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Toni Ironsides is a character who has a very interesting place in the Arcanists, both on the board and in the story.  She is the only Arcanist Master whose primary tricks aren't focused on Magic, instead focusing on protecting her crew and providing excellent enemy control and denial.  She is also one of the Masters who can get the most out of bringing M&SU models, as she can massively increase both their accuracy and damage!  However, an enemy who can pull her out of position, stop healing, or remove Conditions will give her a very difficult time.

So we're all on the same page here, let's take a look at her card, as per Wyrd's website:

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Now, Ironsides has a lot going on with her stat card so let's break it all down.  First, she has a very decent stat line!  Df 5 is okay, but for reasons we'll get into later getting hit is not a problem for her.  She has an incredible Wd 14 (the most in the game) and a Cg of 8, meaning she can take some serious damage before going down and she's quite mobile as well.  A core part of her kit is her first Ability, Quell the Riot, which gives her Adrenaline +1 for every nearby enemy when she activates.  This is so, so important for her, as she can do some incredible things with Adrenaline!  On its own though, all it does is go down by 1 and heal you for 1 at the end of the turn (note that this is a MUST, so it goes down even if she's at full wounds).  Her second Ability is Hard to Kill, which just adds into her tankiness.  Between HtK and Adrenaline, ending the turn with 1 wound remaining means she'd have to take at least 2 more hits before she can be taken out!  The last of her defensive tricks is her Df trigger Good Shot, My Turn which, if she takes damage from a Ml Action, gives her a free uncheatable damage flip against the target and she gains a free Adrenaline.  As of the Jan 2017 errata, this is built-in as well!  The final part of the front of her card is something you can easily build your entire crew around: Hand Picked Men.  This ability gives all other friendly M&SU models within a decent range :+flip's to ALL attack and damage flips as long as they're at less than full health!  There's no TN, no AP has to be spent, it just happens.  This alone can turn Ironsides into a huge threat for your enemy.


So the back of her card is simpler in some ways.  She has two Ml Attack Actions, which conveniently can combo into each other!  The first is Brass Knuckles, which is very accurate at Ml 7:ram, has decent range and damage, and gets built-in :+flip's against Disengaging Strikes (which, if you're playing her a certain way, is very important).  This has two triggers: :ram:crow Warm Up gives an Adrenaline if it dealt damage, and :ram:ram Follow Through lets you spend 2 Adrenaline, push 2", and take a (2) Ml Action.  Conveniently, her other Attack Action Uppercut is a (2) Ml Action!  It sounds bad at first, with it only being Ml 4:ram, but she gains +1 to its Ml for each Adrenaline on her, maxing at Ml 8.  It also has a huge 4/5/7 spread and gives the enemy Slow as well.  This only has one trigger, :ram Who Wants Some? which is exactly the same as Follow Through but lets her take a (1) Ml Action instead.  When she combines those two Attack Actions together, she theoretically can take nearly infinite AP in a turn if she has enough Adrenaline and enemies!

Her only non-Ml Attack Action is You Lookin' At Me? and it is amazing.  It's a Ca 7 vs Wp giving decent accuracy, and at a good range too.  It basically does two things: forces the target to push its Cg towards Ironsides, and then take a (1) Ml Action against her (if it's in range to) at :-flip:-flip and without triggers.  Now, while the enemy can't declare triggers Ironsides can, meaning she can force the enemy to come closer to her and then punch them in the face for the effort!  It also has the trigger :mask Next! which lets her do it again without triggers.  The final Action on her stat card is also her only Tactical Action and (0) Action, Rush 'Em which reduces her Adrenaline by 1 to place into base contact with an enemy within 6", giving her even more mobility.


Ironsides has a good variety of upgrades, some are good and some are less so.  Thankfully, they're all quite cheap though with four at 1ss and two at 2ss!  Several of her upgrades are fairly simple, but as most also just provide passive buffs it works in her favor.

