Our tale begins in December of 2018 when I bought the army box for Slaves to Darkness. I had always loved the iconic look of Chaos Warriors and loved the idea of collecting an army of Chaos that really leaned on that classic aesthetic – the only problem was that the rules for Slaves to Darkness sucked at the time. It wasn’t simply a matter of the army being under powered (which it was), but more importantly that the army just didn’t look very fun to play. Limited options, lots of redundant buffs that felt very samey, and just a feeling of playing an unfinished faction.
I benched the army as a result and focused on 40k for the year, until the new battletome for Slaves to Darkness came out in December 2019 and blew me away. I loved the new models, I loved the new rules and I got very excited about the possibilities. I signed up for the Element Games Grand Slam in February and got to work painting up an army including Archaon, Varanguard, and Marauders, supplementing that core with some key support units. Things were sliding into place and I felt comfortable with my choice of army and that I would have everything painted and ready for the tournament.
That was until Goonhammer asked me if I was interested in reviewing the new Kharadron Overlords battletome. I happily said yes because it was a small faction that I was happy to write about because it wouldn’t take too long and it would give me a chance to look at unit evaluation from a fresh perspective. The problem was… I fell in love with the faction. Now to give you some context here, I don’t even like Dwarves that much – I’ve always enjoyed pointy ears and spiky boys far more as their dumb aesthetics just spoke to me in a way that Dwarves never did. So why did I fall in love with them?
Well, if you have read my review on the battletome you’ll know that Kharadron Overlords have a great degree of mobility, with most units having fly and even the ability to completely re-deploy models over the course of the game using their new fly high ability. I loved this tactical flexibility because it allows a lot of freedom to play the objective game and be a surgical tactician in a way you simply cannot achieve with most factions in Age of Sigmar. Kharadron Overlords are weirdly enough doing their best Eldar impression in a ruleset that heavily encourages melee combat and battle piles. It also helps that unlike typical Duardin, the Kharadron have gone so far off the steam punk deep end that they are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Perhaps most important of all, Games Workshop made a brilliant marketing decision in putting out a box set that just so happened to contain the models I wanted to run in a theoretical Kharadron Overlords list. Did you know that they gave Kharadron Overlords a freaking Smash Captain?
It was a perfect storm, which is very bad news for me as my wife gave birth to twins in late October which meant my wallet was already strained to breaking point over the Christmas period. All the signs were telling me that I should just finish my Chaos army and take that – I won’t even have enough time to finish an army to my standard in time for the tournament!
Yeah… I cracked. I expect if you’re reading this you have probably made similarly bonkers decisions in your hobby life time so you can at least empathise with my insanity. I decided to try and get an entire 2000 point Kharadron Overlords army completed by late February despite never having played the faction or painted anything quite like the Kharadron. If this is ever going to work I need a plan, and I need it fast.
When designing a list for this self-imposed challenge, I decided it should preferably be fairly low model count to keep the painting backlog small. It also should try to include as many of the models from value box sets as possible in order to ensure my marriage doesn’t end up on the rocks because money that should be spent on baby formula, is instead being used on little plastic Dwarves. To that end I had two box sets in mind when I designed my list: Aether War, and a bundle that Element Games offers that included a Start Collecting: Kharadron Overlords, a unit of Arkanaut Company and an Arkanaut Frigate. Cobbling together these elements I ended up with a rough list like this:
Skyport: Barak-Zon Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit (General) - Command Trait: Bearer of the Iron Star, Artifact: Aethersped Hammer Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit - Artifact: Phosphorite Bomblets 10 Arkanaut Company Grundstok Escort Wing Warscroll Batallion: Arkanaut Frigate Grundstok Gunhauler - Great Endrinwork: Zonbarcorp 'Debtsettler' Spar Torpedo Grundstok Gunhauler - Great Endrinwork: Coalbeard's Collapsible Compartments Grundstok Gunhauler 5 Grundstok Thunderers 6 Skywardens 6 Skywardens 3 Skywardens
This list almost wrote itself, because with the exception of the Endrinmaster on foot included with the Start Collecting, all of this came from two copies of Aether War and the bundle on the Element Games web store. The list would have 4 drops to hopefully have a reasonable chance of finishing deployment first, and it had a total of 36 models which meant I successfully kept the model count somewhat low.
