In a couple of Fridays I’ve booked in a game vs Alistair (and his OnG list) in my comp group. However, instead of a comp game, I offered him a friendly so he could get some more practice in (because I’m nice like that 😀), which he gratefully accepted. As such I decided to not to bring Beastmen and instead bring a comp legal alternative list.
I very nearly bought my wood elves but the list I wanted to use is potentially very filthy and as he is still learning the 8th edition rules I instead decided to use the opportunity to try out a whole chunk of the Dwarf book that I normally just don’t take or have never used.
As such the following list is a bit random and contains elements that are not considered the most competitive (e.g. the Runelord). It will also be a bit of a unit review, as I’m also going to look at why certain units aren’t normally taken (at least by me) and as such this will be far longer than my normal list post.
Drugin looked round at his first command shaking his head in disbelief. Knoffles had final decided that after years of carrying the hold banner, he had gained enough experience to lead his own force and then not only lumbered him with this motley crew of engineers, testing their newfangled experiments, but sent the old Grumblers and Buggerit to babysit him. The thought was nearly enough for him to shave his head and join Ethelred and the Brotherhood of Doom! The only saving grace was a unit of the deep delvers, the Ironbreakers, had been rotated up to serve as his bodyguard and that he had also been joined by his brother Barlek who had been given the honour of raising the expedition standard.
The Throng of Karak Silvertop
Drugin Silvertop – Thane (General) – MRo Gromril, Great Weapon, Oath Stone, Fiery Ring of Thori – 161pts.
The general will go in the unit of ironbreakers where the oath stone ability of allowing parry saves to the flanks and rear, will synergise well with their permanent 5++ combat parry save. With 3 S6 attacks and a S4 breath attack, it should allow him to boost their combat output and the 1+ save should help protect him against any challenges he has to accept. I will say that the oath stone and ironbreakers isn’t an original idea at all but isn’t one I’ve ever used. The breath weapon is my own twist on the build (though I’m sure someone else has done this before too)
Barlek – Thane (BSB) – Gromril Armour, shield, MRo Grungni – 153pts.
The BSB will go on the edge Longbeard unit so that the 6″ bubble of the 5++ ward vs shooting is able to cover the slayers. He is also reasonably protected with a 3+ save and 4++ ward.
Buggerit the Old – Runelord – Gromril Armour, shield, Ro Stone, Ro Spellbreaking, Anvil of Doom – 323pts
The first of what is considered a non competitive choice. He is reasonably well protected with a 2+ save. The anvil then bestows a further 5++ ward and (with the lord’s MR2) a 3++ ward vs direct damage spells. An additional +2 wounds from it taking him to a total of 5 with his base T5 is nothing to be sniffed at either. He also gains an additional 2 WS5 S4 attacks from the guards (in the same way as a lord on shieldbearers) and the anvil allows you to automatically gain a power and dispel dice in each magic phase (I believe this is on top of your channel). I’ve also given him a dispel ‘rune’. So far so good.
The anvil also allows you to cast 3 bound spells and this is where you start to see why it isn’t taken. The first gives a unit immune to psychology (which is a bit meh in an army that, as standard, has an LD of 9), the second is a 24″ range, 2D6 attack, S4 magic missile (which in some armies would not be bad but in an army that is normally stacked with 30″, S4 xbows as well as warmachines, is also lacklustre). The final one adds +1 to the save of any unit (this is by far the best option but it is unlikely that you will cast it often as I’ll cover below).
There are several issues with the anvil. The first is although you get added protection and attacks, it is classed as a warmachine, rather than a ‘mount’ and so you don’t want it in combat and it can’t join units (so the AP buff of the Runelord is wasted). This means it is susceptible to being sniped and also to the characteristic ‘test or die’ spells. So you are basically paying 170pts (+ the difference of cost between a Runesmith and Lord) for 3 spells, one of which you will only likely use to draw out dispel dice and any halfway competent opponent will not dispel anyway. So you are really only going to cast 2 of the spells and as they are bound spells, any enemy wizard will already have an advantage in dispelling them as they will add their wizard level to it. So to reliably cast one, you will have to throw (probably 2) more dice than your opponent and they should easily be able to tell which one you will want to cast (missile at range, armour in combat) and will be saving dice to stop that. To put it in another perspective, for the cost of just the anvil, you could easily take a fully runed up warmachine that will be hitting from turn one, more reliably and that is why you rarely see these on the battlefield. That said, they are a great model (both new and old) and against Alistair with his two L2 shamans, it may not be a bad choice.
