The Kharadron Overlords are a warband for the skirmish game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Warcry.
They are a versatile warband with good flying and excellent shooting attacks, so if you like wearing down you opponents at a distance and then flying in to finish them off with spears, bombs and chainsaws, they might be just the right warband for you.
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Background and Lore of the Kharadron Overlords Warband
In the blood-soaked arenas of the Eight-points, there is probably no faction of fighters that seem quite as out of place as the Kharadron Overlords. They’re not really fighters at all, actually: While you can encounter other duardin in Warcry that worship Chaos (like those two dual-wielding lunatics from the Iron Golems and Spire Tyrants warbands) or the warrior-god Grimnir of the Fyreslayers, the Kharadron Overlords only worship progress and profit.
The Kharadron Overlords are merchants, explorers and privateers of the skies of the Realm of Metal, where they have lived and thrived since the Forces of Chaos destroyed their mountain strongholds in the Age of Chaos. Since neither tradition nor religion did them any good in the fight against Chaos, they have built their society around technological innovation and a loose set of rules for cooperation called the Kharadron Code.
Since Sigmar built the Free Cities across the Realms, the Kharadron have established themselves as the connective tissue between the scattered enclaves of the Forces of Order: They provide transportation, trade routes, mercenary bodyguards and cutting edge technology to the Free Cities – all for the right price, of course.
The Kharadron aren’t as durable as their Fyreslayer cousins, and they have long forgotten the rank and file type of warfare their Dispossessed ancestors used to practice. Instead, they protect their financial interests with a diverse array of guns and contraptions powered by aether-gold, a valuable gas they harvest from the skies of their homelands, and which works as a kind of fusion engine for keeping their airships afloat and shooting rays out of their guns.
While the Kharadron aren’t as strong as their ancestors, they are just as foolhardy and fearless: According to their campaign rules, their reason for being in the Eightpoints is that they’ve invented a new gun, and they wanted a cool place to make a field test of it. Lesser folk might have argued that they could have tested it on an aethershark back home, but leave it to the Kharadron to go look for profit and research opportunities in the unlikeliest and most dangerous of places.
In Warcry, the Kharadron show their unusual way of waging war in mainly two ways: 12 of their fighter types can fly due to the aether-powered balloon they carry on their back, and with one exception, their fighters all have a shooting attack (and there are 12 different shooting attack profiles to choose from).
The non-flying fighters are very slow, and they are not the most durable of fighters, but their abilities let them teleport, make their leaders and their retinue stronger when they are carrying treasure, and disengage from combat in different ways.
This makes them a very specialized warband that can really control the battlefield with gunfire and fast-moving objective holders, but they have to have a getaway plan, or stronger melee fighters will easily take them down.
Let’s have a look at their fighters and abilities.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Kharadron Overlords Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system.
It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
Arkanaut Company (65-170 points):
The warband has 5 different Arkanaut company fighter types. They are all very slow with a Movement characteristic of 3, and while the Leader option has a Toughness of 4 and 22 wounds, the rest only have a Toughness of 3 and 12 wounds.
This means that they are both your slowest and weakest fighters. However, they are also your cheapest fighters, and they have access to some of the same weapons as some of your more expensive flying fighters.
The most basic version of the Arkanaut Company costs 65 points. For that you get a 3 strength shooting attack (with no minimum range) and a 3 strength melee attack, which is okay for that price.
They don’t have any special abilities, but since they’re cheap, you could field a lot of them along with your Leader (who can give them extra attacks, more on that below) to get a boat load of shooting attacks and then hope you roll a lot of critical attacks, which lets them do 3 damage each.
The Leader is a lot like the basic version, but with more attacks at both ranged and melee range, a better damage profile for their melee attack, and 10 extra wounds. It costs 170 points, but it’s your cheapest Leader option, and gives you access to the Triple skill Fight for Profit, which gives +1 Attacks to all attack actions made by friendly fighters within 6 inches of your Leader, and +2 Attacks if the Leader is carrying Treasure or is near an objective.
This is a great buff to surrounding Arkanaut Company fighters if you’re holding a back objective, and it works just as well on the Grundstok Thunderers fighters, so you can use this Leader option for buffing them rather than their more expensive Leader option.
