Being Beardy - The Dwarves strike back - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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    Bearded Ninja Arklite's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
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    Being Beardy - The Dwarves strike back

    Being Beardy – the Dwarves strike back!

    1: Introduction

    2: Combat Core units
    2.1: Ranged core units
    2.2: Rangers

    3: Combat Special units
    3.1: Ranged Special units

    4: rare units

    5: heroes and lords
    5.1-Oaths stones
    5.2 The anvil of doom

    1: Introduction

    Previously in my art of dawi article I tried to give a slightly more strategic approach on a tactica. Rather than “this unit is good at this” I tried to explain how the army would work as a whole. This article however is going to be an in-depth analysis of each unit in the dwarf army and ways it can be employed on the battlefield. So without any further a due or waffling of any kind (WAFFLE!) I shall begin.

    It has been said that the dwarf army is like a mail shirt. Individually the links are small and weak, but when they stand together they are strong and impenetrable. This is as true as you can get with dwarves. A unit of dwarves on their own are at their weakest. If the enemy are able to catch a unit on their own you can expect that unit to die… quickly.

    Now don’t get me wrong… there are some units in the dwarf army that are perfectly able to stand alone for fair amounts of time (hammerers and slayers most notably) but I can promise that unless those units can break the enemy they will be ground down into nothing.

    How do you prevent this? Keep together. Play to the fluff. We keep that iron shirt together and nothing will get through.

    In this article I will look through each section of the dwarf army, yes unit by unit, and point ideal units to team them with and what roles they best suit in our chain mail army starting with core and ending with lords and heroes. So… shall we begin young Beardings?

    2: Combat core units

    Within the Dwarf army we have 2 options for mainline combat units. Longbeards and dwarf warriors.

    These are staple units in the dwarf army. Sporting fantastic stats and rules for their price your army should have between at least 50 but ideally 90 of these guys.

    Dwarf warriors

    Dwarf warriors are our basic grunt. Not known to many these guys are a citizen militia, these are not our standing army but in fact they are our everyday folks! Superior in training to almost any comparable force, is it fluff wise or points wise, dwarf warriors are some of the best value troops in the game. As survivable as chaos warriors and 7 points less you can expect these guys to hold indefinitely against pretty much any other core unit in the game and even a fair few enemy elite units.

    Dwarf warriors have the options between Great weapons and shields and many have argued and debated this choice for a fair long time but the accepted view (and personally I feel the far superior one) is to equip dwarf warriors with shield and gear them for meat grinder combat. In terms of survivability the dwarf warrior is the baseline all other units in the dwarf army should compare themselves to and only 1 unit has any significant advantage over them…. Ironbreakers, the toughest dwarves in the whole army!

    These stout defenders of the hold are best used in big units of at least 20 and preferably 25. Why 25 you may ask? Well remember that while we have all these wonderful stats making us the toughest around our basic strength is about the same as a human. As a result we suffer in the killing side of combat meaning we have to depend on our static resolution i.e.: standards, ranks and outnumbering. 25 is ideal for this for 3 reasons

    1: the 5 extra bodies means we have to loose 5 warriors before we even start to loose rank bonus. This is a big advantage in the face of units that have to break on a charge and allows us to pull them into a prolonged combat where that extra point of combat resolution makes all the difference in the world.

    2: most armies play infantry units in units of 20. this is where the outnumbering bonus comes in. most players (bar skaven, goblins and undead) will put their bog standard troops in units of 20. this gives them the basic static combat res and saves some points. We however… outnumber them and will probably still outnumber them at the end of combat thanks to those extra bodies.

    3: we need to loose 5 dwarves rather than 4 before we have to take a panic test. Admittedly this is a minor advantage compared to the above 2 but still makes 25 superior to 20. in the event that some armies (like those pansy elves or daft manlings) try to outshoot us our main combat blocks are all the harder to force panic checks on.

    As for using dwarf warriors they make ideal units to form up the bulk of your battle line. With their high defensive statistics they are perfect for taking enemy charges and holding them in place while your more elite dwarf units smash the enemy troops then come to support them in the clean up.

    While I personally see warriors sporting great weapons as being inferior to shield equipped one its only fair that I make a short section on them. Unlike shielded dwarf warriors with great weapons have a very low save, a mere 5+ compared to the 3+ in combat meaning that they will take losses with significantly greater ease than their counter parts. In exchange however they have better strength. The problem is that they strike last with this higher strength attack and so unless charging (very unlikely) they will have to face all the enemies attacks before they get to make their own. In the face of units of knights who would ignore the 5+ save with their lances you can see the problem.

    A solution has been proposed that these great weapon equipped warriors should be used as “detachments” and be deployed in small 10 strong flanking units. Personally I don’t like this as the enemy can either shoot these apart or charge them instead of your main combat blocks. Though this can be avoided with clever manoeuvring I think its too risky.

    Units to team warriors with include; thanes, rune smiths, ironbreakers, hammerers, longbeards and slayers. Perfect for protecting these characters (and in turn getting boosts from their combat prowess) and protecting the flanks of our more expensive units warriors are a must for the dwarf throng.


