Sunday, December 7, 2014

Horus Heresy Review: Iron Hands Legion Rules

The Iron Hands Legion is noted for the extent to which its warriors replace parts of themselves with bionics over time. For some, this might just be the titular hand they give up on becoming full marines, but for others it will go much much further. Combined with this is the "failure is not an option" attitude of their primarch and their grim determination to get the job done. Finally, they are also the masters of mechanised warfare, frequently fielding plenty of tanks that only adds to their perceived brutality.

To be fair, Horus thought the Iron Hands legion must have been close to siding with him given how close Horus kept them and how Fulgrim tried to sway they. Indeed, their brutality and general set-up speaks of a legion that would otherwise be primed for casual violence and a fall to Chaos. But this didn't happen. They remained loyal throughout. And paid a high price for their loyalty at Istvaan V.

Do the rules mesh with this background? Overall, I'm pretty excited by the rules!

The first special rule is inviolate armour, presumably due to all their bionic and fused armour. By reducing the strength of all incoming firepower, this means that the Iron Hands are somewhat akin (in terms of game mechanics) to plague marines!  Seriously: this is such an awesome boon for the Iron Hands. If we keep them out of close combat, but in range for half decent firing from their own side, then they are very unlikely to go down fast. Indeed, the only weakness of this rule is that it doesn't apply in close combat. So this is already a legion that is looking to rely on its ranged weapons to maximise its impact. I think this is one of the strongest legion rules out there so far to be honest. I really cannot underscore enough how great this rule is for Iron Hands players with the right army list.

Secondly, they have stand and fight. This is something of a balance to the huge boon that inviolate armour is. Not only is going to ground never an option for them, but they must also check Ld when they want to do things that other legions take for granted such as running, making sweeping advances and the like. Coupled with the above rule, this means that tactically the Iron Hands really really should keep out of melee and let their ranged weapons and tanks do the talking for them.

Lastly is another balancing rule for inviolate armour which is rigid tactics. Put another way: they must have more infantry than other types combined (jump infantry, and so forth). This effectively means that they really have to rely on troops more than anything to get the job done. And that certain rites of war will not be accessible to them.

Overall, I cannot underscore enough what inviolate armour is doing for this legion, even with the drawbacks of the other rules. If we are able to put together an army list that focuses on raw firepower from tanks and infantry, without splashing too much on fast vehicles or jump infantry, then the Legion will be hanging around on the tabletop for a long time. To counter the lack of jet bikes, I think that the Iron Hands are going to be using plenty of rhinos for personal transports to get where they need to be (or otherwise keep up with the enemy).

As if this is not enough to encourage a certain flavour of army, then the legion can also elect to pay a small price for adding the Blessed Autosimulacra to any vehicle, and characters can also elect to gain a cyber familiar too. Wow. This is a legion that will be tough to remove from the table. But there are counters. World Eaters or Raven Guard in drop pods will certainly do damage to them, as would a Sons of Horus melee army. Hence the Iron Hands player needs to pay attention to his/her strengths whilst manoeuvring their weaknesses beyond the enemy reach.

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