Dwarf Army Book Review – Part 6 – Rare Choices

The rare choices represent, as the title says, those items that are the least commonly available. They are restricted to a 0-2 choice in 8th with a maximum of 25% of the points. It also arguable contains some of the strongest choices available to the army.

The previous parts of the review can be found here:

Part 1 – Why Play them, Special Rules & Dwarf armoury

Part 2 – Runic Items and Ancestral Heirlooms

Part 3 – Lords and Heroes

Part 4 – Core Troops

Part 5 – Special choices

 

Irondrakes

There are very few units, from the dwarf army book that I would insist you had to consider taking, Gyrocoptors are definitely on the list and more often than not Cannons and lets not forget Organ guns (more on them later) but here we are looking at Irondrakes and they are also strong contenders.

The Irondrakes have the same elite stats as their deep dwelling brethren, Ironbreakers but with a slightly reduced 4+ save and 6++ (non-restricted ward), which increases to a 2++ vs fire. As an anvil, this makes them more effective than a unit of shieldbeards, our go to core anvil unit, with the added advantage of an extra point of Leadership (10) and the same 50pt Magic standard allowance.

Ok so they are still not as good as Ironbreakers but it doesn’t stop there. On top of that they get an 18″, flaming, str 5, Armour Piercing, ranged attack and they are quick to fire meaning they can move and shoot and stand and shoot without penalty (except for long range).

The unit champion can be upgraded to dual drake pistols (two, 12″, str 5, flaming, AP, ranged attacks and these also gives the unit the chance of removing regen in combat with his 2 flaming attacks) or to the trollhammer torpedo (a 24″, str 8, flaming, d3 wound, slow to fire attack).

Being both a solid anvil and having a high str ranged attack gives them a versatility that our other infantry units lack. They work equally well on a flank or as a centrally placed unit and adding a stubborn runic banner (or having them in range of Groth stubborn aura) means they will normally hold to the last dwarf. The rune of slowness (reducing the distance of anyone charging you by D6″), whilst an obvious and well known choice, is very effective even against cavalry or other high distance chargers.

Add in a basic Runesmith to the unit (who can be tooled up to add further depth with items such as the silver horn, breath weapon or even a basic runic weapon to counter ethereals) and their ward becomes 5++ vs direct dmg spells and their close combat attacks gain AP which effectively doubles their combat effectiveness vs armoured troops and if you choose to charge with them (a possible option if you have the rune of slowness) then they get the standard dwarf +1 to str that turn and an effective -3 armour modifier.

The Trollhammer Torpedo

I have been asked on several occasions why I never take the trollhammer (anymore). There are a couple of reasons:

Slow to fire. It is rare that my unit of drakes is stationary and even with the increased bs of 4 for the champion, it makes a big difference to the hit roll and you cannot stand and shoot with it.

Price. 20pts for it (or 30 if you include the champion cost) may not seem an expensive upgrade but with my preferred army load out, I cannot normally squeeze it in.

Charge reactions. Dual pistols allows a stand and shoot reaction, with an additional attack. Once in combat, they again provide an additional attack for the champion and as they are flaming, can strip regen off anything he attacks. If he does charge himself, he gets the standard dwarf +1 str, so they are back to str 5, flaming AP attacks in the first round of combat.

Single dice rolls. It works like a cannon, in so far as, no matter the actual odds, I seem to find that with a single dice roll, 9 times out of 10, it is guaranteed to roll a 1 (either to wound or hit). Conversely 2 dice rolls will more often than not come up as an 11 or 12, especially for break tests. Don’t ask me why, I don’t make the rules, it’s just the way it is!

In terms of recommended unit size, the normal 10 man squad is reasonably cheap and works well but a unit of 20 is solid and a great alternative to Ironbreakers, both as an anchor for your lines and as an offensive unit with the S5 drakeguns. Runes of slowness or stoicism are definitely recommended with a larger unit.

So Irondrakes are not an automatic choice but definitely bear consideration, either working in tandem or as an alternative to an Organ gun.