An Arkanaut Company Fighter with a Skypike costs 80 points, and has a nice 2 inch range melee attack with 3 attacks, strength 4 and an impressive critical damage of 5. Place one or more of these next to a Leader on an objective buffing them, and you can take down much more expensive fighters in melee!
If you have the points for it, though, this weapon is also available to Skyriggers, where it’s coupled with a flying ability and a gun, so only choose this version if you need strength in numbers.
The two specialized shooters of the Arkanaut company offer you the choice between high damage or a high number of attacks: A Light skyhook (95 points) has a range of 20 and a critical damage of 5, but only 2 attacks. A Volley Gun (105 points) has 6 attacks with 1 damage each and 3 critical damage, but at a 15 inch range.
Since 15 inch in range is still really good, the volley gun is often the best choice, since more attacks is generally better, and the price still isn’t too high. Both these fighters also have a melee attack that is just like the basic Arkanaut version but with one less Attack.
Due to their slow movement, the Arkanaut Company fighters are best used for keeping back objectives and providing covering fire, but since they are also cheaper than your otherwise rather elite fighter options, they are your best bet at matching other warbands with a lot of models on the table.
Like all the other Kharadron fighters, Arkanaut company can use the Double ability Ancestral Fortitude, which gives a fighter +1 to Toughness for the rest of the battle round.
Grundstok Thunderers: (115-195 points)
The Kharadron Overlords have access to 6 different Grundstok Thunderers fighter types, where one is a Leader. They have the same Wounds and Move characteristics as the Arkanaut Company, but they have 4 Toughness and access to the Triple ability Keep Your Distance which gives them a bonus disengage action.
The basic version of the Grundstok Thunderer has a 15 inch ranged attack with 2 attacks, 4 Toughness and a damage of 2/ a critical damage of 4. It also has the same melee attack as the Arkanaut Company special weapons fighters. For 115 points this doesn’t seem like a better option than one of the cheaper Arkanaut specialists, since 2 attacks isn’t that much and you only get an extra point of Toughness. This fighter type definitely needs a Leader close by to boost its number of attacks.
The Leader version has twice the ranged attacks of the basic version, a better critical damage in melee, and access to both the Triple Leader ability and the Double ability Harrying Drillbill, which prevents one enemy fighter within 20 inches from making disengage actions.
Most of the time you’ll do fine with the Arkanaut version of the Leader for the attacks boost, but the ranged attack profile of this Leader is pretty good, if maybe not quite worth the 195 points the Leader costs.
The 4 special weapon options for the Grundstok Thunderers are a lot more interesting than the basic versions:
The Decksweeper has 5 Strength 4 attacks with a 3-10 inch range which makes it a slightly different version of the Arkanaut with volley gun at a points cost of 130.
The Aetheric Fumigator is one of the more fun special weapons, also at a cost of 130. It has 3 Strength 5 attacks with a damage of 2 and a critical damage of 4, but it has a range of 6 with no minimum range. This means that it works just like the many 2 inch spear weapons in the game, but at three times the range: It is both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon. Combined with the decent Toughness of the Grundstok Thunderer, it makes for a good weapon for defending objectives.
The Grundstok Mortar has a range of 3-10 and also 3 attacks, but with a high critical damage of 6 at a cost of 145 points. The Aether-Cannon goes even higher with a critical damage of 8, but only has 2 attacks at a cost of 175 points. Both weapons can range from good to great, depending on whether they will be boosted by a Leader, and on the Toughness characteristic of your opponent’s fighters.
In general, the Grundstok Thunderers are a tougher version of the Arkanauts, with abilities that better complement a close quarters combat style, but they are more expensive and still very slow.
Skyriggers: (175-265 points)
The Kharadron Overlords have access to 12 different fighter types, including 2 Leaders. Confusingly, they are split into two groups with nearly identical weapons loadouts: Endrinriggers, which have the Fly ability, and Skywardens which have the Fly ability and the Quad ability Timed Charges, which lets you do damage to a nearby enemy equal to the value of the diced rolled for the ability as well as a bonus disengage action. All non-Leader fighters of both kinds have a Move statistic of 10, a Toughness of 4 and 16 wounds.
