Hey all, today I have something massive – a Kharadron Overlords Tactics Article for Warhammer Age of Sigmar Second Edition. Alex Khron took the world by storm by running Kharadron Overlords to a 5-1 finish at the ~200 player Age of Sigmar event at CanCon 2019. Alex has kindly written this incredibly detailed tactica on Kharadron Overlords with a breakdown of all the warscrolls, allegiance abilities, skyports and battalions. Over 10,000 words. So settle in for the ride.
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The Krohnicles of Kharadron
Kharadron Overlords are an awesome looking army, with its maneuverable shooting playstyle unique in Warhammer Age of Sigmar. Its been a rollercoaster for the duardin of the skyports. When they were first released, in AoS 1.5, they were one of the most powerful armies on the scene, and you can still see echoes of their glory in the Battletome. But much has changed. After a new edition, and many FAQs the Kharadron Overlords are not what they once were. But there is still hope. With a little digging, and creative tactics, Kharadron Overlords can still be a potent force on the battlefield and have answers to anything the matched play tournament scene (“meta”) can throw at them.
Kharadron Overlords FAQ’s
As an opening point, you cannot simply read from the battletome when starting a Kharadron Overlords army. We are the only army who had a warscroll completely changed in a Generals Handbook, and I think its important to go over the major changes made.
Grundstock Thunderer Warscroll Change
First, the Grundstock Thunderer warscroll got a complete overhaul shortly after it was published.
In the battletome, it states that any Thunderer in a unit can take any of the weapons presented, potentially allowing you to have a unit of 20 Thunderers armed with 36” mortars, decimating everything on the board.
This is no longer the case, as only one of each weapon, except for the Aethershock rifle, can only be taken once for every 5 models, so a squad of 20 could take 4 cannons, 4 mortars, etc. but no more. The new warscroll also shortened the range of all the special weapons to 12” and gave them extra special rules to compensate for these nerfs.
This changed Thunderers from being extremely powerful and an auto include unit, to just another option in the book. They still have a purpose, it’s just vastly different to what it was before.
Barak Zilfin Disembark Change
The other huge FAQ that affected Kharadron Overlords came shortly after Age of Sigmar Second Edition and removed one of Barak-Zilfin’s most common strategies.
There’s always a breeze if you look for it was a once per game ability that allowed you to move an airship in the hero phase, then disembark the unit inside, then move that unit in your movement phase. If you put Endrinriggers in that airship, it almost always guaranteed them a turn one charge every game.
The FAQ specifically errata’d the wording of disembarking to happen at the start of the hero phase, stopping you from preforming this strategy, and, I believe, severely hampering Kharadron Overlords’ ability to function as a melee army.
Other minor changes
There have been other, minor changes. A contentious one was not allowing Grapnel Launchers to move Skywarden’s/Endrinriggers over enemy units, and the damage profile for all drill cannons and ship mounted skyhooks changed from 3 to D3. Before you build a KO army, its best to read through the entire thing thoroughly here, so you don’t accidentally make a mistake throughout the game.
The Tournament “Meta”
However, despite all these negative changes, I believe Kharadron Overlords are still relevant, if perhaps overlooked in the current meta.
- They have options to be very manoeuvrable using the Barak-Mhornar of Barak-Zilfin abilities, and be able to get past, or simply shoot past any screen the opponent throws up to eliminate the character lynchpins supporting their army.
- Barak-Zilfin gives them huge boosts against flying units which seem more prevalent within the meta than ever before, in the form of Idoneth Deepkin eels and Nighthaunt/ Grimgahst Reapers.
- They also have some amazing tricks to punish the opponent for every mistake they make, and capitalise on every opportunity, by eliminating key characters, and snatching unguarded objectives away.
- They also have the element of surprise. Most opponents will have never fought against, or prepared for facing Kharadron Overlords, and although you should make every effort to explain what your army does, your opponent might still be caught off guard by just how effective some of our abilities are.
That being said, Kharadron Overlords are not an army for beginners. They are a glass cannon faction and will punish you for every mistake. Even 40 Arkanauts will die in a round of combat to some of the scarier things out there. Kharadron Overlords need you to always have a game plan, and be precise in your measuring, but if you pull it off right, the look on your opponent’s face is always worth it!
Introduction to Kharadron Overlords
In this article, I want to cover all the Skyports, and what they can bring to your army, as well as give an overview of all our units and battalions (not that there are many) and give my thoughts on where they fit in our army. Then I’ll look at some of our ally options, and lastly, give some tips on lists I’ve run, or think might be good to try. If at least one person does well at a tournament from reading this, I’ll feel it was worth it. That being said, let’s begin!
Kharadron Overlords Skyports
There are 6 Skyports available to the Kharadron Overlords.
- Barak Mhornar
Each Skyport comes with a pre-set Artycle and Amendment, as well as a unique footnote for each Skyport, as well as some unique command ability or artefact. These are the allegiance abilities for Kharadron Overlords
All six Skyports have positives and negatives, but in my opinion, only two are competitively viable. The book also gives you the ability to customise your own Skyport, and while this is fun for narrative games, I wouldn’t recommend it for competitive play, as you won’t get access to any extra footnotes or abilities, some of which are incredibly potent.
Barak-Nar is focused on dispelling magic and keeping units around your general on the table.
Respect your commanders
This rule allows you to reroll battleshock for your units while they are within 8” of a hero. This is alright, it can mean the difference between 1 or 6 models lost from a unit. However, with intelligent positioning, this is made almost obsolete by Barak-Nar’s unique command ability Champion of progress, as the only units that usually operate away from your general, either already reroll battleshock (Thunderers) or are too fast to stay within 8’”of a hero (Skywarden’s/Endrinriggers).
Trust aethermatics, not superstition
This amendment allows all your heroes to unbind a spell (or two spells for navigators) and combines well with Barak-Nar’s unique ability, Scholars and commanders and will effectively give you the opportunity to unbind all your opponents’ spells at +1.
Through knowledge, power
This is a once a game ability, that lets all your heroes unbind one additional spell, to the one they already could thanks to Trust aethermatics, not superstition. This is fun if your opponent has a lot of standard casters, (like Tzeentch) because you can get a lot of dispels (at +1) in a turn.
