The Leagues of Votann are a stout, short-statured species of humanoids who live their lives toiling on voidships near the Galactic Core. In ages long past, they were humans of a sort, but have since evolved to be a clone-based species of hardy warriors, miners and explorers who travel the galaxy in service of their Votann, ancient artificial intelligences imbued with all the wisdom of their ancestors.
While they look like humans, their mindset is as far removed from the Imperium as can be: They’re not afraid of technological progress at all, and see their Ironkin AI companions as equal members of their species, which allows them to achieve great technological advantages compared to most other races in the Galaxy.
Living harsh and perilous lives in the Void, the Kin of the Leagues have become pragmatic and utilitaristic, always focused on collecting valuable resources efficiently, with little care for the well-being of other living things.
In the game, the kin of the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team work as a well-oiled machine where every operative has a role, and everyone works together to claim objectives and take out key targets. If an enemy takes down one of the Hearthkyn, the rest of the team carry an unforgettable grudge against the killer of their kin, focusing their fire and fury on that enemy until the grudge has been settled and the enemy lies dead as payment for his transgression.
If you want to play an advanced, shooting-focused team with lots of tokens, combos and synergies, the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team might be just the team for you!
[Note: This article is updated with new rules from the Q2 and Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate.]
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Abilities of the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
The Hearthkyn Salvager have two abilities shared by the entire team:
Grudge activates each time the enemy incapacitates one your operatives. Then, the enemy operative who incapacitated your operative gets a Grudge token, and for as long as that operative is alive, all your own operatives get to retain one succesful normal hit as a Critical Hit against it when shooting at it or fighting it in combat for each Grudge token it has. This ability really turns the game on its head, as enemy operatives become more vulnerable the more succesful they are in taking out your operatives, which makes big killer champions in other kill teams much less viable. This is especially fun to use when playing against the Fellgor Ravagers from the Gallowfall expansion in which the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team made their debut, since they rely so much on their big melee brutes to take out several of your operatives.
Losing your operatives isn’t the only way to gain Grudge tokens, though: Your Theyn can hand them out in every activation, and the Toil Earns Strategic Ploys lets you apply them to enemies close to a specific objective.
Before the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, the rule worked like this (and this is how it’s written in the book):Steady Advance simply lets you ignore modifiers to Movement for all your operatives, which is good because everyone but your Jump Pack Warrior is terribly slow to begin with.
Since the Q2 2023 Balance Dataslate, it now works like this: Steady Advance states that while one of your operatives is performing a Normal Move, you add Triangle/1 inch to its Movement. This gives most of your otherwise slow operatives a movement of 5 inches/1 Triangle+2 Circle Movement in a Normal Move, and also makes 1 Inch/Triangle of your movement “safe” from modifiers and stuff, since it is added during the move instead of being part of your Move Characteristic in general (that’s how we read the new wording anyway).
Operatives of the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
The Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team consists of 1 Theyn as your Leader and then 9 operatives selected from the other options on this list:
Hearthkyn Theyn (Leader, 1 per kill team)
The Theyn, like all of their Hearthkyn teammates, has a slightly unusual combination of statistics: It has a pretty standard-to-low 9 Wounds (the rest of your operatives have 8 Wounds since the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate), but a really good Save of 3+, and then a Movement of only 2 Circle/4 Inches, which is very low by Kill Team standards.
They can be equipped with a ton of different weapons, and they always choose 1 ranged and 1 melee option from the ones described here:
For ranged weapons, they can choose:
- Autoch-pattern Bolt Pistol, a fairly standard pistol that gets to reroll hit rolls of 1
- Autoch-pattern Bolter, which is like the pistol above but with no range restrictions
- Bolt Revolver, a pistol with a Critical Damage of 5
- EtaCarn Plasma Pistol, a plasma pistol without the Supercharge option most Plasma guns have, but with 5 Critical Damage and Armour Penetration 1
- Ion Pistol, a standard pistol with the Piercing 1 Critical Hit rule, giving it Armour Penetration 1 if it rolls a Critical hit
- Ion Blaster, which is like the pistol above but with no range restrictions
For melee weapons, they can choose:
- Concussion Gauntlet, a high damage melee weapon with the Stun Critical Hit rule
- Plasma Axe, a melee weapon with a 3+ Weapon Skill and 5 in both Normal and Critical damage
- Plasma Sword, a high damage melee weapon with the Lethal 5+ Special Rule
There are a few good combinations here, but we would recommend going for the EtaCarn Plasma Pistol and Plasma Sword for what seems to be the highest damage output.
