From Iron, Cometh Strength


++ The following is a biographical transcript of Warmonger Aetius Nox, Centurion of the 631st Grand Battalion of the Iron Warriors. ++

“You will return to me with the head of Santos Verela*.

Do not fail me, Warmonger, or I shall see to it that the Iron Sentinels return to me with yours.”

– final words spoken to Warmonger Aetius Nox by the Primarch Perturabo, Olympia, 007.M31

Upon the [REDACTED] of leadership elements of the 31st and 6th Companies of Iron Warriors, the two companies were consolidated into the 316th Grand Battalion. This battalion consisted predominantly of early-Crusade Terran Veterans, with a small number of Olympian reinforcements following the discovery of the Primarch Perturabo. It was from the latter of the two came Centurion Aetius Nox.

In the aftermath of a failed bid for command of the 316th, Nox had served under his one time rival – the Terran-born Santos Varela – fighting a number of gruelling, suicidal campaigns at the edges of the galaxy. Despite several victories and many worlds brought to compliance, tensions began to simmer between the predominant Terran-born and comparatively minimal Olympian-born elements within the battalion. Words were spoken in whisper throughout the Dodekatheon that the distant and inglorious campaigns of the 316th were a punishment of sorts, meted out by the Primarch for electing a Terran-born Warsmith over an Olympian. Each faction would come to resent the other for their lot.

It was the call of the Warmaster, in the end, which brought the tensions to a head.

The Primarch Perturabo had summoned the 316th to return to Olympia and muster at Isstvan. Believing their efforts better spent on their ongoing campaign of compliance than among their uncongenial Olympian brothers, Verela declined to return to Legion’s home world.

This refusal to answer the call of the Primarch incensed Aetius Nox. The Centurion renounced the leadership of Verela and mustered his Olympian-born brothers in open revolt. The Olympian’s broke-off from the 316th and fled to their home world to answer the summons of Perturabo. It was there that Nox had the regrettable responsibility to inform the Primarch Perturabo of the insubordination of his former Grand Battalion.

Upon receiving news of the 316ths loyalty to the Emperor over their progenitor, Perturabo declared them to be enemies of Olympia. In recognition of his loyalty, Nox – now a Warmonger Consulate – was awarded command of his own battalion of Iron Warriors, formed of the surviving Olympian-born of the 316th and supplemented with new recruits their home world. The new company was to be the 631st Grand Battalion, generously armed and armoured from the forges of Olympia itself; a well-oiled weapon to be wielded by the Primarch and unleashed upon the enemies of the Olympia.

The Primarch issued his orders to Aetius Nox along with with four ‘Iron Circle’ Domitar known as the “Iron Sentinels.” The 613th would not be joining their fellow Olympians on Isstvan, but were instead tasked with a single purpose: eliminate the rogue element of the 316th, or forfeit their lives in the attempt.


What you (hopefully) just read there was the character bio I wrote for my Iron Warriors warlord – Warmonger Aetius Nox – ahead of a narrative event that I’m attending at the end of August. In a cool and unusual twist, my armies background is a spin-off from fellow Heresy enthusiast and event organiser welshy_paints‘ own Iron Warriors legion – the Loyalist 316th Grand Battalion. IT’S A PRETTY COOL ARMY, so you should probably go click that Instagram link and then go “whoa” when you realise that you’re actually already following him, probably.

Back at the end of 2018, I managed to muster up the energy to finish off my long-suffering Iron Warriors project.

It was a pretty fast project, all things considered. While I don’t especially subscribe to the notion that Iron Warriors are any faster to paint than any other Astartes legion, I did use a lot of time saving methods on painting my little dudes – such as weathering powders and sponging – over my usual methods such as layering and edge highlighting. As such, I was able to smash out the unfinished half of the army in roughly a months time, got them all to a nice, feasible state at around 5400ish points and.. just.. kinda.. left them.

Truth be told, I was somewhat on the fence about whether I wanted to keep my Iron Warriors or sell them off. Games of 30K were relatively few and far between, and I was struggling to get excited about bringing them to the table over my Space Wolves. Some of this was the over-saturation of Iron Warriors players in my local scene, I’ll admit, but it was also down to the speedier nature of my paint jobs and the, frankly, more boring set of miniatures in the army. I’d built the army to be the opposite of my Space Wolves – an aggressive, artillery-based gunline. It seemed like a fun idea initially, but when it came time to take them to the tabletop, all I could think about was just how much I despised playing against that sort of an army. It was one dimensional, and boring, and that’s just not why I play the Horus Heresy.