  • Challenge the Crowd is her tanking upgrade.  It provides a single Ability, Bring It! which gives her :+flip:+flip to all Df duels as long as she has at least two enemies within 2".  This gives a significant amount of control over if and when she gets hit, letting you choose whether you want to avoid the hit entirely or take the damage to get your Df trigger and strike them back.
  • Frontline Leadership is her mobility denial upgrade.  It's one of her pricier upgrades, and it provides two interesting options for her.  The first is the Ability Protective, which lets her discard a card to gain an Adrenaline when a nearby friendly model is damaged by an enemy.  The second is the (0) Tactical Action Come Get Some which forces all enemy models in a decent range who want to use a Walk or Charge Action to take a moderate Wp duel.  If they fail, they have to end the Walk as close to Ironsides as possible or take the Charge Action against Ironsides.  This can really help to mess up enemy positioning/targeting, and is especially good in Strategies that are based on table quarters.
  • Iron Determination is her tankiness/healing upgrade.  This gives the Ability Sleep Now In The Fire which means if the enemy flips the Red Joker in a damage flip against her, it's immediately discarded and the enemy has to flip another card to replace it!  Note that it's ONLY if they flip the RJ, if they cheat it then it stays.  It also provides her a (0) Tactical Action, Stand Up, Stand Tall which lets her discard all of her Adrenaline to heal as many wounds as she had Adrenaline.  This can really help keep her alive, especially if she's been in the front lines!
  • Message From The Union is her ranged upgrade.  It provides her with another ranged Attack Action, Flaming Bottle.  It deals no damage, but just gives Burning +3 to the enemy.  This is really only worth it if you're building a Burning crew, or if you're taking a couple Gunsmiths.
  • Union President is her Action denial upgrade.  This is her other pricier upgrade, and has two great reasons to bring it.  First, Slow Burn lets her choose to not reduce her Adrenaline at the end of the turn.  The big reason to take it though is the (0) Tactical Action Challenge, which forces all enemy models in a good range who target anyone but her with an Action to take a tough Wp duel.  If they fail, the Action fails entirely.  This works no matter who is targeted, so it can even deny enemy healers or buffers from doing their jobs!
  • Veteran Fighter is her Adrenaline/healing upgrade.  Its Keep Your Fists Up Ability gives her a free Adrenaline when she activates, and it gives her Brass Knuckles the built-in trigger See It Through To The End which heals her equal to the damage it dealt before reductions!


  • Warding Runes is technically a personal upgrade for Ironsides, but it's going here because it's also available to any of your Henchmen.  It's pretty simple, just giving Counterspell, which removes built-in suits from Ca Actions that target this model.  However, if you have any nearby Oxfordian Mages with the Blood, Doom, and Nemesis Ward upgrades this gets far, far better!  A nearby Blood Ward gives this model Protection from the Blood for immunity to Conditions that come from enemies and damage from :new-Pulse:'s, Doom Ward gives this model Regeneration +1 to heal when they activate, and Nemesis Ward gives this model Protection from the Nemesis for a :+flip in any Df duels against the enemy Leader (yes, taking this with Challenge the Crowd can give her :+flip:+flip:+flip to Df duels, hilariously)!
  • Seize the Day can be a good upgrade for Ironsides as well, as it can let you activate Ironsides before the enemy can try to escape her and gain a bunch of Adrenaline - and thus, roll out the pain train on them (or heal a ton from Stand Up, Stand Tall).
  • You can definitely make an argument for Imbued Protection if you're wanting to go all-in on tankiness, but it's probably 2ss that could be spent better elsewhere.  Bleeding Edge Tech and Powered By Flame are also legitimate options if you're hiring Minion Constructs, but otherwise are to be ignored (and are probably better on your Henchmen anyway).
  • The other upgrades available to her, Arcane ReservoirThe Philosopher's StoneRecharge Soulstone, and Imbued Energies can for the most part just be ignored here.


