Start Competing: Kharadron Overlords

An article by    Age of Sigmar Gaming Start Competing Tactics        0

Do you like airships? Like, a lot? Are you big on steampunk aesthetics? As a child, did you watch your VHS copy of Time Bandits until the tape degraded beyond use? Well then the Kharadron Overlords might be the Age of Sigmar army for you! Today we’re exploring tactics and strategies for competing with the Kharadron Overlords on the tabletop, and how they stack up to the game’s other factions following the publication of the 2020 General’s Handbook.

 

Faction Overview

Kharadron Overlords were one of the first ‘new’ factions to get added to Age of Sigmar, representing a stark departure from the world-that-was by taking the traditionally earth dwelling dwarves and aethercharging them with steampunk, skyships and ridiculously elaborate armor. They’re a relatively limited model range, but every warscroll has a clearly defined purpose and they boast some of the most gorgeous sculpts GW have ever done. Strap into your Endrinharness, and let’s talk Duardin.

Strengths:

  • Ranged Combat. High rend shooting no other faction can hope to match.
  • Manoeuvrability. Skyships can reposition all over the board almost at will, and bring troops with them, giving them a uniquely 40k style flavour.
  • Flexibility. The above two strengths allow a surgical approach and KO adapt to changing situations easily.
  • Relics. Unlike many factions, this book is full of powerful options that you can build around.

Weaknesses:

  • Not-quite-Elite, Not-quite-Horde. KO struggle to put lots of efficient bodies on the table, and said bodies aren’t able to easily trade blows with elite units either.
  • Middling Melee Combat. Some units can serve a reasonable role as shock troops, but by and large KO have to play keepaway and choose engagements carefully.
  • Poor Mortal Wound Defence. 
  • Magic. No wizards and limited ability to unbind/dispel mean we struggle to stop opposing magic.

 

Competitive Rating

Medium-to-Strong

Kharadron Overlords are a finesse army that are somewhat of a glass cannon. Put together a great game plan and they are easily capable of tabling most armies if you roll well. On the flip side, every loss hurts and few of our units are well suited to drawn out slug-fests, meaning our mistakes are easily punished. Don’t recreate a tournament topping list and expect to replicate success, but the high skill-ceiling of this faction rewards players who really get to grips with the army and stick with them. You’ll never auto-win a matchup, but you certainly won’t auto-lose either.

Arkanaut Frigate & Company

Arkanaut Frigate & Company. Credit: Envyus

Allegiance Abilities

Aether-Gold

Heroes, Skyvessels and Kharadron Overlords units of 10 or more models start the game with a one-use share of Aether-Gold. Once per phase, a unit can spend their share of Aether-Gold to gain the benefit of a triumph. For those unfamiliar, said triumphs are:

  • Inspired: Used before a unit shoots or fights – allows them to reroll failed hits until the end of the phase.
  • Bloodthirsty: Used before a unit shoots or fights – allows them to reroll failed wounds until the end of the phase.
  • Indomitable: Used before a unit has to make a save roll – allows them to reroll failed saves until the end of the phase.

Once a unit has used their share of Aether-Gold, they suffer a -1 penalty to their Bravery until the end of the game.

This is a very flexible ability because unlike Triumphs themselves, we can pick which benefit we get the moment we cash in the Aether-Gold share, rather than randomly be assigned one at the beginning of the game. This adaptability can either let us push the effectiveness of our ranged combat if we need to delete something right this second, or give a significant survivability boost to our more valuable units when they’re in great danger. Usually Indomitable will be the effect we cash in on, as losing any Skyvessel is a huge blow to our game plan, but there’s a case to be made for all three.

Stick to the Code

This is the ‘create your own skyport’ section, letting you customise a set of three special rules that you can apply to every unit with the relevant keyword. They come in three sets: Artycles, Amendments & Footnotes, and you pick one from each category to create your own skyport.

That said, none of the special rules in this section are very strong, and as this is a competitive focused article we will skip past these choices,as the Skyports provided in this book are a step-above in terms of effectiveness

 

Notable Abilities

There are a few abilities common to a number of warscrolls in this book, and it will help us discuss units in context later if we go over them now.

Flying Transport

This ability is found on the faction’s Skyvessels, and grants the unit the flight keyword, as well as the ability to garrison MARINE keyword troops (every model not rocking it’s own balloon to fly) inside. Said models gain the same benefits of cover and can be attacked, but attacks against them suffer a -1 to hit penalty. Models inside can attack, cast spells, and use most abilities, and distances are measured from the base of the Skyvessel as the models themselves are not technically on the battlefield. They can disembark in the movement phase, though to do so counts as their move.

Skyvessels suffer penalties to their movement abilities if they are heavily loaded with models, and once they have moved or flown high (see below), models inside may not disembark in the same phase. If the Skyvessel is destroyed, roll a D6 for each model inside, on a roll of a 1 that model is slain. Surviving models are set up within 3” of the Skyvessel model and outside of 3” of any enemy models, then the Skyvessel model itself is removed (any models unable to fit are destroyed). Models inside the Skyvessel do not count for the purposes of determining who controls an objective.

This is a unique ability to Kharadron Overlords, and gives MARINE troops a level of manoeuvrability other factions can only dream of. Loading up a flying boat with guns is a legitimate tactic, though this all-in approach does come with a drawback of giving your opponent an easy target to alpha strike against, so proceed with caution.

What you’ll likely find is that your foot heroes will be happy to seek refuge in a big ship for most of the game, disembarking at critical times to either help with scoring an objective, or to use abilities that are disabled when garrisoned inside. Troops on the other hand will likely ride to get closer to the enemy, before disembarking to take control of an area of the board. Unlike Fyreslayers and other dwarves, KO can really move and this gives us a great degree of board control we can use to our advantage.

Fly High

Instead of making a normal move (and provided they haven’t been significantly damaged), a Skyvessel can opt to fly high (it can retreat and disengage). To fly high is to essentially deep strike the model, so remove it from play and set it down at least 1” away from any terrain and more than 9” away from any enemy models.

This is a crazy powerful ability as it allows ships to jump all over the board depending on needs, or disengage from combat and get far away from any would be pursuers.

Hitchers

Units with a dirigible suit get this, so Endrinriggers, Skywardens and Endrinmasters with Dirigible Suit. Essentially, up to seven models with this ability can hitch a ride with a Skyvessel when it makes a Fly High move, provided they are wholly within 6”, haven’t moved yet this phase (as it counts as their movement), and when they touch down they are outside of 1” of any terrain, wholly within 6” of the Skyvessel they hitched to, and more than 9” away from enemy models. This is a fantastic ability because it means our Endrinriggers can teleport around with their Skyvessels to provide valuable screening, combat support and repairs. It’s a thematic ability that really enhances the way both our airborne troops and our Skyvessels operate.

Endrinrigger

Endrinrigger. Credit: Richyp

Skyports

Skyports are the subfactions that Kharadron Overlords can choose from, helping customise your army to fit a certain game plan. The standard trade-offs apply, where you can choose one and if you do so, you gain a new allegiance ability and command ability. In exchange you must take their Artycle, Amendment, Footnote, Command Trait (if possible) and the Skyport’s artefact as your first artefact.

Barak-Nar

The first skyport featured and the studio scheme, Barak-Nar is primarily interested in shutting down magic.

Skyport Ability: Scholars and Commanders – At the beginning of battle, roll a dice for each Barak-Nar hero, for each 4+ you receive 1 extra command point. With most lists generally running at most 3 heroes, you can on average expect 1 or 2 extra command points, pretty good! B-

Skyport Artycle: Respect Your Commanders – Re-roll battleshock tests for Barak-Nar units wholly within 12” of a friendly Barak-Nar hero. Our units have middling (6-7) Bravery so this will come up often, though it’s overshadowed by Barak-Nar’s command trait and the fact most affected units either can reroll battleshock natively or if they’re near an objective. D-

Skyport Amendment: Trust Aethermatics, Not Superstition – Each Barak-Nar hero can attempt to unbind 1 spell in the enemy hero phase (or unbind 1 more if they already can). This is a great blanket ability to have as it helps shore up one of our weaknesses. B

Skyport Footnote: Through Knowledge, Power – Add 1 to unbinding rolls for Barak-Nar Heroes. Paired with our amendment, this lets us have a reasonable chance of shutting down a lot of enemy magic. B

Skyport Command Trait: Champion of Progress – A Barak-Nar general must take this command trait. Do not take battleshock tests for friendly Barak-Nar units wholly within 12” of the general. A much better version of the Artycle from this skyport, a nice thing to have in a respectable Skyport. B

Skyport Artefact: Aethercharged Rune – The first Barak-Nar hero to receive an artefact must take this artefact. Once per battle, you can change either 1 hit roll from an attack from the bearer or 1 save roll for an attack targeting the bearer to the roll of your choice. It’s a nice-to-have, and you could combo this with an Endrinmaster in Endrinharness to get a one use guaranteed 3 mortal wounds, though more often than not it’ll be best saved to pass a save roll against a high powered attack. B

Note also that if your army is Barak-Nar, Grundstok Thunderers count as Battleline.

