Horus Heresy. Bretheren of Steel. Iron Warriors.

I would like to try to add a little more content to my blog. And with more i guess I mean different, the flow I have here now feels like a good tempo for me to maintain. But it would be fun to add more things then just painting progress.

To start it all of I would like to share an army concept I have been tinkering with for some time now.



The first legion I started with when I took my first baby steps in horus heresy was Iron Warriors. Over the years I have branched out in all sorts of directions, and have a good few legions under my belt. But iron warriors have always been closest to my heart and I consider it to be my primary legion.

I love everything about the 4th legion but it was something that did catch my eyes early on and that trump most things with other legions. A small seed was planted and over time have slowly grown to a solid idea and a practical concept.

With Iron warriors there are two sides it seems. The most obvious is the trench warfare side. Attrition tactics with tons of infantry and huge guns supporting the slow and bloody assault. Cold and calculating bombardment close to the advancing front. Crush your enemy with any means and to any price possible.  

But there is another side as well. This side is not fleshed out in the same way. You can find hints and mentions in codexes, HH black books and Black library books. But no full story’s or solid information. This side is the close ties iron warriors have with mechanicum.



Throughout the Horus heresy story line, the Iron Warriors links to mechanicum are only mentioned, hinted at or suggested. How I first came to ask the question why Iron Warriors and mechanicum, was when I looked at the allied matrix in one of the 30k army lists. Iron Warriors and mechanicum is battle brothers and makes perfect match if combined. Now in 40K the links is not as hidden as in 30K. Iron Warriors are for the most part responsible for the daemon engines of the chaos faction. Story goes that Iron Warrior warsmiths built in daemons in huge machines and robot chassis so they could harness the destructive power and get something that they could control, rater then having the unbound power of the chaos gods create havoc on the field of battle. With this in mind it is clear that the warsmiths of the 4th are very skilled in all things considering engineering.

This is also confirmed thanks to the story line of Perturabo. Perturabos skills in tactics and warfare are only matched when it comes to engineering. And as the primarch for the Iron warriors he has passed this down to his sons.

Mentions about some of the warsmiths being in some cases even more knowledgeable about mechanicum machineries then the most skillful Magos Dominus also fuels the fire.

There are of Corse written indications of this as well. One of the best I have found is in HH book 3.



With this little text we get both some background and a name “The Brethren of steel”. The multitude of interpretation you can make out of this text is fascinating. And it shakes up more questions than it answers. I consider this little text box to be excellent in all its simplicity. Pure gold to be honest.

There are also loads of other mentions and hints here and there about the mechanicum ties, but the text box above is all I needed to take this concept to the next level. For me, it meant that I now had a theme and a name, and that is plenty.    



When book6 came out we got a lot of new cool things to play with. For me two things stood out as the most exciting. One rite of war and one consul.

The rite of war “Brethren of iron” seemed like it could be another hint or bread crumb left to put together with the rest of my “research”. But other than the name, there don’t seem to be any real connection to the “breather of steel”. However, it provides rules to put together a themed list based around the story’s and hints about the brethren of steel.

The Praevian consul also made it easier for anyone that wanted to add some mechanicum flavor to their legion. Even an Iron warrior special character called Nârik Dreygur was introduced. As he is a Praevian and the only Praevian special character so far, gave me even more reason to continue and make an army list based around “The brethren of steel”.

But the final nail in this coffin came when the iron circle was introduced. Once Iron warriors got their own murder robots there was no stopping this concept from happening.

Making a list however was not as easy as I first thought. There are some criteria I wanted to follow in making this list.

1.       Use the rite of war brethren of iron.

2.       Have a fluffy list. This means that is not just enough to have a bunch of mechenaicum units in an iron warrior army list. The army needed to feel and operate like an iron warrior army. Gun heavy, gun line, with a lot of legion specific units.

