The Goonhammer Round Table: Dealing With Iron Hands

With the release of Codex Supplement: Iron Hands and the rest of the new marine books, we’re about to see a large-scale shift in the 40k meta. We’ve already looked into the math around Iron Hands vehicles earlier this week in Kevin Genson’s Hammer of Math article, which ended up being one of our most-read articles to-date. Afterward, we saw a number of conversations and questions about how to answer Iron hands in the new meta. So we sat down some of the Goonhammer tournament regulars for their thoughts on dealing with Iron Hands vehicles moving forward.

Kevin Genson

The army I play (Primaris Marines) is irrelevant since I’m neither a tournament player nor any good at this game, but I was asked to look at a few scenarios. We know from the Hammer of Math article that the traditional anti-tank weapons that rely on high damage levels are largely irrelevant; the combination of Ironstone and Duty Eternal reduce the Damage characteristic by as much as 75% and the high invulnerable save means 50% of the attacks are disregarded outright. As a result, it seems like the best approaches employ one or more of these factors:

  1. A large quantity of shots to reduce the efficacy of the 4++ save.
  2. The ability to deal mortal wounds to bypass the 4++ save and ignore damage reduction.
  3. Sufficiently high strength (at least S5) to increase wound roll.
  4. AP -2 or better to ensure the save is as low as possible.

Examples of these weapons include heavy bolters, autocannons, disintegrators, and for volume of fire a Rapid Firing bolt rifle with AP -2. We can see the distribution of damage below.

As you can see, the numbers do not look good. Even with the volume of fire the quantities required are very unpleasant, with 41 disintegrator attacks having a 51% chance of killing the target. The heavy bolter and autocannon overlap (the heavy bolter is only AP -1, the autocannon only has two shots); if the heavy bolter was AP -2 it would be closer to the disintegrator profile. Shooting bolters at a fully protected Leviathan Dreadnought is a terrible idea. If you’re curious it takes, on average, over 1300 Imperial Guard lasguns to take down an Iron Hands Leviathan.

At the request of the other authors, I’ve also included some other unit breakdowns. For Robert, I looked at the damage a Lord Discordant might do charging in against a buffed Leviathan. While a Lord Discordant may reliably tear through a Knight in a single round of combat, it will only kill an Iron Hands Leviathan in a single round 20% of the time, and will kill it with a second round of combat 89% of the time, provided it gets to charge a second time. Otherwise your efficiency in the second round will drop dramatically as the Lord Discordant loses an attack and his weapon strength drops from x2 to +2. It’s also worth noting that with its ability to Overwatch on a 5+ or a 4+ with the Optimal Repulsion Doctrines stratagem, the Leviathan has a good chance of knocking 6+ wounds off the Lord Discordant as it charges in, further reducing its combat effectiveness.

Some other options that fare significantly better are Kastelan Robots with phosphor blasters and Imperial Fist Centurions using the Seismic Devastation stratagem from the Vigilus Defiant Siegebreaker Cohort Specialist Detachment to score additional mortal wounds on Wound rolls of a 6. Both of these options fare significantly better, and 6 Kastelan robots using the Wrath of Mars Stratagem along with Protector Protocols to double its shots and Belisarius Cawl’s aura will deal enough 1-wound shots and mortal wounds to blow through and kill a buffed Leviathan in a single volley 98% of the time. So it’s not impossible, just really, really hard.


Liam “Corrode” Royle

On the Drukhari front, it looks like Talos and souped-in haywire Harlequin Skyweavers are back on the menu (did they ever really leave?) Haywire’s ability to pop mortal wounds through, which don’t care about Duty Eternal or the Ironstone, is extremely valuable. Squeezing in a Black Heart detachment to allow you access to Agents of Vect, getting rid of the crucial early Armour of Contempt, may also be vital. Right now that means I’m thinking about reviving a list which Eric Hoerger was running for most of last year and the early part of this year, with 8 Talos, 6 Skyweavers, and some Razorwing Jetfighters which can pile on some missile shots and somewhat neutered disintegrators. The potential for mortal wounds from the Shadowseer and the haywire from the Talos and bikers should hopefully dunk something off early doors, although you are very much at risk of the return fire decimating you.

