“At attention beardlings! You want a force that does it all? Mass infantry that can stand toe to toe with hordes of Witches? Check. Battlefield threat in a game where “shooting is dead”? Check. Sexy beards that causes even the manliest man to shake their heads in shame? Check. This list has it all and you can too!”
The heart of this force is a flexible mixed-arms list that gives you all of the tools needed to go toe to toe with the best lists in Age of Sigmar. That said, this isn’t a one-trick-pony list and your strategy will always need to adapt to the enemy forces and scenarios. The list has the tools to succeed but it must be piloted well. There are a number of unit dyads and triads in the force that you’ll almost always move together as needed. These unit pairings will bring synergy to one another while still granting you flexibility on the battlefield.
Unit Dyads and Triads
- Dispossessed Dyad: Runelord, 20 Longbeards
- Fyreslayer Dyad: Auric Runesmiter, 30 Vulkite Berzerkers
- KO Triad: Aether-Khemist, 30 Arkanaut Company, 9 Endrinriggers
- Free Agents: Luminark of Hysh, Knight-Azyros
The strengths of this list include many durable bodies, long ranged threat, multiple tactical tools, and diverse centers of power. The weaknesses of this list are low mobility on many infantry units and strong dependence on low wound heroes.
Defiant Avengers: In the battleshock phase, you can re-roll battleshock tests for friendly Order units.
- This ability is largely redundant with your Inspiring command trait.
- It will see most of its use for your units who have moved away from your general, most frequently the Vulkites (who may have deepstruck across the table) or the Endrinriggers.
Pride of Hammerhal: Add 1 to the Bravery of all models from this army in the battleshock phase. If there are at least twice as many enemy models on the battlefield as Hammerhal models at the start of the abttlehsock phase, add 2 to the Bravery of hte Hammerhal models instead. If there are at least three times as many enemy models, then units in the Hammerhal army automatically pass battleshock tests.
- This ability is again redundant with the Inspiring command trait, but it is free and can help reduce losses whenever battleshock rolls must be made.
- Note: Some events (particularly in the United States) do not allow the Firestorm allegiance abilities. If this is the case, it will not be available.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Inspiring Command Trait
Simply put, this command trait is one of the strongest in the game. The Inspiring command trait makes units within (not wholly within) 6″ of the general not have to take battleshock tests. The general will serve as the anchor of your army with this command trait, and you’ll normally keep at least two of your three large infantry blocks (normally the Longbeards and the Arkanaut Company) nearby. While 6″ is a short range, only 1 model has to be within that 6″ to grant the entire unit battlehshock immunity for the entire 20 or 30 model unit. This allows you to spread out your force out while maintaining the benefit of the ability, although you will need to be careful of abilities that let the enemy snipe out single models. I would recommend making sure at least 2 models are within the 6″ range when able. It is also worth noting that this ability grants battleshock immunity in all phases, so this trait also protects against forced out-of-phase battleshock tests (like those of KO’s Aethershock Earbuster item). You will want to hide your general out of line-of-sight from enemy spellcasters when you are able given out significant this ability is. Luckily, you have an eminently hide-able general – more on that below.
This item allows units within 6″ of the bearer to roll a dice whenever they would be affected by a spell. On a 5+, the are not affected by the spell. On a roll of a 1, the item breaks. This item is serves two functions: first, it sits on a hero who already aims to be within 6″ of many of your units and gives them spell protection, and second, it makes your Runelord, which is an otherwise forgettable unit, a scoring unit in some scenarios. It should be noted that this item stops a spell from affecting a unit. This means that it not only prevents incoming damage, but also stops debuffs from affecting them. Additionally, it arguably should prevent damage kickback from spells like Azyrite Halo and Shield of Thorns, since those spells (and not the enemy units) are causing damage when an enemy unit is attacked. While it does have a chance to break with every use, it also has a chance to stop double effectiveness Overwhelming Dread (from Locus of Shyish) and other unit-crippling debuffs from marginalizing your units. Since this item says that units within range “may” roll a dice, I would use it judiciously. You may want to let the errant Arcane Bolt go through so as to not risk breaking the Spellmirror when you know more crippling spells may be on the horizon.
Phoenix Stone (Alternative Item on Luminark)
This very simple, generic item is still very good. It heals you one wound during each player’s hero phase. The Luminark will draw a lot of heat from the enemy and this item keeps the Luminark in the top tier of its damage chart longer in order to maintain the 6 damage ranged laser attacks. While this was my primary item during initial play throughs of this list, it no longer is the primary choice because new scenarios allow for either a hero with an item or a wizard to claim objectives, and putting your only item on a non-wizard hero gives you a second scoring unit.