On top of being a stout little weapons platform of a Hearthkyn operative, the Theyn also has the great Eye of the Ancestors Ability (this saw a major change in the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate), which lets you give a Grudge token to a visible enemy operative in each Strategy Phase, and it goes up to two tokens if 3 or more of your operatives have been incapacitated when you activate the ability. Being able to give Grudge tokens to enemies without having to lose one of your operatives first is really essential to the efficiency of your kill team, so keep your Theyn alive and within sight of enemy operatives for as long as you can.
Hearthkyn Warrior (9 per kill team)
This is your standard operative for the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team, and it’s quite straightforward. It can be equipped with either the Autoch-Pattern Bolter, which can reroll hit rolls of 1, or the Ion Blaster which gains Armour Penetration 1 if you roll a Critical Hit. Both guns have their uses, but since Grudge tokens let you almost auto-Critical Hit against targets carrying them, the Ion Blaster does have an advantage over the Bolter. The Warrior also has the pretty uninteresting Fists weapon for close combat, but this can be swapped for the Plasma Knife equipment pretty cheaply if you want.
Like with so many other kill teams, there aren’t many reasons for taking Warriors in your team, since they don’t have Group Activation 2 and many of your specialists have the exact same loadout in addition to their special equipment.
Hearthkyn Dôzr (1 per kill team)
The Dôzr is a melee specialist armed with an Autoch-Pattern Bolt Pistol that rerolls hit rolls of 1 and his awesome Concussion Knux for mleee, which hit on 3’s, has 4 damage in both Normal and Critical Damage, rerolls hit rolls of 1, scores Critical Hits on a 5+ and has the Stun Critical Hit rule.
He also has the Brawler ability, which prevents enemies from providing combat support when the Dôzr fights in combat and lets him strike with one remaining attack dice before being removed from the battle if he’s incapacitated in combat.
In addition to being an awesome melee duellist with a great attitude (sorry, I love him), he also has the Knux Smash Unique Action, which is probably where he got his name from: Knux Smash lets you pick an enemy operative within Engagement Range, move it up to Square/3 Inches and deal D3+1 mortal wounds to it. If the result of the roll is 3, you can also give the target a -1 to its Action Point Limit. Even though this is a damage-dealing action, it’s also pretty great for defending key operatives, since it guarantees that you can move an enemy operative away from you, forcing it to spend an action to get back into melee range, so the Dôzr can be a really good bodyguard for your Theyn or one of your indispensable specialists.
Hearthkyn Field Medic (1 per kill team)
The Hearthkyn Field Medic is the healer of the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team, with the ability to revive a friendly operative once per Turning Point and to heal 2d3 wounds on another friendly operative every activation – just like most other Medic operative. On top of this, however, the Field Medic is equipped with a Bolt Revolver and a Plasma Knife, both of which have a Critical Damage characteristic of 5 (and the Plasma Knife has Lethal 5+ since the Q3 2023 Balance Dataslate), so they’re not afraid of getting stuck in close quarters combat at all, especially against enemies with Grudge tokens, which will often be close if they have to revive someone, after all.
Hearthkyn Grenadier (1 per kill team)
The Grenadier is the explosives specialist of the Hearthkyn Salvager kil team, armed with Autoch-Pattern Bolt Pistol and Fists, but also with the C8 HX Charge, which is a one-time use Critical Damage 6 weapon that can be thrown at Range 2 Circle/4 Inches, has a Blast Range of Triangle/1 Inch and Armour Penetration 1, causing high damage in a very small area.
The Grenadier also gets a Gravitic Concussion Grenade (see the Equipment section) for free, and it has the Vâyr-3 Utility Grenade Unique Action, which you lets you place a Utility Grenade token within Pentagon/6 inches and choose for it to have 1 of the following effects for 1 Turning Point: Reduce the Movement of enemy operatives close to it, reduce the Range of enemy Ranged weapons close to it, or increase the Action Point cost of Mission and Pick Up actions of enemy operatives close to it. Quite the Swiss army knife of a grenade!
Finally, the Grenadier has the Solid ability, which lets it ignore wounds coming from area effect attacks on a roll of 4+, so he actually has a 50% chance of ignoring wounds caused by his own grenades!