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Rangers

This is another unit that offers the dwarves something different. They are identical to GW Quarrellers in core, including cost and come as standard with heavy armour, x-bows and GW’s. On top of that, they effectively get for free, throwing axes (that always allows them to stand and shoot at S4) and Scout. Scout is phenomenal for Dwarves as it allows them to get round their poor movement.

Having the 30” crossbows means that when they are set up, they can already be within short range to maximise their ranged damage as well as being in a great position to then charge in if required.

You can take these guys in minimum units of 5, which means you can take 2 small units just to screen your lines in a vanguarding list, which is essential to not waste all the points spent on those strollaz banner runes.

You could also go the other way and drop a horde of 40 to really screw with someone’s day.

You could take 1 or 2 units of 15-20 but I don’t advocate that, purely because I’ve had a couple of very bad experiences with using them at that size. Bear in mind that they are very likely going to be out of range of a general or bsb early on and so susceptible to panic from shooting.

Rangers are a great option to take and the only reason you probably don’t see them more is because they have some extremely strong competition for the points in the special and rare sections.

As a final note, you can upgrade these to Bugmans Rangers to get an additional point of WS, BS and Str at a cost of 3pts per model (as well as the 165pt cost of taking Joseph Bugman himself). In a 2500pt game, this limits you to taking 35 rangers (with a standard and musician). The question is, is it worth doing? Possibly. I personally wouldn’t as I think it makes their cost too high but I wouldn’t gainsay you if you decided to go that route as BS4 on crossbows is a combo that makes me warm and fuzzy inside (though that might be the Bugmans XXXXXXXX).

Gyrobomber

What do you get if you take a Gyrocoptor and turn it up to 11? Well I can tell you right now, it isn’t the Gyrobomber. Oh bomber how I wanted to love thee!

The main attack works in a similar way to the gyrocoptors dive-bomb. You can bomb any unit/model you move over during your turn. This includes if you march and remember you can’t be march blocked due to the relentless rule (so have a 20” range and can weave as much as you like). To find out how many hits you get, instead of rolling an artillery dice, you use the large blast marker. On top of that, after resolving the damage, roll a D6 and on a 4+ you have a chance of placing the small blast template and causing further damage (I think of it like the dambuster’s bouncing bomb – not really an accurate analogy I appreciate, as their bombs didn’t work like that but I see the secondary explosion from a ‘bounce’ in my head).

So far so good. This is one of the few attacks in the game to use the large template and the potential number of hits from that is huge. So why don’t I like it? Well to start with, both the large template and the small template (if you are lucky enough to get it) have a chance to scatter. The big template between 2 and 10”, in the same way as a stone thrower. The small template by D6”. With no way of re-rolling the scatter, it makes this very unpredictable in an army that excels in pin-point artillery accuracy.

In terms of damage, anything under the template is struck by a S3, AP hit (or S6 in the centre with D3 wounds). Already this gives you only a 50% chance to wound most standard rank and file in the game and this chance reduces against quite a few armies that have T4. This combined with the scatter makes the damage output too unpredictable for me.

It isn’t too expensive so can be used as a distraction carnifex, as a large blast template is always a worry for opponents so expect a large amount of fire to come its way and though it has the same defensive stats as the ‘coptor (T5, 3W and a 4+ save) it won’t take a great deal of punishment to remove it (I always felt that it needed an additional wound). Having a moving stone thrower also helps to protect it, to some extent, from warmachine hunters.

The Bomber also comes out of the rare section that is already packed with fantastic choices and for that reason alone you will often find it hard to field this.

If you were to field bombers, I’d probably go down the air force route with two bombers and 2-3 Gyrocoptors. That would give your opponent too many targets to prioritise (in a similar way to a monster mash) so they could cause some real issues.

My final thoughts are, the large blast template isn’t that much bigger than the flame template from the gyrocoptor, especially once you factor in the almost certain scatter, so what would you rather take, a guaranteed number of hits or the potential for a greater number?

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Organ Gun

If the cannon is the number one choice to take to kill off single multi-wound models, then the Organ gun is the preferred choice to kill off everything else. With the introduction of Irondrakes in 8th, it may no longer be the first choice for your S5, Armour Piercing, ranged attacks but there is still a strong case for taking it.