The basic Endrinrigger has an 8 inch ranged attack with no minimum range, 2 attacks and a critical damage of 4, as well as a strong melee attack with 3 attacks, 5 Toughness and a critical damage of 5 for 205 points. It’s expensive but it can cover ground quickly and hit hard in melee.
The Leader version can boost attacks with its triple ability like all the other Leaders, but otherwise it only has 10 extra wounds and one more melee attack, so it’s not one of your best picks for a Leader. The Endrinriggers are mainly useful for their high-Strength melee attacks.
The basic Skywarden is a lot like the Endrinrigger, but it has lower Strength on its attacks, lower critical damage on its ranged attacks, but also a 2 inch ranged spear-type attack in melee. At a cost of 200 points, it’s a more versatile version of the Endrinrigger, since the 2 inch melee attack goes great with its Timed Charges ability: You can fly into spear range, attack, drop a bomb with the ability and then fly away with a disengage action.
This requires you to have the dice for the Quad ability of course, but its an interesting option to have in your arsenal, since it damages all enemy fighters within 1 inch of your Skywarden.
The Leader version of the basic Skywarden has one more melee attack and 10 more wounds at a cost of 260 points. If you need a flying Leader, this is often the one to go for.
Both types of Skyriggers then have access to Volley Guns (200 for Endrinriggers, 205 for Skywardens) , which are just like the ones for Arkanaut Company, but much more useful when equipped on a flying fighter.
They also have access to Skyhooks (205 for Endrinriggers, 210 for Skywardens) which are almost like Arkanaut skyhooks except an extra point of regular damage. With a range of 20 equipped on a fighter with a move of 10, these can shoot at almost anything on the board.
Finally, the skyriggers have access to two special weapons unique to them. The Drill Cannon (210 for Endrinriggers, 220 for Skywardens) has 3 Strength 5 attacks with a critical damage of 4. With only a 5 points difference from the skyhooks, figuring out which one is best for you mostly comes down to the Toughness of the enemies you’ll face in your games.
The other unique weapon, the Grapnel Launcher (170 for Endrinriggers, 175 for Skywardens) has a much weaker ranged attack, but it comes with the Double ability Grapnel Launcher which lets you pick a point or obstacle within 20 inches and then teleport to within 3 inches of that point.
This is an excellent movement ability, but since the grapnel launcher isn’t a good weapon at all, you’ve mostly just managed to teleport a mostly useless fighter somewhere. Since it’s only a Double, it can be a cheap way to swoop in and steal a Treasure, though, but its a very situational ability, and you’re often better off with the stronger Skyrigger fighter types.
Abilities for the Kharadron Overlords Warband
- Ancestral Fortitude (Double, Everyone) Add 1 to the Toughness of a fighter for the rest of the battle round.
- Grapnel Launcher (Double, Skyriggers with Grapnel Launcher) When a fighter is more than 3 inches away from an enemy fighter, you can pick an obstacle or point up to 20 inches away, remove the fighter from the board and redeploy them within 3 inches of that point.
- Harrying Drillbill (Double, Grundstok Thunderers Leader) An enemy fighter within 20 inches of this fighter cannot make disengage actions for the rest of the battle round.
- Keep Your Distance (Triple, Grundstok Thunderers) Make a bonus disengage action if you are within 3 inches of an enemy fighter
- Fight for Profit (Triple, Leaders) Add 1 to attacks of all attack actions by friendly fighters within 6 inches of this fighter. Add 2 to attacks instead if this fighter carries Treasure or is within 3 inches of an objective.
- Timed Charges (Quad, Skywardens) When within 3 inches of an enemy fighter, allocate damage to all enemy fighters within 1 inch of this fighter equal to the value of the dice rolled for this ability. Then make a bonus disengage action.
Strategy and Tactics for the Kharadron Overlords Warband
Board control is one of the greatest strengths of the Kharadron Overlords: Between your flying units and your long range guns, it’s pretty easy to set up your fighters in a way that lets you do damage almost anywhere on the battlefield.
It might be tempting to just go all in on a flying warband of little one-duardin baloon gun platforms, but the Skyriggers are expensive, and your opponent can seriously cripple you by just taking out one or two of them. Consider making just one of your battle groups Skyriggers for taking out key targets or flying in to claim objectives.
