So I have an interesting 2000-point list I'd like to run past you guys. I may have posted it earlier but I have a few games under my belt now, and it might contribute to some Ironweld Arsenal tactica or whatnot discussion. It'll have unit entries and then the description of their function. I will also organize it by unit importance / list cores, rather than the traditional way. List Core: 3 Steam Tanks Use: These machines are basically the reason the list exists, both theme-wise (love my tanks) but also function wise. The vehicles offer hard-hitting combat power, anti-horde and anti-monster shooting on a single platform, and have great durability. The manner of use in games depends on my opponent's deployment of course, but if my opponent obliges the best-case scenario is deployment of all 3 tanks on one flank, supported by their support elements (to follow). I don't place them entirely on the flank - typically they straddle the central and flank thirds of the board - because I need their armored bulk to cover the rest of my squishy army from bad things. But concentrating them in a single off-center point allows me to avoid the worst enemy anti-behemoth units, while still offering the fairly long-ranged cannons the ability to engage the highest threat first.
Threats: Typically, these tanks do not go down easily, even to traditional "threats." Of course, letting truly anti-behemoth things into combat is nasty (e.g. the 6-mw-doing Terrorgheist), but once that style of threat is identified, the tanks themselves are often their own best defense. They have a very powerful (if unreliable unbuffed) long-ranged attack in the Steam-Overpressured cannon. Indeed, I prefer to fire it at monsters rather than hordes; it is the only cannon in the game that can get a damage re-roll against single-model units due to its overpressure rule. Typically, if my opponent is running multiple behemoths, I will use the tanks to focus them down one at a time, with the rest of the list providing covering fire and charge intercepts/blocking from the others. The power of the tank cannons can mitigate threats very well if they are given buffs - between the high Wound, high Rend, and re-rollable d6 damage, they're devastating against single-model targets.
Offense: The unbuffed Steam Tank is not reliable. It's got big numbers for the Wound and Rend values for its cannon, and a big number for the Wound value for its steam gun, but the parts of the statlines that are unreliable are the To-Hit for both weapons, the Damage for the cannon, and the Shots for the steam gun. The commander's long rifle is the only reliable shooting on the vehicle. Its close-combat is also unreliable, with its Wound value being alright, its Rend value being alright, and its Damage value being alright, but none really are ace. So what buffs would make the steam tank good, and how do we get them? Support: The Steam Tank goes from unreliable (and mediocre) to amazing if properly supported. In all of my games, my opponents have been completely flabbergasted at just how effective the steam-tanks are. Under their belt they have two Engines of the Gods, a Slaan, and a Bastilodon, Arkhan the Black and loads of undead (e.g. skeletons, chainrasps), a Great Unclean One and Nurgle Daemon Prince (as well as the plaguebearers on gigantic flies - the names of the unit escapes me), a Celestar Ballista and loads of Stormcast, and others besides. The needed buffs are To-Hit and Random Value Rerolls. Fortunately, the second buff is available on the steam-tank itself from the beginning of the game. Steam Overpressure makes the cannon re-roll its damage always (putting its damage in the Reliable category), makes its Steam Gun re-roll number of shots (putting it in the reliable category as well), and makes the Crushing Wheels and Ironclad Bulk re-roll its number of attacks. Automatically, the steam tank is slightly more reliable. However, as mentioned in the Offense discussion, the To-Hit is lacking. So? Lord Ordinator and Celestial Hurricanum are your friends. Celestial Hurricanum is a war-machine, meaning it benefits from Greywater Fastness (which you were taking anyways right?) and puts out tons of mortal wounds with its shooting attack (especially if you get the 6 to shoot again in the Hero Phase). If my opponent obliges and allows me to deploy the 3 Steam Tanks together, I can stuff the Celestial Hurricanum and the Lord Ordinator behind them to get them to hit on a 2+ with all their weapons. That's the death-star that has surprised people before.