In use, it is very similar to the upstart, Empire, Hell Blaster Volley Gun but it uses 2 artillery dice rather than the 3 that the HBV rocks to determine the number of shots fired. Hmmm that doesn’t seem right the humans outclassing the Dawi. Both have to roll to hit using their crew’s BS3. The main base difference is the Organ Gun comes with a 30” range vs the human’s 24″. I cannot state how good that is, sure you roll up to 10 shots fewer than the human version but the main weakness of the HBV is normal archers with a 30” range can target it before it becomes a threat to the rest of your army. The Organ Gun does not have this weakness. Ahhh man tears have never tasted so sweet!

The other glaring difference is if you roll a misfire on one of the artillery dice, you don’t halve the number of shots. Instead you just get a -1 to hit modifier.

By itself, the Organ Gun is a good edition to the list but nothing to shout out about. This mainly comes down to it needing to roll to hit using the crew’s BS3. This only gives it a 4+ chance to hit at short range and 5+ at long.

Where it shines is when you add an engineer to it. I would say, if you take an Organ Gun, at a minimum, an Engineer is COMPULSORY. This immediately gives it BS4 (so to hit becomes 3+ at short range and 4+ at long). He also give you a re-roll to one artillery dice. My recommendation is to only use this if you roll a misfire OR if you roll a ‘2’ on one of the dice (you want to maximise your shots and taking the chance of a misfire over increasing the number of shots is always worth it, especially if has the engineer and Ro Accuracy).

It is worth noting that if you take just an engineer on the OG, then it doesn’t have magical shots. Suddenly that horde of White Lions with the Banner of the World Dragon isn’t looking so safe with just a 6+ save!

To take it to the next level, I also highly recommend taking a Ro Accuracy, as that adds +1 to the hit roles (short range is now 2+ and long 3+). It is this combined with the basic OG stats of S5 AP, with a potential of up to 20 shots that make this warmachine so feared!

As normal I recommend following the Rule of 2, as then you have a redundancy.

In fact, in a 2500pt list, with 625pts to play with in Rare, you can take:

1 organ gun with Ro accuracy (+1 to hit), with accompanying engineer.

1 organ gun – no runes but with attached engineer.

19 Irondrakes with standard (1* Ro slowness), champion with dual drake pistols and musician (accompanied by a Runesmith).

This comes to 615pts (excluding the heroes) and creates an extremely formidable selection of str 5 AP ranged attacks for the throng.

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Flame Cannon

This fires in the same way as the one in the BRB. You place a flame template at the machine and roll an artillery dice to see how far it goes. Anything under it suffers a S5 flaming hit and if any wounds are unsaved, they have to take a panic test.

In addition, the dwarf version (being superior in every way because it was made by dwarves), inflicts multiple wounds (D3).

And because Dwarves are the master engineering race they didn’t just let it go at that. You can super charge the shot so that you can place the flame template up to 12” away and then roll the artillery dice. This gives it a more respectable 14-24” range and remember that the template is then an additional 8” in length. Now you are talking.

The supercharged shot does come with a slight drawback, if you roll a misfire, you -1 to your roll on the black powder chart. This means that you HAVE to take a Ro Forging to give you the best chance of not getting a misfire (a normal Engineer cannot affect this role, though it should be noted that Grimm Burlocksson can but you wouldn’t want him to as he is far more useful doing other stuff).

It was like this was invented to ruin Trolls and happily can also do the same to any other monstrous infantry. Get your angles right and it will happily butcher tarpit units too.

The main problem with the Flame Cannon is it falls into competition with the Organ Gun and in my eyes the OG’s 30” fixed range trumps the flame cannon’s variable range. Still it is a decent choice and as long as you can neutralise any threats to it, you’ll have fun using it.

Final Thoughts

The book contains some extremely strong elements that allow you to actively participate in most phases of the game. You are restricted by your low movement and for this reason it favours a heavier shooting element (further backed up as you have no magic phase to speak of).

Of everything in the book, there are only 3 really useless entries: the Anvil of Doom, Thorek Ironbrow and the Bolt Thrower, with Thorek being by far the worst by a large margin. The other two could be taken but there are just far better options.

3 thoughts on “Dwarf Army Book Review – Part 6 – Rare Choices

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