Codex Review: Chaos Space Marines – Iron Warriors

Welcome all, Danny from TFG Radio here to do a bit of digging and review of the Iron Warriors flavor of Chaos Space Marines. If you want to shoot and have some fearless blobs of bros, here’s your pick! Be sure to check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner for all the goodness.

So, Iron Warriors are the siege breakers, the fortification fellers, the shooty ones with the slick caution striping on their weapons, so what do they look like in 8th edition?

Legion Trait: Siege Lords

All IW infantry, Daemon Princes, Helbrutes, and Bikers negate any cover bonus to armor.  They also reroll failed wound rolls against buildings.  So this is the exact same as the Imperial Fist Chapter Tactics, and well, it is a bit underwhelming to be fair.  Cover saves are nowhere near as ubiquitous as it once was as it much harder to get cover than before, so ignoring the bonus is a bit hit and miss.  As TOs, clubs, and events start to develop better and more robust cover fitting for 8th edition, this bonus may come in far more handy.  The reroll against buildings is also very corner case, and sure, it could come up, but it likely won’t in most games.   It is not like this is necessarily a terrible Legion Trait, but it is just not as overtly powerful as others.  If you want to make the most of it, high volume fire is the way to go.  Lascannons really don’t need to worry too much about punching through cover, but Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolters do.  Even just standard bolters can be frustrating when an opponent cannot bank on a sweet 2+ in cover.   Again, I think when our terrain-game finishes evolving, this trait will be far more useful.

Legion Specific Stratagem: Iron Within, Iron Without

You can trigger this Stratagem when an IW unit loses a wound, and for the rest of the phase, that unit ignores wounds on a 6, including the wound that triggered this stratagem. This is essentially giving an entire unit a 16% wound mitigation, which can come in handy in a number of ways.  First, on a larger unit like a big blob of CSM or even Berserkers (who are totally welcome in the Iron Warriors), this can help them survive some attention.   Big units of Terminators don’t mind this at all because with a 2+/5++, they are already resilient, but throwing in another 16% wound mitigation? That’s nice.  The real fun trick here is that GW FAQ’d that different sources of ignoring wounds seem to stack, so a big unit of Slaanesh Terminators with the Slaanesh psychic power of a 5+ to ignore wounds stacked with this suddenly has at worst a 5++, 5+ “Feel no Pain”, and a 6+ “Feel no Pain”.  That’s pretty beast, and if you’ve ever played against a Swarmlord with Catalyst up and the FnP warlord trait, you can attest how much damage that actually ignores.   For other reasons we’ll go into, Iron Warriors really like Slaanesh marked Terminators and Obliterators.   You can also go for a foot-slogging horde and do this with Possessed for 40 wounds of 5++/5+/6+.  A bit pricey and one-dimensional though, but as an “Anvil” unit that can take the center of the board and not go anywhere easily, it is pretty solid as far as 8th goes.

Legion Specific Artefact: Fleshmetal Exoskeleton

The Fleshmetal Exoskeleton is back, and yep yep, you still want to slap it on a Daemon Prince.  Giving a DP a 2+ save isn’t too shabby at all, and as an added bonus, the DP heals 1 wound per turn, so on an 8 wound character, that can actually be relevant.  Seeing as DPs can be screened, you are better able to choose where and when the DP starts to be exposed to damage, namely melee, and a 2+ save helps keep volume of fire attacks from being too problematic, and even bigger hits from AP -2 weapons are now saved on a 4+ rather than having to rely on the 5++ from being a Daemon.   Again, with 8 wounds and with far more control of when and how your Daemon is vulnerable, being able to tick back up can keep a DP alive to kick some butt.   This is also one of the truly free Artefacts as it does not require any piece of equipment to replace, so you can just slot it onto a DP and go from there.  If you don’t like Daemon Princes, you can even throw this on a Chaos Lord or Sorcerer with a Jump Pack for a cheaper terminator. If you are trying to shave 20-30 points, this could work out well. Overall, a pretty solid artefact.

