The Tactics Shaman: Tackling Ironjawz

In our Tactics Shaman series, we answer reader questions about tactics and list building for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, a list you’d like help on, or general advice you’re looking for, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.comThis week, JoeKster is answering a question about taking on Seraphon with Ironjawz.

In the last two months, a couple of colleagues and I decided to dive into the hobby and of course since we are all new and never really played, we decided that 2,000 points was a good idea ! Yeah, no… but anyway one of us chose Skaven, the other chose Seraphon and I went with the Orruk Warclans hoping GW would release the revampires sooner! Still, I absolutely adore the faction’s lore, the fluff, the spell descriptions, and generally everything these green morons do.

After reading the Start Competing article by Old Jakes Gang I was really starting to wonder what a competitive Orruks list would look like from an experienced player. I want to have fun but mostly, I want to beat that Seraphon player with his magic madness and skinks that can flee! The rivalry that he and I have is keeping us sane on the job and I love it.

Also: How do Orruks fare in the shooting/magic meta? How should I plan for a Seraphon Lord Kroak/Skink Priest/Skins list and is there a solid 2,000 point list I can build for either Ironjawz or Big Waaagh? What weapons/artefacts do I equip them with? So far I have two of the Start Collecting boxes, 1 shaman, 15 more Orruk ‘Ardboyz, and a Megaboss on Mawkrusha, but I’m open to changing things around and picking up more stuff.


Hey there Reader,

That’s a tough one, but let’s see if we can help at least a little bit and get you closer to minor wins than major losses. Of the three players in your group, you definitely picked the hardest possible matchups for yourself, though it does sound like you’re faring OK against your Skaven opponent, which is great! We love to see it. However Ironjaws are currently sitting around a 45% win percentage, and Seraphon are sitting comfortably around a 60-70%. It’s a tough matchup, and overcoming those odds is going to take a lot of work on your part.

One thing I would recommend as you’re looking to compete harder against them is to avoid tailoring your army lists to your mates’. You might only play against those two armies now, but if your group grows, or if your friends decide to change lists, or play a new army, you’ll constantly be on the backfoot trying to keep up. When the world does go back to a state of relative normalcy and you decide if you want to play in events (and I really hope you do), you’ll be even more behind. At that point if you’ve built a skew list one way and you’ll probably hit stronger counters once you’re going up against a wider array of lists!

Still, there are some steps we can take to beat them filthy lizards in the meantime. Any time you’re up against a top army – like Seraphon – with Ironjawz, there are a few things you want to consider. Let’s run through a quick list of what’s available to the faction and pick out some of the best options.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Ironjawz Allegiance abilities

  • Innate +1 to charge… this is convenient, since it means you can’t fail a 3’ charge ever.
  • Free movement whenever you take damage from a distance >9”. Movement is essential to the game and the most important thing to maximize – don’t forget this.
  • Mighty Destroyers, a universal command ability that lets you run or charge for free. This is even MORE movement. You’re so fast. Never forget that. You can have a Mawkrusha MOVE 28’ before it charges. And your opponent has zero ways to stop that. (well, lumineth can, “total eclipse” spell, but, whatever.)

Depending on who else you follow from the Competitive Warhammer scene, at least from who I know, you will pretty much get a resounding echo along the lines of: “Movement is the most important stat.” Since this game is Objective-Based, getting to, from, and securing objectives as fast as possible is the most important thing an army can do, and having so many abilities that help you to do that is a pretty solid allegiance trait for the army. However, in this particular matchup, Seraphon do all of that, but better. They can even avoid your charges with the Fangs of Sotek “fire and fade” command ability. Important tip though: That only applies in the charge phase, so If you charge in the hero phase, you will avoid this problem. Also, don’t forget that if you charge in the Hero phase and then retreat in the movement phase, since you still “completed a charge” that turn, that unit can pile in and fight in the combat phase, even if you’re outside 3″. This can be an important work-around if your buddy’s Skink rely on heavy use of “Overwatch, then run away” tactics.

Next, Command Trait and Artefact loadout can be extremely important. Let’s look at some options to give you an edge.

Command Traits

  • Brutish Cunning: Free “Mighty Destroyers”
  • Ironclad: 2+ armor Megaboss? Seems good to me!

For the most part, you’re liable to ignore these “Build your Own” Ironjaw traits. You will probably instead favor the named clans, since those come with more abilities, but keep them in mind. That free Mighty Destroyers IS pretty tasty, and so is a 2+ mawkrusha who also reduces rend by 1 (realm of metal relic) and also ignores spell effects on a 4+ will make him stick around at least a little bit.