While not the most competitive of Skyports, there is nothing outright bad about this set of abilities either. Everything is solid and functional, as you would expect from the ‘default’ skyport. I would however note that while the anti-magic abilities are nice to have, they’re primarily going to be useful against armies that have light to medium levels of magic. Gaining +1 to dispel on a handful of unbinding attempts will still struggle to handle the magic heavy hitters on the competitive scene like Nagash, Teclis & Lord Kroak.

 

Barak-Zilfin

The Skyvessel skyport, offering big boosts to your Skyvessels and mobility. If you came to know which is the best for competitive play, it’s likely Barak-Zilfin.

Skyport Ability: Magnificent Skyvessels – You can choose 1 extra Skyvessel in your army to have a great endrinwork (essentially artefacts for Skyvessels). This is great, though as you get an extra endrinwork for each battalion you take, sometimes you have more endrinworks than Skyvessels to put them on, meaning this effect is wasted. B

Skyport Artycle: Master the Skies – Re-roll 1s to hit made by friendly Skyvessels that target units that can fly. Oftentimes the greatest threat to your ships will be flying monsters and heroes, so anything to boost your effectiveness against them is great. Limited in scope but comes up more often than you might think. B-

Skyport Amendment: Don’t Argue With the Wind – In your movement phase, if you run with a unit, don’t roll a dice and instead just add 6” to the movement characteristic of that unit for that phase. This is incredibly powerful as guaranteeing that your units can really hoof it when they need to takes a lot of the guesswork out of your movement phase and ensures you can get on Objectives when you need to. 10” movement Arkanauts! Madness! A

Skyport Footnote: There’s Always a Breeze If You Look For It – Once per battle, in your hero phase, 1 friendly Barak-Zilfin unit can make a normal move (it can run, retreat or disengage). As per our FAQ, you can use this move to Fly High with a skyvessel, and Balloon dwarfs can hitch a ride too. It’s a fairly innocuous ability until you realise that said unit and anything that hitched a ride can subsequently move, shoot and charge in the following phases. Putting an Ironclad, an Endrinmaster, 6 Endrinriggers and whatever else is stashed inside the Ironclad into your opponents deployment zone turn one is a crazy powerful trick, and we haven’t even touched on how it combos with Spell in a Bottle yet… A+++

Skyport Command Trait: Master Commander – A Barak-Zilfin general that is an Arkanaut Admiral must take this command trait. If your general is alive and on the battlefield, each time you spend a command point on a command ability on the Admiral’s warscroll, roll a dice. On a 5+ receive 1 extra command point. This is a bit of a clunker as this is locked to your Admiral’s warscroll CA, but as this only must be taken if an Admiral is your general, you can easily avoid having to take this. D

Skyport Artefact: Staff of Ocular Optimisation – The first Barak-Zilfin hero to receive an artefact must take this artefact. Pick 1 of the bearer’s missile weapons and add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made with it. This is statistically a nice boost, though most of our heroes don’t have particularly great missile weapons other than our Endrinmaster, who can use it to great effect on their weapon battery or Aethercannon. B+ on flying Endrinmaster / D for everything else.

Note also that if your army is Barak-Zilfin, Arkanaut Frigates count as Battleline.

The movement phase is a huge part of Age of Sigmar, and having access to not one but two powerful tricks to add to our already amazing mobility lets us truly take advantage of any crack in our opponents armor, or seize opportunities that arise on missions like Shifting Objectives that might require us to relocate significant parts of our army in a hurry. A stinker of a Command Trait would normally weigh this Skyport down, but as it’s locked to Admirals only we can avoid it and everything else that’s here is good to great.

 

Barak-Zon

The melee skyport, focused around giving a boost to our infantry in the combat phase.

Skyport Ability: Deeds, Not Words – Add 1 to wound rolls for melee attacks made by Skyfarers (everything that isn’t a Skyvessel) that charged in the same turn. Add 1 to hit rolls for melee attacks made by Skywardens units that charged in the same turn. Most of our melee units are either already wounding on 2s (Endrinriggers, Admiral, Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit) or aren’t very good in melee in the first place (Arkanaut Company, every support hero) so the first part of the ability isn’t that relevant. That said, Skywardens take advantage of both of these boosts to upgrade their 4+/3+ melee profile to a much more respectable 3+/2+ profile, giving them a significant upgrade that takes them from largely inferior to the Endrinriggers to melee monsters in their own right. If they make the charge. B-

Skyport Artycle: Honour is Everything – You can reroll 1s to hit with Barak-Zon heroes that target a Hero or Monster. This is a fun and fluffy boost to our Combat heroes, and while our heroes don’t make the best duelists, it’s hard not to resist setting up a cinematic showdown. C+

Skyport Amendment: Leave No Duardin Behind – Add 2 to the Bravery of friendly Skyfarers units while they are wholly within 12” of a friendly Skyvessel. While not as good as Battleshock immunity, this is a nice helping hand to a Skyport that’s much more likely than other skyports to load up on large amounts of infantry. C+

Skyport Footnote: Show Them Your Steel – Once per battle, in your hero phase, 1 unit that is garrisoned on a Skyvessel can disembark, setting up wholly within 3” of the Skyvessel and more than 9” from any enemy units. This is useful as it means a unit can get out of a Skyvessel and still move in the subsequent movement phase, though it’s much inferior to the Footnote of Zilfin as it’s far more narrow. C-

Skyport Artefact: Bearer of the Ironstar – A Barak-Zon general must take this command trait. The first time this general is slain, roll a dice. On a 2+, they are not slain and instead heak D3 wounds (any further wounds remaining to be allocated to them are negated). This is a fun little boost when combined with this Skyports artefact, as you can create a fun hero hunter that can stand up to a reasonable amount of punishment. B-

Skyport Artefact: Aethersped Hammer – The first Barak-Zon hero to receive an artefact must take this artefact. Pick 1 of the bearer’s melee weapons and add 2 to it’s attacks characteristic. This is great on Admirals and Endrinmasters, who sport  2 and D3 damage melee weapons respectively. I have on occasion run a flying Endrinmaster with this artefact & the Ironstar and sent him off hero hunting to great effect, just make sure to soften larger targets a little with his ranged attacks first. A personal favourite. A-

Barak-Zon is a bit of an odd beast because it pushes us to engage in a phase of the game that KO typically struggle with – the combat phase. If you have a number of Skywardens you want to see on the table, here is a good place to start, and though you don’t have the ability to weather prolonged engagements, it’s more than possible to find some success by picking your moments and crashing down on an exposed flank with a combined arms approach. That said, you can approximate most of the feel of this skyport by just taking Endrinriggers, leaving a Skyport that’s fun as hell but not necessarily the best choice for competition.

 

Barak-Urbaz

All about that Aether-Gold baby, time to get paid.