Legion Specific Warlord Trait: Cold and Bitter

Friendly IW within 6 of the Warlord automatically pass Morale tests.  This is just baller.  It is one of the better legion specific Warlord Traits, namely because Morale control and mitigation is incredibly powerful, especially since it allows you to run chaff hordes far more effectively, and chaff hordes are great at board control and scenario play.   For just over 150 points, you can have a blob of 40 cultists that need to be killed to the last traitor so long as your Warlord is nearby.  That’s a big wall of cultists.  You could also run several smaller squads, but then you do run into the possibility that someone will actually blitz through them in a single turn, so larger squads are probably more optimal to ensure that your chaff line is not broken in a single turn.   This matters more when we look at the general stratagems that IW can really utilize well.  Even if you don’t want to run a cultist horde, having a bubble of Fearless is still great unless you are really only doing MSU with units no longer than 5.  If you do want to try to run a Possessed mob, this is a good Warlord trait for it, so you never have to worry that you’ll lose any Possessed to the morale phase.

Useful General Stratagems

Veterans of the Long War:  Pretty much every Legion is going to want to use this Stratagem because it is just so. damn. good. You can use this in either the shooting phase or fight phase, so you can actually use it twice a turn in matched play: once to shoot and once to fight.  For a unit like Terminators that can bring some strong shooting and strong melee, for 2 CPs, you can turn them into God-mode for half a turn.  Even just combi-bolters become menacing as hell with a +1 to wound as against anything T5-T7 are being wounded on 4s, and anything T3 is being wounded on 2s.  That adds up when you have 40 shots within 12 inches.  Of course, with Obliterators, you wounding any target not T14 or above on 4s with this, regardless of what you roll for strength, and if you roll max strength, suddenly you are wounding T8 on 2s.  Nice. In melee, Terminators or Possessed become far scarier with a blanket +1 to wound in close combat, and with the volume of attacks that Possessed can produce or the quality of attacks that Terminators can pump out, you can do some serious damage in the fight phase as well.  Overall, VotLW is so good.

Endless Cacophony: So, Iron Warriors really want to be Slaanesh, namely for access to the psychic power and this Stratagem. For 2 CPs, a Slaanesh infantry/biker unit can shoot twice in a turn.  Couple this with VotLW, and wow, you are doubling a ranged units offensively output for a turn.  Terminators with just standard combi-bolters are now putting out 80 shots with +1 to wound or Obliterators are putting out 8 shots each.  Slaanesh Terminators can be a linchpin unit for an Iron Warriors build as a big unit of 10 can drop in during the Movement phase, have Delightful Agonies and Warp Time cast on them, get VotLW and then Endless Cacophony in the shooting phase, and then charge in and get another VotLW on them for melee.   They will do tons of damage, and with Delightful Agonies up, they will have a 2+ or 5++, a 5+ Feel No Pain, and if they start taking a lot of attention, another 6+ FnP from Iron Within, Iron Without.  Yes, that is 5 CPs invested in a single unit, but as a single hammer strike, that can be devastating.  You can stretch this out to by simpling taking a few squads of Obliterators, and essentially have 2 or 3 turns where a unit drops in and shoots twice, and well, if the previous Oblits didn’t die, you still have to answer them too.

Tide of Traitors: While you don’t think of Iron Warriors as being the legion that is supported by throngs of cultists, with the IW Warlord Trait, they are really good at it.  Imagine having a 40 cultist strong unit that just absorbs tons of punishment, is down to its last four cultists, and suddenly, they disappear and return at full strength?  Well, with Tide of Traitors, you can do that.  An IW Warlord walking up field with a big blob of Cultist is good, but having the ability to heal them and have them redeploy to a flank can be game-winning, whether for Line Breaker or taking a far-flung objective.  Seeing as how IW get a lot of extra mileage out of Cultists since you never have to worry about suffering additional attrition thanks to Morale, if you want to run IW, a solid contingent of cultists would be a good idea.  For math’s sake, it takes over 100 bolter shots from a BS 3+ chassis to kill a 40 cultist unit to a man, and well, that’s not exactly easy to accomplish.  It takes roughly 60 shots to get a 40 strong unit to die via morale, and that’s a decent bump by being able to ignore morale, and again, all you need is one cultist to live and you can bring back the whole unit via this stratagem.

Flakk Missile/Daemon Shell: As I want over with World Eaters, being able to do a few mortal wounds at range is a good idea.  IW are still a mostly shooty army, so you should have a bolter on a character or a missile launcher somewhere, and being able to do 2d3 mortal wounds to a Flyer can really help you put one down without a big investment of firepower elsewhere.  It is just a good idea, if you have the CPs, to have this option available, for any army build really.