The other army I’m going to be using a lot over the next few months is the Crimson Fists, and my hope is that the wording of the rumoured Fists trait allows it to be a straight +1/-1 cancellation of the Ironstone’s effect. This isn’t great – you basically lose out on the bonus – but it’s a lot better than the alternative everyone else faces of their weapons getting straight up worse. If all else fails, getting something in to deliver a fist to the face of Feirros and/or the Ironstone holder will have to do.


Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson

These guys sure love robots PC: Pendulin

I’m going to look at the Iron Hands problem through two lenses: Ad Mech, and Ultramaines

My current Ad Mech list can disassemble multiple Knight lists over and over again. In a way I do not feel Iron Hands Executioners will be much different even with the Ironstone. 16 5++/6+++ Wounds with autocannons and Disintegrator shots being reduced to 1D versus 24 4++/6+++ wounds feels about the same amount of shooting: dump the whole army into one, and now there are fewer things shooting at you. What is concerning is that if the dice go cold over all the shooting, the target will survive and gets repaired up potentially 6+d3 wounds. After playing a similar matchup once now, the thing I will probably change (other then adding auto include tech-dad, Daedalosus from Blackstone Fortress) is to upgrade the Icarus Arrays to Neutron Lasers.  That will provide enough punch to force more damage through the stone and also provides some scary shooting back at non-Iron Hands Repulsor Executioners, which will still be common, but lack an invulnerable save.

The Leviathan was already a “not worth shooting” target with the 2+/4++ and is now laughably hard to kill with the strat and stone. This guy might be more mobile and hits harder with its Doctrine’d AP boost but he has short-legged shooting and is actually vulnerable to getting tagged. Sure the Leviathan can walk out and shoot for 2CP in (probably) every Marine supplement, but Marines don’t exactly have a ton of CP so even forcing that can setup a later turn “half damage this, you CP drained, half dead, zombie jerk”.

The rest of Ad Mech will do fine against Executioners. Kastellans are a little slow but at least have an invul and Wrath of Mars pushes enough mortal wounds to probably kill an Executioner or a Leviathan in one double tapping activation. Kataphron Destroyers and Breachers suffer against the Leviathan but melt Executioners.  Electopriests, if they can get delivered and a no LOS charge or have something else absorb the overwatch, will tear down both problem units all the same.

From my double Executioner/triple Warsuit Ultramarine perspective, it really turns into the ultimate “who shoots first” tank duel. Watching 3 Executioners die in the first activation is going to be a real phenomenon, however a trade that will strongly favor the Iron Hands player if his invulnerable saves work out. After that it’s relying on the warsuits to get into combat and killing what they can before the “small arms” kill them. Being able to hopefully bait a bad deployment and Rapid Redeploy behind cover to avoid at least double shooting Executioners will be vital as the Ultras player if you are going second. Finally, if you are stuck having to take it on the chin, keep your characters out to provide the reroll bubbles. It’s worth risking taking damage in the explosions to be able to reroll those Vengeance of the Machine Spirit Laser Destroyer shots.

The Leviathans are as much of a nightmare for Ultras as anyone else, but the solutions are the same. Out-range/LOS them, kill the support, force CP expenditure by touching it in combat, and pounce when you can with 1D shooting.

The Executioner mirror feels like the old Castellan Knight mirrors: who rolls better invulnerables wins. The Leviathan twist is like shooting at a Riptide with drones except 6 drones come back a turn (with a CP) if you don’t kill 14 of them at once.

Finally, even with the filthy amount of resilient shooting the Iron Hands battle pile can provide, Executioners and Leviathans don’t move that fast and playing the mission might just be the answer.  Hammer what you can, pick up whatever support exposes itself, and go for those sweet sweet hold more points.


James “One_Wing” Grover

Fire Prisms
Fire Prisms. Credit: Wings

Iron Hands present a severe challenge to the way I like to run my lists, as to put it bluntly, they can basically just out-shoot me, and have strong counters to a lot of the tools I can bring to the table.

