Votann Join the Fray: Goonhammer Reviews the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team

Kill Team Gallowfall introduces us to two new kill teams, each of which is approaching the space hulk environment with a different skill set. Beastmen are the new melee horde in town, and the Hearthkyn are their more ranged adversaries. Setting up the field with climbing gear, excavating new avenues of attack, and generally rocking the hulk. Between the petty grudges and fancy gear, the Hearthkyn make a good match against their Fellgor rivals.

In this review we’ll be diving into the new team and talking about their rules, and how we think they’ll fare in Kill Team. But before we do that, we’d like to thank Games Workshop for providing a preview copy of Gallowfall for review purposes.

Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Teams

The Votann finally make their appearance in Kill Team! With chunky ranged damage profiles, good ploys, and thoroughly tough operatives, this team looks like it’s meant to take a punch and return the favor in kind. Tac-Op wise, the team has access to Recon and Security, meaning they want to set the tempo on where the battle will happen. 

In terms of Construction, Hearthkyn Salvager Teams consist of one Hearthkyn Theyn Leader, who comes with one gun and one melee weapon (and you have options for each), plus 9 additional operatives, each of which is unique save the Gunner and the Warrior. Your team can have up to three Gunners.


Keeping Generational Grudges!

Dwarves honor the debts of their honoured dead as well as those debts incurred against them, and apply Grudge tokens to their enemies in battle. When an opposing operative has a grudge token, all friendly operatives can change a normal hit to a critical hit for each Grudge token! In addition to this baseline grudge generation, ploys and leader abilities interact with Grudges as well.

Slow and Steady is the way

Hearthkyn Operatives will ignore all modifiers to their Movement characteristic, meaning they remain a steady 4” (or 6”) move at all times of day. This rule looks like an artifact of a time before the core rules were updated with “The Movement characteristic cannot be modified to less than 4 (even if injured).” However it does something for the team’s Jump Pack Warrior.

Unfortunately, the rulings around subtracting movement distance look to still be in effect. That makes Hierotek Circle, and Warp Coven even uglier matchups for the Salvagers.

Hearthkyn Warriors. Credit: Rockfish
Hearthkyn Warriors. Credit: Rockfish

The Operatives

Generally speaking, Hearthkyn Salvager operative statlines look to be a newer mix of options for a 10-operative team. The Kyn have 4” movement, 7 wounds, and 3+ saves. When it comes to putting shots down range and getting into scraps, the Kyn come in surprisingly average, with a characteristic of 4+ on both ballistic skill and weapon skill. It does seem that grudges, real or imagined, will be important in landing reliable kills, and projecting influence on the maps.

The Generic-ish Operatives

Hearthkyn Warriors have access to 4+ BS, ¾ damage guns with either Ceaseless(Autoch-pattern Bolter) or P1(Ion Blaster). With so many operative choices the basic warrior will probably never see the field, however these weapons will make appearances later on. 

Hearthkyn Gunners being the technophiles have a weapon rack to make John Wick weep. Bringing to bear three out of five gunner operatives all of which hit on 4+ ballistic skill:

  • Plasma Beamers! 4 Attacks, 4/6 Damage, AP2, and for each critical all targets along a line take D3 mortals! An amazing grudge settler, all rounder, and must build!
  • HYLas Auto Rifle, 4 Attacks, relentless, rending Bolter, a solid mobile gun.
  • HYLas Rotary Cannon, 6 Attacks, ⅗ Damage, Heavy, and Ceaseless. With a new rule which ignores obscurity. Hitting 50% of your shots means this weapon will have some wild damage swings from game to game.
  • L7 Missile Launcher, 4 Attacks, with a lower damage Blast 2” profile or a higher damage AP1 profile. Luckily with some Votann gunsmithing, the L7 out damages most grenade launcher style guns from other teams.
  • Magna Rail Rifle, 4 Attacks, 5/4+MW3 Damage, and AP2. Unfortunately the gun is unwieldy so it’s probably not doing much on turn 1 without APL changing. However given the opportunity the Magna Rail will send grudge holders into the lowest levels of the warp.