Defense: The Steam Tank is one of the toughest behemoths in the game. Why? Two reasons: War Machine keyword and 3+ armour. There are, of course, tougher behemoths out there depending on buffs, but the unbuffed Steam Tank is a terror on the battlefield with it's 12 wounds (higher than most of the durability-focused behemoths like the Bastilodon). Why does the War Machine keyword help? Because so much stuff works on Monsters and Heroes but not on machines! Just to offer a few examples: the Slaanesh Hunter of Godbeasts command trait gives +1 damage against Monsters to all the Keeper of Secret's melee weapons. So useless against a Steam Tank. The Slayer of Kings on Archaon? Only kills Monsters and Heroes instantly. Your double-sixes against the Steam Tank mean nothing. There are plenty of examples of things that work on Monsters and Heroes which are utterly useless against the steam-tank and people typically take things in their anti-behemoth role that do this. I've surprised many opponents whose "anti-behemoth" mechanism was really just anti-monster. There are many more things that only work against Monsters than things that work only against War Machines. Furthermore, with the 3+ save on the tank, the things that do hit you are not reliable. Remember the Slayer of Kings that rolled 2 6s to wound from before? Not only does it not slay you instantly like it would almost every other behemoth, but you get an easy 4+ against them! Fail one and who cares? You've got 12 wounds. 3 damage is scary, but not nearly as bad as the re-rollable d6 you're doing back every turn, hitting on 2s and wounding on 2s with -2 rend! Gotta love putting that cannonball right through Archaon's chest. List Vital Support: Celestial Hurricanum with Battlemage
Use: These two are the support elements. However, they offer some utility of their own in addition to making the Steam Tanks amazing. The Lord Ordinator offers considerable combat power to the tanks - 6 extra attacks with the ability to drop d3 Mortal Wounds isn't anything to sneeze at, and he can fit in the same combat as at least a couple of tanks, giving them the buff and contributing to their power. The Celestial Hurricanum is another beast entirely, considerably more useful than the Lord Ordinator (but with a price tag to match!). Beyond the obvious +1-to-hit aura, the uses I have for the Celestial Hurricanum is as a spell-bot for denying and casting Mystic Shield, a gun platform to deal loads of mortal wounds (seriously this guy can be terrifying with Greywater Fastness), and a durable General.
Threats: Generally, anything. The Lord Ordinator can go down to a stiff breeze, and if the enemy can krump the Steam Tanks, the Celestial Hurricanum is not going to endure their attentions for long either. However, skirmish units, small flankers, battle-line shooting units, etc. are not really threats to these guys as you might expect, given their adequate saves and high wounds-count. Keep them behind the Steam Tanks if possible though, and use the wall of metal to endure the enemy melee attacks. Offense: Mediocre. The Lord Ordinator is adequate for needs in combat, but not dependable (can sometimes be funny with Meteoric Slam). The Celestial Hurricanum can be an unholy terror with Greywater Fastness, or it can be somewhat useless. However, it's important to note that it's a reliable source of mortal wounds, and this an be vital for stripping the final few wounds off of a badly hurt enemy who you wouldn't want to waste a re-rolling cannonball's damage on.
Support: These guys are the support! However, it is important to screen them, preferably with the tanks, but battle-line units can work in a pinch.
Defense: Fair. They can endure most enemy attacks capable of reaching out and touching them. Battle-line shooters aren't good against 4+ saves, typically, which both the Lord Ordinator and the Celestial Hurricanum have. Furthermore, I usually give the Hurricanum the Phoenix Stone artefact and the Tenacious command trait, which gives it 12 wounds to match the tanks and makes it a less attractive "shoot this first" option. Put them behind the tanks, who can absorb the worst of the enemy's storm, and use things like the Storm of Shemek from the Hurricanum to provide final protective fires if degraded-but-naughty enemy units come too close. List Fire Support: Ironweld Arsenal Cannon
Ironweld Arsenal Cannon
Use: These guys are the "long range fire support" (don't get too mad! I know they only barely outrange the tanks themselves, but bear with me). Typically, they are deployed behind my Battleline in the middle of the board, to the left or right of the tanks, in a little castle with the engineer in range of both cannons. In early turns, they might even benefit from the Hurricanum's +1 to-hit, though the Lord Ordinator is typically standing out of range by the tanks. At any rate, they provide a few useful tools to the list. Firstly, they can engage and soften up enemy hordes that approach the tanks to make them ripe for steam-gunning. Re-rolling damage against units of 10 or more means they're just as good as the steam tanks at long-range horde clearing, while the tanks are better at single-target damage with their always-on reroll. So let the tanks fire at enemy single-model units, and let the cannons handle the enemy infantry. Secondly, they provide another source of long-range damage. If the enemy brings too many behemoths, the tanks may not offer enough firepower alone to stop something scary from getting close - but with the range of these cannons, they can cover the tanks' flanks in a pinch. They may not get damage re-rolls, but they still pack enough output to give almost anyone less durable than Morathi pause. Thirdly, these guys are a distraction. Sorry to say it, but the tanks dramatically outperform them every game. Artillery, though, with its vulnerable crews, is easily rendered inert by enemy shooting, so things that would probably be better off shooting at or maneuvering around the tanks instead oftentimes gets hopelessly distracted trying to kill this artillery. If you want to spend 2 turns of a five-turn game ****** around with 400 points of artillery, be my guest, but I'm going to ram the steam-tanks down your throat while you do! Threats: Fast movers and enemy shooting. Fast movers will often try to work their way around the flanks of my very-compact battleline (or simply fly over it) to kill these guys. Enemy shooting can shoot over the battleline to kill these guys as well, and that happens commonly. Remember, though, that this is only 400 points. If it distracts two Bastiladons for 1 turn, or 1 for 2 turns, that's fine with me. That's nearly 600 points that could probably do a number on my Celestial Hurricanum, Lord Ordinator, or Steam Tanks who are instead faffing about trying to get in range of artillery that outranges them and can move away. Meanwhile, the Steam Tanks are in range of nearly everything as they move up the board and hit like a truck.