    Longbeards are the dwarf armies equivalent to a standing army. Fluff wise when a dwarf becomes old enough they are allowed to give up their normal profession and train full time for the defence of the hold. And by the ancestors it shows. With stats not only matching but also surpassing chaos warriors long beards are the match for most elite units in the game. To make them even more appealing they are not only better at combat than chaos warriors they are cheaper still! 4 points less than a chaos warrior. Once again superior to most things of comparable points long beards can and will match most things put against them. But if you would believe it they get better. A bulwark anti panic unit longbeards sport immunity to panic and a re-roll for nearby units making them not only an awesome close combat unit but also a powerful support tool for your battle lines.

    The question of course is how to field these full time soldiers of the dwarf throng. Ideally you want these guys at the centre of your lines spreading that anti panic goodness and presenting a rock hard unit to smash anything your lines meet.

    Previously I pointed out that I personally dislike great weapon equipped dwarves. With longbeards the reverse is true. Unlike normal warriors longbeards sport an extra point of strength making those extra powerful attacks pretty damn lethal. Able to engage knights with comparative ease to warriors you can have longbeards hack down some of the toughest units in the game with great weapons. However I still think you should carry the shields. Versatility is rewarded with the elite dwarf statline and having the option between two weapons lets you get the most out of these statistics. Another very important thing to note with longbeards is that they are able to sport a 50-point magic banner. This is rather important to remember as it gives you some VERY interesting options.

    1: rune of courage. The cheapest of my suggestions the rune of courage makes longbeards immune to fear and terror along side their immunity to panic. In many respects this makes them immune to the normal negative moral effects in the game. A good option if you expect lots of fear causers and the like.

    2: rune of slowness. Because of the position in the centre of your lines the rune of slowness is a pretty effective tool for potential flank charges or similar moves. If the enemy were for example charging from long-range this rune will probably stop them inside your own charge range letting you get those great weapons into gear and possibly smash that enemy unit before combat even begins.

    3: the master rune of grungi. My personal favourite, the master rune of grungi sends out a 5+ ward around the unit of longbeards and any friendly units within 6” giving you a shield of cover against enemy missile troops, warmachines and even magic missile attacks. Though some think that its too expensive for what I provides may I point out that a single save would stop a bolt throwers shot flat on its way through a unit. And that 1/3 of missiles stopped makes a panic test even harder to force and that 1/3 more of your units will reach combat. 1/3 is a pretty big number when you think about it in the end.

    the best thing to add to longbeards however in my opinion is the battle standard bearer. You already have panic re-rolls and possibly a 5+ ward being provided from this central unit why don’t you go ahead and plant the best of your moral support tools at the centre of your line! To round it off you also get some extra attacks from your thane.

    Good units to team longbeards with include: warriors, hammerers, ironbreakers and battle standards.

    2.1 : ranged core units.


    Quarrellers in their most basic form are a cheap alternative to thunderers. Armed with crossbows these guys have a tremendous range for missile troops (out classing thunderers in this respect) but lack the accuracy of their black powder counter parts. This is the main difference between thunderers and quarrellers. A more subtle difference is that quarrellers can carry great weapons…

    Now normally most armies would try to keep their shooting units out of combat but with quarrellers it turns into a fairly good idea. Set up as a flanking unit ( in place of the 10 strong great weapon warriors) you end up with a very capable flank guarding unit or flanking unit. Using your crossbows you can provide fire to pick off members of enemy units as they plod across to your lines and when the enemy are close enough you switch to the great weapons and take any charges you can. While I said that the manoeuvring required protecting a unit like great weapon warriors was not worth the effort I feel that it is very much worth it for great weapon quarrellers as they quite often present a surprise to an opponent who is not paying attention.

    As for ways to equip quarrellers… I say give them everything but the ranger upgrade. It puts them on par points wise with un shielded thunderers and gives you a greats support unit. Not as effective as blasting knights out their saddle or causing rather hefty damage to enemy units as thunderers but able to get in dirty when the enemy reach your troops.


    Thunderers are the dwarf armies’ premier missile troop. With possibly the single most powerful infantry ranged weapon point for point thunderers can shatter units given enough time. The big problem with writing a tactics section regarding thunderers however is that they are specialists. They are very good at shooting things and that’s generally what you want to do with them. Able to sport shields they can make a semi-capable combat unit strong enough to hold off enemy units for a turn or so (assuming you don’t get hit THAT hard).

    The art of using thunderers however is positioning. Being move and shoot and being inappropriate for combat you have to make sure you can make their shots counts. Being placed on hills is an obvious choice but be warned as you might take away the room needed for you to place your warmachines. I would recommend using thunderers (and quarrellers for that matter) on the flanks of your army. Able to gun down light cavalry or other quick flanking units thunderers provide protection to the vulnerable sides of your main combat blocks not with a shield of troops but a wall of lead.

    Giving thunderers a shield turns them into a pretty good unit but be careful. While it makes them good for holding they are still a huge amount of points per model. It would often be wiser not to equip them with shields and instead team them with an organ gun. The organ gun sports a similar range to thunderers and provides a dramatic punch against enemy units. Anything closing with the thunderers would have to deal with this most deadly of warmachines.