Skyport Ability: The Market City – Units don’t subtract 1 from Bravery when they spend their share of Aether-gold. Useful for situations when we don’t have battleshock immunity, as every morale loss is sorely felt for this faction. C+

Skyport Artycle: Seek New Prospects – You can reroll battleshock tests for friendly KO units while they are wholly within your opponent’s territory. Useful in a pinch but being limited to enemy territory is lame, and most units that would stand to benefit from this already have battleshock rerolls (Thunderers from their banner bearer, Arkanauts for being near an objective). D-

Skyport Amendment: Always Take What You Are Owed – Pick up to D3 different friendly KO units, each of those units starts with 1 share of Aether-gold in addition to any they normally receive. This is great on big units of Thunderers or our bigger Skyvessels, who can put reroll hits or reroll saves to very, very good use. A

Skyport Footnote: Where There’s War, There’s Gold – Once per battle, at the end of the combat phase, 1 friendly Skyfarers (non-Skyvessel) unit that fought in that phase gains 1 share of aether-gold. This is a narrow but still relevant ability, letting us replenish the shares of a Thunderer unit stuck in prolonged combat, or a unit of Endrinriggers that have swarmed onto an objective but now need to survive the following turn. B-

Skyport Command Trait: Khemist Supreme – A Barak-Urbaz general that is also an Aether-Khemist must take this command trait. Their Aetheric Augmentation ability can now affect 2 units a turn, rather than 1. While this might seem like a powerful ability (everyone loves sources of reroll wounds), the problem is that the timing of the Aetheric Augmentation ability is such that it’s hard to frequently take advantage of it. The ability cannot be used inside a garrison, and heroes must disembark in the movement phase (so after the hero phase). What this means is that there will be a delay between when a Khemist gets out of a Skyvessel and when they can subsequently buff units. Will there be two units wholly in range to receive the benefit by then? C-

Skyport Great Endrinwork: Breath of Morgrim – The first Skyvessel to receive a great endrinwork must be given this one. In your shooting phase, you can pick 1 enemy unit and roll a dice for each model from that unit within 6” of the bearer. For each 6, that unit suffers 1 mortal wound. Ironclads have pretty big bases so you can potentially roll quite a few dice, but statistically you would need to be near at least 12 models before you’re even doing 2 mortal wounds, and do you really want to leave an expensive Skyvessel that close to so many models? Stick it on a Gunhauler and throw it near a screen if you really need to take advantage of this. C-

Note also that if your army is Barak-Urbaz, Grundstok Gunhaulers count as Battleline.

If you’re taking this it’s likely for one of two reasons: you have an unhealthy (but understandable) love for Gunhaulers and want to do away with the need for Skyfarer units to fill your battleline slots. Alternatively, you’re a big believer in the Aether-Gold mechanic, which can really help with alpha strikes. But really, it’s because you want to run 10 Gunhaulers and hum flight of the valkyries, isn’t it? I get it. I think with the recent price drops to our Skyvessels, it is somewhat of an interesting idea to stack as many d6 damage cannons into a list as you can and play keep away the entire game, but until it’s proven on the tournament circuit, buyer beware.

 

Barak-Mhornar

This is the shifty skyport, with abilities themed around morale and messing with your opponent.

Skyport Ability: Fearsome Raiders – Subtract 1 from the Bravery of enemy units within 6” of your units. Those of you keeping score so far in AOS 2.0 should be aware that Bravery mechanics are of questionable usefulness when BS immunity is so widespread. F

Skyport Artycle: Seek New Prospects – You can reroll battleshock tests for friendly KO units while they are wholly within your opponent’s territory. Useful in a pinch but being limited to enemy territory is lame, and most units that would stand to benefit from this already have battleshock rerolls (Thunderers from their banner bearer, Arkanauts for being near an objective). D-

Skyport Amendment: Prosecute Wars With All Haste – On your first turn, friendly KO units can run and still shoot later in the turn. Useful for your foot units without a Skyvessel to ride in, but a weird choice when Fly High achieves better mobility and still lets you shoot anyway. C-

Skyport Footnote: Who Strikes First, Strikes Hardest – Once per battle, at the start of your combat phase you can pick a unit to fight first (it may not fight again unless an ability or spell allows it to). This is useful for getting two activations when you’re engaged in multiple combats, but this generally isn’t a situation you’ll want to find yourself in often. Strong ability for the wrong faction. B-

Command Trait: Opportunistic Privateer: A Barak-Mhornar general must take this command trait. If this general is garrisoned on a Skyvessel, that Skyvessel can essentially Fly High for free after armies are set up but before the first battle round begins. If you do so, models inside can’t get out and the Skyvessel cannot make a normal move in the first battle round. Useful for Spell in a Bottle shenanigans (we’ll get to it) but not much else, you could start the game on an opposing objective which is pretty neat. B
Artefact: Galeforce Stave – The first Barak-Mhornar Navigator to receive an artefact must take this artefact. At the start of the enemy charge phase, you can pick an enemy unit within 12” of the bearer and halve any charge rolls that unit makes in that phase. A powerful ability that can help protect your front lines from costly melee combat. A-

A mixed bag of abilities that overall don’t add up to much – this Skyport more than most feels like the designers didn’t have a firm idea as to how the Skyport should actually play, leading to a confused mess that doesn’t lend itself particularly well to any specialised game plan.

 

Barak-Thryng

The old-fashioned Skyport. Unlocks access to Duardin keyword units as part of your main army, and gives you some good ol’ fashioned Grudges.

Skyport Ability: Incredibly Stubborn – If a friendly skyfarers model is slain while within 3” of an enemy unit, roll a dice. On a 4+, that model can fight before it is removed from play. Getting an out of sequence attack with 50% of your models that die in combat is pretty nice, but as it doesn’t benefit drafted in Duardin, our best punches come from Endrinriggers and Skywardens. C+

Skyport Article: Chronicle of Grudges – After armies are set up but before the first battle round begins, pick up to 3 different enemy units. You can re-roll hit rolls of 1 for attacks made by friendly Barak-Thryng units that target those units. This is a very good ability that grants army wide re-rolls against your opponents 3 best units? Yes please. A

Skyport Amendment: Take Help Where You Can Get It – 1 in 4 units in your army can be a Duardin unit. Those units gain the Barak-Thryng keyword (though they can’t be your general and they do not count towards the number of battleline units in your army. A powerful draw to this Skyport, as bringing a brick of Hearthguard Berzerkers and their buddy the deep striking priest can give you the melee punch and durability KO otherwise lacks. Note that these units don’t get the Skyfarer keyword, so they do not benefit from the Incredibly Stubborn ability, nor can they ride in Skyvessels as they lack the Marine keyword. A

Skyport Footnote: Honour the Gods, Just in Case – Once per battle, at the start of your shooting phase or a combat phase, pick 1 friendly Barak-Thryng unit. Until the end of the phase, unmodified hit rolls of 6 cause 1 additional hit (make a wound and save roll for each hit). A nice one time buff for a big unit of thunderers that need to delete something, or some Hammerers/Berserkers/Ironbreakers if they’ve made a successful charge. Simple, but effective. B+

Skyport Command Trait: Supremely Stubborn – A Barak-Thryng general must take this command trait. This model’s fight on death stubborn ability triggers on a 2+ rather than a 4+. Nice to have, not mind blowing. C

Skyport Artefact: GRUDGEHAMMER – The first Barak-Thryng Skyfarer Hero to receive an artefact of power must be given the GRUDGEHAMMER. Pick one of the bearer’s melee weapons, it becomes THE GRUDGEHAMMER. Add 1 to hit rolls for attacks made by THE GRUDGEHAMMER. In addition, if the unmodified wound roll for an attack made by THE GRUDGEHAMMER is a 6, and is targeting an enemy unit picked by the Chronicle of Grudges ability, that attack deals D3 mortal wounds in addition to any normal damage. I love this artefact so much – statistically it’s not likely to do too much, but an Admiral or an Endrinmaster can deal some serious hurt with THE GRUDGEHAMMER. B- (S+++ in Ellarr’s heart)

Honestly I think this Skyport has a lot of untapped potential that we may start to see now that Kharadron Overlords are becoming more prevalent in the tournament scene. KO’s typical weakness is resilient bodies on objectives, which other books can provide in spades between Longbeards, Ironbreakers & Hearthguard Berzerkers. Obviously there are limitations that mean you can’t suddenly have Gotrek jumping off an Ironclad screaming bloody murder, but I think there’s something here for Admirals willing to try it.

Arkanaut Admiral

Arkanaut Admiral. Credit: Tiger Millionaire

Command Traits

These are broken down by keyword, so Admirals, Endrinmasters, Navigators and Khemists. There are some shared command traits, which I will cover first. Unlike some other books, certain Skyports don’t lock you into a certain Command Trait unless you make a certain unit your General, so you will often find yourself picking one of these.

