Kharadron Overlords | Age of Sigmar Battletome Review 2023
Up for preorder right now is the brand new Battletome for those high flying Kharadron Overlords! You can preorder the Battletome, the new Codewright mini and Warscroll Cards from Element Games right now! Preorder through this link and save pennies vs RRP and help us out too!
The latest Warhammer Age of Sigmar Battletome is upon us! This time around it is for Grand Alliance Order, it’s those Sky
Dwarfs Duardin, the Kharadron Overlords!
I’ve got a nice little fleet of Overlords, so naturally I was keen to get my hands on the latest Battletome. I haven’t actually played them much recently, so I’m hoping this book encourages me to take these guys to the battlefield.
As always, our thanks to Games Workshop for sending us this book, and the brand new Codewright hero, to review for you folks! You can find the unboxing video and showcase of the Codewright later in the review or via this link here which will take you to our YouTube channel.
Now I am not a super competitive player, and really enjoy narrative and open play game, so bear this in mind whilst digesting this review!
I’ve unboxed and painted the new Codewright mini, which you can watch below. More about him later in the review:
So without further ado, let’s get stuck into this shiny new book!
As with all Battletomes, the book kicks off with a whole bunch of lore about the Kharadron Overlords. The book breaks down all the different units, the hierarchy, the lifestyle and background of the faction, as well as telling us what they are up to in the current time of Age of Sigmar.
As always with my reviews, I’m not really going to delve into this. It reveals more about the Kharadrons than we’ve known before and is a really interesting and fun read. If you are intrigued by the faction, or currently have them as an army, you’ll find content here to enjoy.
As you would expect the content here is very well written, and really fuels your imagination for playing as the Overlords. You get to learn how these unique duardin interact with some of the other races in the Mortal Realms.
Time to get stuck into gaming content.
First things first, a breakdown of the basic rules and abilities that all Kharadron players can enjoy.
As with the last book, you first get to choose a Sky-port to base your army on. All 6 Sky-ports return, albeit with a few changes, which we’ll come to soon.
The next part of the book goes through one of the biggest and most important mechanics of the Overlords, how embarking and disembarking the Sky Vessels work. Yes folks, instead of relying on the Garrison rules, you now have Transport rules!
As before, any models onboard the vessel are -1 to hit and are classed as being in cover. Also any units onboard a ship can’t contest objectives. Units can can start the game deployed on the vessel or they can jump onboard if within 3″ of a Transport (both the unit and the Transport need to be 3″ away from any enemy models).
Now, something that is new, is that any units embarked on a vessel are classed as being on the battlefield. This gives you many benefits. Basically, unless stated otherwise, you can use your various abilities from your characters whilst relaxing on an Ironclad or Frigate.
When it comes to disembarking, the rules haven’t changed. You can only disembark if the ship you are disembarking from has not moved (although you can get around this with a CP, which we will come across shortly).
If the Transport blows up whilst it still has models you’ll need to roll a dice for each model. Any rolls of 1 mean you lose a model as they are blown to bits.
One important bit to mention at this point is the rule for Skywardens, Endrinriggers and Brokk to ‘hitch a ride’ are gone. They now have the Skyfarers keyword and embark on the transport like a normal model. Little disappointed by this, as I like the idea of your Arkanaut Company being embarked whilst your Balloon guys hang on. You can’t overfill your vessels either, anymore.
Now previously, when you chose a Sky-port in the previous editions book you had your Artycle, Amendment and Footnote (as well as first relic) chosen for you. Not anymore…
Instead, you get to pick one of each.
The Artycles are all abilities that affect the whole game, for example we have Master the Skies, which simply adds 2” to your Skyvessels movement. Settle the Grudges however, is my pick of the three you can choose from. It allows you to pick one enemy unit, which allows all of your Kharadron Overlords units to get +1 to wound against that enemy unit.
Amendments on the other hand, are basically once per turn abilities, aside from Always Take What You Are Owed, which you use at the start of your hero phases. You get to pick one Arkanaut Company, who then for that turn count as twice as many models for the purposes of contesting objectives. I think that’s probably my favourite, however the other two are OK. Prosecute Wars with Haste allows one unit in your army to run 2D6 instead of 1D6 and Trust to Your Guns allows you 1 single reroll to hit on 1 unit a turn.
