Warhammer Fantasy Army Analysis: Dwarfs – Part 2
This is the next installment of the Dwarf army analysis where I will be discussing how to handle the Special selections of the Dwarf army. Once again the purposes of these articles are to demonstrate how I handle Dwarf army units using the Wood Elf army.
The Dwarf Hammerers unit is a very tough unit to deal with; they function very similar to the Wood Elf unit the Eternal Guard. I generally see this unit in blocks of 20 to 25 (sometimes 30 in bigger games) since they cost as much as an Eternal Guard. They sport a Weapon Skill of 5, Strength and Toughness of 4, a Leadership of 9 and have the Stubborn and Bodyguard special rule. Should they be joined by a Dwarf Lord (model with Royal Blood) then they become Immune to Psychology.
I have seen this unit used primarily as a Dwarf Lord delivery system into close combat. I have found since the unit is Toughness 4 and have armor save of 5+ (provided they use Great Weapons which they almost always do), I can easily outmaneuver this unit and shoot it from the flanks which will hopefully reduce their number since Strength 4 bows will wound on 4’s and reduce their Armor Save to 6+.
Since this unit can take a runic banner, I attempt to avoid getting into close combat with it until I am certain that I can overwhelm it and defeat it in a single charge. The last thing you want to do is get bogged down into combat with a bunch of Weapon Skill 5 Strength 6 dwarf hammerers that are both Stubborn LD10 and Immune to Psychology. Should a Lord be included in the unit then the main advantage that the close combat units of the Wood Elf army have which is Fear/Terror does not matter and the attacker is forced to strike on 4’s rather than 3’s.
This unit is perhaps one of the most difficult units to deal with for the Wood elf army unless you synergize your attack by getting a flank/rear charge off and have Lore of Life Flesh to Stone/Throne of Vines augment. If you are able to augment the unit with the appropriate buffs then the Strength 6 Great Weapons will still need 6’s to wound and if you cast the Damage shield spell it will go off before any attacks are resolved. Also, if you can score a rear charge with Wild Riders, you can not only negate the armor save of 5+ with their spears but it’s a serious hammer in their back. It also does not hurt to attempt Dwellers Below or an Amber Spear against this unit. I do not recommend however attempting to engage this unit with Eternal Guard or Dryads (at least ones that are not augmented by Wyssan’s Wildform or Flesh to Stone) since these two units lack the staying power against the Great Weapons.
As a general rule however, I would reduce this unit with ranged attacks/spells before committing one of my
heavy infantry/monstrous infantry units into charging it from the flank or rear.
The Dwarf Miners unit is an interesting unit because it essentially has the Ambush rule and it’s not a unit I see on the table very often. I find this very odd since the Dwarf Miners serve as a fairly decent Warmachine hunting unit. This unit shares the stat line with Dwarf Warriors and can be handled relatively in the same method. You need to be wary of their Blasting Charges because S6 Flaming attacks can hurt your Treekin or Treeman.
The Ironbreakers are the heavily armored infantry of the Dwarf army. They sport the same stat line as the Hammerers but they have a 3+ armor save since they use a hand weapon and shield. I have found that Dwarf players will use a large unit of Ironbreakers as the backbone of their army, the anvil that their enemies can be crushed against. This unit can be deceptive to engage, a Wood Elf general may decide that since the Dwarf Ironbreakers only have Strength of 4 and no Great Weapons that perhaps the light infantry would be the best opponents to engage.
I avoid getting into close combat with the Ironbreakers if any at all possible. I have had a lot of success using Waywatchers that ignore armor saves with Killing Blow (or I use my Scout Highborn with the Bow of Loren/Arcane Bodkins combo in the Waywatchers unit) to whittle down the unit then engage it with augmented Treekin (Wyssan’s Wildform or Flesh to Stone) or attempt to blast it apart with Amber Spear or Dwellers Below. If you are able to get a flank charge or rear charge against this unit, then they will generally fold after a round or two. They are not stubborn like the Hammerers and while they have gromril armor you can still generally reduce their save to a 6+.