Of course, every time I thought to get my models out to get some photographs for the eBay listing, I’d see the models in the flesh and instantly want to hold onto them. I’m pretty bad/good for miniature hoarding, depending on your perspective; every time I consider selling a painted miniature, I always think about how much I’d hate having to paint those same miniatures again if I ever needed/wanted them back. To date, having painted three boxed games, four Age of Sigmar armies, one 40K army, two Horus Heresy armies and six-ish Middle-earth armies, I’ve only really sold off two of them. I’ve had fleeting moments of nostalgia for one of them, and I slightly regret selling off my Bloodletters from the other (it would’ve been a hard sell without them though) but for the most part I’ve managed to avoid any serious “what have I done” moments.

Selling off my Iron Warriors would have (hopefully) resulted in a decent little cash influx assuming I got what I wanted for them, but ultimately, I could still feel the emotional attachment I had to the project pulling on me. All those hours of my life spent working on them that I’d never get back. I resigned myself to getting them up on a Buy & Sell Facebook page at a pushing-your-luck sort of price for now and went back to working on Middle-earth projects.

Months later, while considering what I’d need to do to in order to “complete” my Space Wolves project, I stumbled upon a trio of Iron Warriors Land Speeder Javelins on a Facebook Buy & Sell page. Aside from being about a tenner a pop cheaper than NIB, they looked well built and cleanly painted – and on top of that, they were incredibly similar looking to my own Heresy Iron Warriors, give or take a few embellishment decisions.

I contemplated my Iron Warriors, and it occurred to me the army had not a single Fast Attack option – a similar sort of conundrum to my Space Wolves, for that matter. I dismissed the idea initially, telling myself I was selling the Iron Warriors, but I kept going back to that post and looking at the Speeders.

Land Speeder Javelins are cool. They’re solid, but sleek looking things. Like Scimitar Jetbikes, they’re one of those quintessential Horus Heresy sculpts that epitomise the aesthetic of the era for me – the sort of miniature I’d see on Battle Reports when I was starting out and think “wow, I can’t wait to get some of those” but never did.

I cracked. I sent the guy a PM and I bought them. Just like that, the Iron Warriors project was back on. Like my Space Wolves, I was going to “complete” this army at a nice round points value, and I was going to make damn sure that every unit would be finished, and that the army would have more exciting options available than just “shoot stuff.”

The first step was the Javelins. As far as hobby goes, there wasn’t much that needed done to them. They arrived in good shape save a couple broken bits in the post, so after a couple quick fixes (mostly gluing antennas back on), I got to work on the two real areas of work: chevron reduction, and rebasing.

As I’ve said before regarding my Iron Warriors, on the whole, I like to minimise the amount of chevrons and hazard stripes on the army – and where I do, I like it to be relatively chunky. There were a couple superfluous areas on these, such as the shoulder pads on the crew that I wanted to black out and reweather as well as a couple areas on the Speeder itself. I also picked out the Aquillas on the front in brass and made a couple of other minor touch up tweaks to make the painting style match my own.

The bases were largely textured with sheets of cork, which didn’t quite match the industrial rubble look of the rest of my army. As a flat surface, cork is really easy just to texture over however, so I spread some Vallejo Black Lava texture paint between the cork edges and over the top to make them look more corky – I did a similar sort of thing before to my Quad Mortars which I also got second hand and preassembled, so the texture still looked at home in the army as a whole. As with the rest of the army, when dry, I drybrushed it with grey, scattered some Rust Oxide pigment in pools, sealed some down with Riekland Fleshshade, and drybrushed it with grey again before tidying up the trim with Vallejo Charcoal. Just like that, my army was looking a good bit more mobile!

With the Javelins polished off and at least something representing each of my Force Organisation slots, I started looking at the army I had amassed, and two things stood out to me: the third 10-man Tactical Squad felt too much like filler without a Rhino, and the Iron Circle felt incomplete at only two minis strong – I wanted a full complement of four to unlock Perturabo’s Iron Circle buffs.

For the Tactical Squad, I decided that I wanted to mix things up and expand my transportless 10-man squad up into one massive 20 man Tactical Squad. Aside from being way cheaper than another Deimos Rhino with a pintle weapon2, the main attraction for me here was – like the Javelins – the ubiquitous 20-man boltgun armed Tactical Squad just screams Horus Heresy to me. Due to their more individualistic nature, I never really had the want or need to do a squad like that for my Space Wolves1 – making it the perfect addition to my Iron Warriors.

Without going off on too much of a tangent4, the thing that’s always appealed to me about the Iron Warriors is how clean and gimmick free they feel to me – they’re a Traitor Legion, not a Chaos Legion. Their tendency to cut off mutations and replace them with bionics, their reliance on standard tools of war instead of daemons and psykers, their flexibility to engage in close combat or focus on ranged firefighting just feels so fresh to me in a faction that otherwise tends to really focus on a single thing. Angron’s World Eaters are crazed close combat berserkers, while Magnus’ Thousand Sons are heavily psyker focused. The Emperor’s Children employ speed, finesse and horribly disfigured noise marines while the Alpha Legion is obsessed with stealth and tradecraft shenanigans. The Death Guard – depending on how far into the Heresy you go – are disfigured harbingers of disease and decay, whilst the World Eaters are daemon-summoning, openly Chaos worshipping demagogues. Even the Sons of Horus – the closest thing to a ‘generic’ Chaos Legion – still has a tendency to lean towards close combat like their Warhammer 40,000 contemporaries.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that the Traitor Legions tend to be more highly specialised and individualistic – as much in their aesthetic as their methods of warfare. For the majority of them, this involves getting up close and personal. To put it in Warhammer 40,000 terms – that’s sort of the Chaos Space Marine way. Chaos Space Marines have pretty much always had a slight bias towards close combat where vanilla Space Marines have favoured ranged. In this regard, Iron Warriors play more like a vanilla Space Marine chapter; not unlike the Ultramarines – only Greek, instead of Roman. As someone who has up until now exclusively played the Loyalist Legion furthest from Guilliman’s standardised method of warfare, this is probably the single biggest draw of the Iron Warriors for me.

In a nutshell, having lots of basic bolter troops is hugely appealing to me in because it’s new and different. I won’t go into how I painted 10 more Tactical Marines – other than it took me about two weekday evenings to bash them out from sprue to varnish/weathering. Unlike my first batch of 30, I didn’t bother edge highlighting any of them this time, and their weathering is a little bit cleaner, but they still look samey enough to blend in with the rest of them. Lovely.

That leaves the Iron Circle.

After adding the Javelin Land Speeders and bumping my third Tactical Squad up to 20, I was around the 5800 points mark. There were, of course, an absolute multitude of various things I could add to make that an even 6000 from adding Predators (the quintessential Astartes battle tank) to flyers like a Storm Eagle (hahahahahahaha never again), jump assault troops and all sorts. The list just goes on and on, but if I keep listing things, I’m going to end up talking myself into expanding this army that I’m currently trying to claim is “finished.” However, regardless of how much else I added to the army, it would irk me to the end of my days if I left Perturabo’s Iron Circle incomplete.

Two was not enough. Not enough to get any mileage out of the Moving Bulwark special rule, and definitely not enough to take advantage of Perturabo’s ridiculous 820 point 4+ Iron Circle BUT WITH BETTER INITIATIVE AND WEAPON SKILL bodyguard special rule. No, I would definitely have to add more, or they’d feel like an expensive (in both points and dolla dolla billz y’all) gimmick.

Much like the original two, I snaffled another pair off of eBay for a pretty good price. And much like the original two, I knocked out the paint job for each of them pretty quickly in an evening per model – basecoat, wash, hazard stripes, weathering. Basing. Done. I’m pretty happy with the outcome – they look absolutely terrifying in a squad of four (as they should for more points than a pair of Typhons)!

With my Fast Attack slot filled and my under-strength squads filled out, my Iron Warriors army was once again done for now. All in, the legion is now sitting pretty at over 6200 points. Before assaulting you with one super busy group photo, let’s review the exact contents. We have:

4x HQ

  • Warmonger/Siege Breaker Aetius Nox
  • Master of Signal Osias Ichos
  • Primus Medicae Hadrian Nekros
  • Praevian Perseus Kouklothéatro
    • 2x Castellax Battle-Automata with Mauler Bolt Cannons

5x Elites

  • 4x Iron Circle Domitar
  • Contemptor Dreadnought Talon
    • 2x Kheres-pattern Assault Cannon and Dreadnought CCW with Combi-bolter
  • Contemptor-Mortis Dreadnought
    • Twin Kheres-pattern Assault Cannons
  • Quad Launcher Support Battery
    • 3x Quad Launchers
  • Legion Terminator Squad
    • Terminator Sergeant with Volkite Charger, Grenade Harness and Chainfist
    • Plasma Blaster with Chainfist
    • Plasma Blaster with Power Fist
    • Combi-Bolter and Chainfist
    • 6x Combi-Bolter and Power Fist

3x Troops

  • Legion Tactical Squad
    • Sergeant with Boltgun
    • Nuncio Vox Operator with Boltgun
    • 8x Tactical Marines with Boltguns
    • Rhino with Dozer Blade and Pintle-Mounted Multi-Melta
  • Legion Tactical Squad
    • Sergeant with Boltgun
    • Nuncio Vox Operator with Boltgun
    • 8x Tactical Marines with Boltguns
    • Rhino with Dozer Blade and Pintle-Mounted Multi-Melta
  • Legion Tactical Squad
    • Sergeant with Boltgun
    • Nuncio Vox Operator with Boltgun
    • 18x Tactical Marines with Boltguns

1x Fast Attack

  • Legion Javelin Attack Speeder Squadron
    • 3x Javelin Attack Speader with Twin Lascannons, 2x Hunter Killer Missiles and Pintle-Mounted Heavy Bolter

4x Heavy Support

  • Legion Artillery Tank Squadron
    • 2x Legion Medusa
  • Leviathan Siege Dreadnought
    • Magnetised with Claw, Grav-Flux Bombard and Leviathan Storm Cannon
  • Iron Havoc Support Squad
    • Iron Havoc Sergeant with Lasxannon
    • 4x Lascannon
    • 5x Missile Launcher
  • Tyrant Siege Terminator Squad
    • Tyrant Siege Master
    • 9x Tyrant Terminators

2x Lord of War

  • The Primarch Perturabo
    • Stormbreaker (After Isstvan)
  • Typhon Heavy Siege Tank

And that’s everything in my Iron Warriors for now. Functionally, I consider this army to be ‘finished’ and I have absolutely no plans to expand on it in the short term.

Down the line, there are some things I’d like to add to it. I wouldn’t mind adding a squadron of Predators or Whirlwinds to the army for a little more light-tank action. Somewhere along the line, the army could also probably do with some sort of heavy transport such as a Land Raider or a Spartan for the Terminators or Tyrants – but generally speaking, that’s what Perturabo is there for anyway (bringing on the teleporting units). And then there’s The Tormentor – super heavy tanks area always cool, and especially so when you can use a nice plastic kit to base your conversion off, right?

Aside from more actual Iron Warriors, I’d like to supplement this force with some Dark Mechanicum allies – it’s an army I’m never going to get around to otherwise, and I adore the grimdark nature of some of those miniatures. Bit of an oddball pick, but I’d love to load up a Triaros Armoured Conveyer up with a ton of Scyllax and a Magos, with some Myrmydon Destructors up the back providing fire support. Oh, heck, maybe even a Knight!

What was I saying earlier about talking myself into more models? Anyway, here it is – my new and improved ‘Family Photo’, now with more Iron Circle, Tactical Marines plus added Castellax and Javelin Land Speeders . What a time to be alive.

Thanks for reading, and happy wargaming!

1 Of course, I do have a couple 20 man Grey Slayer squads, but as a unique unit with LOADS of flexibility in their loadout, it doesn’t quite scratch the same itch.

2 Seriously, the single worst pound to point ratio in all of Warhammer – even worse if you’re mad enough to want to go with Legion doors as well. If you can think of anything even less3 cost effective, I’d love to hear it.

3 Actually, maybe Skyre Acolytes for Age of Sigmar…

4 Famous last words.

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