Ethelred the Scorned – Daemon Slayer – MRo Swiftness, 2 * Ro Cleaving – 200pts
This is the ultimate slayer, a lord who gets 4 WS 7, I5, S4 attacks as standard. Each unsaved wound vs monsters causes D3 wounds and he forces rerolls on successful ward saves. Like all slayers he can choose to use an additional hand weapon for an extra attack or a great weapon to boost his Str to 6 (hint don’t).
He has two weaknesses, no saves (like his brethren) and a lack of base strength to get through armour. You could argue that the latter shouldn’t be an issue with his preferred target of monsters (who in the main do not have a huge save), ability to always wound on a 4+ and option of a great weapon should a Str boost be needed. The issue with this is, with a movement of only 3, most monsters will be able to easily avoid him (especially as many of them fly!). The great weapon also means he will strike last and with the lack of defence he may not get to strike at all!
So I have looked to minimise his weaknesses. Rather than running him solo, he will be bunkered in the slayers. This will give him a lookout sir roll and unless sniped will mean he is reasonably safe from shooting, especially with the BSB 5++ ward. He still has the option of charging out/leaving the unit if he wants. I’ve also given him a Rune axe. The two runes of cleaving give him +1 Str and AP, so a base strength of 5 and a -3 to armour saves. If he gets a charge off, it becomes 6 and -4. Not too shabby. The Swiftness rune gives him always strike first (ASF), which does exactly what it says and against anyone with an initiative of 5 or under he also gets rerolls to hit. They say attack is the best form of defence, we shall see but I have high hopes for him. I will add that 200pts for a dwarf lord isn’t too expensive either.
The Old Grumblers – 24 Longbeards – musician, standard, heavy armour, shields, Ro Stoicism – 367pts
Even after I don’t know how many games using them, I’m torn on whether I like Longbeards. If armed with great weapons (GW), then I’m more inclined to take GW warriors instead as you get more for your money and the drop in Str from 6 to 5 isn’t too bad. With a standard initiative of 2 for both of them, you are likely striking last anyway so taking GWs with the always strikes last rule, doesn’t really matter too much. So if I take them I’m more likely to arm them with shields to get the 4+, 6++ saves but then I feel they need a runesmith to give them a -2 to enemy armour saves as I want them somewhat offensive rather than just an anvil unit, as with dwarves you don’t get enough units/troops in a normal list to have a dedicated tarpit.
They do have a few advantages over normal Warriors. They are elite troops so rock a WS5 as standard, meaning nearly every enemy unit will only hit on 4+, whereas they have a good chance of hitting on 3’s. They are also immune to psychology so ignore fear/terror/panic tests. They also have access to a 50pt magic standard which, if you don’t have the Groth rune somewhere, is almost certainly going to be the stubborn rune (as it is in my list).
In this list, I won’t have a runesmith in the unit to provide the additional offence (just the BSB) so this will be more of a test of their staying/grinding power. One of our group opponents, is also running 3 large blocks of shieldbeards (as they are affectionately known), so this also gives Alistair some experience of the unit.
Guild Experimental Weaponry team – 10 Thunderers – standard, heavy armour, shields, handguns, veteran with brace of pistols – 150pts
Guild Experimental Weaponry team – 10 Thunderers – heavy armour, shields, handguns, veteran with brace of pistols – 140pts
The final units in the core selection are two units of Thunderers. These have a 4+ save and a 24″ AP Str 4 ranged weapon. The veteran is armed with pistols to allow them to pretty much always stand and shoot, something I feel is needed for them.
I’ve gone with Thunderers as I normally take xbows as I prefer the longer 30″ range over the increase in armour penetration and xbows have the option of great weapons and/or shields, allowing them to be an offensive unit (whereas Thunderers can only take shields). Only one unit has a standard for our scenarios (and I didn’t have the points for the second unit to get one, choosing instead to take a champion with pistols in each instead to try and ensure they always get a stand and shoot reaction).
