This review was completed with a free copy of Battletome: Kharadron Overlords, provided to us by Games Workshop
The next new battletome for 3rd edition Age of Sigmar are the sky-faring duardin of the realms: Kharadron Overlords. An oddity of an army, relying and focusing on ranged combat in what’s usually a melee-focused game, it is a fantasy setting after all, the Kharadrons have had a bit of an overhaul – which has been a long time coming in a few ways.
Why Play Kharadron Overlords?
Steampunk dwarfs with flying ships. What’s not to love? If you like an army that is mobile, can strike fast and hard, and also be hardy enough to take and hold objectives then this is the army for you. Utilising a mix of bombs, guns, and combat weapons like pikes and saws they can really do just about everything.
What’s in the Book?
Everything you need from swashbuckling Arkanauts to massive flying Ironclads and everything in between as well as powerful heroes that buff your army and are sometimes combat beasts in their own right. Matched Play rules for all your tournament-style games as well as Path to Glory rules to build up and maintain your very own sky fleet!
5 Biggest Changes In This Book
- Fly High is now a command and not native to all ships
- Spell in a Bottle no longer allows faction-specific spells
- Frigate warscroll entirely rewritten
- Navigators can halve speed of any unit, not just Fly
- No more aether gold
5 Best Things About The Book
- Clearly defined rules for ship transports
- Reworked and better Frigates
- Actual combat unit: Skywardens
- Incredible commands and manoeuvrability
- No longer have to choose between pre-defined skyports or custom ones, you get both!
First off, Aether Gold is gone. It doesn’t exist any more and honestly, thank Grungi (that’s the Duardin god of forging for all you man-folk) for that. It was awkward and relied heavily on outdated core rules to work. Functionally it was like Lumineth Aetherquartz, but worse and there probably wasn’t a good way to update it without just making a still worse version of it.
Like every other 3rd edition book you must choose what subfaction your army is from. For Kharadron Overlords these are called Sky-Ports. These give your army one additional rule and some unlock certain battleline units as well:
- Barak Nar – Thunderer Battleline, extra command points in your own hero phase
- Barak Zilfin- Frigate Battleline, extra great endrinwork
- Barak Zon – Skywarden Battleline, charging infantry gain +1 to hit and wound
- Barak Urbaz – Gunhauler Battleline, extra artycle in your code
- Barak Mhornar – Turn off nearby enemy commands on a 5+
- Barak Thryng – Unique prayer for allied Priests to use to cause mortal wounds with Arkanauts or Thunderers (just those two, no other units). Best choice here would be allying in a Runepriest or a Runesmiter on Magmadroth: the latter adds a punchy monster to your force on top of being a Priest as well.
In the previous book, you had to choose a subfaction or make your own using The Code. The code let you pick 3 different traits (1 from each of 3 sections) to combine into your own unique Skyport. While conceptually cool, it was rarely worth it compared to the pre-made faction.
This time, you get a code even though you’re forced to pick a subfaction, offering additional customization. As part of your list you choose 1 Artycle, 1 Amendment, and 1 Footnote to create your code.
- Honour is Everything – All of your units Rally on a 4+ instead of a 6. It doesn’t matter who issues this order, it can just be the unit leader. This is incredibly good and unless you’re taking an army of Oops-All-Ships it’s practically an auto-take.
- Master of the Skies – If you do have an Oops-All-Ships list add 2” to the speed of all your ships, pretty handy if you’re running a lot of Frigates but more on why they’re so good later.
- Settle the Grudges – Simply pick 1 enemy unit at the start of game and all of your Kharadrons get +1 to wound against it. A great second choice for an Urbaz list but generally the other two will be more widely useful.
- Always Take What You Are Owed – In each of your turns choose one of your Arkanaut units and each model counts for 2 for contesting objectives. Very good and gives Arkanauts a real place in holding and taking objectives, combined with 4+ rallies and this is a great pick.