Hearthkyn Gunner (3 per kill team)
The Gunner can choose from the following special weapons:
- EtaCarn Plasma Beamer, which is more or less like a Plasma Gun without the danger of taking damage yourself (a great achievement for Kin technology!) with 6 Critical damage, Armour Penetration 2 and the Beam Critical Hit Rule, which causes D3 mortal wounds for each Critical Hit rolled in an attack roll to every operative along a Cover line drawn from the shooter to the target, as long as it doesn’t cause Heavy terrain. An absolute beast of a weapon that you should always bring in your kill team.
- HYLas Auto Rifle, which is like an Atuch-Pattern Bolter but with full rerolls and the Rending Critical Hit rule, which lets you turn one normal hit into a Critical Hit if you already scored at least 1 Critical Hit in your attack roll.
- HYLas Rotary Cannon, a Heavy (you can’t move with anything but a Dash in the same activation as shooting it) weapon with 6 attacks, 5 Critical damage which can split its attacks between targets, reroll hit rolls of 1, and with the Scan Special Rule which prevents enemies from being Obscured against its attacks.
- L7 Missile Launcher with two profiles: a Blast profile with an area attack, and a Focused profile with 6 Critical damage and Armour Penetration 1.
- Magna Rail Rifle with a normal damage of 5, Armour Penetration 2 and the Unwieldy Special Rule so it costs 2 Action Points to use – but it also does 3 Mortal Wounds in addition to its 4 Critical damage on each Critical Hit!
All these weapons are really solid, but the three we chose for the kill team built for this article was the Magna Rail Rifle for sitting on Vantage Points and picking off key targets, the HYLas Rotary Cannon for crowd control, and the EtaCarn Plasma Beamer for beaming plasma mayhem.
Finally, of course, the Gunner is also equipped with the Fists melee weapon. Remember that you can take 3 Gunners in your kill team, and that you can only select each special weapon once.
Hearthkyn Jump Pack Warrior (1 per kill team)
The Hearthkyn Jump Pack Warrior is the only operative in the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team blessed with an ordinary Movement Characteristic of 3 Circle/6 inches. They are equipped with and Autoch-Pattern Bolt Pistol and a Plasma Axe, which does 5 damage in both normal and Critical damage and hits on a 3+.
If the Jump Pack Warrior Charges in an activation, the Plasma Axe gets the Brutal Special Rule for that activation, which prevents enemies from parrying it with anything but Critical Hits, so make sure to always Charge if you can.
In addition to its combat skills, the Jump Pack Warrior has two Unique Actions: Boost costs 2 Action Points, but gives you a free 2 Pentagon/12 inch Move that has to be made in a straight line and in one direction, which is great since the Jump Pack Warrior also has the Fly keyword. Set Up Climbing Rig can be performed on a Vantage Point without any enemies nearby and lets you place a Climbing Rig token there, which then lets other friendly operatives climb up to that Vantage Point as if they had Climbing Equipment (see the Equipment list below) – a great utility action that lets you set up an easy path to a Vantage Point for your sniper if you have one.
Hearthkyn Kinlynk (1 per kill team)
The Kinlynk is a Hearthkyn Warrior with 2 Unique Actions: Relay lets you add 1 to the Action Point Limit of a nearby friendly operative, and System Jam lets you give a System Jam token to a visible enemy operative that doesn’t already have one, which forces that operative to activate after everyone else in its kill teamin that Turning Point, and then remove the token. Relay is a pretty standard thing to be able to do for most kill teams, but System Jam is extremely strong if you have a plan to take down a specific enemy operative.
Hearthkyn Kognitâar (1 per kill team)
The Kognitâar is a Hearthkyn Warrior with the Tactician Ability and the Accelerated Appraisal Unique Action.
Tactician activates in each Strategy Phase and lets you place an Attack or Defend token anywhere on the battlefield. If an enemy is close to your Attack token, all your operatives can reroll one attack dice if they Shoot or Fight against that enemy. If a friendly operative is close to the Defend token, it can reroll one of its defence dice every time it rolls for Defence. When the Turning Point ends, you remove the token and set up a new one in the next Strategy Phase.
Accelerated Appraisal lets you swap one of your Attack/Defend tokens for the other one within your activation. This makes Tactician even more useful, as it really awards careful, coordinated action against specific targets, especially if you combine it with the System Jam from the Kinlynk (and the Scan token of the Lokâtr) to completely lock down an enemy operative, throw everything at it and then switch to the Defend token and brace for the counterattack.
