The Art of Dawi
As one of the two starter set armies, we had to cover the Dwarf armies at some point. Beginning with one of the most thorough tactica articles I have ever seen. Arklite gives us a tour of the Dwarven warmachine.
The Art of Dawi – a look into the practical application of dwarf army building and use.
(I would like to now pardon myself for any mistakes in this tactica and would like it if people could PM me these mistakes it is 15 pages of tactica after all mistakes do crop up)
Now we have all have read the Tacticas on dwarves, which tell us the basic use of each unit in the dwarf army with maybe an occasional glimpse into how the unit should be used. So as a little project I’ve created this Guide: The Art of Dawi.
1: Generic Stats.
2: unit composition
3: character building
4: Anvil of doom
5: which war machines?
6: Sample lists
7: complimentary support
8: deployment 101
9: offence against defence
10: dictating the battle field
Chapter1: generic stats
When anyone looks at the dwarf stat line we can plainly see what makes us so hard. Dwarves have High weapon skill, toughness and leadership, that’s obvious. But most people look at our M3 and say, “I know! Lets play defensive!”. Don’t always think like this right away. The dwarves greatest characteristic is not even on the profile… we’re versatile. Dwarves have the great advantage of being strong in both offensive and defensive play with a vast amount of magic items, units and equipment to augment either plan to a zenith on the tabletop.
Weapon Skill: dwarves have above average weapon skill. This right away puts them above the rest as an elite among other armies with almost no other army’s lowest troop having a WS above 3. This means as a general rule, dwarves can out do empire infantry, skellies, gobbos, zombies, skaven, marauders, men at arms and ogres when it comes to hitting the enemy. We then can match up against more skilled infantry like chaos warriors, elves and any other ws4 infantry.
Our elite units take this even further with a WS of 5 putting them above almost any rank and file core unit letting them square up against chaos warriors, lizard men and a lot of armies elite troops with a definite advantage.
Ballistic skill: this is one of our two average values. We are just as good at shooting as most other armies but seeing as all of our war machines are guess based or have a cheep way to get Bs4 its rarely a factor, even Thunderers have Bs4 from their handguns. There is not a lot to say tactically about ballistic skill as it just means hitting the opponent.
Strength: our other average value and probably the only reason your average dwarf warrior is classed as a rank and file trooper of an elite killing machine. The average strength of dwarf warriors is what makes them unable to take on units like chaos warriors or some special/rare choice on fair terms. So because of this we have to fight differently. Where we can cut down your average manling or elf stat line we tend to have problems against T4 units and as such we have to rely on static combat resolution, that is, ranks, outnumbering and standards. As such avoid equipping great weapons on dwarf warriors and leave them to the elite units. Elite units have higher Strength which makes them perfectly able to take the fight to the enemy. As a result having great weapons on these guys tend to be a good idea having S6 lets them be the hammer to the anvil of your dwarf warriors breaking through the enemy main line to smash apart any resistance.
Toughness: this is probably the most famous of the dwarf’s attributes. The bane of all rank and file infantry the T4 is what really sets dwarfs apart from all troops in their points range. With T4 the enemy will have to wound you on 5’s. so 10 attacks become 5 hits which become 2 wounds which will probably become 2 saves (no standard dwarf trooper should have less than a 3+ save against S3 troops in my opinion) take this inability to die easily and combine it with that pre-mentioned static combat res and for 200-250 points you have an infantry unit that will hold against almost anything short of a fear causing horde with character attached!. This above average toughness lets dwarves hold against even elite troops like great weapon wielding sword masters, with them wounding on 3’s rather than 2’s with their S5 cutting the casualty rate down dramatically letting you maybe pull down 1 or 2 of the enemy with your attacks and win the combat through sheer attrition! The average dwarf is a rock… It hurts when you punch a rock. It hurts more when the rock punches back.