Depending on the terrain though, Eldar aren’t completely without answers, and that’s why my immediate response is to bring my Fire Prisms out of retirement. The big constraint the Iron Hands list has over the stuff that chased them out of my army before (Knights) is that it has to stay clustered up to get the benefit of the Ironstone. Any Repulsor leaving that bubble can be blown apart in pretty short order, and while the aura only being 3” isn’t as much of a drawback as GW seem to think it is, it’s not nothing either. Playing on a double l-block setup, I think there’s a reasonable chance that I can use Phantasm to hide at least some of my Fire Prisms if I’m going second. Forcing them to move and play 

Fire Prisms being D3 damage on their best profile rather than flat 2 helps a lot for trying to pop one as well, as it makes a surprising difference to your rate of damage against the Ironstone once you math it out. It isn’t perfect, but a full Link should get one of them a decent way down, hopefully far enough to allow planes to finish the job, especially if I can force Jinx through either via them botching the strat roll or Vecting it. If you can pop one Repulsor early I think that gives you game to push for a win by controlling the board, although terrifyingly I’m still not sure I’d bet on my army in a straight shoot out with the remaining two Executioners even after alpha striking the first – the re-rolls marines can stack up just make them way too reliable against the invuln-poor Eldar army.

Against a Leviathan the strategy is different – I just want to play keep away and focus on deleting the rest of the opponent’s army. Fire Prisms help here again – it takes a good long while for a leviathan to shuffle into range of them, and Crimson Hunters can also engage from outside strike range. If Leviathans become extremely prevalent it’s probably time for the banshees to come back, as trading a squad to lock one down for a turn is valuable. The other tool to “easily” plug into my army as a specific counter would be 2-model warlock conclave, granting me the ability to chuck Jinx onto a target from 36” when the time is right, avoiding the deny strat.

If I wanted to try and straight up counter this list and owned every Eldar model in numbers, Haywire is where I’d look. All the buffs in the world don’t super help a Leviathan or Repulsor if enough Haywire goes into it. A squad of six Skyweavers is worth just over 7 wounds total into a Repulsor or Leviathan on average dice, so if you’re willing to commit to bringing 12+ (or 6 and 3×5 Haywire Scourges) they give you the tools to kill stuff pretty handily. A couple of Masque options can help too – Soaring Spite lets you advance and throw up a 3++ without penalising your shooting, while Dreaming Shadow gives you a chance to shoot on death (improved if you have the warlord trait), helping give you another chance to catch your opponent out if you miss the kill. Getting a squad of bikes into combat is tasty too (and can be aided/abetted by various no-overwatch options), as if a vehicle falls back if catches Cegorach’s Jest (shoot when a target you engaged falls back) right in the face. Dreaming Shadow seems like potentially the best choice since if you can use your mobility to get a powerful first punch in, all these options that give you attrition as your opponent fights back will hopefully grind them out of the game. An 18 Skyweaver list performed at NOVA, and Talos seem like they should be moderately well placed in a Marine meta as well, so look for these as the premium counters coming out of Eldar.

Elsewhere, I know my co-writers are going to cover some of the other mortal wound shooting options, but I do want to draw attention to some more esoteric ways to deal with stuff, specifically melee options. Obviously the Repulsor’s backwash does make getting into combat a bit harder, but some factions (White Scars, Genestealer Cults) have the tools to get around it and the killing power to do damage once they’re in. The White Scars Lightning Claw bomb looks very appealing against this stuff – properly buffed up they’re +3 to charge with a re-roll and can’t be overwatched, meaning they have a substantial chance of making it even through a backwash field. Once in, 41 S5 attacks with wound re-rolls hitting on 2s is pretty much the perfect tool to try and land some actual damage. They still need a bit of help to land a straight up kill, but take a chunk out of the enemy while presenting a non-trivial threat that needs urgent dealing with. If they only narrowly miss on killing, Butchered Quarry can also let them put some parting shots in as the targets fall back. Master of Snares to stop a fall back is also, obviously, a brutally effective counter (as are similar effects like the Contorted Epitome in Chaos).

Khorne Berserkers are the other surprisingly effective tool that can punch surprisingly hard. 10 Black Legion Berserkers in Abaddon’s aura using Merciless Fighters and Vets of the Long War take an alarming chunk out of any of this still, dealing 13-14 wounds to a Repulsor or about 10 to a Leviathan, kicking both into range where you can fight again to finish them off. I have no idea how you deliver this, to be fair, but it exists. Acolyte Hybrids buffed with Vial of the Grandsire’s Blood and the deliverance broodsurge strat are another thing that kills via sheer volume of mid S/mid AP attacks, and are much more practical to deliver.

