Warhammer Armies: Iron Warriors Tactics


Welcome to Warhammer Armies! Today, we’re going to be breaking down everything you could want to know about Iron Warriors. This article is a supplement to the Chaos Space Marine Warhammer Armies article, intended to help you play Iron Warriors specifically alongside the information contained in Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines. We’re going to go over everything specific to Iron Warriors, any specific units you might want to consider, a general breakdown of how Iron Warriors adjusts the general Chaos Space Marine gameplan, and close out with a sample 2000 point list. With this information at hand, you should feel very comfortable using Iron Warriors at all your local events, both casually and competitively, and even be capable of performing well at a large scale event.


To begin, let’s take a look at the Iron Warrior (here after IW) trait, “Siege Lords”. This trait allows IW to ignore cover with their shooting attacks, and Re-Roll to wound against BUILDINGS. Siege Lords is a rather narrow trait, as ignoring cover isn’t usually an incredible ability, and getting to Re-Roll to wound against BUILDINGS will only come up in incredibly fringe scenarios. IW do perform unusually well against any Faction that always counts themselves as being in cover, like the Jormungdr Hive Fleet, but this is another rather fringe benefit. Overall, the IW trait doesn’t really push the legion in a specific direction.

Next, we have the IW specific stratagem, “Iron Within, Iron Without”, which provides any IW unit to shrug off damage received on a 6+. What’s interesting about this stratagem is its overall flexibility.

The CSM traits only affect INFANTRY, BIKER, HELBRUTE, and DEMON PRINCE models. This leaves certain units in the dust, mostly other vehicles.

However, this stratagem affects any IW unit. This means that IW can slightly boost the durability of any unit in their army at any time. In fact, it can be worth taking a few of your vehicles as IW even if you don’t play IW in general, just to have access to the free 6+ to shrug off damage. A 6+ doesn’t sound that impressive, but it is a ~17% damage reduction on the unit. That means that your opponent has to invest a rather significant amount of damage into a larger unit or vehicle to kill it. Overall, this stratagem is highly flexible and slightly steers the IW player towards a more big unit/model focus so they can maximize the value of Iron Within, Iron Without.

Moving right along, we have the IW warlord trait, “Cold And Bitter”. The IW warlord trait is hands down the biggest pay off to playing IW, as it provides the warlord with a 6” aura that causes all friendly IW units to automatically pass any Morale tests that they take. The only other way for any CSM player to get access to automatically passing Morale tests is Black Legion through Abaddon, at least without paying CP. This trait allows IW to take multiple unusually large units of models and leverage the strength of those units while not paying for the primary weakness of them, which is Morale casualties.

As it’s the main payoff for playing IW, it should be considered an automatic take for basically every game, and your list construction should revolve around this trait. In addition, your warlord should not be on the frontlines when playing IW, as this trait holds the entire army together. Losing him is a crippling blow to your overall  performance, so you should at least consider taking a more reserved warlord choice than usual.

To close us out for the specifics for IW, we have the very powerful relic known as “The Fleshmetal Exoskeleton”. The Exoskeleton allows you to give any IW model a 2+ save and the ability to regenerate a wound at the start of each of your turns. At first glance, it looks like you would pair this with a Demon Prince, as a Demon Prince with a 2+ save and the ability to heal a wound a turn is pretty durable, and this is certainly not a bad choice. However, one should heavily consider reserving this for their warlord, as it protects their warlord from things like targeted Psychic Powers or snipers.  In general, you should keep the Exoskeleton in the back of your mind as a great second relic to take for 1CP to shore up your defenses if need be, while keeping the CP and just taking a useful generic relic for free for the games where you feel like your warlord isn’t going to be under attack.
Overall, the main power of IW is not through their trait, but rather through all the other bonuses that you get for playing IW. To maximize your success on the battlefield, IW should be looking to leverage their ability to safely take large units as much as possible.

Combining this with the fact that the IW stratagem also steers you towards large units or vehicles, this positions IW as a rather mid-long range army depending on how the player wishes to play, which is a bit unusual for CSM. It should be also noted that although lorewise the IW don’t really dedicate themselves to a Chaos God in general  and tend to be long range siege specialists, on the table you can absolutely get some serious mileage out of a combined arms style army utilizing units like IW Khorne Berzerkers and Noise Marines along with fire support.


Overall, IW can reliably use any and all units recommended in “Warhammer Armies-Chaos Space Marines”, and there are no units that we generally wouldn’t recommend which perform unusually well under the IW banner. Therefore, you should generally feel free to build any style list made from our list of recommend units.