Initiative: dwarves are slow. No doubt about it but don’t think its stupidity. Dwarves think their actions through and let the enemy tire them selves on their armour before unleashing their counterattack in a Romanesque style. We will more often than not be striking last so maximise your defence before looking at attack
Leadership: probably our second most famous characteristic dwarf leadership is probably the highest around matching and surpassing heroes of other races. Not even our own heroes can outmatch our base leadership and you need a dwarf lord before you can raise it higher! This means that dwarves can loose a combat by 3 and still pass with ease. So don’t be afraid to put your stout little troopers into tough situations against elite troops of other races as quite often you will hold and possibly even pull through victorious! Though don’t get too adventurous by trying to take on chosen chaos warriors or grail knights with normal rank and file troops even dwarves can’t pull that one off….
Armour: though not a statistic in its own right it still deserves a mention at this point.
Dwarves are one of the better-armoured races in Warhammer. Our basic troop has heavy armour as standard and has access to shields. So for a mere 9 points we suddenly have an infantry man with the already tough characteristics mentioned above BUT also has a 3+ save in frontal combat and 4+ save against shooting! This gets taken even further with iron breakers who for a extra 4 points have a 2+ save and an elite dwarf stat line making them one of the 2 or 3 the best armoured infantryman in the entire game and is the cheapest of these units.
Chapter:2 unit composition
A Dwarf warrior may be the best point for point trooper in the game but even he is weak alone. The Dwarf army should work like a suit of chain mail. Each link working together to stop any attack against it. So when making your units make them big. Dwarves need combat resolution to win so make sure you have the edge by making your units at least 20 strong with 25-30 preferable. With numbers on your side you gain 3 things;
Ranks: more ranks = more combat resolution up to a max of +3. Even more ranks however don’t hurt as this gives you bodies that can be lost before you start loosing combat resolution preserving it for longer.
Outnumbering: another point of combat resolution is always handy after all.
Protection from fear causing auto break: you can only be auto broken from loosing to outnumbering fear-causing enemy. If you outnumber them you don’t auto break.
As for equipping your dwarves go for defence before offence. Build up armour saves before you go looking at great weapons a S3 model with a 3+ save is a lot more useful than a S5 model with a 5+ save when they both strike last in my opinion.
Elite dwarves like hammerers and long beards however can get away with having both great weapons and shields making them incredibly versatile in the face of a mixed enemy force. Fighting a high strength infantry unit? Use your shields. Fighting something that ignores even a 3+ save get out those great weapons and fight fire with fire.
Shooting units in the dwarf army tend to follow a different set of rules from the combat troops. At most you should have these guys in units of 10-12 as they are quite expensive at 11-15 points per model. A unit of 10 is my own preference as its small enough to be placed on a hill without taking up too much room or form a 10 wide line on a flank so throw support fire into the mix and possibly even flank enemy units. (Covered later in deployment 101)
Shooting units should be equipped with shields as often as possible as thanks to the light armour they can sport an impressive 4+ save in combat – the best available to any mainline shooting unit. As for Thunderers VS quarrellers there has been plenty of debate on this and the final results always seem to end up with both units getting lots of kudos and nothing resolved about which is better. I personally like Thunderers for the better armour modifier and ballistic skill but ill leave this up to peoples own preference.
Unit commands are a must. All three members have an important part to play in my opinion. A champion supplies another attack without expanding your frontage and regardless of casualties lets you get 2 attacks into the fight.
Musicians are another combat resolution precaution, which is very important if you plan to hold. In the event of a draw these guys give you +1 resolution, which is useful for keeping the fight a draw, or in the event that your opponent has forgot to add one for himself tip the combat in your favour.
All three of these characters within your units will cost on average 25-30 points. Now you may be thinking “ I could get 3 more guys for that!” the answer is that you could. But its not worth it in my opinion. The unit command is a vital part of the dwarf army and should never be left behind in your combat units. This rule however again does not apply to your shooting dwarves. Shooting dwarves should not be given a command beyond a musician. This allows you to make them flee as a charge reaction and rally on the roll of a 10 rather than a 9 making sure your shooters always come back when you need them to.