Finally, we have the Footnotes. These are once per battle abilities, and are pretty good. Take Without Our Ships, We Are Naught, which allows 1 friendly Skyvessel to receive 2 commands in a phase instead of 1. But my favourite is There’s No Trading with Some People, which allows 1 friendly Skyfarers unit to shoot at the end of your opponent’s shooting phase. The only caveat is the unit must have been targeted during said shooting phase.
These are pretty good, and as you’ll already be aware, you do have the opportunity to swap these so long as you have a Codewright on the battlefield (we’ll learn more about this new character later in the review).
You’ll have noticed by now that I haven’t mentioned Aether-gold. That’s because that mechanic has gone. No free rerolls at the cost of bravery. Aether-gold now only appears within the Path to Glory segment of the battletome.
One mechanic which I’m very glad is still around, is Fly High, albeit in a slightly different form.
It is now one of three command abilities which are available for Arkanuat Admirals to dish out, as well as friendly Skyvessels which can issue these abilities to themselves.
So as mentioned Fly High is one of them. Yes OK, you have to spend a command point to use it, however it means you can use the ability even if your boat has 1 or 2 wounds left. You cannot Fly High if you are within 3″ of an enemy unit, and as always you can only land outside of 9″ from the enemy. You use Fly High at the end of your movement phase.
The other two command abilities are also very cool. Combat Landing allows you to disembark your troops AFTER your ship has moved, whilst Disengage allows your vessel and it’s embarked units can retreat and still shoot later in the turn.
Now the book moves onto Enhancement, but at this point we are going to look at the Sky-ports, as we’ve mentioned them a fair bit in this segment.
The same 6 Skyports from the previous battletome are back, each with a special rule, but with no limitations on footnotes, relics, etc.
Let’s take a peek at what each port does:
- Barak-Nar: Similar to the old rules, it allows you to roll a D6 for every hero in your army at the start of your hero phase. For every 4+ you gain an additional command point. hunderers are Battleline with this port too.
- Barak-Ziflin: Nice and easy one, you get to pick 1 extra Great Endrinwork for your army (relic for your ships). Frigates are Battleline if this is your Sky-Port.
- Barak-Zon: Have lots of Sky Wardens and like your armies to punch other armies in the face? This is the sky-port for you! You add 1 to hit and wound rolls for attacks made with melee weapons by friendly Skyfarers units so long as they have charged. You’ll not be shocked to hear that you have the option of having Skywardens as battleline for these.
- Barak-Urbaz: This was my favourite port back in the old book as it allowed you to take Gunhaulers as battleline and allowed you to ignore the bravery debuff for using Aether-gold. Whilst Gunhaulers can still be battleline in this port, it’s only other buff is to allow you to choose another Artycle in addition to the one you picked at army building.
- Barak-Mhornar: This Sky-Port has a very cool, albeit swingy rule. You roll a dice everytime an enemy model issues a command within 12″ of one of your models. The command is not received, but your opponent still loses the CP. Sneaky!
- Barak-Thryng: This was a popular choice amongst those who couldn’t get enough Duardin in there armies. Whilst they have lost the 1 in 3 units can be Duardin rule, they have gained a cool rule, well, a prayer actually! Any allied Runelords/Runemasters gain a prayer which has an answer value of 3, and it’s great! Pick a Arkanaut Company or Thunderers unit. Any 6s to hit with missle weapons deal mortal wounds equal to the damage value of that attack.
Personally, I think my favourite is Barak-Nar, especially with how important command points are now (even more so with the amount of cool command abilities in this book) but I’m also finding myself drawn to Barak-Thyrng too. Having a unique prayer (and therefore a really good reason to ally in some other Duardin) is great fun. I’ve been tempted to pick up for Fyreslayers in the past, so I’m even more so now. Or perhaps even the new Regiment of Renown, which includes a Runelord, Longbeards and Ironbreakers.