Scholars and commanders
This is the ability that gives all your heroes +1 t dispel. It works well with the rest of the Skyports abilities
Unique command trait – Champion of progress
This is a really good command ability, that a Barak-Nar General can take (you don’t have to). It’s a very good one though, any unit partially within 3” doesn’t need to take a battleshock test. Using this you can put a Khemist in the middle of your gunline, and never have to worry about them running. If you have large squads of Endrinriggers it would also be useful on Brokk, who’s the only one with enough movement to keep up with them.
My big problem with this Skyport, is that while shutting down a magic phase is really useful, particularly against Tzeentch, Barak-Nar has no combat buffs available to them, which I believe the Arkanauts really rely on, and against armies that don’t heavily rely on spells (Daughters of Khaine, Idoneth Deepkin) or have one massive caster who won’t care about your +1 (Nagash) the Skyport just doesn’t do as much as it could. Where it shines, is its ability to keep an entire gunline from running without spending any command points. Definitely not the worst option, but not the greatest ether.
With so many powerful armies in the meta with flying units, Barak-Zilfin’s Master the Skies Ability is very useful, and it’s Aetherspheric Endrins gives it a lot of mobility options.
Master the Skies
This ability allows every Kharadron Overlord in the army to reroll 1’s to hit and to wound against any flying unit. This is extremely useful against Nighthaunt, and because so many large monsters have fly (Nagash, Stardrakes, Allariele, etc.…) it really helps Arkanauts with Light Skyhooks, whose preferred target are large monsters, and they only have a limited amount of shots. Also, when using airships, having this ability saves the Ironclad from using make every shot count and ware’ the skies which lets it concentrate on providing +2 carbine shots, or increasing their weapon range.
Don’t Argue with the wind
This ability lets all airships automatically roll a 6 when running. The airships don’t run much, as they want to be shooting as much as possible, but it combines well with There’s always a breeze if you look for it.
There’s always a breeze if you look for it.
This is a once-a-game ability that allows you to move an airship in the hero phase. This ability is still a bit of a sore spot for me, as you used to be able to move a ship with it, and then disembark, but as of the latest FAQ they removed this ability. Now it’s best use is to work with Don’t Argue with the wind to get an airship to jump 32″ onto an uncontested objective. (10″ move + 6″ run x2)
This is a nice ability that gives your airships a 6+ save against mortal wounds. It helps a little, but isn’t game changing .
Unique Artefact – Aetherspheric Endrins
This is the other huge benefit Barak-Zilfin have. Aetherspheric Endrins attaches to an airship and allows it to be held in reserve, coming down at the start of the hero phase anywhere 9″ away from the enemy. Any units inside can disembark but must also stay 9″ away and cannot move after (although they can still charge!). This can be used to deploy Thunderers or Endrinriggers anywhere on the board to hit the enemy where they’re weakest or steal objectives.
Barak-Zilfin is, in my opinion, the best choice of Skyport. It’s the Skyport I entered Cancon 2019 with. So many armies have flying units, that there’ll almost always be something your getting natural rerolls against, and some armies are even entirely made of flying units. It also gives you access to Aetherspheric Endrins which I believe is the only viable uses of an airship now. It can immediately bring a unit to where it needs to be, using one to transport a unit without this is just too slow, and every turn a unit spends in an airship is a turn it’s not dealing damage to the enemy.
Barak-Zon is the combat oriented Skyport… it’s not great.
Honour is everything
This allows your heroes to re-roll hits and wounds of 1 against monsters and heroes. But Admirals and Brokk already get this naturally, so the only ones it affects are a Khemist in shooting, and an Endrinmaster.
Leave no duardin behind
This is a really cool ability that give your units a 5+ save against battleshock if they’re within 7” of a skyvessel. It’s a pretty unique rule, but if you want to be immune from battleshock, there are better options, like Barak-Nar or an Admiral.
Show them your steel
I don’t know why this exists. This once-per-game ability lets you pile out of an airship in your hero phase, and immediately charge. It bypasses the FAQs need to disembark at the start of the hero phase, but that’s only a benefit if the airship can move in the hero phase to give the unit better range. Which it can only do in Barak-Zilfin. I suppose it gives you an extra chance to charge, but you need to do it before you can move, so your unit will probably be out of position. In my opinion, this is absolutely useless.
Deeds, not words
This ability lets any unit who charges reroll 1’s to hit. It’s probably the best reason to take this skyport, but Barak-Zilfin, Barak-Mhornar and Barak-Thryng all give you similar buffs that are always active. There are just better ways to get this bonus.
Unique Artefact – Aethersped hammer
This lets a hero with this artefact always pile in and attack first. It’s a good ability, but it can’t be taken on your best combat character, Brokk, and KO characters really don’t want to be in combat that much. This is a problem with most of this Skyport’s abilities.
The main issue with Barak-Zon is it’s trying to turn Kharadron Overlords into a combat army. They aren’t. Arkanauts with skypikes will get killed by even Liberators in combat, and a Kharadron Overlords army always need to take 3 squads of them (as battleline), so you really want your army to support them. This does not. Similarly, it gives your heroes buffs to combat, but, with the exception of Brokk, who can’t take relics and gets the benefits naturally, all Kharadron Overlords characters do better in the rear line, providing buffs to your army. As Doom&Darkness would say, this is Hot Garbage.
This Skyport is interesting… it doesn’t give you any of those rerolls I love, but some of its other abilities might just be worth it…
Seek new Prospects
This ability allows you to reroll battleshock for units wholly within enemy territory. Its good for large units of Endrinriggers who you want over there, but Thunderers get it naturally, and Arkanauts should stay back in your lines. Also, I’m copy pasting this for Barak-Mhornar.
Always take what you are owed
This lets you take an extra artefact. Kharadron Overlords have some good ones, and with access to all the realm artefacts now, this is a pretty good option. It also really helps in missions like “Relocating Orb” where characters with artefacts count for 20 models.
Where there’s war, there’s gold
This once-per-game ability allows you to shoot or fight with a unit in your hero phase if they’re within 3” of an enemy. This was an amazing ability in Age of Sigmar First Edition, where you could shoot out of combat, but even now, it’s great for sticky situations, your opponent will most likely try to tie up any big Arkanaut unit in combat to stop it shooting at valuable targets, but this gives you a chance to clear that unit away, and then keep shooting at characters and monsters later in your turn .