Useful General Artefacts:

Honestly, if you want more melee centered characters, then the Axe of Blind Fury is good or the Black Mace, but really, none of these really help IW more than anyone else.  IW are pretty CP hungry to pull off some of their crazier tricks, so it is not necessarily worth it to try and grab more than the Fleshmetal Exoskeleton.   In my estimation, it is better to just save CPs for Cacophony or VotLW.

Must-have Units: 

Terminators:  The ever classic Terminator is just so much improved in 8th edition, but Iron Warriors can get a bit more mileage out of them.  Iron Within, Iron Without helps multiwound models or large groups of models, and Terminators with their innate resiliency get a bit more out of IWIW.  As I said, mark them Slaanesh for some double shooting, and while expensive, a unit of 10 Terminators with combi-plasma firing twice is absolutely devastating, especially with a +1 to wound.  Don’t forget that if you have a Warp Time source nearby, you can send them off to fight as well.  Terminators are such a great double-threat overall, and while expensive, they can impact the game in huge ways in a single turn.

Obliterators:  Well, they are not Troops anymore for IW, but Obliterators are still quite good in IW.  They are essentially 3 wound terminators, so you can layer defensive buffs on them, and since they can shoot like champs if the dice aren’t too bad, they are great targets for Cacophony.  Whether you go for a large unit of 6 to just come down with one thunder-blow or 2/3 units of 3 to come in on Turn 1/2/3, it is a good idea to have some of these nearby.

Cultists: That Warlord trait, though.  Thanks to that, IWs are great at bringing a lot of chaff to the table that will eat up board space, deny reserves, and push forward to help secure objectives, especially since they are objective secured!  You should have at least 30, but really, 50-60 is probably the sweet spot as this is not that much in terms of points, but it can really help you control the tempo of the game, especially with your big hits waiting in reserve.  With Tide of Traitors, you can get quite a bit of mileage out of these units, and again, few armies are going to be able to easily deal with a large swath of cultists reappearing on their flank.  Even just a cheap Battallion of Iron Warriors provides you a ton of fearless Obsec bodies.  That’s damn nice.  Let me say it one more time: Fearless Obsec.

Possessed: I really like Possessed with IW simply for the cheap access to a temporary Feel No Pain.  Since Possessed are 2 wounds each now, they can make a resilient base for an army if you layer Delightful Agonies along with IWIW.  They can also add some melee punch to an army that mostly wants to shoot, and really, you can build a strong, varied IW list that has cultist chaff, a Possessed unit moving forward, a Daemon Prince Warlord that heals, has a 2+ save, and has a 6 inch aura of Fearless, and has terminators and/or obliterators dropping in to deliver some big, big hits.  Possessed make a good “on the board” threat that will attract attention but is still resilient enough to take a lot of it.  You could also throw them in rhinos or what not.

Daemon Prince: You’ll at least want one to get some sweet use out of Fleshmetal Exoskeleton.  A 2+ monster is not a bad thing to have at all.   A DP makes a great warlord to increase the fearless aura, plus with a 2+/5++ and healing one wound a turn, that is a decently resilient character hiding behind a chaff screen.

So there it is all, Iron Warriors.  While not as strong as other Legions on the surface, there are a few strong tricks here, and if you love the idea of terminator bombs or what not, this is a good Legion choice.  If you are only interested in high-octane competition, an Iron Warriors Batallion with 60 cultists, a cheap warlord for fearless (who is less likely to die and give up Slay), and another cheap character is under 500 points for a giant fearless obsec blob that can complement a lot of other builds like Magnus and Friends.

Thanks as always for reading, and be sure to check out TFG Radio for all of our hilarity, and be sure to check out the SoCal Open as well as the LVO.

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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.

22 Responses to “Codex Review: Chaos Space Marines – Iron Warriors”

  1. Avatar
    Threllen September 1, 2017 6:06 am #

    Obliterators definitely got better in the codex (literally doubling shots for no additional cost) but I’m still not sure about them. The cacophony stratagem costs 2CP so you want a big, bad squad to use it on. Oblits are min 3, max 3 so you can’t stack up the bodies for a “termie bomb” of sorts.