I wouldn’t say there is a ‘bad’ pick amongst those ports. Barak-Urbaz is a little uninspiring, however does unlock Gunhaulers as Battleline. Also imagine getting really lucky with Barak-Mhnornar’s ability and continuously keep shutting down your opponents command abilities…
At this point in proceedings it’s worth me pointing out that by including either of the Endrinmasters (with or without the Dirigible Suit) you unlock Endrinriggers as Battleline, which is amazing!
So now we move onto Enhancements.
We do have some solid choices in here and a little bit of variety.
Starting with Command Traits, you have 6 to choose from. I’ve picked out a couple of notable ones:
- Cunning Fleetmaster: At the end of the enemy’s movement phase you can choose one Skyvessel within 12″ of the general and 12″ away from any enemy models. The Skyvessel can make a normal move. Aside from having to pick a boat 12″ away from an enemy model, this could be a fantastic trait to have in your back pocket.
- Old Skydog: Get an extra Great Endrinwork for free. Simple, but pretty cool.
- Ex-Grundstok: Choosing this trait unlock Grundstok units as Battleline (seriously easy to unlock Battleline units in this book!) and also allows your general to issue a command ability to a Grundstok unit for nothing.
Artefacts have really been scaled back compared to the old book, with now a total of 6 relics being up for choice compared to the combined might of 18 from the previous tome (albeit spread across certain characters. 3 of the 6 relics are locked to specific characters too.
Spell in a Bottle is back (and still exclusive to Aether-Khemists) and has been re-worded in line with how Endless Spells now work in the current edition (the Endless Spell you break out of the bottle is wild and cannot be controlled by the bearer. The Endless Spell is free too.
Another returning artefact is the Phosphorite Bomblets for your Endrinmasters. On a 2+ an enemy unit of your choice (within 6″) takes a mortal wound. So long as that Mortal Wound is not negated, you get to roll again, causing a mortal wound on a 2+. This continues until you either roll a 1, or the unfortunate unit is destroyed. Potentially hilarious, and will probably be always taking this! Still once per battle, because if it wasn’t it would be frowned upon by everyone.
Masterwrought Armour still grants a ward save, but is now better. Previously it was a 6+ ward save, it’s now a 5+.
Celestium Burst-Grenade is a brand new artefact. This once per battle grenade goes off on a 2″ and switches off ward saves on the enemy unit of your choosing. Pop this on the biggest threat in your opponent’s army then shoot it dead.
I’m pleased to report that each of your different Skyvessels still have there own selection of Endrinworks, starting with the mighty Ironclad.
The Last Word returns, allowing you to shoot with your main weapon (Great Sky Cannon, Great Skyhook or Great Volley Cannon) at the unit that just charged you with no penalty to hit. Hilariously, you could then pop a CP and Overwatch your opponents unit too!
Charging stuff and then getting to roll a number of dice equal to the charge roll to potentially do Mortal Wounds to the unit you charged is pretty popular right now, so it is only right that the Kharadron Overlords should have an ability that does that too. Only available for the Ironclad, this upgrade is called the Zonbarcorp ‘Dealbreaker’ Battle Ram. Roll a number of dice equal to your charge roll and on a 4+ you deal a mortal wound.
Moving on to Frigates, who get 4 exclusive Endrinworks. Malefic Skymines is mean, giving your Frigate the opportunity to deal mortal wounds. It’s once per battle and can be used at the start of the combat phase, and you have to pick an enemy unit within engagement range AND it has to have Fly, On a dice roll of 2-3 it deals D3 mortal wounds. On a 4+ though, it deals D6 mortal wounds.
Ever wanted your Frigate to blow up on death like a 40k vehicle? Well, you are in luck if that is the case, as Frigates can choose the artefact ‘Khazzar Farewell’ Scuttling Fail-Safe. Roll a dice for each until within 3″, and on a 2+ you deal D3 mortal wounds to it. This affects both friendly and enemy units.
Finally, we have Endrinworks for Gunhaulers. They get the smallest choice of relics, with just the 3.
Coalbeard’s Collapsible Compartments is the sensible choice and also returns from the previous book. It gives your Gunhauler a transport capacity of 6.
A more offensive upgrade? That’ll be the Zonbarcorp ‘Debtsettler Spar Torpedo. Once per battle, after you have finished a charge move, you roll a D6. On a 2+ you deal a number of mortal wounds equal to the dice roll against the enemy you have just charged.
