Dwarf Army Book Review – Part 2 – Runic Items & Ancestral Heirlooms

In the second of these posts, we’ll look at the unique method of creating magic items that the dwarves have. The original post just had a breakdown of the runes and items but as I’d also done a bit of research on Runes throughout the editions for a certain Aussie warhammer podcast, I thought I’d include that as a precursor too.

Part 1 can be found here: Part 1 – Why play them, army special rules and dwarf armoury

Brief history of runes in Warhammer

1st ed. (1983) Magic weapons mainly had random abilities. You’d roll a D6 or D20 and the effect would normally depend on the outcome. It was very d&d orientated. At the start of the items section it talked about how these could be found in a horde of treasure or other such places.

2nd ed (1984) All armies drew from the same pool of magic weapons. Magic weapons could have up to D3 abilities, randomly rolled from a D100 chart (with each entry having a point’s value). One of the entries on the chart gave an additional D6 runic abilities rolled from a different chart! Effectively it was the start of the runic system but you could still very much see the D&D influence.

The fluff was quite cool as it talked about how every wizard could make 1 weapon during his life and there were also some specific communities that were known for making magic weapons (one Human/Elf etc).

1st/2nd ed was not WHFB as we know it. It was a hybrid of tabletop battles and D&D and not set in a recognisable bit of the warhammer world we’ve grown to know and love. And then came 3rd.

3rd ed. (1987) All armies drew from the same pool of magic item abilities and you could choose to add up to 3 abilities onto each item. This greatly simplified the system. It introduced one of my all time favourite items, the parasitic Blade. For each wound you cause, you could increase one of your stats.

4th ed. (1992) From this edition all other races got fixed ability items (magic item cards in 4/5th) and only dwarves got the runic system. The basic rules for creating runic items were prescribed in this book and changed very little in later editions. Most normal runes (non master runes) could be applied 3 times and each additional rune or the same type would increase the effect (i.e. the 1st rune could be +1 attack, 2nd would give the bearer a total of +2 attacks and the 3rd would give the bearer +3 attacks etc.) They also got a few limited ‘heirlooms’ including the original fiery ring of Thori (that created a flame barrier to prevent movement).

5th ed. (there was no separate dwarf book)

6th ed. (2000) In this book, there was very little change in how runes worked, though points and some abilities changed. They did lose generic heirlooms

And the dwarves were so good they then released a second book during the edition (2005 – often called the 6.5 book). Again not much changed. The greatest introduction was Master Rune of (MRo) Cragg the Grimm (basically a great weapon that gave +2 strength that you could then add 2 further runes to). 7th ed was released in 2006 so this book likely was designed with that ed. in mind.

8th ed. (2013) book. It introduced the first real shake up of how runes worked. Multiples of the same rune no longer just increased the effect (as you will see below).

Dwarf runesmith striking the runes

The below is the actual article written. What it didn’t cover in great depth was recommended Runic Combos. You had to wait until the 13th post for those!

8th Edition Runic Items & Ancestral Heirlooms

I’m going to go against convention and go through the runic items before looking at the characters and units. The main reason is it is such an important part of dwarf list building. I have NEVER seen a dwarf army that hasn’t taken multiple runes, even if they were only on warmachines. I will refer to them extensively in the upcoming posts, as they are integral to many dwarf lists, so it is worth knowing about them beforehand.

Runic weapons are one of the main draws of taking dwarves. Coming up with unusual combo’s is great fun (if you like the list building element of the game which I do).

There are a number of rules to Runic item building that you need to be aware of:

Rule of Three – You can only add a maximum of 3 runes to any one item

Rule of Pride – No more than one item can have the same combination of runes.

There is one exception to the Rule of Pride. This is the Rune of Stone (see below runic entry)

Rule of Form – Weapon runes can only go on weapons, armour runes on armour etc.
Note: you cannot put weapon runes on 2 handed weapons in this edition, only on hand weapons.

Jealous Runes – Only one Master rune can be added to an item (but can be combined with non-master runes). A Master Rune cannot used more than once in the same army.

Weapon Runes

I’ll say now that although I love the idea of a runic weapon, I will very rarely take one in a competitive game (friendlies are a different matter). This is mainly down to Dwarf characters only having a base S4. I’d much rather boost this to S6 with a cheap great weapon and then use runes for defence or other utility. The exception to this, would be to give a lesser character a cheap single rune weapon to gain magical attacks and with Slayer characters (who can only take weapon runes).