- Prosecute Wars With All Haste – Once each turn one of your units can run 2D6” instead of just 1D6”. Combined with run and charge orders on Frigates this can be great to cross the board fast.
- Trust to Your Guns – Every turn one of your units can re roll a single hit roll of a 1. This is close to being very good, but the missed roll needing to be a 1 and only affecting a single dice roll per turn puts it behind the first option.
These are all once-per battle abilities.
- There’s No Reward Without Risk – Charge with a unit within 18” of an enemy and roll 3D6, great for a long-bomb Frigate charge.
- There’s No Trading With Some People- Pick a unit that was shot at by your opponent and shoot back at the end of their shooting phase. Out of sequence shooting is great, but you can’t use this on ships and there’s plenty of armies without any ranged weapons.
- Without Our Ships, We Are Naught – One of your ships can receive 2 commands instead of just 1 for a phase. Incredibly useful in a crucial turn to give your Ironclad +1 attacks with all weapons and also All Out Attack for +1 to hit with them.
And just like that all Kharadron players globally are relieved to find out that the ships have their own unique, clearly defined, rules for transporting models instead of relying on the (poorly written) garrison rules.
Units can get in ships after moving, even if the ship has moved, in the movement phase. Units can only get out of ships before the ship moves but then both units can move after they do. Units in ships count as on the table for every reason except they cannot contest objectives. Embarked units count as moving if the transport moves, are -1 to be hit, and are in cover (so get +1 save). Also, units can use Redeploy to hop into a ship as they can embark during after any move in either player’s movement phase.
One of the biggest changes here as well is that Skyriggers, Endrinriggers, Endrinmaster in Dirigible suit, and Brokk can all get in ships now; they can no longer hitch a lift as part of a ship flying high (which they can’t natively do any more anyway).
Admirals get 3 unique commands they can issue to Skyvessels and that Skyvessels can simply issue to themselves.
- Combat Landing – At the end of the movement phase, a unit can disembark even if the transport has moved in that turn. The flexibility of being able to move a unit of Arkanauts counting as 2 models and dumping them onto an objective is incredibly good.
- Fly High – At end of movement phase the ship is removed from the table and set up again more than 9” from enemies and more than 1” from terrain features. The ship can’t be within 3” of enemies but it is allowed to move first in the same phase, so you can retreat and then Fly High later.
- Disengage – The ship and units embarked can retreat and still shoot later in the same turn.
Already you can see why taking Barak Nar for more command points and the Footnote for 2 commands in one phase can be a great combination. Being able to disengage and fly high or disengage and perform a combat landing can come in clutch on the right turn.
Same as any book you get a set of command traits to choose from. Generally you’re going to want an Admiral to be your general, which is great because none of these lock you in to a specific Hero to make use of.
- Grudgebearer – Pick an enemy Hero and double the damage dealt by your General to it. Not great. Amusing on a Dirigible suit Endrinmaster, maybe, but even then still not.
- Cunning Fleetmaster – At the end of each enemy movement phase you can move one of your ships near your general that also isn’t within 12” of any enemies. It’s only a normal move so you can’t run as part of it but giving you that much more maneuverability will never be a bad thing. Can combine with Redeploy order as well of course and definitely could help your ships stay further from combat.
- A Scholar and an Arkanaut – You get an additional Footnote. These are only once per game effects, largely not useful to have 2 different ones, but means you can choose the return fire one and not feel-bad if your opponent doesn’t have any shooting since you’ll still have another.
- Old Skydog – You get an extra Great Endrinwork. Simple. Combined with Zilfin you can get 3 Great Endrinworks and not need any extra enhancements for it!
- Ex-Grundstock – Makes Grundstock Gunhaulers and Thunderers battleline units for your army. Gives incredible flexibility in list building; while Thunderers are not incredible you’ll still want to have a Gunhauler around so making it Battleline can be very useful.
