Horus Heresy Legion Focus: Iron Warriors

Welcome back to Goonhammer’s series for aspiring Praetors. We know that the Horus Heresy system can seem intimidating to players unfamiliar with its particular quirks, but this series aims to equip you with everything you’ll need to play out epic clashes on the battlefields of the far future with your very own army. In this series, we’ll be walking you through how to build your force and command it to glory, including everything from the units to tactics you’ll use to lead your army to victory.

For decades the IVth Legion was the mainstay of the Imperial forces, neither the most prestigious nor most impressive, but an absolutely unrelenting force of compliance that enacted the will of the Emperor. These marines saw themselves as soldiers before all else, and instead of brazen assaults or vainglorious defenses they perfected a highly regimented, extremely reliable form of war. When they were reunited with their Primarch this dogged professionalism was honed into a grim brutality, at the cost of a decimation of 1/10 of their Legion. Though they threw their lot in with the Warmaster, the IVth did not see themselves as servants of Chaos; they were not heretics and monsters like many of their brothers. Instead they fought in the same implacable way they always had, all the way to the Siege of Terra that Perturabo commanded until close to the very end.

For the Horus Heresy player the Iron Warriors are a chance to play a legion that sees warfare in clear cut, almost mathematical terms. Possessed of a bitter fury, they do not have the same showy flamboyance of some of the other traitors, but instead a deep dedication to perform their tasks well and to use their skills of siegecraft to see their side victorious. They tend to prioritise mechanised warfare and have strong connections to the Mechanicum.

Iron Warriors Praetor 30k Horus Heresy Credit: Magos Sockbert
Lord Navarch Agamemnon Duran, Warsmith of Olympia. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Painting Iron Warriors

You can find our How To Paint Everything series on Iron Warriors (both for 40K and Horus Heresy) here, and learn How To Paint Perturabo here.

Legion Special Rules

Wrack & Ruin

The legion special rule of the IVth Legion, Wrack & Ruin, is a very simple one: +1 Strength to attacks targeting Dreadnoughts, Automata, Vehicles or Buildings. It might be simple but it’s also exceptionally effective, because a single point of Strength can make a tremendous difference both against targets with wounds and also for armour penetration rolls. This turns comparatively minor threats to armoured targets like autocannons (which are great when they rend but otherwise low enough strength to only be dangerous to the lightest of targets) into more substantial ones, and super-charging genuine anti-armour weaponry like Lascannons.

Let’s dig into this by looking at a few common armoured targets you may want to punch through, starting with the Legion Land Raider Spartan. With 14 Armour on all sides it’s a tough nut to crack. An autocannon firing at this target normally needs a roll of 6 to glance (with a minimum of 1 on the 1d3 rending bonus) and a 2+ on the 1d3 rend roll to penetrate. With Wrack & Ruin you now penetrate on a 6 automatically. A normal lascannon needs a 5+ to glance and a 6 to penetrate (rerolling if you wish with Sunder) but for the IVth this becomes a 4+ and a 5+, rerolling. This means that you can reasonably rely upon at least a glancing hit with every shot. If the Spartan has a flare shield, sure, it’s canceling out your Legion trait, but you’ve also made their 50 point upgrade worthless.

Your basic Tactical marines are now capable of glancing a Rhino to death in the front arc with Strength 5 against AV11. It’s not likely that you’ll kill a fresh Rhino, needing almost 30 shots to do it reliably, but being able to chip off that final Hull Point can make your opponent think twice about sneaky plays. Hilariously, the ever-present nemesis bolter can now penetrate a Land Raider. Sure, the chances aren’t in your favour, but the visual image of just popping the driver off through the vision slit is profoundly amusing. And if you really want to bully your opponent, consider a Xiphon.

Iron Warriors Astartes Aeronautica Imperialis. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Tiny versions still count!. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Ultimately to make the most of this rule you need to prioritise weapons where that +1 Strength is going to make a substantive difference. That means weapons already sat at S7 in practical terms, where you were previously wounding Dreadnoughts on a 4+ and unable to glance AV14. Don’t run heavy support squads with heavy bolters expecting them to be of particular use. Autocannons, Plasma, Lascannons, Krak Missiles and artillery weapons are the big winners here. The biggest winners are anything that needed 6+ to wound or Penetrate. Moving that to a 5+ is doubling that efficacy.

Also remember that this doesn’t just work in the shooting phase – those Despoilers with heavy chainswords running into a dreadnought are now Strength 7 with Shred. Sure, the Dreadnought still has its 2+ save, but that’s a lot of saves you’re going to force through while your Sergeant can now rock Strength 9 Melta bombs with Armourbane, which at this point just feels a little rude. For Thunder Hammers (an immensely fluffy choice for Iron Warriors) Brutal becomes even more powerful, upping them to Strength 9 and wounding Contemptors on a 2+ with AP2, an attack profile no one wants to run into. 

It’s worth noting that this Legion trait has a lot less utility in smaller games than many other Legions’. If you’re intending to mostly play Zone Mortalis or games at 1500pts or under, especially something like Centurion, you’ll find that it’s of greatly less advantage than it would be in a full game with a wide spread of units. On the flip side, you might also start finding that your opponents bring fewer vehicles and such if they know you’re just going to remove them from the board, which is… kind of a win I guess?

This trait’s utility isn’t just influenced by your list building choices but also by your opponent’s. If they play an army with few viable targets for the rule, then you’ll be at a disadvantage. It’s very rare to play a full game without any of the listed unit types, but it’s certainly possible so you’ll likely find yourself on the back foot in those circumstances. We’ve played more than one game where your sole Legion trait just… doesn’t exist, which can be a bit of a ‘feels-bad’ moment when you’re running up against Legions like Imperial Fists or Emperor’s Children and their powerful traits. There’s not a lot that can be done here, other than encouraging your opponent to bring more Dreadnoughts and armour in smaller games, which feels… counter productive. Maybe you could double-dog dare them. That’ll work.

Magos Sockbert: Detouring slightly into a brief editorial, I have a couple of issues with this trait. Wrack & Ruin can be immensely powerful (potentially to an unfun degree for your opponent) in larger games, where their awesome fleet of world-ruining armour just wilts under a casual barrage from the best anti-armour Legion in the game. In smaller games, the fun happens on the other side, with the Iron Warriors player almost playing without anything that makes their Legion fun and unique, especially when combined with the, shall we say, lackluster equipment options available. Narratively, I’m even less convinced about it: the IVth were siege breakers extraordinaire, marching forward under relentless barrage to take the positions no one else could, partly because if they retreated they’d face the wrath of their genefather. Last edition this was represented by bonuses for Morale and Pinning checks, which was both thematic and valuable at every game size. I’m not quite sure which books were being read when they decided to make the change from grim and inexorable line breakers to anti-vehicle snipers whose bolters could destroy tanks, but which were somehow less effective against bare flesh…

This is however probably the best Legion trait in the game for newer players. It’s simple, easy to implement, and gives a useful counter-bonus when you’re just starting out and your FLGS opponents have already been able to invest in armour. Just watch out for the meta shift that might happen when other players stop bringing armour as a counter.

