I’m not going to go the whole hog and go through every single item and new rule, for a couple of reasons, but I’ll mention a couple of interesting snippets. I also (by way of further disclaimer) haven’t been through all the fluff yet, so don’t expect much from me on that score yet. The inevitable question when dealing with these kinds of things is always the same: ‘Is it worth the money?’ I’m going to be honest and say no. That’s not to say I regretted my purchase or that I’m not glad I got it, but on an objective scale, it’s not enough stuff to justify itself to the average buyer. If you’re really into the Iron Hands or Clan Raukaan specifically, then you’ll probably enjoy the background and the rules tweaks and scenarios are nice and flavourful. Unfortunately, the scenarios are probably going to be the part of the book I’ll get the least out of, as with pickup games and tournaments and the like, I'm probably just going to stick to the basic missions and leave it at that. I might try to get someone in on them to try them out though, so you never know.
Right, let’s get into some rules chatter. The army itself has to be chosen from the core Codex Space Marines and the Iron Hands Chapter Tactics (like you’d use anything else, really) and give a couple of unit tweaks. With Raukaan rules Dreadnoughts (of all ilks) can be chosen as either Elites or Heavy Support, so you no longer need a Master of the Forge to unlock that option. The other addition is that for each HQ choice, you can have two Techmarines instead of one. Increase that to three if that HQ choice is a Master of the Forge. I really like both of these rules, although the tactical benefit they’ll give you is somewhat limited. Techmarines are expensive for one wound models, man. The multi-Dread option without needing the Master-tax is nice though. I’ll probably mess around with a couple of my lists to fit some more Techmarines in there though, because it’s such a thematic possibility, and it’ll look awesome! The problem I’m finding is that there is always the temptation to load them down with more stuff. You have your basic Techie for 50 points. He packs a S8 AP1 power fist attack and a 2+ save, plus his ability to get your transports running again, making him a nice addition to many squads. But them for another 25 points, you can give him an extra servo-arm attack, a twin-linked plasma pistol and a flamer, plus make him even more reliable in vehicle repair, which (let’s be honest) is a fairly good deal. But by that point you’ve spent 75 points on a 1 wound character. Well, at least servitors are cheap, if you want to run that way. Nevertheless, for theme, there’s nothing better! I really want to bodge together a hyper Command Squad by attaching a bunch of Techmarines to it. How awesome would that look? Ignore the points. Please.
We get a new Warlords table, and I have to say I really like it. It runs a nice gamut of abilities, but they are all useful. A couple of particular note are the result that lets your Warlord repair vehicles even if he’s not a Techmarine (if they can already repair, they get a reroll), and one result that allows you to use the old Chapter tactics rule from 5th and automatically fail Morale tests. Given the way ATKNF and rallying works now, this is tactically very tasty indeed, allowing you to fall back from approaching assaults and disengage from disadvantageous close combats at next to zero risk to the unit (unless you’re a few inches from the table edge, that is). A big thumbs up for this table from me!
Special items are interesting. All of them are Relics recast. If a character can chose from the Marine Relics, then they have to select from the Gifts of the Gorgon list instead. You have some very nice items and some ‘eh’ fairly average options, but they all feel good. There’s a librarian weapon that is essentially a Force Power Fist, a boosted power axe that becomes a power fist on rolls of a 6 to hit and even a helmet that houses a powerful comms system that allows your nearby units to use the HQ’s leadership and even reroll 1s to hit with shooting. They specify that this item can be used even inside vehicles and building (which seems like an odd distinction to make, as that’s how everyone seems to play aura-effect items anyway). But unlike the magic banners that become more inspirational when locked up inside a vehicle where no-one can see them, this helmet actually make sense in those terms. It’s a comms network. LoS isn’t a problem. One odd thing about the Gifts list is that there are no restriction as to what you can take other than 'only 1 per army'. No wepaon replacement, or distinctions as made as to which replace weapons and which do not. I'll use my common sense on this one, but basically follow the same selection rules as the mainstream codex just to be on the safe side.
My favourite item is probably the Chains of the Gorgon, which provide defensive benefits based on how many time the character is wounded. The trick is that it become less effective, the more wounded the bearer is, which is not what I would have expected. It never gets worse than a 4+ invulnerable though. It does mean that if your character is tooling around with a Command Squad , is wearing this and rolls the right result on the Warlord Table, you can be dealing with 3+ Feel No Pain roll. Brutal! I made a character using the regular Space Marines codex and built him for durability and tarpitting. His name is Leythan Korduskaya, ‘The Wall’. I think he may be getting an upgrade! I really want this Mega Iron Council now!
So that’s my initial review of the release. If you aren’t hardcore about the Xth, then it’s a definite miss for you, but that’s the way of these supplements from what I can tell. Just know what you’re buying before you buy it. If it’s just for the rules, I don’t think I can justify it to you. I’m enjoying it though.
End Of Line.