    One other unit that can be quite effective that you didn’t touch on are Havocs. With a generic lord next to them they can re-roll 1s to hit or a sorc can give them prescience. Lord is nice because you can bring two or three squads of havocs and they all benefit from him whereas the sorc can only buff one squad a time. Plus the aforementioned stratagems are really good on them, too. Want to put significant damage into your opponent’s big baddies? 4 lascannons that have a bonus to hit, +1 to wound, and shoot twice is pretty nice. Plus they complement a Cultist screen well as they can stand behind them whereas termies/oblits have to deep strike in front.

    • Avatar
      Beaton September 1, 2017 7:09 am #

      I think the biggest issue I, and the local group, took with Obliterators in 8th was the loss of range.

      Making them have a standard gun profile hurt to be sure, but it was livable.

      When their average range in 7th was 36-48″ and now to be limited to 24″ that hurt, especially with their point cost.

      • Avatar
        Threllen September 1, 2017 9:17 am #

        See, and I was less worried about that than I was about the loss of the options.

        I always played my Obliterators as an in-your-face deepstriking force. All of their “special” weapons were twin-linked (meltagun, plasmagun, flamer, etc) whereas the “heavy” weapons like the Lascannon and plasma cannon were not. This meant sitting them back far from your opponents wasn’t exactly appealing to me considering you could get a Havocs squad with more lascannons for way cheaper and they could fire them every consecutive turn rather than having to switch. So to me the loss of ranged wasn’t a huge concern because I rarely used them with a fire-from-the-backline mentality.

        The variety of options was the reason I used Obliterators. My opponent takes a mech force – I deepstrike with twin-linked meltas. He takes a bunch of termies or 2+/3+ saves – I twin-link plasma gun him to death. Squishy units – flamers or assault cannons or plasma cannons (if bunched).

        The loss of that customization was my real gripe with the new oblits. I no longer got a swiss army knife. Instead I got a magic 8 ball that either came up as a 1 damage autocannon at worse and as a two shot lascannon (but with half damage) at best. The fact that they doubled the shots does make them a lot more appealing but I’m still a bit bummed about the overall feel. I could have lived with the lost range but combining that with the fact that I lost all my utility and instead got a completely random gun was kind of the final nail in the coffin for me.

      • Avatar
        Jural September 1, 2017 6:03 pm #

        They lost range, but they didn’t really lose any rounds of shooting, you can usually get within 24″ of what you need to hit. If you were camping them on an objective in the back before, they can’t do that anymore. But honestly, they were really too expensive for that anyway.

    • Avatar
      Majere September 1, 2017 3:37 pm #

      Oblits are extremely good in 8th. You roll for the stats of their guns when they’re picked to fire, so you can find out what their profile is before picking the target. It’s worth keeping a CP back in case you need to re-roll one of the stats for a particular target.
      In the Konor campaign mission where the Imperium made a wave assault, I deep striked 3, rolled all 5s and 6s for the initial D3s, and one-shotted a Repulsor from full HP, When the thing finally came back, the two remaining Oblits still took 10 HP from it in one volley. Provided you pick the right insertion point, 24″ and Assault weapons should see them firing every turn, and they’re a lot harder to kill than Havoks are, though that’s very much a relative term in 8th.

      • Avatar
        abusepuppy September 3, 2017 10:38 pm #

        Yeah, with the ability to arrive anywhere on the field, I rarely find the 24″ range to be a major issue. It sometimes means you can’t shoot the target you want to hit the most, but usually it doesn’t even come up.

  2. Avatar
    Matthew September 1, 2017 8:33 am #

    Ummm, I noticed you said Daemon princes get the legion trait. I don’t think that is right but I don’t have my codex in front of me ATM.

  3. Avatar
    Akaiyou September 1, 2017 3:33 pm #

    Damn this is most certainly one of the best written articles on frontline that i’ve seen thus far. This was great!! Please do more!!! For other legions/chapters whatever keep it going this was awesome speciallyt he break down and recommendations that was my favorite.

    I ran a list of Iron Warriors and got a draw and reading this break down I feel like soooo many missed opportunities to build a much stronger funner list.

    I took 5 daemon engines and was thoroughly disappointed.

  4. Avatar
    The Traitor September 1, 2017 3:42 pm #

    I’m not a fan of IW, but the cultist spam will be certainly good with them, and their artefact is awesome on a DP. Also, I think that you can only use VotLW on assault, no shooting, but might be wrong there…

    • Avatar
      Threllen September 1, 2017 4:17 pm #

      It very explicitly says “shooting or fight phase.”