  • Ironsides' personal Totem is Mouse, who is... niche.  He's an above-average cost for an Arcanist Totem, and is an Insignificant Peon.  He does have a good statline and Hard to Kill though.  He does bring a :ranged Attack Action Rope Lash with meh accuracy, range, and damage but with a built-in trigger to pull the target to him and a (0) heal, but as it requires a suit that's not built in only 9 cards in the deck will make this succeed.  Overall you can make him work and his Rope Lash can help set up Hand Picked Men for you, but personally I never find him worth his cost.
  • Amina Naidu's denial game becomes hilariously good when you're playing Ironsides in her denial role.  Getting you extra Soulstones when enemy's interact, damaging herself to give the enemy :-flip when attacking a model under half health, forcing them to gain Slow (and on a trigger only target her on their next activation), pull the enemy towards her (and on a trigger not target any models who aren't on max Wounds, which stacks hilariously with her previous trigger), turn the enemy into Peons for the rest of the game... she has it all (except for her below average Wd anyway)!
  • The Captain is her personal Henchman, and he's great with her.  His Airburst can push friendly or enemy models around, really helping Ironsides out with her positioning control, Wild Wall is very nice Soft Cover on demand, and his Relic Hammer is always solid - especially against Constructs or the occasional Tyrant.  If you're going to bring him, you should 99% of the time bring his personal upgrade Patron's Blessing for the free Ca each activation.
  • Joss is a solid inclusion into an Ironsides killcrew thanks to her Hand Picked Men, as Joss is very hard to take down so losing a Wd or two to get the bonuses won't slow him down much at all.  Because of his Hard to Kill, he's also a great model to give Warding Runes when you have Oxfordian Mages, so he can benefit from Regeneration +1 to get even tankier.  His Pneumatic Axe ignores so many defensive techs as well that he becomes a huge threat here.
  • Howard Langston, much like with Joss, is included here because he is a terrifying threat under Hand Picked Men.  His job is murder, pure and simple, and getting the :+flip's to attack basically doubles the odds of getting the :ram he needs for his Decapitate trigger.  There's not much else to say here, if you want things dead then hire him.
  • Johan is a slightly cheaper Captain if you're looking only as a melee threat, but instead of Airburst and Wind Wall brings mass healing and Condition removal instead.  Taking both is an option, otherwise grab whichever works for the situation you think you're going into more.
  • Oxfordian Mages are always a serious consideration for Ironsides, as with their Furious Casting they can become ranged monsters under Hand Picked Men.  If Ironsides is using Warding Runes, they also buff her significantly which is always great.  If you're going to hire less than the full three then the priority list for their Wards is typically Blood, then Nemesis, then Doom although you can always fiddle with that as needed.
  • The Shastar Vidiya Guard have a damage track that greatly appreciates :+flip's, and since their primary attack has a trigger on each suit then the :+flip's to attack also massively increases the chances of getting the trigger you want against each target.  They're also decently tanky, and their (0) gives a guaranteed short range push which is nice.
  • Gunsmiths are a bit of a contentious issue.  Some people think they're not worth their cost (especially compared to December Acolytes), and some people disagree.  They're probably at their best under Ironsides since they benefit from Hand Picked Men when December Acolytes don't, but their meh damage spread isn't particularly impressive still.
  • Large Arachnids are actually really decent with Ironsides!  They're quite tanky, and their high severe damage really benefits from :+flip's, especially since combined with their Temporary Limbs they can get straight damage flips even if they tie the attack.
  • Medical Automatons don't benefit particularly from Hand Picked Men, but they are a fantastic option with Ironsides.  Being able to hand out Hard To Kill as needed is very handy, and besides that they can do several heals each activation.  Considering you'll want your crew damaged if you're doing a Hand Picked Men setup, making sure they're not too damaged will be pretty important.  Plus, their Bedside Manner pulling friendly models away from threats can deny attempted charges or Flurries, which is great.
  • Steam Arachnid Swarms are okay for their cost, but with their built-in :+flip to damage when they're above half health and also from Hand Picked Men you can guarantee their good moderate damage pretty comfortably.  Plus they have the best Scheme Marker removal in Arcanists, so in pools where that matters it's very handy.
  • Much like the Swarms, Union Miners benefit strongly from Hand Picked Men as they also get the :+flip to damage.  They do need to get a :ram to do decent damage, but if you do and it's under the Hand Picked Men benefit then this can punch pretty well above its cost would suggest.  Their False Claim action also makes them legitimate schemer options in things that involve placing Scheme Markers near enemy models.
  • Union Steamfitters are nearly an auto-take for a bit of a different reason.  They're actually more in the spot of Medical Automatons or Johan, as they help protect your allies.  Their special Condition Reinforced Sheet Armor can protect allies from taking Severe damage by turning it into Moderate instead, and they can give allies Armor +1 for the rest of the game as well.  You do either need a way to place Scrap Markers or discard two cards to have this model do it with its (0) though, so there is a cost.  Ironsides, The Captain, and plenty more M&SU models really love to get that Armor +1, it's a real game changer for them!
  • Now, Willie is a fun one.  Hand Picked Men more reliably gives him the :blast:blast on his Severe damage, which can really mess your enemy's crew up.  His Wheelbarrow of Doom ability also can do a bit of damage in an area, which makes him the simplest and most reliable way to get the Hand Picked Men aura going.  Lastly, his Dropped Load means that even if he dies he can all but guarantee he's going to still do damage to the enemy's crew, which is always nice.


