In a series of three posts, I’ll be looking at the army lists of my opponents in Group A of the competition, evaluating the army and then trying to work out how I would win the scenarios in their shoes.
Fair warning to readers, this will be quite long, wordy, very few pictures and is really for me, so if you have no real interest in warhammer fantasy and my list musings I’d stop reading now and no offence will be taken!
The first of these posts will focus on the Dwarven Throng of Martin H. Now I will state, straight off the bat, that Martins original list was partly re-written by Steve (my co-adjudicator) to make it ‘comp legal’ and then refined my myself to replace the most glaring uncompetitive elements (e.g. remove Brimstone cannons on the Gyros), fixing the odd clash of items (having both Great weapons and Runic Weapons on a character, when you can only use one) and adding additional artillery runes. Martin was very happy with the choices so kept with the revised list. So what was the composition?
Dwarf Lord (General) – MRo Gromril, Oath Stone, GW, 3*Ro Warding – 251pts
I like this lord. He is very defensive with a 1+ armour save and 4++ ward. He also pumps out 4 ASL, Str 6 attacks. Giving him an Oath stone is clever as it means his unit, if charged in the flank or rear, never lose their rank bonus and still get their parry saves (which would be 5++ in the first round due to shieldwall). The downside is he has to accept challenges but with his saves, that shouldn’t be an issue. They also cannot flee as a charge reaction (as if Dwarves would) but this isn’t an issue for this list, as none of his main units have that option anyway due to immune to psych’.
Thane (bsb) – Gromril armour, shield, MRo Valaya – 158pts
A fairly standard bsb with 3+ save. The banner adds to the inbuilt dwarf Magic resistance and ensures they will dispel at +4 (so they will match or exceed all enemy cast bonuses from the wizard level). It has an added bonus of allowing you to dispel all ‘remains in play’ spells on a 3+, crucially without using dispel dice (and also without checking the rulebook, I believe it occurs out of sequence, so at the start of the Dwarf players turn. This means it can get rid of items that might impact movement). Suffice to say this is one of my favourite runic banners.
Runesmith – Gromril armour, shield, Ro Stone, Ro Spellbreaking, Ro Passage – 103pts
Again there is nothing surprising in this build, not that it makes it any less effective. A 2+ save with auto dispel rune. The Ro passenge allows his unit to avoid taking dangerous terrain tests but has mainly been taken as you can’t have duplicate rune combos. The great passive effect of the Runesmith is he gives his unit AP. When you are packing all Str 4 troops this is essential for beating armour saves (as combined gives a -2 to armour saves).
Runesmith – Gromril armour, shield, Ro Stone, Ro Spellbreaking – 93pts
A carbon copy of the above but without the Ro Passage. Each of these will be placed in a different unit as the AP effect doesn’t stack.
28 Longbeards – Full Command (FC), shields – 394pts
This is a solid unit of elite dwarves. Immune to psychology so they can’t flee as a reaction (and ignore fear etc.) 4+ save with T4 makes them reasonably defensive and they have the numbers to stick around. My only issue with them is I’ve found them to lack punch against really tough armoured opponents.
28 Longbeards – Full Command (FC), shields, Ro Stolicism – 429pts
As above but the banner rune makes them stubborn, so no matter what they will always take any leadership test on at least a 9 (or 10 if in range of the general). This means they will hardly ever run and will have to be killed to the last Dwarf.
28 Longbeards – Full Command (FC), shields, Ro Stolicism, Ro Sanctuary – 444pts
As above but with an additional rune (again due to the runic item duplication restriction) that gives Magic resistance (1). This means that against direct damage spells their save improves by +1 (to 3+).
10 Quarrellers – standard, GW, Heavy armour – 150pts
A small unit of shooters to protect the warmachines and shoot up enemy chaff. The standard allows them to capture/score in many of the scenarios and the Great Weapons gives them Str 5 in combat as standard.
2 * Gyrocoptors (run as 2 single units of one) – Steam Gun – (2 * 80pts =) 160pts
The Dwarf chaff unit and I still rate this as one of the best chaff/harassment units (if not the best) in the game (the others being Dark Riders, Razorgor & the Ogre Cat). It is the ability to fly, drop bombs when marching and the template weapon that make me rate it so highly. The drawback is, I often find it so useful that I don’t actually like using it as a throw-away unit, which is why I labelled it also as a harassment unit. The price puts it more in line with a chariot than a true throw-away unit such as the Razor or Cat.
Cannon – Ro Forging – 145pts
The compulsory cannon. Given forging to reroll misfires. This will be deadly for my Doombull and is a priority to eradicate.
Organ Gun – Ro Forging, Ro Accuracy – 170pts
Ah the organ gun. You know it, you love it (if a dwarf) or hate it (if you are on the receiving end). With runes it will cause between 2-20 Str 5 AP hits. Hitting on a 3+ at short range, 4+ at long, rerolling one misfire dice. The 30″ range is what sets it apart and makes it superior in my eyes (and even before runes are taken into consideration) from the hellblaster. This thing can be deadly and I need to find a way to neutralise it. At the very least, a wall of Ungor Raiders, will provide hard cover for my units giving the OG -2 to hit.