Credit: Muggins


Daubing of Mork: on average it gives your mawkrusha about 2-3 more wounds. Not terrible

MetalRippa’s Klaw: rend 3 is.. Fine. definitely something worth considering.

GREAT GREEN VISIONS: in a world of seraphon Command point spam and Lumineth/ ossiarchs stealin all your command points, having spare is never bad. A serious contender here.

Shamanic Skullcape: +1 to cast in a world of super wizards, if youre gonna bring a wizard for some of your awesome spells, anything you can get to make it easy on yourself is gonna go a long way.

Iron Sunz: Sunblessed armor: worsen rend by 1 when targeting this orruk’y manz: vs Skaven and KO this can go a long way. Maybe even against bastilidons if they run those

Bloodtoofs: QUICKDUFF AMULET: AN UNSTOPPABLE Hand of Gork? Lets goooo. 10/10 in a world of table-wide dispel and Teclis/Host Arcanum Tzeentch lists.

Picking artefacts can be a bit of a juggling act. Sometimes it will literally come down to a coin toss and luck of the draw. Do you want that super tanky Cabbage Patch of a dragon? Do you want to hopefully never run out of command points? Is a free Hand of Gork worth both of those things? did you bring a battalion so you can pick more freely? Since some relics are restricted to some factions, and you’d need a battalion to bring an extra anyway, sometimes people only have one, sometimes 2-3 battalions in a list will fit (Probably not Ironjaws, but in general) in a list, and so you may have more relics than actual characters to use them. Picking the best for you will literally very from list to list. I highlighted these here because the rest, I just don’t see any play ever necessary for them, or they refer to such a specific targeted instance it’s just not worth it in the long run of the army.

Mount traits

The first three Mawcrusha traits are straightforward but good. +1 wound, +2″ speed or +1 damage are all nice to have, especially when they come with no strings attached. Number 4, Heavy ‘un is very solid with it’s +1 damage to Destructive bulk, your lynchpin attack. #6, Weird ‘Un, lets you ignore spells on a 4+, some of the best armies in the game right now like Disciples of Tzeentch, Lumineth and your friends own Seraphon are very magic heavy, making this a surprisingly useful trait to have in general. You can safely ignore #5, Loud ‘Un. If you take 2 mawkrushas, #6 first, then #4.

This section is almost gonna be the artifact section verbatim, except they can only be taken on a Mawkrusha. Heavy ‘un and Weird ‘Un are realistically the only ones I’d see as winners. I have a local Destruction player to me who can and does run almost every flavor of Iron Jaws list you can think of. Realistically, these traits are the only 2 that impress me. if you run 2 Mawcrushas, you can take both. I could see the +2 move as well but spells are so prevalent and dangerous, Weird ‘Un becomes practically Mandatory

War Beats

Just take Get ‘em Beat. Ignore everything else.

You want to charge 3d6+1/+2 with your flying cabbage of doom* and despair for all smol wizard bois left without a fully encompassed/encircling bodyguard unit? If you take more than one Warchanter, I’d honestly just double up on Get ‘Em Beat. That way if they kill your first one you’re not out of luck. Low wound/save support heroes are not a survivable breed these days, so this is a genuine concern


Spell Lore

Hand of Gork. Always Hand of Gork. Remember when we said movement was key? Hence, Hand of Gork. Whatever else you want is fine but make room for Hand of Gork.

Wrath of Gork seems like a fun second choice, if you weren’t fighting super saiyan dead frog god wizards of doom.

There really isn’t much else to say here. Your army is one of the “Have-Nots” for magic. If you bring an Ironjaws army with a magical bent, you are going to be brought to the light pretty darn fast. There are so many (literal) God Tier wizards in the game; stick to Krumpin’ them in combat instead. Hand of Gork helps you do that faster.


Credit: Muggins

Command Abilities

Proper use of Command Abilities is key to to getting the most out of your army. Command Points are valuable and a well timed command ability can change the entire flow of the game, so you should be aware of which ones are available so you can pop them at the right time. Alright: Get ‘em!, a warscroll command ability from the Warchanter, grants you an out of sequence charge move and since this is in your opponent’s turn, it can catch them off guard. Note that their Skinks can still use the Parting Shot ability to get away from you though, thanks to the FAQ. Still, this can help close the gap such that it may not be enough.

Warclan Abilities

Da Choppas clan is really the only one I wouldn’t rate at all, and would highly recommend the generic traits and relics over this. If you’re running lots of Brutes there may be something here, pabble rouser is probably worth looking at with force multipliers getting more multiply-ee is a good thing.  I would probably just ignore them.

