In this article series we’re taking a look at the leader options available to each faction, looking at what units they pair with, and talking about the combos available to those units as well as tips for running them solo. You can find our Competitive Faction Focus article on the Leagues of Votann here.
While Votann are the thinnest army currently in terms of datasheets, everything in the index is viable and has uses which is a great spot to be in. There are four generic characters plus Uthar the Destined to choose from and although the Leader options aren’t as flexible as other armies, each one can positively impact how you build your list and play your game.
Let’s start by looking at the faction’s character options and where they can be added:
First and foremost, every character is a Leader; there are no Lone Operatives or other non-attachable characters in the faction. The options available are pretty simple, as you can see from the chart above; no character has more than two unit types it can attach to and for most of them the choices boil down to Hearthkyn Warriors plus one other, with only the Einyhr Champion being unable to join the Votann mainstay. This does help a little bit with decision making but also is a little anti-synergistic in comparison to other armies. On the other hand, all the characters are good, so at least you’re getting something out of it.
The Kahl is your most straightforward “captain” type of character, and they can be pretty impactful for Votann, especially with some key enhancements. Their two datasheet abilities are:
- Kindred Hero, which gives units the Kahl’s attached to LETHAL HITS. Very good with plasma-equipped Hearthguard, grenade launchers & melee, but a lot less impactful for volkite. A nice, strong buff.
- Grim Efficiency allows 1 model with this ability, in your Command Phase, to give a Judgement token to a visible unit. It’s ok if you ingress 10 Hearthguard but please don’t put them in a bad position to do this.
You have several gun options, but you should pick the volkite disintegrator, because it’s the best one 100% of the time. You do have a choice with melee weapons, but the mass gauntlet at damage 3 is usually more preferred due to the abundance of D2 in the army and the lack of D3. Beyond the weapons, you can equip a Kahl with either a Rampart Crest or a Teleport Crest. The Teleport Crest is relatively niche for him, it’s ok if you want to give some Warriors DEEP STRIKE for some reason? On the other hand, the Rampart Crest is a solid choice here as it saves you 1 CP for Void Armour vs AP-4 attacks. It can also be pretty effective for Warriors, especially if you create a little bully unit with melee Warriors, but if you find yourself in front of Thousand Sons then it can be vital for Hearthguard in case your opponent remembers they can strip away armour saves.
In terms of Enhancements, A Long List, Appraising Glare or Grim Demeanour are all fantastic options. To some extent it depends on how your events are ruling the effect of Grim Demeanour; if you do not run in a tournament circuit that allows Grim Demeanour to ignore -1D, prioritise Appraising Glare just to allow your army to clear an objective quicker. If your tournament circuit allows Grim to ignore -1D then go with that every time.
Uthar the Destined
Now that we’ve covered the generic Kahls, let’s talk about the main man himself – our only named character, Uthar. As a named character, he comes with 3 abilities rather than the usual two.
- Ancestral Fortune allows him to change one of his own Hit or Wound rolls to a 6 once per turn. Not amazing in the grand scheme of things as he cannot use this on any other model, but it does allow him to do a guaranteed unsavable 2 damage in melee with the DEVASTATING WOUNDS on his Blade of the Ancestors.
- The Destined reduces all damage taken down to 1. This can actually be key in how you play Uthar and adds flexibility to his survivability (Liam: though don’t forget that setting damage to a 1 happens before other modifiers, so if he gets hit by a Warglaive’s thermal cannon or Fuegan’s bullshit meltagun he’s still gonna die).
- Grim Efficiency is the same ability all Kahls have where 1 model with this ability can, in your Command Phase, give a Judgement token to a visible unit. Not amazing, not terrible, and can help out token generation, however the ol’ boy wants to be in a Sagitaur most of the time.
