.
A classic Iron Hands battle pile repels the Tau.

A classic Iron Hands battle pile repels the Tau. Credit: Warhammer Community

  • The Gorgon’s Rage – 1CP: Add one to hit rolls with melee weapons, and also add one to wound rolls if fighting Emperor’s Children. Useful if your army has a strong melee unit, or if a large squad of Intercessors gets charged by an enemy unit. A good boost to your melee output. You can also combine this with Fury of the First to have Terminator power fists hitting on a 2+ C+
  • Cogitated Martydom – 1CP: Grot shields! An INFANTRY unit can intercept wounds off a character within 3″ on a 2+. The infantry squad acting as shields will take one mortal wound per wound the character would’ve taken, so a lascannon can potentially take out three Intercessors. A key thing to note is that this ability must be activated at the very beginning of the Shooting phase, so if you have tasty targets that aren’t shielded by your “grots” be prepared to defend them in other ways. A
  • Machine Empathy – 1CP: Have a Techmarine repair a second time, though you cannot repair the same target multiple times. A great way, especially with Feirros, to deal with the aftermath of a vehicle explosion or other form of AOE damage, or any time multiple vehicles end up taking damage. B
  • Paragon of Iron – 1CP: Give your warlord (who is not a named character) an additional trait. Does what it says on the tin. Gives you some fun options for your warlord, such as combining Will of Iron and All Flesh is Weak to get an extra-durable librarian that can double-deny. B
  • Optimal Repulsion Doctrines – 2CP: Overwatch on 4s if you have the Iron Hands chapter tactic, or 5s if you’re a successor using different tactics. As a gunline army, better overwatch means much more ability to stay out of melee. With Chapter Master re-rolls a unit will hit 75% of the time, which is definitely enough to blunt a charge. A
  • Auto-savant – 2CP: Once per battle (as long as your warlord is IRON HANDS and alive), keep a tactical objective after scoring it rather than discarding it, and it becomes available again next turn. There are a few missions like Deadlock where this is bad, but most of the time it’s outrageously good and easily the best of the four tactical objective manipulating strats, but unfortunately almost none of the people reading this sentence care even slightly. A
  • Bequeath by Iron Council – 1CP: Take an Iron Hands relic as a successor. Use this to take The Ironstone if you’re using a different chapter tactic than the Iron Hands. A

Strategy and Tactics

An armored advance by the Iron Hands faces off against the Tyranid onslaught.

An armored advance by the Iron Hands faces off against the Tyranid onslaught. Credit: Warhammer Community.

Now that we’ve gone over all the new options the Iron Hands have, let’s dig into how to combine everything into an army. We’re going to break this out into two sections, one looking at two potential options for army lists, and a second section looking at potential successor chapters.

Running Pure Iron Hands

An Iron Hands army is going to primarily devote itself to long range shooting with vehicles and dreadnoughts, and will spend most of their time in the Devastator Doctrine improving the heavy weapons of those vehicles. While they do have some ways to shift units back into Devastator Doctrine, there’s very little reason to ever leave the Doctrine; you have plenty of ways to kill hordes with heavy weapons, and little desire to ever shift into Assault Doctrine. Many of the best synergies in the Iron Hands codex support the classic Space Marine battle pile, especially combining the abilities of Feirros and The Ironstone. There are a couple key things to keep in mind both when building lists and actually using them:

  • You don’t have a lot of mobility. Consider how you’re going to deal with units hiding outside LOS, particularly if you play ITC and need to deal with magic boxes.
  • Your characters, while durable, are lynchpins of your list, and are vulnerable to being taken out.
    Wings Note: I’m not sure a T5 guy with 7 wounds and a 2+/5++/5+++ is “vulnerable” but sure let’s go with that.
  • Your vehicles are vulnerable to volume of fire. While The Ironstone and Duty Eternal combine for serious damage reduction on a dreadnought, they have no effect on something that starts at one damage.

In most pure Iron Hands armies you’re going to run Feirros and a Lieutenant as your bare minimum HQ choices, and that Lieutenant will be carrying The Ironstone. If you need to, you can get away without taking a Captain, since you’ll be picking up re-roll ones natively. We think you want to run a Captain anyways, which you’ll be boosting up to be a Chapter Master. While you have several ways to boost your accuracy, the expanded re-rolls help with both overwatch and shooting targets with hit penalties. Iron Hands psychic powers are also powerful, so we think you’ll want to take a Librarian in most situations. Your Librarian will usually want to be running Technomancy, and take Blessing of the Machine God and Reforge.

Beyond those character choices, Iron Hands armies will want to fill out heavy firepower – particularly Repulsor Executioners and Dreadnoughts of all varieties. These vehicles have the option of moving around freely with their native re-rolls and lack of a hit penalty, but will be somewhat limited by virtue of wanting to stay near Techmarine repairs and expanded re-rolls.

We’re going to look into two different options for lists, one based around Repulsors and one based around Dreadnoughts.