    The Quarreller-Thunderer Debate is one of the arguments inherent in a dwarf army. While thunderer sport A: a stronger gun and B: a better chance to hit with that gun Quarrellers are more versatile. Letting you hit the enemy earlier and deal with them better when they reach you (a situation that thunderers are seriously inferior in).

    2.2: Dwarf Rangers.

    Dwarf Rangers are an oddity within the wfb world, quite unique actually. What we have is a scouting unit who moves as a ranked force. This (while an interesting feature) is their biggest downside. Due to being ranked we move horrendously slow through terrain and they tend to be impossible to hide. The one idea I’ve been playing with is upgrading a unit of warriors to ranger status and making use of the throwing axes as a stand and shoot reaction. This unit would be set up in your own deployment zone and making use of the ranger rule in order to set up in direct reaction to the enemy (i.e., after they have everything down). Its not an upgrade I’d recommend myself but if your in the mood to experiment with them let me know the results. (There are actually theories on playing 4 units of longbeards with only 1 unit of warriors with these guys actually. But that’s better left for another thread.

    3: Combat Special units.

    Within the Dwarf army we have some of the best elite infantry in the game. One of them, the long beards, goes so far to be a core unit (and have already been covered). Rock hard with above and beyond average stats these guys take on the hardest, meanest and toughest targets in the enemy army when it comes to combat. These hardy warriors are the Iron breakers, the Hammerers, Miners and the Slayers. All somewhat specialist in their jobs these units are legends in their own rights; renowned for their survivability, grim determination and murderous potential.

    Iron breakers

    The Anvil of the dwarves the Iron breakers are the hardest single unit in the army yet are suffering in current dwarf thinking due to the hammerers swath of special rules. This in my own opinion is a crying shame. While the Iron breakers are not stubborn, immune to fear and terror and don’t carry great weapons they sport the best armour save for infantry in the game. The mighty 2+ armour save is a feat unmatched by anyone but CHOSEN chaos warriors or knights.

    Twinning hammerers (equipped with shields) in points people mistake the two units for doing the same job. Where hammerers are a sponge (using their stubborn to absorb an enemy charge then use their attached characters to wear down enemy units) Iron breakers are a brick wall, their purpose to stop enemy units outright.

    Iron breakers are horde breakers, masters of battling swarms of S3 enemies these guys are the perfect choice for taking on armies like humans, elves, skaven and goblins. Who attack through numerous S3 attacks or try to win through static combat resolution. Lets face it… iron breakers are the MASTERS of static combat resolution if the enemy have enough ranks to match you AND beat you in combat its probably a unit worth half the enemy army.

    While the main strength of Iron breakers is their spectacularly high save they also have the wonderful advantage of a 50-point banner. This generally qualifies as 2 runes of your choice and I would recommend the rune of stoicism combined with a rune of Battle for a substantial +2 to combat resolution (who seriously plays good combat units in 40’s? stoicism is just as good as +1 to combat) and sit happy with a joyous static combat resolution of 6 before blows are exchanged, want to take that further? You could potentially add a BSB to the unit but I wouldn’t think it that great an idea (long beards perform so much better with it).

    Iron breakers perform VERY well with a thane attachment and for good reason. While being the brick wall of the dwarf army the enemy might eventually climb over it. Solve this by placing an angry dwarf with a great axe on the top to hack down anyone trying to skip over it. Cheap thanes are the perfect solution with a great weapon + rune of stone being enough more often than not. While a somewhat vulnerable thane he sports the attack power to bring down knights and other heavy infantry units down with comparative ease. Want the unit to be even more survivable? Try a thane of pain with his 4 S5 attacks that strike before chargers and reduce the number of enemies actually getting to attack.

    Iron breakers only need to be teamed with long beards and by nearby a battle standard to be seriously nasty. Their one weakness being their leadership (excuse me while I laugh) its easy to solve by putting them near these two moral fixers.


    Hammerers are the sister unit of iron breakers. Where iron breakers stop enemy units outright hammerers are there to absorb the enemy impact then wear them down over multiple turns. Best fielded with a dwarf lord due to the immunity to fear and terror these guys are another unit of legend. The favourite special unit of choice for many dwarf commanders these guys have no obvious downside. Wonderful above average all rounders these guys can grind the enemy down through attrition or smash them with their mighty S6 great weapons. The one thing I will note however is that if you play hammerers; expect to loose a lot of them.

    Hammerers are best for taking on units that would severely cripple a normal unit on a charge or ignore the saves of your sturdy dwarves (S6-7). They take on the biggest, meanest and leanest units the enemy can field and grind them down over many turns.
    The dwarf lord is the key model in this unit. Without him these guys are still good but lack the offensive output to maul the enemy (they would have to use their great weapons and take horrendous losses before getting to attack back) a lords multiple high strength (assuming a nice tasty rune weapon) attacks can turn an entire combat.

    The problem with these guys however is that people will avoid them like the plague. The challenge there for is to force the enemy to fight you. You have 3 options for this. The Anvil of the doom giving you a 12” charge (kind of an expensive option but a lethal one) or the master rune of challenge which forces an enemy to charge you or flee as if failing a panic test. The final option is the rune of slowness on their banner. This neuters an enemy charge and gives the chance to charge your self (very nasty with those great weapons).