This ability is probably the reason you want to take this Skyport. It lets a Khemist target 2 different weapons from either 1 or 2 squads to buff, instead of just 1. So, you could buff a unit of Arkanauts Skyhooks and an Endrinriggers Saws, or just pick the Arkanauts Skyhooks and Privateer Pistols. Sadly, still no doubling buffs up on weapons. This is amazing as it effectively lets you take 2 Khemists for the price of 1, and as Khemists are currently 160p, that’s a significant discount! It’s best to build Barak-Urbaz armies around this buff, so include as many Skyhook Arkanauts and Endrinriggers as possible.
Unique Artefact – Breath of Morgrim
This is a cool artefact for Ironclads only. When an Ironclad flies over a unit, roll a dice for every model in the unit, and if you roll at least one 6, the unit takes D3 mortal wounds. It’s not great, but it’s one of our few sources of offensive mortal wounds. Still, I think Last Word is better.
This Skyport is very hit-and-miss with me. I’ve experimented with it, and I’ve always really missed the rerolls the other Skyports give me. But on the other hand, I only had to buy one Khemist, and those extra 160 points gave me 3 extra Endrinriggers, or 3 extra Skyhooks! However, this also seemed like a trap to me, it was putting all of my (aether)eggs into one Khemist-Shaped basket. So, if the opponent could snipe him out, no more buffs for anyone. I recommend, if you want to take this Skyport to make a pure gunline army. Still take 2 Khemists with 2 big units of Arkanaut Skyhooks and whole bunch of Endrinriggers, to get the most out of the 4 Khemist buffs you have.
My Second Favourite Skyport! It comes with the best unique command trait we have, hands down, and it’s very mobile too.
Seek new Prospects
This ability allows you to reroll battleshock for units wholly within enemy territory. It’s good for large units of Endrinriggers who you want over there, but Thunderers get it naturally, and Arkanauts should stay back in your lines.
Prosecute wars with all haste
This ability allows all Kharadron Overlords to run and shoot in turn one. This is where your mobility comes from! It lets you move your gunline around against a cautious opponent to guarantee you’re within range to shoot their lynchpin characters. (results against Idoneth Deepkin not guaranteed) it also combines really well with Brokk, who lets you run and charge as well, making Endrinriggers extra deadly, and the Iron sky squadron, which gives your Frigates +1 shot on the first turn. With this, you’ll make sure those 2 shot cannons are in range turn 1.
Who strikes first, strikes hardest
This once-per-game ability allows you to pick a unit to either charge or fight in your herophase. Again, I don’t know why you would want to charge in the herophase before you move, but the ability to fight in combat twice a turn really helps Endrinriggers absolutely destroy any unit they can get in combat with, assuming they survive all the way to your herophase.
This ability gives all enemy units -1 bravery while within 3” dwarves. It’s a good ability for Endrinriggers, who can do enough damage to actually make use of this. I always forget about this though, so write it down somewhere!
Unique command trait – Opportunistic privateers
This amazing, amazing command trait lets you pick an enemy unit, and then all units even partially within 3” of your general can reroll all hits against that unit. And you can pick a new unit every turn! I love this ability. It’s amazing for gunlines. If you have this and a Khemist next to an Arkanaut squad with 12 Skyhooks you can effectively point and click a unit away every turn. The only issue is that your going to need your General safe, because your opponent’s going to be gunning for him hard, so it might be better to make a Navigator your general, with his 3+ save (he’s also cheaper than the Admiral).
I love Barak-Mhornar, it makes such a devastating army. Its command trait lets you make a nasty gunline, and it gives your Endrinriggers enough buffs so that they can really get to work. Barak-Mhornar lets you make a really nice variant of the “castle and attack” list, which I’ll go into more detail later on.
Last, but not least (looking at you Barak-Zon), Barak-Thryng is a bit random in their buffs, and not great right now, but probably a solid option if the meta ever switches away from taking big flying monsters or units.
Settle the grudges
This is Barak-Thryng’s big ability. It lets you select an enemy unit at the start of the game, and your whole army gets to reroll hits and wounds of 1 against it. However, thanks to Log of grudges, you can select D3 enemy units instead. Sadly, because this is done just after deployment, and not in a phase, you can’t use Honour the gods, just in case to reroll an unlucky 1 or 2, so it’s a little too unreliable for me to love it. But, it works against any enemy unit, so if your meta has a lot of Fyreslayers/Daughters of Khaine, this could come in handy!
Trust to your guns
This is actually a really nice bravery-based ability. It gives your units +1 to their bravery as long as enemy units aren’t within 3”. This is great for Thunderers, who can disengage from combat before the bravery phase, and who can reroll their bravery check, but if enough Arkanauts are dying for you to worry about bravery, they’re probably already in combat, making this ability useless.
Honour the gods, just in case
This gives you a once-per-game reroll. It can be used in any phase, so it can be used in your opponents turn, but because Log of grudges is rolled before the first phase, it doesn’t work on it. Similarly, priority rolls are also done out of phase, so no luck there either. It’s possible to get good mileage out of this ability by rerolling a damage D6 weapon, but it probably won’t be game changing.
Log of grudges
Lets you choose D3 units for Settle the grudges. That is all.
Unique Artefact – Grudgehammer
Lets a hero reroll all failed hits and wounds against a unit chosen by Log of grudges. It’s an ok buff but suffers from the same thing most of our combat relics do, that being the only hero we actually want in combat can’t take relics.
Barak-Thryng is alright. It gives you similar buffs to your damage output to Barak-Zilfin, and they’ll work on any unit, not just flying ones, but you need to give up all the manoeuvrability buffs to get that. At the moment, I’d pick Barak-Zilfin all the time, due to the presence of Nagash and Stardrakes and Nighthaunt. But if Fly ever goes out of fashion, then maybe I’ll trial some Thyrng lists.
Extra Footnote – There’s no trading with some people
In addition to these abilities all Skyports can pick an additional once-per-game ability from the footnote list. There are technically 5 options (because you can’t pick These are just guidelines), but I have always chosen There’s no trading with some people. In every list. It allows you to add D3 mortal wounds to any weapon damage you do. It’s the only way for Kharadron Overlords to deal offensive mortal wounds and is sorely needed by the army. It effectively works as a coup de grace on any character you juust didn’t manage to kill. I’ve managed to finish off everything from a Knight of Shrouds to a Stardrake with this!