Shared Command Traits:

Admirals, Endrinmasters, Navigators and Khemists:

  • Wealthy: This general starts the battle with 2 shares of aether-gold instead of 1. Mediocre. C-
  • Tough as Old Boots: +2 to their Wounds characteristic. A 10 wound Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit is certainly tempting, but there are more enticing choices. B-

Admirals, Endrinmasters and Khemists:

  • Grudgebearer: After armies are set up, pick 1 enemy Hero. Double the damage inflicted by weapons used by this general that target that Hero. Regrettably we can not take this command trait with Barak-Thryng for maximum GRUDGEHAMMER, but this is a deceptively powerful command trait as it turns the Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit into a grudge powered murder missile, as it works on all of his ranged profiles *AND* his melee profile. 2 Damage Weapon battery? 2D3 Damage Aethercannon? Yes please. In some matchups that aren’t hero reliant this isn’t a big deal, but when it’s good, it’s great. A

Arkanaut Admiral Command Traits (Lords of the Sky-Fleets)

  • Cunning Fleetmaster: After armies are set up, but before the first battle round begins, you can make a normal move with 1 Skyvessel. If it’s not an Arkanaut Ironclad, it can fly high. This is very good for much the same reason that Barak-Zilfin’s one use hero phase move is good, though locking the ability to fly high with an Ironclad does hold it’s potential back somewhat. Note that this happens before the game begins, so be careful about exposing your Skyvessel by moving it further from your forces if you don’t have priority turn one. B
  • War Wound: Roll a dice for this general in your hero phase. On a 1 he’s nursing his injury and subtracts 1 from all hit rolls until your next turn, on a 2+ you receive 1 command point. Nice CP generator. B-
  • A Scholar and an Arkanaut: You can pick an extra footnote for your army. You cannot pick a footnote your army already has. Footnotes are the one use abilities. For reference, you can pick to re-roll a charge roll for a friendly KO unit, allow a unit that has run and/or retreated to still shoot and/or charge, or heal D3 wounds on a friendly Skyvessel. You must pick at army creation. C-

Endrinmaster Command Traits (Senior Endrineers)

  • Grandmaster: When you use this general’s Endrinmaster ability (repair a Skyvessel), add 1 to the number of wounds healed. Solid but unexciting, most useful for a foot Endrinmaster you intend to park in an Ironclad all game. C+
  • Great Tinkerer: Add 2 to the attacks characteristic of this general’s Gaze of Grungni weapon. This is the 9” range eye laser that Endrinmasters get. Two extra D3 damage attacks aren’t something to sneeze at. B-
  • Endrinprofessor: Once in each of your hero phases, this general can use the ‘By Grungni, I have My Eye On You!’ Command ability without a command point being spent. To clarify, this CA let’s Endrinriggers that are attempting to heal a Skyvessel reroll any failed heal rolls. It’s a great Command Ability and getting to use it free every turn is great. B

Aetheric Navigator Command Traits (Readers of the Guiding Winds)

  • Stormcaller: When this general uses their Aetherstorm ability, you can re-roll the dice which determines its effect. This is nice to have when expecting to face an army with lots of flying units, but if you’re going into a tournament setting you can’t count on this even being relevant in certain matchups. D
  • Ride the Winds: Add 3” to the Move characteristic of a Skyvessel this Navigator is in. Not super relevant when the Fly High ability exists, but if you want to get really close to unload a broadside, a 13” move Ironclad is nice to have. C+
  • Sceptic: Add 1 to dispelling and unbinding rolls for this general. Decent but not good enough against the top tier magic threats you would want to take a trait like this against. C+
  • Diviner: After armies are set up, pick 1 terrain feature or objective, do not take battleshock tests for friendly KO units while wholly within 12” of that terrain or objective. Stick it on a central objective and forget about the bravery mechanic, what’s not to like? A

Aether-Khemist Command Traits (Alchemical Innovators)

  • A Nose for Gold: Roll a dice for this general in your hero phase. On a 5+, they gain a share of Aether-gold. Why do you care about Aether-gold on a support hero? If you’re in a situation when you need to reroll saves with him, things have gone badly wrong. D
  • Genius in the Making: The range of this general’s Aetheric Augmentation ability is 18” instead of 12”. This is nice for letting your Khemist keep a safe distance away from the enemy and still grant reroll wound rolls of 1 to a unit on the frontlines. C-
  • Collector: If you choose this general to have an artefact, you can choose 1 extra friendly Hero to have an artefact. This is good. This is very good. This is great. Take this if you’re not taking Grudgebearer on a combat hero. A+

Artefacts of Power

Kharadron Overlords have a number of powerful and game changing artefacts, so using either the Collector Command Trait or a battalion to unlock extra artefacts is a good plan as you’ll likely want at least one of these. These are split out by hero type, as with the Command Traits.

Arkanaut Admiral Artefacts (Perks of Rank)

  • Masterwrought Armor: Grants a 6+ ward save to the Admiral. Nice to have as it stacks with the Protect the Admiral ability to make him deceptively hard to kill. He’s not a critical part of any gameplan though and this is a luxury at best. C+
  • Hammer of Aetheric Might: Unmodified hit rolls of 6 with his melee weapon now inflict 1 mortal wound on the target in addition to its normal damage. The admiral has 3 attacks. Don’t bother. F
  • Gattleson’s Endless Repeater: Add 2 to the attacks characteristic of the bearer’s Volley Pistol. It’s a 1 damage weapon with 9” range. Don’t Bother. F
  • Rune of Mark: After armies are set up, pick 1 enemy Hero. If that enemy Hero is slain, you can give 1 share of Aether-gold to the 3 closest friendly KO units to that hero. This is a pretty good reward for blowing up a hero you were planning on killing anyway, replenishing spent Aether Gold on nearby Skyvessels or helping whatever killed the Hero weather the counterattack. B+
  • Flask of Vintage Amberwhisky: Once per battle in your hero phase, you can either heal d6 wounds on the Admiral or up to 2 instead. Your admiral isn’t so vital to your game plan that you need to keep him alive, so for similar reasons to the Masterwrought Armor… C
  • Proclamator Mask-hailer: Once per battle round, this general can use a command ability on their warscroll without a command point being spent. Nice to get free uses of reroll 1s for the Skyvessel he’s garrisoned on I suppose. C+

Aetheric Navigator Artefacts (Aethermatic Instruments)

  • Cyclonic Aethometer: When you use the bearer’s Aetherstorm ability, add 1 to the dice roll that determines its effect. This guarantees you can always at least slow down a flying unit a turn, but then why are you investing so much in an ability you can’t guarantee is going to come up every round in a tournament? D
  • Svaregg-Stein ‘Illuminator’ Flarepistol: It’s a freaking flaregun! The first time in a battle that the bearer’s Ranging Pistol scores a hit on an enemy unit, you can re-roll hit rolls for attacks made by other friendly KO units that target that enemy unit in the same phase. It’s a huge flavour win that acts like a Markerlight for Tau, and getting full hit re-rolls across your entire army against a specific target is a powerful effect. One use only. A-
  • Voidstone Orb: Once per battle, when attempting to unbind or dispel, do not roll the dice and the ability is automatically successful. Powerful effect to shut down a critical spell, always worth consideration. A-

Endrinmaster with Endrinharness Artefacts (Ingenious Gadgets)

  • Cogmonculus: Once per phase, you can re-roll 1 hit or wound roll made by the bearer, or re-roll 1 save roll targeting the bearer. C-
  • Aetherquartz Monolens: Gaze of Grungni’s range is upped to 18” from 9”. Long range eye laser! C-
  • Seismic Shock-gauntlets: After the bearer makes a charge move, pick an enemy unit within 1” and roll a dice. On a 2+, that unit takes D3 mortal wounds. Nice little damage dealer if you’re intending to use the Endrinmaster as an assassin, but locking it to just the foot Endrinmaster limits its potential. C-

Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit Artefacts (Ingenious Gadgets)

  • Aether-Injection Boosters: When the bearer retreats, they can use the disengage and Fly High abilities from the Grundstok Gunhauler warscroll. Getting to fly high with an Endrinmaster is pretty cool for getting them out of harms way, but how many combats is an Endrinmaster likely to survive to get to use this ability in the first place? C+
  • Phosphorite Bomblets: Once per battle in your shooting phase, you can pick 1 unit within 6” of this model and roll a dice. On a 2+, that unit suffers 1 mortal wound and you can roll again. Keep rolling until either the target is destroyed or you roll a 1. This has the potential to straight up delete any unit in the game, the question is simply how lucky do you feel? A+
  • Miniaturized Aethermatic Repulsion Field: Each time the bearer is affected by a spell or an endless spell, roll a dice. On a 3+, ignore the effects of the spell on that bearer. A rare form of spell defence for one of our heroes, which is something I suppose. D

Aether-Khemist Artefacts (Aether-Gold Inventions)

  • Emergency Ventplates: Once per battle, at the start of the enemy shooting phase, you can use the ventplates. If you do so, subtract 1 from hit rolls for attacks that target the bearer or any friendly unit wholly within 6” of the bearer. Okay so let’s be up front – GW screwed up and forgot to put an expiry point on this, and failed to errata this when they released the FAQ for the battletome either. RAW, this ability never shuts off and creates a smoke cloud so dank that no attack could hope to penetrate it. That said, if you ever used this trick in a game I would fully support your opponent flipping you off and giving you a wedgie. RAW: S+ FUCK YOU, RAI: B-
  • Caustic Anatomiser: Once per battle, at the start of the combat phase, you can say that the bearer will use the anatomiser. If you do, roll a dice for each enemy model within 6” of the bearer, for each 5+ that model’s unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This artefact had the misfortune of sitting between two very good artefacts. Why are you still reading this? D
  • Spell in a Bottle: Pick 1 Endless spell. Any endless spell can be chosen (all restrictions are ignored) but you must pay any points required for the model. Once per battle, the bearer can automatically cast that endless spell (do not roll 2D6), and it cannot be unbound.