    If you want to field these guys without a dwarf lord you can always give them a rune of courage on the standard and then team them with a thane. While not as powerful (or scary) as the lord-hammerers combo its definitely cheaper and still serves as a powerful combat unit for your army.

    Units to team these guys with are (obviously) the dwarf lord, longbeards, a nearby BSB and thanes.

    Dwarf miners.

    Dwarf miners are probably the least used of the dwarf special troops but are infamous and lethal when they do arrive and reach their full potential. One of the only 2 units in the dwarf army who can enter the enemy deployment zone by turn 2 (the other being the gyro) the miners make it a dangerous tactic to hang back and outshoot the dwarves. Sporting the same stat line as normal dwarf warrior’s miners are poorer combatants than their special counterparts but their ability to arrive on any table edge more than makes up for this. There are many ways to field miners the most popular being as warmachine hunters or harassers turning up on turn 2-3 and assaulting the enemy guns the turn after (or the same turn if you have the anvil of doom giving them a boost). Other players put them in large combat blocks and use them to suddenly appear and threaten the enemy battle lines flank and put a powerful ranked combat unit into play where it can march block a few enemy units and possibly even charge them. The thing to really note about miners though is how much they cost. For all the advantages they bring they cost a mere 1 point more than a great weapon equipped warrior. With the new plastic boxes available too I can see these fellows getting significantly more appearances on the table.


    Slayers are an oddity in the dwarf army yet one of the most popular units for dwarf players and non-dwarf players alike. I personally don’t use them very often (not at all most of the time) because they just don’t fit into my style of play (which focuses on smashing the enemy rather than tar pitting them.) Slayers sport the most attacks of any dwarf unit and are our single serious unbreakable unit. They can pull down monsters such as dragons and giants with horrendous ease and have the option of using great weapons to turn them into rather powerful anti-rank and file attackers.
    One of the really big strengths of the slayer unit however are the giant slayers. Its important to remember that giant slayers follow all the rules for champions other than the fact that you can upgrade as many slayers as you like to them, they can even carry the battle standard or be the musician! When the enemy attack the slayers its important to note that if they don’t specifically say they are targeting the giant slayers you will get all their attacks against the enemy in return. That’s between 6 great weapon attacks or 9 normal ones assuming you only upgrade 3!

    On the battlefield slayers role tends to be somewhat awkward. Their rules are geared towards killing enemy monsters, however they lack the speed to catch dragons or giants meaning that they can be easily avoided. The unit is also very vulnerable to enemy fire due to having no armour to speak of.

    One method to make use of slayers is to mimic the empires detachment tactics and play small 5-10 strong flanking units. They tend to perform wonderfully in this role due to not ever having to take panic tests and if the enemy decide to charge them they won’t break unless they loose every member letting the “parent unit” flank the attacker.

    The trick to using slayers effectively is to keep them alive and there are sadly very few methods for this. Firstly you can put them under the master rune of grungi (best rune of the game) and give them a 5+ ward against shooting and magic missiles. Alternately you could screen them with a unit of quarrellers. If the enemy decide to charge you flee with the quarrellers through the slayers (who are unbreakable and can’t panic) and receive the charge or should the enemy fall short, counter charge and enjoy the psychotic ginger carnage. Its also worth noting that a similar tactic can be achieved with longbeards due to their immunity to panic.

    2:1 Ranged Special units

    Dwarf war machines are best of the best. Accurate, reliable, numerous and downright powerful. Our special war machines are of the common varieties from the big red book, bolt throwers, cannon and Stone throwers (named grudge throwers in our book).

    Each of these war machines has its own unique strengths and weaknesses most of them being quite obvious, others not so. The greatest strength of our war machines however are the engineering runes. They take what would normally be average but dependable war machines into the elite technology of the dwarven nation!

    Bolt Throwers

    Bolt throwers are the most simple of the three special war machines in terms of rules and as such are the most dependable and simplistic to use. Combined with the master engineer upgrade we have probably the best value for points bolt thrower of any army thanks to the sturdy crew and pretty damn accurate fire from turn one. The dwarven bolt thrower is infamous mostly due to its ability to have the rune of penetration and turn it into a chariot killer. Almost (and I’m fairly sure) no other army has a weapon that can auto destroy chariots in a single hit cheaper than the dwarven S7 bolt thrower and remember that. If you can’t afford a cannon and expect lots of chariots go for the S7 bolt thrower. The other thing to note is that the bolt thrower is our only truly expendable war machine and is a possible barer of the immolation rune. Often a tasty target for the enemy’s flyers a lone bolt thrower in a potentially dangerous position (on a far flank) and assuming you don’t put any obvious protection nearby you can bait the enemy into charging the war machine and then self destruct, more than likely killing the enemy flyers in the following explosion. The one other rune worth considering for the bolt thrower is the rune of fire. Merely to give you a magic attack or let you have multiple bolt throwers with runes of penetrating.