Command Traits and Artefacts
If you’re not taking Barak-Mhornar or Barak-Nar, you have a choice of six command traits. Kharadron Overlords have some good choices, but nothing incredible
- Doughty Champion – Gives the hero a 5+ save against mortal wounds. This is good on a defensive character like the Khemist or a Navigator.
- Fleetmaster – lets you redeploy an airship. It’s fun, but I don’t really recommend taking airships in competitive play, so probably not worth it.
- Grudgebearer – gives the General +1 attacks. Skip it.
- Stickler for the code – I took this one to CanCon 2019, but it’s very situational. It lets you pick another footnote, which you should use to take These are just guidelines. This also bypasses the Skyports’ inability to take this as their additional footnote. This then lets you swap out your main Artycle ability, and I took it in hopes of replacing the Barak-Zilfin Master the Skies when I was up against a non-flying army, but what you swap to is random, and unless you can roll a 6 and get Settle the grudges, they’re not very useful.
- Prospector – With so many events allowing you to bring and set up your own terrain now, this is actually very good. It allows you to pick any terrain feature, and as long as your General is alive, any unit even partially on the terrain is immune to battleshock. Just set up an azyrite ruin where you think your gunline will be, and it’ll never run away! This is probably the best generic command trait, in my opinion
- Rising star – any unit within 7” of your general can use his bravery instead of their own. Prospector is the better choice for battleshock immunity, so don’t bother with this one
Kharadron Overlords Artefacts
The unique thing about Kharadron Overlords is that for every one artefact we can take, we can take one hero artefact and one airship artefact. There are a lot of Artefacts, so I’ll just cover the ones I believe are important here.
- The Last Word – if an enemy unit finishes a charge within ½ “of the airship, it can fire one weapon you selected at the start of the game. For Frigates, your best option is the cannon, and for Ironclads it’s the torpedoes. They do statistically more damage. Beware, when you tell your opponent about this, they’ll usually charge a nearby unit, then pile into the airship, bypassing your “Overwatch” abilities. So, make sure you hide your dwarves behind the Airship, and force the opponent to charge it if you want this Artefact to work.
The problem with a lot of our artefacts is they’re all geared to making our characters better in combat. The issue with that is, they really don’t want to be in combat. I don’t like taking an Admiral or Endrinmaster, but when I do, its for their command ability and ship repairing ability, not to fight things. The Khemist and Navigator definitely shouldn’t be on the front line, and Brokk can’t take relics because he’s a unique character. That being said, we still have a couple good options;
- Aethershock Earbuster – The Aethershock Earbuster is attached to a weapon, and whenever that weapon deals a casualty to a unit, it must take an immediate battleshock test. This is an amazing ability. If you shoot it later in the shooting phase any casualties suffered by the enemy unit count towards the battleshock. Not only that, but because it’s done in the shooting phase, the opponent cannot benefit from inspiring presence or the bravery boost from 10+ models! this makes it very dangerous against hoards like Goblin Stabbas, Orruks and even large Death units. I run it on a Khemist in conjunction with Thunderers a lot, because they’re already optimised at shooting hordes, and this complements them really well.
- Staff of Ocular Optimisation – If you have a second Khemist and Artefact to give out (for example in a Barak-Urbaz list) I’d recommend this. It lets the Khemist hit on 3’s, and with 3D6 shots, that really boosts his damage.
- Masterwrought Armour/Aethercharged Rune – The first allows you to reroll 1’s for your armour save, and the second allows you to automatically pass one roll you’re needed to make, once per game. These are great if you have a Navigator in a Barak-Mhornar list and want to keep him alive as long as possible to get the most out of his command ability.
- Dishonourable mention: Aethersight Loupe – I just had to mention this, as its very different from the book now. Pre-2.0 FAQ this was an awesome Artefact that allowed Navigators to dispel with 3D6, and regularly stop even Nagash! Now it just lets you dispel an extra spell. Not worth it.
Kharadron Overlords Battalions
I’ll also cover the battalions briefly, but I don’t think they’re worth the points. You get very few abilities from them, or they’re just to big to be used in normal games.
- Grand Armada – This is a mega battalion designed for fluffy games as its minimum points are somewhere around 4000 points
- Iron sky command – this thing is not worth the points. For 150 points, you get a command point, can push wounds off heroes onto the Arkanaut squad on a 5+ and gives the Ironclad a 12” +1 bravery bubble. You don’t really gain from fewer deployment drops out of it, because the entire battalion can fit in the Ironclad anyway, and there are cheaper, more efficient ways of getting the bravery buff (like Prospector). Just pay 50 point for an extra command point, save yourself from using this.
- Iron sky squadron – This is made up of 2+ frigates and 2+ Arkanauts and lets the Frigates fire 2 cannon shots turn one. I’ve tried so hard to make this work, because I think it’s one of the only chances we have of using Frigates effectively. I managed to come 3rd in a small, 3 game tourney in South Australia using this in conjunction with Barak-Mhornar, which allowed the frigates to run up turn one, and shoot 2 cannon shots each with re-rolls using Opportunistic privateers, which had some great alpha striking potential against monsters, but it always left me too far forwards and in danger of getting overwhelmed by combat units without a proper screen. I would love to see some experimental lists using this battalion but leave it at home for anything serious.
- Grundstock Escort wing – I think this is a really good battalion. It’s one of the only ways to give anything in this battletome +1 to hit. There’s just one problem. It’s far too big. With +1 to hit, I think it makes the Gunhaulers and Frigates cannons reliable, especially if you can put an Ordinator in there to give them a 2+ to hit! Its problem is that it doesn’t come with any battleline or heroes, so you need to bring 3 squads of Arkanauts in addition to the 3 Gunhaulers, Thunderers, Frigate and Skywardens. And in order to run the Arkanauts and Thunderers in the sizes I feel they need to be (at least one 30-man Arkanaut unit and a 10-man Thunderer squad) the Battalion is only feasible at 2,500 points. Although I would again really love to see someone prove me wrong with this and run a successful Escort Wing. I think if done right, this could be the key to running airships with Kharadron Overlords.