None of this is perfect, and I’m very concerned that we might be about to enter a rather dark time for the metagame. We’ve never seen a codex quite so up-front in its brutality as the Iron Hands book, arguably not even pre-nerf knights, and it will be interesting to see whether it can be adapted around or not.


Dark Angels Intercessors
Dark Angels Intercessors by Tyler “Coda” Moore

Chase “Gunum” Garber

I’m only here cause I’m stubbornly playing Dark Angels, and as the worst* of the Marine codexes, my options for dealing with the scourge of the Iron Hands are pretty limited, especially when it comes to dealing with Leviathans or Contemptors. The biggest problem that Iron Hands provides to me is the damage reduction protecting all of their big guns. With Dark Angels, one of my biggest tools is being able to lean into the Weapons of the Dark Age Stratagem to increase my damage to a point where I can hopefully just straight-up trade with anything. That goes right out the window once my 3-damage plasma shots are halved down to 2, then reduced to 1. Weight of wounds when trying to dig through at 4++, 6+++ target is nigh impossible without an almost endless amount of saves dumped onto one model. Especially when we take into account the 6 wounds being healed every turn, when you shoot something, it has to die that turn or your shots are wasted.

So! What can I do as a Dark Angels player? Focus on target priority, also conveniently a Warlord trait we still have access to! (Sometimes being the Dark sheep has some benefits). We need to treat every gunboat/dread as an Imperial Knight. Using things like plasma Inceptors, (high shots, average wound potential), Black Knights, (turn one plasma delivery, high shots, average wound) and my current secret sauce: Drop Pods full of plasma vets, or even melta vets, are pretty much our best options. 

The most helpful thing is to take out the character. Feirros is the issue. If we can take him down, we have a really great shot. He will be in every single Iron Hands list at his bargain 110 point cost. Dark Angels’ sub-par, (read as bad), chapter tactic of re-rolling 1s if we don’t move actually can be pretty nice for our Eliminators. Though having a line of sight on Feirros might be almost impossible, if you are able to use the Eliminators’ scout deploy to get some guns on him, we are really able to step up. 

Weapons of the Dark Age is almost worthless against the IH’s tank lists because of the -1 damage reductions. It’s an odd place to be, but if we see Executioners we should be happy, as the Duty Eternal Stratagem only applies to Dreadnoughts, meaning our overcharged plasma might have a shot of doing a whopping 2 damage! Watch out! Using things like the less-seen, Plasma-cutioner variant to deliver downtown S9 plasma shots helps with the match up. 

The final option I see as being a possibility, is leaning into weight of protected shots, our Knights in shining armor, the Talon Masters and Sammy in his speeder. They have the range, they are characters, and they have the shots to really do some damage to just about everything. Now, wounding on 5’s and only being 1 damage might not seem too impressive. But we are able to use them as a means to deliver killing blows on any of the dreads or tanks we were able to drag down using some of our heavier weapons. 

We can not rely on charges, as much as getting that dream 12 in charge off and wrapping a Leviathan would feel amazing, with the Phobos units currently being around, and the emergence of the Genestealers really being present, 12 in no deep strike bubbles will exist. So our Deathwing Knights and our Termies are going to be hard to include. 

Defensively, we have our Darkshroud giving us a little survivability, but that would only be if we go first. Relaying on Jink for our 4++ will really bring us to a level of “maybe possibly living through executioner shots.” We can also try and be a little aggressive with Librarians to apply another -1 to hit onto those cheeky BS 2 Leviathans. The final option is looking into Azrael green wing and being able to weather shooting through his 4+ invulnerable save aura. Unfortunately, as much as I can plan to try and live the issue circles right back around to damage output and actually killing the models. And right now, the only consistent plan I can find is: Kill the Character, then the tanks, then the dreadnoughts. There will be trades and you need to go into the list building process knowing our more fleshed-out brothers have toys that we need to kill. The biggest things that can help us are snipers, high strength, and consistent damage. 

But hey, if you’re like me and playing Dark Angels, sacrifice is its own reward. Good hunting. 


*Grey Knights are giving me a run for my money as the worst.


