The Iron Warriors are the unequaled masters of siege warfare. Their pragmatic and bitter approach to combat led them to capture and garrison strategic worlds throughout the galaxy, before descending on Terra with Horus and their Primarch, Perturabo. Perturabo was at the helm of the IVth Legion, and led the spearhead into the solar system, obliterating the Imperial defenses and opening the way for Horus to make his way to the Emperor.
Wrack and Ruin
This approach to siege warfare is present in the Iron Warriors legion trait: Wrack and Ruin. Wrack and Ruin allows for any Iron Warriors model to increase the strength of any ranged or melee attacks by 1 if that attack targets a Dreadnought, Automata, Vehicle, or Building.
This small bonus may seem minor at first glance, but the ability to more easily punch holes in Dreadnoughts slightly reduces the intimidation factor of those units. Dreadnoughts are by far the most powerful units in the game, and allowing your basic infantry to wound them in melee (even if only on 6’s) can be a huge boon. The other item to keep in mind is that the Land Raider Spartan that comes in the Age of Darkness box (meaning that a huge portion of the game’s player base will come sporting one) can only be threatened by weapons with S8 or greater. The ability to punch holes in armor with S7 guns gives the Iron Warriors access to mass-fire weapons that can threaten enemy heavy armor. Weapons with higher strength values, such as Lascannons or Melta weapons, will absolutely melt Rhinos and Predators, leaving your opponents exposed.
The Iron Warriors advanced reactions, Bitter Fury, is essentially a boosted Return Fire. Once per battle in the opposing player’s shooting phase you can fire at an enemy unit that just shot one of your units. When making this reaction you double the number of shots that the unit would normally make. This will make your opponent think about range and target very carefully while you hold this card in your back pocket. No one will want to be on the receiving end of 10 plasmaguns double-firing for 40 shots.
There are three Warlord Traits available to Iron Warriors Praetors. The first, Tyrant of the Apolokron, provides your warlord with the Fearless special rule, but enforces a requirement that your warlord and any unit he joins shoot or charge the closest enemy unit in each phase, if possible. Fearless is a strong ability, but the restriction on this rule seems to outweigh the benefit, since you generally want your warlord to be more flexible than what this allows.
The second trait, Tyrant of the Dodekathon, allows your warlord to pre-bomb an area of the battlefield, nominating one area terrain or building. This terrain either becomes difficult and dangerous terrain, or it becomes weakened (in the case of buildings and fortifications), forcing higher rolls on the damage table.
Tyrant of the Lyssatra provides your Warlord and any infantry unit he joins to add extra dice to ranged attacks, but the guns used for the attack gain Gets Hot, potentially backfiring on your squad. Gets Hot is an interesting rule, and generally is worth the risk of taking the hit, but it adds a layer of complexity to the army, forcing you to choose to potentially sacrifice members of your squad to ensure the enemy dies.
Rites of War
There are only two Rites of War for the Iron Warriors. Both of these provide army-wide buffs affecting both tanks and infantry. The first, The Hammer of Olympia, allows your infantry to fire an additional shot with shrapnel weapons (discussed below) following the same restriction as Fury of the Legion. This rite also allows some of your tanks to ignore the effects of Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned. The final item is an accuracy boost in the form of re-rolling 1s to hit for all shrapnel weapons (which you absolutely should be taking as many as possible).
The Ironfire also provides some buffs to all units in your army and adds some spicy army-build options. The first point is that this allows you to run Arquitors as non-compulsory Troops (although they don’t get Line). There are some general improvements to scatter when using Barrage (which your Arquitors rely on). This also allows some boosts to infantry to protect them from the inevitable moment that your Arquitor barrages go awry and land on top of your own units.
Either Rite provides some overall positive improvements to standard list building, with The Hammer of Olympia being what I expect to see more often. The pure joy of placing up to 21 Arquitor Bombards on the table would be worth seeing, however (almost 4000pts, all told, so you would have to play some truly massive games to hit that level). If you can afford that many Forgeworld models you should absolutely do this, take pictures, and share on our discord so I can tell you how wonderful you are.