- Aetherstrike Force – I have mixed feelings on about this battalion. On one hand, you can use this to get +1 to hit a unit and give a unit to get an extra shooting phase in the hero phase, and a 12-man Skywarden squad can put out a large amount of firepower. But it also forces you to take Prosecutors. And they aren’t the best. In my experience they don’t put out enough damage, and the battalion forces you to take three squads of them.
Kharadron Overlords Units
Brokk Grungsson, Lord Magnate of Barak Nar
Brokk used to be far too expensive for what he did but after General’s Handbook 2018, he dropped 60 points, and now I think he might have a place in certain lists. Brokk has 8 wounds with a 3+ save, a fair amount of shooting, and four 2+, 3+ attacks with -2 and damage 3. He also has a nice command ability that allows any Kharadron Overlords unit within 18” to run and charge. He also gets rerolls of 1’s against Monsters/Heroes.
I think Brokk is our only real combat character, and while he won’t survive against the biggest threats out there, you can usually rely on him doing about 12 wounds to a Monster, so he’ll beat most things in his points class if he activates first. His problem, like most Kharadron Overlords units, is he’s fragile. He only has 8 wounds and a 3+ save, with no options to take artefacts to enhance this. If he gets caught out by any dedicated combat unit, he will disappear.
Lastly (and weirdly) the Lord Magnate of Barak-Nar works best in a Barak-Mhornar list. Mhornar allows you to run and shoot turn 1. Brokk’s ability allows units to run and charge. I think this goes really well with Endrinriggers and should allow you to pull off a devastating turn. I would really suggest not to try and use this as an alpha strike. I’ll go into more detail in the tactics section.
I don’t think this guy is very good. He does three things. Keep your gunline in place, let ships run and shoot and combat.
The problems are:
- you won’t have that many large units in one place so that you need to use his command ability to allow every unit within 12” to ignore battleshock over the standard Inspiring Presence which can be used by anyone.
- it’s not worth 120 points to let an Ironclad run and shoot. If you use Barak-Zilfin, you can move it in the hero phase and movement to get it in range. In Barak-Mhornar, you can run and shoot turn 1 anyway. From turn 2 onwards, everything will be close enough that you don’t need to run.
- the Admiral has 2 attacks with damage 2, for a total of 4 damage. This won’t even kill a standard character with 5 wounds, let alone anything important. He also completely lacks the movement to keep up with our only combat unit, Endrinriggers.
The only good use I found for him was using his 3+ save, 6 wounds and ability to take relics to make him relatively survivable and try to stick him on objectives, but Navigators can do this too, and are 40p cheaper. Leave this guy at home
I think this guy has a place, despite not being able to put out any kind of damage. He’s the cheapest hero we have, can dispel a spell, is surprisingly durable with his 3+ save (he has more armour than an Ironclad, go figure) and can halve the movement of nearby flying units, which is hilarious against Nighthaunt.
His pistol and ranged attack are terrible, but if you want to use a pure Kharadron Overlords army, he’s cheap and can take the role of an allied wizard. He’s also good if you know you’re going to play a lot of Hero-centric scenarios, give him the Ethereal amulet and he’s probably the toughest Kharadron in the entire battletome
The buffs the Khemist dispenses are so integral to a Kharadron Overlords army, that I think the entire army should be built around him. The Khemist can select one weapon type in a unit and give it +1 attack. This isn’t that useful for Volley guns, who already have six shots, but for a Light Skyhook or an Endrinriggers Saw, which only come with one attack, a Khemist can double that unit’s damage output. Thunderers, are also a good target, turning their two shot rifle into a three shot rifle.
In order to maximise the Khemist buffs, I think every Kharadron Overlords unit should be given as much of the same weapon as possible, so avoid mixing and matching Arkanaut special weapons, and just avoid the Thunderer special weapons in general after General’s Handbook 2017.
I think Khemists are almost mandatory to take alongside Light Skyhook Arkanauts and Endrinriggers, as they will double those unit’s effectiveness. I usually run two in any Kharadron Overlords list I build. They’re our most expensive hero at 160 points, but they’re just too valuable to ignore. Also, they’re shooting attack is pretty good, and combines nicely with the Aethershock Earbuster or the Staff of Ocular Optimisation. Just be careful. They only have a 10” range, and your opponent will be looking for opportunities to take them down, so only put them in range if it’s absolutely safe to do so.
I want to like this guy, but I just can’t. He has the best weapons out of all the characters and can actually do decent damage in combat. But like the Admiral, he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with our combat units, and only has a 4+ save, so will get destroyed if the enemy fights back. His airship healing ability is nice, but ultimately not good enough for the amount of damage the airships usually take. He’s a fun choice, but until Games Workshop let him unlock Endrinriggers as troops (hopefully!), leave him at home.
Every Kharadron Overlords list needs Arkanauts. They’re our only battleline option and can actually be really effective if equipped right and supported.
For every 10 models in a unit, Arkanauts can take three special weapons, chosen from a list of three different types of weapon. Again, to optimize the Khemists buff, it’s better to only pick one type of weapon per squad.
- The Light Skyhook has 24″ range, 1 shot, hitting on 3+, wounding on 4+, -2, damage D3.
- The Volley gun has 6 shots at 18″ hitting on 5+, wounding on 4+, -1, damage 1.
- Finally, the Skypike is a 2″ melee weapon with 2 attacks, hitting on 4+, wounding on 4+, -1 damage D3.
I think the Skyhook is better en masse, with a Khemist to boost them, as a full 40 Arkanauts with 12 Skyhooks will put out 24 shots. The Volley gun works well by itself, and even in small numbers, due to its ridiculous amount of shots. The Skypike needs to be thrown off the Sky-Port and forgotten.
Finally, Arkanauts also have Glory Seekers, which gives them +1 to hit Heroes and Monsters. This is an amazing ability as it effectively negates the look out sir rule heroes get for standing next to a unit, and lets you hit Monsters on 3+ with your skyhooks. Once you factor in the Master the skies bonus, you’ll be hitting and wounding big Monsters like Nagash and Allariele on 3+ rerolling 1’s. With all these stacked bonuses, a 40-man Arkanaut squad with Light Skyhooks can kill most targets in a single volley.