This force has no actual command abilities on any of the warscrolls natively. Instead, almost every unit has a dedicated hero who will be nearby and can use the appropriate generic command abilities to either re-roll charges or auto-run 6. Your Inspiring command trait, coupled with the native battleshock-related allegiance abilities and even some similar abilities on specific units (like the Longbeards) will limit the number of command points you’ll need to spend on limiting battleshock losses. Make sure you utilize realm-specific command abilities when able, as you’ll likely find yourself with excess command abilities in most games.
This is your general, and unlike most forces, he is rather insignificant in the grand scheme of the game. As part of the Dispossessed Dyad, his only active ability of note is his Rune Lore which lets you give your Longbeard unit either an additional 6++ ward save or increase their rend by 1 (moving it to -2). Otherwise, he passively projects a 6″ battleshock immunity bubble and the 6″ Spellmirror buff. Finally, he unbinds enemy spells at a whopping +2, which is a great tool for that one key spell the enemy player relies on (be it Mindrazor, Overwhelming Dread, or whatever). He will be a high priority target because of the Inspiring trait and the Spellmirror, but luckily, he is a small model that is easily hide-able and doesn’t require line-of-sight for any of his abilities to function. Take advantage of this to put him in really inconvenient places that force the enemy into bad positioning if they want to hunt him. That said, generally you’ll want him centrally located on the battlefield (albeit behind LOS blocking terrain, of course).
This hero is part of the Fyreslayer Dyad and will normally be used to allow the Vulkite unit to deploy off-table and deepstrike where ever that anvil is needed. When he tunnels up with the associated Vulkite unit, he only needs to be within 3″ of his Dyad unit, so this will give you quite a bit of flexibility with his positioning, given how large the Vulkite unit is. After granting the Vulkites deepstrike, the only other function this hero serves is to grant the Vulkites a buff that re-rolls all wound rolls for the unit (both melee and ranged attacks). Don’t be afraid to sacrifice this unit if you can use him to keep an enemy unit out of combat for a turn. Given his non-essential nature, he is a great tool for accomplishing secondary objectives as well.
This hero is part of the Kharadron Overlord’s Triad and you’ll need to be very careful with his placement, as you’ll want to keep him within 10″ of both of your other KO units as his buff can add +1 attacks to one of those units each turn (normally either the Company’s 9 Light Skyhooks or the Endrinrigger’s 9 Aethermatic Saws). Normally, you’ll buff the Light Skyhooks for the first round or two, followed by the Saws, and then likely back to the Light Skyhooks late in the game. He has a wicked mid-ranged attack in his Noxious Aether (10″, 3d6 attacks, 4+/4+/-2/1) that lets him contribute to fights while being safely behind the front lines. The Khemist will also be a high priority target – use this to your benefit by making it difficult for the enemy to hunt him or, alternatively, using him as bait to draw the enemy into your mid-range killzone (more on this later). Be aware that it’s easy to find him out of position to buff your Endrinriggers so be very aware of ranges as you move that unit!
This hero is one of the two designated “free agents” in the force, and as such he’ll roam around where he is needed. His primary function is to use his lantern to grant reroll 1’s to hit (both melee and ranged attacks) against enemy units within 10″ of him. It should be noted that this buff now benefits both melee and ranged attacks. You’ll likely want him in the heat of things, where his lantern can have maximum effect. His once per game Light of Sigmar ability is just icing on the cake when it is used (d3 mortal wounds to enemy units wihtin 8″, a d6 against Chaos units), but don’t rely on it given the close proximity needed coupled with its hero phase activation. Also, don’t be afraid to use him to screen or hold up enemy units, as he can take quite a beating with his 3+ save. That said, don’t sacrifice him needlessly, as he is one of your few high mobility units (12″ fly), so he can grab objectives late game that your strong ranged attacks have cleared.
Finally, your other free agent is the Luminark. This meaty 11-wound 4+ save war-wagon (aether-chariot?), provides a couple strategic roles for the army. First and foremost, at maximum health, it projects a 10″ Aura of Protection that gives all models within that area an extra 6++ ward save (in addition to any similar after-saves those units have). It also has a laser beam (!) that can one-shot most foot heroes in the game at 30″ (1 attack/3+/3+/-2/6 damage), but reduces in damage as the Luminark takes damage. This unit is also a Wizard which unbinds at +1 and has a strong anti-horde spell (d3 mortal wounds base, 2d3 damage against 10+ model units, 3d3 against 20+). Finally, this unit has a decent mobility (10″ at full health), so it can get onto strategic objectives when needed. You’ll normally want this unit at the center of your army to maximize it’s ranged reach and area of protection.
