The Case for Phalanx Warders
“This isn’t about fun. It’s about Power Axes” -William Lancaster
Today we’ll be covering the merits and uses of what is undoubtedly my favorite unit in the whole of 30K, the Phalanx Warders of the Imperial Fists. I’ll include a sample list utilizing them that I’ve found successful against a variety of opponents. For those unfamiliar with them, Phalanx Warders are the principal guardians of the Imperial Fist’s flagship, The Phalanx. Like their Templar Brethren counterparts, Phalanx Warders are parceled out to different theaters of war as needed. In terms of basic equipment and stats, Warders are identical to the Breacher Siege Squads. Each Warder has a bolter, bolt pistol, boarding shield, a Void Hardened power armor. What sets them apart from Breachers, and what makes them so devastatingly effective, are their special rules and options for war-gear.
Phalanx Warders have the Shield Wall special rule and, with the new FAQ, Counter-Attack. The Shield Wall rule is very useful in that it makes your Warders WS5 when they are charged. The bonus also confers to any characters that have joined the unit so your Centurions are WS6 and your Praetors WS7. The addition of Counter-Attack is a very nice fluffy touch for such a defense-oriented unit.
Like Breachers, Phalanx Warders can take a special weapon for every 5 marines in the squad. Unlike Breachers, Phalanx Warders have an incredibly diverse pool of special weapons to choose from: combi-weapons, flamers, breaching charges, melta guns, plasma guns, and thunder hammers. The special weapons, in my experience, are what truly makes Phalanx Warders unique. When I started running them in early 2016, I gave every 5th marine as well as the sergeant a thunder hammer. This approach was effective, but spending 100 pts just for five weapons is too much. I then began incorporating Breacher Charges into my squads. The first time I used one, the breacher charge blew up an Iron Warriors Dreadnought and killed a terminator(it also killed the marine wielding it, but such things happen.) After that, I was hooked. I’ve used Breacher Charges consistently ever since and found them to be devastatingly effective. For anyone unfamiliar with them, a Breacher Charge is a single use S8 Ap2 Blast weapon that is used in melee and swings AT initiative. The fact that the weapon is not unwieldly gives Warders a huge advantage against most terminator armored units. Nearly all multi-wound terminator units swing with weapons worse than I4, so you’ve got the chance to hit the enemy first with a weapon that will cause Instant Death. Sure, they’re single use, but if used properly, they’ll more than make up their points. The Warders are a hard counter to the Primarch/Terminator death stars that are so popular in 30K.
Now, with that said, the Warders are best used with an attached HQ, generally a support character that will increase their effectiveness exponentially. In this case, there really are no wrong choices. Heralds up their WS to 5 and then 6 if they get charged. Forge Lords with Rad Grenades allow the Breacher Charges to double out T5 units such as Gal Vorbak or Thallax Cohorts. Chaplains are particularly useful as they minimize the chance of a Breacher Charge scattering somewhere you don’t want it. You could even throw an oddball character such as Tylos Rubio in to confer Preferred Enemy and cast Prescience as needed.
I know I’ve just spent two paragraphs waxing poetic about Warders in melee, but it is worth noting that they have access to potent ranged weapons as well. I’ve seen plenty of players on the (superb)Imperial Fists 30K Facebook group make arguments for using Plasma guns as bait to lure opponents into making disordered charges against T5 models with Power Axes. I’ve even seen some argue that the Warders are not a melee unit at all. With the utmost respect to my 7th legion brothers, this is incorrect. While I can see the merit in the strategy, the simple fact is that the Warders are power armored marines and not much more resilient against shooting than any other such unit. Any shooting they put out is likely to be a fraction of what will surely be coming back at them. Warders are a unique infantry unit and sure to draw more than their share of enemy fire. It may seen strange, but the safest place for them to be is in combat.
In three years of using Warders, I’ve found their combat record puts to shame most any other unit. I’ve used them against knights, terminators, super-heavy tanks, greater demons, and all manner of infantry. They are the only unit Austin’s Deathsworn will actively avoid in combat, and would certainly be my first choice when facing Steven’s Gal Vorbak. Warders and Breacher Siege squads are often thought of as bulwark objective campers which the enemy may throw themselves against. They are much better used as a spear thrust straight into the heart of an enemy line. With the addition from the FAQ giving every model access to melta bombs, this is doubly true.
Below you will find a sample list using the Stone Gauntlet ROW. I based it on my 2018 NOVA list, but tweaked it to reflect the new Phalanx Warder points cost.
- Chaplain + combat shield 90 pts
- Apothecarion Detachment
2x Apothecaries 90 pts
- Breacher Siege Squad + 4x marines + melta bombs + Breacher Charge and Artificer Armor(Sergeant only) 350 pts
- Breacher Siege Squad + melta bombs + Breacher Charge and Artificer Armor(Sergeant only) 270 pts
Dedicated Transport: Land Raider Proteus + twin-linked lascannon + dozer blade 215 pts
- Phalanx Warder Squad + 5x marines + 11x power axes + 3x breacher charges + melta bombs + Power Fist and Artificer Armor(Sergeant only) 390 pts
- Dedicated Transport: Spartan Assault Tank + Dozer blade + Armored Ceramite + Flare Shield 375 pts
- Leviathan Dreadnought Talon:
Leviathan Dreadnought + Storm Cannon + Phosphex Discharger 295 pts
Leviathan Dreadnought + Cyclonic Melta Lance + Phosphex Discharger 305 pts
- Deredeo Pattern Dreadnought + Aiolos Missile Battery 220 pts
Lord of War:
- Rogal Dorn 385 pts
This is a solid take-all-comers type list. This list, to me, reflects the core of the Imperial Fists legion. The Huscarls and Templar Brethren may be more recognized, but it is the line infantry that perform the grim, grinding labor of war. While other loyal legions wallow in melodrama, empire building, or internal politics, the Imperial Fists hold the line and bear the worst fighting of the Horus Heresy.(Okay, I swear I’ll shut up soon.)
For those looking at getting into the Imperial Fists, this list is a good start. When fielding this, or in fact any other 7th Legion force, I’ve found it beneficial to think of your army as their namesake: a fist. Each squad represents a finger on the fist, supporting and strengthening those near it. Many legions employ gunlines. This is not such a list. Think of it instead as a grain thresher, digesting your foes, grinding them and cutting them relentlessly to pieces.
As always, thank you for your time, and your indulgence.