I think a 30-40-man unit armed with Skyhooks is almost mandatory for any Kharadron Overlords list because it’s just so effective at putting out damage and are usually safe from retaliation with a screen of smaller Arkanaut units, so they can continue to put out that damage throughout the entire game. Just be careful, like most Kharadron Overlords units, even 40 of them will die to a stiff breeze, so keeping them effectively screened is essential and finally, when removing casualties, always take the special weapons out last. Every other Arkanaut is basically just an ablative wound for the special weapons.
So, finally I’m up to the airships. I really hate to say this, but I don’t think they’re very good. They’re the reason I started Kharadron Overlords, and the coolest looking unit we have, but they just don’t do enough. Their cannons only ever have 1 shot that hits on 4’s, and although there are ways to make this better, once you add the cost of the airships and the cost of supporting the airships, you won’t have much of an army to back them up. At that point you won’t have the models to contest objectives, and the Airships are criminally fragile, so if you try to push your opponent off, it’s going to get destroyed, and you won’t have the firepower to kill enough of your opponent’s army to just take them from them.
I’ve tried so many ways to get airships to work, and they’re great fun! But in a truly competitive list, the only airship I can recommend is a single Frigate in a Barak-Zilfin list to transport Thunderers and/or Endrinriggers into the opponent’s rear.
Despite what I just said, this boat almost has enough firepower to be worth it, and a lot of transport, enough to carry a full Thunderer Squad with Khemist. The Ironclad also acts as a support for itself, it can;
- Give rerolls to hit and wound of 1’s against flying units (useless if you’re Barak-Zilfin but amazing if your anything else)
- Give rerolls to hit of 1’s against anything (useful even if you’re Barak-Zilfin)
- Give +3” to the range of all guns (probably the least useful, but can be situationally good)
- Give +2 Carbine shots (if you already have rerolls to hit, use this one)
These buffs also work on any Airship in line of sight, but you’ll rarely have multiple airships. When I take them, I always give the Ironclad the Volley Cannon over the Sky Cannon, because it’s just more reliable, and even has a higher max damage output. I don’t think it has the rend or accuracy to take on characters, but with its carbines, Volley Cannon and Torpedoes, the Ironclad can actually do significant damage to hordes. It also has a nasty surprise in its Supremacy Mine, which will do D6 Mortal Wounds against the first flying unit that charges it, so try and bait the opponent into attacking it with Nagash or a Stardrake.
The problem comes from its cost. It’s 420 points. It won’t be able to fight other things in its-weight class and for an extra 40 points, you can get another unit of 40 Arkanauts with skyhooks, who will do so much more. Its transport is amazing, but with the units we have access to, and the fact that Endrinriggers are always free to transport 25 capacity just isn’t that much more useful than 15 capacity, and the Frigate just wins out due to points/efficiency.
I think it might have a place in a Barak-Mhornar army if its points go down, but for now, it’s just a fluffy choice.
I hate it, but I need to love it at the same time. The Frigate will never do enough damage with its one cannon shot and 4 carbine shots. It has 14 wounds but only a 5+ save. It dies very fast. But, I still consider it the most useful of the Airships.
It has a transport of 15, plus any Balloon Dwarves it wants to carry. This is enough to fit a sizable Thunderer team plus Khemist, if you only take 14 Thunderers, as opposed to the standard 15. Its almost half the cost of an Ironclad and is perfect for equipping with Aetherspheric Endrins and deploying a team of Thunderers or Endrinriggers behind the opponent’s front line.
It also has 10” movement, that when combined with Barak-Zilfin’s Don’t Argue with the wind and There’s always a breeze if you look for it can lead to a 32” movement to quickly take an unguarded objective. I would always take one of these in a Barak-Zilfin list.
Also to note, in an Iron Sky Squadron the frigates cannon will shoot twice, and in a Grundstock Escort Wing the cannon can hit on twos. I’m trying to find ways to make the Frigate viable in roles other than ferrying units, but I haven’t had much luck yet.
The smallest airship. It doesn’t have a transport capacity, but it’s the cheapest way to get a cannon.
The Gunhauler used to be Ludicrously Expensive at 220 points, but now that it’s dropped significantly to 160 points, it’s somewhat viable. I still don’t think its worth the points. I think either it needs to go down more, or the cannon needs two shots before I’ll consider it. However, if you really want to use them, it would have to be in the Grundstock Escort Wing alongside an allied Lord Ordinator to get cannons that hit on 2’s
Thunderers are in an interesting place in the KO book. they used to be so good they were broken, but that changed in the General’s Handbook 2017, and now they can only take one of each special weapon per five models. However, they can still all use the standard Aethershot rifle, which has two shots at 18″, 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound, -1, damage 1. In larger squads, and especially when buffed by a Khemist, they can put out a lot of relatively accurate shots, which will cut through hordes and 10-man units.
I take them to drop down in the Frigate, and attack the opponent in the flank or rear, targeting units with a lower Armor save. They also act as a secondary threat for the opponent, so they split their forces dealing with the main gunline, and the Thunderers. However, the best use for Thunderers, is stealing valuable objectives from the opponent, in Scenarios like “Knife to the Heart” and “Better Part of Valour” using a tactic that I like to call “The Thunderer Slingshot”. I’ll get more in depth in the Tactics section.
Endrinriggers are by far our best combat unit. But only when buffed by a Khemist. They have amazing manoeuvrability, and I would always suggest taking two Grapnel Launchers per squad to give them the extra 24” movement. I would also recommend either using them alongside Brokk in a Barak-Mhornar list or in a “deepstriking” Frigate in a Barak-Zilfin list, to ensure you can charge what you want, where you want.
They have an amazing combat attack, one attack that hits on 3+, wounds on 4+, -2 Damage D3. The only issue is I think they rely on a Khemist to buff that to two attacks, or it just doesn’t keep up with other dedicated melee units in the meta, so every squad of Endrinriggers essentially costs 160 points more than the base cost. They’re also not bad at shooting, with three shots each at 12”, 3+, 4+, -1 damage 1. They’re also a really good unit if you know you’re likely to face Sylvaneth, because they can fly, and therefore shoot over the wildwoods, and their -2 in melee will usually get through a Treelord’s defences.