Uthar comes with a volkite disintegrator, which as discussed above is the best gun a Khal can take, and quite a decent melee weapon in the Blade of the Ancestors. He also has a Rampart Crest so he can give his unit a 5+ invulnerable save. The whole package is fine, and while he’s not amazing compared to a generic Kahl, he does offer a fair few niche uses, the main one of which is his much higher survivability. Uthar is good at tarpitting units; thanks to his 4+ invulnerable and only taking 1 Damage in most circumstances, he can easily withstand the Yncarne, or a Dreadnought, or a Repulsor Executioner, essentially anything with low volume, high damage that isn’t MELTA. This allows you to use him to road block units to provide space for the rest of your army. Additionally, he’s fantastic at character sniping. Thanks to his 5 attacks of Strength 6, AP-3 and Damage 2 with DEVASTATING WOUNDS he’s very effective at charging something and popping Epic Challenge. Spiritseer attached to a Wraithguard squad? Charge him in and delete it without worrying about Overwatch.
The other potential use of him is for token generation. Between his Rampart Crest and his own survivability, his unit (or Uthar himself if his unit has been killed) is reasonably likely to be reduced to Below Half-Strength but not destroyed, so assuming he’s your Warlord that’s a more likely way to pop Newfound Nemesis on somebody than you might otherwise get. Again, a bit niche; generic Kahls are good and Uthar doesn’t do too much to stand out from them, but it’s something.
The Einhyr Champion is probably the most stable character of the whole book. For his low cost he provides a fair amount of utility and output, but he is limited to leading only Hearthguard. His abilities are:
- Exemplar of the Einhyr allows their unit to reroll charges. Simple, strong, effective. This not only saves you a CP but allows you to charge two units without worrying too much.
- Mass Driver Accelerators is the cherry on top. Whenever he finishes a charge, on a 2+ he does D3 mortals to a unit within Engagement Range and on a 6 it’s D3+3. Absolutely fantastic as it doesn’t require him to lead a unit to use.
His equipment is also fairly simple but offers good meta tech choices. Gun-wise he comes with an Autoch-pattern combi-bolter, and that’s that. For melee however you can either take a mass hammer or a darkstar axe and both make him a very good beatstick even on his lonesome. If combined with Hearthguard then you may prefer the darkstar axe as it allows you to add more AP-2 D2 into your arsenal to ensure if that unit charges, their target dies. If he runs solo you may prefer giving him a mass hammer – effectively, a melee lascannon – which if combined with Warrior Pride is a great way to take down enemy vehicles/monsters without overcommitting.
You then have options for a Teleport Crest or a Weavefield Crest. It’s important to note that the Teleport Crest only works when leading a unit and due to this it’s advisable to just run Weavefield Crests unless you’re only ever planning to run them attached. The Weavefield can make them very difficult to take down for their points cost, being a T6 body with a 2+ save, a 4+ invulnerable save, and 5 wounds.
Enhancements wise the Champion is the perfect model for any of the enhancements. If you’re planning on running solo, try adding in Wayfarer’s Grace, which is an exceptionally annoying combo for opponents to take down. Want a really good unit to deploy teleport homers? Want an annoying las cannon that charges? Take Wayfarer’s on a solo hammer Champion and give your opponent a proper Dwarvish headache.
Next we have the spiritual leader; the Grimnyr. This character starts to reveal the cracks in the index and the Leader role, with very unimaginative and to be frank; poor synergy.
- Fortify gives whatever unit they’re leading +1 to toughness (don’t get excited, as the Grimnyr can only lead Warriors).
- Grimnyr’s Regard allows it to cleanse itself from being Battle-shocked. This actually has its uses as we’ll get into that shortly.
The Grimnyr’s weapon loadout is fixed with no options, though it does come with the very interesting Ancestral Wrath, which is pretty decent shooting if the target has two tokens. Its melee weapon is also very respectable at S7 AP-1 damage d3, but sadly only has 1 attack – it seems our space Gandalf hasn’t fought the Balrog yet. Additionally, the Grimynr is accompanied by two CORVs, little floaty robots with bolters.