Master Rune of Skalf Blackhammer (75) – You wound everything on a 2+ except if they are in magic armour when it increases to a 3+. This rune helps mitigate your lack of strength when wielding a runic weapon. There are however several problems with this rune:

  • Cost – it’s 75pts! That is a large chunk of your points allowance and means you will only be taking this on a lord level character:
  • Armour, or specifically getting through it. You are still hitting at a base S4 so only have a -1 Armour Penetration (AP).

You could combine it with runes of cleaving to help boost its armour piercing but I’d be more tempted skip this rune altogether and take the rune of might instead as a far cheaper option.

Master Rune of Smiting (60) – You gain the multiple wounds (D6) rule. It’s worth noting that only on an unsaved wound will it multiply to D6. I like this rune, the chance to one shot almost anything means an opponent always has to fear any character with this.

Master Rune of Alaric the Mad (50) – This is the same cost as an obsidian blade and has the same armour ignoring effects. It’s not a bad choice, especially with your base S4 and the issues cracking armour with that but there are better runic options.

Master Rune of Breaking (50) – When you hit an opponent in combat and they have a magic weapon, roll a D6. On a 2+, you will destroy that magic weapon. It’s not a bad ability, especially if you also gave the wielder a rune or two of speed to give him a decent chance of striking first but it is expensive.

Master Rune of Dragon Slaying (50) – Against dragons, you wound on a 2+ and get multiple wounds (2). All for the low, low, price of 50pts. Completely worthless. Move along please.

Master Rune of Flight (30) – This gives you a single 12″ attack which always hits on a 2+. The attack combines with any other runes on your weapon. It’s a bit gimmicky, especially with the limited range but at 30pts, it’s not too expensive if you want to do something a bit different as let’s be honest, no one will expect you to take it.

Master Rune of Snorri Spangelhelm (25) – This allows you to always hit on a 2+. A lot of people seem to love this rune but with high WS you will often be hitting on a 3+ anyway and with a decent chance at getting hatred you stand a chance of re-rolling hits, so I’m not as big of a fan of this as others. However, it does only cost 25pts and can be combined with might and another rune to give it good utility so I can see the appeal of it.

Master Rune of Swiftness (25) – To quote the 1d4chan’s entry (because it sums it up nicely): 25pts for Always Strike First (ASF) on dwarfs. This is amazing. Also gives you rerolls to hit against any army with Initiative 3 and lower (aka most armies) and can be stacked with the Rune of Speed for re-rolls against almost everyone.

This is an almost 1+ if you are taking a slayer character as with no armour and their boosted initiative, you need to ensure they strike first.

Rune of Demon Slaying (25/50/125) – This is only useful if you are tailoring your army to face daemons of chaos (something I very rarely do). As such this rune is a waste of time for me but if you don’t mind tailoring then it’s not bad. The first rank gives you +1 to hit and wound vs daemons (for just 25pts), so that is great. The 2nd rune (for another 25pts) gives you multiple wounds (D3). Again not too bad. The 3rd costs an additional 75pts and no ward saves are allowed against your attacks. Useful but way too pricey, especially as it uses your entire magic point allowance.

Rune of Fire (10/50/125) – The first rune give flaming attacks which is hit or miss, depending on what you are fighting. Still it’s a cheap way to get both flaming and magical attacks. The second rune gives you a S4 breath weapon. Breath weapons are good but whether paying 50pts for one is worth it, is another question, especially when you have access to another 35pt breath weapon in the ancestral heirloom section. Still having 2 or more breath weapons in the same unit, could be a nasty surprise to spring on someone. The final rune give multiple wounds (D3). The final wound isn’t worth it. For the cost of this final rune, you would be better off just getting a flame cannon as that is base S5 causing D3 wounds and isn’t that much more expensive.

Rune of Fury (25/60/100) – An additional +1 attack is never a bad thing and giving it on the first Rune means you can combine it really easily with other runes. The second rune gives frenzy (so another attack). A further attack is nothing to be sniffed at though whether doing this through frenzy is a good thing is debatable. Restraining from charging isn’t normally going to be an issue, especially with dwarf base leadership of 9-10 of characters but over-runs can be problematic. The final rune allows you to generate an extra attack for each hit caused. On a Lord, this means you could be getting 12 attacks! Bear in mind they will only be hitting on 3+ and with S4. Unlike other combo’s this does leave 25pts to spend on other things too. You could take 3 of these runes on a weapon but the likelihood is you probably won’t.