- Stormcaller – Navigators in your army can re-roll any their dice when rolling to read the winds. This is just so long as your general is on the table, so doesn’t even need to be a Navigator. Great pick because that roll can be incredibly important.
Veteran players will recognise most of these, however 2 of them used to be part of the Admiral’s warscroll instead of being artefacts…
- Masterwrought Armour – Admiral only and grants 5+ ward. Simple, solid, never bad, but there’s better choices.
- Celestium Burst-grenade – One use, pick an enemy within 12” and on a 2+ they don’t get ward rolls for that shooting phase. Any hero can take this and removing wards from an enemy in the right phase can take down some of the toughest units with ease: Glottkin, Hearthguard Berzerkers, etc
- Blazebear and Sons Mag-bolas – In each shooting phase pick an enemy Monster within 12” and on a 2+ they roll 1 less dice for charges until the end of the opponent’s next turn. This is huge for slowing down monsters and being able to use it every turn combined with Navigator halving move and redeploying your own units can absolutely neuter an enemy monster.
- Spell in a Bottle – One of the most-used artefacts from the last book. This is Khemist only, you pick 1 endless spell and the bearer can unleash it once per game. Thematically extremely cool. The big change from the old book is that is must be an endless spell that is not from another faction. The spell will always be wild, cannot be unbound, and it is free. You do not pay points for it. Some of the best picks for this: Soulsnare Shackles, Purple Sun, Gnashing Jaws.
- Phosphorite Bomblets – Endrinmaster only, but doesn’t need a dirigible suit, pick an enemy within 6” and on a 2+ it suffers a mortal wound; keep rolling until the target is destroyed or you roll a 1. Once per game but has potential to just remove a unit.
- Voidstone Orb – Only for a Navigator. Instead of rolling to unbind a spell, the spell is just automatically unbound. It’s one use only but that’s enough to stop what could otherwise be a crippling spell for your army.
Pretty easy to see that the Mag-bolas will be an auto-include in most lists, especially for events, and Spell in a Bottle change is nice that the spell is free, but no more Warp Lightning Vortex will change many player’s choice.
A unique enhancement for Kharadrons, sort of like mount traits for other armies. As is normal for unique enhancements, you get one free and can spend an extra enhancement to gain another one. There’s three different types for each of the three different ship hulls.
- The Last Word – After an enemy unit charges your Ironclad shoot it with it’s main gun: sky cannon, skyhook, or volley cannon depending on which you’ve armed it with. Always useful since you can combine it with Unleash Hell to fire with that gun twice!
- Hegsson Solutions Hullplates – The Ironclad ignores the first wound it would suffer every single phase. Pretty great actually considering the amount of healing you can also stack onto it, making it just a very tough and hard-to-kill ship. Between spells, shooting, monstrous rampages, combat, and effects that can cause damage in other phases as well this can stop up to 5 or 6 wounds across an enemy turn depending on your opponent.
- Breath of Morgrim – Effectively an extra weapon for the Ironclad, hitting an enemy within 9”, rolling as many dice as models in range of it to suffer a mortal wound for each 5+ you roll.
- Zonbarcorp Battle Ram – Charge with your Ironclad and roll as many dice as it’s charge (this can be 3D6” remember once per game with the right Footnote) and each 4+ deals a mortal wound. Will average you 3 to 4 mortal wounds on a normal charge.
- Prudency Chutes – If the ship dies, models inside don’t roll to see if they die, they roll out the inflatable chutes and slide to safety before it goes down. More importantly, models inside can be set up within 3″ of enemies instead of just dying; keeping your heroes/units much safer if the ship gets surrounded.
- Magnificent Omniscope – Simply add 2” to the move of the ship. Combine with the right Artycle and this is +4” of movement giving you a 14” move at full wounds.
- Khazzar Farewell Fail-safe – When the boat dies, units within 3” suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 2+ roll; able to take some models with you on the way out is useful, and circumstantially can save any units inside by creating space for them to get out.