The other two – Ironsunz and Bloodtoofs – are both good, but you could argue for a generic command trait and x2 relics (assuming you take a battalion) that could out-weigh the warclan bonus. I can’t tell you what you like more. I’m just listing what I would look at.

If you’re looking to be Kunnin but also Brutal, I’d say probably Ironsunz. the big-brain movement plays you can pull by charging in your OPPONENT’S charge phase is pretty huge, plus a free command point and -1 to be hit first turn, and the -1 rend relic for your Cabbage will help your army last just 1 more round to be out there fighting their hearts out before you get shot/spelled to death.

The bummer for Bloodtoofs is that their command trait is a joke? Possibly on purpose? It will do nothing for you. I think I can count how many times I’ve seen a realm gate actually use the realm gate rules on a table, because I think that number is literally zero. The rest of the faction, however, is definitely viable. Can you live with being 3/4 of an allegiance ability down compared to others? Maybe. It’s a bit iffy but making sure Teclis, Lords of Change, Khorne, Knights of the Empty Throne, et al can’t unbind one of your Hands of Gork may just be worth it. Hard to tell, though.


Battalions are a tough call. They’re not usually too expensive but you have to weight your options of the units required and the buffs they grant, verses whether those points are worth more units. Some of these buffs can be very powerful, and augment units you’re bringing anyway (lowering the overall “Tax”).

Ardfist: Recycling units that can beat up Kroak and the like hiding on the back of the board, Would be ok, but it comes at a cost of losing a unit, and only a chance to get it back.

Brutefist: You can do a lot with free out-of-phase charges. Definitely alright.

Gorefist: Its fast, hits hard (enough), but most importantly it’s fast. If your opponent misdeploys, your flying angry cabbage of doom and a unit of 6 of these bad boi gore-gruntas can put them in a world of hurt. Just, be careful. If you don’t prioritze the things that can kill you off on a counter attack, you’re gonna feel the hurt after stretching too thin.

Ironfist: More movement stuff = more good.

I literally think that just about every time me and my local Ironjaws player play, he has a different battalion, and only settles on a list just before an event. These all have plays, you will have to find the one you are most comfortable with. Some people are more comfortable with hammers, others are more comfortable with butterfly knives. One of the best things for a player to do when getting to this point in the list building process, is understanding how they, as a player, are most comfortable with playing. Does a fast but fragile army suit you better? Or does an army built to just punch as hard as possible, as long as you get there (even if it might take a bit longer).

This can and probably will change the more you play, as well as adjusting around what armies are prevalent in your area. Whichever you choose, just make sure you practice it.


Ironskull's Boyz by Alfredo Ramirez
Ironskull’s Boyz Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

Building Lists

Brutes are your cheapest battleline both in total points, and points per wound. I’d look into them a bit. 3 list ideas off the top of my head, relics and traits can be plaid around with almost freely here:

Option 1:

Megaboss on Mawkrusha -gore hacka and choppa
Weirdnob shaman

X6 Orruk gore-gruntas
X5 brutes
X5 brutes



Option 2:

Megaboss on Mawkrusha -gore hacka and choppa
Megaboss on Mawkrusha -gore hacka and choppa

Ally: Fungoid cave shaman (he gives you a command point on a 4+)

X6 Orruk gore-gruntas
X3 Orruk gore-gruntas
X3 Orruk gore-gruntas


Chronomatic cogs


Option 3:

Megaboss on Mawkrusha -gore hacka and choppa
Weirdnob shaman

Ally: Fungoid cave shaman (he gives you a command point on a 4+)

X6 Orruk gore-gruntas
X5 Brutes
X5 Brutes
X10 Ardboys
X10 Ardboys


Chronomatic cogs

As the game goes on, you’ll want to keep assessing your options. As you get into the later turns, ask yourself:

  • What is your max threat range with most of your spells? Your shooting? Combat threats?
  • Can you teleport? Do you have summoning or “ambush” style units/abilities?

Learning about list building, and enacting counters to these, is where a player rises above others. If you go first, can you plan around ASSUMING you’ll get doubled on? Do you need to hope for the best or can you prevent a harsh turn around?

If you’re looking to do well with these guys, this is definitely an army that will require a lot of practice. Playing against one of, if not the, best factions in the game as your weekly sparring partner should get you pretty comfortable to fight against literally any other army.

Beyond that, I hope this has helped, good luck, and happy krumping! 

In addition to his new column, JoeK also offers coaching services and personalized commentary for Age of Sigmar through his Patreon, which you can check out here.


In the meantime if you have any questions or feedback, or would like to submit a question of your own, you can drop us a note in the comments below or email us at