Wednesday 20 April 2016

Angels of Death Codex Review- Part 3: Iron Hands

Welcome to part 3 of my review of the Angels of Death codex supplement that was recently released. This part will focus on the new rules and formations for the Iron Hands chapter.
I think that Iron Hands are regarded as one of the more competitive chapters in the Space Marine codex (along with my favoured White Scars) thanks to the improved durability of their forces through access to army-wide Feel no Pain (6+) and It Will Not Die. I think the new rules and formations detailed in Angels of Death will help make them an even more competitive choice for marine players.

The Chapter Tactics for the Iron Hands are The Flesh is Weak and Machine Empathy.
The Flesh is Weak provides infantry with a 6+ feel no pain roll. In addition, if they have access to another source of feel no pain, they get +1 to their roll (so a Narthecium would provide a 4+ feel no pain roll).
Machine Empathy gives Iron Hands vehicles It Will Not Die. It also gives Iron Hands techmarines +1 to Blessings of the Omnissiah rules.
Angels of Death also gives the Iron Hands a couple of new special rules for army building. March of the Ancients allows Dreadnoughts to be taken in a Heavy Support slot, while Scions of the Forge allows you to take up to 3 techmarines for every HQ choice (who don't use up a slot in the force organisation chart themselves). This allows you to load up on Dreadnoughts and Techmarines if you wish to better utilise the Iron Hands' special rules.
I like the bonuses that the Iron Hands get. If it wasn't for the White Scars, I would consider using these as my regular marine army.

Iron Hands now get their own warlord table to roll on, giving some nice characterful bonuses to your warlord or army.
ADEPT OF THE OMNISSIAH- Gives your warlord Blessings of the Omnissiah. If he already has it, gets to re-roll when attempting a repair. This seems to be a decent enough bonus to your warlord. I never really use Techmarines, so don't know how useful this rules can be in games.

WILL OF IRON- Warlord is Fearless. As I have said before, I think a Fearless Warlord (or any independent character) is a worthy inclusion in any marine army.

ALL FLESH IS WEAKNESS- Warlord gets +1 to any Feel no Pain rolls. I think this is one that most people will want to get. Combined with a Narthecium, this will give your warlord a 3+ feel no pain roll (which gets more ridiculous with the new formation).

MERCILESS RESOLVE- Warlord and units within 12" get Crusader. A decent bonus, but not great I think.

TARGET PROTOCOLS- Warlord and his unit get to re-roll to hit rolls of 1 when shooting. A decent bonus that will depend on what your warlord and his unit are armed with.

A pretty decent set of warlord traits for the Iron Hands. I think All Flesh is Weakness is the stand out when combined with the Iron Hands' chapter tactics. Will of Iron is a pretty close second for me.

The Iron Hands also get access to a number of their own Relics too.

The Mindforge Stave
Essentially, a cheaper force power fist. This may be a nice weapon for your Librarian. The chances of wounding with (generally) S8 AP2 are pretty high, with force providing instant death.

The Axe of Medusa
A +2S, AP2 unwieldy axe that becomes +2S on to hit rolls of 6. For the same cost as a power fist, you get an axe that will give you the same strength 1 in 6 times. The only benefits to The Axe of Medusa are that it is master-crafted and not a specialist weapon, so you will get +1 attack for having a bolt pistol. I might be inclined to just go with the power fist for the guaranteed strength 8 with every attack.

The Ironstone
Friendly tanks and walkers within 6" pass It Will Not Die on a 4+. On the roll of a 6, this repairs a weapon destroyed or Immobilised result. I can see a Chaplain with this leading a squad of Dreadnoughts to combat, using this to aid their survivability. The only issue with me for It Will Not Die is that it is not a save, but a roll at the end of the turn. This assumed any glancing or penetrating hits will not destroy the vehicle before you get a chance to use it.

Betrayer's Bane
This is essentially a master-crafted combi-melta where the melta can be used more than once. For only 15 pts extra, this seems like a good deal to me if you are able to get in range to fire more than one shot. It is really annoying when you fire your single combi-melta shot and miss with it. This gets to fire multiple times and the master-crafting should help your chances to hit.