Enhancements wise, the Grimnyr is best with either Appraising Glare if you want to position it more defensively and allow other characters play more aggressively, or with Wayfarer’s if you’d like to achieve the same result as the Champion with the added benefit of being able to ride in a Sagitaur.
That Sagitaur thing is actually key, as it enables you to be able to take another Sagitaur without having to pay for Warriors or Beserkers to go inside. This is really the Grimnyr’s best use – an actions unit that opens up a Sagitaur slot (which is where the Grimnyr’s Regard rule comes in, because if the Grimnyr is Batttle-shocked they can fix this with their own ability so you are able to do another action). Alternatively, if there’s no actions you need to do, Ancestral Wrath is dangerous enough to make them a decent mid-board ranged bully. Not included amongst those roles, sadly, is giving Warriors +1 Toughness because that means that the unit cannot ride in a transport and Grymdalf needs his steed. Lastly, if you really have nothing else to do with them, you could sit the Grimnyr on your home objective and tripoint with the CORVs so nothing can 3” DEEP STRIKE onto it (glaringly appraisingly at you, Inceptors), but it’s probably better to use 5 Warriors for that, no?
Last among the Leagues, we have the Brokhyr Iron-master. The Iron-maste ris very similar to the Grimnyr in the sense of a lack of synergy (tokens give +1 to hit, he gives +1 to hit, so in a lot of cases one of your abilities will be redundant). However, he also isn’t expensive, so he has his uses especially if you love Thunderkyn.
- Multispectral Visor gives +1 to hit to the unit he’s leading. It’s helpful against opposing negative modifiers from STEALTH or the Vanguard Spearhead detachment, but it’s going to be pretty niche most of the time.
- Brokhyr’s Guild allows him to heal a Thunderkyn model or a vehicle model for D3 wounds, or 3 if his Ironkin Assistant is still alive.
The Iron-master, like the Grimnyr, comes with a fixed loadout, and again it’s pretty ok, with a nice graviton rifle and graviton hammer for smashing up vehicles. Like the Grimnyr the Iron-master brings an entourage to the battlefield, in the form of three E-COGs and an Ironkin Assistant. These are what make the Iron-master good, mostly because of the ablative wounds that they offer to Thunderkyn. Your six Thunderkyn brick now has 5 additional wounds on models you don’t care about, perfect for tanking D6 or high damage weapons that you don’t want to put on your Brokhyr bodies. His use also extends to allowing Thunderkyn to trade into Vehicles without any tokens when using their graviton weapons.
Enhancements wise, the Iron-master sort of utilises the same ones as the Grimnyr where he can take more utility based enhancements that allows your Hearthguard leading characters to take the more aggressive enhancements. Again it’s worth finding out how your local events are ruling Grim Demeanour, because that can be enormously powerful on your brick of grav-cannons.
How to Pick Your Characters
Pick what you feel is necessary to your game plan. Despite some puzzling redundancies in their abilities and a lack of options, all 5 characters are viable and are not expensive, and although none of them are Lone Operatives most of them can be run effectively on their own instead of being attached to any particular unit. Try solo Champions, try Uthar or a Grimnyr in a Sagitaur. Just remember that your big bricks of Hearthguard or Thunderkyn will benefit a lot from their Leaders.
What’s in the index for Votann is pretty great, and the main gap is with those units that have nothing that can attach to them. Hopefully we’ll see Codex: Leagues of Votann sooner rather than later, and a second wave of miniature releases like the Adepta Sororitas got, to unlock some more options – especially for Pioneers and Beserkers, but possibly also new things for characters like the Grimynr to attach to. The good news is that with what you’ve got, you have reasons for all of them to show up in a list, whether you want to win a GT or play a flavourful game. Find your niche and what fits your play style and go get glory for Rock and Stone, king/queen/themperor.
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