Floating Laser Fun Times – The Repulsors

For our first list we’re going to look at a list that bases its heavy firepower around a pair of Repulsor Executioners, giving the Iron Hands some tough vehicles with very long range firepower consolidated onto few targets for ease of buffs. We take a double battalion for command points, and rely on Intercessors to screen off the vehicles and characters. We’re spending a few extra points on the Librarian to put him in Terminator Armor, as it gives him an invulnerable save for protection from any sniping. The Chaplain grabs the Ironstone, and we spend an extra command point to give the Librarian the Tome of Malcador so he can take Might of Heroes from the Librarius discipline as well as the powers from Technomancy. A Leviathan Dreadnought provides the final asset of in the list, being nearly unkillable with a lot of damage output and overwatch resistance.

Army List - Click to expand

Iron Hands, 1,998 Points, 12 CP

== Battalion Detachment == Iron Hands [1437pts] 5 CP

HQ: Iron Father Feirros – 110 pts

HQ: Primaris Lieutenant w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle – 70 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Heavy Support: Repulsor Executioner w/ Heavy Laser Destroyer, Extra Ironhail Stubber – 330pts

Heavy Support: Repulsor Executioner w/ Heavy Laser Destroyer – 324pts

Heavy Support: Relic Leviathan Dreadnought w/ 2x Storm Cannon Array, 3x Hunter-Killer Missiles – 321pts

 

== Battalion Detachment == Iron Hands [561pts] 4 CP

HQ: Librarian in Terminator Armor w/ Force Sword, Storm Bolter – 110 pts
Relic: Tome of Malcador
Psychic Powers: Might of Heroes, Blessing of the Machine God, Reforge
Warlord: Will of Iron

HQ: Primaris Chaplain – 77pts
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Recitation of Focus
Relic: The Ironstone

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts

 

Walking Boxes – A Horde of Character Dreadnoughts

Credit: TheChirurgeon

Similar to our first list, our second list keeps most of the characters and Troops from the first battalion. This time we’re trading out our Repulsors and Leviathan for a set of 6 different dreadnoughts, all but one of which we upgrade to characters, making them untargetable behind the screen of infantry. The last dreadnought will be benefiting from The Ironstone and Duty Eternal to be incredibly hard to kill, hopefully directing fire into it rather than clearing screens. We’re also able to add two squads of Eliminators into our army, giving us some fun tools to deal with characters. This list ends up more able to deal with line of sight blockers, as the dreadnoughts aren’t as tied to a single short range buff source until their screens are down, and the squads of Eliminators can shoot line of sight ignoring shots if and when needed. Finally, all three Mortis Dreadnoughts will be shooting at BS2+, between Feirros’ ability, Blessing of the Machine God from the Librarian, and Recitation of Focus from the Chaplain.

Army List - Click to expand

Iron Hands, 1997 Points, 8 CP

== Battalion Detachment == Iron Hands [1280pts] 0 CP

HQ: Iron Father Feirros – 110pts

HQ: Primaris Lieutenant w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle – 70pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Thunder Hammer) – 101pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94pts

Elites: Relic Contemptor w/ Two Twin Lascannons, Cyclone Missile Launcher – 222pts

Elites: Venerable Dreadnought w/ Twin Lascannons, Twin Autocannons – 153pts
Stratagem: March of the Ancients

Elites: Venerable Dreadnought w/ Twin Lascannons, Twin Autocannons – 153pts
Stratagem: March of the Ancients

Heavy Support: Mortis Dreadnought w/ Two Assault Cannons – 119pts
Stratagem: March of the Ancients

Heavy Support: Mortis Dreadnought w/ Two Assault Cannons – 119pts
Stratagem: March of the Ancients

Heavy Support: Mortis Dreadnought w/ Two Twin Lascannons – 155pts
Stratagem: March of the Ancients

 

== Battalion Detachment == Iron Hands [607pts] 5 CP

HQ: Librarian in Terminator Armor w/ Force Sword, Storm Bolter – 110pts
Psychic Powers: Blessing of the Machine God, Reforge
Warlord: Will of Iron

HQ: Chaplain in Terminator Armor w/ Storm Bolter – 92pts
Relic: The Ironstone
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Recitation of Focus

Troops: 5 Scouts w/ Bolters – 55pts

Troops: 5 Scouts w/ Bolters – 55pts

Troops: 5 Scouts w/ Bolters – 55pts

Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92pts

Heavy Support: Eliminator Squad w/ Bolt Snipers (sgt. w/Instigator Bolt Carbine) – 74pts

Heavy Support: Eliminator Squad w/ Bolt Snipers (sgt. w/Instigator Bolt Carbine) – 74pts

Wings Note: Thanks, I hate it.

Successor Chapters

Space Marine Assault Marines

Swords Of Davion Assault Marines , Painted by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Outside of fluff reasons, you don’t want to run the Iron Hands as a successor chapter. Feirros is an incredibly powerful character, and the Iron Hands have a fairly unique 3-part chapter tactic, all portions of which will benefit you. Nonetheless, if you do want to run an Iron Hands successor, read on.