Ok, above I stated my issue with this Longbeard build is it lacks punch. However with 3 such units and the synergies with the Lords oathstone, the banners and AP from the Runesmiths, it becomes more of a game of attrition with the dwarves blunting the initial attacks and then grinding the enemy down. It is very dwarfy and could be very effective, especially if enemy units were first softened up with shooting. They also have the advantage of hitting my blocks on a 3+ vs my 4+ back at them, though they will normally only wound on a 4+ (as will my Gor). The Bestigor will have the advantage in this though as the GW’s will wound on a 2+ and will ignore the armour save.
In general, he has 3 slow combat blocks. I have plenty of chaff that can be used to slow them down. I can see Razorgor being used to assassinate his runesmiths. The Harpies will have to target the cannon as a priority and the Doombull the Gyro’s. The chariots will be used to distract the cannon (hopefully!).
With only 8 drops to my 10, I’ll have the edge on him and with the scenarios, he won’t be able to castle (probably why he has the rarely seen 3 combat blocks).
So if I were using this army, how would I try and win each scenario?
Full details of the scenarios are here but I will give a small recap of the objectives of each.
His 3 bounty tokens will be on his 3 combat blocks. Mine will be on: the Gor horde: the Bestigor horde: One of my Chariots (Yikes!). Thankfully he picks the chariot before deployment. This means I will place this out of range of his cannon and as far away from his troops as possible and will play hide the chariot. The Doombull can start near it, to intercept any pesky Gyros.
With an additional token in the centre of the board, it makes sense for his 3 blocks to start centrally ready to ‘surge’ (ok shuffle, they are dwarves) forward to capture that if possible. With poor movement they can’t start too far away. He will likely try to soften up my forces first with shooting. I will definitely be trying to flank his forces with one of my blocks and will try and deploy on one side of the board (on the opposite side to the OG). If he’s smart that side will have the unit with oathstone.
2. Dawn Attack
The table is divided into quarters. 1pt given for each of yours, 2pts each for your opponents side. You need to have the most fortitude in a quadrant to capture it.
This is an issue for me as he has more. He has 4 separate units with fortitude and can add the bsb and general to increase the units fortitude. This makes it likely that he will hold one quadrant with his shooters (art + quarrellers), another with his other blocks (he could have it so his fortitude was 3 in one quad and 4 in the other). He could then advance to capture one of mine.
The most I can manage is one block with fort’ of 2 and one with a fort’ of 3. However I look at it, I’m at a disadvantage and will have to destroy a number of his blocks to win (or try and pin them into just one quadrant). In theory the quarrellers is the weak link. As with everything, deployment is key. Using his blocks size and movement against him.
This is played lengthways and you need to get more fort’ into your opponents half. My speed gives me a bit of an advantage, however the narrow width means his shooting will be far more deadly and as soon as I get in range the organ gun could punish me. The saving grace on that is that he will have to advance his troops early to ensure he can move into my half and they may block his lines of fire with careful placement. Although I’d love to hang back and intercept and destroy his blocks in order to avoid his shooting and then advance to his half, if he times his advance to my side well and with the stubborn nature of his blocks, it would be a huge gamble.
You get one point per piece of terrain you hold (it’s double if in the opponents side). Again I’m at a disadvantage as unless I move my General or BSB into each Ungor Raiders unit (highly unlikely but you never know as it could turn a defeat into a victory or at least a draw), the most I can capture is two bits of terrain vs his four and so will definitely need to advance to capture terrain on his half whilst destroying any fortitude units I encounter on route (are you noticing a trend here?). I’ll have to almost treat this as a battleline game but make sure I’m in scenery at the end. Thinking about it, the general in Ungor is looking more attractive, despite the drawbacks.
3 tokens placed, one in the middle and the other 2 on the central line, at least 12″ apart. The player who holds the most wins. Logic dictates I need to spread them out across the table rather than have them all on one side, as that will favour Martin, especially with his unit advantage and low movement. I should also consider going only 5 wide on both units as I want to grab a counter fast and hold onto it so steadfast will definitely be one to do. Chaff will be key to holding him up. The Ungor trick might be viable if one is uncontested on the far side but will have to watch out for the Gyros.
If I had the dwarves, would I play the odds game and send a block for each token or would I concentrate on two, using artillery to cover the others? I’d probably use the blocks to capture 2 of them and if unopposed try and sneak the third with my quarrellers.
6. Wicked woods
Holding the woods is key and moving into it early is essential. You have to hold it for at least 7 player turns (of 12) to ensure a win. The key will be to move as much chaff forward as possible to obstruct his blocks at every turn to maximise the turns a unit is in it. Everything not in the woods becomes sacrificial, whether chaff, doombull or Bestigor.
The question becomes if he has practiced the scenario and whether the damage that the wood causes will out him off moving in early.