James “Boon” Kelling

Big Papa Slice and the Ghostly Bois. Credit: Boon

I admit that the Iron Hands release (I see you too Salamanders) has broken me and I am currently typing this from deep within the bitter, cold, drafty halls of my salt fortress. Welcome to Boon’s Bitterness Club.

I’ll focus solely on the Aeldari view as I currently limit myself to just playing pointy-eared factions for relationship and sanity reasons. As I think about the Iron Hands, some things stand out very clearly:

  1. Competitive players will gravitate to them because they are easy-mode 40k
  2. Two damage weapons are good against Marines, terrible against Iron Hands
  3. The Relic Leviathan is hilariously tough
  4. Repulsor Executionors are only slightly less hilariously tough with way more dakka
  5. Character Mortis dreads is also kind of funny

A friend once illuminated for me the term “putting them in their seat”. The moment when your opponent sits down despondently, just going through the motions of rolling dice, all hope being lost, while looking like Eeyore. GW custom built this army to put gamers in their seats.

Offensively, the access to re-rolls or plus modifiers and defensively, the combination of damage reduction, invulnerable saves, feel-no-pains and general T8 on Iron Hands RepExec’sTM means it requires an absurd amount of anti-tank weaponry to bring them down while being hard to keep your stuff alive with traditional Aeldari tricks. I’m not going to even touch the Leviathan which Kevin recently wrote an excellent review for with his Mathfucker9000. The premium you’d pay to bring this kind of AT will cost you in non-IH games and if you fail to kill at least one of the vehicles (very… possible) you’ll get to sit back and enjoy as it heals 7+ damage back and then collectively blasts all your anti-tank options off the board.

As I look across the competitive list options of the four Aeldari factions, there are not a lot of great tools. The shining bright spot is also the obvious one, Skyweavers. Depending on the circumstances, it’ll take somewhere between 12 and 18 Skyweavers to reliably one-shot (and you must one-shot) a RepExecTM. In this meta that’s not too bad, as Skyweavers have some general utility again. However, for the 540-810 points you’re going to pay, that’s an awful lot of one-dimensional investment that will auto-lose against a half-way competent Tau player. The second problem is that you’ll need to go first, otherwise you’ll require an awful lot of large LOS blocking terrain to hide your bikes or pay 3CP to deep-strike them on Turn 2. A final problem with Skyweavers is that even if you kill one of the RepExecsTM, the most common lists I’ve seen have 2 + Leviathan or 3 along with some other crowd control. At T4, 4+/4++ you’re guaranteed to lose at minimum one squad in the return fire, and from there your ability to compete against these rapidly deteriorates.

I think the most likely scenario for Aeldari handling the Iron Hands while remaining competitive is going to be some combination of mass fire. One damage weaponry that can be brought in buckets in conjunction with Doom and maybe Jinx where appropriate. Multiple squads of scatterbikes, maybe some deep-striking Guardians, Skyweavers, etc. The obvious problems are the need for multiple squads and powers to work at once JUST TO KILL ONE TANK and then the inevitable, devastating return fire that cripples your ability to kill a second or third. In truth I don’t think there are good options, just less bad ones.

Ironically, I think the faction best equipped to handle Iron Hands is other Space Marines – maybe that’s the secret, just let them beat each other and mop up the results like a true Aeldari hero. Or you could just join me in the chair, staring despondently at my opponent’s Ultramarine themed Iron Hands tanks and thinking about my empire of salt in which I am king.


Scott Horras “Heresy”

I mean… I hate to say it, but unless something else comes up, Guard is utterly screwed against Iron Hands. Iron Hands Repulsors are just gonna dunk on me all day… so I’m starting an IH army :^)


Ultramarines Primaris Captain
Ultramarines Primaris Captain. Credit: Artum

Patrick “Artum” Robins

I’ve been reasonably skeptical on the practicalities of the Ironstone’s 3” aura and doubly so after watching a local player running a pair of storm cannon Leviathans flub that part of the battleplan and get tabled by Guard superheavies the night prior to writing this, but you can’t really balance an ability by operator failure and the Ironstone remains too much in its current form. Furthermore, a large part of the success in that battle was down to a Shadowsword volcano cannon and few armies have easy access to damage well above 6 in their anti tank arsenal.