3: Character building
Lords vs. heroes
Lords and heroes in the dwarf army are very similar with only 2-3 differences between them. Most of this being in choice of equipment.
Lords have +1 attack WS wound initiative and LD over a thane for an extra 80 points.
The other differences between the lord and the thane are the 50 points in rune allowance and (probably the most important) the Shield Bearers.
The shield bearers are probably the most important thing to happen to the dwarf lord in this edition. What makes them special is that for 25 points you remove the needs for spending more than 5 points on runes to get the golden 1+ save and you get left with 120 points to spend on assorted runic goodies. The shield bearers also remover the chance of killing blow, unlike normal “mounts” the shield bearers and lord count as a single model with US3. According to the new rules only models with a US of 2 or less can be instant killed making the dwarf lord an even more durable model on the tabletop. To round it all off we get another two attacks at S4 WS5. These might not make too big a difference but the odd chance of killing another enemy model and getting another point of combat resolution is always good.
The dwarf lord is also the only way you can raise the over all leadership of a dwarf army letting you spread ld10 over your army making them even more resolute.
As for equipping your lords and thanes you must first consider the following…
1: you have M3
2: you should not be running around solo
3: you have access to the largest armoury of any wfb army and the most powerful magic item list.
Taking these three facts into account think on how best to tool your combat characters. Dwarf characters are best used to bolster the fighting prowess of your front line fighting units and you should tool your characters to best support this. For example in a 25 strong unit of warriors you can see they lack the strength to cause damage to the enemy unit, knowing this you should add a high strength character to compensate for this. This might be a thane with a rune of cleaving and a rune of fury or it could just be a simple but effective great weapon. The higher strength means that you can cause 2-3 wounds where your normal S3 units would fail (against knights and the like).
On the other hand if you have a unit such as hammerers where Strength is not a real problem but surviving is, a character with a master rune of swiftness might be more important. This wonderful rune lets your character make attacks even before the charging enemy. With a rune of cleaving in support this could mean that you eliminate 2 or 3 of the enemy models before they even make contact with your great weapon wielding hammerers letting more of them live long enough to make those powerful S6 attacks hit home.
Thanes and lords can take oath stones as well as their nominal kit (though a lord should ALLWAYS be using shield bearers in my opinion) this is probably one of the most risky items available to the dwarf army but grudge knows it can give great results. This item when activated removes all the flanks on a unit and pins it in place.
This is very effective as under the new rules this means that even if flanked the dwarf unit will still get its hand weapon and shield bonus and will not loose its ranks. Most people make use of the oath stone by placing on a unit near their flank. I however prefer a slightly more sneaky use. My oath stones generally take position at the centre of my line in a high powered and expensive unit which people want rid of/destroyed as such they either A: attack it head on as I want them to or B: avoid it and attack the weaker units so they can comeback to it later. Taking this into account if you see a chance that should normally be ignored from the immanent support unit ready to flank it you should take the chance and charge the first unit. Then as the enemy cackle in glee as you reveal a flank and charge in you drop the oath stone at the last moment! This lets you bog down the enemy in what is pretty much head on combat with a unit of WS5 dwarves which tends to mean death to all but chosen chaos knights/grail knights/other 400+ point unit.
Thanes also have the option of taking the battle standard. This is probably the most important character in the dwarf army as he makes them near damn unbreakable. Dwarves with their ld9 are hard enough to break but with the battle standard you get a re-roll on break tests making them even more likely to pass their break tests and hold the line. This alone makes him very important to be kept alive and as such you should ignore the magic banner runes and tool him for defence. The master rune of Gromril is perfect for this giving him a 1+ save. A secondary rune is also a good bet and the best choices are the rune of striking (+1 ws), which means that you will need WS4 to hit him on 4’s, and the rune of resistance (re-roll saves). If you also have a dwarf lord on the table this advantage is amplified with your dwarves having ld 10!
