Iron Fang Pikemen are much maligned by Khador players for not being as good as their other 8pt+Support counterparts. Kayazy and Winter Guard Infantry are usually grabbed for first out of the bag and all that time spent brass rodding those s-bend pikes seemed to be for naught because they will sit at the bottom of your KR multicase alone and dark waiting for their time to shine. Ok so maybe that is a little dramatic but it something I see every day when I watch Khador players on Vassal and in my Meta that IFP get left on the shelf to the other options in Khador and it is something I was very guilty of up until recently. So I have been throwing them on the table in almost every game I have been playing recently and belting them to see what they can do. I regret the time I didn’t spend with them sooner. Now IFP are generally used in 2 ways. They are a decent tar pit because they are hard to get through and they double as heavy hitters which they do pretty damn well especially if you can get a buff on them. Sorry guys and girl(s) this may be a long one.
A few random musings before we start.
1. They are the only infantry to have 2 unique UA’s
2. Fire kills them dead, but welcome to Khador
Ok, so they aren’t winning any awards for speed due to shield wall. I think this is the reason they are on the shelf to be honest. They are at an average speed for Khador in that all our infantry can walk and run as far as each other. The difference here is they have reach, which increases their threat by 1.5” and when combined with some of our in faction buffs they can be fast.
Shield wall is really the only thing that I think annoys people, out of shield wall their arm is not radically high and they will die to shooting. So people find it hard to get onto scenarios in time or even walking up slower and getting whittled down and half speed, but your opponent has all the time in the world.
Why you shouldn’t worry
Well honestly, you should, bad way to start I guess but it is a conundrum in itself. Generally I find myself running up the first turn and space out like you would anything else and try to stay out of the threat ranges of any shooting if I can avoid it. Sometimes it is nice to take it slow (like against Cygnar or anything with massive amounts of electro leaps.)
Vanilla: If you want to get up further first turn, walk up and minifeat into shieldwall that gets you running distance up the board and in shieldwall. You can put them across your army and use them as a screen this way which can really help. Depending on the army I face will change if I do this or not. They also have Pathfinder on the charge which is nice to have if you want to park them in a forest or behind a wall.
Black Dragons: I usually just run, you can minifeat and do the exact same trick but I like holding onto this trick for the turn they are about to get charged though. Arm 22 is hard to crack for some.
Their ARM is 3 points higher than Kayazy but only 1 above Winterguard their base arm is pretty average. They can survive pow 7 blasts but that is about the extent of what they are surviving on when it comes to their base ARM. Their base ARM isn’t a bad base though but they will die to shooting if they don’t group together, saying that so does everything else in the game so it is not too much of a problem.
Why you shouldn’t worry
Well they have shield wall taking them up to a respectable arm 18. Sure they will die but not to infantry hate as much anymore which switches the attrition war back to your favour. There are exceptions but that is mostly the case. Shieldwall is an odd rule that is hard to get right but that is a tactical choice, weather you run at your enemy or brick up and weather the storm.
Vanilla: They again gave the minifeat so you can get the best of both worlds. Speed and Shield wall is a nice thing to have.
Black Dragons: They have Iron Zeal as a minifeat so you can mitigate a lot of the damage done to you if you are just moving up and want to spread out. If you don’t think it is nessessary but know you are about to get taken out Shield wall up and Iron zeal gets you a turn of arm 22 which can stop people dead.
Ok their DEF is actually quite high for armoured guys. It is 1 higher than WGI this time (if you forget bob and weave) which puts them at a respectable range. Those with high/average mat will hit them on average dice but that is nice considering they will also kill on average dice so that drops the stats on their death significantly. Saying that it is not massively high because hell they are not arm low Kayazy.
Why you shouldn’t worry
The same thing that makes everything else good in Khador, turns out it makes IFP great too. Iron Flesh ups defence and I would say 90% of people bring an Iron Flesh caster to a 2 list event. Hell that number is probably higher but my statistic is made up as it is so I went conservative. So what you are looking at now is an ARM 18 and DEF 16 which is a tough nut to crack. To put that in perspective all you are losing is a single point of DEF from the Winterguard to get 5 points of ARM when in shield wall. Seriously though def 16 is nice to have especially when you are playing them in your front lines.
They are Pow 13 with Crit knockdown, what is bad about this? Plus we are the faction with buffs to strength. Seriously these guys hit like a Mack truck and I love that. The only real issue is here is under gang Kayazy have only 1 less STR+POW on their weapons which isn’t too bad.