Rune of Dismay (20/45/80) – The first rune causes fear. It could be useful but I wouldn’t count on it making too much difference most of the time. The second rune causes terror and the third give anything in base to base contact -1 to LD. Terror only kicks in when you charge so is of limited use. -1 LD could be useful but not at 80pts. I would probably skip all 3 runes.

Rune of Cleaving (10/35/65) – The first rune gives armour piercing (-1 to saves). It is very cheap and a useful ability so not a bad choice. Your Runesmiths/Runelords gives a unit they join the same ability, so just bear that in mind. The second rune gives +1S. A fantastic ability and boosts the base S4 you start with when taking a runic weapon. Very much worth it. The third rune gives the character killing blow. Killing blow is a great threat and at this price you can also take a good selection of defensive runes as well. All in all, these are 3 useful runes.

Rune of Might (25/60) – The first doubles your strength against anything with a T5 or over for a very reasonable cost. The second rune gives you multiple wound (D3) against those T5 or above foes. The first rune is one of my favourite runes to take on a weapon as it makes up for your lack of strength when it matters (and will boost your armour piercing ability at the same time when it kicks in). It is this rune which makes me question the worth of the MRo Skalf Blackhammer. A decent weapon combo on a standard Lord is a Ro Might and 2*Ro Cleaving (to give you Strength 5 base with -3 to an opponents armour save. Your strength will then double vs anything over toughness 5. So the worst you will wound on is a 4+.

Rune of Striking (10/35/60) – The first rune gives +1 WS. This is of limited use on a thane or lord but is quite useful on a Runesmith as it ensures his WS is greater than most elite troops so helps his attacks hit (and again is a cheap source of magical attacks). The second rune allows re-rolls to hit, which can be useful but I’d be more inclined to get this via the ASF MRo Swiftness. The third gives WS10. Not worth it on a dwarf.

Grudge Rune (25) – Nominate an enemy character at the start of the game. The character with this rune then gets +1 to hit and wound against that character. This would be great if you could mount your model on a gyrocoptor to ensure you could actually get into combat with that nominated enemy. As it is, you’d need to be exceedingly lucky (or cunning) to ensure you got any use out of this.

Rune of Parrying (25) – This is a fantastic rune. Making opponents get -1 to hit against you is an awesome ability as anyone who has faced Nurgle armies can attest to. I consider this rune almost compulsory on a slayer character to make up for the lack of other protection but putting it on any character you want to protect is never a bad thing.

Rune of Speed (5/10/15) – Each rune gives +1 initiative. A very cheap way of getting magical attacks and synergises well with the MRo Swiftness.


Armour Runes

Although they get pricey very quickly, armour runes allow you to turn a good lord into an amazing lord. There are numerous great combos and it is easy to add a new twist onto classic builds so that an opponent will never quite know what to expect.

Master Rune of Adamant (100) – This gives the wearer T10 but cannot equip any other armour runes if taken. You can still stick a lord with this on shieldbearers to get a solid 2+ save and 5 wounds. The only worry he will have is poison. I’d still give him a great weapon over a shield and rune of parry combo but that is because I would want some offensive ability rather than just an out and out tarpit. Although I used to regularly take this in earlier editions (read 4th/5th, normally on a Runelord), I’ve never taken it in 8th. I’m just not sure exactly why that is but I suspect that it is just a bit too expensive (I won’t say over costed as my jury’s still out on that) and so limits other runic options. Edit: In 8th ed. any attacks will wound on a roll of a 6. In previous editions you needed to be S7 in order to wound a model with T10. That is why the rune was so great previously and has now lost its appeal.

Master Rune of Gromil (30) – I think this is a great rune. Sure all your characters get a 4+ save as standard and you can boost the save through other options but it excels when you stick it on a thane together with a rune of iron (for an additional wound) and arm him with a great weapon. A lord is better off taking shieldbearers and a runesmith will be taking spellbreakers so you shouldn’t ever give it to them. Putting it on an Engineer and then giving him a great weapon or brace of pistols, can make him an extremely tough and unexpected guard.