Offense: Pretty good. They're not benefiting from the +1 to-hit auras like they typically would in other lists, but they have the Engineer stuffed between the cannons to give them re-rolls. Their output is fairly reliable, with the only point of failure being the damage, but firing at 10-model units or greater mitigates this as well, giving the guns re-rolls. Don't be afraid to fire them at anything and everything that looks at you funny. And if you drive the enemy to ground where you can't shoot them because of LOS blocking terrain? That's a win, because they are hiding instead of maneuvering to gain and advantage. Besides, you've got your own tanks to flush them out of cover... Support: None needed, really. The engineer is kind of his own self-contained little mini-support within this artillery battery, but just stick both cannons next to him and blast away from midboard.
Defense: Pretty awful. The crews are horribly vulnerable, and there's not much to be done about that. Still, stick 'em behind a battleline to keep melee away and use their firepower and that of the tanks as a form of shield. Think of it as the enemy deserving to kill these guys if they can get through the shot and shell being flung their way!
List Batteline: 5 Liberators
10 Freeguild Guard (swords and shields) 10 Glade Guard
Use: These guys are use for filling the mandatory battle-line slots in the list. No, really, that's they're primary function. However, they do offer some bit of utility in other ways! The Liberators exist solely for fluff reasons - the Lord Ordinator's not travelling alone. If you don't like fluff, bring more Freeguild or ... really anything. Even so, the Liberators are a durable battle-line that isn't afraid to get stuck in when necessary. The Freeguild Guard offer similar durability (at least in combat, with a 4+ and re-rolling 1s) but also have the incredibly useful countercharge ability which makes them excellent for protecting both the cannons and the tanks, depending on where you need them. This is especially useful with the tanks - typically, an enemy will use the "one big model" base to pile-in around it and do shenanigans like punching my poor innocent Celestial Hurricanum who was hiding behind his big tank brother. However! Do a d6 countercharge from near this tank and touch the enemy with one of your Freeguild and suddenly they find themselves pinned in place! Lastly, the Glade Guard offer what I call "chaff" shooting - they are fantastic at finishing off that one skink that lived through your steam guns, or using their 1/game -3 rend shot to take the last few wounds off a crippled enemy behemoth or the like. In other words, they're a way to put shots downrange that isn't as expensive as wasting an entire artillery shell. Threats: Both whatever, and irrelevant. None of these battle-lines are terribly more or less durable than any other, but they mostly exist to stand on objectives and die valiantly. The Glade Guard are more vulnerable than the others, but are also one of the most expendable parts of the list. Sure, they're not Skinks. Still, whenever my enemy fires at them or charges them specifically I can't help but smile at the time they're wasting, and this goes for all the battlelines in this list. They exist to be annoying and gum up enemy movement - if they want to gum up their shooting and spellcasting also by targeting them, be my guest.
Offense: Pitiful, but useful for finishing off damaged units. Don't forget the one shot the Glade Guard get at -3 rend out to 20" - perfect for supporting the tanks who might have other priorities than a badly damaged behemoth or the like. Also remember that only one model must stand nearish to the Hurricanum to get the +1 to-hit buff. Support: Support? What support? Why bother investing much into what amounts to meat-shields? Sure, they can incidentally benefit from the Celestial Hurricanum, and the cannon fire from behind them can destroy some of the approaching threats, but there's no real support dedicated to these guys. Just remember you can spend a CP if your Gunmaster is near enough to them to keep them steady, and there's not a whole lot of use for CP in this army.
Defense: The Liberators and Freeguild Guard are surprisingly durable for battle-line units. Their offense might not be worth much, but they excel at being meat to grind into the enemy. Even something like a Bastiladon or Engine of the Gods is unlikely to completely wipe-out the Freeguild or Liberators. And remember, simply by existing and attracting enemy attention, these units are succeeding. The Glade Guard are essentially helpless if something goes after them; remember, though, that if the opponent is dorking around with your lesser units, he's not stopping the wall of ANGERY IRON driving straight down his gullet.
And that's it! The 2000 point Ironweld Arsenal list. Unconventional battle-line choices, with heavy weight towards Steam Tanks and making the Steam Tanks great (again?)!