General thoughts about Dwarfs
Dwarfs in 6th ed do exactly what you feel they should. They can take anything the enemy can throw at them and just will not break. A major problem though is their small units - your opponant will almost always be steadfast, they may not be able to break you but you'll struggle to get rid of them too! Their anti-magic is brilliant though and don't bother casting remains in play spells against them. With no magic to cast themselves they can use all the power dice the army generates to dispel anything still hanging around. They are an older book though and it does show at times - especially in unit costs, compare some of the dwarf costs to some newer lists and oh boy are they pricey - but I was starting to get past the aged handicap by the end of the week. Oh, and when combined with an allied Empire army they are just evil!
So lets take a look at some specific examples from my army.
Dwarf Rangers (Stromni's Wanderers)
These guys were the absolute daddy in the campaign. I cannot recommend quarreller rangers highly enough. Their flexibility is the key, this is a solid missile regiment that can deliver a very nasty surprise with their great weapons. They work best when occupying a defended obstacle or similar and don't expect them to last for turn after turn as light armour alone is just not enough to keep them in the fight for long. Get them some support though and they kick all kinds of ass.
Dwarf Slayers (The Unforgiven Dead)
Slayers have the same problem they always had. They are naked dudes with I2. Being able to step up has helped but they struggle to kill enough to break a unit so they wind up a rather expensive roadblock. By watching the Powderkegs (Charlie's handgunner unit) in action, I think I've figured out how to fix this though. Add a hero level slayer. With some serious killing power in the front rank they can strip away the opponant's static resolution and start to actually win some combats rather than just saying "ah well, we're unbreakable".
Dwarf Thunderers (Dafrir's Deadeyes)
Thunderers are the archetypical dwarf unit and damn, I can see why. The +1 to hit just makes them solid and reliable. Strangely, the thing I appreciated most was the shields. Hand weapon and shield with that 6+ parry save along with the light armour, shield, WS4 and T4 that all dwarfs come with make them really tough to take out. These chaps weathered storms that would have swept human missile troops off the table. Awesome. If I was a beardy chap then I would be adding a LOT more of these chaps to the army.
Dwarf Longbeards (The Ancient Mariners)
These guys earned a much-deserved reputation in the campaign. They are just ridiculously tough to take down. Savagely expensive in points but worth every single one. That S4 upgrade along with the heavy armour and shield combo makes them a really upsetting prospect for anyone to take on. Never let them get flanked though, lose that 6+ parry, the ranks and the ability to fight in support and they are done for.
Dwarf Hammerers & Lord (Hafnir Stormbourne and the Stormbourne Kinband)
I didn't get much use out of these lads. At almost 600 points for the character and the unit they are just far too expensive for anything other than 3k. Oh, and then they ran away in that game anyway! Weirdly this fits with Hafnir's personality and Dwalin Gravenrune the runesmith is fast becoming the de facto leader of the army.
Dwarf Warriors (The Dockers Host)
These chaps are the other lynchpin of a dwarf army. Not quite as "killy" as the Longbeards but gods damn are they tough to kill. Plus the - relatively - cheap cost means that they actually have some rank bonus.
The War Machines
Out of the war machines in my collection the real winners from the change to 6th ed are the Stone Thrower and Gyrocopter. Their templates are now savage and especially the gyrocopter - which I didn't really rate in the last edition - is now a real game changer. The ability to march and fire (being a flying monster) is horrible and against T3 opponents especially it is brutal. The organ gun - in dwarf hands - has always been horrible and continues to be a solid performer. Sadly, the cannon is still almost useless if your opponent doesn't have any big critters to shoot at. Likewise, the bolt thrower was useless - aside from one glowing moment when it sniped a lone necromancer, it managed to fail every S4 hit it was asked to make! At most, it killed two guys at a time. I think it is mostly sacked and replaced with the gyrocopter in most games.
This week was the first sustained period of play I had managed with the new Warhammer. I think I've got to grips with it. Overall I love it. Combat feels right and the spectacle of big units able to really hit hard is a delight. Magic has gotten very present in the system. There are just so, so many huge area affecting spells. This took me by surprise a bit at the start and I need to say sorry to Maisey for my incredulous reactions when his vampire army got all of the spells it really needed in one turn. It was the first time I had experienced such a gods awful beating that felt like it had been the magic phase winning. Later games taught me that it really, really doesn't happen often! Likewise, one of the only rules that I don't like in the game - that you cannot dispel magic that runs until "your next magic phase" in the opponant's turn, only remains in play ones - caused me to bitch mightily at Mark about Skaven magic. Sorry Mark. My point was that especially Howling Warpgale works for both the shooting phase and the stand and fire phase of the next turn and you can do nothing about it. Nonetheless, not Mark's fault and he bore the brunt of my complaining about this particular rule. Unfortunately he also had the army with the most "it can do that?!" moments so I imagine there were some really uncomfortable games at times.
This made me think. It is not fair, ever, to bitch to the player about their army. I am ashamed that I did this. Every army has things that are just wrong to face. With my army for example, I'd say that adding two Runes of Penetrating and a Rune of Accuracy to a stone thrower is one of the nastier tricks. Having no Dwarf with a Ld less than 9 is also hardcore. So why assume that anyone else's army has more evil than mine? In my defence, I was facing a lot of stuff for the very first time and the nasty surprises could be disorientating. Nonetheless, it is not cool to behave like that and I will be endeavouring to never do it again. There are, after all, only a couple of things in the skaven army that made me raise my eyebrows (Poison Wind Mortars for instance).
So, important lessons from Warhammer VIII? With Dwarfs I have to cripple the opponant's magic phase or I am in trouble! Magic now allows some armies - Vampires for example - to ignore their army's traditional downsides. Come prepared and throw down. Second lesson, biiiig units, even bigger than I'm currently using. They're ace! Third lesson - and this one is particularly germaine to this week - allow your opponant to win without feeling bad for gods sake! I always thought I did this but on the retrospective evidence of my memory I did not. That is not cool.
So what is next?
It was inevitable that I wouldn't be done with the dwarfs yet. They have been an important army for me for two decades now, and they still work how I remember! Additions currently planned include:
- A horde. Yup, 50 dwarf warriors with great weapons. Savagely expensive in points but just try to kill them. Plus 20 or so WS4 S5 attacks a turn will make anyone's eyes water. It will also make me happier to have more "normal" Dwarfs in the army.
- More characters. I want another runesmith to be Dwalin's apprentice and allowing me to promote him to runelord from time to time. Might even look into acquiring an Anvil of Doom for Dwalin if the Stormbournes ever retake Karak Hoch. I also need a thane without a battle standard so I have a warrior capable of leading the army and a dragonslayer to beef up the slayer unit.
- Another stone thrower. I've got the older model mangonel style thrower (not the goblobber although I've got one of those too) that I can strip and repaint. If one stone thrower is brutal, two will be eye-watering.
- A steam tank! I've wanted to Dwarf-up a steam tank for ages and this is a perfect opportunity. One of the advantages of a gaming group like ours is that no-one should mind me using this piece of nuttiness.