The Gorgon's Chain
An invulnerable save and extra abilities that get worse the more the character is wounded. At full wounds, the character gets a 3+ invulnerable save, +1 Feel no Pain and Eternal warrior, decreasing to a 4+ invulnerable save after several wounds.
This is a pretty expensive Relic (45 pts!), but I think it will be worth it. I wonder if it would have worked better with the bonuses reversed? The more wounds you cause on the character, the harder they become to kill.

The Tempered Helm
All friendly units within 24" can use the bearer's leadership for morale checks. A single unit within 12" get to re-roll to Hit rolls of 1 in shooting. A decent Relic which should provide Ld 9 or 10 to most of your army and help one unit's shooting.

A decent set of Relics. The Gorgon's Chain is expensive, but I think it will see a lot of use due to the nasty combinations you can get when paired with the Iron Hands' chapter tactics and formations (more on this below). Betrayer's Bane is also decent, but it depends how many shots you will get with it if it is worth the cost overall. The others I could survive without.

The Iron Hands get their own tactical objectives to replace 11-16 in the regular deck.

METHODICAL DESTRUCTION- Choose 3 enemy units and label 1-3. You get victory points for destroying unit 1, extra for 1 and 2 and maximum points for all 3 units. I like this one. It forces you to think about target priority and rewards you for taking risks to destroy all three units.

ADVANCE AND SECURE- Score if you control the objective marker closest to the centre of the board (if there are equidistant objectives, your opponent chooses which one). Again, another nice one. You are forced to advance, but not too far into your opponent's deployment zone.

MARCH OF THE MACHINES- Score if one of your walkers assaulted. Not too bad. It is dependent on you having a walker in your army. I don't think Dreadnoughts are considered a particularly competitive choice these days, but perhaps the Iron Hands' chapter tactics and some of the Relics may make them a bit more useful in the army.

DESTROY THE WEAK- Score D3 if you destroy a unit in the shooting and assault phase. Some nice bonus points for what should be quite an achievable objective.

THE STRENGTH OF METAL- Score if one of your models regains a wound or hull point from Machine Empathy or you make a successful Blessing of the Omnissiah roll. Again, should be relatively achievable for most types of Iron Hands armies.

COLD FURY- Score if an enemy unit was destroyed by one of your vehicles, bonus points for destroying more units. Again, may be easy or more difficult depending on your army composition.

Some decent tactical objectives cards for the Iron Hands, better than the Imperial Fists ones I think. I like the move towards tactical objectives allowing you to choose certain targets with big bonuses for completing them.

The Iron Hands also get their own Gladius-type formation with some great bonuses to the army.

The command benefits for the formation are:
LOGICAL COMMANDER- Your warlord gets 2 warlord traits, one of which must come from the Tactical or Strategic tables. This is a pretty good bonus; the Strategic table is generally regarded as one of the best warlord trait tables and the Tactical table is great for maelstrom missions, plus you get another warlord trait.

REJECT THE FLESH, EMBRACE THE MACHINE- All models add +1 to their Feel no Pain roll when within 12" of an independent character from the detachment (including the character himself, I assume). This is a great bonus and will provide a 5+ feel no pain for any of your models within range of a character, greatly increasing the durability of your army. You will probably want several Independent characters in the formation to get maximum bonus from the rules.

ROUSED MACHINE SPIRITS- Vehicles in the strike force gain power of the machine spirit within 12" of an independent character. A nice bonus allowing you to fire an extra weapon each turn with your vehicles.

The strike force consists of the standard options of 1-2 Core choices, 1+ Auxiliary choices and 0-3 command choices.

The command choices consist of a Strike force command, Reclusiam command squad and Librarius Conclave. The Strike Force command is unusual in that it consists of either a single Captain (inc. terminator captain), Chaplain or Venerable Dreadnought (plus optional command squad or honour guard). The inclusion of the Dreadnought is a nice thematic choice for the Iron Hands.

The Core choices consist of a Battle Demi-Company, Armoured Task Force or Stormlance Battle Demi-Company (first introduced in the Kauyon supplement). This should provide you with plenty of bodies and vehicles to benefit from the special rules.