Iron Warriors 30k HH Barabas Dantioch. Credit: Magos Sockbert.
Barabas Dantioch. Credit: Magos Sockbert.

Advanced Reaction: Bitter Fury

The Iron Warriors’ advanced reaction is Bitter Fury, which is made in the Shooting Phase and is in effect an upgraded version of the standard reaction Return Fire. The only substantive change is that each weapon fires twice the normal number of shots but the weapons gain the Gets Hot special rule (or increase it to a 1 or 2 rather than a 1 if they already had that rule).

Just like their Legion Special Rule, this is a simple but extremely effective reaction. There are some specific things to be aware of though. The weapon is what is getting the increase to the number of shots, not the models, so benefits like Fury of the Legion are not counted twice (as that adds attacks to the model not the weapon). Rapid Fire also affects the model not the weapon, so a Bolter in Rapid Fire range benefiting from both kinds of Fury fires one shot base, doubling to two for Bitter Fury, plus one for Rapid Fire, and plus one for Fury of the Legion, for a total of four shots. This is finicky because you’re working in a ruleset that isn’t designed for precision, so it’s really important to not just go “oh, Rapid Fire doubles my shots and Bitter Fury doubles that again, so four shots with a plasma gun”, because neither of those things are true. You can look at Tyrant of Lyssatra for how this might work, as it explicitly calls out that the additional shots happen after Bitter Fury kicks in.

The restrictions on this being kept the same as for Return Fire means that this is much less useful on a vehicle (being able to only fire Defensive weapons), so you probably want to save this for a really vicious volley of infantry fire. Heavy Support Squads, Tactical Support Squads and even Tactical Squads are decent targets for this, as they are disposable enough that the Gets Hot isn’t a deal breaker and also will have enough models in a unit to make this worthwhile. You also want to use it, preferably, on units with as many models as possible and with guns with as many shots as possible. Plasma Guns in Rapid Fire range, Autocannons, and Volkite Calivers or Culverins are all good choices. That said, if your opponent makes enough of a mistake to shoot their Spartan at a 10-strong Heavy Support Unit with Lascannons, that’s definitely worthwhile.

What’s probably the nastiest unit to use this on is a block of Siege Tyrants using their Krak missile profile. 10 models using Bitter Fury takes that to forty S8 AP3 shots which is often enough to just remove the unit that shot them, doubly so if your opponent was foolish enough to shoot them with a vehicle, bumping them to Strength 9. Even Terminators need to watch out. Sure, they still get their 2+ save, but since you’re doubling them out every wound failed is a dead terminator. Slap in a Warlord with Tyrant of Lyssatra and you’ve got another 10 shots. Sure, you’re now Gets Hot on 1 or 2, but you also get to giggle manically and roll dice like an ork, which is always a fun time. Speaking of rolling a million dice, your Warlord contemptor in Fury of the Ancients? The one with twin Volkite Culverins? How do they feel about rolling twelve dice per gun when using Bitter Fury? Thirteen if they’re a Tyrant of Lyssatra as well!

One of the biggest benefits of this reaction is psychological. There’s definitely an effect that Return Fire has anyway to dampen down pot shots against units – you have to make the calculus around if it’s worth it to potentially suffer the consequences. With this in your back pocket that calculus shifts further, and until you use it your opponent may find that they are more reluctant to shoot certain targets or shoot with certain units. Just the threat of having 40 plasma shots returned to them is often enough to stop them opening fire at that full strength support unit. Tyrants benefit doubly here, because you need to kill them before they reach your line, so pick your poison: death by Bitter Fury, or death by Power Fist?

Iron Warriors Centurion Primus Medicae. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Iron Warriors Primus Medicae. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Warlord Traits

Three traits here, as usual, and we’ll just point out that none are tied to a specific allegiance. A lot of Iron Warriors, both in the lore and on the tabletop, are Loyalists, so it’s good to not bully them into a specific take.

Tyrant of the Apolokron

Tyrant of the Apolokron grants the Warlord the Fearless special rule, but requires that they and the unit they join (which must be an Iron Warriors unit) shoot or charge an enemy unit if there’s one in range, which you may recognise as the annoying part of Mechanicum’s Programmed Behaviour. You gain another Reaction in the Shooting phase, which is odd as being Fearless really benefits units that want to get up close and personal. This is… fine, but runs up against one of the weirder rules interactions in 30K. The Warlord and their unit ignore Pinning, Regroup, and other Morale checks, but only the model ignores Fear. That won’t often come up, as Fear affects Pinning, Regroup, and Morale, but there are some scenarios, such as Emperor’s Children Sonic Shriekers, that call out an immunity granted to models that ignore Fear. That’s your Warlord, but not the unit he joins to grant Fearless.

Tyrant of the Dodekathon

Tyrant of the Dodekathon grants a Shooting Phase reaction (noticing a pattern here?) and is one of the few successful attempts to affect battlefield terrain in GW’s long history. You can choose a piece of terrain, Building or Fortification on the battlefield, and if it granted Cover it no longer does, and is instead both Difficult and Dangerous terrain. Buildings and Fortifications selected suffer a +1 roll on the Damage table. We’ve played a few Siege of Terra games where the goal is to break down that wall Gorbachev-style, and the combination of this Warlord trait and Wrack & Ruin makes Dorn and his boys very, very sad. The obvious choice here is to pick terrain that your opponent has deployed their shooting units in, removing their Cover save and threatening them should they need to redeploy, but a more interesting tactic may be to pick that big central block of area terrain in the middle of the battlefield that your enemy has to go through to get to you, or take a long detour. The best generals make their opponents make hard choices, and picking between walking through a Difficult, Dangerous piece of terrain that grants no cover, and taking another couple of turns to reach your lines, is truly a nasty choice to have to make.

Tyrant of Lyssatra

Tyrant of Lyssatra has already come up a few times in this article, and the reason is that it’s just like the Iron Warriors as a whole: a blunt, crude weapon that’s damn good at its job… if you ignore its personality quirks. A rarity for a Warlord trait, you don’t get an additional Reaction, which for some people is enough to write it off altogether. That’s fine if you do, but we’d strongly encourage you to take another look at this gem. The Warlord and any Iron Warriors infantry unit they join shoots an additional shot when making a shooting attack (other than blast or template weapons), and that is insane. A 10 Tyrant death star is firing 30 Krak missiles whenever it feels nasty, and with their free Interceptor reaction, anything that was weighing its odds against even a smaller unit probably is looking the other way right now. The big downside here is that the Warlord and their unit must make either Bitter Fury or Return Fire reactions if possible, not costing a point of your Reaction Allotment. The second downside is that you can only Interceptor, Bitter Fury and Return Fire, which is a very fair balancing mechanic against something that can just vomit firepower out.

