Space Marine Elite Review: Ironclad Dreadnoughts

Hello everyone SaltyJohn here from TFGRadio bringing you a review of one of my favorite Elites choices for Space Marines, the Ironclad Dreadnought! For more reviews, bat reps, tactics discussions, and analysis check out the Tactics Corner!


My trusty 5th edition Salamander Army complete with sub par Ironclad.

The Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes each maintain a cohort of Dreadnoughts. These mechanical walking behemoths are equipped with potent weaponry and can be fitted to fill innumerable roles on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium.  Space Marines are warriors of nearly unmatched ability. The training of a Space Marine is a massive investment of time and material and the loss of a Space Marine is as costly to a Chapter as the loss of entire battalions of Guardsmen to a detachment of the Astra Militarum. Those brothers of the Adeptus Astartes who are too mangled to continue serving in Power Armor, but whose will to fit lives on, are chosen to be interred in the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. In this way the Space Marine can continue his mission for the Emperor and his chapter for centuries beyond that of a normal Space Marine. Those interred in this way can be truly ancient, the Space Wolves dreadnought known as Bjorn the Fellhanded fought alongside Russ himself at the Battle of Prospero.



This is not what we’re talking about.

Through the editions the use of Dreadnoughts, Dreads, has ebbed and flowed and the weaponry given them has adjusted to the meta. One of the coolest parts about the Dreadnought is their flexibility. The Ironclad was introduced in 5th edition and has some very nice options for weaponry along with a more stable platform than the normal, or the Venerable, Dread.  In modern 40k you often see the Ironclad fielded over the other iterations. You will also usually see it taken as part of a Battle Company in a Galdius Strike Force and deployed in a Drop Pod. Being a close combat, and short range, specialist the Ironclad lends itself well to Drop Pod lists.


  • Powerfist with built in stormbolter
  • Seismic Hammer with built in meltagun
  • Extra Armor
  • Searchlight
  • Smoke Launcher
  • Options: Trade Storm bolter for Heavy Flamer 10pts. Trade meltagun for Heavy Flamer free. Replace fist+SB with Hurrican Bolter free. Replace Seismic Hammer with Chainfist free. Up to two hunter killer missiles 10pts each. Ironclad Assault Launcher 10 pts. May take Drop Pod if a single Dread. May take up to 2 additional Ironclads in the Unit.

Special Rules:

  • Chapter Tactics
  • Move Through Cover

At 135 points base; 5 attacks, I4, and armor 13/13/10 this model hits hard for a paltry number of points.


Forgeworld makes some sexy Ironclad Dreads.


Ironclad Dreadnoughts are built for close in combat. All their weaponry is short range or built for Close Combat. The high armor value of their front and side armor of 13 means they’re more likely to last a turn to get into combat than a normal dread when deployed via drop pod. While the Rifleman dread of the past was cool the boost to dreadnoughts in close combat means getting close makes them more effective and the Ironclad is simply the best option for this.

How best to use them comes down to a few considerations.


OG Dreadnought

The first consideration is Chapter Tactics. If you’re running Salamanders with Vulkan then you’ll obviously be running a Drop Pod heavy force and want double heavy flamers or heavy flamer/meltagun to take advantage of all the Salamander goodies. Add in the Ironclad Assault Launchers and you’ve got a decent unit that will Drop in, hit hard, and cleave through most normal units in Assault. At only 155 points plus 35 for Drop Pod it’s a good unit. If you’re running Ultramarines/White Scars/Iron Hands you’ll still probably want a similar load out in a Drop Pod but perhaps add in Hurricane Bolter to compliment the Heavy Flamer. Though in reality if you’re looking for Horde control double Heavy Flamers will always be where it’s at. The other consideration is how the list is built that you’re using. Taking Hunter seeker missiles is a points sink, and you have to be careful not to load the unit down with unnecessary upgrades so consider your meta carefully before fielding. Another option to consider it the Seismic Hammer v. Chainfist. Again this will depend in large part on your Meta. In a Battle Company, Eldar, or Tau heavy meta with lots of low AV vehicles and Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures running around the Seismic Hammer is the better choice. If you play in an Imperial Knight heavy meta like Arizona then you may want to consider the Chainfist. This is especially true if you’re running Battle Company as the cost of BC often means you’ve sacrificed a lot of fire power for bodies. Also your Grav is only so good against vehicles and GMCs. In this case I would want two Ironclads in pods one with hammer one with Chainfist just so I can make sure all my bases are covered.


