Iron Warriors Review: Detachment and Formations

Hello everybody, Danny here from TFG Radio to give you some deeper insight into everyone’s favorite post-post-human siege-masters, The Iron Warriors. You should also check Frontline’s comprehensive compendium of tricks and tips over at the Tactic’s Corner!

explosion sounds

Just like the other 8 traitor legions, the Iron Warriors now have their own dedicated Decurion-style Detachment, and with a host of Formations as part of it, we can dig into the guts and see what the Iron Warriors can bring to the table to crush the followers of the Corpse-God. If you haven’t, it may be a good idea to check out this overview of the general special rules that Iron Warriors get.

Iron Warriors Grand Company:

This is the Iron Warriors’ Decurion, and while it may not be as strong as others, it does offer some new life to some maligned units.

Core: Chaos Warband

Command: Lords of the Legion

Auxiliary: Strongholds of Chaos. The Lost and the Damned. Helforged Warpack. Heldrake Terror Pack. Cult of Destruction. Fist of the Gods. Raptor Talon. Terminator Annihilation Force. Favoured of Chaos. Spawn.

Command Benefits:

  • Warsmith: Reroll Warlord trait. Pretty standard.
  • Masters of Annihilation: Barrage and Ordnance weapons from this detachment reroll the Scatter Dice.
  • Intractable Brotherhood: All non-vehicles gain Stubborn and all non-vehicles gain Fearless when within or on a fortification.


So, this isn’t as exciting as Death Guard, World Eaters, or Alpha Legion, but again, the magic is in making certain models far more viable than before. Rerolling the scatter for ordnance weapons really only helps Vindicators, but rerolling demolisher cannon shots is nice. Stubborn on units also greatly helps as with Veterans of the Long War (VotLW) being free, an unmodified leadership 10 is not as great as Fearless, but it is lot better than nothing. While ITC limits fortifications, being able to have a unit of Havocs camp on top of a Void Shield Generator or even an Aegis Defense Line and be Fearless isn’t too bad, especially since these Havocs are Tank-Hunters.

So, let’s take a look at some formations that really work well with Iron Warriors.

The Warband has been talked about to death, and for good reason, it is awesome, and bonus, the Iron Warriors can get some decent mileage out of it since it gives you Objective Secured (Obsec) Havocs. Seeing as Iron Warriors love Havocs, having 2 or 3 squads with Tank-Hunter, 6+ Feel No Pain (FnP), Stubborn or possibly Fearless is great for controlling backfield Objectives while laying out the hurt. Havocs with 4 autocannons are relatively inexpensive and each squad is pretty much guaranteed to pick up any vehicle with AV 11 or less and even threaten AV 12 vehicles with just a small deviation in luck. If you go whole hog and give them lascannons, well then any heavy armor on the battlefield better hope for some great cover/invulnerable saves. Obsec, 3+ armor, jinking, T5 bikers aren’t anything to sneeze at, especially with the extra bonus of a 6+ FnP roll, so having some fast moving late-game objective grabbers that are relatively resilient is also never bad for an army that really likes to sit back and blast away. This may be the only core choice, but it is a great one.


One big difference here is that The Grand Company lets you take a fortification as an auxiliary choice, meaning it is easy to fill out the requirements without a big point expenditure. That said, you can also go full Iron Warriors and use this formation to bring out some bigger guns that actually make use of the Grand Company’s special rules. The two big choices for me are a Wall of Martyrs Firestorm Redoubt or Wall of Martyrs Vengeance Weapon Batteries. With the Firestorm Redoubt, you get an medium building with Battlements, fire-points for up to 6 models, and two of the following: Icarus Lascannons, Punisher Gatling Cannons, or Battle Cannons in any combination. Seeing as how Iron Hands are Fearless when inside or on top of a fortification, you can have a squad of Havocs on the Battlements, raining death and fearless with another squad of Havocs inside raining death. Since these fortifications are part of the Detachment, they get to reroll scatter, so if you pay the extra 20 points for two Battle-cannons, you now have 2 Strength 8, AP 3 reroll scatter large blasts to fling out at your opponent from downtown. Taken with Havocs from the Warband, you also have Obsec inside these fortifications, so you just place them on top of your objective and say “come at me, bro”. A cheaper route is to just take Vengeance Weapon Batteries for a cheap source of reroll scatter ordnance. The real money would be to use the Macro-Cannons, but you’ll need to lobby to have it brought back into the ITC (I would support this).


Moving on, another formation that actually makes use of the Iron Warriors’ rules would be Fist of the Gods. You don’t see Vindicators that much on the table, but with a reroll to scatter on their Strength 10, AP 2 large blasts, you can definitely get much more mileage out of them. This gets pricey quickly, but the whole point of playing Iron Warriors is to blow things up, and well, Vindicators bring some great heat to the table. One could even make the argument that using an army that both brings lots of AV 13+ to the table and is uniquely suited to blowing up anything vehicle could flummox many an opponent.