Finally, all your attacks gain Gets Hot (meaning on a 1 or 2 if you’re also using Bitter Fury), but the benefit of Gets Hot is that you just suffer a wound at the base AP value of the weapon – you don’t suffer the other rules of the gun, so you’ll never suffer things like Deflagrate or Breaching which might make your day even worse. Every miss being a hit on your own unit can hurt, but you’re a) marines and b) Iron Warriors. Who cares about a few casualties if your opposition is now a smoking crater?

This trait has been a… topic of discussion online since we first saw it. On the one hand, it can be incredibly powerful. On the other, all it does is buff what your army tends to do already, and can lead to a few feels bad moments when your Warlord’s unit just deletes something, rather than allowing for a bruising back and forth fight. It’s by far the most obvious Warlord trait to take, and we’ve seen so, so many new players just immediately grab it. You should experiment with these traits – Dodekathon in particular has some amazing tactical benefits, but don’t feel bad if you end up back here with ol’ reliable.

Core Warlord Traits

And now, a few words from our sponsors on the generic Warlord traits. Ever-vigilant doesn’t add much to the Iron Warriors playstyle, and since so, so many Iron Warriors Praetors seem to be in Cataphractii (including ours!) it might not be able to be used at all, as you can’t Run. We’d leave this trait to the IIIrd. Stoic Defender on the other hand is an amazing trait in a force where most of your army can inflict Pinning on the enemy, and this now adds it to your Warlord and their unit. Sure, it doubles down on what you’re already doing, but perhaps that’s worth it if your Warlord and their retinue was the last unit that couldn’t do that! Finally, Bloody-handed is always valuable and has swung the result of a combat in more games than we can poke an artillery barrage at. It’s potentially even more valuable in an Iron Warriors army where you don’t really have a great deal of powerful melee threats to get that combat resolution naturally.

Iron Warriors Destroyers. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Iron Warriors Destroyers. Credit: Magos Sockbert

The Armoury of Ruin

The Armoury of Ruin comprises the weapons and equipment available only to the IVth Legion.

Graviton Crushers

Graviton Crushers are upgrades to power weapons and thunder hammers, as well as gravis power fists on dreadnoughts. We’ll talk about these individually, though while they’re quite different, the answer to whether you take them is probably the same.

Graviton maces can be given to characters who would take a power weapon at no additional cost, meaning these can be given to sergeants and other unit leaders as well as Centurions and Praetors. They’re basically power swords but with the Rending (6+) rule swapped out for Haywire. Haywire is only of utility against Vehicles, Dreadnoughts or Automata, but weapons with this rule that don’t have high strength (like this one) are much better against them. On the down side, your sergeant could, and probably should, be taking a power fist for usually only 5 more points unless you’re desperately strapped for points, because they’re so valuable against so many other units you might run into. You’re losing an attack by taking a fist instead of a graviton mace, but you’re Strength 9 thanks to Wrack & Ruin so you’re still getting the ‘does a wound on a 2+’ effect of Haywire while remaining flexible and dangerous for other targets.

Graviton Crushers can also be given to characters in exchange for a thunder hammer, and this restricts them a lot more – you’re basically stuck giving these to veterans, terminators or HQ choices. They’re also much, much worse than a thunder hammer. You’re losing an attack by gaining Unwieldy, you’re losing the ability to double out your opponent and gain Instant Death, and worst of all you’re losing Brutal (2), which is really the tool that makes thunder hammers go from ‘nasty’ to ‘oh dear Emperor get them away from my expensive multi-wound models’, and puts the fear of Perturabo in dreadnoughts. Haywire is a great rule, but you’re losing so, so much that this is just a flat downgrade in every direction.

Graviton Mauls are a totally different proposition – a 15pt upgrade for a Gravis power fist (making them more expensive than a chainfist). It’s an odd compromise between the two options of power and chain fists, making it a very strong all-rounder without exceeding either in their particular area of specialty. The Haywire makes it markedly better at cracking armour than a power fist, but it only has Brutal (2) so it’ll crash through multi-wound models less effectively. That Brutal (2) is still better than the chain fist, but compared to S11 armourbane (thanks to Wrack & Ruin) it’s probably not as effective as slamming through vehicle armour. Ultimately if you want your dreadnoughts to be able to take on anything, especially in something like a Fury of the Ancients list, it’s a great choice, but if you’re going to be able to pick and choose what your dreadnoughts engage it’s not as optimum as either other option.

Legion Herald Iron Warriors 30k HH Credit: Magos Sockbert
‘ware the glowing eyes of Legion Heralds. Credit: @rr30kpodcast

Olympian Shrapnel Weapons

Olympian Shrapnel Weapons are the other major type of armament available to the IVth. These are, in short, bolt weapons that exchange range and AP for the Pinning rule. The loss of AP matters little against marine armies, though matters a lot more against the Imperial Army and other troops with 4+ and 5+ saves, but the range is certainly a limiting factor (especially on the Rapid Fire Shrapnel bolter that drops its rapid fire range to a measly 9″, which can be painful when you run into Alpha Legion). However, Pinning is an exceptional rule and being able to hand it out to whole units (very unusual for a legion specific wargear option) is great. 

A nasty use is fitting a shrapnel cannon onto a Spartan, pinning a hostile unit in place before the contents of the transport empties into it. Broadly, you’re likely to get more use putting them on an armoured platform than en masse in an infantry squad, especially because all you’re really hunting for is a single unsaved wound to get the Pinning effect off. Doing more wounds in an attack does nothing to improve the chances of it happening.

You should think before you instinctively hand it out en masse to Tactical Squads, though – this is definitely an upgrade that needs a plan, not just slap on whatever unit you’ve got lying around. Once upgraded, Tactical marines are now wielding shrapnel bolters not bolters, and so do not benefit from Fury of the Legion. The bolter component of combi-weapons also cannot be upgraded to shrapnel, because a combi-bolter is not a bolter. Your shrapnel bolter cannot have a bayonet or chain-bayonet. We know, it makes no sense, but blame the rulebook, not us. For a final point of confusion, a gravis shrapnel cannon loses an attack compared to the gravis heavy bolter.

While you may lose Fury giving Shrapnel bolts to tacticals, Pinning can be such a powerful tool that you may want to just do it anyway. Being able to almost turn off a unit is incredible, and with your ability to slam this on almost every model with a bolt weapon, you can throw out a lot of checks. Sure, a Leadership 8 model is only failing 28% of the time, but that means may be a full quarter of your opponent’s army could be shut down on any given turn. That is what the Iron Warriors can do.

Also, shout out to EOs who let players take these on combi-bolters and whatnot. It’s a great quality of life change.