  5. Avatar
    WestRider September 1, 2017 7:43 pm #

    I find it pleasing that they work well as Slaanesh, given that they were associated with Slaanesh in their very first appearance in the Realm of Chaos books.

  6. Avatar
    knight of infinite resignation September 2, 2017 4:15 am #

    So much shallower somehow than their rules in 7th under Traitor Legions.

    Had a game (of 7th) yesterday with Iron Warriors. I had a Bastion on my table edge, a couple Vengeance Weapin Batteries each side of it and an aegis to join them up making a fortress, mainly held by Helcult x2, Defiler and 5 solo spawn for counterattack purposes.

    My opponent deep striked three drop pods with tac squads (Dark Angels), had some bikes and two Imperial Knights.

    I deepstriked 6 solo Oblits, a Fleshmetal Daemon Prince ! (Mark of Tzeentch) and three Mutilators behind his advance to get rear shots on the Knights to circumvent the shield.

    So much of the coolest stuff that happened in this game (Oblit weapons, risky deep strikes, outfanking shots, locking troops in combat) would have been impossible in 8th.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy September 3, 2017 10:39 pm #

      Yeah, but you know what’s possible in 8th instead? Finishing a game in less than five hours.

      • Avatar
        knight of infinite resignation September 4, 2017 9:33 am #

        We played 2000 points, took 2 and a half hours. I’ve heard 8th can take ages with the finnicky movement around the melee phase, trying to drag other units in etc, and measuring and counting models affected by aura effects.

      • Reecius
        Reecius September 4, 2017 2:57 pm #

        All of my games ended way early and I have a high model count army apart form 1, which went to time but we ended on 5 which I am totally cool with.

        • Avatar
          knight of infinite resignation September 4, 2017 11:47 pm #

          We are divided at my club. Half want to play 8th and half either hated it immediately or are bored with it already. So both games in use. We only have 3 hours available and I haven’t noticed one or other system being faster.

          • Avatar
            Threllen September 5, 2017 6:22 am

            You might be the only store I’ve ever heard of it even being remotely close between 7th and 8th.

            Tournament-wise 7th edition games almost never came to a natural conclusion and were filled with rules debates that got TOs involved. 8th finishes much more quickly and TOs rarely have to get involved.

            Anecdotally, I absolutely love 8th compared to 7th when it comes to my daemons. It literally took 30 minutes to an hour with Tzeentch daemons in 7th just to make all the freaking pre-game rolls and try to keep straight who had what random gift, psychic power, warlord trait, etc etc. Not to mention then summoning in half my army again in free points.

          • Avatar
            knight of infinite resignation September 5, 2017 9:58 am

            Well Threllen, we are a club not a store, and we aren’t playing tournament games, just fun fluffy games where we want our friends to have fun, the sort of games 7th was designed for.

          • Avatar
            Threllen September 5, 2017 2:20 pm

            Idk, personally I’ve had a lot more fun with “fun fluffy games” in 8th where everything is much smoother, doesn’t require 14 books, and doesn’t invoke obscure rules in hundreds of pages worth of material.

            To me, 8th has made the beer and pretzels type game much smoother to play than 7th.

          • Avatar
            knight of infinite resignation September 5, 2017 11:43 pm

            Funny, there is an article on BoLS today lamenting that 8th already requires too many books and faqs. And we are only at the start.

            Personally my Renegades and Heretics army, which used two books in 7th required 4 on the release of 8th due to how FW split the contents of IA13.

            This is just a feature of GW.

  7. Avatar
    Alberto June 26, 2018 1:55 am #

    must have section is all wrong, you should field

    -CSM (troopt) with 2xlascannon and bolters, ignore cover is too good with em
    -bikers with bollters and plasma again stratagmes and ingoring cover make em letals
    -juggylord/biker lord of slaneesh, DP while strong is not cheap and you want to separate the blob warlord from the offensive warlord
    -sorcer target for the IW warlord and no one else
    -helbrute with tl lascannon è ignore cover and stratagen give him fnp 6+ or 5+ if pshycic power with slaneesh(covering his only weakness)

    Not to play_

    -termy, overpriced and suffer from plasma (this is plasma edition), biker output still better, they faster and cheaper aswell.
    -obbly, bad a t everything use lasannons on troop it’s even cheaper and more range = safer + force your strategy on enemy.
    -defiler cant move and shoot without malus and overpriced not worth in any list

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