Runelords have many more advantages over their smith counterparts than lords have over thanes. Higher wounds, LD, initiative, WS and toughness make up the statistical advantages but Runelords also have the highest total of rune allowance (150 points) in the dwarf character section, they give you 2 extra dispel dice over the extra 1 from Runesmiths and they have access to the mighty anvil of doom. So mighty that it has its own short section further down.
Runelords should however only be used if you want to play the anvil of doom. Otherwise 2 Runesmiths can do the same job for less. Runesmiths are the dwarf army’s mainline anti-magic defence having access to all of our anti-magic runes and giving us an extra dispel dice. The other great advantage to Runesmiths is that they, unlike mages and other spell casters who do the same job, have access to armour and weapons making them pretty capable combat characters if given a great weapon and maybe a rune of stone alongside their anti-magic runes. Its also an idea to attach these guys to your elite dwarf units as they have similar damage and WS so rolling all at once is not too bad an idea and he can throw an extra 2 S6 attacks to a great weapon assault or provide 2 great weapon attacks without loss of armour if you are going for the hand weapon and shield option.
Master engineers are the shooting friendly characters in the dwarf army. With a range of skills that power up your war machines and letting you entrench one of them this guy can almost double the effectiveness of any war machine you attach him to. Entrenchments are useful if you have a war machine on your flank, which you want to keep alive and make a nice shooting magnet on occasion. As for equipment the best option is to grab a brace of pistols and a rune of stone. Nothing like a gunslinger to defend war machines from flyers.
Dragon and Daemon slayers are interesting. With a stat line that outdoes thanes and lords these guys look pretty good. They however have no armour and can’t get any. Not even a ward save. Because of this they automatically becomes a fire and forget weapon. When I play a dragon slayer (I don’t use Daemon slayers, they are too expensive for their job in my opinion.) I basically load him up with as many attacks as I can and launch him towards a nearby enemy unit. This has 1 of two results. 1: he dies as he plans or 2: he hits the unit with 7 attacks and holds them in place for 1-2 turns like I plan. They are a very fun and fluffy part of the army but in any serious play I avoid them. As a result I don’t have too much experience with them and can’t give any more info than this but I’m open to peoples ideas on our little berserkers.
4: Anvil of Doom
the anvil of doom is our answer to magic and is probably the most controversial weapon available to the dwarf army. This weapon can turn the entire game on its head by making dwarves faster than their enemies! The two best runes to use are in my opinion; the rune of wrath and ruin and the rune of oath and honour. These two runes can turn the tables on the enemy by making you faster than they are. The rune of Wrath and ruin is probably more useful in the earlier turns than the oath and honour as it causes damage, grounds flyers and halves the movement of enemy forces. The rune of oath and honour is handy when the enemy are close enough to charge you (12”).
The big question with the anvil of doom however is this: do I use the ancient power or the normal one? My answer: always go for the ancient power, gamble with the anvil using the 2+ casting value is weak and no test of a rune lord’s skill. Always go for the 4+ and maximise the results! This approach could mean your anvil exploding turn one but it could also mean that you could slow, damage and cripple 3 enemy units just as the game starts with the 2d6 S4 hits and halving their movement in the first turn giving your war machines and shooting dwarves even longer to shoot at the enemy forces.
The rune of oath and honour can be thought of as your trump card. As the enemy close in after weathering your onslaught of fire you use this rune and launch your dwarves into the enemies face charging what you can. This has 3 effects 1: you force him into charging what’s in front of him letting you pick targets 2: you might get the charge against several units giving you a definite advantage and 3: you scare his pants off.
5: Which War machines?
This is probably the most asked question by budding dwarf players and deserves a look into in this tactica.