    One of the most reliable war machines in the game the dwarf cannon owes its success to the rune of forging. Letting the cannon re-roll misfires on the first roll AND the bounce we are able to fire the war machine all game with little fear of misfiring let alone loosing the war machine. The cannon however is somewhat generic in comparison to its empire counterpart. Weaker in terms of wound causing and range the dwarf cannon is often over looked and understandably so. With only 2 runes worth considering the cannon is rather plain. The cannons job is to smack large monsters hard and painfully. With its immense strength value the cannon can wound these monsters with ease. The problem occurs when it only causes d3 wounds… no problem however as we have the master engineer! Turning that D3 into the full power D6 and rending big multi wound monsters apart like butter!

    Grudge thrower

    Now we meet my favourite war machine… the most underestimated of the dwarf war machines the grudge thrower can, and will, smash entire units apart in its rain of destruction and want more. Why is this machine underestimated you ask? On paper its inaccurate as hell and rightfully so. Unlike a cannon it has a 2 dimensional scatter rather than the cannons 1 dimensional and can’t benefit from the rune of forging to guard it from misfire. What people forget however is that the scatter dice has 2 sides marked with “hit” not just one. This gives the war machine a 1/3 chance of landing right on target and causing substantial pain to those bellow. But that isn’t the nasty part about this machine… the nasty part is that we have the rune of accuracy! That 1/3 chance suddenly changes to a 5/9 chance leaping upwards in accuracy almost two fold! Want more? You can have it. Add a master engineer and now you can also re-roll the artillery dice meaning that if your scatter re-roll attempt fails a hit you can try for making it divert a minimum distance or in the event of a misfire avoid it all together. If you are willing to spend the points its also worth giving the GT a rune of penetrating this boosts its base strength to 5 and (confirmed by gav Thorpe) the centre of the template to S10 making it a good match for the cannon in monster mauling. Better than in some ways due to already causing d6 wounds.

    Now you might be asking, if we have the grudge thrower why use any other war machine?! The answer to that is that the GT has a minimum range meaning that once the enemy close on you it can no longer fire at the closest units. A worthy investment in any army the grudge thrower is a weapon of awesome potential if you are willing to give it the attention it requires.

    Rare units

    The dwarven rare units are probably the most infamous war machines in the game along side the hell blaster, hell storm rockets and the skaven warp lightning cannon. These are the last line of fire before the enemy reach your lines with the shortest range of all our war machines but at the same time a huge potential for damage surpassing even the grudge thrower against the right targets.

    Organ gun

    The dwarf’s best friend. The organ gun does the jobs dwarves hate and eliminates (not deals with… eliminates) enemy flyers, skirmishers and fast cavalry and can still be turned on heavily armoured rank and file units with a good success rate. The organ guns primary role however is that of a deterrent. No one wants to go near the thing so it makes a powerful war machine and flank guard. This however tends to be the most of it. The organ gun is a jack-of-all-trades weapon but also a master of all and because of it there is very little to say about it tactically or strategically. The only things I can note is using the master engineers entrenchment rule to make it even harder to assail and that quite often people forget that you can move the organ gun. If the enemy try to fight you in a gun war feel free to wheel it forwards and start blasting.

    The Flame cannon

    This is the lesser used of the three dwarf rare war machines and I personally feel that is a crime against the beard. This machine is sick, mean and downright nasty and it would be even without its panic rules. On paper this machine is at a significant disadvantage compared to its sister weapon the organ gun with a shorter range (on paper) and less armour penetration making it less useful against the wider range of targets you may and will encounter. The flame cannon however has a few aces in its pressure tanks along side all that burning tar. For starters the flame cannons range is deceptive. It has a guess range of 12” which is what turns most people away from it what you forget however is that you add an artillery dice to that range in the same way you would a cannon giving the flame cannon a range of 14-22” before you even put down that flame template. The optimum range for the enemy to be at against a flame cannon is roughly 20” away. This is due to the third range boost the flame cannon has… the flame template. The flame template is 8” long and gives another 5” of effective range to the flame cannons shot (5” up the table forms the widest part of the template and therefore offers the most hits). With a maximum range of 30” the flame cannon now out ranges the organ gun by a good 6”, a whole turns worth of movement no less.

    As for damage the flame cannon is best used against T3-4 rank and file infantry so its S5 can cause as many wounds as possible, against monsters the S5 is woefully inadequate to wound them and isn’t a worthwhile use of shots (unless of course you are shooting at a tree man and don’t have a cannon/bolt thrower/grudge thrower with a rune of fire handy) you can hit almost half a unit with a direct flame cannon hit and the more wounds you cause the better as even though we only need to kill one to panic the flame cannon should always aim to BBQ entire ranks worth of troops.

    How would you employ a flame cannon? When I use flame cannons I use 2 of them and place them on my army’s flanks and fire them inwards to create a burning crossfire on enemy ranked units. If you only have one placing it on the flank is still a good idea as its possible to score a hit on 2 units with a well aimed side shot.