I’m not a huge fan of creating your own Skyport, as I find the options there quite lacklustre compared to the benefits for picking a Skyport. Looking at my unit selection Barak-Zon made the most sense for a number of reasons. First of all the required Artifact and Command Trait are both excellent, providing a huge boost to one of our heroes melee capabilities and toughness respectively. The Kharadron Code for selecting the Skyport is also quite good, boosting the bravery of units for being near Skyvessels, allowing a once-per-game pre-movement phase disembark from one of our Skyvessels, and providing valuable hit rerolls of 1 to our two heroes when targeting Heroes or Monsters. Finally and most importantly is the baseline ability, significantly boosting the melee capabilities of all the Skyfarers (that’s the Dwarves themselves) and further boosting the Skywardens (which we’re taking a whopping 15 of as part of our list).
I love the new Endrinmaster because it manages to fulfil so many different functions at once. It can heal 3 wounds a turn on a skyvessel that’s next to it no questions asked, which is fantastic from a support standpoint as it helps keep our valuable Skyvessels up and running. It’s tough with 8 wounds and a 3+ Save (which we can reroll for a single phase if we expend it’s Aether-Gold) which means it stands up well to light skirmishing. It’s highly mobile with the flight keyword and 12″ move, meaning it can largely roam the board freely and get where it needs to go. It’s also got both a lot of dakka and a fairly impressive melee profile, which means it will also perform quite admirably in a quasi-smash captain role – if I send both of them at the same target, I can be fairly confident they will delete that unit. Because of Barak-Zon’s Kharadron Code they will likely be used primarily to take out support heroes of our opponents or big monsters because of the free rerolls . Taking two however costs me 440 points, which is a fair chunk of my army, so I’ll have to be very careful when using them. If I were to change anything about this list, it would probably begin by cutting the second Endrinmaster.
My general gets the Ironstar, which gives him a once per game revive on D3 wounds when he’s slain provided I pass a 2+ roll first. He also gets the Aethermatic Hammer, which adds 2 attacks to his melee profile for a total of 5. This means in melee he’s boasting 5 attacks, hitting on 3’s (rerolling 1’s against Heroes and Monsters), wounding on 2’s (technically 1+ from Barak-Zon but obviously a 1 always fails), -2 rend for D3 damage each. This is our Smash Captain, who I already have a plan for in terms of modelling his big Hammer.
His second-in-command gets the Phosphorite Bomblets, a frankly absurd artefact that once per game allows me to potentially delete an entire unit provided it’s within 6″ range in the shooting phase. How? Well, activating the artifact means rolling a dice – on a 1, nothing happens, on a 2+ the unit takes a mortal wound and you repeat rolling a dice until either the target is dead or you roll a 1. This is a highly random artefact that has the potential to do absolutely nothing, or pull off some serious heroics. It appeals to the Ork in me and I’m planning on using this to try and get rid of a problematic unit as soon as possible.
The Escort Wing let’s me pick a unit at the beginning of each shooting phase, and get rerolls of 1 for hit rolls targeting that unit until the end of the phase. Simply marvellous as often in games there’s one unit you prioritise above all others and this synergises with my typical game plan quite well. We get an extra artefact to stick on our second-in-command and the battalion themselves deploy as one, upping the chances that we’ll finish deploying first and control the flow of battle. As for what’s in the battalion:
The medium class skyvessel serves as our centrepiece to the army, acting as both a transport for the Arkanaut Company and some long range fire support.
These are quite simply incredibly efficient gun-platforms that double up as capable skirmishers and escort vessels for the Frigate (granting the Frigate a 6+ wound shrug if a Gunhauler is nearby). One of the Gunhaulers gets a one-use torpedo that causes D6 mortal wounds to a unit the first time the Gunhauler makes a successful charge move – this is great as a one-use gut punch to a unit I simply have to destroy. The second Gunhauler gets the Collapsible Compartments, giving it a transport capacity of 5 which just so happens to be the unit size of my Grundstok Thunderers.