Rune of Fortitude (35/50/75) – The first rune gives you +1T. For that price, this seems to be a bargain (although I may have 50pts for an additional wound in my head from previous editions…). Either way, boosting your character to T6 means all but the most boosted character will only wound you on a 4+. The next rune gives you a 5++ ward. This is often much maligned as you can get a better ward elsewhere, however if you look at it as you are getting a 5++ for 15pts, then this is a bargain and allows you to use the points saved on something else. The final rune effectively gives you a 2+ save that prevents you suffering more than 1 wound if attacked by something that has the multiple wounds roll. For the number of times this will ever come up, you are better off spending the points elsewhere, like on…

Rune of Iron (20/45/70) – And this is the fan favourite to turn to. The first rune gives you +1W and is great to add to a thane or other hero level character to really boost their survivability. The second gives you +1T and it is this together with the rune of fortitude first rune that helps give you the unkillable lord. The third rune gives you a 5+ regen save and isn’t really worth the points. It isn’t that regens are bad, but you can get an equivalent ward as easily.

Rune of Shielding (25) – This gives you a 2++ against shooting. To again quote 1d4chan: Put it on an Runelord on an Anvil, but otherwise you can do just fine with the “Look Out Sir!” rule.

Rune of Preservation (25) – This gives s 2++ against Killing Blow (and thus Heroic Killing Blow – as per the errata). Admittedly this probably doesn’t come up often but I face a number of dark elf players (and thus executioners) in my local club so if I’m spending 250+ points on a character and there is a chance they will be in my competition group, then I like having this protection.

Rune of Impact (10) – If you have a way of almost ensuring the ability to get a charge with the character (hint: rune of slowness) then you could consider taking this but I’d be more inclined to either use the points on getting a unit champion, musician or standard over this or give him a 2++ ward vs fire or a +1 armour save.

Rune of Stone (5) – This is the only rune that ignores the Rule of Pride (meaning you can use it any number of times as a single rune on characters armour). The rune gives you +1 to your armour save. This is a brilliant rune and it is rare that all my Engineers and Runesmiths do not have this in order to give them a 2+/3+ save.

Banner Runes

The dwarf runic standards are in the main, all things awesome. There are a couple of duds but these are outshone by the others. You will be hard pressed not to load up on them, no matter what build you take (and some of the army builds positively rely on them).

Master Rune of Stromni Redbeard (75) – This gives an extra +1 combat res to the holders unit and all units within 12″. For me this is the weakest of all the banner master runes. There is also the cost, it is too much for just a +1.

Master Rune of Groth One-Eye (75) – This gives everyone within 12” stubborn. Due to the cost it can only go on a BSB or in a unit of hammerers (who already have stubborn anyway). Don’t let that deter you, this rune was made for that unit and if you are taking them I would highly recommend using them to centre your line with this rune. Placing your 10 man unit(s) of quarrellers or thunderers armed with shields next to them means that anyone picking on those two units, hoping to blow through them in a round, are in for a nasty surprise with their stand and shoot, a 4+/5++ save and then them holding due to stubborn, ready for your hammerers to then hit the flank. Sure an opponent should only fall for this once but again you can play mind games with them as they will likely think you’ve taken the rune with that placement and you get a bonus 75pts to spend on other stuff. Even saying that, I’d find it hard not to take the rune (I love it so much) and there is only 1 reason I wouldn’t and that is:

Master Rune of Valaya (65) – This banner gives you an extra +2 to dispel (so a total of +4 as it stacks with the dwarves natural resistance). Unlike with wizards you cannot lose concentration so will always dispel as a level 4. This is another firm favourite with me as my Meta is magic heavy so it really helps give you a maximum chance of shutting down an opponent’s magic phase. As a bonus, at the start of each magic phase, each Remains in Play is dispelled on a 3+. As I said, I really like this banner and it does compete as the hammerer’s banner option and as the BSB’s option. The choice would be easy if it weren’t for:

Master Rune of Grugni (60) – BSB only. This is the third of the almost must take master runes. The bonus with this rune is it gives your BSB a 4++ ward as part of the price (so that is 45pts worth). The other 15pts gives everything within 6” a 5++ ward against shooting and magic missiles. This can really help to protect your warmachines (if you are able to make 5++ rolls – something I’ve been known to fail regularly). If it weren’t for the ward save on the BSB I would not rate this rune as highly, as it is, when I take it I always wish I’d taken Valaya but when I don’t, my warmachines get shot up quickly and I regret not taking it. You can’t win!

Rune of Battle (35/70/125) – The first two runes give you +1 and +2 to your combat res. This can combine well with the MRo Stomni Redbeard but in 8th you tend to gain combat res through kills (at least the way I play) so I’m not as big of a fan of these. The third rune gives the unit the ‘fight in extra ranks’ rule. To make the most of this, you want a horde and plenty of extra bodies to soak up casualties so at least a unit of 50. It’s one of the combo’s that I will try one day but that day hasn’t ever come and that likely comes down to both cost and the fact it would have to go on a BSB, which means giving up one of the 3 master runes.

Rune of Slowness (35/50/80) – The first rune allows you to deduct D6 off an opponent’s charge distance. The second rune allows you to roll 2D6 and pick the highest to deduct. These are fantastic runes and I will say that taking at least 1 is compulsory on a unit of Irondrakes to maximise the number of shots they take (while slowly falling back to maximise charge distance). It is also very useful for increasing the odds of getting off a charge to gain +1S from resolute and combines well with the Silver Horn. The final rune give ASL to your opponent. It is useful for removing elves re-rolls and allowing your great weapon dwarves to strike at the same time as your foes. Again it is one that has to go on a BSB and would mean dropping one of the more useful master runes to fit it in.

Rune of Sanctuary (15/30/45) – These runes give Magic Resistance (1/2/3) respectively. I find MR is of very limited use. The best use of this rune is to get around the Rule of Pride, say to allow another unit to take another more useful rune such as when creating a strollaz list.

Rune of Stoicism (35) – To again quote 1d4chan (as why rewrite something if you 100% agree with what they say): Another easy way Dwarfs can get stubborn. A good banner if you didn’t want to put the Master Rune of Groth One-Eye on that unit of Hammerers. Put it on and have fun never running away.

Strollaz’ Rune (35) – This gives the unit Vanguard. This rune is at the heart of the famous dwarf Strollaz list. It combines nicely with the Ro Sanctuary to get around the Rule of Pride. You will want to also take a unit or two of rangers to ensure your opponent cannot block your vanguard otherwise you will have wasted all those points!

Rune of Courage (20) – This gives immune to psychology. If it was 15pts, then it might be worth taking as an alternative to the Ro Sanctuary when getting round the Rule of Pride but as it is you won’t ever take it.

Ancestor Rune (20) – A one use rune that allows you to take a break test on a single D6. It could be useful, especially if combined with stubborn and in a melee heavy list. Due to the cost, you couldn’t fit it on with a vanguard or stubborn rune (which you would want to) so you will likely never take it. I will add that it is probably well costed as the 15pts you really want this to be to combine with the other runes, is probably too cheap.

Talismanic Runes

Master Rune of Balance (50) – This gives you a 50% chance of removing a power dice from your opponent and adding it to your dispel pool. I inherently dislike single dice 50% chance rolls so normally avoid them. It’s slightly different if you get to do it multiple times in a game as it should average out. Still it’s not a cheap rune so I’d pass to take something else.

Master Rune of Spite (25) – Every time you take an unsaved wound, you deal a S5 hit back to the model that caused it. This is similar to the slayer’s deathblow ability but on each wound rather than just your death. It’s a fun rune as it fits in with the dwarf idea of vengeance but you are probably better off taking something that protects your character.

Master Rune of Passage (10) – This rune allows you to automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests. It’s a cheap rune that can be used to get round the Rule of Pride.

Rune of Warding (15/35/45) – These runes give you a 6/5/4++ ward respectively. The cost and effects are the same as the standard ward talismans available to other races (with the exception of the 5++ ward which for some reason is 5pts more for dwarves). If you are going to take them, go big or go home (take all 3). If you want a 5++ ward, then look to take 2* Ro Fortitude on your armour as you effectively get the 5++ ward for 15pts.

Rune of Spellbreaking (25/45) – Runesmiths and Runelord only. The first rune is a Dispel Scroll that can be taken on multiple Runesmiths as long as you get round the Rule of Pride. This ability is what allows the dwarves to shut down the magic phase and I never leave home without one. The second rune upgrades this to a spell eater. On a 4+ you remove the spell from your opponent’s deck for the rest of the game. This can really spoil their game if you get it off (and especially if you bring multiples of it). However it’s a big IF, as it’s a one use 50% chance. For 25pts a pop, I find it too hit or miss. That said, if I was entering a tournament, i’d consider taking a Runesmith with a double Ro Spellbreaking almost compulsory. The threat of the Death spell, Purple Sun, on your army is huge (a good roll could single handily remove half your army), so the ability to remove that spell from the game is priceless.

Rune of Luck (15) – This rune gives a one use re-roll on: to hit, to wound, armour, ward or characteristic test. For the price, that’s not bad at all but I still struggle to take this, probably because it is very much single character focused and there always seems to be better things to take. One way to look at the rune is as a one use failsafe against a test or die characteristic roll (I say failsafe but it just gives a second chance to pass the roll. 15pts to save your potential 300pt lord seems quite a bargain!).

Rune of Furnace (5) – a 2++ ward against flaming attacks. This is the runic version of the Dragonbane gem and just as useful. On top of that it is the best (Gobbos are da best!) way of getting round the Rule of Pride on a Talisman.

Engineering Runes

These Runes are what take your warmachines and put them on a pedestal high above every other races. They will look at you and turn green with envy. If you take warmachines you will be taking many of these runes, so plan accordingly. It’s worth noting that putting a rune on a war machine, makes the attacks magical, so you can target and kill their ethereal troops.

Master Rune of Immolation (30) – This allows you to detonate your warmachine at will, after combat but before combat res, to cause 2D6 S4 flaming hits to enemies in combat. If you have points left over it is worth considering as will really mess up a lot of warmachine hunters. I’ve seen one player go as far as to leave one warmachine on a far flank with a small unit of crossbows, to both mislead with the drops and deliberately tempt his opponent to divert resources to attack it. The crossbows removed the light chaff sent against it and when he then diverted a small unit of heavy cav, he got quite a surprise.

Master Rune of Disguise (25) – This gives your warmachine hard cover. If you take an engineer he can give your warmachine this anyway but if you have more warmachines than engineers (and you normally will), then this at least gives the option of getting it on those machines. For 25pts I probably wouldn’t bother though.

Rune of Penetrating (40/50) – The first rune gives +1S on the warmachine. I consider this a compulsory rune on a grudge thrower. It is probably worthwhile on a bolt thrower but you are unlikely to ever take that warmachine (unless for fluffy reasons). It’s also worthwhile considering on a Flame Cannon (if you have an engineer attached). You could put it on an Organ Gun but there are better options due to the limited runic points available on that machine. The second rune allows you to re-roll a single ‘to wound’ roll once in the game. I would skip this.

Stalwart Rune (15/30) – The first rune gives the crew +1 to their combat res and the second upgrades their stubborn to unbreakable. Frankly if you are in combat your machine is in dire straits and these runes will not help. You are much better off taking runes that help it cause damage or prevent it malfunctioning. Failing that take the Rune of Immolation to kill off your attackers.

Rune of Accuracy (25) – This gives you +1 to hit or allows you to re-roll the scatter dice. For me this is the second compulsory rune on a grudge thrower. It is also very much worth considering on an Organ Gun to boost the chance of it hitting (it is rare I don’t take it).

Rune of Forging (25) – This allows you to re-roll the artillery dice the first time a misfire is rolled each turn. I will always take this rune on a cannon. I will also always take this rune on an Organ Gun, unless it has a Master Engineer attached (as he provides the same re-roll)

Flakksson’s Rune of Seeking (15) – This gives your bolt throwers +1 to hit vs flying enemies. If you are taking a bolt thrower, then take this rune it’s cheap and may help out with the crew’s average BS.

Rune of Burning (5) – This gives your warmachine flaming attacks. This is a great way of stripping regen off a monster or unit. It is always considering adding this rune to either a cannon or an organ gun. Just be aware of the number of 2++ wards that are around on units and that often appear on super characters and always seem to be on a daemon prince.

Ancestral Heirlooms

These are the book’s equivalent of other armies’ unique magic items. Because of the dwarves unique ability to build their own magic items (which is part of the fun of taking dwarves)

The Hammer of Karak Drazh – This hold is now known as Black Crag and is one of many that fell to the Greenskins. The fluff says this was a hammer that stood out as exceptional amongst the holds treasures. Frankly if this was the best (Gobbos are da best!) their Runelords could produce, it is no wonder the hold fell.