This unit is your static anvil and part of the Dispossessed Dyad. It will sit at the core of your army and serve as the front skirmish line for your Arkanaut Company and your heroes (which will often be centrally located near one another). The unit has a base 4+ save, which becomes rerollable if you don’t run or charge. It’ll likely have a 6++ ward save from the nearby Luminark, and can get an additional 6++ save from the Runelord. The unit natively halves all battleshock losses above and beyond the allegiance abilities, but will normally be immune to battleshock from the nearby Runelord with Inspiring. This unit also has the ability to grant itself reroll 1s to wound, which when combined with the the Runelord‘s buff to increase rend by 1 and the Knight-Azyros‘ reroll hits of 1, can give the unit a surprisingly hit-y profile (20 attacks, 4+ [reroll 1s]/3+ [reroll 1s]/-2/1). When you need to create a super anvil structure, you can actually weave this unit into the 1″ gaps between the Vulkite unit to give part of your line extra punch since the longbeards are on a 25 mm base. Note that there will be some fights where this unit doesn’t do a whole lot, and that is ok. It is a 20 wound unit with a rerollable 4+ save (with possible multiple ward saves) that can be hard to shift off a point. That said, wherever you place it, don’t expect it to move very far for the entirety of the game, so place it wisely.
This unit is your “mobile” anvil and part of the Fyreslayer Dyad. I put mobile in parens because it can deepstrike (which is some of the best mobility in the game), but once its down, it doesn’t move very far. Deployment is really important; this unit can literally win the game in some scenarios on turn 1 with the right deployment. That said, when equipped with shields, it’s a unit with a 4+/4++ that can pick up an additional 6++ from a Luminark that moves up to support it. It is decently kill-y with each model having 2 attacks at 4+/4+ (rerollable, from the accompanying Runesmiter)/-1/1. Please note that these duardin are on 32mm bases, which means that it won’t be as kill-y as you might think given the limited number of models you’ll be able to get into combat. The good news is that the unit has a built in re-roll a charge dice to make those 9″ charges more reliable (about 50% success). On a charge, the unit also throws its shields, rolling a dice for every Vulkite within 8″ of the target unit, and doing a mortal wound with each 6+ (which averages 5 mortals if all are within range). This can be a tool to weaken Monsters with profiles before combat even starts. Finally, although frequently underestimated, this unit has an 8″ ranged attack (1 attack per model, 4+/4+ [rerollable]/-/1) that can create a pretty devastating mid-range killzone when combined with the short range shooting of the Aether-Khemist, 30 Arkanaut Company, and 9 Endrinriggers. Alone their throwing axes are of limited killing potential, but when overlapped with multiple other units, the mass of attacks can really clear enemy models quickly.
This unit is your long range hammer unit and part of the KO Triad. Their primary contribution to most fights will be with their 24″ range Light Skyhooks, which natively are 9 attacks, 4+/3+/-2/d3 damage. The unit has a built in +1 to hit when shooting Heroes and/or Monsters, so this unit is made for sniping key strategic pieces. They can pick up reroll 1s to hit from the Knight-Azyros, and can have their Light Skyhook attacks doubled (increase to 18) when buffed by the Khemist. Additionally, when the unit is at full strength, they have a stunning 43 12″ pistol shots (all in addition to the Skyhook attacks) that are at 4+/4+/-/1. While you will lean on their long range potential for most of the game to remove strategic threats, their short range damage output is stunning and they make an excellent short range gunline behind one of your anvils. That said, this unit will die in handfuls, so you’ll want them either near the battleshock immunity bubble, or make sure to have command points ready to prevent losses. The good news is that this unit can take 21 damage before its long range striking effectiveness begins to diminish.