  • Personally, I think the best Totem that Ironsides can take is the Malifaux Child.  Its heal is even less reliable than Mouse's, but it's able to Just Like You! to borrow Ironsides' You Lookin' At Me?, and since the ability doesn't have a damage track the :-flip's it would have to deal with doesn't come up at all.
  • The Arcane Emissary isn't bad with Ironsides.  If you do take it you'll want the Ironclad Conflux upgrade, as it gives Ironsides an extra Adrenaline when she activates (if it's nearby), and it gains a (0) to pull enemy models into base contact with Ironsides.  It's really just hiring a model to give Ironsides Adrenaline, but it's an option.
  • I really love Lust with Ironsides.  Her movement tricks can really mess with enemy positioning, and she's the best model you can hire to reliably keep heavy hitters off of Ironsides.  Also, if you're taking Frontline Leadership then it can become really hard for your opponent to avoid her Looking For A Soul To Steal aura.
  • Neil Henry unfortunately doesn't benefit from Hand Picked Men, but he does does the next best thing: give even more :+flip's to your crew's damage!  This is done with the Fragile Condition he hands out, making him one of the best debuffers you can hire.  He's pretty tanky too, as he has a really good Wd count for his cost and heals whenever a nearby Construct dies.
  • The Arcane Effigy, like always, is just great.  Tanky for its cost, gives Ironsides extra damage via Burning, and guaranteed Condition removal are all reasons to take this.
  • Wind Gamin are a legitimate choice for Scheme runners here.  The real benefit here is if they get taken out early (and their average stats for their cost makes it not unlikely), a friendly model gets a decent and free push, helping you get into a better position.


  • Know When To Fight
    • If you're going to remember anything from this article, let it be this.  Ironsides is not built to be DPS.  She is not built to be a tank.  She can be okay at either of those roles, but she's more of what some other game systems would call a "bruiser," but personally I prefer the term bully.  Ironsides is at her best when she's getting deep into your enemy's backlines, beating the hell out of the enemy's squishy support, and holding the enemy in place.  If the opponent is running their own Howard or Nekima, DO NOT charge her into them.  Dance around them, use Rush 'Em to bounce past them, and leave the enemy heavy hitters for your own to deal with.  Ironsides is powerful support and harassment, but if she dies she's going to do nothing for you.  Keep her safe, and make sure you have other threats you can tempt your opponent's threats away from her with.
  • "I Choose You!" (requires M&SU models)
    • So one of the biggest things about Ironsides is her Hand Picked Men, and as it only works on other M&SU models this does mean you need to consider if you're going to focus on this or not when you're list building.  You're also going to have to decide whether you want her to be in the midlines with ranged M&SU models or in the frontlines with melee.
    • If you're playing her in the midlines, then bringing upgrades like Message from the Union and Warding Runes are probably going to be better for you, and if you're going frontline then you should be looking at ones like Challenge the Crowd and Veteran Fighter.
    • No matter which position you choose, you should almost always bring one of her 2ss upgrades, depending on the situation.  Union President is what you're going to want most of the time, but Frontline Leadership is a legitimate choice in Strategies that rely on table quarters as you can stop models from getting where they need to go.
    • Lastly, have a method of both damaging your models slightly (Mouse, Willie, Oxfordian Mages shooting each other, etc.) and also of healing them (Johan or Medical Automatons).  Having the buff is nice, but having a dead model isn't going to help you too much.
  • The Gravity Well (requires Challenge the Crowd, Frontline Leadership, and Veteran Fighter, best with The Captain and/or Lust)
    • So, if you're not planning on building around Hand Picked Men then the other option you have (and personally, my favourite playstyle) is to go full-on bully mode and lock down your opponent's crew while yours does all your scheming.  With a Cg 8, Rush 'Em giving a 6" place, and several pushes in your crew, it should be simple for her to get into your enemy's lines by the start of turn 2.  Once she's near enemy models it's really easy for her to start what I call the Gravity Well style: put up Come Get Some, use You Lookin' At Me? against any weak enemy models she's not already engaging, and just generally pull all your opponents into one big ball of despair.
    • So why would you do this, you ask?  Well, a few things: if your opponent tries to walk away, they have to pass the TN for Come Get Some.  Once they do that, they have to pass a Disengaging Strike against your Ml 7:+flip.  Then, and only then, do they get to move away.
    • If they decide (rightfully) that it's unlikely they'll get away and decide to attack you instead, Challenge the Crowd giving her :+flip:+flip to Df duels makes it very hard to hit her with any threatening attacks.  Not only that, but with the non-threatening attacks you can intentionally let yourself be hit for her Good Shot, My Turn trigger to give out free damage and gain free Adrenaline.
    • And remember, while all of this is happening your crew is doing their job, and on Ironsides' next activation she can use her Brass Knuckles' See It Through To The End trigger to heal up plenty (and she'll have a ton of Adrenaline at this point, so you can go into her combo punches if you want as well).
  • The Ol' (1) (2) Punch (best with Union President, Veteran Fighter, and Arcane Emissary with Ironclad Conflux)
    • While Ironsides is not necessarily DPS, she can put out a lot of damage if you're building her to have lots of Adrenaline.  Taking the above required things gives her Adrenaline +2 per activation on top of what you get from nearby enemies, which conveniently can be arranged with the Conflux's (0) Raging Challenge.  After a turn or so of being engaged, it's completely possible to have 10 or more Adrenaline.  Once that's happened, you can comfortably combo between her Brass Knuckles and Uppercut multiple times, as long as you hit.  The combo trigger is built-in on Uppercut but not on Brass Knuckles, so stoning in the suit on your (1) is an option if you're confident you can hit.
  • We Can Rebuild Her.  We Have The Technology.  (requires Union Steamfitter)
    • Remember how a few paragraphs up I said Ironsides is not a tank?  I lied.  Her kit on its own isn't super tanky, but as soon as you add in a Steamfitter she becomes a nightmare for your opponent to kill.  I've already covered most of the reasons in the Steamfitter's section (card cycling increases the odds of good cards in hand, Reinforced Sheet Armor to block Severe damage, and permanent Armor +1), and while any of those would be solid options on most of our models anyways, combining them with Ironsides' own very decent durability makes her the tank the Arcanists have always wanted.  Df 5 with a built-in anti-Ml trigger, the highest Wd count in the game, Hard To Kill, Armor +1, 1-3 different healing methods depending on your upgrades all combines into something beautiful and nearly unkillable.