    So this is probably the coolest artefact in the game, and arguably it’s most powerful. When it says ignore all restrictions, it means it. Everblaze Comet? Sure. Soulscream Bridge? Go right ahead. Warp Lightning Vortex? Be my guest. You might say that being one use only sucks and so does paying the points for it. But I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong. I could spend the next 8000 words breaking down every Endless Spell in the game and it’s merits, but let’s limit this discussion to one of particular value to the KO: Warp Lightning Vortex.

    Warp Lightning Vortex is a series of 3 models on bases, the first of which is placed up to 13” away from the caster, and the other two exactly 7” away such that it creates a triangle. Once the bases are placed, roll a dice for each unit within 6” of at least 1 of the bases. Add 1 to the roll if its within 6” of at least two, and add 2 to the roll if its within 6” of all three (i.e. models are inside the triangle). On a 4+, deal D3 mortal wounds to the unit. On an unmodified roll of a 6, deal D6 mortal wounds to the unit. Units cannot run or fly while they are within 6” of any of the WLV models. The MW bomb then triggers at the end of each subsequent movement phase, yours and your opponents.

    What this means is that it will trigger a minimum of two times, and if you get a double turn it could theoretically trigger three times before your opponent even gets a chance to interact with it. This is insanely powerful and can win you the game outright with decent rolls and if your opponent is foolish enough to clump up their forces. Anyway, I have to give this a grade, so let’s just say S+++ why aren’t you taking this artefact, take it. TAKE IT.

Great Endrinworks

You may pick 1 Skyvessel to have a Great Endrinwork, and one additional vessel can take one for each Warscroll battalion in your army. A Skyvessel can’t have two Endrinworks and you cannot have duplicate Endrinworks across your army.

Arkanaut Ironclad Endrinworks (Ironclad Major Installations)

  • The Last Word: At the end of the enemy charge phase you can pick 1 enemy unit that finished a charge move within 3” of this model. This model can shoot at that unit with it’s big gun (Great Sky Cannon, Great Skyhook or Great Volley Cannon). Let’s you pseudo overwatch with your big gun at no penalty. Potentially game wrecking if you roll hot. B+
  • Hegsson Solutions ‘Old Reliable’ Hullplates: Add 2 to the wounds characteristic. I’ve always felt that your opponent is going to one round your Ironclad, or it’ll get away and repair back up. D
  • Ebullient Buoyancy Aid: This model can fly high and/or disengage even while it has a garrison of 16 or more models. This is a big deal as suddenly you can cram in 20 thunderers and some heroes into your Ironclad and still dump it right in front of your enemy turn 1 (provided that is a sound tactical decision). A
  • Prudency Chutes: If this model is destroyed, you don’t have to roll to see if any models in the garrison die as they bail out. Nice to have if you expect your Ironclad to blow up, but you have problems if you expect your Ironclad to blow up. C
  • Magnificent Omniscope: Add 2” to this model’s Move characteristic. Not massively compelling when Fly High exists. D
  • Zonbarcop ‘Dealbreaker’ Battle Ram: Grants the Ironclad what amounts to the Trampling Charge ability that Ogor Mawtribes units get. For those unaware, after the Ironclad makes a charge move you may pick an enemy unit within 1” of this model and roll a number of dice equal to the charge roll for that charge move. For each 3+, that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This is the part where I mention that you can strap a Great Skyhook onto the Ironclad to give it +2 to charge rolls, and point out that on average this thing will do like 5 mortal wounds to an enemy unit if the Ironclad made it into combat. You’ve always wanted to smear a pointy elf across your ship figurehead, you just didn’t realise it until today. A-

Arkanaut Frigate Endrinworks (Frigate Refittings)

  • Magnificent Omniscope: Add 2” to this model’s Move characteristic. No thanks. D
  • Prudency Chutes: If this model is destroyed, you don’t have to roll to see if any models in the garrison die as they bail out. Same as for the Ironclad, though more relevant here as the Frigate isn’t nearly as tough. C+
  • Malefic Skymines: Once per battle at the start of the combat phase, you can target a flying unit within 6” of this model and roll a dice. On a 1, nadda. On a 2-3, D3 mortal wounds. On a 4+ that unit suffers D6 mortal wounds. It’s definitely potent, however being locked to one use and only working against units that can fly really limit the likelihood you would want to submit this for a five round tournament. D

Grundstok Gunhauler Endrinworks (Gunhauler Modifications)

  • Iggrind-Kaz Surge-injection Endrin Mk. IV: When this model makes a normal move, you can add d3” to the move… or 2d3” and roll a dice, taking a mortal wound if you roll a double. Fly High does rather negate many of the need for something like this, though it’s worth noting that between this, Ahead Full & the Gunhauler’s base movement, you could theoretically fly 24” in a single movement phase before you even factor in running. C
  • Zonbarcorp ‘Debtsettler’ Spar Torpedo: Once per battle, after this model makes its first charge move, you can pick 1 enemy unit within 1” of this model and roll a dice. On a 2+, that unit takes D6 mortal wounds. Between this and Bomb Racks you can potentially dump a number of mortal wounds onto an unsuspecting support hero or harassing unit taking a point. It’s a one use trick but it’s high powered and can sometimes help you make back the points for the Gunhauler in a single turn. B+
  • Coalbeard’s Collapsible Compartments: Grants the Gunhauler the ability to Fly High and transport up to 5 models as if it were an Ironclad. Limit of 5 models means you’re basically looking at 5 Thunderers or a taxi for a hero or two which limits its usefulness somewhat. Much better in smaller games. C+
Credit: Ellarr

Credit: Ellarr

Battalions

There are four in the book, but we’ll discard the narrative focused Grand Armada as it’s far too expensive for matched play. There was also a battalion bundled with Aether War that was matched play legal, but that recently got changed to opponent’s permission so we’ll skip that one too.

Grundstok Escort Wing – 2-3 Grundstok Gunhaulers, 1 Arkanaut Ironclad or Arkanaut Frigate, 1 Grundstok Thunderers unit, 0-3 Skywarden units. At the start of your shooting phase, pick 1 enemy unit. Units in this battalion reroll 1’s to hit against that unit for the phase. A great battalion for Barak-Zon who are interested in Skywardens, and for other Skyports this still represents good value as many Skyvessel based armies will have the units in this battalion anyway. No hero slots however. B

Iron Sky Attack Squadron – 2+ Arkanaut Frigates, 1 Arkanaut Company unit for each Frigate. Arkanaut company units can disembark from the Frigates after they’ve moved in the movement phase, not just before. Roll 3d6” for their charges the turn they jump out of their ride. This is a very cool Battalion thematically, however the reality is Arkanauts simply don’t stand up to most other faction’s melee units, and the narrow slots means you’re unlikely to be low drop with this battalion either. C-

Iron Sky Command – 0-1 Arkanaut Admiral or Brokk Grungsson, 1 Arkanaut Ironclad, 3 units in any combination of Endrinmaster (both types), Aether-Khemist, Aetheric Navigator, 1 Arkanaut Company unit, 1-3 Endrinriggers units. Do not take battleshock tests for units in this battalion within 18” of the Ironclad. Immunity to battleshock is very good no doubt, but the real appeal of this battalion is that it has so many slots and enough wriggle room to let you put most of a 2k army in if you want to and get a nice low drop army. Most competitive lists running an Ironclad are taking this Battalion for very good reason. A

Credit: Miles Benjamin

Units

Leaders

Aether-Khemist

We start off with a dedicated support unit that really isn’t capable of putting up much of a fight (and you shouldn’t expect it to). If you bring this hero, it’s for his buffs and debuffs. Firstly, provided he isn’t in a Garrison, he can (in his hero phase) grant a nearby Skyfarer unit reroll 1’s to wound until your next hero phase. This is obviously powerful, though it won’t work on your Skyvessels and as you can’t use it inside a Garrison you have to expose him to the outside world for a turn before he can get his buff on. He also bestows a -1 to hit penalty to enemy models within 3”, which is useful if he finds himself in a fight. But really, you’re probably bringing him for Spell in a Bottle.