- Malefic Skymines – One use mines that can hit an enemy unit with Fly to dish out D3 or D6 mortal wounds depending how you roll. Not every enemy has a Fly unit and if they do they’ll likely avoid this ship then, there’s better choices.
- Prudency Chutes – Same as the Ironclad’s, useful.
- Magnificent Omniscope – Same as the Ironclad’s, useful.
- Iggrind-Kaz Surge-injection Endrin MK IV – Can add D3 or 2D3 extra move to the gunhauler but if you roll a double then it will also suffer 1 mortal wound. Extra movement is fantastic, especially with bombing runs.
- Zonbarcorp Debtsettler Spar Torpedo – Once per game after charging, roll a die and on a 2+ deal that many mortal wounds to a nearby enemy unit. Great for dealing the last couple wounds off a unit you couldn’t quite clear off, especially if it means taking an objective or scoring a battle tactic.
- Coalbeard’s Collapsible Compartments – Gains the Transport ability and can hold 6 Skyfarers – meaning it can hold 6 Skywardens or Endrinriggers, or 5 Thunderers and a hero to go with them.
Only two core battalions to choose from, and neither particularly useful to the army. Kharadrons traditionally want to place into a one-drop battalion or have a Warlord for more enhancements. In the current season there’s a strong argument for Sharpshooters as well, but none of these get you that.
- 2-3 Frigates
- 2-3 Arkanaut units
Gives Expert (a unit gets All out Attack or All out Defence without spending a command point once per game) and Swift (once per game Double or Forward to Victory for no command point spend). Frigates now want to be charging, so if you have these units hanging out not already in a battalion you might as well use it.
- 2-3 Gunhaulers
- 1 Thunderers
- 0-1 Ironclad
- 0-1 Frigate
- 0-3 Skywardens
Just gives Slayers (once per game a unit can have All out Attack or Unleash Hell without spending a command point).
This is far less useful…it’s not incredibly likely you’ll have these units in your army that aren’t already in a one-drop battalion, but if you do then sure, why not take it. An Ironclad with a free Unleash Hell is never a bad thing.
As part of your list you choose a grand strategy, with aether gold a thing of the past that grand strategy that so many Kharadron players relied on is gone too.
- Rule the Skies – At the end of the game you have to have at least one of your ships on the table and no enemy behemoths with Fly on the table. So long as you can keep one of your ships alive this is pretty easy to achieve against many enemies, some matchups will be tougher however but it’s a solid choice. If all your ships are dead you’re likely not in a good spot anyways.
- Defend the Flagship – You have to have an Admiral general; both the general and the ship chosen as their flagship have to be alive. Admirals are pretty squishy so smart opponents will be able to deny this easily.
- Prospector Fleet – After everything deploys your opponent chooses a terrain piece on the table and you have to control that at the end of the game. High maneuverability with the army helps with this but you can guarantee your opponent will pick something far from an objective to make the game tougher for you near the end.
- Guided by the Code – Complete at least 4 battle tactics and every tactic that you complete has to be from the Decrees of the Code list (the Kharadron tactic list). Terrible. Difficult to achieve tactics and you’ll almost never score this. Do not pick it.
Your secondary objective list, using these and whatever battle pack you happen to be playing, whether that’s Contest of Generals, a General’s Handbook, or some other mission pack.
- Bombing Run – Pick an enemy unit and kill it with the Bomb Racks ability. This ability is better than it used to be but you’d have to pick a unit with almost no models/wounds left in it and still hope you can roll enough wounds to make it happen. Niche choice.
- Mobilise the Fleet – You can’t choose it turn one, you have to take 3 units on the table that are not in ships and put them into ships. Since characters count as separate units and you can move the ship around before getting in it’s reasonably achievable.