Why you shouldn’t worry
What is there to worry about? They are high POW+STR. ‘What about Kayazy?’ you ask, well Kayazy don’t have reach and they don’t have critical knockdown. You can get more Iron fangs on a heavy due to reach and they are more likely to get there with a charge. Kayazy have a problem that they drop their attack power if they don’t have gang, so they don’t tie up heavies nearly as neatly, they lose many angles of attack due to a lack of reach and they are POW+STR high all the time.
Supporting the Pikeman
Saxon Orrik: He give out pathfinder like candy and the IFP love him for it.
Ok, that is the only essential support I think they have, and even then he is only really necessary with the Black Dragons. You can run without him but you will get more out of them if you run with him.
They also like:
Aiyanna and Holt: The armour debuff they can cause is nice for them to have on their target
Greylord Ternion: They do 2 things. Clouds on the front guys (great of you don’t have an Iron Flesh caster or want to use Iron Flesh elsewhere) or ice cages which helps with their low MAT.
Casters that they like
I did write a whole list here of casters and what they do for them, but it got very very long. Note that every caster likes to use them because they are self sufficient enough however some just make them sing. In no order at all.
eSorscha: Her Feat allows them to kill almost anything in the game without breaking a sweat. She also has Freezing grip which can really help them out in the actually hitting things department but the 4 focus investment may be a little too much so make it count.
pIrusk: He is my personal favourite with them his feat keeps them alive like it does everyone else, but is also allows them to hit more accurately. If their problem is getting them across the table, he has no trouble doing this as all because he keeps them alive. He also has battle lust and turning these guys into weapon masters is just amazing. Also look into his tier list, groups of 2 IFP with the different UA’s can be tilting to pretty much anyone who sees it across the table.
eIrusk: He makes them move faster solving that problem (Tactical Supremacy). He can hand out pathfinder. He can give them battle lust. The only thing he is missing is Iron Flesh to support them but honestly he is doing enough by throwing around bombards and stopping charges with his feat. The other big thing he gives is all the time tough and allows them to move and see through each other. Truly an amazing man.
pVlad: Signs and Portents fix the mat problem plus it gives them a nice boost to damage. What is not to like here. They are also self sufficient enough that Vlad does not have to worry about them
pButcher: He has Iron Flesh and Fury, what is not to like in this situation. Pow 16 IFP are great from the outset even when you don’t include his feat. They will kill their prey even Khador Warjacks will die under a charge with just a few of them. There is also that time where you live your dream like I did yesterday, scrapping 2 heavies in a turn with these guys, one of them was the Avatar after the Kayazy pinning them in place so they coudn’t enliven away. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.
Time to be negative
Their mat is low and it is not something that Khador fix. pIrusk has a way but it is only a feat turn of accuracy before trudging back to the regular low mat of the IFP. Even I must admit this is their biggest weakness as our other options can hit everything, Kayazy have high Mat especially under Gang and Winterguard Infantry have Joe and his boosted shots.
Why you shouldn’t worry
Sadly again you should, this is actually something I struggle with when putting them on the table. As a Khador player we have a lot of high MAT options and their just don’t quite get there as nicely as they should. You can give them support like Icy Grip, Ice Cage, pSorscha’s feat, pIrusks feat, Freezing grip. However these are not as reliable and take a fair amount of resources just to get them to work.
The other way in inefficient but is the way most people will work around it and that is CMA, they all have it so use it. They should be going after heavies which means they should be hitting anyway but when up against infantry you will be tar pitting them and they will be tar pitting you. Boost your mat with CMA’s and you will generally instakill any infantry that is in your face. So instead of 2 dice rolls to fail you will only have 1 at a more than decent MAT. However for a unit that has so many benefits it is hard to overlook them just for the MAT issue.
Ok this article is not meant to be a love fest but an add-on to my previous one to show that the world of Khador is not all doom and gloom. Are IFP for everything – absolutely not. Do they however fill a hole that is being overlooked in Khador, I would say yes. They are able to hit hard which allows us to get a decent strike against heavies when it is needed and they also allow us to tar pit up with reach weapons and pin people down. IFP are a pining unit they have a lot of utility in their gameplay which can really help out a Khador list.
Dust ‘em off and learn how to play them, I think you will find they add a lot to your table.
Additional: Looks like I will be doing a follow up for these guys in the future going into much greater detail on tips and tricks to really get these guys going. I love them and encourage people to try them out as much as possible and find your niche but it is always good to get a good starting point.