Iron Warriors Review: Warlord Traits & Artefacts

Hello everybody, Danny here from TFG Radio with my last review of the Iron Warriors from Traitor Legions. Stick around to the end where I give out a few lists ideas; be sure to check out the previous two articles on the overall special rules and their unique detachment; finally, as always, check out more great information over in the Tactics Corner.


So, now that we’ve covered the special rules that all Iron Warriors get regardless of detachment/formation, and we delved deep into how to run a Grand Company, let’s look at those extra fixings that make this one special meal: Warlord Traits and Artefacts! Yes, often times these don’t add all that much, but hey, sometimes it is the small things that really make a huge impact.



Warlord Traits:

  • Iron Without: Warlord has 4+ Feel No Pain (that cannot be improved)
  • Cold Calculations: Warlord has Fearless.
  • Master of Fortifications: Increase the cover save of a piece of terrain by +1 (cannot be a terrain piece you’ve bought, so no super Skyshield landing pad).
  • Technoviral Manipulator: Friendly Iron Warrior Obliterators within 12 inches of your Warlord can shoot the same ways in consecutive phases.
  • Steel Castellan: Warlord and unit have Counter-Attack and Split-fire.
  • Master of Blasphemous Machines: Friendly CSM vehicles have It Will Not Die while within 6 inches of your Warlord.

Ok, so what are we working with here? There are a few that are super situational, namely Fearless (unless a Warpsmith is your Warlord) and Master of Machines if you aren’t running Fist of the Gods. If you get one of these, reroll immediately and hope for better. Steel Castellan looks good, but it really works best with a Warpsmith from the Cult of Destruction hanging out with a full unit of Obliterators or Havocs who are camping in a Fortification. The other 3? They are all solid but nothing too amazing. 4+ Feel No Pain is great for a Chaos Lord on a Bike while Technoviral Manipulator is solid if you are running a lot of Obliterators (which Iron Warriors do well). Master of Fortifications is my favorite as Iron Warriors are very much a static army, at least in their core, so having 3+ ruins and a fortification in your deployment zone make you highly resilient in the early game.

Should you build a list and try to hope you get the one you want? No. No you shouldn’t. There is nothing here worth it, but then there really is only one stinker (unless your Warlord is a Warpsmith). If you want more all-around solid traits, roll on Strategic in the main rule book.



  • Warpbreacher: Warpsmith only. Can grant Daemonic Possession to a friendly CSM vehicle that doesn’t already have it.
  • Nest of Mechaserpents: Warpsmith only. When in a challenge, roll 2 attacks first. If both hit, all remaining attacks have the Instant Death special rule.
  • Axe of the Foremaster: Mastercrafted and Armorbane Poweraxe.
  • Fleshmetal Exoskeleton: +2 armor save and It Will Not Die.
  • Cranium Malevolus: At the start of the shooting phase, all enemy vehicles within 2D6 of the bearer take a haywire hit with no cover saves allowed.
  • Siegebreaker Mace: Mastercrafted Power Maul that can replace all attacks with one Strength 10, AP 1 attack.

So, the clear stinker here is Nest of Mechaserpents because if your Warpsmith is in combat, let alone a challenge, what happened? Warpbreacher is situational again; if you are planning on running a lot of vehicles like Fist of the Gods, this may come in handy, but otherwise, it is a bit too corner-case. Cranium Malevolus sounds cool, and in certain situations, it can be devastating. When I first read it, I immediately thought of a Lord with a jump pack deep-striking into the middle of a Battle Company line and wreaking havoc, but then I realized, so I did one hull point to 3 or 4 rhinos? That’s not that great seeing as he is gonna die right after.

What does work here are the two weapons and the armor. An Armourbane power axe is pretty sweet, and it lets a Lord on bike with a squad of bikers have a legitimate chance to carve up anything AV 12 or lower. You are only paying 10 more points for master-crafted and armourbane, so why not? The Mace is also legit as it gives you some needed flexibility. Your Lord can swing in on chumps at Initiative 5 and Strength 6 or if going against something really big, really mean, or Toughness 5 and susceptible to Instant Death, the Strength 10, AP1 at Initiative 5 is pretty sweet. The Fleshmetal Exoskeleton is great since it opens up a really Tanky Lord option as there is no other way to get a 2+ save on a Chaos Lord outside of Terminator armor. Take a Lord, give him a bike, the Exoskeleton, Powerfist plus Powerclaw, and Sigil of Corruption, and you have a pretty damn solid character. If you manage to get the 4+ FnP Warlord trait, well now he is just a beast.

So the Warlord traits and Artefacts here aren’t super amazing, but they are decent, and honestly, the Artefacts mostly open up avenues for doing some whacky combo builds like a Fleshmetal Lord on Bike hanging with some Khorne Bikers and Khorne Lord of pure death. The Mace combos great with a Death Guard army where a Strength 10 hit at Initiative 5 and a -1 (or -2) debuff to Toughness means that the Iron Warrior Lord just instagibs Riptides or Greater Daemons.

So, with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 lists of my design that try to highlight the strengths of the Iron Warriors.

Explosion Photo

List 1: The Grand Company of Boom

Detachment: Grand Company

Core: Warband

Chaos Lord with Siegebreaker Mace. Aura of Dark Glory.

5x Chaos Space Marines. Flamer. Rhino

5x Chaos Space Marines. Flamer. Rhino

3x Chaos Terminators. 3x Combi-Flamers

3x Chaos Bikes.

5x Havocs 4x Autocannons.

6x Havocs 4x Autocannons.

Auxiliary: Cult of Destruction

Warpsmith (Warlord)

2x Obliterators

2x Obliterators

1x Obliterators

Auxiliary: Strongholds of Chaos

Wall of Martyrs Firestorm Redoubt. 2 Battle Cannons.

Auxiliary: Lost and the Damned

Dark Apostle

30x Cultists.

15x Cultists.

11x Cultusts

10x Cultists

So, this list is about trying to stay true to the Iron Warriors fluff and doctrine of war while also filling a major gap in its construction. The Lost and the Damned take the very center of the board, spread out to absorb damage with the smaller squads in front and the large squad behind. The Apostle and the Lord go in the large squad to tarpit and do some damage while they are at it, and when the cultists die, hopefully they return and outflank to start harassing your opponent’s backfield.

Your backfield is dominated by the Firestorm Redoubt with 2 battle cannons that reroll scatter, a squad of Havocs inside to fire and a squad of Obliterators (or two) on top to fire out. With the Warpsmith hanging out inside safe and sound, it becomes a lot harder to earn Slay the Warlord, and if there are two Warlord traits that you really want here: Master of Fortification to give a Ruins in your deployment zone 3+ for the other Havocs and Obliterators, or Technovirus to let the Obliterators that fire twice use the same weapons as last turn. With a reroll on the chart, you have a good chance to get one of those (but not every game).

The other units are all about Obsec flying around, trying to win the mission. The Terminators go into their backfield and try to take a corner objective and then stay alive while the Rhinos do what Rhinos do. All in all, this army shoots quite a bit, will wreck armor, but it also has a strong center base with a lot of disposable chaff.


List 2: Grand Company of even more Boom

Detachment: Grand Company

Core: Warband

Chaos Lord with Axe of Forgemaster. Bike. Sigil of Corruption (warlord)

5x Chaos Space Marines. Melta. Rhino

5x Chaos Space Marines. Melta. Rhino

3x Chaos Terminators. 3x Combi-flamer

8x Chaos Bikes. 2x Meltagun.

5x Havocs 4x Autocannons.

5x Havocs 4x Autocannons.

5x Havocs. 4x Lascaonns.

Auxiliary: Strongholds of Chaos

Wall of Martyrs Vengeance Battery. Battle cannon.

Auxiliary: Fist of the Gods


3x Vindicators

Predator. Lascannon.

Predator. Lascannon.

So this list is a bit different but with some basic similarities to the previous. It eschews tarpits with more raw power as the Chaos Lord hangs out with the Bikers for an assault unit that is there to bully non-deathstar units. There are a ton of Havocs here who camp and lay down fire, and the Vengeance Battery drops a pie plate into the enemy with a reroll to the scatter. As usual, the Terminators and Marines are there to grab objectives and generally try to win the mission as opposed to blast the opponent.

The real punch here is the full squadron of Vindicators to pump out the mega shot. They get to reroll scatter, which really helps in case you roll the wrong direction that leads the shot back to you, and the two predators add to the extra AT with even more lascannon goodness. If running up against an alpha strike, you can reserve the vehicles and have them come in later to make sure they get at least one swing before death. This list lets you bring a lot of models off the shelf and back into rotation, and it pumps out so much shooting that it can really wreak havoc on most armies, and against a dedicated deathstar, it has enough fast Obsec to focus on the mission rather than the kill.


