Ironjawz – A Competitive View

With the Winter FAQ about to drop we wanted to take some time to talk about the new kids of the block, kicking butt and taking names… the Ironjawz! Since the Orruk Warclans book was released the Ironjawz have been climbing the stats and have appeared on tables everywhere in the UK and beyond.

What makes them so popular, and what is driving up this win-rate? We wanted to get the view of a tournament attendee and what better person than the Top Ironjawz player according to Bad Dice Podcast. We searched high and low, vale and dale and all across the UK but wouldn’t you know the person was sat here in Northampton all along!

I was as surprised as all our readers, so I demanded a recount… but blow me if it didn’t come up with my name again… So we’ve asked Declan to write a few words! (and talk about himself in the 3rd person for a bit for some reason).

Screenshot, before it all changes!

Who are the Ironjawz?

The Ironjawz are one of 3 allegiances within the Orruk Warclans book which was recently released. Along with Bonesplitterz and Kruleboyz they make up a book which you can run the allegiances separately (with limited model availability) or run them all in one list called Big Waaagh! Under the previous book Big Waaagh was the most popular list, but this has now pivoted to Ironjawz – although Kruleboyz are likely behind because fewer people have armies painted for them.

What is their playstyle?

Ironjawz love Smashing & Bashing and so they are an army that fights in close combat – none of the sneaky Lumineth shooting shennagins. This means that they will be attacking their opponent quickly and early in the game and hitting hard when they do so. Beware of the speed (up to 36″ + charge with the right Mount Trait) and the damage of their MawKrushas (Wyverns who fly because gravity itself is too scared to stop them).

Their Warchanters add to this damage, whilst the Gore Gruntas charge in with the MawKrushas and the Brutes slowly cross the table, before hitting like a steam train.

This means that they damage and then get damaged if the attacks don’t go as planned. So they are beatable, but as their opponent you do need to be careful.

A bit of everything in this one-drop. Apart from the Shaman… he’s at home!

Ironjawz Abilities

Ironjawz have 3 great abilities:

  • Smashing & Bashing – If an enemy unit is destroyed in combat by an Ironjawz unit, the Ironjawz player may immediately select another unit to fight
  • Mighty Destroyers – Hero phase free move if outside 12″ of enemy, pile in if within 3″ (no fighting), or charge otherwise
  • Waaagh – +1 to charge and -1 Rend

All of these abilities get the Ironjawz closer to the enemy, faster and they are great. A little care is needed with Mighty Destroyers as the 12″ rule for charging is regardless of whether you could make a charge or finish within 0.5″ of an opponent so a clever opponent can throw units forward to prevent the move being used.

Allegiance Abilities

There are 3 allegiance options for the Ironjawz but only two are regularly seeing play at the moment.

Ironsunz is the one I use as it gives a command ability to allow Ironsunz units to charge at the end of an opponent’s charge phase – perfect for counter charges with Brutes.

A small selection of my Brutes – the backbone of the Ironsunz!

Bloodtoofs makes Gore Gruntas battleline, and any Gore Gruntas that fought in a combat phase can make a pile in, move or charge at the end of the charge phase.

Both of these are great for speed, and getting into combat to do the Smashing and Bashing and get enemies killed. Again the Ironjawz do need to be in combat to do damage, but they do a lot whilst they are there and alive.

Megabosses – Command Abilities

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Maw Krushas and Megaboss special abilities (on their warscrolls). The Maw Krusha can issues the same command ability three times, and the Megaboss on Foot can do one twice – all for one command point. I’ve lost count of the number of redeploys I’ve done to stop Broken Ranks (step back one unit, step forward another) or Savage Spearhead (step up to my territory to stop the enemy). Or simply saving 3 units with Inspiring Presense. It’s a great ability – be warned!


The warchanters are the key to the army, although they only have 6 wounds on 4+ armour, but they use Vicious Fury which gives an Ironjawz unit +1 damage. This is critical to the Boars and Brutes and great on the Maw Krushas, but without it the army’s damage is severely reduced. Don’t leave home without 2 of them – and I’ve seen some Ironjawz players run 3!

Army Lists

I’ve run a few army lists that you can find in these articles

I also did well in War in the Heartlands with a similar list to my Carnage list. These are all Ironsunz lists, because I love Brutes and the counter charge ability is very complimentary to my playstyle. (Sit back, take a hit, punch… hard!)

The other army list available at the moment is Bloodtoofs and Gore Gruntas (pigs) massing for a charge. There is a 2 MawKrusha, 2 Warchanter, 24 Pigs list… and it is brutal! This list has done very well into the current meta, but before you start picking up Gore Gruntas wait for the Winter FAQ! Things may be changing.

How do I play them?

As alluded to above and with the lists in the other articles I play with 1 MawKrusha, 2 Warchanters, and lots of units – often being 10 or 11 drop. My favourite unit in the Destruction tomes – Rippa’s Snarlfangs – joins the army for some much needed speed, but you can leave these at home if you are going Bloodtoofs.

I tend to sit back, occasionally throwing the MawKrusha forward to krump, to get my Brutes in range so that I can charge in my opponent’s turn – or at least threaten to. I also make extensive use of Hand of Gork with the following combo (cheer Russ Veal of Facehammer fame for discussing this one):

Megaboss on Foot (you can use a MawKrusha) with Arcane Tome as the general. He then takes the Wizard Command Trait Touched by the Waaagh! This gives the Hand of Gork between +1 and +3 depending on causing D3 mortal wounds within 6″ (even the enemy if they are close enough). This turns a 50/50 spell into something much more likely to come off, and makes my Brutes appear in the strangest of places – exactly where my opponent doesn’t want them. Hand of Gork also forces opponents to stay on objectives in much the same way as a Fast ‘Un Maw Krusha.

How else can they play?

In a word Fast! The Bloodtoofs ability to make Gore Gruntas battleline and bringing 2 MawKrushas gives you a smashing & bashing army that no-one wants to fight. Swapping out a Maw Krusha for a Rogue Idol (Forgeworld, not in the book), means you can have a very powerful and hitty Battle Regiment – 1 drop. So you can decide who goes first. Just don’t face Morathi who can stop this tactic in it’s tracks.

How to beat them?

This being a Destruction book, it is obviously unbeatable (see also Gloomspite Gitz in the same position)… but if you wanted to beat them then you need to survive the alpha strike, and be able to do damage back to them.

Screens are coming back into the game and this is only a good thing although it does stunt the Ironjawz alpha strike capabilities. I bring 2 x Ardboyz and they are great in the mirror match either for holding objectives, or preventing the turn 1 charge by the GoreGruntas doing massive damage.

The Ironjawz are also surprisingly easy to kill – in combat or with shooting. A 4+ armour save (except for the Maw Krushas) means that most armies have something that can kill a Maw Krusha in 2 rounds, so if you can survive a charge (Morathi!) and get a few additional wounds in on the Ironjawz turn, you can be killing a Maw Krusha turn 1!

They also have very poor bravery for their size – just 6 on the Brutes & Gore Gruntas – so causing damage to multiple units can see models flee from battleshock – or means the Ironjawz player has to keep command points for inspiring presence.

Finally, remember that this is an objective game, so go after the objectives (unless your models are 1 wound and there are brutes), and don’t worry if the Ironjawz are ahead in turn 1 and 2 – it really is an alpha strike armour and a glass hammer and it can be stopped and then killed!

Good luck to the Ironjawz players out there – hope the Winter FAQ treats us well.

— Declan

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