    The Gyrocopter

    The Gyrocopter is the only unit in the dwarf army able to move further than 6” without runic or anvil support and is a favourite of many dwarf commanders. Surprisingly tough the gyro is able to survive light arms fire with ease and only has to fear the attention of enemy war machines. Tactically the gyro lets the dwarf army march block the enemy and is a good war machine hunter (assuming it doesn’t get shot down quickly) it has fair success as a mage hunter as well with 2 attacks its able to fly in, kill the mage and then when it looses the combat use its superior movement to flee from the enemy to safety (most of the time). If you don’t want to engage in combat the gyrocopter has the steam gun. Not the most deadly of weapons it makes up for its lack of strength with its owners movement and the fact that it’s a nice big template with an armour mod. A powerful skirmisher hunter the gyro can clear a board of those accursed skinks and way watchers with deadly efficiency (yay for auto hits.

    The Goblin hewer

    While this unit is a dogs of war I feel it deserves a place in this article. Possibly the most insane warmachine in the game (matched only by the warp lightning cannon) the goblin hewer launches axes across the table with sniper precision and can wreak units of low toughness infantry with its shots. The gem to this weapon is that the engineer attached (Malakai himself) has a stupendous ballistic skill of 5 and lets the goblin hewer strike at enemy units from turn one with miraculous results. Its best aimed at big deep ranked infantry units more than anything else as it gains hits depending how many ranks the enemy has so quite obviously you want to shoot at skaven and goblins with this one. The crew is made up of slayers as well meaning that enemy flyers and warmachine hunters have a pretty dangerous time against it without even mentioning malakai’s 3X repeating shot handgun!

    Long drongs slayer pirates.

    Avast! Ya manlings! Long drong and his slayer pirates are a seriously fun unit and all things considered should be used in much the same way as regular slayers. What is important to not about these bearded buccaneers is that they follow the old pistol combat rules and their attacks still –2 to enemy armour in combat making them fairly dangerous to face with medium and even heavy infantry.

    Dogs of war.

    I won’t be going into the rest of the dogs of war in this article as quite honestly I’ve only ever used them once and that was a unit of iron guts at a 3000 point game. People can make their own minds up about the wider range of dogs of war units as this article focuses on dwarven units.

    Heroes and lords

    While the dwarf army is tough the dwarven characters take this to a whole new level. Sporting above average states in almost every field (apart from movement and I of course) dwarf combat characters anchor your troops and provide the raw hitting power the rest of the army often lacks, the rune smiths and lords defend the army from enemy magic and wield the mighty anvil of doom to smite our foes and the dwarf master engineers use their generations of experience to make the dwarven war machines even more potent!


    The Staple combat character in the dwarf army the thane is one of the best value characters in the game sporting stats and a magic item allowance which some lords envy let alone heroes!

    With a significantly above average magic item allowance the thane gains unmatched versatility in his rules able to take any single weapon or armour rune with probable points to spare. Notable examples include the thane of pain or the chariot buster configurations.

    Another important (possibly the most important) feature of the thane is his ability to carry the armies battle standard. The dwarf army sports leadership 9 as standard. With a battle standard we are able to re-roll our already insane leadership for break tests making dwarf regular troops comparable to stubborn ones and our stubborn troops comparable to unbreakable ones! As for runic banners I don’t recommend them unless you have a specific plan in mind. The best example of this is the strollaz rune. If you want your army to get across the table fairly quickly this rune is worth every point another rune is the master rune of stromni redbeard. This spreads a tasty +1 combat resolution to all units within 12” and can stiffen the resolve of almost any battle line to such an extent that the enemy need to kill 4-5 dwarf warriors to have a sure chance of winning.
    Rune smiths

    The dwarf rune smith is our frontline magic defence character plain and simple. A capable combat character the rune smith can be given a great weapon and added to dwarf warrior units to provide a little extra killing power. They have a magic item allowance matching a thane but in no way should you try tooling them out to be a combat monster. Spend those points on a master rune of balance and some spell breaker runes. A rune of stone and a shield for defence and you’re a happy chappy.

    Dragon slayers.

    Dragon slayers are normal slayers on steroids. Sporting T5 and a good number of attacks a dragon slayer does well at monster hunting but more significantly a dragon slayer can tie up an entire unit for turns on end. this is due to only ever having to fight 3 enemies at once in combat at any one time and the slayers high WS and toughness. The enemy have a hard time hitting and wounding him. In return he sports several powerful attacks and due to being unbreakable will hold until the enemy are able to kill him. A tactic is to use the anvil of doom to accelerate this psychotic munchkin across the table at 12” per turn towards an enemy unit.

    As for equipping him a master rune of swiftness and a rune of striking are ideal. The master rune of swiftness lets you strike before the enemy and the rune of striking gives your dragon slayer WS7 meaning Ws3 troops need 5’s to hit him boosting his survivability even further.

    Master engineers.

    I’ve generally speaking covered what this guy does over the course of the article already so there wouldn’t be much point in adding anything more about his skills.
    Equipment wise he is best suited to a brace of pistols and a rune of stone. I will note that an entrenchment counts as both hard cover and a defended obstacle meaning that the warmachine has a fair chance of surviving a few turns of combat.

    Daemon slayers

    Just a seriously expensive version of the dragon slayer with a few better stats, nothing seriously worth adding.

    Rune lord

    The rune lord only has 1 serious purpose in life and that’s to bring an anvil of doom to the table. On his own he provides 2 dispel dice to the pool and has an insanely high magic item allowance (50 points more than any other lord). He should be tooled for defence with a rune of preservation, a shield and a rune of stone. This is a cheap combo and protects him from the attention of KB equipped monsters such as gorgers and tomb spiders. More on the anvil shortly.

    The Dwarf lord

    This is the big man and his stats reflect it. Sporting the highest leadership in the already resolute dwarf army the dwarf lord makes the dwarf battle line even harder to break and when combined with a battle standard don’t expect your dwarves to go anywhere you don’t want them to soon. As for the rest of his stats the dwarf lord sports a fantastic magic item allowance and can make best use of the runic items list as far as weapon and armour runes go. There are three ways you can go with your dwarf lords;

    Offensive: offensive dwarf lords often sport a nice big tasty rune weapon and a 1+ armour save. They either provide 5-6 high strength S6 or 7 hits or alternately they sport a large number of strikes first attacks protecting their unit from enemy attacks.

    The defensive lord only wields a great weapon but often has an obscene number of saves and possibly a master rune of steel. These guys are potentially the toughest guys in your army and should be used to protect the unit from enemy characters through challenging.

    The third type of lord is the el cheapo Grande. With a 1+ armour save and a great weapon these guys are there purely for a minor combat boost and to make use of that leadership. More often than not these guys are your best bet as many players will just expect LOADS of magic items on the lord and probably avoid him.

    On the battlefield you want this guy pretty central so that ld10 gets a nice spread. Hammerers are the ideal bodyguard but don’t pass over longbeards, iron breakers or even warriors when backing him up.

    As long as the dwarf lord is your general you have access to the shield bearers. The sheildbearers are the best value upgrade the dwarf lord can have and should seriously feature on every build. Firstly it gives you +2 to armour and 2 extra WS5 S4 attacks. That’s all nice and spiffy. The hidden part however is that shield bearers make you immune to killing blow. Rather than being a mount like it would be with other characters the lord and shield bearers count as a single model with US3 making them immune.

    Oath stones

    The oath stone is an underused tactical tool in my opinion and deserves a lot more usage from we dwarves (going start work on my conversion rather soon). At face value this looks pretty damn good and rightly so. Removing our ranks lets our dwarves put them in positions that would normally be disastrous and in all probability win said combat. The oath stone also provides MR1 to the unit making them even harder to budge from their position. The downside to the oath stone though is that once we drop it we can’t move against afterwards. Meaning that if we are going to drop it we better make sure its on our terms. An idea in doing this is a sudden redeployment as the enemy reach the 8” mark. Moving the unit and turning it 45 degrees in the face of the enemy anchoring yourself in the path of 2 enemy units. Your foe would have 3 choices in this situation. Charge with only one of the units (probably the one that can flank) and try to manoeuvre around the dwarf unit with the other (something quite difficult when most armies are left with 4” of movement at such close quarters). Secondly they could not take the bait and end up getting march blocked by the dwarf unit and even charged the next turn by the oath-bearing unit. Or third take the bait and charge both units into the dwarves letting you drop the oath stone and pin the enemy in place for your own flank attacks or to destroy the enemy army with the rest of your troops.

    If you are going to use the oath stone however make sure you equip that thane well (doing it with a lord would be expensive and impractical) as he will be challenging every turn and might end up fighting a strong enemy character. A defensive build and a great weapon would be preferable but if you are lacking a master rune of gromril a rune of stone-shield-rune of resistance-rune of striking combo should be more than enough to stand his ground and keep those enemy occupied as long as possible.

    Because the oath stone is a mundane item you have to tell your opponent that you have one. This isn’t always a bad thing as you could force him to avoid the unit completely and dictate how he moves (always a good thing for dwarves) and funnel them into shooting kill zones or just safeguard points in that unit.

    If you want to be REALLY aggressive with the oath stone a possible idea would be to combine the anvil of doom and the strollaz rune to move the oath-unit 18” up the table and right into the enemies face. They can again choose to ignore you and get march blocked or they can engage and you tie up some of their units for a few turns maximising shooting.

    The oath stone however isn’t effective against all armies and I leave it to the player to decide if they think the oath stone is worth the investment. But the tactical opportunities presented by it are definitely worth considering when building an army.

    The Anvil of doom.

    The single most feared item in the dwarf army the anvil of doom breaks the laws of genericism and changes how a game is played rather dramatically. For starters to play the anvil you have to fork out between 315 and 400 points (depending on equipment). Quite obviously this is a huge chunk of your army but the advantages the anvil brings to a dwarf army make it a worthwhile investment.

    For starters lets ignore the casting side of the anvil and see what we get. First of all we get the two anvil guards. Iron breakers in every respect the anvil guards are rock solid soldiers and can deal with enemy rack and file troops with ease. The rune lord brings 2 dispel dice to the table and when you count the extra one from the anvil you get 3 dispel dice, a rather tasty number. The anvil gives the “crew” a 4+ ward against shooting as well making them fairly resistant to enemy fire assuming the enemy even get sight of the anvil (more explained shortly). The unit is unbreakable and has a unit strength of 5 meaning it can claim a table quarter.