The other obvious choice for a great formation to go in the Grand Company is the Cult of Destruction. You don’t get to bring out the Obliterators in the Warband, but now you can slot in 3-5 units of Tank-Hunting Obliterators (who can also hide in a building), and depending on how many Warpsmiths you bring, some of them get to shoot twice per turn. You could also bring Mutiliators, but, I don’t think this would be the best place for them as they would likely never be close enough to a Warpsmith to get the bonus. While I am not a huge fan of Warpsmiths as they are a bit too pricy, being able to impose a -1 penalty to the cover of a terrain feature is super helpful for an army that likes to shoot. Taking away the 4+ cover benefit of a ruins in your opponent’s back field definitely plays right into your overall strategy of “shoot stuff til it dies”.

Berzerker Defiler

Just don’t do it…

Iron Warriors really want to make use of the reroll barrage/ordnance scatter dice, but so few things in Chaos really bring this to the table. You can always go Helforged Warpack and bring Defilers for their battle cannon…but then you are bringing Defilers. Perhaps if they were 60-75 points cheaper, but almost 200 points for an AV 12 vehicle is not all that exciting.

The last formation I’ll mention as uniquely suited to the Iron Warriors in the Lost and the Damned. I know, I know, it fits much better for say Alpha Legion or Word Bearers, but the Iron Warriors love to shoot, and that’s a bit of a problem. They don’t have a lot of means of slowing the enemy down, and as many a major GT will tell you, there actually aren’t really any armies that can shoot down things like super-psychic-deathstars. What the Lost and the Damned bring you is a bunch of cheap tarpit units that are suddenly stubborn because the rule applies to models taken as part of the Detachment, not just models with VotLW. You now have 4 to 8 units that can come back and outflank when destroyed, and taking a larger 30 man squad is only 120 points, and for Leadership 8 all the time, that they can take a beating and still stick it out. And hell, if they die, on a 4+, they just come back outflanking. This lets you start attacking the enemies backfield with a wall of guys, forcing them to either push into your base and risk not doing enough damage fast enough or turn around and deal with the models threatening their objectives. With a Dark Apostle that gives a bubble of Zealot, you can walk up the center of the board, hold the line for a good while, and once they break, they can come back into your opponent’s side of the board. Oh yah, you are also unleashing hell with the rest of your army while this happens.


So there you go folks, a general overview of The Grand Company and how you dedicated sons of Perturabo can actually make use of their very own Detachment. Is this better than a standard CAD with Obsec, Tank-Hunter Obliterators? Maybe. Likely no. Well, maybe. I really do feel that Grand Company can dark horse a lot of events as most people won’t expect a fortification homebase packed with Tank-Hunting units supported by reroll scatter vehicles and a wall of fleshy bodies. Let me know what you think and how you plan to build your Iron Warriors, and perhaps you should email Frontline about looking back at some of those other tasty fortifications. As always, stop by and check out TFG Radio to see our own crazy exploits.

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!



About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

9 Responses to “Iron Warriors Review: Detachment and Formations”

  1. Michael Corr December 19, 2016 5:08 am #

    A nice overview of the Iron Warriors, thanks!

  2. MagicJuggler December 19, 2016 6:15 am #

    Across-the-board Stubborn is quite nice to have, especially since Ld-debuffing effects are increasingly common.

    Regarding the Warpsmith tax, it may be easier to make what is a 110-point tax ultimately act as a 25-point tax, relatively speaking. You want to take Havocs anyway since you’re Iron Warriors, and chances are you want to give them Autocannons or even Lascannons and stick them in a fortification and preferably give their pad ammo stores so they re-roll 1s to-hit or so.

    There’s still nothing preventing them from taking a Rhino of their own, and farming it out. The Warpsmith can fire a second weapon alongside his Mechatendril meltagun, and he can take a Combi-Melta; running him solo, he’s 120 points for being able to double-tap a trouble target with Melta. He’s 25 pts more than the equivalent 5-man CSM team, and you only have 2 wounds instead of 5, but you’re BS 5, have a 2+ save (helpful against anything non-grav), a lower profile/easier to hide, as well as assorted tricks, from 5 S5 attacks on the charge, to repair/weapon virus/shatter defenses.

    Unfortunately, 2 of the Warpsmith formations require being “on the board” for formation bonuses, while the Warpack only requires the Warpsmith to be alive. Regarding the Defiler, it’s bad. However, I feel the Warpack gives it a place. With a 4++, its durability becomes more notable, especially if you take some Heretek sorcerers (AV 13, POTMS, or rapid HP healing), and getting a flat re-roll to-hit and to-wound, no strings attached, is potentially quite scary, while being a Character means it can Challenge out hidden Meltabombs as well. If you’re looking to add some Maulerfiends for supporting a midfield objective grab, I feel you could do far worse.