Taken as a requirement as part of the battalion, they will park themselves on an objective and provide long ranged fire support throughout the game. I’m not decided on my load-out for these boys yet, but they might all get rifles just to maintain their long range profile as I think they’ll be bailing from their Gunhauler to seize an objective fairly quickly and staying at range to try and stay alive.
These bad boys are the hammer of my army, with the two big units capable of putting out 13 attacks each with a 3+,2+,-1, D3 damage melee profile. They have some serviceable skirmishing ability with their pistols and I may opt to give them a Skyhook each to improve their charge chances and add a bit more ranged oomph to the units.
The Arkanaut Company
They will ride in the Frigate and/or sit on an objective the entire game – at the end of the day they are in this list because I need bodies on objectives as loathe as I am to admit it and they are fairly tough to shift, sporting 10 wounds with a 4+ save that we can reroll for a turn by burning their Aether-Gold. I will likely give them one of each of the special weapons because their pistols aren’t terribly exciting and giving them a full complement makes them versatile – plus they’ll look cool as shit.
This list is subject to change but if I hope to get this list done in time I have to start somewhere. If I can I will get some play-testing in with proxies and try and make sure the fundamentals of this list are sound.
The Army Scheme
I needed a scheme that’s straight forward, fast to put together and looks good. To that end I enlisted the help of Goonhammer’s resident speed-painting expert RichyP – after bouncing a few thoughts off each other he provided the following blueprint for a relatively quick scheme:
Leadbelcher Primer Wash the shit out of everything with Nuln Oil Drybrush Silver (this will give you your free highlight under contrast) Thinned Tan colour over metals where appropriate for our Bronze Contrast Paint of choice + Lahmian Medium over cloth areas (Lahmian Medium helps matt down the shine from the silver) Take care of small details and any OSL
This would create a straight forward silver and bronze scheme with a contrasting (Ha!) colour provided by the cloth. This approach will have to be modified slightly when it comes to the Skyvessels as Contrast infamously doesn’t work that well across large surfaces, but that’s a challenge we will tackle when we get to it.
For basing I’m planning on an snowy theme for my foot troops as I love the snow effect to act as a contrast to not only the black rim of the base, but the colours of the model itself. The Skyvessels and Airborne troops may be instead based using storm clouds as I found this on Twitter from Ben Greaves which I absolutely love:
I want my Kharadron to feel like they’re venturing out into a snow storm in search of Aether-Gold – the next step was to see how well I could realise this idea QUICKLY without compromising too much on my paint job. I spent about a total of 3 hours on these two, with at least an hour spent tweaking colour scheme and soliciting feedback:
This was my first model after broadly deciding on a scheme – the object source lighting on the spear hasn’t come out quite how I wanted but I was broadly happy with how it added contrast to the model. The bodysuit didn’t come out quite as nicely as I would have liked but I’ll refine my highlighting process as I go and I’m happy enough with it to proceed with this scheme. You’ll notice the brass became a gold – that’s because when I tested it on a spare model it came out quite muddy a scheme and I wanted something a little more striking.
My second Arkanaut came out much better, though again I need to work on my brush strokes for highlighting the body suit. The OSL on his eyepiece came out great for the effort I put in and for a total of three hours work on these two I’m very happy. I expect that now I don’t have to tweak the colours that will bring the time down, as will practice. Yes I know I need to drill my barrel!
Wrap-up & Next Steps
I’ll be doing some number crunching on load outs for my infantry and try to decide how I want to equip each of my squads – Kharadron have a lot of options to choose from! I’ll also be pumping out this squad of Arkanaut Company and getting cracking on my first Skyvessel – A Gunhauler.
I’m really keen to hear your thoughts on this army and the scheme. If you have any suggestions for quick schemes or tips for assembling/painting Kharadron Overlords I would love to hear them. To reach me, you can comment below, hit me up on Twitter @EllarrUK, reach out to us on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.