In this series, I’ll be highlighting how to play Nighthaunt effectively against different armies. I’ll only be doing armies I have faced multiple times. The first I’ll start with is Kharadron Overlords, an army I know particularly well as I’ve also started playing them.
Quick Matchup Thoughts
While many armies and players dislike the gameplay against KO, I find that Nighthaunt versus KO matches are a lot of fun for both players and make for a pretty equal matchup, though I’d honestly give a slight edge to Nighthaunt. Prepare for a game that requires a lot of decision making by both parties, with a ton of mobility that will cause the focus to potentially change every turn.
The General Tactics
Table Your Opponent: In my opinion, this is one of the rare matchups where Nighthaunt players should make an honest attempt to wipe out the opponent’s army. KO armies are typically low model count and rely on their mobility to focus fire on the opponent and to get out of the way of dangers that the enemy presents. That reliance on mobility instead of screens often makes for appetizing targets to attempt to deepstrike and charge. Most of your units should be able to take on the likes of Arkanauts and small units Endrinriggers. For the ships, you’ll want harder hitting units and against the Ironclad your best bet is hitting it with mortal wounds. In fact, the army as a whole struggles against mortal wounds, making the likes of Spirit Hosts and Hexwraiths invaluable.
Deepstrike: Apart from Total Commitment (the less we talk about that battleplan, the better), it’s always important to utilize From The Underworlds They Come, however, it’s essential to beat Kharadron Overlords. I recommend that you hide your best units in the underworld during this game and deploy things like units of 10 Chainrasps on the board. This does a few things for you. The first, is that it prevents your opponent from having an obvious target to focus their fire on. KO tend to focus on a target each turn, and focus their firepower on it to delete it. They can’t do that if there isn’t a good target on the board. A second reason is if they are Ziflin with the Warp Lightning Vortex endless spell, you’ll want to avoid giving them a target area as that spell hurts a lot. Being able to stash half of your troops off the board and spread out your army really mitigates the strength of that spell.
Max Your Heroes: I definitely encourage trying to take 6 heroes in a game against KO. This army will be able to delete your heroes (with one exception) at will, and you’ll want a hero or two to help with Deathless Spirits and re-rolling charges.
Mortal Wounds: The true weakness of Kharadron Overlords is dealing with mortal wounds output. Spirit Hosts, Hexwraiths, the Black Coach, Lady Olynder, Reikenor, Cairn Wraiths, and even a Tomb Banshee all can bring some hurt to KO. The goal here is to hit critical mass. Re-rolling good saves doesn’t help against mortal wounds.
Blocking Ships: Don’t forget that all of your units fly, so any unit in combat with a ship means that if that ship retreats (via Fly High or a regular retreat), the ship and any models in it can’t shoot. This is an absolute game changer.
MSU: Running multiple small units is the way to go here. A unit of 30 Reapers or 40 Chainrasps will be deleted in a single turn. Units of 10 or 5 though provide a challenge to the opponent in figuring out just how much firepower it will take to delete, especially with the ethereal saves.
Units that Excel
All of our units are ethereal (ignoring the high rend shooting of KO) and fly (able to tie up ships and prevent them from shooting), so in some capacity all of our units excel against KO. However, there’s a handful of units that I have found do particularly well:
Lady Olynder with Dolorous Guard. This battalion makes Lady Olynder a target, but a target that even KO will have trouble deleting. It’s also not a grouping that your opponent can avoid, as Lady Olynder and her Hexwraith companions can take down just about anything KO have. If your opponent spends a turn trying to take out this group and fails, you just caused them to focus their fire away from the rest of your army and you’ve probably started to run up the score on objectives. Meanwhile the extra attack on the Hexwraiths on the charge typically means an extra mortal wound, which can make all of the difference.
Dreadblade Harrow General. If you aren’t taking Lady Olynder as your general and the Dolorous Guard battalion, I would recommend this tried and true choice of a general. This allows you to match KO somewhat with their ability to teleport around the board. Now you can do the same with this model and bring another unit for a command point. That makes life a lot tougher for KO.
Spirit Hosts. This is the one unit I would take a max of when playing KO, though I also found small units of them to be effective as well. The multi wound models plus plethora of attacks that can do mortal wounds is a nice combo against KO.
Hexwraiths. See the previous entry, with less firepower but more movement.
Reikenor and Chronomantic Cogs. Reieknor’s mortal wounds potential, spells, and speed all make him a valuable commodity in this matchup. Getting off Cogs is also huge, as it really helps you match KO’s movement and allows you to charge in from the underworld to tie up ships. Just be wary of facing an Ironclad with the battering ram.
Units to Avoid
Grimghast Reapers. Honestly, apart from Stalkers which should always be avoided, I’d say this is the only unit to stay clear from even though they’re my favorite unit. KO rarely have units of 5+ in my experience, and when they do they’re one of: 6 Endrinriggers which you should handle just fine, Thunderers in a ship which isn’t a good target, and Arkanaut Company which any of our units can handle.
Matchups against Kharadron Overlords are very winnable matchups for Nighthaunt, however it will certainly be a game that will test you as a general and a tactician. These games will involve lots of movement shenanigans for both players, and lots of punching/counterpunching. Hopefully this helps if you go up against this army!