Aetheric Navigator

Our dedicated air traffic controller, the Navigator is capable of dispelling and/or unbinding once per turn as if he were a wizard. His Aetherstorm ability lets you half the movement of an enemy flying unit until your next hero phase (and on rolling a 6 deal D3 mortal wounds too). Rounding out his skillset, if you didn’t use Aetherstorm that turn, he passively grants reroll runs and charges to all Skyvessels that the Navigator can see. He’s absolutely pants in a fight and unless you’re having him sit on an objective he’ll probably want to spend the whole game inside a Frigate or Ironclad. He’s cheap and cheerful and at the very least lets us interact with spellcasters which is nice.

Arkanaut Admiral

The first of our more combat orientated heroes. The admiral has an incidental pistol and a fairly enticing statline for a 120 point model. 6 wounds and a 3+ save, 3 attacks at 3+/2+/-2/2 and reroll 1s to hit and wound against other heroes and monsters might not seem like much, but he can at least hold his own in a fight. If a friendly Skyfarer unit with 5 or more models nearby, he can pass off wounds to them on a 5+ meaning he can be annoyingly resilient to fight when he’s in a Skyvessel (effective 2+ save, -1 to hit, and ⅓ of the wounds you deal are likely to get shunted on to a Thunderer or Arkanaut unit). He also has 3 command abilities, 2 of which are either the same or outright worse than basic command abilities (Volley Fire, Forward to Victory). The third let’s you grant +1 to hit with melee weapons for all models inside a Skyvessel the admiral is inside for that combat phase – nice little bonus but nothing major. Unfortunately the Admiral warscroll just isn’t very good, and you’re rarely likely to want to take the Admiral over a Gunhauler for near the same points cost.

Brokk Grungsson, Lord-Magnate of Barak-Nar

Brokk is one of two of our named characters, and he’s mostly a pile of guns and attacks strapped to a balloon.  Despite being keyworded to Barak-Nar, you can take him in other skyports (though they won’t receive his command ability and their abilities largely won’t affect him). He’s got three different fairly decent ranged guns, and in melee he’s got 4 attacks at 3+/2+/-2/D3, with 6s to hit causing D3 mortal wounds instead. He can hitch a ride like other similar units, and his command ability grants a reroll charges bubble to friendly Barak-Nar units within 24”. He’s good but he’s 30 points more than an Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit for a little more punch and a lot less synergy.

Endrinmaster with Endrinharness

The first of two Endrinmasters, this is the foot version. He’s got a 9” range D3 damage eye laser that hopefully you’ll remember exists, and a melee profile of 3 attacks at 3+/3+/-1/D3, with 6s to hit causing 3 mortal wounds instead. He can heal D3 wounds to a Skyvessel within 1” at the beginning of the Hero phase, and his command ability let’s you reroll the dice used to determine how many wounds a unit of Endrinriggers repair on a Skyvessel. At 100 point’s he’s fairly cheap for what you get, and in situations where you want to take a Sky Command Battalion but are strapped for points, you might consider this guy over the Dirigible Suit version.

Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit

A new addition to the faction, this Endrinmaster has been spending time in the workshop, boasting a 3+ save, 8 wounds, a 12” move and the flight keyword. He’s got a weapon battery and an aethercannon in addition to the basic eye laser for ranged output, and his melee profile is upgraded with 3 attacks at 3+/2+/-2/D3, though his 6s no longer deal mortal wounds instead. His repair ability is a flat 3 wounds, he can hitch a ride with a Skyvessel and he has the same command ability as the foot version. Lastly, having him as your general unlocks Endrinriggers and Skywardens as battleline, which is hugely beneficial to many lists that may want to avoid Arkanaut Company for synergy reasons. At 190 points he’s a steal, and most lists start with this guy as your general.

Bjorgen Thundrik & His Profiteers

This unit from Shadespire comes in two parts, Bjorgen himself and a mini unit of his companions. Bjorgen is basically a named character Khemist who is locked to the Barak-Nar keyword and grants rerolling 1s to hit with his Aetheric Augmentation ability rather than to wound. His Profiteers are a unit of four models amounting to 5 wounds, all with fairly good weapons. 140 points for the lot is fairly cheap as you’re effectively getting a unit to sit on objectives for 50 points free with your variant Khemist, but you can’t give him Artefacts and they won’t fit in any battalions. Hobby pro tip: buying this squad and running Bjorgen as a Khemist is almost the same price as buying the Khemist blister pack and gets you some unique sculpts for your other units.

Credit: Miles Benjamin

Battleline

Arkanaut Company

Oft-maligned by certain elements of the Kharadron Overlord community, the Arkanauts are actually fairly efficient for what you get. 90 points gets you 10 wounds with a 4+ save and a share of Aether gold to reroll said saves once per game. They each have 2 9” pistol shots at 4+/4+, and their sabres certainly look menacing. They reroll battleshock within 9” of an objective and gain +1 to hit with all their weapons. 3 in every 10 can swap their pistol and sabre for one each of a hard hitting Skypike, a 6 shot machine gun and a 18” D3 damage gun. 4” movement means they either need transport or good run rolls to get to where they need to go, but once they get there they sit on objectives and score points rather efficiently.

 

Behemoths

Arkanaut Frigate

Battleline if Barak-Zilfin

The first of our three Skyvessels, the Frigate acts as a medium class battleship that sits somewhere between the skirmishing Gunhauler and the death star Ironclad. Has a transport capacity of 15, though more than 10 will shut off your ability to Fly High meaning you have to make meaningful decisions between protecting your heroes or transporting some infantry. The Frigate itself has 14 wounds and a 4+ save, and 12” movement base which degrades as it gets damaged. It automatically heals 1 wound a turn and natively may re-roll any run roll. If the Frigate has taken less than 10 wounds (and it’s not in melee with any flying units), it can disengage and fly high without disabling its ability to subsequently shoot which helps you stay on the move and effective (just make sure you keep this and your Ironclads away from any flying models).

In terms of armaments, it can choose between a Heavy Sky Cannon and the Heavy Skyhook. The Sky Cannon can choose between shrapnel shot or shells each time it fires – the shrapnel is a 24” range d6 attack weapon with a 3+/3+/-1/2 profile, and the shell version is fixed at 1 shot but is 30” range, 3+/2+/-2/D6 – generally you’ll pick the shrapnel version if it’s range as it maths out better, but the shell option is worth considering if you’re dealing with a particularly tough enemy (i.e. high rerolling save, ignore rend 1 etc). The Skyhook is essentially identical to the shell version of the Sky Cannon, but fixed at 24” range – the payoff is that if the Frigate is equipped with a Skyhook, you can add 2 to charge rolls for the Skyvessel. The frigate also has a side armament of some Carbines, which have a 12” range and four attacks: 3+/3+/-1/2 which is quite nice for some incidental fire. The Skyvessel also comes equipped with bomb racks, which is a special rule that triggers at the beginning of the combat phase: pick a unit within 1” of the Skyvessel and roll a dice (adding 1 to the roll if the Skyvessel is mostly uninjured, and subtracting 1 if the Skyvessel is nearly dead), on a 4+ deal D3 mortal wounds to the selected unit.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s assess the unit: It’s good but not great. Unfortunately it’s not quite as devastating as the Ironclad, and for the same price you could nearly afford two Gunhaulers which would be more efficient in terms of ranged firepower. It sits in a weird middle ground that means that you’re generally taking a Frigate when there’s a points squeeze on your desired list and not because you want to.

Arkanaut Ironclad

The big brother of the Frigate can transport up to 25 models (with fly high disabled when you have 16+) and upgrades it’s save to 3+ and wounds to 18. At 10” move it’s still fairly speedy, and has the exact same suite of special rules as the Frigate – allowing it to heal and reroll runs, and it’s bomb racks are even slightly better, with a +2 modifier to the roll if the Ironclad is mostly uninjured. Upgrading it’s transport capacity over the Frigate is significant, as not only can you take a squad of 10, you can also put up to 5 heroes inside before it disables the Skyvessels ability to fly, meaning you can bring your whole crew to party town. As an Ironclad, you can also give it the Buoyancy Aid Endrinwork, meaning you do away with the 15 limit altogether and that will likely be your choice if you want to carry a full unit of Thunderers inside.

