Are Infernal Guard with Fireglaives the best unit in WHFB?

Even staunch Dawi Zharr such as you gentlemen may think “No”, but hear me out.

I always loved Fireglaives. They look cool and the concept is just awesome. They’re an excellent blend of close combat and missile weapon, all packed in that sturdy Chaos Dwarf shell, but only recently it became clear to me just how unique that is.

Generally we judge troops on three main categories:

  • ability to dish out wounds in close combat
  • ability to dish out wounds in the shooting phase
  • ability to soak up damage

I know, there’s also maneuverability, psychology, special rules, points costs etc, but for now I’d say these three are the big ones. And let’s have a look at Infernal Guard with Fireglaives here:

Melee: 1A at I2 and WS4 with S5. Very solid. That S5 puts it above lots of units. For infantry, I’ll give it 4 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Shooting: 1 shot with 18" range at BS3 and S4 AP. The range is not that impressive and with the BS3 will mean you’ll basically always only hit on 5+. But then it’s a handgun hit, that’s nothing to sneeze at. 3, maybe 3.5 out of 5 :star::star::star:
Hardiness: T4, AS4+ (3+ against shooting), 5+ Ward against flaming attacks. That’s very good. 4.5 out of 5 :star::star::star::star:

I then had a look at the other armies to find something similar. And there isn’t much! All pure melee units are immediately disqualified, and most of the shooty units cannot hold up. A few I found:

Dark Elves Shades with Great Weapons
Melee: 1A at I5 WS5 S5. That’s very very good. 4.5 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Shooting: More range, BS5, multiple shots, but only S3. Still, that’s better. 4.5 out of 5 again. :star::star::star::star:
Hardiness: Well. T3. Optional light armour. That’s 2 out of 5 stars and I’m feeling generous here. :star::star:
They have a better damage output but are much more flimsy. And they even cost more! And are a special choice. For me, Infernal Guard win for their balanced approach.

Flamers of Tzeentch
Melee: 2A at I4 WS2 S4. Two attacks is great, but that’s not why you take them. 3 out of 5. :star::star::star:
Shooting: Same range and S4, but at BS4 and multiple shots. They got this. 4 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Hardiness: same T4, W2 and a tzeentch WS of 5+. I’d say it’s a tie at 4.5 out of 5 :star::star::star::star:
Flamers are very good, everyone knows. But they cost a ton and the unit is 3-6 models. I think I prefer Infernal Guard. Weirdly enough Flamers of Tzeentch don’t have flaming attacks which I think they absolutely should have.

Melee: 3A at I2 WS3 and S4 plus Impact Hits and Stomp. I mean yeah, it’s better per model but combined with base size etc. I think it comes out as a tie 4 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Shooting: More range, multiple shots with special rules at same BS3. Def. better. 4 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Hardiness: Same T4, W3 but only AS6+. Goes to the Infernal Guard. 3.5 out of 5. :star::star::star:
Comparing infantry and monstrous infantry is not easy. In a direct confrontation I think I’d put my money on the Infernal Guard.

Dwarf Quarrelers with Great Weapons
Melee: 1A ASL WS4 S5. The same as the Infernal Guard but with ASL, so in the direct comparison the Infernal Guard take the cake. 3.5 out of 5 :star::star::star:
Shooting: Much more range, the great dwarf crafted rule but not AP. Still, Quarrelers have it. 4 out of 5. :star::star::star::star:
Hardiness: Same T4, but only AS5+ and nothing against flaming attacks. 3.5 out of 5. :star::star::star:
Maybe the closest fit. Quarrelers are a little cheaper, are better at shooting but a little worse in melee and not quite as hardy. Still, an excellent unit and basically an auto-include for Dwarfs for a reason.

So, to conclude my question, are Infernal Guard with Fireglaives the best unit in the game? Answer is probably still “No”, but they are very, very versatile, do very well in both close combat and shooting phase and are part of a very select group of units across all armies which can do the same. They are quite expensive but you get a unit which will definitely have an impact in the game.

P.s. Have I missed other units which can compete in this little game of mathhammer?


My whitefeather goblin commandos?

S bows, hand weapon and shield (even light armour for staying power). A horde of 60 to 100.
Add in poison banner, assassins and the poison spell.
I guess thats cheating…no buffs

Ok this is probably bottom of the pile :hob2:

Savage orc bigguns with bows was another option


Magic items and spells certainly mix it all up, so I only looked at the base stats. Stuff like Enchanted Blades of Aiban or Flaming Sword of Rhuin would certainly be a way of making the Infernal Guard into a truly fearsome unit.

Savage Orc bigguns archers have the versatility, but are a step down in all areas (maybe not melee) IMHO.

I think the closest comparison is with dwarf irondrakes. And this is also where the fact that the LoA list came so early in 8th really hurts because of powercreep (and whatever else made everything in the book be overpriced).

They have the same range, irondrakes have better shooting though with quick to fire and strength 5 instead of 4.
They lack shields against shooting but have a 6++ which becomes a 2++ against fire so roughly the same defensive stats.
They trade S5 for WS5 over the guards and are still 2 points cheaper although coming from rare instead of core.

The biggest issue with fireglaives for me is that I never really know what to do with them.
If I stand still and shoot then I waste their combat stats, if I walk I shoot at 6+ on long range. If I instead march then they don’t get to shoot at all.
With irondrakes you can just have them vanguard up the middle or flank or whatever and just keep moving forward while blasting the enemy with S5 shots at 5+ to hit.


Oh my god, yes of course, how could I forget the Irondrakes? You’re right, they are a very close fit. Infernal Guard is a better in melee, Irondrakes are a better at shooting and Irondrakes are even a tad hardier. Well, there you have it! But you’re also right that there is always room in a Chaos Dwarf army for a core unit of Infernal Guard, whereas Irondrakes compete with some other excellent rare choices.