Path to Glory
Here at Sprues and Brews, we love open/narrative gaming. We play a bunch of Crusade for 40k and Path to Glory for Age of Sigmar, so I always have a draw to the Path to Glory content,
The main mechanic is gaining Aether-gold shares. Depending on how your game goes, you gain a contract score (or lose some of your score if you lose the game) which then in the aftermath phase allows you to return to port and trade in some Aether-gold shares.
You can then use these shares to add extra artefacts, repair your ships or buy extra territory.
If your Skyvessels fall in battle you have to roll on a chart after the match to find out what has happened to it. You can gain extra renown….or it can be blown up and be removed from your order of battle…
Also in this section you have a selection of Heroic Abilities, Veteran Rewards, unique quests and faction territories, including a Alehouse which includes an upgrade so that your Alehouse stocks Bugman’s XXXXXX on Tap!
All in all, a suitable Kharadron Path to Glory section. Now…if only we could get more supplements following Thondia…come on GW!!!
We come to a new edition to the tome, in keeping with the edition. Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics.
Something that has annoyed me, is that in some tomes they have strong Strategies and Tactics, whilst others aren’t as great.
The good news is the ones in here are good and achievable. Let’s look at some of the Grand Strategies first:
- Rule the Skies: You can achieve this Strategy if you have at least one Skyvessel left on the battlefield at the end of the game whilst your opponent has zero behemoths.
- Prospector Fleet: Your opponent picks a single piece of terrain, which for the purposes of the narrative, is home to mineral wealth. At the end of the battle you need to control said terrain feature.
The other two strategies are also obtainable, however I preferred the ones above, but at least these are all great choices!
The Battle Tactics are also all very achievable, such as the following:
- Boots on the Ground: Pick 3 friendly Skyfarers units within Vessels. You achieve this tactic if all 3 of those units end the turn disembarked and within enemy territory
- Blast ’em to Smithereens: Pick 1 objective within 12″ of an enemy unit. You complete this tactic if you manage to destroy all enemy units within 12″ of said objective.
- Opening Salvo: Any early doors Battle Tactic, as you can only pick it if no units have been destroyed yet. You complete this tactic if an enemy unit was destroyed in your shooting phase in that turn.
Please GW, keep giving us good Battle Tactics and Strategies in Battletomes. Some of just not worth the space in the book. Pleased to say this is not the case with this book.
Within this book you have two Overlord Battalions.
Nothing too powerful here, with just generic benefits, such as free All-Out attacks, etc. Also, nether give One Drop Deployments. Let’s take a look at them both:
- Attack Squadron: Requires 2x Frigates and 2x Arknaut Companies. Once per battle you get a free All-Out Attack or Defence, and also get a free At the Double or Forward for Victory.
- Escort Wing: Requires 2x Gunhaulers and 1x Thunderers unit. You get a free, once per battle, All-Out Attack or Unleash Hell.
I would have really liked a Iron Sky Command battalion, leaning into putting key characters into an Ironclad, alas no such battalion.
So now onto the real meat of this book. The warscrolls!
Before we look at the units, one sweeping note is nothing has massively changed, but there are some subtle touches.
Let’s do this!
I really, really, love this model, but his old rules and points gave me no drive to take him. He’s had some changes now…so is he worth taking?
His former command ability, First Rule of Grungsson, is now just an ability, albeit with a smaller range (12″ rather than 24″) giving units in range and extra attack, rather than re-rolling charges. Still only applicable to Barak-Nar models.
Command the Fleet is a new command ability. You pick 3 Skyvessel units outside of 3″ of enemy models at the start of your movement phase. In that phase you can re-roll you run rolls. Also, you can run and shoot with no penalty too! Pretty good!
His Moustache guns are now another ability, instead of another ranged weapon. On a 2+ you can pick 1 unit within 3″ of a enemy unit and deal D3 mortal wounds to it.
His main cannon has dropped from 2 shots to 1, but now does D3 + 3 damage, which is fairly uncommon in Sigmar!
Now, whenever I play with my Overlords I always picked the Admiral as my General. The competitive choice? Nope. The right, narrative, thing to do? In my opinion, hell yes.