Running a combination of Thunderers and Arkanauts in the other battle groups, with as many guns as possible in the same group as your Leader to take advantage of his attacks-boosting ability. There are so many different weapons to choose from that it’s really up to you to find your preferred playstyle, but don’t underestimate cheap Arkanaut special weapons like the Volley Gun or even the Skypike, which is a lot of Range 2 damage for 80 points.
If you look at the Abilities card for the Kharadron Overlords, you’ll notice that only one ability, Timed Charges, does any direct damage to the opponent. Then there’s the Leader’s attacks boost bubble, but the other abilities are about your own survivability through a Toughness boost, a pinning down of the enemy, a teleport and a bonus disengage action. You should take this as a hint that playing Kharadron Overlords is all about movement, positioning and steering clear of enemy melee fighters.
Move around as much as you can! Don’t worry about tabling the opponent: Get to where you need to go and get out of there. If your mission is to kill an enemy Leader or something similar, all you need to do is get everyone within shooting range of that Leader and blast away, but otherwise doing damage isn’t what’s so great about all those guns.
Rather, the Strength of the guns and balloons is the added pressure to your opponent’s decision making process because you can get to them no matter where they deploy or move to. This forces them to react to you, giving you the tactical upper hand.
That being said, you’re not going to win every game with the Kharadron Overlords. They lack melee power outside of the expensive Skyriggers options, and they aren’t that durable unless they spend a lot of Doubles on improving their Toughness. If the enemy has many cheap fast-moving fighters, you might not be able fill them all with aether-shot before they overwhelm you, and your lack of direct damage abilities can make it difficult to take down big Monsters with a ton of Wounds.
Pros and Cons of the Kharadron Overlords
+ great shooting and many ranged weapons to choose from
+ Leaders can boost attacks
+ Strong, versatile flying fighters
– Not very durable in close combat
– Either very elite (high points cost for flying fighters) or very slow
– lacks direct damage abilities
Different build options and how to buy the Kharadron Overlords warband
The Kharadron Overlords warband can be built from 3 Age of Sigmar kits:
The Arkanaut company kit lets you build 10 Arkanaut company fighters, with two options for building a Leader and 1 of each special weapon available to the fighter type.
The Grundstok Thunderers kit lets you build 5 Grundstok Thunderers fighters, with options for equipping any of the non-Leader fighters with either an Aethershot Rifle or one of the special weapons available to the fighter type.
The Skyriggers kit lets you build 3 Skyriggers as either Skywardens or Endrinriggers, with Leader options for both types and either the basic of special weapons for each fighter apart from the Leader.
What kits to buy really depends on your playstyle: You can go for a slow, ranged warband with the Arkanaut Company and the Grundstok Thunderers, a maneuverable elite army with a couple of Skyriggers boxes, or a combined arms combination of the three.
The Start Collecting! Kharadron Overlords box set gives you both a set of Skyriggers and a set of Grundstok Thunderers, but at a cost not much different from just buying the boxes separately, so unless you’re planning on playing Kharadron Overlords in the tabletop game as well, just buy the boxes you need.
The Warhammer Underworlds warband Thundrik’s Profiteers is another way to get some very cool alternative sculpts for some of your fighters: The warband contains a basic Skywarden, a basic Arkanaut Company, A basic Grundstok Thunderer and an Arkanaut Company fighter with a Volley Gun (and a cool helmet-mounted smoking pipe!).
Tips on painting the Kharadron Overlords warband
Like the Iron Golems warband, the Kharadron Overlords can be really easy and fun to paint, since they consist of mostly metallic surfaces and no actual faces whatsoever. This means that a metallic basecoat, a wash and a drybrush of Stormhost Silver can get you most of the way to a good tabletop standard.
In addition to this, the models wear flying suits, leather straps, gloves and various forms of padding, which can be used for distinguishing your warband with a bright spot color (try following the painting guide for one of their Skyport subfactions in the Kharadron Overlords battletome). The eye lenses on Kharadron face masks are also great candidates for bright red or green colors to make the faces of your models stand out.
For aether-powered machinery on the models, a glaze of blue or green over a white basecoat gives a nice glowy effect. You can see most of these techniques in action on this version of their newest Age of Sigmar hero, the Endrinmaster in Dirigible Suit, which I painted recently: