So the wanderer returns and brings glad tidings. What could they be? The Nurseries have opened.
And there was much rejoicing.
It’s funny how a simple thing can make such a difference. When they sent round a letter asking if we’d be sending back our daughter, my missies ticked ‘maybe’. I was more adamant. There’s no maybe, you might never find a more wretched hive of scum and covid but she was going back. Ok I exaggerate and the missies works at the school and so had the inside scoop on precautions and 5 mornings every other week with 12 other kids (out of a potential 30 who could have returned in her group) was just what our mental well being and hers needed. I appreciate it’s not a decision for everyone but for us it was the right one.
The other upside? Well I’ve even managed to get a few evenings back so have been able to unwind and get some hobby time in.
The first thing I managed to finish off (ok this one was at the end of May), was the Minotaur General from Zealot Miniatures. It is a quality model and it’s huge. Minotaurs are generally big but this thing is deserving of its title of General or Doombull – the biggest and baddest of its kind.
Readers will know that I tend to mainly play warhammer fantasy. In that game Minotaurs go on a 40mm square base. This chap barely fits on it. Only the stone modelled under his foot allowed him to fit on it. Normal Minotaurs are a total nightmare to rank up, this just hit a whole new level of difficultly. Never the less, I love the model. The large overlapping armoured plates are imposing, as are the horns and the overgrown axe. The skulls festooning it are worthy of a GW model.
This now means I have 3 Doombull models. One is my flying version with the wings modelled on it and the second is the classic Two axe metal model. This means I had to find a role for this one. Cue the special character from the 7th/8th edition: Taurox, The Brass Bull.
Taurox is a doombull that has been blessed by the ruinous powers with metal skin and an unnatural vitality.
In game terms he has almost a standard brutal doombull profile with weapon skill 6, strength 6, wounds 5, initiative 5 and leadership 8.
He also gets the standard Minotaur rules of Bloodgreed, fear, frenzy and slaughters call.
Where he differs, are the rules added to represent his metallic skin. He gets an increased toughness (from 5 to 6). This is big as most boosted strength units/characters only have a strength of 6, so will only wound 50% of the time. Other units will struggle to wound him as anything strength 4 or under will need 6’s!
In addition, the metal body gives him a straight up 1+ save, which is fantastic. However it has a flaw. Because he slew a daemon his transformation was incomplete. The body has an Achilles heel (or in this case throat). A single area where the skin did not transform. If an attacker rolls a 6 to hit and then that dice rolls a 6 to wound AND Taurox fails his armour save, he is slain outright. It’s a nice little bit of fluff and the odds of this happening are minuscule, which of course just means that it will happen the first time you field him 😂.
In attack he gets D3+1 Str 6 impact hits rather than the standard D3. It adds a little more reliability and fits in with the fluff as a solid metal body would naturally inflict more damage.
He also has duel magic axes that, not only give him an extra attack (which combined with the +1 from frenzy) start him off with an impressive 7 attacks but also ignore enemy armour saves and also give him flaming attacks (a double edged sword).
I’m slowly edging towards finishing my Dwarves (as if an army is ever finished…). What I did manage to complete was the final 16 quarrellers in my collection. This takes the total number to 60, which could be considered to be a little bit of overkill but allows me to field an all quarreller core (a horde of 40 and two units of 10).
I kept the colour scheme consistent with red and white halves. Pretty simple and likely a throwback to my admiration of Dave England’s Blue and white dwarves from yesteryear.
I realised after taking the group shot that the other 40 were some of the first models I painted after returning back to the hobby. At that point I hadn’t even discovered washes, so straight after I nuln oiled the crap out of them so they were at least close to the most recent batch painted (and then promptly forgot to re-photo them before boxing them away…)
This takes me one step closer to ‘finishing’ my Dwarves. I just have the following left roughly):
40 great weapon warriors
High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer
10 or so 3rd ed warriors/characters
10 3rd ed plastic warriors
Various, more recent, Thanes, runesmiths and engineers.
The end, as they say, is nigh!*
* Until I inevitably pick up more…
How do they play?
Crossbow armed dwarves have been a staple across most editions, varying very little.
Crossbows are a great ranged weapon with a 30 inch range and hitting at strength 4. They are move or fire weapons meaning that you need to think about placement carefully.
The main issue with quarrellers are they only have a ballistic skill of 3. This means they only hit 50% of the time in the best of circumstances. If a target is over 15″ away (long range) then they will hit on a 5+. Not the best odds.
The crossbows do get the dwarf crafted rule, so you can always stand and shoot with no penalty (normally it’s a -1 to hit). If you then add a pistol armed character to the unit, they will also stand and shoot at short range, thus maximising their shots.
I feel I should touch on unit size at this point. Previous editions perhaps favoured larger units as they could only shoot in a single rank (unless on a hill). With the ability to shoot in two ranks in 8th, units of 10 quarrellers are the norm.
Normally you’ll see 2 units. This is for several reasons. This gives you maximum flexibility as you can shoot different targets or combine fire. Also, as their primary target of choice are going to be small units of ‘chaff’, or single models (that will almost certainly be hunting your warmachines or blocking your combat blocks). As most opponents will have several of these types of units, the ability to remove these with maximum efficiency, lends itself to you fielding multiple small units.
That said, there is an argument for fielding larger units. By this I mean 40 in horde formation. Although only 20 will be able to shoot at any time (or at least only the front two ranks), what it does do is also give you a combat block that is able to fight in 3 ranks and absorb 10 casualties before you lose that benefit. In this role I’d recommend always upgrading them to great weapons but I get ahead of myself.
Attack and Defense
The dwarves have standard warrior stats with a slightly above average weapon skill of 4, average strength of 3 and 1 attack at initiative 2. This means you are unlikely to be attacking anyone first (as it goes on initiative order and 2 is almost as low as you can get). More on that in a sec.
Defensively, as well as the weapon skill helping prevent hits, they have an innate toughness of 4 and have heavy armour (5+ save) as standard.
In terms of upgrades, you can choose to give them shields and/or great weapons.
The shields boost their save to a respectable 4+ and also give a 6++ Ward in combat (or 5++ Ward in the first round of combat if charged, due to the shieldwall rule).
The Great weapons give them +2 to their strength but means they always strike last, not a great drawback given their rubbish initiative.
Which would I take? It very much depends on their role and what other synergies were in my list.
For a larger block (such as the horde of 40 mentioned earlier) I would always recommend great weapons. The increase in strength is generally just too good to pass up in a combat block and overcomes their frankly rubbish strength of 3. I also feel that this edition favours attack over defence and dwarves are really too expensive to have a dedicated anvil. (It could be argued that Ironbreakers are a dwarf anvil unit but with weapon-skill 5 and Strength 4 base, they are not a bad offensive unit either).
If taking a smaller unit of 10 then there is an argument for either option, or if you are short of points then no upgrade.
The issue with great weapons is the unit is so small, that by the time you strike back, a fair chunk of the unit may have already have been slain.
Shields have a greater synergy as it provides more survivability given that you get the increased save as well as the boosted parry ward save when charged. This really is the closest to an anvil that we normally field. Where this really shines is having the Master Rune of Groth One-eye in a nearby unit giving a stubborn bubble. With stubborn meaning you take break tests on your unmodified leadership, it takes an exceptionally unlucky roll to not stay put.
There have been many occasions when an opponent has charged what they perceived to be the weaker unit, thinking they would blow straight through it and into my back field. It’s always gratifying to watch their unit grind to a halt and then get flank charged and minced by your combat unit.