The only issue with Endrinriggers is they only have two wounds and a 4+ save. They’re very fragile (like most things in the Kharadron Overlords army) and you need to be careful when charging them in that they can kill whatever their charging, and then afterwards not be in a position to be counter charged by another massive unit. That’s why I think the need the additional manoeuvrability from Brokk or a Frigate, so they can get into the opponents flanks and rear and target the isolated and weaker elements of the army, while the Arkanauts deal with the main threats.
Endrinriggers can also be made into a surprisingly good shooting unit. If you go this route, I would definitely suggest taking them in minimum squads of three, but each team can then take a Drill Cannon and a weirdly accurate Volley Gun. This unit can then harass the enemy lines from a safe distance and take unguarded objectives. I think this is probably the best choice if you have a spare 120 points but shouldn’t be your main strategy.
Poor Skywardens. They have the same role as Endrinriggers but are worse in every way. They’re armed with Skypikes with two attacks, 4+, 3+, -1 damage D3. Their pistols are only one shot at 9”. They can take the same number of special weapons, and previously I would have said they’re the better option to run as small, three-man gun teams. But that was when they where slightly cheaper than Endrinriggers. Now they’re exactly the same cost, for no additional benefit.
The only instance where I think they’re better, is if you know you’re fighting Nighthaunt. Because of their defensive mines, you roll a dice for every model in a flying unit that charges them, and against 40 Chainrasp or 30 Grimghast that can be pretty funny. But definitely not competitive.
I want to just briefly cover allies here. Kharadron Overlords allies aren’t great. Ironweld Arsenal just give Kharadron Overlords more of what they already have, and Disspossesed and Fyreslayers can’t be taken in enough numbers to synergize with themselves. However, Stormcast do offer some interesting options.
- Lord Ordinator – He was the greatest thing in Age of Sigmar First Edition. He gave all ships around him +1 on all their guns, and he could get an Ironclad to shoot twice a turn, every turn. Sadly, now he just gives the Airships +1 to hit. It’s a good ability, and goes a long way to help the airships, especially with Gunhaulers in a Grundstock Escort Wing, but I still don’t think the Airships put out enough firepower to justify the cost. He also forces them to be relatively static to stay near him, which cuts their main advantage.
- Knight Azyros – I tried him with Barak-Mhornar. He gives your army +1 to hit against all enemy units within 10” of him. He’s also fast and can be good for Scenarios where hero’s need to capture objectives. It’s a nice ability when it works, but he usually only survives for one turn when he’s unsupported and within 10” of the enemy. So, send him out when you have a good chance of getting a double turn to make the most out of him.
- Knight Incantor – She’s a very useful model due to her auto-dispel ability, which can shut down your opponent’s most devastating spell. After that, she’s still a wizard and can attempt to dispel and cast once a turn. She also counts as a character/wizard for certain scenarios and is relatively durable. I’d take Evocators over her though, just for their damage potential and screening abilities, but if you don’t have 200 points, the Incantor’s a solid choice.
- Evocators – These guys are amazing. They cost 200 points per 5 models, so fit perfectly within the 400 points ally limit, and they bring everything Kharadron Overlords need. Wizards, Mortal Wounds and durability. They’re really good in combat, and deal, on average, one mortal wound per Evocator, and have three wounds each. I use them as part of a screen, to protect the 40-man Arkanaut squad. If they’re set up right behind a screen of 10-man Arkanaut Company, they act as an effective counter attack force, and then late game they’re usually alive to pressure objectives.
Kharadron Overlords Tactics
Kharadron Overlords are not a friendly army. They have a lot of damage potential, but they’re also very fragile. You will be punished for every mistake you make. A lot of people say that Kharadron Overlords either win or lose in the first turn. Either they can do enough damage to neuter the opponent’s army, or they lose. I think this is wrong. Playing alpha-strike can work, but it’s far from guaranteed, and against certain armies like Khalibron (Daughters of Khaine) and Idoneth Deepkin is completely ineffective.
Caution is the way
I like to take a more cautious approach. I want my army to stick around, and still be able to deal a lot of damage in turns 2-3. In games, I will almost always go second. This means that my opponent will get most of their command and spell buffs off, and even have a chance at turn 1 charges. But it also means the opponent will move their army in range of your guns, it means you can see their plan unfolding before dropping Thunderers or Endrinriggers in their most vulnerable areas. It also gives you a very good chance of getting a double turn early on. I think Kharadron Overlords have the equipment to deal with even the toughest units and turn 1 charges, and can then unleash a devastating “Beta-Strike”, and keep that pressure up all game.
Beware debuff armies
One very important thing to look out for with Kharadron Overlords though, is debuffs. Kharadron Overlords have a lot of +1 shot and reroll 1’s kind of buffs, but very little +1 to hit, especially for the infantry, so the worst thing your opponent can do, is give your Arkanauts and Thunderers -1 to hit. This is why I find Khalibron so tricky. But Death have many spells that can achieve this too.
When playing against an army with this kind of rule, you need to be aware of it, and deploy outside the maximum range of these abilities with any 40-man Arkanaut teams. Remember that certain spellcasters can double or even triple their ranges and might have access to spell portals. These are the kind of spell you want to prioritise dispelling, as they will be devastating to your damage output.
The other very important thing to look out for is turn one charges, and units deploying in your backfield. You can counter this with effective screening.
I think screening is the most important tactic we have. Even if you can’t practise against anyone before a big tournament, practice setting up your screen on an empty board, using the deployment types the event is going to use. The most important thing to protect, is your 30-40-man blob of Arkanauts with Light Skyhooks. To do this, I include two 10-man Arkanaut teams, backed up by Endrinriggers or Evocators. Careful measuring is very important here, or you’ll find your Skyhooks locked in combat with chaff, or your combat unit being unable to support the front screen. Against Death players you might even find their flying units have skipped over your front screen entirely and are attacking the Skyhook Arkanauts, so be Precise!
Deploy two, 10-man Arkanaut teams spread out in a thin line across the deployment zone, beyond the opponent’s front units’ maximum threat range (their move+charge and sometimes + run as well), so hopefully they can’t charge you turn one. Then deploy the Evocators or Endrinriggers touching the back of the Arkanauts bases, ready to counterattack. Then place the 40 Arkanauts 4″ behind the front of the Arkanaut screen, to keep them out of any combat. Always deploy the Skyhooks at the front and in a group. If your opponent has “deepstriking” units spread the pistol Arkanauts from this squad out in a “conga line” behind your line to make sure there aren’t any 9″ gaps for them to deploy in. Finally, put the General somewhere inside this blob.