The simple answer is that every war machine is good in its own way. Grudge throwers and flame cannons can obliterate hordes, cannons and bolt throwers smash chariots, pull down monsters and obliterate knights. I will go into each war machine in more detail however in an attempt to bulk this section out and elaborate on them a bit.
Ill stick some stars at the end of each warmachines brief (out of 5) based on my opinions of them to make this seem a little more in-depth than it is
Bolt thrower: the poor dwarves friend; cheep, effective and reliable the bolt thrower is the one war machine that’s its hard to go wrong with and it should be your first consideration when choosing war machines. Basically ask yourself: can the bolt thrower do it or do I need something more? Bolt throwers are generally effective against any target on the battlefield but at the same time are not spectacular against any target on the battlefield so you may want to use another war machine in the event that you need a certain job done. For example if you expect a lot of chariots a cannon is probably a better bet, if you expect lots of multi wound critters grudge throwers are more useful and if you are fighting penny a packet horde troops the flame cannon is your best bet.
One of the great redemptions of the bolt thrower however is that you get 2 of them per special choice. This makes up for their mediocrity by letting you have more of them than any other war machine.
As for equipping them your first priority should be getting an engineer. The engineer is the best thing for bolt throwers this edition. This guy turns the bolt thrower into a real nasty killing machine by making it accurate enough to start striking the enemy from the first turn to the last with consistent results (especially if you have them working in pairs). As for runes, the rune of penetration is a good investment giving your bolt thrower S7 (the magic number) making it a chariot killer.
In conclusion it’s hard to go wrong with a pair of bolt throwers in a dwarf army but don’t expect devastation every game you use them. ***
Cannons: cannons are the real hard hitter of the dwarf gun line. Sporting strength 10 this war machine makes its impact felt almost every time it hits an enemy. Unlike the bolt thrower the cannon does not loose strength as it travels through targets making it very handy for smashing through a unit of high toughness troops. The cannons base S of 10 makes it the best chariot killer in the dwarf armoury with consistent results pretty much every time. It is however only marginally better than the bolt thrower for targeting single chariots. Units of chariots however is where the real difference between these two warmachines comes into effect as the cannon can auto-kill each chariot it hits. The bolt thrower (unless made S8+ in which it would be cheaper getting a cannon) would only be able to auto kill the first chariot before becoming S6 and unable to eliminate the following chariots.
When equipping this war machine only 1 rune is really needed; the rune of forging. This rune makes misfire nothing more than an occasional annoyance by changing the chance of misfire from 1/6 to 1/36. this rune also lets you re-roll the bounce on the cannon ball if it misfires and gets stuck in the mud. ***
Grudge thrower: you either love it or hate it. This war machine is probably the most agued over of all of the special warmachines. In its favour it sports the greatest range and potential for damage out of the three. Against it however is its inherent inaccuracy and lower strength than its two counterparts. I’m personally a great fan of the grudge thrower with them making a regular appearance in my armies. The reason I like the grudge thrower so much is that it sports a template. This let’s the war machine inflict a lot more damage against ranked troops than a cannon would per say.
This war machine also has a psychological effect on your opponent as well, when you do manage to land a nice big rock on an enemy unit you will notice that you will on average get 5 models under the template with 4 partials- This is 9 models averaging out with 7 hits on the models beneath – when you roll to wound you will probably kill 4-6 models. Now this might not seem like anything special but when you consider that this will remove an entire rank of models and allow no save this machine starts to become a real focus on the tabletop.