- Boots on the Ground – Sort of the opposite as the above, but you can do it turn one, have 3 units that were in a ship to no longer be in a ship but also wholly in enemy territory. Since Fly High happens end of phase you cannot fly high to achieve this, but battleplan and enemy deployment permitting you could have a Frigate just blaze across the table and score it.
- Opening Salvo – Kill an enemy unit in the shooting phase. Incredibly easy. Unfortunately you really need to be going first, or reasonably lucky, since you can only pick it if you haven’t lost any of your units yet. In some matchups this will be easy even if you go second though.
- Blast ‘em to Smithereens – Pick an objective within 12” of any enemies; score if there are no longer any enemies within 12” end of turn. In the right circumstance, easy.
- Stake a Claim – If you control less objectives than your opponent, control more than them end of turn. Situational but this is the aim of the game to begin with so very doable.
One of two unique heroes, Brokk is the leader of Barak-Nar so in a Nar army will count as a general even if you’ve chosen another one. He has a respectable profile with 2 ranged weapons at 18” range dealing up to 18 damage in a shooting phase and 4 nasty melee attacks to follow up with a further D3 mortal wounds after fighting on a 2+ roll. He gives other Barak Nar Skyfarers within 12” +1 attack with melee weapons on a turn he charges in making Skywardens particularly nasty on a charge. He also gets a unique command to give up to 3 ships that aren’t within 3” of an enemy the ability to re-roll runs and be able to run, shoot, and charge; this will follow the usual order restriction so 12” or 18” if he’s in a Nar army. He’s pricey at 220 points but in the right list you can sweep through enemy units.
The other unique hero, this time from Barak Mhornar. He makes a Mhornar Frigate his flagship giving it +1 damage with boarding weapons and gives re-roll to run and charges for his ship while he’s aboard it. Frigates are now actually good, so this is a lot better than it used to be an Mhornar is an interesting sky-port too. His triple barreled pistol is no joke either, only 9” range but 2D6 shots of damage 2 can help clear through some chaff. The best part of his warscroll is permanently removing artefacts from enemy heroes; he has to be within 1” of the hero at the start of the combat phase but on a 3+ the artefact is removed from the hero and can’t be taken back.
A bit of a reworked Warscroll since the White Dwarf update we got last year. If you’re taking one (and you’ll likely want to) then he’ll definitely be your General because then you get to declare an Ironclad or Frigate as his Flagship. The Flagship can receive a command from the Admiral once per turn without needing to spend a command point, and as we saw above there are plenty of commands you’ll want to use. He does still have Grudgebreaker rounds, once per turn giving a unit (not a ship) an extra point of rend on missile weapons for the phase. If you have multiple Admirals then you can use this multiple times but can’t stack them on the same unit in the same turn. Boosting Thunderers, Endrinriggers, or Skywardens shooting attacks by an extra point of rend will always be good. .
He also has two more commands to use, one that gives any ship reroll runs and can run and shoot and charge; another that gives a skyvessel that doesn’t move and doesn’t fly high +1 attacks with all missile weapons. Getting extra shots with an Ironclad is no joke! Just remember that a boat that runs counts the units inside as running as well, and they will not be able to shoot later in the same turn.
I expect every Kharadron army to (continue to) have a Navigator in its army, however maybe not two any more. They can still dispel and unbind a spell in each turn as if they were a Wizard and they can Read the Winds, an ability which has drastically changed; you roll 6 dice and then choose an effect:
- For each 1 you pick an enemy unit within 30” that the Navigator can see and it suffers D3 mortal wounds; if it suffered any wounds that weren’t negated that unit halves its movement until the Kharadron player’s next hero phase.
- For each 6 pick a friendly Skyvessel within 30” and in line of sight and it can make a move of D3+3”.