    • Danny Ruiz December 20, 2016 5:11 am #

      Very true on the Defiler bit, the problem is that for less overall points, you get a better target for those buffs like a Maulerfiend.

      I do like the idea of having a Warpsmith hide out in a borrowed rhino, that could be a better use than hiding in a fortification.

      • MagicJuggler December 20, 2016 7:01 am #

        The Warpsmith pays a premium for his Power Axe, 2+ Armor, and Meltagun that fan be fired alongside another weapon. Having him camp a fortification wastes three of those options outright, as a Lord can do the same for 55 points cheaper (or 35 points cheaper with Night Lords. Curze’s Orb would work on a Plasma Obliterator for one…). So 10 points to replace a Bolt Pistol with a combi-melta makes sense when it lets you have a model that can double-tap a trouble target with BS 5. Add in some move spells (Soulswitch or Ghoststorm) and he becomes semi-expendable (you lose additional uses of Daemonforge but that’s it), while being able to be at least usable. There’s also the “ha-ha funny” option of using a Gorepack and joining him to the Flesh Hounds so he can get a Scout move or outflank.

        POTMS does nothing for a Maulerfiend as it has no guns. AV 13 is nice though. It does help the Defiler engage a second target, and works around the issue of having an Ordnance gun. A very permissive group might RAW it also allows run-and-shoot unless the recent GW FAQ said no to that, or ITC or any other rulings do the same.

        Fist of the Gods could be cute for running 3 Vindicators, especially if you use Legacies and let one of them Outflank, but you’re once again saddled with a Warpsmith tax, and the bonuses he provides are extremely minor. Either way, you don’t want to take this *and* the Warpack: One Warpsmith is tax enough!

        The Cult of Destruction is probably not worth it. You’re either better either with a CAD (if you want to go down the Forgeworld route, or re-roll Strategic) or just going for a separate Death Guard formation (or just using Purge). The problem with the Cult is you’re losing ObSec, and your bonus is tied directly to how much tax you take. While I could see certain Legion superfriend combos working hilariously (a Nurgle Oblitstar with attached AL Mindveil?), the IW Oblits are a different breed: Killier (a Tank-Hunting Assault Cannon is about on part with a Grav Cannon vs Rhino, and slightly worse versus AV 12-13) yet ultimately more fragile. And that’s before you consider the restrictions inherent to the Empyronic Guidance Rituals (“at the start of the movement phase”, rather than at the start of a shooting or assault phase), preventing Cult of Destruction from working on anyone except foot-slogging Oblits guided by foot-slogging Warpsmiths.

        Maybe the simplest auxiliary for the Iron Warriors is a 40-point Munitorium Armored Crate. It makes more sense than the Spawn, theoretically lets you run a Earband at near-max (you have an Elite tax, but ah well) and Obsec Tank Hunting Autohavocs that re-roll 1s to-hit are boss. Your Bikers could even be used as a poor Warsmith’s Hellhound substitute, by replacing the TL Bolters with Flamers and having them chill by the fuel tanks.

        • Threllen December 20, 2016 3:12 pm #

          If only Chaos got the same love as standard Marines and you could throw your Warpsmith onto a bike like you can with a Techmarine. Warpsmiths are actually pretty beastly in combat if they can get there. Then you could take the Obliterator Cult, put the Warpsmith on a bike, and throw him with a squad of Bikers from the Warband and now it’s easier for him to keep up with Obliterators even if they deep strike in without him.

          Unfortunately you can’t put Warpsmith’s on any sort of bike so you run into the conundrum where Oblits like to Deep Strike in to take advantage of their twin-linked short-range guns and the Warpsmith can’t keep up with them.

          • MagicJuggler December 22, 2016 11:00 am

            Honestly, I feel like if the Cult of Destruction’s bonuses worked similar to how the Daemon Engine Hunting Pack works (guide an Obliterator unit at the start of the shooting phase, and a Mutilator init at the start of the Assault Phase), and the Warpsmith also got access to Deep Strike, the Cult would go from a funny way to make a wannabe Centstar to becoming something that could actually be quite powerful.

            As is, since Guidance Rituals are at the start of the Move Phase, you can’t use it on the turn the Oblits arrive from DS reserve, or the Warpsmith starts aboard a transport.

  3. beau December 19, 2016 10:32 pm #

    If you put havocs with auto cannons inside a plasma obliterator or macro cannon from the aux slot can they all fire on a target and also confer tank hunter to that gun with it getting to reroll its scatter?

    • abusepuppy December 19, 2016 11:05 pm #

      The Plasma Obliterator and Macro Cannon are Primary weapons, not Ordnance- they will not benefit from the special ability of the formation. However, as the Havocs are the ones shooting, they _will_ benefit from Tank Hunter.

      • beau December 19, 2016 11:55 pm #

        Cool thanks. I guess I will just have to pray that their template is big enough.

Leave a Reply