As for runes there are 2 I recommend: the rune of accuracy and the rune of penetration. The rune of accuracy should be your first priority, this is rune has the wonderful advantage of making the stone thrower horrendously accurate. If you take a look at your scatter dice you will spot that there is 2 sides marked with the “hit”. This means that you have a 1/3 chance of a direct hit. If you miss this however and you don’t like the result of the scatter re-roll for another 1/3 chance to hit. This results in the chances of getting the hit roll rising immensely. The rune of penetration is also very effective on this war machine as with strength 5 you begin to start wounding T3 troops on a 2+ causing even more damage. Not to mention the double strength at the centre of the template becomes S10. ****
Stonehambey was kind enough to do the math for the chances to hit the the rune of accuracy so cheers to him
P(getting a hit) = 1 – P(no hits)
= 1 – (2/3)^2
= 1 – 4/9
= 5/9 (I think!)
So more than half which sounds good to me
Organ gun: the Swiss army gun. In the dwarf army no war machine is so effective against every target than the organ gun. You can shoot this at pretty much anything and expect some sort of result. This machines only con however is its short range compared to the other warmachines. Regardless of this however it has become the most popular of all the warmachines and appears in almost every list I read today. The organ gun specialises in targeting skirmishers and flyers however and performs this role to an art being able to gun down any mainline flyer unit in the game with its S5 and –3 armour mod. ****
Flame cannon: this war machine is a real monster. Able to break enemy units with incredible speed this flame-throwing contraption is the most overshadowed of all the warmachines available to the dwarves. This is really because of how effective the organ gun is. Voted one of the top 5 unit breakers in the game by GW this weapon has saved me in many games to the extent that I plan to remove my organ gun to play it more often. With a deceptively long range I have been able to strike enemy units on turn 1. the key to this is to remember that the flame template is 8” long so you will have an effective range of 3” to 30” (12”+10”+ template). So don’t be afraid to target the enemy as soon as you can. The best targets for the flame cannon are light medium infantry whose armour is not too high and their moral is average enough to make the panic tests fail more often. This can be anything from goblins to elves. ***
Gyrocopter: probably the most effective support unit in the dwarf army the gyro copter is our fastest unit in the game and is best served as a march blocker and war machine hunter. The steam gun is not spectacular but it strong enough to give T3 troops a headache and if you place your shots well enough you can probably whittle down units enough to remove their effectiveness, a good target for this tactic would be units of fast cavalry as these tend to be 5-6 strong and killing one or two and making the unit fairly useless. Over all the gyro is a powerful support weapon and has a place in most dwarf lists. Its limited uses however make it only so effective on a tabletop. ***
6: Sample army list
in this section I’m going to put down one of my successful dwarf lists with a little summery at the bottom to how well it has faired in the past.
2k dwarf army
rune smith (general)
2X runes of spell breaking
rune of stone
rune of striking
long beards 19 (bsb here)
master rune of grungi
Hammerers 19 (rune smith here)
rune of courage
rune of forging
Rune of accuracy
Rune of reloading
this list was the result of me wanting to get some more warmachines into my army. It is build around a solid core of troops with an economical character choice and powerful selection of warmachines. This list works by bunkering up in a corner and using its high amount of firepower to draw the enemy army to it and then using its strong infantry line to destroy what’s left of the enemy army after it makes its way past my war machine barrage.
The warrior units are all large enough to mean that they can hold for several turns before needing support and the elite dwarf units are strong enough to smash through the enemy line without much resistance. The Thunderers are my anti-fast cavalry defence using their high accuracy to deal with possible flanking moves or help the warmachines knock ranks off the enemy forces with their good armour mod.
All of the warmachines have been kitted out for reliability and should cause consistent damage for several turns.
The characters have been kept cheep in order to maximise the strength of the rest of the army but still give the army enough magic defence and moral support to bolster the defences.
The long beards have been made the anchor unit of the infantry forces with a wide range of effects that strengthen the overall moral of the troops nearby and protects them from war machine damage (remember that bolt throwers stop once they fail to kill so the 5+ ward from the master rune of grungi would stop the bolt going any further) keeping the effects of enemy shooting fairly low compared to the damage ill be putting against them. If I end up playing against an army however that does not have a lot of shooting I can swap out the master rune for 1 of 2 combo’s: 1 rune of battle 1 rune of stoicism OR rune of courage and the determination rune making the long beards a very hard to unit to break either way.