Before you even get to this warscroll, you are already being pushed to take one (scroll back up to Allegiance Abilities, where I mention the command abilities that can only be issued by Admirals and Skyvessels).
If he is your general you can pick a Frigate or Ironclad to be his Flagship, which is very cool. What this means for gaming purposes is that your Admiral can use a command ability on his flagship without spending a command point.
He has an ability which allows a unit (that is not a Skyvessel) to improve there rend by 1. Only once per battle, though. ‘Bring Every Gun to Bear’ gives you an extra attack on all missile weapons on the Skyvessel you have chosen for the cost of 1CP. Downside is the Skyvessel must have remained stationary and has not Flown High in that same turn.
He also has the same command ability as Brokk, albeit instead of choosing 3 units the Admiral can only pick 1.
Yup, the Black Library character is in the book! As far as I can see his warscroll is identical to the one released with the model.
So yeah…let’s move on!
His Read the Winds ability has changed a little. You still pick between the two abilities however before you choose, roll 6 dice. Aetherstorm now does D3 mortal wounds to as many units that you rolled a 6 on with the 6 dice you had within 30″, and so long as those wounds aren’t negated, you halve the movement on that unit. Favorable Conditions is the other choice of ability, which, for every 6 again, allows you to pick Skyvessels, which can then make a normal move of D3+3″.
Endrinmaster with Dirigible Suit
Now sports a 3+ save. Can now add 1 to repair rolls for all Endrinriggers within 12”. Still has a plethora of weapons and can still also heal your vessels, in fact he auto heals 3 on your ships.
The on foot version. Also has a 3+ save now, and his ability to heal a vessel is no longer a command ability, now just a norma ability that heals 3 instead of D3.
Also has a new ability where you can make the Skyvessel he is embarked on operate on its top tier. This comes with a little caution though, as you have a 1 in 6 chance to do damage to yourself.
The new kid on the block. He’s got a library on his back, and he’s ready to help the rest of his kin.
He has two main abilities. To represent that he is an Advisor for the fleet, so long as he is within 6″ of another Kharadron Hero at the start of the hero phase you can roll 2D6. For each 4+ you gain a command point.
His second ability replaces a heroic action. You roll a D6 and on a 2-3 you can swap out your Footnote for a different one (but not one you’ve already used in the battle). On a 4, 5 or 6 you can choose to replace your Amendment and/or your Footnote. Great if you’ve already used your once per battle footnote or plans change during the game.
I’ve really enjoyed painting the mini.
The Khemist is back and still has his Atmospheric Isolation ability (minus 1 to hit for enemy models within 3″ of this hero.
His Aetheric Augmentation ability has changed a little. Instead of giving a friendly unit rerolls for wounds, he now improves your selected units Rend by 1 for missile attacks.
And of course, he’s the only hero who can have the Spell in a Bottle for some Endless Spell goodness!
Few changes to the only standard Battleline unit. They still get +`1 to hit when disembarked and within range of an objective.
They have however lost the flat 3 damage for the Skyhook if aimed at a Monster, and also some of the weapons have been changed, and not really for the better. I was hoping to see some buffs here compared to the old book, but I’m struggling to see any. The Aetherflare Pistol is now -2 Rend tho, but the Volley Gun lost its Rend.
Let’s be honest, you collect this army because of it’s cool flying ships, and none are cooler than the Ironclad.
It’s now rocking 20 wounds for starters. Damage on all of it’s weapons have been tweaked, some are better, some are very slightly worse. It’s still packing one heck of a punch though, especially when you consider all the buffs it can receive.
Bearing in mind the Hitching rule no longer exists it’s disappointing to learn the transport capacity has dropped from 25 to 22. The Ironclad counts as 5 models for the purposes of controlling objectives.
If you equipped your Ironclad with the Great Skyhook, then you are in for a treat if you enjoy hunting Monsters. Against Monsters it does flat 6 damage and, if the Monster is not slain, it is class as hooked and cannot perform Monstrous Actions.
Bomb Racks are back, but deal 1 mortal wound instead of D3, and still does not harm units that can fly. We do however, have another type of weapon, the Supremacy Mine. Once per battle, at the end of the enemy’s charge phase you can set this thing off. Pick a unit within 3″ of the Ironclad and roll a D6. On a 2+ you score a number of mortal wounds against the enemy equal to the value on the dice.