Iron Warriors Warsmith. Credit: Magos Sockbert
This guy has a change of heart over the next 10,000 years. Credit: Magos Sockbert


Warsmith is the unique Praetor upgrade for the Iron Warriors, granting you a cortex controller, servo-arm, Master of Automata and Battlesmith (3+) for 20 points, but losing the ability to take a combat bike, jetbike or jump pack. Battlesmith is great as always. One nasty/annoying tactic we’ve used is to run your Warsmith in a Tyrant squad next to a dreadnought as a little rolling ball of death. Shoot the Tyrants? Suffer Bitter Fury or Return Fire. Plink a wound or two off the dreadnought? It gets healed right back up from Battlesmith. It’s also useful to keep a transport alive just a little bit longer before you get into the fight. The recent errata has also confirmed that you can make all your attacks with the servo-arm should you choose, so you can take that Paragon Blade without worrying if you’ll be able to guarantee an Instant Death attack when you really need it. The real reason you take Warsmith though? That sneaky little Master of Automata choice, allowing you to join an Iron Circle unit, one of the most resilient Automata units in the game. We’ll talk more about them below.

Iron Warriors Tactical Squad 30k Horus Heresy Credit: Magos Sockbert
The simple Tactical Squad, backbone of your Legion. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Iron Warriors Rites of War

Hammer of Olympia 

Hammer of Olympia, apart from being one of Perturabo’s titles, reflects the mass infantry assaults the Iron Warriors were famous for, marching onwards without fear of death but a pretty significant fear of their own commander. Tactical Squads swap Fury of the Legion for Fury of Olympia, just adding a flat +1 shot whenever they fire a shrapnel bolter or shrapnel pistol. Congratulations! Your tacticals now functionally have rapid fire bolters at 18”, with three shots at 9! Now, you’re not obligated to replace your bolters with shrapnel bolters, but why wouldn’t you? That’s the main purpose of this Rite, which is doubled down on by the Rite granting you a re-roll of 1s to hit with all shrapnel weapons. So you’re putting much, much more lead downrange, and much more reliably. You’re still mathematically not doing as much as Imperial Fists and their native BS5, but you’re an Iron Warrior. You’re better than them.

Predators, Vindicators, Spartans and Proteus Carriers also ignore Crew Shaken and Crew Stunned results on the Vehicle Damage table, functionally meaning that a penetrating hit only does anything on a 5+. You’re still suffering the lost hull point though. We like to run this Rite infantry-dense, with your vehicles taking the heavier weapons and anti-tank options, so you really need to keep them alive. Though, given Wrack & Ruin, you’ll probably soon be turning those guns on enemy infantry once their cowardly, perfidious tanks lie smoking in the wreckage.

As for limitations, you must take a Warsmith (cool, probably already were in larger games), or include Perturabo. This… isn’t really a limitation, so moving on, you also can’t assign units to Deep Strike Assault, Subterranean Assault or Flanking Assault. Again, this isn’t really a huge penalty as the units you’re encouraged to take probably don’t want to do this anyway.

This is a great Rite of War for newer players. Grab two or three starter boxes and boom, army complete. A mass of tacticals pushing forward in their armoured Spartans looks great on the tabletop, never mind the terminators, and allows for a sort of offensive fury you don’t tend to see from Iron Warriors armies. It’s also a remarkably cheap Rite to get the most out of, points wise. 60 tactical marines is only going to cost you around 600 points – slap in a few Apothecaries for that 4+ Feel No Pain thanks to the tactical marines’ Line type, and you’re golden. So many bodies, so many bullets.

Iron Warriors establish a firing line at Goonhammer Open Horus Heresy 2022


The Ironfire returns, an artillery heavy Rite that rewards you for risking your own soldiers’ lives in the most Iron Warriors fashion imaginable. Look, the man decimated 1/10 of his Legion for *checks notes* being a highly disciplined and effective Legion who did all the dirty jobs, but weren’t somehow able to outdo other Legions who had their primarchs back. Sure, makes sense.

Anyway, in the Ironfire you can take Arquitor Squadrons as non-Compulsory Troops if you for some reason can’t fit enough in, but more importantly your Barrage weapons scatter D6” when targeting a point within 12” of a friendly Iron Warriors unit, including when you fire it as a Barrage weapon. This is insane, allowing most of your blast templates (including that sexy, sexy phosphex) to fire as close as 6” away from your troops without risk of hitting them, or even closer if you’re a gambler. While artillery has been thoroughly beaten by the nerf bat this edition, it’s still nothing to sneeze at, especially when you grant any of your Iron Warriors lucky enough to be targets nearby the Stubborn special rule until the start of your next turn. It’s key to note this is granted to units within 12” of the final point of the blast, not where you originally targeted it. Finally, even if you do hit your own dudes, they’re likely to be fine because you can re-roll any failed saves from any blast weapon, not just your own. Given that most artillery this edition is AP4, this almost makes you immune. Most of Heavy with none of the downsides? Sign us right up! Though you may find your local gaming groups moving away from artillery, just as Wrack & Ruin can push people away from going vehicle heavy.

For limitations, you (again) can’t have any units in Deep Strike Assault, Subterranean Assault or Flanking Assault, must take an excellent Siege Breaker (possibly granting your Arquitors and Rapier carriers phosphex barrage shells, perhaps?), and, in one of the least restrictive rules around, you must take more squadrons of Arquitors, Basilisks or Medusa than you have Cavalry units. Sure, it’s worded a little oddly and probably means you need one of these types to be more than all Cavalry combined, but… who cares? You’re running an Nuln artillery train here, get those horses outta here!

Comparing the two, there’s very little change required between the two Rites that needs to be made between the two lists – no special unit requirements that can’t be run in both, so your collection can likely simply be switched between the two depending on your mood. Compare this to, say, the Thousand Sons’ Rites which want you to focus on Castellax-Achea and Sekhmet, two very different units and styles of play. You lose some of your bolter firepower in swapping Fury of Olympus to Ironfire, but you gain a lot of Stubborn and the best artillery in the game. In a way, it’s all the same: one Rite stops your enemy reacting by making them cower from exploding flechettes, and the other stops them reacting by shelling them down to their component atoms.

Iron Warriors Unique Units

Iron Warriors Iron Circle Automata 30k Horus Heresy Credit: Magos Sockbert
Iron Circle Automata. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Iron Circle Domitar-Ferrum Maniple

What’s better than robots? Evil unkillable robots brought into creation as an act of petty spite! Domitar Ferrum, these guys cost you only 5 points more per model than a Domitar Battle-Automata from the Mechanicum range, and I’d say the fight is probably going to go in the Iron Circle’s favour – just as it will against most enemies.

Offensively, each robot has a shrapnel cannon and Graviton Maul at S9 AP2 Brutal (2). While only WS4 and three Attacks, you’re also getting Hammer of Wrath (3) to the standard Domitar’s (1). So, uh. Three of these is nine S7 hits and 12 S12 hits on the charge, most of which is at AP2. They can hit hard, but, again, WS4, so if your goal is killing things, then best not to throw them into your opponent’s elite units.

On the other hand, if your goal is surviving and being a right pain in the arse, then feel free! Their Karceri battle shields grant them a 5+ invulnerable save, and each Instant Death wound becomes D3 wounds instead. Any charge made against them is resolved as a Disordered Charge (unless they’re already in combat), and finally if they’re in base contact with another Domitar-ferrum your invulnerable save is increased to 4+, even in close combat. These guys are tough, and against most units other than Primarchs you’re likely going to hold more than long enough to let the rest of your army sweep up theirs. They’re a bit pricey at 420 points for three, but you get what you’re paying for, and remember that you can also add a Warsmith in for a bit of I5 Paragon Blade action while also healing them up with Battlesmith.

They are however Cybernetica, so you’re going to need to babysit them if you don’t want them running a bit wild with Programmed Behaviour, which allows them to be easily baited into charging something you really don’t want them to. We wouldn’t run them without a babysitter (Perturabo or a Warsmith being the best, but a Praevian or Nârik Dreygur being honourable mentions as well), but we absolutely recommend running them at your first opportunity. Just remember they’re Movement 8, and those choices are all either Movement 6 or Movement 7, even Perturabo. Most marine players are ready for dreadnoughts, tanks, and infantry, not a moving wall of unkillable steel marching at them…

Iron Warriors Tyrant Siege Terminators. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Iron Warriors Tyrant Siege Terminators. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Tyrant Siege Terminators

Tyrants are a divisive unit, both emotionally and that’s what they do to your enemies’ bodies. Kicking off at a whopping 300 points for five, more than nine naked Cataphractii terminators, at first glance might leave you asking if they’re worth it. Trust us: they really, really are – and they might be pushing that just a bit too far. 

With the same statline as a normal Legion Terminator except for an additional point of Leadership on both the squad and Siege Master (sergeant), you’re picking up power fists on every model, an omni-scope on the Siege Master, Firing Protocols (2) and the vicious Tyrant rocket launcher. You can give the Siege Master a grenade harness and any model can swap their combi-bolter and power fist for two lightning claws. We’ll get into if these are good picks later on.

For now, though, we’re going to focus on their frankly absurd amount of ranged firepower. The Tyrant rocket launcher lets you shoot Frag rockets at S4, Pinning and Heavy 4 (to avoid having to put down infinite templates, we presume), Flak missiles at S7 Heavy 2 and Skyfire, or Krak missiles at S8 Heavy 2. You’re capping out at AP3 with the Krak and Flak missiles, but honestly you don’t need more – 2+ save units aren’t your target here. Your omni-scope (on the Siege Master only, so try and keep him alive) allows the unit to ignore all effects of Night Fighting and grants a free Interceptor Advanced Reaction every turn. This is vicious, and from personal experience can push planes out of your local meta entirely – why bother bringing them if 10 Tyrants can shoot 20 S8 (Legion trait!) Skyfire shots at them when they first turn up? Other Reserve based units won’t have it much better, with two S8 AP3 shots per Tyrant usually enough to mess up most units, and if they’re in range of your combi-bolters those can join the fun to thanks to Firing Protocols. Tyrants can sometimes perform their best work not just as a firepower base par excellence, but also as a deterrent. That free Interceptor Reaction can really turn the tide – if you’ve positioned them just right to take advantage.

These guys are good. They’re an incredibly resilient shooting platform that can pump out an obnoxious amount of firepower, and on many, many occasions we’ve seen whole 3+ save units just evaporate off the board, often just in time to prevent them scoring. It can be really demoralising when you have to remove a whole unit from the board, and these guys can do just that. We would strongly recommend not taking too many of these in smaller games – Magos Sockbert’s local escalation league almost died when a couple of these units hit the table too early. Even at higher points levels, ten of these can throw out 20 shots in your shooting phase, another 30 in your opponent’s shooting phase with Bitter Fury, and another 20 in overwatch, leaving aside the Lyssatra issue. Seventy S8 AP3 shots is, uh. Real good.

Yes, we know we recommended taking them with a Tyrant of Lyssatra Warlord, but the thing you just really need to consider is moderation. Got a bunch of big beat-face games coming up? Go wild. Starting off a league with a bunch of newer players all excited about their core box models? Probably leave them at home. Professionals have standards.

The other big debate around Tyrants is how close to your opponent they should get. One side argues they’re an incredibly resilient unit that throws out a tonne of firepower, and getting them into melee wastes this. The other side points out you’re then spending an inordinate number of points on a glorified heavy weapons squad, and that they have power fists for a reason. We lean towards the ‘melee good’ crowd – they throw out so much firepower that in a lot of games they’re going to make contact with the enemy untouched, thanks to fear of Return Fire and Bitter Fury. They’re slow, but you should avoid the temptation of putting them in a transport, where a lot of their value is wasted. As a result, you’re going to eventually make contact, and then pulp whichever poor unit you hit which has probably already been suffering under the rest of your army’s firepower. Lightning claws are a great pick if you’re going this route, as is a grenade harness, but this is a very expensive unit even unupgraded, so be careful. Slapping a Primus Medicae in here is probably worthwhile to keep those 55 point terminators alive, so we’ve also heard the argument that once you’ve got enough enough Tyrants, a Warsmith, and a Primus Medicae in there you’re bumping up against a thousand points, so is it really worth it? We wouldn’t go that far, but it’s pretty easy to put too many eggs in this basket – they’ll kill whatever they look at, but that’s only one unit a turn. Don’t get greedy, and don’t bully your opponent, but these guys can be very fun to use.

The Tormentor

The Tormentor is what we might politely refer to as “a meme”. A 900 point half Shadowsword, half 24 capacity transport, it can only be taken as a dedicated transport for Perturabo, meaning you’re running a 5300 point game and spending a quarter of it on your Primarch and his ride, assuming he doesn’t also have a Retinue. If he comes with two Iron Circle bodyguards, taking up the entire transport capacity (thanks to Transport Bay) allowing the Tormentor to carry Automata), that’s 1610 points just for your Primarch slot alone, with a minimum game size of 6440 points. And yeah, note that the Tormentor can only carry two Iron Circle, so you can’t even go all in with your Primarch in his flashy ride with his lore-appropriate buddies. Terminators it is, I GUESS.

Rocking a single Void Shield, three twin-linked heavy bolters and two lascannons, the real star of the show is the turret-mounted volcano cannon, which can spike to strength fifteen against vehicles. That’s not an anti-tank weapon, that’s a war crime. Honestly this unit is brilliant if you’re looking to build out your collection of Iron Warriors, and kind of difficult to analyse otherwise – you’re just never going to run it or see it used in a game, and when you do you’re going to wonder why Perturabo would ever be seen slumming it in a vehicle that caps out at AV 13. We’re very excited to convert one up later this year though, so keep your peepers open…

Iron Havocs Havoks Iron Warriors 30k HH Credit: Magos Sockbert
Iron Havocs. A lot slimmer than their 41st millenium kin! Credit: Magos Sockbert

Iron Havocs

A beefed up Heavy Support Squad, for 35 points more than the basic squad (and 5 points per additional model) you gain a Shrapnel cannon rather than a heavy bolter, BS5 and Precision Shot (6+). There’s two ways we tend to see these used: autocannons, or all in with lascannons. The heavier option is expensive (over a hundred points more than a Heavy Support Squad similarly equipped), but with Wrack & Ruin you’re almost guaranteed to make your points back – if they survive. While there’s substantially less AP2 in this current edition, being a single wound model with a 3+ save has never been a safe place in the Horus Heresy. The sneakier play here is to use these guys to snipe out key characters, rather than vehicles. With Precision Shots from the Ferrum Occularis, you’ll be able to pick out enemy Praetors and other key characters – Invulnerable Save or die for a lynchpin unit on the first turn? Don’t mind if I do! 

The sleeper pick is a full squad of autocannons, which they can swap their shrapnel cannons for for free. Thanks to Wrack & Ruin (see how this keeps coming up?) a full squad is now firing 20 S8 shots at BS5 with Rending, which is going to punch a few penetrating hits in, while if you’re more worried about infantry hitting on 2+, wounding on 2+ with a chance of AP2 is never a bad profile. Given their ability to still damage heavier vehicles despite not being a dedicated anti-tank unit while still threatening other units, we recommend autocannons over lascannons – you’re running the best anti-tank army in the game, you don’t need any more!

As for their other weapons, shrapnel cannons are fine but you can do better with autocannons, and missile launchers are also decent but outmatched by lascannons, and Tyrants with their superior missile launchers. The fact that you can run the same unit in two wildly different options and have both be super effective is a true strength. They’re more expensive than Emperor’s Children Sun Killers with lascannons, but have Precision Shot to act as heavy support snipers, and equipped with autocannons you’re a surprising threat to even elite infantry. It’s a shame these aren’t in the core book, but we strongly recommend painting up a couple of units in both configurations.

iron Warriors Terminators Dominators Horus Heresy 30k Credit: Magos Sockbert
iron Warriors Dominator Cohort. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Dominator Cohort

Now we’re talking! Dominator Cohorts used to be Perturabo’s bodyguard before they failed him against the Imperial Fists during the Battle of Phall, to be replaced by Iron Circle. On the tabletop, they’re the Iron Warriors melee focussed terminator unit and are criminally undercosted. Take ten. Armed with thunder hammers and combi-bolters, a squad of ten costs fifty points less than an equivalently armed squad of cataphractii terminators, before you add in any of their bonuses. They gain, in no particular order: Leadership 9, Stubborn, Hatred (Automata), Those Once Honoured, Chosen Warriors and WS5. These guys may not beat out Huscarls, but they’re taking a damn good run at being the second best terminators in the game. Their options are more limited, but they are able to take one multi-melta for every five models in the unit for 25 points; we’re not so sure on this one, as it’s a lot of points for a single shot, and even if you blow up the Spartan, you can’t charge the passengers inside because you didn’t target them with a shooting attack. 

Those Once Honoured allows Dominators to be taken as a Retinue for Perturabo, rather than an Elites choice, losing Hatred (Automata) and gaining Feel No Pain (6+). This represents the times when Perturabo still trusted them, and as such your army cannot field any Iron Circle (which, if Dominators are Perty’s mates, haven’t been invented yet). This is much of a muchness, but we’d warn against it just because the points cost of Retinues adds to the value of their leader. A full squad of Dominators following Perturabo costs 900 points before any upgrades, so you’re playing a big game just to use them. Honestly, just stick a Primus Medicae in with them and use them as elites.

Tactically, these things are a Godsend. Iron Warriors armies lean heavily towards firepower, and there’s very little more aggravating than a dedicated WS5 close combat unit chewing up your gunline when you only have measly, pathetic WS4 peons trying to hold them off. Dominators are your answer; they’re fantastic as a counter punch unit, being thrown forward into the enemy death star, and even dreadnought hunting – a naked unit of five Dominators will pretty reliably put a Contemptor in the ground on the charge, and there aren’t a lot of units in the game you can say will do that!

Iron Warriors Special Characters

Only Pertuarbo has rules in the Liber Hereticus, with the other three special characters being in the Legacies of the Age of Darkness PDF, where they dwell in purgatory without models.

Iron Warriors 30k HH Erasmus Golg. Credit: Magos Sockbert.
Erasmus Golg in Saturnine pattern terminator armour. Credit: Magos Sockbert.

Erasmus Golg

Erasmus Golg is a simple Praetor making his way in the universe, a loyal servant of Perturabo but forever looked over for promotion; where have we heard that story before? He’s armed with a S10 Master-crafted chainfist, a combi-melta, and Stubbornness. Along with Hammer of Wrath (2), a Nuncio-voc and the Bloody-handed basic Warlord, Erasmus is fine for hitting stuff, and is probably appropriately costed at 175 points, but doesn’t really add much to an army build looking to do something interesting. If you fell in love with him (?!) during Book Three: Extermination, Crimson Fist or Angel Exterminatus, bringing him along might be fun for a narrative campaign but don’t look to him for excitement. He also doesn’t have the Loyalist or Traitor special rules, which is probably an oversight, since he was a bit of a nutter for Perturabo.

Iron Warriors Praetor Narik Dreygur. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Narik Dreygur. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Nârik Dreygur

Nârik Dreygur, the Gravewalker, played a key role in the Salamanders arc of Book Six: Retribution, showcasing the Shattered Legions and the robot wizardry of Cassian Dracos. Unlike Kyr Vahlen or Golg, Dreygur once had a model, an event exclusive you can see above. Dreygur starts off as a Praevian with an extra wound, picking up a few unique bits of kit and master-crafting his bolt pistol along the way. A Loyalist, Dreygur decided to forgo picking up the auto-take cyber-familiar but instead has a cortex designator. This is actually pretty nifty, granting any Automata within 6” +1 to hit at range so long as Dreygur has already targetted (not necessarily hit or wounded) the victim unit. This doesn’t affect blast or barrage weapons, but is a pretty good way to up the otherwise usually lackluster Automata BS. Iron Circle are the obvious narrative choice to put him with, and most Automata that want to shoot also don’t want to be within 12” of the enemy, which he needs to trigger the designator. March him forward with some Iron Circle or even Castellax, plonk them on a middle objective and hold the line.

In place of a power fist the Gravewalker has a Graviton Gauntlet, which is a… power fist with Haywire. Not bad, but Haywire is often wasted on high strength weapons because you were probably going to penetrate anyway, considering Wrack & Ruin. He has to take Stoic Defender as his Warlord trait should he be your Warlord, but is also the Revenant’s Pawn. This is a great rule, leaning hard into the Shattered Legion elements that don’t yet have rules. So long as the Gravewalker is in an Allied Detachment and the Primary Detachment is led by either Cassian Dracos Reborn or Xiaphas Jurr (both Salamanders characters introduced in Retribution), your Iron Warriors detachment can include a unit of Iron Warriors Legion Veterans that doesn’t take up a Force Organisation slot or count as any minimum required unit. This is… We can’t work out how this is a benefit, unless you’re playing such a large game that you’ve maxed out your Allied Detachment already. Much, much more usefully, Dreygur gains +1 Attack and Stubborn when within 12” of Cassian Dracos Reborn, so follow that little green dreadnought up the field and into the jaws of hell.

Iron Warriors 30k HH Kyr Vahlen. Credit: Magos Sockbert.
Kyr Vahlen. Credit: Magos Sockbert.

Kyr Vahlen

Kyr Vahlen is your second Loyalist leader, introduced in Book Three: Extermination, backing the loyalist Mechanicum of Paramar V against the Alpha Legion when Horus called them on their shenanigans and told them to prove their loyalty. A Praetor with an extra wound, Kyr Vahlen also comes with a Volkite charger, Battle-hardened (1), Feel No Pain (6+), and all the accouterments of a Warsmith (servo-arm, Master of Automata, etc). Aegeas, his unique power sword, gives with one servo-arm and takes with the other. It doesn’t have Rending, but picks up Strength +2, Blind, Master-crafted, and Breaching (4+), the poor man’s Rending. This is a pretty nifty little tool; Blind is criminally undervalued as a special rule, and you’re still getting that AP2 on half your attacks against T4 marines. Honestly, the worst thing about his setup is that he has a Volkite charger, not a serpenta, denying him an additional attack for using two weapons.

On the other hand, his Warlord trait is bad, granting him the ability to charge even if he fired his rapid-fire volkite charger, along with a Movement phase reaction. There is zero scenario on this or any other planet where a valuable Warlord trait should be given up just to allow your Warlord to fire a 2 point rifle.

In summary, Nârik Dreygur is the star of the show of the Legacies heroes, with some interesting ways to deploy and use him with friendly Automata. Kyr Vahlen is a great character in the lore, and we’ve used him on the tabletop a few times but is overcosted and underdelivers, while Erasmus Golg doesn’t really have a reason to exist. If you’re coming in from the first edition of Horus Heresy you may notice that these guys have all taken pretty big nerfs for characters that weren’t particularly powerful to begin with, with Golg losing his powerful ability to take terminators as troops, and Kyr Vahlen losing his much, much more interesting ability to force an enemy to make a disordered charge once per game. These guys are fun, but not too useful if you need to respond to the Custodes player in your local group.

Perturabo Primarch Iron Warriors 30k HH Credit: Magos Sockbert
Perturabo, Primarch of the IVth Legion! Credit: Magos Sockbert


The Lord of Iron himself! 

His Warlord trait, Sire of the Iron Warriors, goes some way to giving back what the edition change took from your Legion trait, granting all Iron Warriors infantry in your army an additional dice to roll when making Morale and Pinning checks and discarding the highest. This is honestly pretty great, especially when you’re marching forward making the other player roll a bunch of their own Pinning checks. The problem is, at some point you’re going to end up in close combat, and unlike Mortarion or Fulgrim, Perturabo does nothing for his sons being punched in the face. The extra shooting Reaction is also nice, but doubles down on the gunline aspect of Iron Warriors while failing to reward thinking outside the box.

Coming in at a very reasonable 425, he should really be considered as 460 points flat, after being given the Forgebreaker Desecrated (Ferrus Manus’ old hammer, made by Fulgrim), which acts as a gigantic upgrade for his melee profile. The hammer bumps him from Six S7 AP2 attacks (no other rules) to S12, AP1, Unwieldy, Master-crafted, Brutal (2), and, just in case you didn’t somehow delete a vehicle with that profile, Wrack & Ruin and Exoshock (3+). We’ll pause here to note that the same item wielded by Ferrus Manus doesn’t have Unwieldy and is also Brutal (3). Something something Loyalist bias something something.

His armour, the Logos, is fun because it grants a 2+ armour and 3+ Invulnerable save, and also because it has the exact same rules as the Tyrant omni-scope, allowing Perty to ignore Night Fighting and granting him and his unit a free Interceptor Advanced Reaction. Alongside Mortarion and Horus, Perturabo is the toughest Primarch the Traitors can field, though he does have a very clear bronze medal here. Built into this panoply is the Logos Array, a combined melee/ranged attack profile (remembering you should really be taking Forgebreaker, mentioned above). The ranged profile is pretty good for a Primarch (sorry Sanguinius and your single shot melta pistol, or Corax with your two AP4 Pistol 1s) – six shots at S6 AP3, Twin-linked (at BS7!), Shred, Pinning and Shell-shock (1), just in case you forgot that Iron Warriors really like Pinning.The 30” range is great, but it’s a shame there’s no Rending like many other Primarchs with AP3 ranged weapons have. Also note that Pertuarbo lost Firing Protocols (2) in the recent errata, so you can no longer take advantage of Firing Protocols and his Battlesmith (2+) in the same round, though truthfully it was unclear if you ever could. 

He’s got a cortex controller and Master of Automata, so you can slot him in with some Iron Circle, and that’s about… it. It’s odd, but he’s not very good at a lot of what he seems to want to lean into. He’s going to delete any vehicle he comes into contact with, with at least six S13 AP1 attacks, but then Exoshock is doing… what? It doesn’t help against Dreadnoughts, and he’s going to be doing worse against it than the equivalent points of Dominators, taking fewer wounds, yes, but also doing less damage in the first place. His army rule is a bit out of place, since you’re absolutely wasting your time if your Primarch isn’t in melee, but he doesn’t want anyone else to make it to the fight phase either – he just doesn’t help them. Unlike Fulgrim or Angron, who have very clear objectives, it’s not that obvious what Perturabo is meant to be doing. At the end of the day, though, you take him because he’s your Primarch – and because letting him down means death.

You can find our How To Paint Everything: Perturabo here.

Iron Warriors Salamanders Dreadnought Contemptor 30k Horus Heresy Credit: Magos Sockbert
Veterans of the IVth and XVIIIth have a quiet chat. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Iron Warriors in Black Library

Iron Warriors appear a lot in Black Library fiction, so you’ve got a lot of interesting stories and perspectives to draw from. This isn’t a complete list, only some of our favourite pieces where Iron Warriors play a starring role, split up by series. 

The Horus Heresy

Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill. The Iron Warriors demonstrate they’re the only traitors who still remember how to be Space Marines as Perturabo tries to fight his inevitable fall to Chaos by trying to master the unmasterable. Also contains the single most therapeutic scene in the series between Fulgrim and Perturabo…

Slaves to Darkness by John French. Probably the best Sons of Horus book out there, Pertuarbo proves he’s the last trustworthy Primarch under the Warmaster’s banner by bringing back the daemon Primarch Angron – against his will.

The Primarchs

Magnus the Red: Master of Prospero by Graham McNeill. A look into the surprisingly deep friendship between Magnus and Pertuarbo, but also clashing with what they truly value.

Perturabo: the Hammer of Olympia by Guy Haley. A tragic look at what Pertuarbo could have had, if only people in this universe (including him) acted like adults…

The Siege of Terra

The entire Siege of Terra series has moments of pure brilliance from both Pertuarbo and his Legion, from the Daughter of Woe in Solar War, Pertuarbo letting his sons shine in The First Wall, to, well, that moment we all know in Mortis.

Warhammer 40,000

Iron Warriors: The Omnibus by Graham McNeill. This is the definitive Iron Warriors experience, showcasing what it really means to be a warrior of the IVth Legion and how their personality hasn’t changed even 10,000 years after the Heresy. The characters in this story have been woven by McNeill into his Horus Heresy work, so you get a great look at their evolution, as well as the Legion’s relationship with Chaos and how adherents of certain Chaos gods fit (or don’t) into the Legion.

Dead Sky, Black Sun by Graham McNeill. An Ultramarines novel, it follows directly on from Storm of Iron in the previously mentioned omnibus.

Sorceror Librarian Iron Warriors 30k HH Credit: Magos Sockbert
Entirely loyal, I assure you. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Putting it all together

Iron Warriors walk the fine line between playing one trick so well that it permanently twists the local meta in a delightfully “yeah, I think that’s probably on-brand for the IVth” way, and playing that trick just a little too late only to find that everyone left their tanks at home. They might not be home to the Iron Father but, played well, maybe someone will call you Iron Daddy. 

Take advantage of your strengths. Your anti-armour is the best in the game – don’t pass it up. Removing that key Spartan transporting the enemy death star could really swing a game, and punching down that Contemptor just a little bit faster could be the key to freeing up yours to run rampant. Try experimenting with units you might not usually think of as Iron Warrior-y, like Javelin Speeders who can appear from nowhere to take full advantage of Wrack & Ruin against side armour.

Shrapnel is a sometimes food. The corollary to this is “graviton is probably a never food”. While both are narratively appropriate choice for your Legion to dive heavily into, don’t go too deep at the expense of being able to win a game. Shrapnel needs to be built around, not just sprayed across the field willy-nilly. Do you have a melee unit you can slam into that key victim who now can’t run away? Do you perhaps sacrifice killing something in favour of trying to pin a shooting unit, or maybe one about to score? Have a plan, but don’t rely on a check they’re probably going to pass.

Terminators: the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems. The IVth Legion has two of the best Terminator units in the game. Tyrants can put out an ungodly amount of high strength firepower, and Dominators are a stupid cheap source of Thunder Hammers at WS5. Even basic Terminators can be pretty damn good – Shred and Rending (6+) never go wrong when running into a Dreadnought.

Gunlines aren’t always the answer. Your Legion trait tends to emphasise ranged combat (not a lot of tanks in melee, after all), but don’t feel like you’re bound to this. Dominators are one of the best melee terminator units in the game somehow, and Iron Circle can act as a fantastic bulwark. Going too heavily into shooting, regardless of how narrative it may feel to you, will leave you open to all the unpleasantness that a melee army can deliver. 

Hazard stripes best stripes. Okay, this is more of a hobby tip, but don’t be afraid of painting hazard stripes! You can check out our guide to painting Iron Warriors here, and it can really make your army pop. Other armies, primarily Mechanicum, might have a smattering of yellow and black, but Iron Warriors own those stripes and have the OSHA compliance certificate to show for it. Safety first!

Iron Warriors Horus Heresy 30k Credit: Magos Sockbert
Sockbert’s first Iron Warriors. Nawwww! Credit: Magos Sockbert

Example lists

3000 points Hammer of Olympia (2987 points)

Warsmith in Cataphractii armour (Warlord) – Rite of War: Hammer of Olympia, Tyrant of the Dodekathon, combi-bolter, thunder hammer (170pts)
Primus Medicae in Cataphractii armour – thunder hammer, grenade harness, combi-bolter (150pts)
Tactical Squad – 20x marines, sergeant with artificer armour and power fist, nuncio-vox, legion vexilla, shrapnel bolters (285pts)
Tactical Squad – 20x marines, sergeant with artificer armour and power fist, nuncio-vox, legion vexilla, shrapnel bolters (285pts)
Tactical Squad – 20x marines, sergeant with artificer armour and power fist, nuncio-vox, legion vexilla, shrapnel bolters (285pts)
Apothecarion detachment – 3x Apothecaries with artificer armour, bolt pistol, power lances (195pts)
Domitar-Ferrum – 3x Iron Circle (420pts)
Dominator Cohort – 10x Dominators (425pts)
Land Raider Spartan – hull-mounted shrapnel cannon, pintle-mounted multi-melta, hunter-killer missile, flare shield (442pts)
Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought – storm cannon, siege claw, phosphex discharger (300pts)

Welcome to hell, soldier. Grab that shrapnel bolter and march across the entire board while your betters ride in style or hang out with their cool robot friends. This is a list that’s heavy on bodies and one that’s going to dominate multiple objective matches with that Feel No Pain stack, but honestly struggle a little against armour. The Iron Circle and Warsmith get thrown in front of whatever looks scariest, holding them up for far longer than they probably should, while the Dominators and Primus Medicae in the Spartan charge forward as a ball of death to delete whatever looks scary, up to and sometimes including a Primarch (sorry Alpharius, think of it as a training match). The Leviathan and Spartan are your anti-armour here – the Leviathan storm cannon alone is 6 shots at S8 with Sunder, and those are some mighty nasty S9 lascannons on the Spartan. 

This is Sockbert’s current 3000pt army, because it’s cool – trudging across the mud into the jaws of hell is what Iron Warriors are all about, not hanging back blasting like a cowardly mortal. Try it out – no matter how many marines die, you probably still have more than your opponent and really, war is arithmetic, and mathematicians like Perturabo will rule the world.

1250 points Zone Mortalis Pride of the Legion

Delegatus in Cataphractii armour (Warlord) – Rite of War: Pride of the Legion, Tyrant of Lyssatra, combi-bolter, thunder hammer (125 pts)
Herald in Cataphractii armour – Legion standard, thunder hammer (120pts)
Tartaros Terminator Squad – 6x terminators, sergeant with power fist, 2x pair of lightning talons (205pts)
Dominator Cohort – 6x Dominators (265 pts)
Contemptor Dreadnought – Gravis melta cannon, gravis power fist (180pts)
Tyrant Siege Terminators – 6x Tyrant terminators

This is Magos Sockbert’s go-to travel list, being a pretty low model count while still being able to pack a punch and definitely feeling like an Iron Warriors force. Pride of the Legion doesn’t do that much, since only the generic Tartaros terminators gain Line, but it’s useful if someone wants to play a pick up game outside Zone Mortalis, giving you your second mandatory troops choice. The Delegatus hangs back with the Tyrants to give them that nasty Lyssatra buff, while the Herald moves on with the Dominators, granting them Line from the standard and, of course, the Contemptor runs around to do whatever the hell it wants. Every unit here is a nasty little brick of violence, and while you’re not likely to run into all that much armour in a ZM game, in such small points match ups a Contemptor can really make an impact, so Wrack & Ruin is even more powerful – every one of these units can pose a pretty serious threat to a dreadnought.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones


That’s it for the Iron Warriors, the most grimdustrial and shiny of all the Legions. We hope you’ve found this article useful; if you have any comments or feedback, please let us know here or at contact@goonhammer.com.