 IW can be built in a variety of ways. Today, we’re going to look at a more combined arms style force that pays homage to the fluff of IW by taking some heavy firepower through Predators and Obliterators, while also taking a powerful melee component and some disruption to help guarantee that our melee component can make it to the enemy army.

IW Battallion
HQ’s- 257
DP with Wings, Talons, Mark of Slaanesh, Warp Bolter, Delightful Agonies, Fleshmetal Exoskelton 183-Warlord
Chaos Lord, Bolter, Chainsword 74
Troops- 120
10 Cultists
10 cultists-40
10 Cultists-40
Heavy Support- 510
Predator with Twin Lascannons, Las Cannon sponsons 190
Predator with Twin Lascannons, Heavy Bolter sponsons, 160
Predator with Twin Lascannons, Heavy Bolter sponsons 160
IW Battalion
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Power Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Nurgle, Diabolical Strength, Miasma of Pestilence 120
Sorcerer with Jump Pack, Power Sword, Bolt Pistol, Mark of Tzeentch, Presicence, Warptime 120
Troops- 240
40 Cultists with Autoguns, Mark of Slaanesh- 120
10 Cultists-40
10 Cultists-40
Heavy Support-195
3 Obliterators, Mark of Slaanesh 195
10 Berzerkers, 9 with Chainaxe/Chainsword, Champion has Chainsword/Powerfist, 181
Flyiers- 185
Heldrake with Baleflamer 185
Dedicated Transport-72
Rhino, Combi Bolter, Mark of Nurgle 72
240+240+195+181+185+72= 1113

Our list clocks in right at 2000, and it has quite a bit going on. In terms of firepower, we have our 3 Predators which will usually be buffed by the Killshot stratagem. Make sure you do what you can to protect them, because as soon as one dies you lose access to Killshot which greatly lowers the effectiveness of your Predators. 8 lascannons isn’t a ton of anti-tank, but 8 lascannons with +1 to wound and +1 to damage will do serious damage to enemy monsters and vehicles unless they have a powerful invulnerable save. Plus, we also have a unit of Oblierators that can drop onto the table on turn 2-3 and provide additional spot removal against troublesome units.

Meanwhile, we have a disruptive melee component consisting of our Berzerkers in their Rhino and a Heldrake. The Heldrake simply provides minor disruption by tying up a bit of the enemy and forcing them to address it while the rest of your army dismantles the opposition. Our Rhino helps carry our Berzerkers to the enemy lines. Because the Rhino has the NURGLE keyword, it’s a perfect candidate for the Miasma of Pestilence psychic power. Along with smoke launchers, this puts our Rhino at a -2 to hit which means that if our opponent wants to kill the Rhino and expose the Berzerkers within, he’s going to have to overcommit to killing it.
The real stars of the show are the 100 cultists that we bring along. Our four 10 man squads have been left without marks or equipment because their marks and equipment don’t really matter, and can be left up to player preference. The one forty man unit, however, IS taken as Slaanesh. This allows either of them to threaten the “Veterans Of The Long War+ Endless Cacophony” combo, which you can of course push even further with Prescience. Cultists don’t usually a lot of damage, but when you leverage this many buffs on a unit of 40, they bring a respectable amount of anti-infantry firepower. In addition, their large unit sizes mean they can comfortably cover large parts of the board, giving you great objective control.
Defensively, the cultists benefit not only from Delightful Agonies and Iron Within, Iron Without if you fail your test and need to put agonies elsewhere, but also from Cold and Bitter which is broadcast from your Demon Prince, which is your warlord. The Demon Prince shores up your midfield control by helping to fight off enemy units in the midfield while providing some psychic support and utility. If he needs to perform heavy lifting, you can simply cast Diabolic Strength on him to really turn him into a powerhouse.
When you take these pieces together, the army forms an unusual version of an aggressive threat laden list. However, instead of simply just taking as many damaging and threatening units as possible and throwing them all downrange and hoping something sticks, your objective is to disrupt as much as possible and leave your opponent without a good option. If he picks to try to deal with the melee component, he’s going to be taking multiple turns of heavy firepower. If he tries to kill all your cultists, he’s going to have to grind through their ability to shrug off damage and ignore morale, while also concerning himself with the possibility of you using Tide of Traitors to restore an almost destroyed 30 man unit back to full health. And finally, if he goes for your backfield, he shouldn’t have access to at least some of his long range support because of your Heldrake, and will almost certainly find himself drowning in bodies.
Of course, this is just one way to play Iron Warriors. The Legion is very well rounded, which means that you can play them the way you want to. Just remember to try to leverage their durability and synergy with large units, and you’ll be sure to find success.

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