Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wood Elf Army Tactica: Fighting Dwarfs - Part 3

Warhammer Fantasy Army Analysis: Dwarfs – Part 3

This final installment of the Dwarf Army Analysis will cover the Rare selections and the characters available in the army book and how a Wood elf player handles them. In the previous posts I have covered the Core and Special selections. I will be doing other armies as well such as Skaven and Lizardmen (those two and dwarves being the most difficult to play against).

The Rare selections in the Dwarf army are absolutely frustrating to a Wood Elf player. They are either warmachines or flying machines. In addition to being warmachines, they are also painfully unique (translate unique into broken and annoying).

Flame Cannon

The Flame Cannon is a holy terror to the Wood Elf army. The Flame Cannon shoots a Flame Template that is Str 5, d3 wounds and has a -2 armor save. Right off the bat it wounds most Wood Elf units on a 2 and negates most of their armor saves. It has the ability to kill an entire unit of Treekin which is no easy feat. The flame template gets placed and an artillery die is rolled to determine the distance. This means that you can not have any units closer than roughly 12 inches away if you plan on charging the Flame Cannon. If you are too close then there is a great chance that you are going to have your unit melted by the Flame Cannon.

I recommend slaying this warmachine with magic namely: Amber Spear or Dweller’s Below. You have to be exceptionally careful when you engage Dwarf warmachines because if the Dwarf player has enhanced his warmachines (cannons,grudge throwers/etc..) their attacks are considered magical.  This is an exceptionally annoying issue when they take "Rune of Burning" because suddenly the Wood Elves have to deal with magical and flaming attacks which negate the Forest Spirit Ward Save.  If you plan on charging the Flame Cannon, you will need to probably use Eagles or Wild Riders since they have a high movement and swift stride rule.

Organ Gun

The Organ Gun is the most frustrating warmachine in the current game. The Organ Gun has a 24” range that is Str 5 and has a -3 armor save. The most annoying thing is that the Organ Gun automatically hits and does not need to roll. Unless you are lucky and the Organ Gun misfires you will be taking an artillery die worth of hits. The issue is that this really prevents you from taking advantage of the Waywatchers and Skirmishers rules and pushes the Wood Elf player’s advance back until they can appropriately deal with the Organ Gun. I have a lot of issues trying to take out Organ guns since I can’t land close and enjoy the minimum range rules like the Cannons and the Grudge Thrower. You really have to move within range and nuke it with spells like Amber Spear or Dweller’s Below. Shooting at a T7 model is difficult to be effective with but it’s a rather less painful method of dealing with the Organ Guns. Sometimes you get lucky and can overrun into an Organ Gun but for the most part they inflict their toll before being killed. Unlike other units and models in this army, there is no really good method to deal with this model since you have to be in its range to land your main offensive spells for Life/Beasts Lore.

Due to the high toughness of warmachines, I rarely recommend shooting them with regular archery fire since you will need a 6 to wound rather than a 3 or a 4 in close combat. You need to fully utilize your warmachine hunters appropriately when fighting Dwarfs. This means your have to keep your Eagles out of the line of fire and hide them in terrain appropriately and know when to charge. You don’t want to land a charge only to have your entire flank disintegrate because you left it unsupported. Sometimes however, there really isn’t another option and firing at the Organ fun works.


The Gyrocopter functions as a flying monster for all purposes and functions as such. The Gyrocopter has a Flame template attack at Strength 3 and has a -1 to armor save. The main concern that the Gyrocopter causes is the ability to wipe out an archer unit. I rarely see a Gyrocopter on the field and if I do I will do my best to drop it out of the sky before it can reach near my line. I will generally move my Glade Guard into short range so that I only need 5’s to wound it or have my Wild Riders in range to charge the model from the flank or rear. Otherwise I would try to hit it with Treekin or high toughness models with a decent Strength.

The next section will contain the characters of the Dwarf Army. Most of the heroes and lords in the Dwarf army are included inside a unit and are generally the same as most other characters.

Dwarf Lord/Thane

The Dwarf Lord and Thane generally are placed within a unit such as Hammerers or Ironbreakers. A Dwarf Lord can be mounted upon Shieldbearers (read: mount) that can fight alongside him, but the real issue is when either the Lord or Thane has an Oathstone. The Oathstone is a royal pain for the Wood Elf army. The Oathstone when invoked makes the unit immobile but also it no longer has flanks or rear. The lack of flank or rear means that the dwarfs in the unit can do their full attacks from any side and you don’t have your standard combat resolution that you normally would receive from the flank or rear. Since it is a rarity to see a Dwarf Thane/Lord outside a unit, the chances of Waywatcher slaying them is very remote. The main problem that you will face with a Dwarf Lord is when they join a unit of Hammerers and the unit becomes not only Stubborn but also Immune to Psychology. Then you face a synergistic combo that makes a tough unit even tougher.

Rune Lord/Runesmith
 The Runelord/smiths are the holy priests in the Dwarf army. They function much in the same way as the Warrior Priests in Empire in that they grant additional dice. If the Runelord/smith take the Anvil of Doom then they are given an additional dispel die and now have access to casting “runes”. The big attack that the Runelord can unleash is a Wrath and Ruin rune that affects d3 units for 2d6 Strength 4 hits. This generally will kill a unit or severely deplete one of them. Then I don’t normally have an issue dealing with the Runelord/smiths, especially if they are on an Anvil. If a Runelord is on an anvil, then I can generally Killing Blow the Runelord off the Anvil of Doom with the Waywatchers/General.

Daemon/Dragon Slayer

The Daemon/Dragon Slayer is the least dangerous of all the heroes since he has be placed either alone or in a unit of Slayers. You want to avoid him in close combat since he is easily slain due to lack of armor save and is very vulnerable to missile fire.

Dwarf Engineer

So because the Dwarf warmachines were not annoying enough, the Dwarf army has access to Master and normal Engineers. The Engineers provide augments to their warmachines by allowing them to use their Ballistic skill when firing, re-roll artillery dice, and reroll the Misfire result. The Master Engineer can also entrench his warmachines and grant it hard cover. Overall the Engineer pops up often enough to make the already excellent warmachines in the Dwarf army even more remarkable.

The primary method in dealing with characters in the Dwarf army is patience. You have to decide which characters are the most important to slay and impact the army. I generally stick to this type of methodology:

1. Kill the Runesmith off the Anvil of Doom

2. Look to kill the General, his LD of 10 and that will reduce the 10 to a 9 throughout the army.

3. If a Master Engineer is available and away form his unit then you will want to assassinate him as soon as possible and remove his augment ability from the warmachines.

The Dwarf Army is an extremely tough opponent for the Wood Elf army because not only do the Dwarfs have access to numerous flaming attack options, units with good armor saves, and overall impossible to break Leadership; but because the Dwarfs have access to unmatched shooting. The trick to defeating a Dwarf army is to properly prioritize what unit is going to need to die first and out maneuvering the Dwarfs to get the best position and focus firing your targets.
I hope this series of army evaluations have been helpful to a few Wood Elf players who combat Dwarfs. I will be continuing this series with Lizardmen and Skaven in the future.



  1. Great read. I would love to hear your analysis on every army. But I'm glad you're concentrating on Skaven, Dwarves and lizardmen, which I also have difficulty competing against.

  2. Nice write up but I'm pretty sure you can't killing blow an anvil as it is considered a war machine. You can heroic killing blow it though.