Now, some opponents will still charge you turn one, because they can come in 9″ away from reserve or Teleport units or have ridiculous threat ranges (30″+). If they do, it’s ok. Your Volley guns will die, your Evocators or Endrinriggers might be decimated, but if your Skyhooks survive, then you’ll be fine.
Kharadron Overlords Beta-Strike
After the opponent’s first turn, start shooting at their army with everything you’ve got!
Target their supporting characters if they’re in range, and always go for the big kills if possible! (Nagash, Greater Daemons, Etc…).
Break up their initial charge with a counter charge, Volley guns and Arkanaut pistols, then push out as soon as possible.
Get your combat unit into the centre-line and start pressuring the enemy.
At the same time, get your outflanking unit (Frigate Thunderers, Grapnel Endrinriggers) to arrive and start attacking the opponent’s rear and sides, forcing them to split their army to deal with you on two fronts.
Just keep up the pressure and their army should start to crumble.
When using Brokk + Endrinriggers in Barak-Mhornar, it’s still best to go for the Beta-Strike. If you don’t manage to destroy enough of your opponent’s army, or fail some charges, your Endrinriggers will be stuck in the open against a potential double turn and will be destroyed, without your opponent having to enter your Arkanauts gun range.
Instead, go second, wait for the opponent to advance a little, then hit them. This way you know you won’t get double turned, you can run the rest of your gunline into range, and devastate your opponent’s army with your entire army, instead of being “defeated in detail”
The Thunderer Slingshot
Thunderers can be surprisingly useful for outflanking, and there’s a reason I prefer them in a Frigate over Endrinriggers, and that their ability to perform the “Thunderer Slingshot”. Thunderers have an ability called Keep your distance, which allows them, like Skinks, to retreat and run out of combat instead of attacking. this is great for getting out of a nasty combat, but it can also be used offensively.
You can purposefully charge an enemy unit and retreat in order to quickly re-position the Thunderers. This is amazingly effective at taking objectives. Using the manoeuvrability of the Frigate, the Thunderer unit can reach almost anywhere on the board.
If your opponent has left a lightly guarded objective, you can land 9″ away, shoot the unit off the objective, then charge a nearby unit, or, if there is no nearby unit, purposefully use less of your rifles to ensure one or two from the guarding unit survive. Then, you charge at the enemy unit, using a reroll charge command point from the Khemist if necessary, and then retreat 3″ away, and within 6″ of the objectives.
I won “Knife to the Heart” and “Focal Points” at Cancon 2019 using this tactic. You just need to keep an eye out for any openings.
Despite all this, an essential rule to remember is to always be flexible. If your opponent is also running a ranged army like Freeguild or Tzeentch (or Kharadron Overlords), there’s no need for a screen. Be aggressive! Push out immediately with your combat units and even Arkanauts, get in range of their vulnerable units and destroy them. Skyhooks have some of the longest range in the game, so they’ll win against most other ranged units.
In scenarios like “Knife to the Heart” it’s better to wait until the turn 2 or 3 to drop a Frigate or Grapnel with your Endrinriggers, so the opponent can’t retaliate against the Thunderers until it’s too late, or in scenarios like “Places of Power” where objectives can only be captured by heroes, it’s better to hide the Khemist in the Frigate. The Thunderers are ok even without his buff, and if your opponent kills him before he takes an objective, you’re in trouble.
Never be rigid with your tactics, and always adapt to what your opponent is doing.
Kharadron Overlords Army Lists
In the end, I think there are two viable builds for Kharadron Overlords: Barak-Zilfin or Barak-Mhornar. Both use similar tactics, but both do it in slightly different ways, and are slightly better in different meta’s
However, there are still some constants between both. Namely, Arkanauts. No matter what list I build, I always include 40 Arkanauts with 12 Light Skyhooks, a Khemist to support them, and two 10-man Arkanaut teams with Volley Guns to act as screens. This forms a formidable firebase that should be able to destroy any unit in the game and fill all your minimum Hero and Battleline requirements. All this costs 880 points, leaving you with 1,120 points to actually build your army.
I also always take a Wizard. In Age of Sigmar Second Edition they’re so important because the opponent will almost always have a strong magic phase, and you need to have some kind of answer to that. So many scenarios also require wizards to score objectives, it’s too much of a detriment not to take them. With our limited Ally list, I prefer Evocators, although a Knight-Incantor could also work
I prefer Barak-Zilfin because of their ability to deploy any unit, anywhere on the board using Aetherspheric Endrins. The ability to get Thunderer’s behind enemy lines and start stealing objectives and being a distraction from your main gunline is so useful I’m going to have a hard time not taking it to every tournament until the next update (but I won’t, because variety is the spice of life). Barak-Zilfin is also the best choice if your meta has a lot of Idoneth Deepkin and Death in it, because both use a lot of flying units, and Master the skies will be invaluable.
I would always take a Frigate, 14 Thunderers (on purpose to let the Khemiist fit in with them) and a Khemist with Barak-Zilfin. You could replace the Thunderers with endrinriggers for more punch, but you’re going to miss the utility of the Thunderer Slingshot.
With this Skyport you lack the manoeuvrability to make use of Thunderers effectively and might struggle a little with “Knife to the Heart” but you’ll be able to do a lot more damage than Zilfin with Opportunistic privateers. I would make the Khemist supporting the Arkanauts your general and start point&click-ing your opponents army off the board. Then as a beta strike/outflanking force I would use Brokk and a big unit of 12 Endrinriggers (with 2-3 Grapnel Launchers). I’d use one large unit, so you only need to buy one extra Khemist to support them. Use them to screen in your opponents first turn, then in your turn run them up as a beta-strike in your first turn.
So that’s all I’ve got! Hopefully this helps some of you to win more games with your Kharadron Overlords. I know we’re not in the best position right now, but we can still do well! If you have any questions, I can be found on the “Kharadron Overlords Age of Sigmar” Facebook page, where I’m an Admin, so I’ll see your question! Or you can contact me directly over Twitter @GrandAutumn. I’m always happy to help fellow Admirals!