3.       It had to makes sense to take this rite of war. If you would take an iron warrior army and not including any rites of war. I would be able to get 4 mechanicum units in the list. If I took 2 Praevians I had 2 units of castellax or vorax. With a cortex controller given by the Praevians I could take yet one more castellax unit in heavy support. And including a unit of iron circle I would end up with 4 mechanicum units.  This meant that if “Brethren of iron” rite of war would make any sense I needed to take at least 5 units of mechanicum stuff. And to make it even more worthwhile I needed to fill up the heavy support slots with actual heavy support units, like big guns.

4.       The list needs to be 3000p

5.       Every unit needs to have a purpose. I refuse to include units only because it is the required taxes that needed to be paid.

6.       I will not compromise on toys. Castellax should always have their targeting arrays. And other units need to get whatever gear they can buy to make them more effective in there. particular battle role.

So, this was not “easy peasy lemon squeezy”. Mechanicum units cost a lot of points. The fact that I also need 3 HQs and 2 compulsory troop choices made things even harder to shoe horn in to a list.

I gave up many many times to try to make this work, but I did not give up. And finally, I found just the right combination of units to form my “Brethren of Steel” list.



Army list:

So, let’s go through this first iteration of my “Brethren of steel” concept.

Bretheren of steel.jpg


In this list we have (just to name a few facts),

-           7 units with BS 5 (hitting on 2+).

-          7 units gives -1 to cover saves.

-          5 units have tank hunter.

-          5 legion specific units.   

-          1 unit with anti-flyer capability’s.

-          10 monsterus creatures.

-          2 scoring units.

-          5 units that gives out pinning tests.

-          2 units that gives out blind tests.

This list has some impressive fire power and accurate fire power. It has a very small size but it feels very much like a list that can control the opponent. With a lot of pinning and high strength weapons it can block some armies from getting to close and for close combat armies this army seems to one big road block.


First game:


I had the pleasure to try this army out against a friend some time ago. There were some things that I was concerned with however. It is one thing to write something up on paper and another to actually play it. I was afraid that this list would be a little to brutal or even broken. All that fire power could maybe be too much. I want to keep my games friendly. “I don’t want to be that guy”. I very much try to live by the rule “don’t be a dick”.

But my theory was this, I only have 2 scoring units and my army is very small. Once my units start to fall the fire power falls with it. 3 units of havocs with 5 dudes in each is not much. To kill 15 space marines is not an impossible job and if they fall a lot of my fire power will be gone.

My friend had a look at the list long before our game and had no problem with it so I did run with it.

The game was brutal. Iron warriors vs night lords. My army dominated the battle field the first turns. Whatever my units pointed at ended up dead. Every assault my friend throwed at me came to a complete halt once the units hit my mechanicum wall. But it was not long before my army started to lose units and as I had predicted my dominance went with it. I ended up winning the game in the end, but that was far from certain. His assaults slowly eat through my units and having fewer and fewer units on the board I had harder and harder to control the battle field. 1 sneaky rhino with a unit of tactical marines scored me the final points I needed to win the game. We both had few units left standing, but I think I had a little more punch left then my friend in the end.

I was happy that the game became as close as it did. That means that it is something I would feel conferrable to take to future events and game days.



I must say that this is one of the most fun list I have played since…well, since ever. Small and compact, easy to transport and to set up.


Abel to deal with most things. So many fun rules and surprisingly flexible in some situations.

Based around lore and fluff I love, combining two elements of the horus heresy I enjoy the most, iron warriors and mechanicum.

What I would like to do now is to expand this concept with more and different lists. I would also like to replace some of the units in this list. Maybe get some Forge world rhinos in the future.

I feel like there are some flexibility in the army construction. I can swap heavy support choices and maybe change troop choices. Other ideas like replacing all castellax units with vorax units also comes to mind. That would-be kind of cool. Imagine a close combat list with vorax battle automatas as the foundation and then build the list to support them.

Many ideas, many options, a lot of fun.

I can strongly recommend everyone reading this to take a similar "trip". Digg and find a concept that feels un-explored and go from there.

Hope I have inspired to future lists and army concepts.    

Happy warfare amd take care!