Unique Units and Equipment
The Iron Warriors have limited Legion enhancements. There is only one character upgrade, allowing a foot Praetor to gain a bunch of enhancements allowing him to repair vehicles and gain some extra utility equipment for whatever unit he joins. Depending on how many vehicles, dreadnoughts, and automata you run this upgrade will be well worth the 20pts.
Iron Warriors characters also have the ability to replace select power weapons with Graviton weapons. These weapons aren’t an improvement over their default version unless you expect to be in melee with Vehicles, where the Haywire rule will come into play. As interesting as these weapons are, why would you want to rely on punching a tank when you’re the Iron Warriors and can bring your own tanks to the field?
The final upgrade is stand-out great, and you should absolutely spend the points any time you have the opportunity. For two points per gun, any bolter, bolt pistol, or heavy bolter can be replaced with a Shrapnel weapon. Shrapnel weapons lose some range and AP from their standard versions but gain the Pinning keyword. Any time you are given the opportunity to pin your opponent’s units you should take it, and with so many weapons on the field that can take this you should be forcing multiple pinning tests on your opponents every turn. This bonus also gives the opportunity to shut off a charge with some lucky overwatch rolls, as a Charge is cancelled if the charging unit becomes pinned.
Legion Specific Units
Perturabo, the Primarch of the Iron Warriors is an odd unit. His Battlesmith (2+) makes him one of the best options in the game at keeping tanks alive but requires him to hang out in the back of an army with your predators or sicarans. Master of Automata is only present to allow him to take his Iron Circle retinue. His damage output is nothing to write home about, and without line his inability to be killed (T7 with a 3+ invulnerable save is incredible) makes him better at keeping other units alive by absorbing shots, rather than really dealing any damage himself. Even his cortex controller, which makes an excellent buff for your Tyrant Siege Terminators, can be obtained cheaper from a Forgelord Centurion.
Ultimately, for the points, you’re better off with a few Centurions and a Lord of War. Perturabo can make a great centerpiece, but you could argue that he isn’t completely worth his points. At the end of the day, if your opponent brings a Primarch, Perturabo is going to get tied up for the whole fight, and if your opponent doesn’t bring a primarch they will just play keep-away with their tanks and infantry for the whole fight.
The Iron Circle Maniple is an equally disappointing unit for the points cost. For slightly less than a Contemptor Dreadnought you get an automaton with several 7s in its stat line, a graviton maul, and a shrapnel cannon. What hurts the unit is the low WS and BS, hitting with that cannon on 4s, and with WS4 it can’t fight any better than a basic tacital. These units really shine when attacking tanks in melee with the Haywire rule on their maul, but with only 3 attacks (4 on the charge) you could get pretty similar output from a lascannon-equipped predator. The big draw for this unit is the ability for Perturabo to take them as a retinue, so long as you commit to taking three of them (bringing the cost of Perturabo + the maniple to around 900pts, around 33% of you points in a standard 3000pt game).
The final unique unit for the Iron Warriors are the Tyrant Siege Terminators, a group of 5-10 Cataphractii Terminators with cyclone missile launchers strapped to their backs. These boys are possibly one of the best flexible ranged threats in the game, with the ability o punch holes in tanks, infantry, or aircraft from 48” away. The addition on an Omni-scope on the Siege Master means that they do not suffer from the negative effects of Night Fighting and allows a free use of the Interceptor advanced reaction. While they are expensive (300 pts for the first 5, and 55pts for each additional) they make up that cost by being durable infantry with great damage output. For some additional reliability, you can support them with a Master of Signals to get the additional hit bonus from the cognis-signum.
While the unique units and some of the wargear options fall a little flat, the Iron Warriors have some very strong Rites of War to make up for them. Wrack and Ruin makes them one of the best tank-killer legions in the game and the addition of shrapnel bolters forcing pinning checks constantly will help keep your opponent’s infantry in check as well.
As this article is part of a series, I will spend the next few months going into more detail about the rules of the game and the specifics of each legion. I would like to know if there is specific content our readers would like to see, so leave a comment or join us in the Woehammer discord to let us know what points you would like to see discussed.