We’re going to start by taking a look at what the Iron Hands stratagems, relics, warlord traits, psychic powers, and unique doctrine bring to the table without considering the chapter tactic:

  • Calculated Fury makes them mobile – heavy weapons won’t be suffering a penalty to hit, and your army will be re-rolling 1s to-hit even when not near a captain.
  • Other than taking The Ironstone, the most useful relic is probably the Fortis-Pattern Data Spike, making a successor chapter good at repairing vehicles.
  • The stratagems improve durability, particularly for vehicles.
  • Warlord traits trend towards extra durability for the warlord and the entire army
  • The psychic powers have surprising ability to do damage as well as buff vehicles.

Examining these without the Iron Hands chapter tactic we see opportunities to run a durable army that’s much more focused on close-in pressure than the long range firebase of straight-line Iron Hands. Our thoughts about this are as follows:

  • Master Artisans – Re-roll a single hit and a single wound roll every time you shoot, fire overwatch, or fight.
  • Whirlwind of Rage – Unmodified hit rolls of 6 explode in melee

Since we’re going to be looking at close ranged pressure, we’ll end up splitting some of our units between holding our backfield objectives and combat, so we’re taking Master Artisans to spread re-rolls across all our units. We’re also going to take Whirlwind of Rage, which will give our melee units some much needed extra punch. We’re going to be packing a chaplain dreadnought, 9 vanguard veterans, and a few support characters into a storm raven, putting them into your opponents face on turn 2, while a Relic Contemptor rushes across the field taking advantage of Calculated Fury to continue shooting at full effectiveness as it moves. We can use March of the Ancients on both of our dreadnoughts for that extra attack while they’re in combat, and pack two warlord traits onto the Chaplain Dread with Paragon of Iron to make an extremely deadly and durable melee bomb.

Army List - Click to expand

SUCCESSOR, 1,999 Points, 7 CP

== Battalion Detachment == SUCCESSOR [1342pts] 1 CP

HQ: Chaplain Venerable Dreadnought w/ Storm Bolter, Twin Lascannon – 192 pts
Strategem: March of the Ancients
Warlord: The Imperium’s Sword
Strategem: Paragon of Iron: Legendary Fighter
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Mantra of Strength

HQ: Librarian w/ Bolt Pistol, Force Sword – 88 pts
Psychic Powers: Reforge, Objuration Mechanicum

HQ: Techmarine w/ Bolt Pistol, Power Axe, Servo Arm – 50 pts
Relic: Fortis-Pattern Data Spike

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Fist) – 94 pts

Elites: 9 Vanguard Veterans. Sgt w/ Chainsword, Thunder Hammer. 2 w/ Chainsword, Thunder Hammer. 6 w/ 2x Chainsword – 174 pts

Elites: Relic Contemptor Dreadnought w/ Dreadnought Chainfist, Storm Bolter, Twin Lascannon, Cyclone Missile Launcher – 222 pts
Strategem: March of the Ancients
Strategem: Hero of the Chapter: Merciless Logic

Flyer: Stormraven Gunship w/ Twin Lascannon, Twin Multi-Melta, Two Hurricane Bolters – 334 pts

 

== Battalion Detachment == SUCCESSOR [657pts] 3 CP

HQ: Lieutenant: Bolt Pistol, Chainsword – 60 pts

HQ: Chaplain w/ Jump Pack, Bolt Pistol – 90 pts
Relic: The Ironstone
Litanies: Litany of Hate, Canticle of Hate

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Sword) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Sword) – 94 pts

Troops: 5 Intercessors w/ Stalker Bolt Rifle (sgt. w/Power Sword) – 89 pts

Heavy Support: Thunderfire Cannon – 92 pts

Heavy Support: Eliminator Squad w/ Bolt Snipers (sgt. w/Instigator Bolt Carbine) – 74 pts

Heavy Support: Eliminator Squad w/ Bolt Snipers (sgt. w/Instigator Bolt Carbine) – 74 pts

Final Thoughts

The Iron Hands supplement is a huge win for fans of the chapter (all 5 of you!). Not only are there a smorgasbord of Stratagems, Relics, Warlord Traits and Psychic Powers that ooze Iron Hands feeling, everything synergizes extremely well to produce a book easily in contention for the most powerful supplement. Iron Hands armies are always going to lean towards staying in Devastator Doctrine whenever possible, keeping firing lanes open for devastating shots while their vehicles absorb nearly anything that is shot at them. There is some potential for an Iron Hands army to struggle against a highly mobile army that can really play to the mission and avoid being shot off the board, but canny strategies by the Iron Hands player will result in an army that is rarely less than extremely good. We expect to see Iron Hands armies starting to take the place of Knights as a tough gatekeeper in many tournaments.

 

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