For day five of Black Library’s 2016 Advent Calendar it’s the turn of the Iron Hands, in a 40k audio drama by David Guymer – The Calculus of Battle. Viewing an Imperial world besieged by tyranids through the Iron Hands’ cold logic, Warleader Kardan Stronos weighs up the conflicting costs and benefits of intervening – does the potential cost in materiel usage and possible loss of Iron Hands life outweigh the benefits of evacuating even a tiny proportion of the planet’s 7 billion inhabitants? Constantly shifting with every action he takes, the battle calculus drives his decisions and determines whether the world lives or dies.
With a full novel featuring Stronos due in 2017, this serves as a strong indication that Guymer gets the Iron Hands. It’s only 21 minutes long, but in that time it depicts Stronos and his fellows thinking and fighting in a way that’s different to any other chapter. Cold and calculating for sure, it’s the balance between harsh logic and human determination that makes this particular story so interesting. With a great voice cast and typically impressive soundscaping this is action-packed and brutal, occasionally a touch disturbing, and a brilliant choice for an audio drama to really bring home the character of Stronos and his chapter.