7: complimentary support
this is the key to a good dwarf army. When you play you have to make sure that every unit in the army is set out to support and augment your other ones. No single unit in the dwarf army is spectacular on its own. Its only at peak efficiency once you have it teamed with the rest of your army. For example your dwarf infantry’s greatest weakness if being flanked and loosing its rank bonus, to stop this you consolidate its position by creating a battle line. By placing all your dwarves shoulder to shoulder you defend their flanks and present an iron-bearded wall to them to try and get past.
One way to consider this is to create “groups” in your army. Putting certain units together to work directly with each other. I for example group my 2 warriors and long beards (see list above) these three units support each other with the long beards giving the two warrior units lots of moral support and protection from shooting while they hold its flanks and make the enemy fight it head on.
Another example is how I use my warmachines. I pair my cannon and bolt thrower together because they do a similar job and they amplify their effects against units.
The Thunderers and organ gun also do this as they use direct fire to cause damage and are again effective against similar targets.
Characters in the dwarf army also follow this trend. Unlike their chaos or vampire count counterparts are not the great unit cleaving masters of the game. Dwarf characters work best as support units attached to your regiments to augment their already potent fighting skills. The only exceptions to this are the slayer heroes but that’s a different matter. Lords and thanes fall into this by strengthening the unit with extra attacks at a higher strength than normal, and in the case of the lord boost LD.
So when building and playing a dwarf army consider which units work well with others to maximise their effects on the overall battle.
8: Deployment 101
I personally use the following method when deploying my army
choose position: this is preferably on one of the table edges in order to create an anchored flank (he cant get you if the table edge is in the way) hills are preferable but if there is only one right in the middle of your deployment zone set up on the table edge closest to it (take the edge over a hill). Keep that refused flank, but don’t rule out the hill.
Fortify: put down your combat formations in a solid line at an angle (towards you) touching the edge you are wanting to use as an anchor and pulling towards the back edge. if you have a hill in your corner deploy around it. if not set up points on your flanks for warmachines to go. Never place warmachines on their own. They are venerable to enemy fast attack and countering this will mean you have to redirect fire to counter them. rough terrain can make another solid flank anchor as it can slow enemy units down a fair bit (but watch out for yeti)
Shooting units should be used in 1 of 3 ways.
1: double ranked on a hill: this one is a no brainier really. but choosing where on a hill to set them up is different. You would preferably want a position, which has a good view over the enemy advance. Shooting dwarves can’t move and shoot so any repositioning mid battle is not good. Instead look at the terrain outside your deployment. Are there forests? Towns? Rock outcrops? What will slow them down? What can block your fire? Take all of these into account before placing your dwarves as any loss in fire can mean the enemy don’t take enough damage this turn or don’t panic.
2: on a flank. A way to solve the problem of enemy approaching is to place them on a flank. A lot of the time you will need a single rank to do this but placing a unit of Thunderers on the end of your infantry formation can whittle down unit numbers enough to tip the scales in your favour. this is achieved be the following (assume that this is the lower right corner of a table)
as you can see you create an area where the enemy must cross if they want to reach your troops but you have a field of fire over. They could then attack the shooting unit which will work in your favour as being so close to the table edge will result in them leaving the board and being out of action for 2 turns or if you hold give you the chance to flank the enemy unit.
3: the forlorn hope, basically a single rank of shooting dwarves in front of your battle line. This gives your troops a field of fire over the approaching enemy and gives you a speed bump to slowdown the enemy army (giving warmachines/other shooting units) more time to fire at loose units.
Once you have your shooting dwarves in place you should then place your warmachines in position that present maximum line of sight over enemy approaches and gives you the best chance to destroy enemy formations as they come to you or in the event that they try to out shoot you, you are able to shoot into their formations and cause more damage forcing them to advance.