Adding +3 initiative to a character is OK but I struggle to see what the point of the secondary effect is: reducing the opponent’s initiative to 1 on an unsaved wound, just until the end of the combat phase.

It’s the last bit. Why until the end of the phase? You have to wound them for that to kick in and about the only thing reducing initiative does is to prevent them attacking first. I suppose it could have some utility against someone with ASF, to remove their re-rolls to hit, but that would in the main just be elf characters, as adding +3 I to your lord or heroes stats, would generally equal or beat a rank and file elf’s initiative, thus negating their rerolls anyway.

The other issue is the cost. 65pts for this.

I cannot see a point for this weapon unless you live in fear of initiative or die spells but even then it is protection for just one character with almost no other utility. If anyone else can see a purpose for this weapon, I would love to hear it.

Red Axe of Karak Eight Peaks – This is a very fluffy weapon where the effects only work against anything in the Orc and Goblin and Skaven army books (so it includes anything those armies could field: Trolls/Giants/Wyverns etc.). As both those armies are the cause of Karak Eight Peaks downfall it ties into the name nicely.

In terms of what it does, it allows re-rolls of all hits and wounds and the bearer causes terror.

At 50pts, the costing is not great (the wood elves get a weapon with re-rolls to hit and wounds against all opponents for the same cost, though they don’t get the terror impact). The main issue I have with it, is you can only include it in a tailored list, as for any other army bar the two listed, it is a total waste of points. You also already have a 33% chance of getting re-rolls against any opponent without the axe and terror is of limited use in this edition.

The Magnificent Armour of Borek Beetlebrow – The armour grants you a 2+ armour save and a 3++ ward against str 6+ or higher for 60pts. As it was meant to have been crafted to protect against twin giants, the armours abilities match the fluff.

It doesn’t state if it comes with a shield, so you can conceivable give the wearer one to get a 1+ save (failing that, shieldbearers if given to a lord). The ward is fairly conditional. A 3++ ward is nice (as we all know from fighting the cursed Warriors of Chaos) but it will only kick in if you are against monsters, some characters and some elites with great weapons. Taking an unconditional 4++ ward and 1+ save (using runes) comes to 75pts. So taking the armour is 15pts less than this at least. It isn’t a bad choice but there are better options.

Silver Horn of Vengeance – Forged from the silver helms of the vanquished elves in the War of Vengeance its sound causes friends to fight harder and foes it promises doom.

This is a one use only item that gives, all dwarfs within 6″ devastating charge and in additional the sounder of the horn and any unit he is in cause fear in all elves (wood, dark, high). Again another item where the writers have tied the abilities into the item’s fluff (I like fluff as you have probably guessed by now).

If you get the charge off (and it is a big if), an additional attack could really hurt your opponent, especially if you put it in a unit where they don’t expect it (combo this with the Rune of slowness to help this out). The fear is very conditionally and unlikely to make any real difference.

It ‘only’ costs 45pts so I quite like giving it to a Runesmith and at that price, it still allows him to take a rune of spellbreaking. I would probably take this item more if it wasn’t down to the next one.

The Fiery Ring of Thori – Who doesn’t like an enchanted ring, especially one that gives the wielder a S4 flaming, breath weapon? I like breath weapons, the chance to do an extra 2D6 automatic hits can swing combat. At only 35pts (or 3.5 great weapon wielding dwarves), it is cheap enough to definitely think about taking. I often use this on a Runesmith and rarely regret it.

Banner of Lost Holds – A unit that carries the banner rekindles the flames of vengeance. Sounds good but how does that equate to game terms? All models in a unit that carries the banner of lost holds can re-roll failed to wound rolls.

A great ability and even at 100pts, it is one I would consider taking (probably making this the only army book banner at this price I would). At this cost, there are potentially only two ways to take it. On a BSB or on a unit of Slayers (if Ungrim is your general).

In an amusing quirk of wording (and thanks to the gents of this forum for pointing this out), if you look at the exact wording of ancestral relics, this item and the wording around the dwarf BSB, he can’t actually take it! (The same wording also prevents the Slayers taking it). So take that as you will. It is probably a given that the BSB can take it (even if following RAW he can’t) but you may want to check with your opponent before putting it on a unit of slayers.

3 thoughts on “Dwarf Army Book Review – Part 2 – Runic Items & Ancestral Heirlooms

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