What’s nice is that you get to roll the dice before deciding which effect you’ll take. You should on average roll at least one of either result but really the result you’ll be wanting most times is to slow enemy units; any enemy units, not just ones that fly, but any. You can only do this with one Navigator each hero phase, it doesn’t matter how many you have, so having a General that lets you reroll any dice on this ability will be incredibly useful to slow down enemy units from hitting your ships (that’s any of the results too, if you rolled a 1 you can reroll the other 5 dice and keep the 1 you already rolled).
Endrinmaster with Endrinharness
This is the one on foot. He doesn’t have a ranged attack any more and doesn’t help Endrinriggers heal things better, either. Instead now he heals a Skyvessel for 3 wounds each of your own hero phases and on a 2+ can slam the “go” button on a Skyvessel he’s embarked on so that it operates on the top row of the damage table for the turn; on a 1 it instead suffers D3 wounds, and you have to do this before you heal it too so if you’re down to your last few wounds could spell disaster…
Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit
The one with the balloon suit. This one does help the healing of nearby Endrinriggers, giving nearby units +1 to their roll whenever they heal a ship giving you more wounds back more often. He also has 2 ranged profiles all at 18” range so he can hang back with boats, healing them for 3 wounds like the other Endrinrmaster above, and when enemies wander too close has a decent melee profile too. But this version is expensive at 170 points, tougher to fit in most lists.
The new guy! A true advisor to your Kharadron fleet if he’s near another KO hero in your hero phase you can get up to 2 additional command points and can carry out a unique heroic action which has you roll a dice: on a 2-3 you can swap your army’s Footnote for a different one, and on a 4+ you can instead swap your Footnote and/or Amendment. Being able to change mid-game is useful, especially for once per game abilities but the real utility is going to come into effect during tournaments or other events where you have to lock-in your army list. Being able to swap your code for other rules to better tailor against your opponent is pretty strong, but this is also all he does for your army and does also mean you’re giving up another heroic action to do so. Is he worth 90 points? Maybe not, after all.
A solid buffing hero. You’re likely taking him for access to Spell in a Bottle, but being able to give a nearby unit (not a boat) an additional point of rend on their shooting attacks will be a fantastic boon to cut through armour. Combine with the Admiral’s once per game ability for the same effect and you can have a unit of Skywardens spitting out up to 27 shots of rend -3, or Endrinriggers at -4! Thunderers are another obvious pick of course with even more dice across a unit of 10. The only downside is that this ability can’t be used with the Khemist is in a boat or on a unit that’s in a boat, making them a bit more vulnerable to attack; you also cannot stack multiple Khemists’ buffs on the same unit either.
He does also force -1 hit rolls for enemies within 3” which will help as enemies get close, but if any meaningful enemy units have gotten that close you’re in trouble. Also, weirdly the only hero with a 4+ save instead of 3+? Not sure why, it would be fine if it was 3+ like every other hero in this book.
There’s only one Battleline unit in the army, but fortunately there are many ways of making other units battleline between command traits, which Sky-Port you’ve chosen, and if you have certain heroes in your army.
The humble Arkanaut Company. A basic 100 point unit of duardin with nothing impressive about them. For each 10 you take you can have a volley gun, a skyhook, and a skypike and you should always take these. Do not expect them to kill much more than simple chaff and you’ll never be disappointed. They exist to take objectives and get in the way of enemy units hitting the units you really do care about.
These are your Ironclads and Frigates. They no longer have Fly High or Disengage baked into their warscrolls, as these are now commands, and don’t have any built-in healing either.
Skyhooks no longer give advantages to charge rolls but instead have a chance of shutting off Monstrous Rampages when firing at Monsters.
Bombs work entirely differently as well, being able to drop them on enemy units as you pass over them to dish out mortal wounds. You roll X number of dice depending on the boat’s current damage table and needing a 4+ on each.
Gone are the days of overburdening your ships with too-many-models too. Ironclads hold up to 22 models and Frigates hold up to 12, giving you the chance to load them up with units and heroes.
Both also now count as 5 for objectives, same as Monsters.