Tactics-wise for me it depends on my overall strategy for the army. If I want to get into melee as quick as possible I’ll obviously move the Infernal Guard along. Yes they’ll only hit on a 6+, but that’s still a few hits you’d otherwise not get. Otherwise I’d go for at least two rounds of shooting with my Infernal Guard. Chances are your opponent will seek close combat soon enough, and that’s the point where the good combat stats come into play.

I am by no means well versed as a TT general, but I guess it really comes down to the point cost, at least in terms of relative competitiveness.

At 14 points or so - same stats and equip of course - Fireglaives would be a much better choice, maybe indeed one of the best.

And nobody say no way; Dark Elves get discounts like that all the time :wink: Plus, there should be a real incentive to take them as the army’s backbone regardless of their being a core choice

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Oh absolutely, points costs is a major factor, and the Legion of Azgorh army list definitely is quite expensive, especially on the troops side. Infernal Guard cost about 2pts premium. I mean lets check the mentioned models:

Infernal Guard with Fireglaives: 17pts, core
Shade with Great Weapons: 18pts, special
Flamers of Tzeentch: 40pts, special
Leadbelcher: 43pts, special
Quarreler with Great Weapon: 14pts, core
Irondrake: 15pts, rare

Those two Dwarf units are probably the better choices. At 2pts less, the Infernal Guard would at least be on par.

its a win win situation in my eyes :smiley:

i stand 20 wide and shoot.
wanna charge me and die? come at me
wanna ignore me and get shot? please do!

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Exactly. Tactically it’s a unit your opponent has to deal with. And it’s not going to be easy but it will cost them, whether in a shooting duel or close combat.

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I think they suffer from the same problems as all CD infantry; they are very expensive and they lack the updated standard dwarf race rules. If they had proper Relentless and Resolute that would be a nice bonus.

Dont get me wrong Fireglaives are really flexible and nice but I expect if you Mathshammered them they would lose against a large percentage of the games better infantry (whilst retaining some play in the shooting phase)

I personally enjoy the blunderbuss because although it lowers the range and strength, you make up for it with multiple shots, no pens to range and stand and shoot and a reroll on the wound roll… I’ve had them just delete units. Plus you know what you’re doing, move into range, shoot, then prepare to stand and shoot and fight if required as a pure anvil


I think the Infernal Guard with Fireglaives are a cool unit. They definitely look pretty slick on paper but do suffer a bit in two regards:

  1. They are over-costed

  2. They are a jack of all trades but a master of none

Points Cost:
Base Infernal Guard are a fairly well costed unit (maybe 1 point too much), but their upgrades (GWs, Fireglaives, Blunderbusses) are extremely expensive. At the very least, I wish they were 11 points per model without a shield, and the shield was an optional 1 point upgrade. That way builds that can’t utilize the shield in close combat (GWs and Fireglaives) could forgo purchasing it. On top of that, a 1 point reduction on their three weapon upgrades would probably put them in a pretty good place.

Consider that currently, for the cost of 30 Infernal Guard with Fireglaives you could have a unit of 30 Infernal Guard with hand weapon + shield AND a unit of 30 Hobgoblin Cutthroats with bows. The two Infernal Guard units are fairly comparable in close combat (+1 strength vs. 1 point of armour and a parry save). In terms of shooting, the Fireglaives are probably better (in most cases) than the Cutthroats’ bows, as the +1 strength and AP of the Fireglaives edges out the bows’ +6" range advantage and volley fire. That said, the IG + Hobgoblin combo gives you TWICE the number of bodies on the battlefield in two separate units!

Jack of all trades, master of none:

  • most equally pointed combat units will trounce the IG Fireglaive unit in close combat.

  • most equally pointed ranged units will trounce the IG Fireglaive unit in terms of ranged potential.

While this makes obvious sense and there is inherent value in the IG Fireglaive unit being able to perform adequately in both tasks, a key point is that they can only perform one of those functions at any given time. Contrast that with the equally pointed IG HW&S + Hobgoblins (with bows) combo highlighted above, who can perform both roles at once. There you are free to use the Infernal Guard in combat, while the Hobgoblins happily fire away with their bows.

That said, they can be a good and impactful unit… even if they are a bit too expensive and better options are available. As the OP noted, they are one of the few ranged units in the game who can effectively fight in CC and they may be one of the best units from among that select group.

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Jup, that’s fair.
I’d say Infernal Guard with Fireglaives are 2, maybe even 3, points too expensive. I guess this is supposed to represent how rare they (and chaos dwarfs in general) are. Base IG is already 1-2 pts too expensive and the fireglaive upgrade maybe another point.
As for their jack of all trades master of none quality, yes, for sure. But that was my point from the start, they are among the jackiest of all trades. :wink: they beat a lot of units in all three categories (dishing out wounds in close combat, dishing out wounds in shooting and soaking up damage themselves) and can perform admirably even against the elite stuff. Yea they will eventually lose those battles, but so will most other units.

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Very true.

It’s a shame they aren’t a couple of points cheaper, they’d be a truly epic unit.

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There is some interesting analysis of mathshammered Infernal Guard/Ironsworn against most of the best units in the game here:

Ironsworn were surprisingly good!


Excellent, thanks for that link!

I am quite surprised, I usually skip over Ironsworn without much thought. WS5 S5 magic attacks with AS3+ and still 6++ parry is of course quite nice, I always went with Fireglaives for the same price just because they can attack in the shooting phase. Now if Ironsworn had 2 attacks this would never have been an issue, interesting to see that they still perform better with only one attack. I might have to rethink them, but my god they are also expensive af but come from special, not an area where I’m usually running out of things to buy :slight_smile:

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