The Dwarf Slayers could possibly be the most annoying and horribly frustrating unit in the game to get locked into combat with. The Dwarf Slayers share the same stat line as the Dwarf Warrior except for the Leadership of 10. The stat line is where all semblance of similarity ends. The Dwarf Slayer is one of the most annoying offensive models ever, the Slayer rule means that they will always equal the toughness of the creature they are fighting up to Strength 6. They can switch between Two Hand Weapons or a Great Weapon. Slayers can upgrade to any number of unit champions and the worse part of all, the entire unit is Unbreakable. No matter how many wounds you do to the unit they do not break. The Slayer unit can easily cut through Treekin, Treemen and any other high toughness unit in the game with very little trouble.
The Slayer unit is not a unit that you will want to engage in close combat, the lack of armor means that they are easy prey to ranged combat. Typically I would focus fire on one unit and attempt to Dweller’s Below or Amber Spear the unit. I would not engage the unit in close combat unless I was able to minimize the amount of attacks the Slayers would output by getting a flank or rear charge off on this unit and even then I’d only use Wild Riders or Dryads to kill.
Dwarf Bolt Throwers/Grudge Thrower/Cannon
The Special selection warmachines in the Dwarf army are your standard annoying warmachines that you will encounter in 8th edition. The most annoying aspects of the warmachines are that they can be “inscribed” with runes to give them additional strength, armor piercing and most importantly flaming. Each of these warmachines has the capacity to one shot a Treeman if the rune of flaming is given to the model which can absolutely ruin your day. I always attempt to slay the warmachines using the following units/options.
1. Great Eagles (provided they don’t get shot out of the sky) and Heroes on Great Eagles.
2. Wild Riders/Dryads work wonderfully against warmachines.
3. Amber Spear/Dweller’s Below/Magic Missile spells (including Ruby Ring of Ruin)
4. Treeman – if you are able to break through with a Treeman into your opponent’s backfield, you will be able to wreck havoc on his warmachines.
5. You can attempt to kill the warmachine using ranged attacks but in every instance you’ll be needing a 6 to wound and that’s a difficult option based on other units at/around the warmachines.
The primary issue with Warmachines in the Dwarf army is that they can not be ignored. You can not sit back in your deployment zone and shoot, shoot, shoot because the Cannons, Bolt Throwers and Grudge Throwers are going to template/cannonball/bolt your units to death. The warmachines have to absolutely be dealt with as soon as possible. One way to protect some of your best units is to get into combat with the right unit and be protected in close combat. I tend to shield my Treeman against Cannon Fire with one of my Heroes with the Stone of Crystal Mere on his Eagle. Also, if you can swing your Great Eagles around to where they force your Dwarf opponent to split his fire, you’ve saved yourself some template worry for at least 1-2 turns. I will also tend to keep my archers in woods to prevent cannon balls from hitting them as well as any other obstacle that will serve as a barrier. The bolt thrower is also easy to avoid by going into hard cover and forcing the -2 to hit, especially at long range so that they have a -3.
All in all, that is the breakdown for the Special selections for the Dwarf Army and how I as a Wood Elf player deal with them. Of all the special units – warmachines aside, the most difficult to deal with is a tie between the Slayers and the Hammerers. Stubborn and Unbreakable are extremely annoying when you are attempting to cause panic tests from ranged shooting.
Things to remember with the Special selections of the Dwarf army are that they are weak on the flanks/rear, granted they are still Dwarfs but if you can win combats and cause those break tests when you properly utilize charges. The Wood Elf army has such a high mobility that there should be very little issue maneuvering into position. Don’t forget a flier as well; a rear charge even with a Great Eagle is enough to cause concern to a Dwarf player if his flank is exposed. The Special selections get even more perilous to handle when they are augmented by characters, but I’ll discuss that in the next post about the Dwarf army.
The next installment will concern the Rare selections and the characters in the Dwarf army.
Hope this is helpful to you all, thank you for reading.
I'll be doing an evaluation of the Wood Elf army book based on how I use the units in some of our up and coming episodes of The Deployment Zone podcast.