This unit is your mobile striking unit and part of the KO Triad. It has the highest damage potential of all of your units but it can be quite fragile and it is one of your only higher mobility units (12″ fly) for claiming objectives across the field, thus you’ll need to use it wisely. Its bread and butter are its Aethersaw attacks, which natively it has 10 attacks at 3+/2+/-2/d3. These attacks can pick up the reroll 1s to hit from the Knight Azyros and can be nearly doubled (increased to 19) by the Aether-Khemist. While an excellent close combat unit, the mobility (12″ fly) of the unit combined with its mid-range guns (12″) gives it a 24″ threat range on its 27 Rivet Gun attacks, at a solid 3+/4+/-1/1. While it is easy to want to throw this unit forward and torpedo an enemy unit, it’s wiser to hold this unit behind an anvil and contribute for a round with the Rivet guns before significantly committing. Overlapping the short range firing of this unit with the Khemist’s Fumes, Company’s Pistols and Vulkite’s Throwing Axes can create a pretty overwhelming short range kill box.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
As noted, the Luminark of Hysh is the only Wizard in the list and he only has a single cast, so his cast will normally be pretty obvious based one whatever your needs are. He brings along a punchy anti-horde spell (3d3 mortals against units with 20+ models), but there will often be stronger options amongst the realm spells. Noteworthy spells include Curse of Rust in Chamon, Inferno Blades and Stoke Rage in Aqshy, Night’s Touch in Shysh, The Enfeebling and Bridge of Shadows in Ulgu, and Vengeful Illumination and Banishment in Hysh.
Tactics and In-Game Guide
As previously noted, this army is built to have diverse centers of power with few obvious weaknesses and no single lynch-pin models. Even the general, with his tasty Inspiring bubble is easily expendable given the redundancy of Battleshock reducing tools and excess of command points. Opponents will likely underestimate the list and not likely know what to deal with first, given the multiple threats present. Regarding tools, here is your toolbox you’ll need to manage wisely:
- 30 Vulkites (4+/4++)
- Can gain a 6++ from Luminark
- 20 Longbeards (4+, rerollable),
- Can gain a 6++ from Runelord and another 6++ from the Luminark
Long Range Threat
- Arkanaut Company‘s 9 Light Skyhooks (24″ range, 9 or 18 attacks, 4+ /3+/-2/d3)
- +1 to hit vs. Heroes and Monsters
- Luminark’s Laser (30″ range, 1 attack, 3+/3+/-2/6 dmg*)
- *Damage decreases with profile
Short Range Threat
- Arkanaut Company‘s Pistols (12″ range, 43 attacks, 4+/4+/-/1)
- +1 to hit vs. Heroes and Monsters
- Endrinrigger’s Rivet Guns (12″ range, 27 attacks, 3+/4+/-1/1)
- Aether-Khemist’s Fumes (10″ range, 3d6 attacks, 4+/4+/-2/1)
- Vulkite’s Throwing Axes (8″ range, 30 attacks, 4+/4+/-/1)
- Gains reroll failed wound rolls from Runesmiter
Rending Melee Attacks
- Endrinrigger’s Aether Saws (1″ range, 10 or 19 attacks, 3+/2+/-2/d3)
- Longbeard’s Great Axes (1″ range, 20 attacks, 4+/3+/-1/1)
- Rerolls 1s to wound natively, can increase Rend to -2 from Runelord
- Vulkite’s War Picks (1″ range, 30 attacks, 4+/4+/-1/1)
- Rerolls failed wound rolls from the Runesmiter
If you manage these tools well, you should be able to handle just about everything the meta can throw at you.
At the start of the game, a decision will need to be made, namely to either deepstrike the Vulkites or create a bunker with them. At 8 drops, you will often not have the choice of who goes first. If the enemy will likely give you first turn or you have the option for it, tunneling the Vulkites can be an excellent option to wall off key objectives. Against highly mobile or alpha-strike forces, you’ll likely want to create a super bunker with the Vulkites with all of your ranged and support units behind the anvils. In this type of setup, you’re playing the long game and letting the enemy come to you while you wear them down with your shooting and slowly march forward.
Secondary Objectives that are easily accomplishable include:
- Secret Mission: This is easily accomplishable by setting up the Runesmiter in the appropriate position when he deepstrikes.
- Ancient Heirloom: Given the durability of your army, keeping the general alive will happen in most games. Choose this objective in games where the ranged threat is limited and he can stay hidden away behind terrain.
- Invade: Both the Vulkite unit and the Endrinrigger unit are likely tools for completing this objective.
- Seize: The proliferation of durable bodies lets you reliably take and hold objectives. Choose this against low model count armies that will struggle to hold objectives.
- Slay: Your Company’s Light Skyhooks will make this objective a breeze against most armies. Just make sure that the target will likely be an aggressive model (hero on a monster) and that they don’t have ignore rend.
- Conserve: Given that you have 9 units, you’ll find that keeping 3 alive in most games is pretty easy. This will be easily accomplished in most matchups.