Hearthkyn Lokâtr (1 per kill team)
The Lokâtr is a Hearthkyn Warrior with the Early Detection Ability and the Pan Spectral Scan Unique Action.
Early Detection prevents enemy operatives from being set up outside their drop zone – a great counter against scouts and other sneaky operatives. It also prevents enemies from moving due to having selected the Recon Scouting Option before the game.
Pan Spectral Scan lets you place a Scan token anywhere that gives the No Cover Special Rule to the weapons of any friendly operative who shoots at targets close to the token for the duration of one Turning Point.
As mentioned above, Pan Spectral Scan works really well in concert with some of the other token actions of the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team for the purposes of taking down key enemies that have barricaded themselves somewhere they thought to be safe.
Hearthkyn Lugger (1 per kill team)
The Lugger is a Hearthkyn Warrior with a huge backpack that gives your kill team some advantages that are pretty unusual in this game.
The Well Stocked Ability simply gives your team five extra points to buy Equipment for if you select the Lugger as part of your kill team for a battle, and the I’ve Got It Ability lets the Lugger perform a Mission or Pick Up action at a -1 to its Action Point cost.
The Re-Equip Unique Action lets you pick a nearby friendly operative and change one of its weapons to another one for the duration of the battle! This is a really unusual and pretty fun ability that’s especially useful if you stay close to one of your Gunners, but it can also be used for switching around the pistols of your Theyn, or simply switch a Warrior or one of the Warrior-based specialists from Ion Blaster to Autoch-Pattern Bolter if you feel the need for it.
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Ploys of the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
This lets you count the Action Point Limit of your operatives close to an objective of your choosing as being 1 higher than it normally is for the purposes of determining control of the objective. It lasts for 1 Turning Point.
This gives each enemy close to an objective of your choosing a Grudge token as long as they’re close to it. It lasts for 1 Turning Point.
This lasts for 1 Turning Point, and lets you retain one of your failed saves as a succesful normal save every time you roll defence dice against a shooting attack made against one of your operatives.
This lasts for 1 Turning Point, and lets you treat your Ballistic Skill as being 1 better than it normally is each time one of your operatives shoots at a target within Pentagon/6 inches of it.
The Ancestors Are Watching
For one activation, this gives one of your uninjured operatives a free Fight or Shoot action.
This lets an incapacitated operative perform a free Mission action before being removed from the battle.
During a shooting attack against one of your operatives, it changes the Critical Hits the shooter has rolled into normal hits.
This can be used in the Scouting step of a battle, after resolving the Scouting option you’ve chosen. It lets you resolve the Fortify option as well (if you didn’t already resolve that one), turn the Light areas of a terrain feature close to your drop zone into Heavy areas, and turn one of your barricades from Light to Heavy. Pretty great for setting up defensive positions!
Equipment of the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
Gravitic Concussion Grenade
This grenade is much like a classic Blast-area Frag Grenade, but with the Critical damage turned up to 4.
The Plasma Knife is a pretty great melee weapon with 3 attacks, the Lethal 5+ Special Rule (since the Q3 2023) and a Critical damage of 5.
The bearer of this equipment becomes much better at climbing and dropping from terrain features, getting a discount to how much distance a climb counts for, how close they can be to a terrain feature to climb it, and so on.
This can only be taken by the Theyn, but gives all operatives within Square/3 inches of the Theyn a 4+ Invulnerable Save.
This can only be selected up to three times for one battle, and lets you place a Clearance token next to a terrain feature with the Traversable trait. Then, your operatives can move through that terrain feature as if it wasn’t there as long as they move through it next to the Clearance token.
This lets the bearer ignore all modifiers to the Ballistic Skill of one of its ranged weapons.
Tac Ops of the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
The Heartkyn Salvager Kill Team has the Recon and Security and Archetypes, giving it access to the Tac Ops associated with those Archetypes in the Core Book. In addition to those, it also has the following faction-specific Tac Ops
This Tac Op lets you start a Settle Grudges tally, and then score add 1 to the tally the first time an enemy operative with a Grudge token is incapacitated each Turning Point. When the tally reaches 2, you get 1 Victory point, and another when it reaches 3.