List 3: Can-opener

Detachment 1: Iron Warriors CAD

Chaos Lord. Bike. Siegebreaker. Aura of Dark Glory

Chaos Lord. Bike. Axe of Forgemaster. Aura of Dark Glory.

3x Obliterators

2x Obliterators

2x Obliterators

Detachment 2: Butcherhorde

Core: Warband

Chaos Lord. MoK. Chaos Bike. Sigil of Corruption. Powerfist. Talisman of Burning Blood

10 Chaos Space Marines. CCW/Pistol. MoK

10 Chaos Space Marines. CCW/Pistol. MoK

3x Chaos Terminatiors. 3x Combi-melta

10x Chaos Bikers. MoK

5x Havocs. CCW/Pistol

Auxiliary: Spawn

1 Chaos Spawn

Command: Lords of the Legion

Chaos Lord. Bike. Aura of Dark Glory. MoK. Gorefather

So this list is mostly World Eaters but it has a nice sampling of Iron Warriors. The Iron Warriors exist to provide the ranged firepower necessary to get troops out of their transports, letting the World Eaters feast on the juicy goodness inside. The two Iron Warriors lords can use their speed to catch up to the Khorne Marines that are heading up the field, or depending on the matchup, join with the Bikers to form a mini-deathstar that has a lot of melee pop. Of course, after the initial movement of the Butcherhorde, the Iron Warrior Lords can move between units as needed. With 7 Oblits, you are going to be opening up Rhinos and such, and well, let’s not forget that almost everything in this list outside of the Iron Warriors/1 World Eater Lords and the Spawn are Obsec, so it can play the mission pretty damn well.

I won’t do the full list, but in a comment on the Special Rules article for Iron Warriors, Coblen gave us Oblitshame: 6-12 oblits with flying, summoning monstrous creatures.  The Chaos Version of the Tyranid list that once took LVO! I may have to actually try this.

So there you go folks, three different army flavors of Iron Warriors, either stand alone or trying to help out Chaos in general. While the IW may not be the flashiest and obviously strong choice of the Traitor Legions, they do bring some interesting surprises to the battlefield, and again, if you like blowing things up, these are your boys. Let us know how the IW have been treating you as we’d love to hear it. Be sure to check out TFG Radio and all our wackiness.

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

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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.
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5 years ago

Great writeup, some interesting list.

I kinda like the idea of running a cad with a cheap HQ and 6 single oblits (i think it it’s legal) With obsec, deep strike and tank hunter it can be a nice supplement to any list type.

5 years ago
Reply to  Nightman

Yeah, I was thinking taking Oblits and Havocs for a really nasty army.

Chaos Reigns
Chaos Reigns
5 years ago

I think CAD is still pretty necessary to chaos to a degree and the force org shifts definitely help some legions put together some real point efficient CAD detachments. Both IW and BL get the best out of this, and much needed since the alpha strike BL detachment lacks obsec. I don’t think small IW CADs will be out of place in some chaos lists as it’s minimum cost is just 200 points for a plane jane sorc and two oblits, and with mini FNP and stubborn to boot. Also, IA13 is still just so much better than the entire codex for efficient shooting models that those Heavy slots become even more valuable. There’s appropriately so many options now.

Also, Master of Blasphemous Machines would be disgustingly hysterical amongst some Sicarans.

5 years ago

One great thing about the Iron Warriors detachment is that fortifications take up the auxiliary slot. So you could put out a warband full of tough obsec units, give them a nice fortification, and then bring an Iron Warriors CAD with six single model Obliterator units (also with ObSec).

Would present a lot of medium toughness, high damage units for your opponent if nothing else.

5 years ago

The Cranium Malevolus, I feel like there is a place for, but I’m not sure the Iron Warriors have the place for it. Maybe a Biker Lord in a big pack of KDK Flesh Hounds or something, who can hang around and beat stuff up while incidentally peeling bits off Battle Company Rhinos and such. Not sure.

I love that the Mace has Master-Crafted. I usually never even bother with options where I’m trading a ton of lesser Attacks for a single big Attack, because I know it’s just going to miss when I actually need it. Master-Crafted takes it down the point where it’s only going to miss like 2/3 of the time or so 😉

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