Shintel’s Wall – 19 Ironbreakers – musician, standard, gromril armour, shields, Ro Stoicism, Ro warding – 336pts
With a 3+ save, 5++ ward in combat, LD 10 and the stubborn rune, this unit will fight to the last Dwarf and should stick around for a while. They have pretty much the same stat line as the above Longbeards but have improved saves. The rune of warding will give them a nominal 6++ vs direct spell damage. The thane on oathstone ensures the 5++ combat ward wherever they are charged, so they will make ideal flank guards or objective protectors. They are also an ideal target for the Anvil’s +1 save boost and the only unit bar the Thunderers that could benefit from the immune to psychology. My one concern is that the unit size is a bit small.
The Brotherhood of Doom – 24 Slayers – standard, slayer axes – 298pts
If we are judging units purely on fluff, these guys are hands down my favourite unit but they are also pretty effective too as I found out when I used them in the 2016 club tournament. So what do they bring to the table?
They are both immune to psychology and unbreakable, so basically never have to take a leadership test and will never run away. This is huge. It means you have a block of dwarves that will have to be completely wiped out and can effectively tarpit anything and operate outside of the bsb/generals bubble (it is also one reason you find excommunicated beardless dwarves using small darts of them, the shame!). As with black Orcs, they can also choose each round whether to use additional hand weapons (AHW) or great weapons (GW). I would personally only use the AHW’s if they manage to charge (as with all dwarves they get +1 to Str when the charge and this would take them to Str 4) and then only against T3 opponents. Against everyone else I’d use the GW to get a Str 5 attack. When a model dies in combat, it gets to make a final attack back. Contrary to what I’ve seen written in some places, it is a single attack, no matter your base attacks) and using AHW’s doesn’t boost the number, though you DO get the Str bonus for a GW (or runic item effects). This rule helps to overcome the glaring lack of armour.
So this unit pretty damn good, so why is it not seen more? Well firstly, it is highly susceptible to missile fire. This is why the Grungni banner with the 5++ ward vs missiles, is almost a must take with the unit. It also has the same limited movement as all dwarf units so it is hard to get favourable matchups. The final reason is down to choices. They come out of the same section as cannons, Gyrocoptors, hammerers, ironbreakers etc. That is a lot of quality competition vying for slots and is probably the main reason for their exclusion.
The Valkyrie – Gyrocoptor – 80pts
I won’t go into detail about the Gyrocoptor here as I have many times before. Suffice to say it is invaluable in a Dwarf list and if you haven’t taken a minimum of one (but better two or three), you need to go back to your list and revise it. Yes they are that good.
Flame Cannon – Ro Forging – 165pts
Another warmachine I’ve never taken though I’m not sure why. It is at heart a Str 5 flaming breath weapon that auto hits models that fall under the flamer template and causes panic tests on models/units that suffer wounds. And on top of that each wound caused is actually D3 wounds so it is excellent vs Ogres or other multiwound models. It also has a range of between 2″ and 22″ (much further than the standard variant due to the dwarf special rules) but it works out further than 22″ as that is the spot from where the template is laid down (though the distance is variable as it is 0-12″ + the roll of an artillery dice). It is for this reason that the Flame Cannon has been given a Ro Forging to reroll misfires or distances if required.
Gyrobomber – 125pts
The final entry in the list is the ‘coptors big brother and is another first time entry in my army list. It shares the same stat line as it’s smaller sibling (which feels odd, you’d think it should at least have an additional wound) but drops the steam gun for a clatter gun. This fires 4 Str 4 AP quick to fire (so no move and shoot penalty) shots and has a 24″ range. So it will hit on 6’s at long range and 5’s at short, so don’t expect anything ground-shattering from it but unlike the ‘coptor, the gun is not where it’s strength lays (unsurprisingly the clue is in its name after all). If it moved over an enemy unit it can drop a bomb. You place the large 5″ template and roll to scatter. Anything under the template takes a Str 3 hit (with a model under the centre hole taking a Str 6 hit with D3 wounds). Then on a 4+, place the smaller 3″ template in the same location and roll for a further scatter (though only D6″ distance) and anything hit takes damage as per the first hit. Against low toughness horde armies (looking at you Goblins), this could be devastating if you are lucky with rolls.
The main issues as I see them are threefold. (1) You cannot add runes, so you are at the whim of the scatter dice. Other armies suffer from this all the time but as dwarves you are used to better. (2) It is only Str 3, so in most cases the best you are wounding on is a 4+. This is offset a bit by the large template. (3) The bomber is still just a 3 wound model. This isn’t a lot and as it will be operating over enemy lines, it could easily be isolated and shot down.