So, Ironsides might just seem like a brawler, but she's so much more than that.  She has one of the best buff auras in the game built-in, a very strong Lure-like ability, and a combo potential that competes even with a Tremors-oriented Mei Feng.  If you want to have a crew that is hyper-accurate and damaging, or if you just want to throw her at your enemy and drink their delicious despair as they try to escape her, Ironsides is the lady you want.  I hope you all found this helpful, Ironsides is one of the Masters I personally find the most enjoyable to play and I hope this inspires you to give her a go as well!  If you have any tips, tricks, or any model combos that I've missed, feel free to post it below.

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A nice thing about Joss in an ironsides crew is giving him the warding runes upgrade. This combines very well with his htk and his reactivate if he is close to the doom ward mage. Each time he gets to htk 1 wound, you activate or reactivate him so that he gets above htk again.

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Nice article !
Take time to me to re-find it, because the actual article don't explain anythong on this models (and really too long and not updated)

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Do you have a particular strategy when you facing Gremlin with Tony ? Never test it, but have a Public/corner confrontation agains't a gremlin team in a few days... And hesitate between, Marcus, Raspy and Tony... But never test Tony vs Gremlin...

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Depends on who you think they'll take, Ironsides really doesn't want to see Wong, Zipp, or Zoraida as they can all mess with him and his crew's positioning. If you think Zoraida is likely then 100% take Warding Runes or she can make Ironsides charge into her own back lines. IMO Raspy's the better drop (strat/scheme permitting), but for Ironsides i'd be sure to take a Steamfitter, healer, and someone who can get around Squeal (Joss especially). My game plan's basically just to tank them, they're usually not hard to kill when you stop them from Squealing away. If it's a schemey pool and Fingers is hired, make killing him priority #1 (Chatty is BS).

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If you want to stop the Gremlin Squeals and pushes in general and still have a heavy hitter, I'd bring Anna.  Her huge aura stops pushes and places and with her non-randomizing, minimum 3 damage cast, she'll enjoy shooting into any melee that Ironsides is involved in. Plus she gives you card rotation and pushes.  She's pretty good. lol.  

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