Credit: Jack Hunter

The Unique-r Operatives

Hearthkyn Salvagers have a slew of unique operatives with abilities that put influence on many weird nooks and crannies of the system:

  • Hearthkyn Theyn, the leader of the salvagers, comes with a key ability in Eye of the Ancestors, marking any visible operative with a grudge token when activated. He of course comes with a dizzying array of weapons and very few restrictions on their combination. Interestingly the Theyn’s Plasma Pistol does not match existing profiles, with ⅗ damage and AP1, with no option to go hot.
  • The brawler archetype has had many names, but in Kill Team it’s the Hearthkyn Dozr! Coming in with 4 Attacks, +3 Hit/Wound, 4/4 Damage, Lethal 5+, Ceaseless, and Stun. The Concussion Knux are made to mince middling melee specialists. Even getting the ability to use a leftover die before it’s removed from the killzone in combat. Most importantly he can Knux Smash (1 AP), moving an enemy operative from engagement range, up to 3 inches. In one activation he could stun 2 different operatives, or fold quickly with only 4 attacks on 3+s!
  • Hearthkyn Field Medic, a standard medic, with a ⅗ damage pistol, and 4 inches of movement. Important in a shootout, and great for holding utility equipment. The medic  sports a free plasma knife, and performs well in melee with ⅗ damage. Especially in comparison to its peers on other teams.
  • Hearthkyn Grenadier, a short ranged bomb specialist with a 4/6 damage, AP1, Blast 1” bomb, with a low range of 4” instead of the usual 6” grenade range. Along with an additional 6” range 2/4 damage grenade. He also comes with an infinite use Vayr-3 Utility Grenade which comes in slowing, range limiting, and worse mission action flavors.
  • Hearthkyn Jump Pack Warrior, the supportive jump pack assault operative. With a six inch movement characteristic, and a solid 5/5 damage plasma axe, the Jump Pack is the zippiest Kyn on the field. The jump pack doesn’t just provide FLY, it also grants the Boost (2 AP) ability, which allows him to move 12 inches in a straight line! Once he’s on top of a vantage point he can drop a climbing rope token to reduce his allies’ climbing distance.
  • Hearthkyn Kinlynk, comms buffer, and operative delayer. The Kinlynk functions similarly to the transpectral operative from the Pathfinders. They can have any visible operative go as the last operative of your opponents team, while also gifting APL to friendlies within six inches. Another model with the Warrior gun loadouts.
  • Hearthkyn Kognitaar, team buffer, the Kognitaar may place an Attack or Defend token anywhere in the Kill Zone during Strategic Ploy selection. Friendly operatives may make a single re-roll for shooting attacks made against enemy operatives within 3 inches of the Attack token, while friendly operatives may re-roll a single defense die if within 3 inches of the Defend token. Another model with the Warrior gun loadouts.
  • Hearthkyn Lokatr, scouting phase killer, no cover gifter, the Lokatr will be critical in match ups where players want to set up cheesy operative deployments. Kommandos, Wrymblade, and anyone else will lose access to their forward deployment making him an MVP against those opponents. However his special action only provides the No Cover special rules, which is of middling usefulness. Another model with the Warrior gun loadouts.
  • Hearthkyn Lugger, mission do-er, equipment shuffler, and general ranged operative. The lugger brings along 50% more equipment and can even shuffle weapon loadouts on his allies (perhaps I can interest you in a new Gunner?). On missions where you need to do mission actions, his discount will be invaluable. Another model with the Warrior gun loadouts.

The Ploys

Hearthkyn are no slouches when it comes to strategic depth. Need Keeps, allows you to nominate an objective as critical, giving all Salvagers one higher apl when determining control of the objective. Toil Earns turns an objective into a danger zone for enemies, letting all friendly Kyn treat enemies with 3 inches as having one additional grudge token. Meanwhile, for shooting defense, you can call on Wrought Defence to allow all operatives who retain a critical save to select one failure as a success (similar to Protected by Fate from Legionaries). Proximate Firepower allows players to work through the 4+ BS of the Salvagers by improving their BS by 1 while within 6” of their target.