In terms of armaments, everything gets a strict upgrade. The Sky Cannon and Skyhook are here, but the D6 profile is swapped for flat 6, so the Cannon can pick between 6 shots at 3+/3+/-1/2 and 1 shot at 3+/2+/-2/6. This is a huge upgrade for anyone familiar with the pain of D6 weapons, and represents a significant threat to just straight up one shotting most foot heroes your opponent has. If you fancy something a little different, the Ironclad also has the option to swap the Cannon/Hook for a Great Volley Cannon. At 18” range you’ll need to get close, but it has 4D6 attacks at 3+/3+/-1/1 which can be quite good if you’re sporting any rerolls for the turn. Generally I would prefer the Cannon or Skyhook to the Volley Cannon, but there’s arguments to be made for each. In terms of side armaments, the Carbines are reproduced here from the Frigate warscroll but are double the number of shots at 8, and a third set of guns is included: Aethershock Torpedoes. At 24” range, they fire 4 shots at 4+/3+/-1/D3 which while quite variant have quite the damage potential, especially if you spend your Aether Gold to reroll hits for a turn to help mitigate that pesky 4+ to hit.

With three ranged profiles, a large transport capacity and a decently survivable hull, the Ironclad is a tempting proposition for any Admiral, though the 480 price point does represent a significant investment. Most lists will want an Ironclad, but you must be wary to protect it as best as you can with screening units and clever placement, as overcommitting and losing this flagship is hard to come back from.

Credit: Silks

Other

Endrinriggers

Battleline if General is Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit

Endrinriggers are a versatile and powerful unit, though they are somewhat of a glass cannon. 100 points gets you 3 models with 2 wounds each, a 4+ save and 12” movement. Each model can attempt to repair a Skyvessel in hero phase, healing 1 wound each on a 4+ (so 6 models will on average repair 3 wounds to a Skyvessel). In terms of armaments, there’s the basic loadout and then some special weapons that are shared between this unit and the Skywardens. A basic Endrinrigger has a Rivet gun and an Aethermatic Saw. The Rivet gun is 12” range with 3 attacks, at 3+/4+/-1/1 profile – th 12” range in particular is huge because it means that you can hitch a ride on a Skyvessel to get up close and still be able to shoot in the subsequent shooting phase. The saws are very potent, with 1 attack each at 3+/2+/-2/D3, meaning if you roll hot you can deliver quite a knockout punch.

In terms of special weapons, 1 in every 3 models can trade in their rivet gun and saw for an Aethermatic Volley Gun (machine gun with 6 attacks at 24” range, 4+/4+/-1/1), and 1 in every 3 models can likewise swap for a Drill Launcher (24” range, 1 shot, 4+/3+/-3/D3 with 6s to hit instead doing 3 MW), Grapnel Launcher (24” range, 1 shot, 4+/3+/-2/3, grants the unit the special rule to disable enemy retreats for units locked in combat with the Riggers) , or Skyhook (same as Grapnel Launcher, but the special rule instead adds +1 to charge rolls for the unit). As you’re trading in the saw to gain access to these special weapons, it’s worth considering what the purpose of the unit is before making a decision. If your game plan is to harass at range and play keepaway, load up on special weapons. If you instead intend to get up close and put the saws to work, you may want to limit yourself to just a Skyhook and stick with the Rivet/Saw combo.

As a potential battleline unit, they make great companions to Skyvessels and a skirmisher focused army list – just beware that you’re paying 33 points per model and they are easily killable, so attrition will be keenly felt when contesting objectives. Players who lean hard on these guys may want to focus on clearing out battleline and hordes of models to try and improve the chances they can outnumber on objectives.

Skywardens

Battleline if General is Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit

These guys have the same stat line and cost as Endrinriggers, but swap out the healing capability for a number of different special rules. Skymines trigger if a flying enemy unit charges to within 1” of this unit, roll a dice for each model in the charging unit – 6s deal 1 mortal wound each. Largely pathetic as most flying units are low model count so I won’t blame you for forgetting this rule even exists. Skywardens also have the Timed Charges special rule, that activates when the Skywardens retreat from combat. Roll a dice for each enemy unit within 3” of this unit immediately before retreating the Wardens, on a 4+ that unit takes D3 mortal wounds. This has the potential to spike quite a few mortal wounds if you have multiple Skywarden units tangled up in the same spot in battle, though to do so requires said Skywardens to survive prolonged combat which is an iffy proposition at best.

Instead of a rivet gun and saw, they possess Vulcaniser Pistols and Skypikes. The pistols are 9” range with 2 attacks each, at 3+/3+/-1/1, though the 9” range means you can’t hitch a ride and subsequently unload with pistols, which is a damn shame. The Skypikes are 2 attacks rather than the saw’s 1, with a 4+/3+/-1/D3 profile – as mentioned when discussing Barak-Zon, they generally aren’t as good as the Endrinriggers unless you’re running Barak-Zon to buff this statline to a more respectable 3+/2+ profile. They possess the same special weapon options as the Endrinriggers, but if you’re taking them to harass at range why are you choosing these guys over Riggers, who have a longer range pistol?

Skywardens are a mess, and I wouldn’t recommend bothering unless you either love the models or want to run a Barak-Zon army. In Barak-Zon however they jump up to relevance and are at least worth a long hard look, as that melee statline is very punchy for their cost.

Grundstok Gunhauler

Battleline if Barak-Urbaz

Gunhaulers are the smallest of the 3 Skyvessels, and are priced to move at 130 points for 10 wounds and a 4+ save. Unlike their larger brothers, the Gunhauler can Fly High and Disengage regardless of how many wounds it has suffered, and doesn’t have a degrading statline. It can choose between the same Sky cannon that the Frigate has (though both profiles have 6” less range), or the Drill Cannon. The Drill Cannon is a long range (36”!) 1 shot weapon with a 3+/3+/-3/D3 profile, though unmodified 5+ hit rolls instead inflict 3 mortal wounds. There is much debate as to whether to equip Gunhaulers with the Sky Cannon or Drill Cannon, as both have their merits. The Cannon has higher damage potential and better damage on average, whereas the Gunhauler has insanely long range and a ⅓ chance of doing flat 3 MW to a hero hiding behind screens is nothing to sniff at. Personally I lean towards the Drill Cannon as I have found on a number of occasions being out of range of what I really want to shoot at with the Sky Cannon, as my Gunhaulers are often lurking on my back objectives. Ultimately, the choice of armament will come down to what your personal playstyle is, I would advise trying both and magnetising the Gunhauler.

The Gunhauler has a crappy Carbine profile that will always fail to do anything, and the same bomb rack rule as it’s bigger brothers. What’s new for the Gunhauler is the Escort Vessel special rule – if a Frigate or Ironclad fails a save and takes a wound or mortal wound while within 3” of a Gunhauler, said Frigate/Ironclad gets a 6+ Ward save. Nice for a 17% survivability boost for your big ships, and it’s for this reason you should consider positioning of your units to ensure they get this benefit. I love the Gunhauler and feel it excels as a skirmishing artillery piece to attack flanks and pick off wounded units.

Grundstok Thunderers

Battleline if Barak-Nar

Rounding out our warscrolls we have the Thunderers, a sort of heavy infantry that represent a significant step up from the Arkanauts. Coming in multiples of five, they sport 2 wounds rather than 1 and come stock with an Aethershot rifle – an 18” gun with 2 attacks at 3+/4+/-1/1 damage. The leader has a double barreled rifle that has 4 attacks instead, and a mechanical owl that might sometimes kill something in melee combat. They’re pretty pants in melee, but they have a unique special rule where if they’re within 3” of any enemy units in the shooting phase, they add 1 to the attacks characteristic of all of their ranged weapons for that phase (doesn’t work while garrisoned). One in every 5 can be a banner bearer to reroll battleshock tests which is nice, as their 7 bravery and tendency to drop to 6 from using Aether Gold leaves them vulnerable to fleeing.

That’s not all however, as the Thunderers have a number of weapon options that are infuriatingly complicated to discuss. 1 in every 5 can take a Grundstok Mortar instead of the Rifle (12” range, 1 shot, 4+/3+/-/D3), 1 in every 5 can take an Aethercannon instead of the Rifle (12” range, 1 shot, 4+/2+/-2/D3), 1 in every 5 can take an Aetheric Fumigator instead of the Rifle (9” range, 3 shots, 3+/3+/-1/1, subtract 1 from hit rolls for any enemy models within 3” of a model with a fumigator), 1 in every 5 can take an Decksweeper instead of the Rifle (12” range, 4 shots 4+/4+/-1/1).