The game already suffers when given insufficient terrain and adding in a simple build that has no workable responses beyond just hiding and capping objectives compounds that issue, as your only hope against triple Repulsor is that you force them to move out of position to get an angle on you but in doing so lose Ironstone coverage, and at that point a Repulsor with Feirros is less durable than an unrotated Knight which everyone has ample practice in jumping on.

I remain extremely dubious that this will take up residence on top tables in the way that Guilliman Repulsor spam or everyone’s old friend Castellan/BA/Guard did, but it’s definitely going to be miserable when someone wheels it into your LGS.


Jonathon “TheArmorOfContempt” Reynolds

Ultramarine Suppressors
Ultramarine Suppressors. Credit: Jonathon Reynolds

As an Ultramarines player, Iron Hands present a problem that has been around for much of the edition, they’re basically Tau 2.0. As many of the people above have already explained the numbers don’t come out in your favor, trying to simply “shoot them first” is not a winning strategy by itself. That being said, if you have ever played against Tau, many of their same strengths and weaknesses are shared by the Iron Hands.

Anyone familiar with Space Marines is likely aware how hard it can be to properly position a castle around a 6 inch aura on a table with any amount of line of sight blocking terrain, even when using vehicles like Executioners. It needs to be pointed out, that while a Leviathan is also a major threat, the real threat here is Executioners, as so many of the buffs being received by Iron Hands play specifically to the strength of this grav tank. Anyway, The Ironstone, for example, has an aura radius of half that of your traditional buffing characters, which is actually worse than it sounds because the surface area covered by this aura is barely 1/4th of what is provided by a 6 inch bubble. The removal of Guilliman’s reroll wound aura and lack of Chapter Master special character means Iron Hands are likely required to bring Feirros and at least a Lt and Chapter Master to maximize their shooting potential. Even with this, triple Executioners will lack the killing power they had prior to the codex because even a Lt/Master combination can’t match Guilliman’s old wording. 

On more than one occasion I have found it in my best interest to hide from Tau gunlines as best I can, and that is likely going to be the case against Iron Hands as well. Using terrain in combination with the re-deploy stratagem is important to forcing your opponent into a bad position, or perhaps tempting him into pulling a tank out of buffing range for the opportunity to fire on you. 

Going forward my main strategy, to counter this build will be to use Seal of Oath to buff a fire base, most likely a Relic Contemptor Dreadnaught or two (armed with Cyclones and Lascannons), to quickly destroy one Executioner. The use of a Dreadnought or two as your anti-tank is very important since the Duty Eternal stratagem is key to them surviving for any length of time when exchanging fire with Executioners. Alternatively, I might bring a unit of grav-cannon Devastators to capitalize on any exposed vehicles, although the Ironstone has the potential to neuter this option if your damage rolls aren’t good. It is important to note my plan would not be to kill all three Executioners at range, but to shoot well enough to eliminate one or two, while closing with my opponent’s army using Aggressors and Intercessors supported by Guilliman/Calgar to either destroy them them with weight of small arms fire or directly in assault. The parallels here to Tau might be familiar to anyone who has played Ultras for a while, who are no stranger to finding their Primarch basically alone after most of their army has been shot off the table. 

The most important thing to realize is that against Iron Hands the numbers aren’t in your favor, much like they aren’t when playing Tau. Avoiding conflict for a turn or two and playing a conservative game is likely more in your favor than your opponents’.


Imperial Fists Centurion Devastator Squad
Imperial Fists Centurion Devastator Squad. Credit: Jack Hunter

Jack “BenBooley” Hunter

As a primarily Imperial Fists player, I anticipate being a little better-suited to handle most of the Iron Hands durability than most other Marines. I’m not tremendously worried about shooting the Repulsors – they’re going to be tough but are still damageable. I’m more worried about the Leviathan, combining Duty Eternal and The Ironstone for incredible resilience. I’m unlikely to have significant mobility in my list that I’m willing to tie up for several turns, so the strategy of charging a nearby character and wrapping into the Leviathan is unlikely to be regularly viable. I also don’t have the weight of models to just ignore it all game – while the 32” threat range may not have it shooting me turn 1, it’s going to be hard to avoid in subsequent turns, and storm cannons are perfectly designed to kill Primaris.