On the tactical end, the Votann have given us an incredible toolbox! The Ancestors are Watching allows any operative to ignore injuries, and get a free Fight or Shoot during their activation. I fully expect to use this almost every turn as it allows you to dynamically act as a 3 apl model, the same trick Starstriders pull off. Worth It lets an operative perform a free mission action before it’s removed from the killzone. Note this doesn’t stop you from needing to control the objective you’re acting on. Hardy lets you treat all criticals during a shooting step as normal hits, though it doesn’t stop critical hit rules from triggering on the initial retain. Lastly Rampart pulls in a narrative trick, and lets you mess around with terrain during the scouting phase. Adding more barricades, making light terrain heavy, or making a barricade heavy. Rampart is especially tricky as it can add obscuring rules where both players may not be ready for them, similar to the Wrymblade!


Bringing utilitarian mining equipment in the grim dark future, salvagers bring a variety of tools and weapons into the Gallowdark. Gravitic concussion grenades are standard grenades hitting on 3+s but with a 2/4 damage profile. Plasma Knives upgrade the fists to a respectable 3/5  damage which is particularly good at settling grudges for 1 EP.The Weavefield Crest gives all friendlies within 3” a 4++ save for only 3 ep and is a strong pick for the Theyn! Auto-Calibrators allow you to ignore all modifiers to Ballistic Skill. Unsurpring for an exploration themed team the Climbing Rope returns, making climbs 2” and making our 4” movement less painful vertically. Finally Excavation Tools allow us to create doors in Traversable terrain, letting friendly operatives ignore 1” radius point in the terrain. Again letting us adjust our movement.

Tac Ops

The three Tac Ops for the Hearthkyn Salvagers lean into the dwarven lore, and deep rock galactic vibes. 

  1. Settling Grudges, kill those who have wronged you can be rewarded fabulously. First point at 2 settled grudges, second point at 3. This seems stunningly easy for a team with such good guns.
  2. Excavate, a variant of the Recover Item tac op, where someone can excavate a token. If you bring special equipment you can make the action 1 AP instead of 2 AP. This can be done within 6” of your drop zone, and makes it easier to get to than Recover Item, especially for the short-legged dwarves. This would be an auto-take if Settling Grudges didn’t exist. 
  3. Rig Site, a variant of Seize Ground that involves a pair of Hearthkyn on top and bottom of a vantage point, doing a 2 AP action. After performing it you need to keep that Rig Site safe with more APL by the end of the game. However with a limitation of needing to be more than 6” from your drop zone and having a Vantage Point this will be hard to do.


How They’ll Play

T.C. – I think the Hearthkyn will be a tough team to pilot, with so many points of equipment getting shuffled around to manage their middling movement. For the curse of slow models, we’re given strong guns, good armor, and great ploys. In the past, compendium necrons, that wasn’t enough to move the needle. However a strong turning point 2-3 can let your models set up security or recon well. Being able to egg people into your fields of fire, while the leader sends out grudge tokens makes things tough for opponents. While they might not be the strongest team around they will certainly be able to put the hurt on opponents. In comparison to their box opponents they might be a touch more blase, but their strengths are real.

J.D. – Due to their reduced movement Hearthkyn are going to struggle on Turning Point 1, especially against teams that can get an early lead on objective markers. However, these guys have some of the nastier firepower in the game, and can definitely set themselves up for a strong Turning Point 2 looking to hit their opponent as hard as they can. If I had to rate them on a power scale of previous team releases they definitely bring more to the table than either Kasrkin or Hierotek Circle did on release, but they still feel like they fall short of teams such as The Blooded, or their Fellgor rivals. In that match up in particular the Felgor seem perfectly suited to defeat a shooting centric team that simply lacks the combat abilities needed to counter Frenzy. 


Final Thoughts

On the whole Hearthkyn Salvagers are interesting teams. Their slow speed is definitely a handicap, but with some of the game’s sickest ranged attacks they may be able to make up for it, and with the right positioning on turn 1 can set themselves up for a nasty turn 2 and 3. They’re a team that’s going to require more skill to play well than it initially seems.

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