Still an absolutely beast of a unit.
As teased on Warhammer Community, the Frigate has undergone some changes to make it a vessel you’ll be super tempted to charge with.
The Frigate has a troops capacity of 12 and also counts as 5 models for objectives like the Ironclad.
It’s main new ability is called Assault Boat. After charging you roll dice equal to the number on the Damage Table (at max health, 8). On a 4+ you deal a mortal wound. If you like you can then disembark your models on board, straight into combat with the strikes-first rule. Can imagine this will be fantastic with Skywardens.
The baby of the fleet, and again a some minor changes.
It has the Bomb Racks ability, as well as being able to move an additional 6″ in one movement phase thanks to the ‘All Ahead Full‘ ability.
The Escort Wing ability is back, granting a 6+ ward save for other friendly Skyvessels whilst within 3″ of a Gunhauler.
Moving on to the proper gun dwarfs of the tome, the Thunderers. Again they’ve had a few changes.
First of all, the ‘Honour Bearer’ is simply a Standard Bearer now, no longer giving you the option of rerolling battleshock tests, instead it simply add +1 Bravery.
The Mortar in the unit now has the same number of Attacks as the number within 3″ of enemy models.
Thanks to command abilities, and other synergies throughout this book…I think a reinforced unit of these guys could have the ability to be scary.
One of my favourite units in the army, the Endrinriggers.
These guys can still heal your boats on a 4+ in the hero phase, or if you are lucky and roll a 6 you heal two wounds back to your Sky Vessel.
Again, no real changes to the weapons that are of note. The Saws still do solid damage with a great rend…but still only one attack.
The final unit of the book, and the Kharadron’s really…only…close combat unit.
Firstly, the Timed Charges ability is now more reliable. At the start of the combat phase you can use this ability. Roll a dice for one enemy unit within 3″ and on a 2+ you deal D3 mortal wounds to said unit.
The weapons have taken an update in this book, for the better. The Sky Pikes are much more reliable now thanks to the pip of Rend (-1) AND extra damage (now flat damage 2). They also get an extra attack compared to the previous book.
Imagine these guys jumping out of a Frigate and heading straight into combat, striking first. Super cool!
OK, I’ll be super honest, my first read through of the book left me disappointed. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I felt a little let down (deflated, one may say).
The more I read the abilities and warscrolls the more I liked what I was reading. This book is not re-inventing the wheel, and is more about tidying up the Kharadron Overlords. This is underlined with the changes to transporting of your units. Gone is the wordy Garrison rules, and in come basic transport mechanic rules. Seriously, why didn’t they just do this to start with?
We’ll see a lot more Admirals on the battlefield now, which brings me joy because they should be leading your fleet! You don’t see Shatner or Picard taking a backseat all that often.
This is an army that loves gaining command points now, and have plenty to spend them on.
Moving Fly High to a command ability, in my opinion is a good one, and I very much like the fact that even if one of my boats has taken a battering, so long as I have the CP it can get out of dodge (as Matt would say).
I think one of the reasons I played very little of the Overlords in the last season is because they don’t have Monster in the traditional sense. They felt like they were missing out when Monsters were the really bif . This is by far not the case with the current edition however, as the Khardrons have plenty of heroes with a small number of wounds to step in a Gallentian Veteren role. Depending on your list building, you should have plenty of Veterans to contest objectives and get you your battle tactics.
It’s great to see a fluffy and achievable page of Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics, I just hope for consistency in the next Age of Sigmar Battletomes.
This army has always meant to play as a hit and run type of army, and I think these updated rules further push you down this route of playing.
The Codewright is a nice new addition to the army. Gaining CP is never a bad thing, plus it gives you the chance to change your footnote, which to be honest you have probably already used, I just wish they put out a new unit or something to increase the range.
This book really does feel like a tinker, instead of massive, sweeping changes from GW. I think it’ll do very well in the current season.
Our thanks again to Games Workshop for sending us the Battletome and Codewright model to review. Make sure you preorder the book and mini via our affiliates at Element Games to help us out!
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