So over the weekend I took a pilgrimage up to Connecticut to get a couple of games in with the guys, mostly because I have no idea what my travel plans for the next two months are going to look like for work (except likely heavy). It was a good day; I got in a 3000 point game using my draft tournament list for Cold Wars (3/16) against Tim's (DwarfSupreme on Taccom) Knight army using the House Lakar Knight World List (NetEA v2.2.2 Approved from the Tournament Pack).
Based on past experience, I expected to get rolled on a flank with a cascading defeat in detail, partially because I opted for a version of my army that starts the game with only three activations on the board! As things went, I think my artillery battery intimidated my opponent, and while he made a number of clutch saves throughout the game, I managed to force him into a defensive game starting turn one, and he never really had a good chance to change the momentum. I'll be interested to see if Tim has any insights over on Taccom when I post the battle report there too.
As things went, by the middle of turn three we were into the claim/deny objectives game, and turn four largely continued that jousting, leaving us going to points at the end (Tim denied TSNP; I lost BLITZ to air strikes and Tim contested T&H). When the dust settled, I'd scored 1298 points to Tim's 823, putting victory in the Iron Warriors' hands again.
Iron Warriors (2985pts; 9 activations)
IRON WARRIORS COMPANY 
6 Chaos Space Marines and 2 Havocs, Iron Warriors Lord, 4 Chaos Rhino, Stalker
ARMOURED ASSAULT COMPANY 
6 Chaos Vindicators
GRAND BATTERY 
9 Chaos Basilisks, Stalker, Emplacements
DREADNOUGHT ASSAULT PACK 
5 Chaos Dreadnoughts, Dreadnought Warsmith (Supreme Commander), Chaos Siege Dreadnought, 6 Dreadclaw Drop Pod
DREADNOUGHT ASSAULT PACK 
5 Chaos Dreadnoughts, Chaos Siege Dreadnought, 6 Dreadclaw Drop Pod
IRON WARRIOR TERMINATORS 
Iron Warriors Lord, 5 Iron Warrior Terminator
DEVASTATION CLASS CRUISER 
HELLBLADE FLIGHT 
HELLTALON FLIGHT 
2 Fighter Bombers
Knight World (2965pts; 8 activations)
KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD 
3 Knight Errant, Baron
KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD 
4 Knight Errant, Seneschal
KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD 
5 Knight Paladin, Seneschal
CUSTODIAN HOUSEHOLD 
Knight Castellan, 2 Knight Crusader, Seneschal
WARDEN HOUSEHOLD 
4 Warden (one Vanquisher Cannon), Seneschal
LANCER HOUSEHOLD 
4 Knight Lancer, Seneschal
THUNDERBOLT SQUADRON 
2 Thunderbolt Fighters
THUNDERBOLT SQUADRON 
2 Thunderbolt Fighters
I placed the Iron Warriors' BLITZ based on where I wanted to put the artillery company, honestly. Looking at the board, I wanted to lock down a couple of key fire lanes and scare off the Knights with the prospect of direct-fire earthshakers. Tim usually uses his Custodians to hold down his BLITZ, so I pre-plotted my orbital barrage centered about 20cm up from the marker, with my two Dreadclaw pod formations landing about 15 cm to my right of that point, figuring I'd be able to move in to mop up whatever was left.
Naturally, Tim saw that coming once he saw the army list (I need to get better at drop assault game theory), and so he left the likely drop zone wide open, with Paladins and Errants flanking the kill zone. Yeah, this was going to be fun. Tim's BTS/Supreme Commander was positioned to my back left, about as far from the likely drop assault as he could get it, and I lined up my Vindicators and Infantry Company to be able to counter anything that pushed for the Basilisks and/or push forward to support the drop.
The Iron Warriors elected to hold their Terminators in reserve, aiming to reinforce or exploit salients once the Knights committed. Iron Warriors won the strategy roll (SR 4 vs. SR 2 set the tone for the game), and elected to push hard off the starting block. The Iron Warriors' strike cruiser came across the horizon, void shields straining against the upper atmosphere, leading with its batteries. Dirtside FOs noted the splash without casualties, and one solid kill on the Custodian formation, the lance strike coring out a Crusader. The Dreadclaws course-corrected on their way down, and came down hard within spitting distance of the Paladin formation.
Deep inside his armored shell, the remains of the Iron Warriors Warsmith smiled. He and his retinue were going to enjoy this... Retaining the initiative, Twelve dreadnoughts marched out of the rolling dust cloud, smashing into the Paladins like a horde of angry Lilliputians straining at Gulliver. One Paladin fell on the initial assault, while the Warsmith's retinue lost one dreadnought, and the second formation lost two.
In the end, the Knights' nerve broke, and two more fell, hacked down in retreat. The Custodians marshalled, killing one more dreadnought in the supporting formation and breaking them. Fearful that the main body of the Knight host was gearing up to avenge their brothers, the Iron Warriors directed the artillery company onto the Wardens, hoping to open up a window for airstrikes but failing to inflict any damage. The Baron received notice that one flight of Thunderbolts had arrived and was orbiting the battlefield on CAP, but when the Iron Warriors' Hellblades pounced on the broken Paladins, the Baron made the hard call to wave them off, awaiting heavier bombers. The strike claimed one more Paladin, and when the second flight of Thunderbolts arrived and immediately vectored into an airstrike on the Basilisk company.
Flak claimed one Thunderbolt, and the dug-in artillery shrugged off the rockets and laser fire. In retaliation, a flight of Hell Talons came screaming in low, locked onto the broken Paladins. The Thunderbolt CAP pounced, splashing one Hell Talon, but the second managed to punch through and kill the remaining Paladin. Given the choice between flying into the teeth of the Wardens' AA batteries or hunting the shattered Paladins, the choice was easy.
Given the choice between flying into the teeth of the Wardens' AA batteries or hunting the shattered Paladins, the choice was easy. However, that decision was not without consequences, as the Errants formation behind the dreadnoughts doubled and brought the Warsmith under fire, killing two more of his compatriots with their melta cannon and breaking his retinue. The Iron Warriors' Vindicators rolled forward to hug the central hill, grimly preparing to attempt to delay the Knights' advance, while the Lancers doubled to the opposite side of the hill, putting a few shots on the artillery company but failing to connect with the well-defended guns. The Iron Warriors' infantry company doubled up behind the Vindicators to prepare for the coming assault firing on the Lancers with little result. The Wardens marshalled and advanced behind the Lancers, shaking off their blast markers and preparing for the brewing battle. Finally, the Baron's retinue marched toward the middle of the battlefield, lining up as a third wave behind the Wardens.
The battlefield at the end of Turn One, focusing on the main thrust of the coming fight...
At the end of the turn, all fighters moved off, with the lone ground attack Thunderbolt taking another blast marker from the infantry company's Stalker, and both dreadnought formations rallied with three remaining walkers apiece.
As the second turn began, the Iron Warriors saw the time was right to bring in their Terminators, and with a flash of energy and thunderclap of displacing air, twenty-six legion veterans appeared before the charging Lancers...
The Iron Warriors won the initiative once more, and the Infantry Company doubled up in line with the Terminators, pouring fire into the Lancers and scoring a solid hit on one. The Terminators retained the initiative and charged the Lancers, the Infantry Company providing fire support. The combined weight of the Terminator assault and fire support struck four more telling blows, and the remaining Lancers fell to hack-downs.
Coming around for another pass, the full-strength Thunderbolt squadron dove for the artillery company, but again their rounds impacted harmlessly on the emplacements, and the company's Stalker splashed another Thunderbolt. Not wanting to wait for another air strike, the artillery company set their tubes for the Baron's formation - but their rolling barrage only managed to place two blast markers. Incensed at the loss of their comrades in arms among the Paladins and Lancers, the Wardens planted their feet and sustained fire on the Infantry Company, wiping out a unit of Chaos Marines and a unit of Havocs. The Warsmith tried calling in the remaining Hell Talon for another pass, but the pilot was too shaken and failed to respond. The Custodians doubled, moving up on the Dreadnought formation closest, and attempted to take them under fire, but the rough terrain the Dreadnoughts were sheltering in kept the anti-material shells from connecting. Retaining the initiative, the banner of Errants who had been eyeing that same Dreadnought formation seized that moment to charge, delivering a brutal firefight that wiped out all three remaining walkers.
The airspace over the fight grew increasingly confused, as repeated requests for ground attacks (Hellblades, then Thunderbolts) failed to get through, presumably as the pilots jockeyed with each other for position, swirling in an inconclusive dogfight above the battlefield. Knowing the Wardens would dig in and support any charge from the Baron's banner, the Iron Warriors' Vindicators rounded their hillside and poured fire into the Warden banner, inflicting one solid hit (Tim was saving like a boss, this game). In retaliation, the Baron's banner advanced and took the Terminators under fire, eliminating one unit. Finally, the Warsmith's formation doubled out of their cover in the rough terrain surrounding the standing stones, adding the weight of their own fire to the Wardens but failing to inflict any casualties.
As the smoke cleared, all remaining formations regrouped and prepared for the coming storm on Turn Three...
The Iron Warriors won initiative again. The Infantry company advanced closer and poured fire into the Warden banner, but failed to inflict any damage. Retaining the initiative, the Terminators engaged the Wardens, but only succeeded in inflicting one wound as a hack-down. The Errant banner on the Knights' left flank attempted an engagement, but failed to activate, taking their blast marker and repositioning. The Hell Talon came back for another pass on the Custodians, but failed to connect. The Custodians attempt to activate, fail, pass on the re-roll, and cross the midfield line on the double, firing on the Vindicators without result. The artillery company retains the initative and fires on the Baron's banner. While the Baron and his Errants' heraldry has been burned down to the bare metal, they stand tall and unbowed. In return, the four Knights sustain fire on the Iron Warriors' Infantry Company, destroying two Rhinos and the Stalker.
The Hellblades come about for another pass, burning down on the banner of Errants on the Knights' left flank and punching a solid hole in one Knight, breaking the formation. The Warsmith sees his chance, and he and his remaining Dreadnoughts push their servos to the max, marching to claim the Knights' BLITZ. Seeing the Dreadnoughts on the move, a Thunderbolt comes back for another pass and connects, blasting apart one of the trio. The remaining Thunderbolt attempted a strafing run on the Infantry Company, but accomplished little.
At the end of the turn, The Iron Warriors had T&H, but were denied TSNP, and couldn't claim BLITZ or BTS, and didn't have units in position for DTF. Close, but no cigar, so we went to Turn Four.
The Iron Warriors won the initiative. The artillery company opened up once more on the Baron's banner, and once more only succeeded in scratching the paint. The Baron attempted an advance, failed, and moved back to reclaim the BLITZ. Seeing the Knights bearing down on them, the Warsmith and his remaining retinue sustained fire, inflicting a solid hit and breaking the Barron's banner. The Knights' advance became a rout, and the Dreadnoughts braced in fear as the Knights charged past.
The Custodian banner bracketed the Vindicators and sustained fire, blowing apart two tanks. One of the Thunderbolts took the opportunity to circle back and pour fire into the Vindicators. While nothing connected, it was enough to break the formation. Seeing the Vindicators falter, the Terminators march to hold the objective. On the Knights' left flank, the Errants attempt a double, fail, and choose to regroup.
The Iron Warriors' Hell Talon came back for another pass, targeting the Custodians and hoping to drive them back across the midfield line, but failed to punch through their armor. The second Thunderbolt came back around for another pass, lighting up the Warsmith and his retinue. anti-tank rockets burned through the armored cowling on the Warsmith's power plant, piercing the fusion bottle on his atomantic reactor. The Hellblades also came back around to strike at the Custodians, but their armor was proof against autocannon rounds. The Wardens advance and fire on the Infantry COmpany, contesting the objective but failing to inflict any kills.
In response, the Infantry Company tries to dig in and sustain fire (and fail), shooting at the Wardens with little impact.
At the end of Turn Four, nobody held anything. We failed to roll up a fifth turn, and with that the game was over.
Tallying up the kills, the Iron Warriors walked away with 1298 points, while the Knights only scored 823, taking full points for the two dreadnought formations, and half points for the one Hell Talon.
Consistently winning initiative and driving assaults onto the Knights, rather than the other way around, really helped keep the Knight banners on their back foot. The exception were the Errants. I see why Tim opts for melta cannon over battle cannon; if you're playing an opponent who has to get within engagement range, you can engage, firefight, or just flat-out shoot the heck out of your opponent. My problem was probably in spreading the artillery and air strikes around. I wound up using them to try to make it harder for my opponent to activate, and to *maybe* try to get a couple of solid hits in, but beyond the initial concentrated strikes on the broken Paladins, they really didn't do much. The emplacements were clutch for the artillery company though. bouncing repeated Thunderbolt strikes like that really made a difference, even if they still took some suppressing blast markers. Drop-heavy Iron Warriors are definitely viable, especially with Fearless Dreadnoughts coming out of the Dreadclaws.
I may still not take this list to Cold Wars, however. The TO is talking about using special scenarios for at least 2 out of 3 rounds, and I'm not sure my list will play into what he's offering us very well. On the other hand, going full douchebag and dropping hard on my opponent on Turn One to cripple as much of his force as possible might still be a viable strategy. We'll see...