You might think to yourself, “Okay, so I just take Aethercannons and the rest use rifles, right?”, well it’s not quite that simple. If you have at least 1 Aethercannon, 1 Decksweeper and 1 Grundstok Mortar in your unit when they fire, each of those weapons adds +1 to hit (if the unit isn’t garrisoned). So now you’re forced to choose between all rifles, or all maxed special weapons for a reduced effective range but greater firepower, and what about Fumigators? Well that’s a question of whether you want to get them into melee combat and have them stick around to unleash a devastating barrage. 

All this adds up to a significant headache, and many players skip the special weapons altogether to avoid rolling a bunch of different profiles and save time. Others swear by taking a unit of 20 and maxing out on Aethercannons but taking just 1 of the other profiles so the Aethercannons are firing at +1 to hit. A general rule of thumb when deciding loadout is to stick to rifles if they’re going to sit in an Ironclad all game or on a backfield objective, or go with a mixed loadout leaning towards Aethercannons if you intend to drop them off into the thick of the fighting and hold a contested objective.

Credit: Daniel “Skails” Rodenberg

Allies

Kharadron Overlords have access to Dispossessed, Ironweld Arsenal, Fyreslayers and Stormcast Eternals.

Dispossessed

Options worth considering here are Longbeards and Runepriests, who offer a cheap 3+ save objective holder and potent anti magic potential respectively. Everything else is either done better by the KO themselves or other allies (Irondrakes are worth a look if you really, really want an upgunned but less flexible version of Thunderers)

Ironweld Arsenal

Nothing much here is worth discussing, with the exception of the Gyrocopter which I’m a personal fan of. 70 points gets you a unit capable of dropping a once per game mortal wound bomb, a decent short ranged gun in the Brimstone gun (seriously, math it out), and enough speed to keep up with your Skyvessels. Plus it presents some cool opportunities to kitbash and convert. If you have 180 points spare, consider trying a unit of 3.

Fyreslayers

If you want to add some serious melee punch to your army, you might consider a block of Hearthguard Berzerkers and an Auric Runesmiter to create a deep strike threat capable of popping up in your opponents deployment zone and acting as a serious nuisance. Probably best used in a Barak-Thryng army who can skip the 400 point limit and take some large blocks of Berzerkers to really embrace the combined arms approach.

Stormcast Eternals

There’s far too many options here to truly cover everything, but a few options that stick out are a Knight Incantor for a cheap auto unbind and means to recast and Everblaze Comet if you want to combo it with Spell in a Bottle. Alternatively, a Lord-Ordinator can grant a bubble of +1 to hit to all your Skyvessels, which is an intriguing option if you want to perhaps take 10 Gunhaulers and try and blow your opponent off the table. Aetherwings round out the stand-out suggestions as they provide a cheap screening unit that can sit and cap points and let the rest of your army do what they need to do without getting stuck in your backfield.

Gotrek

Well you could, and he’s a total badass so you should, but the problem is he’s just not very synergistic with what you’re doing, and regrettably Gotrek is extremely easy to tarpit and mitigate. Good for friendlies, probably better to take an Ironclad to a tournament.

Thundrik's Profiteers

Thundrik’s Profiteers. Credit: Raf Cordero

Army Lists

Alexander Khron’s List

Skyport: Barak Zilfin

Leaders:
Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit
- Artefact: Phosphorite Bombs
Aetheric Navigator
- Artefact: Staff of Ocular Optimisation 
Aether-Khemist (General)
- Command Trait: Collector
- Artefact: Spell In a Bottle

Battleline:
10 Arkanaut Company (Skyhook, AVG, Skypike)
10 Arkanaut Company (Skyhook, AVG, Skypike)
10 Arkanaut Company (Skyhook, AVG, Skypike)

Other Units:
6 Endrinriggers
- 2 Aethermatic Volley Guns
- 1 Grapnel Launcher
- 1 Skyhook
20 Grundstock Thunderers
- 1 Aetheric Fumigator
- 4 Decksweepers
- 4 Aethercannons
- 1 Grundstok Mortar

Behemoths:
Arkanaut Ironclad
- Great Sky Cannon
- Endrinwork: Ebullient Buoyancy Aid

Battalions:
Iron Sky Command

Endless Spells:
Warp-Lightning Vortex

Note: This was pre-points drops, so I have updated it to add 3 more Endrinriggers from the original list

Let’s start off with a recent success story, as Alexander came 1st place in a recent two day tournament running this death star list. This four drop list has a decent chance of starting with priority, and the basic game plan is to Hero phase fly high to drop WLV on your opponents army while it’s still in the deployment zone by stashing the Khemist and the Thunderers inside the Ironclad. In the following movement phase, the Thunderers get out and unleash hell, while the Ironclad moves away somewhere else to spread out threats. The Endrinriggers and the Master follow the Ironclad to provide support (with the Endrinmaster having a good chance of just deleting a unit once per game using the bomblets) and the Arkanaut Company serve as objective holders, auto running for 10” total to cap objectives while the heavy hitters do the work. 

Francois Mercier’s List

Skyport: Barak Zilfin

Leaders:
Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit
- General
- Command Trait: Grudgebearer
- Artefact: Staff of Ocular Optimisation
Aetheric Navigator
Aether-Khemist
- Artefact: Spell In a Bottle

Battleline:
10 Arkanaut Company (Skyhook, AVG, Skypike)
6 Endrinriggers
6 Endrinriggers
- 2 Aethermatic Volleyguns
- 2 Drill Launchers
6 Endrinriggers
- 2 Aethermatic Volleyguns
- 1 Grapnel Launcher
-1 Skyhook

Other units:
1 Grundstok Gunhauler
- Sky Cannon
- Endrinwork: Zonbarcorp ‘Debsettler’ Spar Torpedo
1 Grundstok Gunhauler
- Sky Cannon

Behemoths:
1 Arkanaut Ironclad
- Great Sky Hook
- Endrinwork: Zonbarcop ‘Dealbreaker’ Battle Ram

Battalions:
Iron Sky Command

Endless Spells:
Warp-Lightning Vortex

Note: this was pre-points drops, so I’ve updated it by adding a 2nd Gunhauler to up it’s ranged firepower

This is a variant of Alexander’s list that takes a more balanced approach. Francois won a 32 man tournament in early July using this list. The basic idea is the same: drop WLV on your opponent and leverage firepower from the Ironclad. However where it varies significantly is that rather than relying on a blob of Thunderers and some Arkanauts to hold down objectives, this list opts to bring two Gunhaulers and a total of 18 Endrinriggers in 3 teams. One team acts as a melee threat to protect the Ironclad, while the other two hang back and provide ranged support where it is needed. There are fewer bodies in this list and thus you are more susceptible to crumble under sustained pressure, but the trade off is greater flexibility and manoeuvrability. 

Ellarr’s List

Skyport: Barak-Zon

Leaders:
Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit
- General
- Command Trait: Bearer of the Ironstar
- Artefact: Aethersped Hammer
Aetheric Navigator
- Artefact: Svaregg-Stein Illuminator Flarepistol

Battleline:
6 Skywardens
- 1 Skyhook
6 Skywardens
- 1 Skyhook
6 Skywardens
- 1 Skyhook

Other units:
10 Grundstok Thunderers
1 Grundstok Gunhauler
- Drill Cannon
1 Grundstok Gunhauler
- Sky Cannon
- Endrinwork: Zonbarcorp 'Debtsettler' Spar Torpedo

Behemoths:
Arkanaut Ironclad
- Great Skyhook
- Endrinwork: Zonbarcorp 'Dealbreaker' Battle Ram

Battalions:
Grundstok Escort Wing

Is this list competitive? Maybe? I’ve done a little bit of playtesting as I wanted to create a list that a) wasn’t Zilfin and b) tried to make use of Skywardens and this list seemed somewhat promising. This list has a bit of everything, with the Ironclad and Thunderers providing some ranged punch, and the Skywardens and Endrinmaster hitting extremely hard when they get into combat. It does lack in bodies on objectives, so the aim of the game here is to table your opponent and overload your opponents flanks to deliver a crushing blow every turn. I don’t think this list has the bodies to make it far in a 5 round tournament, but if you want to try something a little different this is a fun time.

Credit: Miles Benjamin

Conclusion

The time is right and the table is set for a Kharadron surge. Widespread points drops, nerfs to top tier factions and a new set of missions have truly upended the status quo on the competitive scene. There’s a lot to like about Kharadron Overlords, and there are already whispers in competitive circles that sky dwarves might be the next big thing. I hope you’ve found something useful to take away from this tactica, and if you have any questions let us know at contact@goonhammer.com or message us on social media. Now take to the skies and get plundering, there’s Aether Gold in them hills.

 

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