OG Ironclad

Generally speaking you’re going to find Ironclad Dreadnoughts fielded as part of a Gladius Strike Force using the Demi-Battle Company. You may take 0-1 units of Dreadnoughts in a Demi-Battle Company so you could potentially have 2 in an 1850 Double-Demi Gladius build. Why would you take them? For starters the Pod is free in the Double-Demi build. Secondly they’re Objective Secured. Third they compliment a Battle Company build in that it adds some higher armor targets, and gives you a way to deal a lot of damage in Assault with 6 Str 10 attacks on the charge. I prefer to drop both my Ironclads in the Battle Company on the same side of the board and try to wipe a unit with flamers and follow it up next turn with some gnarly assaults if the two Dreads are still alive.


Ironclad Dreadnought of the 41st millennium. Questions? Seems like natural selection to me.

The dreads are not as survivable as you will hope they’ll be. While AV13 sounds good in the current meta of the Monstrous and Gargantuan creatures it is still relatively easy for most armies to pop through shooting or Assault. So what do you do with this type of unit? Take out all the squishy targets you can. If your opponent is playing Battle Company then use the two Ironclads to chew through Rhinos with shooting and Assaults. If they’re playing Tau or Eldar try to get in on the GMC or unit of MCs as fast as you can. It is key you not forget Move Through Cover and the use of your grenades from the Assault Launchers. Placing the Dreads well, bubble wrapped in Drop Pods and marines, is a skill you’ll learn. You also need to assess the threat opposed by the enemy prior to dropping in the dread. They are too useful a unit, and too helpful in certain situations late in the game to simply be dismissed for a few turns or to be left off the board. Dreads, unlike tactical squads, tend to be a unit where mixing weapons isn’t the end of the world. Most players will tell you not to take a 5 man Tactical squad and arm it with a flamer and a combi-melta on the sergeant. They’ll tell you to make the unit more single task oriented, double flamer, double metla, double grav etc. For Ironclad Dreadnoughts having the meltagun and heavy flamer is generally not a bad idea as it gives you tactical flexibility in game and the double str 10 weapons will help you clean up whatever either of the two shooting weapons didn’t polish off initially.

In the end the Ironclad Dread has some cool options but is limited in use due to the way the unit rules and dedicated transport rules work with it. It works really well in a Gladius where it has a free Drop Pod and gains Objective Secured, it can be much more situational of an inclusion in a CAD. Especially if you’re thinking about a competitive meta.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! 


About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

9 Responses to “Space Marine Elite Review: Ironclad Dreadnoughts”

  1. Karvala October 6, 2016 8:37 am #

    At Nova this year I played the Hellforged Hunting Pack. In one game my opponent’s Ironclad dreadnought punched its way through 5 Soulgrinders……..

    • SaltyJohn October 6, 2016 8:57 am #

      Yes, they are good in Close Combat that’s for sure!

  2. Reecius October 6, 2016 9:37 am #

    I love Dreads and the Ironclad specifically is a beast! Slap him in a Dreadnought Drop Pod and do work, son.

    • SaltyJohn October 6, 2016 11:06 am #

      Does the FW Dread Pod allow for assault after deep strike or am I having editionitis again?

      • Julien Le Douaron October 6, 2016 1:37 pm #


        Updated rules are in the latest Imperial Armour book. The gist of it though: you don’t have to disembark on the turn you arrive (but the pod is still open-topped, so you can shoot) and the pod is shrouded upon arrival. It has the assault vehicle rule though, so on the next turn you can disembark then shoot + assault.

        • SaltyJohn October 6, 2016 1:41 pm #

          Booooo editionitis. Thanks, I’m not too into Forgeworld so I’m not completely up on all the rules/FAQs/Errata etc. In fact the only Forgeworld rules I use are the Sicaran.

      • WestRider October 6, 2016 2:19 pm #

        Nope. What it does is let you stay in there for a Turn (or even longer if you want), and then Charge when you do get out. You get Shrouded for the Turn after it lands, too.

  3. CNitram October 6, 2016 9:50 am #

    I’ve always loved the look of the Ironclad, but sadly Dark Angels don’t have access to them 🙁

  4. Loofa4 October 7, 2016 7:45 am #

    I like ironclads, but furioso dreads are better and cheaper.

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