The big boat itself. It’s gone up a whole 10 points but has gained 2 extra wounds, more shots with its sky cannon or skyhook, and rolls up to 10 dice for bombs giving an average of 5 mortal wounds when it drops them. The skycannon still fires either shells at 24” or shrapnel shots, with the shells now being D3+3 damage; it is less reliable than the old flat 6, but is now 2 shots which is incredible.
It still has 3 shooting attack profiles each turn so is a great candidate for the Admiral’s +1 attacks order for even more shots.
Its once per game Supremacy Mine now works at the end of any enemy charge phase, picking an enemy within 3” and on a 2+ they suffer that many mortal wounds as shown on the dice. So between Unleash Hell, The Last Word, and this mine just about any enemy unit will be put off charging the big boat.
Drastically different from its laster iteration, Kharadron players everywhere will be happy to dust off their Frigates and get them on the table (maybe for the first time…)
Assault boat with guns.
Upgraded to 15 wounds with a 3+ save it’s sturdier, which is nice considering its cost is now 300 points. You’re going to want to load this thing up with 9 Skywardens (more on them below, but follow me here for a moment) and slam it right into an enemy unit dealing mortal wounds as it charges in and units inside disembarking after it’s made a charge move and gaining Strike First when they do. Assault. Boat. And it’s awesome. The mortal wounds on the charge corresponds to its damage table, starting with 8 dice and slowly decreasing, meaning you don’t even have to roll well on your charge roll like Ogors or the battering ram artefact, you just get a bunch of dice to cause a bunch of mortals.
Kharadron lists will be seeing minimum 1 of these loaded up with Skywardens, but just as likely 2 with that setup considering the amount of firepower both the ship and the Skywardens can put out, after potential bombing runs, and also ramming mortals with multiple units having Strike First to perform an alpha strike before the enemy can hit back.
The rest of the army. From balloon-equipped dwarfs to the smallest of the ships, and some other infantry.
The smallest of the boats, with no transport capacity (unless you take the right Great Endrinwork) and a set value of 4 dice for its bomb racks effect. It’s still got a 12” move, 10 wounds but now has a 3+ save and if you choose the drill cannon it still deals 3 mortal wounds on its target on a hit roll of 5+ instead of normal damage. The normal cannon option has fallen in line with the changes above, being 2 shots but dealing D3+1 damage or firing 4 shrapnel shots each at 2 damage. The drill cannon will likely remain the favorite here, even since it’s decreased to 24” range, simply for the chance of mortal wounds and having an innate -3 rend when it doesn’t roll that 5+. Once per game it can gain an extra 6” move helping it keep pace with run+shooting larger ships to give them a 6+ ward while close by.
If you like having almost every model in your unit equipped with a different weapon profile then look no further! I really wished they’d consolidate at least some of the profiles in this unit to make them faster/easier to roll, but no, you still have 4 different ranged attack profiles that you’ll need to roll separately, every time. Fortunately, you don’t have to have 1 of each to gain any special abilities and you’ll really only be rolling 3 different ones because you can leave Mortars at home. Also, the unit can stay in its boat and still use all of its rules too!
The special weapons can be taken just like they come in the kit: 1 per 5 models each. Aethershot rifles and decksweepers share the same 3+ hit 4+ wound with rend -1 and damage 1, so you can roll these together (they’re just different ranges and a different amount of shots) but you’ll want to take maximum aethercannons now with a 3+ hit roll and flat 3 damage; fumigators now auto-hit with 12” range making them a great pick and can deal mortal wounds to enemies within 3” if you get caught in combat. Mortars make 1 attack per enemy model in the target unit up to 5 total, with no rend and damage 1; just take aether rifles, it’s always 2 shots and has rend, it’ll do better for you the majority of the time.