    Now the casting side. The anvil doesn’t need line of sight for any of its powers and you should remember that. This means you can hide it in an inaccessible part of the table and cast away without the enemy being able to target it by normal means. As for the powers them selves they are all powerful and quite dangerous. The thing with the powers however is whether you use them on a 2+ (weak but reliable) or a 4+ (immensely strong but risky). I personally advocate the 4+ for the rune of wrath and ruin, the 2+ for the rune of oath and honour and your own choice for the rune of hearth and home (both levels rock and should be used as often as possible against the undead)

    Firstly the rune of wrath and ruin. On its 2+ setting it’s a good way to shut down a single unit halving its movement and causing a few hits on it. If the enemy needs a critical charge smack said unit with this rune and counter the threat. Also remember that this rune grounds flyers making it a good option for controlling the skies or pinning a flyer in place for artillery assault.

    On a 4+ this rune turns into a whole new animal. Its bigger, got more teeth and is trained by a ninja in how to fight multiple targets at once. Doubling the amount of attacks it can make alone would make this rune worthwhile but it hits d3 enemy units! This rune can shut down half an army if you roll well and can cripple units in the process.

    The rune of oath and honour is a shock tactic rune designed to cause fear and to give dwarves the charge. This can be used to suddenly and swiftly change the position of focus in a game by launching a unit of hammerers, longbeards, or slayers into the enemy army and actually use their great weapons to deadly effect and win combat. This quite often messes with the other players head and they will do quite a lot to rescue their assaulted unit. That or leave it to get hammered by the dwarf unit. The 4+ version of the rune lets you throw d3 units at the enemy but I’m personally in favour of the 2+ version. To make a multi unit blitz charge work you would need to move the correct number of units forwards, roll the 4+ then roll the correct number on the d3 for the number of units you want to move. Its horribly complex in my opinion and there is every chance you roll a one or two and just get the same effect you would by rolling a 2+. If you think its worth the risk go for a 4+. Otherwise I say go for a 2+.

    And finally the rune of hearth and hold. Now I can honestly say that I had never even looked at this rune before I came to write this article. Whenever ive used the anvil I’ve been very eager to turbo boost my dwarves or deal crippling damage and slow down the enemy. But when I had a look at this rune I have to honestly say I’m shocked and ashamed… its such a good power!

    Want to make your army close to unbreakable for a turn? This is the rune for you! On the 2+ it makes the whole army resistant to fear and terror giving them re-rolls on their checks. Now that’s stupendous when you consider that we have the battle standard and longbeards to protect against breaking and panic.

    Now we look at the 4+. Firstly it upgrades the power to make units immune to fear and terror, that alone would be worth it in my book, but now we get to re-roll panic and break tests for the whole army! Every unit on the table gets this advantage and if pulled off at the grand clash of battle lines fear and terror causers can be pulled down and destroyed without worry of auto break, having to hit on 6’s or even failing a regular break test! Truly a powerful tool against the undead or other fear heavy armies.

    In conclusion the dwarf army is a versatile and powerful force able to adapt to changing situations and circumstances. While a mail shirt is a powerful defence it flexes and bends to the owners movement. With dwarves you have many options and tools at your disposal but alone they are vulnerable to attack.

    (again, if you find any mistakes or think something should be added feel free to post in the thread and let me know what you think/feel/reckon about the whole mess)

    :C Fear the Beard

    Last edited by Arklite; September 2nd, 2007 at 00:19.

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  3. #2
    The Dvl in Pale Moonlight danceman's Avatar
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    Fantastic article master dwarf. Some articles tend to have holes in in the form of personal prefences but I can honestly say I cannot find any of those here.

    Well done, sir.
    ""What's the matter? Don't ya like clowns? Don't we make ya laugh?" - Captain Spaulding.

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    /botnobot/ DavidWC09's Avatar
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    Excellent article. Thanks for composing and posting it. I need help as I still havent played a 2000 pt game with mine.
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    Painting Machine! Tekore's Avatar
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    Re: Being Beardy - The Dwarves strike back

    Fantastic Article! Bookmarked for further and future use. Thanks a ton.


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    I have a quick question.

    "Unlike shielded dwarf warriors with great weapons have a very low save, a mere 5+ compared to the 3+ in combat meaning that they will take losses with significantly greater ease than their counter parts. In exchange however they have better strength."

    Unless I am missing something, won't shielded Dwarf Warriors have a 4+ save instead of a 3+?

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    Son of LO
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    +1 for parry

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    Where's parry mentioned?

    Good guide btw

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    quik-quik, kill-kill! The bearded one's Avatar
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    This is a great general guide and even now it's helped me a bit more understanding my army, even though Im playing dwarfs for at least a year now. Worthy of the Dawi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sumilidon View Post
    Where's parry mentioned?

    Good guide btw
    See the hand weapon and shield rule in the BRB. Not got it to hand to give the page ref though.
    "The nature of Mon Keigh was irrepressible!"

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    Just thought i would point out that in the longbeard section you mention the runic standards and say that the master rune of grungni is an option however it cant be taken by them as it says under the runic standards title in the dwarf army book that only battle standard bearers can hold master runes.
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