This Tac Op lets your operatives perform the Excavate mission action, which can be used on objectives more than Pentagon/6 Inches from your drop zone. When you use it, you place a Excavation token on the objective. This token can be be picked up by friendly operatives with the Pick Up action, and you even have a piece of Equipment, the Excavation Tool, that lets you Excavate for 1 Action Point instead of the regular 2, and the Heartkyn Lugger gets a discount on Pick Up actions as well, so there’s quite a few ways to gear your kill team towards achieving this Tac Op.
If your operatives control the Excavation token (you can only place 1 per game) at the end of the game, you get 1 Victory Point, and another if it is also being carried by one of your operatives.
Excavate is a bit of a complicated Tac Op to pull off, but it’s very thematic and your team has a couple of ways to make it easier to achieve.
This Tac Op lets you perform the Rig Site action on rigging points (terrain features with a Vantage Point that’s located more than Pentagon/6 inches from your drop zone). You get 1 Victory Point at the end of the battle if you’ve performed the action, and another if, at the end of the battle, you have more operatives close to a rigging point than the enemy has.
Playing the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
The first thing you need to know about playing the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team is that it’s a somewhat advanced kill team to play: There are piles of tokens to keep track of, both for your abilities, Ploys and Tac Ops, and since the team is really slow and relies a lot on good combos between abilities (and line of sight for shooting all the time), you have to think very carefully about strategy and positioning in every activation.
This is only made more complicated by the fact that you mostly gain your strongest advantage, Grudge tokens, from losing your operatives, which are all really valuable cogs in your stout little war machine of a team (sorry again).
That being said, if you like synergies and slow, tactical gameplay, you’ve come to the right kill team: There’s so much you can do in every Turning Point, with lots of options to improve the balance around objectives in your favour, hamper the enemy in all sorts of ways, and take advantage of focused fire from multiple operatives against key targets with Grudge tokens and a System Jam thrown at them to push them to the back of the activation queue.
The best playstyle for the Hearthkyn Salvager kill team is to keep everyone in close-knit groups, taking advantage of aura buffs and the like, and focusing on one enemy target at a time, while always being mindful of objective control, since so many of your rules are tied to them.
Just remember that, even though your operatives are slow and you’re best at defence and shooting, you have to get close to the enemy, if nothing else then to gain some Grudge tokens from losing a few of your operatives.
Building and assembling the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team
The Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team is built from a kit that consists of the Hearthkyn Warriors box for Leagues of Votann and an upgrade sprue for the bits you need to turn that kit into the Hearthkyn Salvagers (found in the Gallowfal expansion).
The Hearthkyn Warrior box is already full of different weapon and build options:
All the warriors can take either Autoch-pattern Bolters or Ion Blasters, for starters, and then all the special gunner weapons are added on top of that. This diversity combined with the new options from the upgrade sprue means that building some of the specialists for the Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team prevents you from building specific other specialists because they share a couple of bits. For example, the HYLas Rotary Cannon and the Magna Rail Rifle both use the same right arm bit, which is frustrating since you’ll want to build both of those Gunner options.
So our first advice when building a Hearthkyn Salvager Kill Team for any kind of slightly competitive game of Kill Team would be to buy an additional box of Hearthkyn Warriors – not an extra box of Hearthkyn Salvagers!
You don’t need two sets of the upgrade sprues at all. The upgrade sprue-specific build options never overlap in terms of what bits they use, and the sprue doesn’t really have any extra heads or adornments that you can use on whatever models you feel like – all the heads are specifically tied to a particular operative. Finally, for some reason the upgrade sprue has some very noticeable mould lines, which is something we rarely see anymore on GW kits, and they’re a bit of a chore to remove.
Even if you don’t buy an extra box, there’s still things you can do to get the operatives built you need, even if the assembly instructions seem to indicate you can’t.
The Field Medic with Bolt Revolver and Plasma Knife can be built with any of the torsos in the kit, since its arms don’t have to connect across its chest, and the aforementioned Magna Rail Rifle can be fitted on another right arm made for other guns if you just carefully cut away a bit of the glove on that right arm’s hand, and the arms for the Eta-Carn Plasma Beamer can be fit on another torso as well so you can use it even if you build the Hearthkyn Lugger that uses the torso intended for the Plasma Beamer.
Finally, like with most Kill Team kits, every single torso in the kit can also be built as a standard Hearthkyn Warrior.