That brings me to needing to actually kill it, which means I want a strategy that can, as much as possible, avoid having to interact with either Duty Eternal or The Ironstone, and that means lots of D1 shots. Siegebreaker Centurions are going to be my go-to here. Assuming I use a Chaplain (or Tor Garadon once my supplement releases) to buff them to BS 2+, the heavy bolters alone should hit 42 times, forcing 16 4+ saves (as I’m shooting with AP-2 weapons that ignore cover) and 8 mortal wounds. With the 6+++ Feel No Pain, I’ll be doing around 13 damage to it. Tap in the rest of my army shooting high-volume weapons at it and it should die. Infiltrators are another unit likely to force the Leviathan to take multiple saves (even if they’ll be 2+) as each hit roll of 6 turns into 2 auto-wounds, helping counter out the typical futility of trying to damage a T8 target with S4 weapons. Edit: This last bit was written just before the FAQ update to remove this interaction. Infiltrators do still have a higher chance of tapping a wound on than shooting with other S4 guns, but they no longer produce two wounds for each roll of a 6

My concern when using the Centurions is that they make a juicy target for the Leviathan, with it pushing an average of 7 wounds through on Centurions in cover for a total of 14 damage – and at 4w per Centurion none of that damage is going to waste. That’s why I’ve been looking at the math assuming my Centurions are only firing their heavy bolters. With a 36” range (40” threat range assuming movement) they beat out the Leviathan, so if I’m able to deploy them after the Leviathan deploys I can put them right outside the Leviathan 32” threat range, so if it goes first it can’t reach me, and it needs to be able to move a full 8” exactly away from me to avoid my range.

One thing to remember when looking at those Centurion numbers is that all this math is still only looking at the 50% average result, and the outcome is so close to the edge that there’s a lot of room for the Leviathan to still not die – and if the Centurions don’t do at least 6-9 wounds it’s going to be repaired back up to full on the next turn.


Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

For me the worst part of this is that I wrote in “Your Legion Sucks” like three months ago that “no one plays Iron Hands and no one ever will,” so congrats to GW for owning the shit out of me there. 

As a Chaos Space Marines player, this is rough for me. The general strategy seems to be “ignore the vehicles and kill the Iron Father”, but Chaos has essentially zero sniper units in their toolbox. That means that the primary focus is likely to be “do a shitload of mortal wounds, then finish a thing off with shooting or close combat if I’m close enough to get through the -2 to charge distance effect.” 14 mortal wounds is a pretty tall order, though! That’s gonna mean 7 Smites on average, or getting off a few Smites plus Doombolt and a few other powers. Artum mentioned I should try casting Death Hex on a Repulsor, which is an option, but not a particularly reliable one — I’m loathe to try and bank on it since it means I have to put a Sorcerer within 12” of the Iron Hands battle pile and at Warp Charge 8, the cast will fail more often than it succeeds unless I have a re-roll handy.

The way I’ve traditionally dealt with Leviathans is to throw Berserkers at them, where a triple-fighting Veterans of the Long War group of madmen can average 5+ wounds per round of fighting. The problem will be getting them into combat without losing the whole squad to 5+ or 4+ overwatch shooting. I’m already terrified of trying to throw a Lord Discordant at a Leviathan after seeing Kevin’s stats at the top of the article.

Ultimately I worry that Chaos strategies will boil down to trying to out-maneuver the battle pile while killing the other 800 points on the table.


Greg “Greg” Chiasson

I’m sitting cross-legged on a tatami mat, sipping matcha and reflecting on the day. I gaze out serenely at the city and feel a oneness with all life. After a day full of visiting shrines, eating delicious meals, and communing with people from across all of space and time, I feel spiritually and physically nourished. Enlightenment is close at hand, and as I meditate, I see something new in my mind’s eye, an object unbidden arising from my unconscious mind. I dwell on it, rotating the object in three dimensions as I consider the meaning of this vision that has been gifted to me. The image resolves: it is a book. I sip my tea, and allow the significance of this to reveal itself. I see now, it’s the Iron Hands Codex, and I understand – completely, instantly, and without knowing how I know this – everything in the book and what it means . My blood pressure spikes so hard that I pass out and hit my head on the kotatsu, killing me instantly.