It’s fair to say that in 6th Ed, walkers have taken a bit of a hit with a confluence of the new rules working steadily against them. Vehicles have got significantly less resilient with the Hull point and with the relative ease with which grenades and bombs can be slapped on them. Combine that with Smash attacks and the walker situation can start to look very sad. You may also notice that most of these new vulnerabilities in walkers are confined to assault. Gunboat walkers are pretty much as viable as they always were.
Given that they are pretty integral to the Iron Hands chapter character and that they’re frickin’ awesome, it was never going to be in question that I would include some Dreads in my new Marine list. The question was which type of dread. Your standard one can pack a multitude of weapons and is fairly cheap, with the Venerable upgrade being massively reduced in price (presumably due to the lack of reliance on the Vehicle Damage Table to kill them now). The Ironclads are back, relatively unchanged in cost and stats from last edition. In the end (as evidenced by my previous post) I plumped for them instead of the more versatile regular Dreadnoughts. There are a few reasons for this.
First is that I like assault and think it still has merit and importance in 6th edition, regardless of all the naysayers and the Iron Hands list I arrived at didn’t pack too much of that, so I felt I needed a presence there. Second, the armour boost on all fronts does a great deal to boost survivability. It’s now impossible to kill with bolters and shurikens, even from behind and is nigh-on krak-proof in close combat. Third, is the look of the thing. I really like the bulked out and armour-plated heft of the Ironclad, and I wouldn’t feel right using a gunboat dreadnought in an Iron Hands list as it notably lacks one key physical asset. A hand. With tanks you can overlook that kind of thing, but ‘Noughts? Couldn’t justify it to myself.
Right, so that’s the choice of dreadnought, but what about the loadout? In the end, I ran with dual heavy flamer for the integrated weapons. I could have gone for a meltagun there I suppose; try for some drop-pod tank killing (now made even easier with 6” disembark!), and ranged tank-killing is one thing may army distinctly lacks. But I know the curse of the drop pod melta all too well. I decided to focus on killing infantry and causing more widespread havoc in the backfield. Also, I like the security of a weapon that doesn’t require a BS roll to hit anything. They can also be used to blunt horde assaults before they start and clear out heavy weapons teams and firebases from even reinforced cover. Seismic hammer or chainfist? Much of a muchness for me really. I’ve got one of each, although I think the Chainfist is a better performer for killing vehicles. It certainly looks cooler. It’s not a hand though, is it? Everything else is pretty much barebones to cut down on points.
I’ve found them very useful as an intimidation tactic and a way to force my opponents hand. Even if they fail to cause a single casualty when they turn up, they force a reaction. Mobile vehicles have to get out of the way, assault troops or point holders have to assault or blockade it to prevent it getting to the firepower units at the back. At the very least, they need to use firepower to bring the Dreads down that could otherwise be levelled at my scoring units and transports. Using this, I can force the opponent into a reactive posture from the off and use the free time to manoeuvre my troops to better positions further up the field. If possible, I can also rid Interceptors and Anti-air units of their crews, limiting the risk to my incoming Stormtalons. If the Ironclads survive (and are mobile) into turn 2, that’s a bonus. They’ve normally done their jobs by Turn 1…