The Auxiliary choices include many from Codex Space Marines such as the 1st Company Task Force, 10th Company Task Force, as well as the Skyhammer Annihilation Force. It also includes the option for taking a single Dreadnought (all 3 types) or a Tactical Squad and Dreadnought as auxiliary choices. I like the auxiliaries that allow you to take only 1 or 2 cheap units rather than 3+ units or vehicles. This makes the formation more useful for low points games.

The Iron Fists rules and new formations open up some very tough combinations for a Space Marine player.
For example, an Iron Hands Chapter Master with Artificer armour on a bike with the Gorgon's Chain, backed up by a Command Squad (with Apothecary) in the Fist of Medusa Strike Force is a very powerful tank. This character will have T5, 4 wounds, with a 2+ armour save, 3+ invulnerable save and a 2+ Feel no Pain save and Eternal Warrior (at least until he is wounded). Anything short of a Demolisher cannon round is going to have a tough time getting past those stats. Add in the new Earth Blood psychic power to restore lost wounds and the Chapter Master will be nigh-on invincible. In addition, the rest of the Command Squad will get a 3+ Feel no Pain save when in range of the Chapter Master.

I can see this combination become very popular for Deathstar units.

The rules and new formations for the Iron Hands greatly improve an already durable army that the Space Marines are. Some of the Feel no Pain stacking possible is incredibly useful. They were already a popular Chapter for many players and I can see these rules improving them further in many people's regards.

Part 1- New Psychic Powers
Part 2- Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists and Black Templars
Part 3- Iron Hands



  1. Good stuff pal, I can see my reviews are going to be following a bit behind yours at this rate, perhaps I'll have to look at Salamanders or Raven Guard next (probably Raven Guard)

    The HQ is an absolute beast, I played against it with my White Scars last week and managed a solitary wound on him all game (which he then went and healed with IWND). The new formation only makes him even tougher, and with a power fist there's not much he won't be able to take down in combat either.

    Don't forget that POTMS also enables a tank to fire the extra weapon at a different target, so a unit of three las predators for example can now fire 6 sponson lascannons at their main target, and the three turret lascannons at 3 further targets, potentially taking down 4 vehicles in a turn!

    1. Cheers Nick, if I had any sort of life I'm sure the reviews would be a lot slower!

    2. Been there! Though in my case I didn't have a blog then, or friends that played, so I limited myself to reading everything Black Library produced!

  2. Ah buffs for my lovely Iron Hands!

  3. I think the Relics are all the same as they were in the Clan Raukaan (Roll) supplement. And yeah, the Gorgon's Chain is just ridiculously good. Compare with the Shield Eternal, which costs 5 Points more, doesn't buff your FNP, and keeps you from getting an extra Attack for 2 Weapons.

    I'm kind of torn on the Stormlance Battle Company. The ability to shoot and jump back into your Transport is really cool (especially when Transports that your Opponent doesn't finish off have a good chance of repairing some damage), but giving up the massed ObSec of a regular Demi-Company is a really hard choice to make. I'm considering sometimes running one of each, but then I need to do something to make it clear which Units are in which.

    1. Yeah, I think this book is mostly a repackaging of older rules with new formations and psychic powers. The benefit is that I never had any of the old supplements, so not really a waste of money for me.

      The only benefit I can see of the Shield Eternal over the Gorgon's chain is that you don't lose your 3++ or eternal warrior as you are wounded, unlike the Gorgon's Chain (though it will take a lot to wound a chapter master carrying this).

      I've only used the Stormlance once and it didn't do much. Not because it wasn't good, but the Hunting force demolished most of the enemy army by turn 2. I like the idea of it a lot, but as I have said many times before, I think objective secured is one of the best rules in the game based on current missions. It has won me many games.

  4. It is true that the Gorgon's Chain gradually degrades, but between the inherent durability of the Character and the new option to add Wounds back with Earth Blood (or whatever it was called, you know the one), it's a relatively minor flaw.

    While the Relics and Warlord Traits for Iron Hands and Imperial Fists are re-packs, their Strike Forces are new, and I think the Salamanders, Black Templars, and Crimson Fists stuff is too.