Suppressing Fire is a new ability to the Thunderers and makes them very much worth taking: you add up the number of wounds the unit caused to an enemy unit and then add a roll of 2D6, if that total is above the enemy’s Bravery then it suffers a -1 to all hit rolls until the start of your next hero phase. The entire unit must fire at the same target to gain this, you can’t have each model firing at different units hoping to suppress everything nearby! This is every time the unit fires, which means it works as part of Unleash Hell too.
The first of the two balloon-carried units, these are the repair-dwarfs of the fleet. At the end of any phase during every turn each unit of Endrinriggers can attempt an emergency repair, rolling 1 dice per model in the unit: a 4+ heals 1 wound but a 6+ heals 2 wounds. Combine with an Endrinmaster in Dirigible suit and a unit of 6 will reliably heal 6 wounds per turn (that’s both your own turn and your opponent’s turn) making your Gunhauler, Frigate, or Ironclad even tougher.
They’re no slouches in combat either though, with their pistols firing 3 shots each of rend -2 and the choice for volley guns, skyhooks, grapnel launchers or drill launchers they can hang back with ships and deal a surprising amount of damage. All those special weapons only have a 15” range though, so you’ll be playing a bit danger-close. But that’s also ok! Any of them with pistols also have a saw which hits with 2 attacks rend -2 damage D3; not bad in combat. The “best” loadout for these will probably just be saws and pistols, very solid profiles on both and makes the unit more flexible too both defending and repairing your fleet. You might want to take a grapnel launcher for a once-per-game mini teleport but you need to be within 15” of a piece of terrain piece and be set up again more than 9” away from enemy units; this is situationally useful at best and the unit already has a 12” move which will be more than ample most of the time.
The last unit in the book and the other balloon guys. This is your real combat unit, you want 9 of these in a Frigate in just about every list from now on, they’re fantastic. They can also take special guns, but swap out their skypike to do it so you’ll never want to, that skypike is just far too useful now. Those skypikes now hit with 3 attacks each with 2” range, so you can fight in two ranks easily getting the whole unit in combat after piling in needing 3+ to hit and wound, rend -1 and a solid 2 damage each. From a unit of 9 that’s a total of 28 attacks. Run in Barak Nar with Brokk and it goes up to 37 attacks on the turn he charges nearby (or even in the same Frigate!) or as Barak Zon to hit and wound on a 2+ on the charge. These guys are why the Frigate’s assault boat rule is so solid, that’s going to be a hell of an attack between charge move mortal wounds from the frigate and then these attacking with Strike First to make sure they attack before any enemy unit gets the chance. Even at range they fire off 3 shots each at 12″ range with rend -1, allowing them to soften up targets before barrelling in. As if that wasn’t enough too, at the end of the combat phase if they’re still within 3” of any enemies on a 2+ they can make a retreat move and deal D3 mortals to an enemy nearby. This is insane. With careful placement of your frigate before they jump out you can minimise how many enemies will attack this unit after piling in so that you don’t suffer many casualties, retreat to the end of combat and then immediately Rally themselves (on a 4+ with the right code!!) in the following hero phase. I can see Kharadron players going all-in with 2 Frigates and 18 Skywardens, you could even go with 3 Frigates with 1 unit of 9 and the other 2 with a unit of 6 each, too, for a hell of an alpha strike between shooting and combat.
Seek New Prospects
All in all this is a very very solid book for Kharadrons. Some of the old tricks are gone, sure, but they’ve been replaced with more reliable damage output and some incredible combat power. There are not many armies that I can think of that will really give Kharadrons problems competitively. Nighthaunt, Beastclaw Raider Ogors, Sylvaneth and….other Kharadrons are what’s going to be this army’s biggest problems, probably. Maybe. It’s very good and I expect to see Kharadrons at a lot of events in the coming months.
What this book isn’t is more fun for people to play against, really. If you’re here for the competitive content you probably don’t care so much, you’re trying to win events, and that’s totally cool and fine. But for the more casual players, this book is going to be tough for a lot of your opponents, maybe be mindful of that.