9: offence against defence.
Dwarves by default have a defensive posture there is no avoiding this. However this does not mean you can’t play in an aggressive manner. Marching dwarf armies have became more and more popular as of late and with good reason. Dwarves are now one of the top rated combat armies in the game* and are a force to be reckoned with. An offensive dwarf army generally takes the form of a powerful battle line backed up by gyrocopters and maybe the odd war machine to give support fire as it advances. Another common feature of marching dwarf armies as of late is the anvil of doom due to letting you move your dwarves at 12” per turn. This army also tends to set up to one side of the board in order to defend one of its flanks then roll up that side into the enemy deployment then swing around to attack the enemy head on.
*survey at local gaming club
Personally I’m an advocate of the defensive style of play. Using my war machine batteries I force my opponent to find refuge in the comparative safety of combat where my warmachines can’t hurt him. The entire idea of this tactic is to make him/her do this precise movement. Place your self in the corner of the table (as detailed in deployment 101) and use your superior firepower to bring him to you. As he approaches focus on removing ranks from dangerous units or bring them bellow US5 in the case of some chaos knight units. Your main intention would be to make sure that you are fighting weakened units that will not be able to truly break past your dwarf battle line and that you can wear down through a heavy attritional battle. Longbeards and hammerers should endeavour to not only hold but smash enemy units that land against them and begin your counter attack. Once you have broken past you should rapidly move to support any of your warrior units, which might be coming off badly against the enemy attack. Once that’s done you should focus on destroying as much as the enemy army as you can, as dwarves are not famous for capturing table quarters.
As for which tactic to choose over the other there is no real deciding factor. I choose to play defensively because that works for me and it took a few test games (and a lot of draws) to realise that I’m good at that style of play, but I make sure that my armies are able to quickly adapt to changing situations and if needed can march out to take the fight to the enemy.
When building your list for either tactic remember that pure shooting or pure combat will probably not win the battle you will most likely need some form of support from the other in order to make your tactic work.
10 Dictating the battlefield
in Warhammer there is 4 main phases which directly influence the battlefield; movement, shooting, magic and combat. The key to dictating the battlefield to is have control over 1-2 of these phases and using them to influence enemy decisions and put situations in your favour. Dwarves are limited to only being able to take control of two phases, shooting and combat, thankfully we are masters of both these phases.
Shooting: Dwarves use shooting to influence how the enemy move before the combat begins. With a reputation for powerful warmachines and immense shooting people tend to deploy differently that they normally would normally. Use this to your advantage, the placing of an odd war machine away from your lines as a decoy is one example as the enemy player might send a unit away from the main battle to deal with this threat. Placing organ guns on your flank is another example, as a lot of players tend to keep their distance once they see the damage an organ gun can inflict. By making areas of the table danger zones to shooting you can “herd” your foe into sending their units directly against your front line, which brings it to the second phase dwarves have a strong presence in.
Combat: Dwarves are a powerful combat army if played right. Head on combat being our speciality. This can be used to dominate the game by making the enemy wary of what units to charge and result in him/her spending more time manoeuvring than is really needed and give you more time to lay fire into them.
If you are able to make your opponent work to your plan you have won half the battle. This is of course easier said than done and takes practice to perfect it but once you are able to do it games tend to become a lot easier and at the same time interesting.
Well that’s it. 15 pages of meaningless waffle created by your truly I hope that there is in fact something in this that will help you out. Rather than doing a huge recap here in the conclusion id just like to pass out some kudos
Members of the Librarium dwarf forum who have over my 4 years of gaming helped me gain my 50 or so games without loss. (yeah a few draws but who is complaining)
The members of the Bugman’s brewery for the same.
The members of the IRC Warhammerfun chat who have shown interest enough for me to keep at this.
And the Scottish educational system who have given me a holiday I’ve wasted a week of to make this article.