This topic is meant to help dwarven players to handle this army and to help other players to fight the Dwarves. If you have some comments, tips, advices or questions, feel free to post them ! I sincerely hope this topic will help beginners (and perhaps even veterans !) playing this army.
Warning ! Huge text ! If you don't want to read everything, you can skip and go the section VIII - Some armies in 1200 pts (end of post) to have some armylists. The last section, IX - Fighting the Dwarves is for players who want some tips to fight dwarven armies.
I - Generalities
Dwarven armies are based on heavy infantries, so they're slow and do not have a good initiative but have a very good melee power. Play them in a tight formation, each unit close to others (but not too close to avoid a single summoning to block you !) to prevent quick characters to infiltrate and strike you in the back. Because of the 3 manoeuvers your units have and their limited speed, the key word is counter-attacks : use Clan Warriors to engage the first wave of enemies, and then charge with your Clan Veterans to destroy it. A good Dwarven army acts as a steamroller, moving slowly but surely and crushing everything it crosses.
Your enemies will try to shoot your units as long as they can and this is one of the main troubles you'll have to handle. You can use spells (Firewall...), quick units (Pony Riders, Hill Giants...) and use the field to cover as much as possible, but you will sustain casualties. Hopefully, the good armour of the Dwarves will prevent a total annihilation. Remember you can recruit good artilleries to outrange the enemy shooters, and despise of the cost it's a good strategy.
Your heroes are slow too, but strong and resilient. Keep them near the front line to move before your units and intercept the enemy's units with good initiative (pikemen, cavalries) and charge with your units on next Turn. Don't try to pursue a hero or a sorcerer with the Dwarves : they're not suited for.
At last, beware of behemoths ! Overrun is very effectiv e against Dwarves because of their small size and low initiative. Try to have something to help deal with behemoths (Bats with spike, Crossbowmen, Hero using Giant's Death, Priests...).
II - Shoots
Enemy shooters will be a real pain, especially if you have to move accross the whole battlefield to engage in melee. Use artilleries to force your enemy to move (and reduce the range between you), move in forests, cast spells, hide weak units behind armoured ones... do whatever you can to avoid taking too much casualties from shooting.
Even Durim's Hammer is a good recruitement choice : as it outranges all archers in the game, your opponent will have to move toward you in order to have the possibility to shoot back. Just recruit between 2 to 6 Hammers and... FIRE ! Move your infantry and get to the melee !
The Dragon's Thunder will do a whack of damages and its huge range (40 hexes !) assure you to fire in middle range most of times. That means low deflects. Truly, it worth the cost.
Plese note you have some quick units : Hill Giants and Pony Riders can engage quickly archers in melee to prevent them to shoot, but your units will be alone... move carefully. You also can recruit the Rock Giant or the Battle Rider to use as a "tank".
Your own shooters aren't bad at all, despise their speed. Use them to weaken the strongest melee threats (cavalries, pikemen etc.) and prepare your assault/counter-attack. They also prevent an enemy sorcerer to come too close to cast offensive spells (range of 9 hexes + 3 manoeuvers = range of 12 hexes).
III - General Troops and characters
As written above, Dwarves are very good melee fighters. Clan Warriors will give you armoured units to be deployed in the front line while Clan Veterans should be deployed/moved in a second wave to destroy the enemy troops. Guard of the Gate can be in the front line because of their huge armour and melee skill values. Pony Riders should be used to engage weak archers (like the Orcs) or as a reservist force. Taking the "Heavy" version of the units or not greatly depends upon your liking and points saved.
A special note for Skirmishers : they are slow and have a poor range. So, they are not suited for "hit & run" tactics, but are very good in a defensive role against armies based upon melee. The throwing axes give you a good attack before the melee, so before the enemy strikes. Think as it as a kind of "initiative boost"...
Miners shouldn't be the base of your army. Their "no-armour" ability is good... if the opponent actually have artificial armour ! And they're weaker than Clan Warriors... so if you want this unit, recruit it against the Empire or the Dark Elves and avoid it against the Elves, Thaïn or Isthak - take Clan Warriors instead.
Bombardiers are difficult to play but very funny. Think of them as a real skirmishers unit.
Concerning your heroes and commanders, you should take the quickest and cheapest ones because your units are expensive. Characters like Furgrimm or Dungal have a really good Usefulness/Cost ratio. Argam and Duron are quite good too but slower. Do not hesitate to associate your heroes to units : as the enemy will shoot you (and your unit leaders first !) it's always good to have someone to give orders... and a hero can leave a unit before it moves, so you can engage the enemy with the hero while you manoeuver with the unit to charge the next Turn.
IV - Playing Gaëta
The special troops of Gaëta give you the artilleries and some good infantries. Hill Giants can replace Clan Veteran (and they are quicker so they can lead the assault) while Orc Slayers are specially designed for your fights against the Green Skinned-ones. Just be sure not to let those units be decimateds by archers...
The Rock Giant can act as a "tank" and his rock attack is pretty good. Nevertheless, you should avoid melee with him to focus on his overrun ability. Melee is just to have a good "move after fight" possibility... to overrun !
As written before, artilleries are very efficient but need to be protected a little because the enemy will try to destroy it or at least, engage it in melee to prevent it to shoot. Forward Observers aren't very useful except if you fight on a battlefield with a lot of forests or against foes that reduce the line of sight (e.. Blizzard).
V - Playing Z'ahra
Z'ahra offers many funny but specific pieces. The Bat with spike is to hunt and kill behemoths and it's always good to have one because many players will use behemoths to overrun your Dwarves. Other Bats are funny to play but less effective and very easily destroyed by archers so beware !
The Battle Rider is a master piece : it's strong and very resilient so you can use it in the front line to "tank" everything. Raise the pressure only when needed : to engage quicker or to have more moves / attacks. Just keep an eye at this sorcerer with offensive spells coming nearby... magic will destroy your precious machine easily.
The Bullet-Hailer has to be moved slowly but surely to the enemy front line, then fire it. Three times only, but the power is extremely devastating. Beware of archers with fire arrows and Fire Mages. Hell-Splitter is nearly the same, but with only one attack.
VI - Empire alliance
If you play Gaëta Kingdom, you can have some imperial soldiers to help you. See those nice Noble Archers ? The Mounted Archers ? The Pikemen ? Make sure your enemy sees it too.
VII - Priests and magic
The Priests are a very good reinforcement to your army. Fire Priests can cause good damages to the enemy and reduce its sight - but the spells are quite expensive, so a lvl 2 will be needed for some (or two lvl 1). Earth magic is very interesting ("Bringing the Earth to Life" is just awesome) but hard to play, and if you want to cast the devastating "Fissure", you'll need a lvl 2 (yes a lvl 1 can cast it... but 9 Spell Points are required !). At last, the Ore Priests can reinforce your troops and debuff the enemy's - only if the targets have a good armour... less interesting than it firstly seems, but you also have the "Bound by the Ore" spell which is excellent. A lvl 1 Priest should be enough. If you recruited Pony Riders, giving them a better armour is a must.
VIII - Some armies in 1200 pts
* A basic Gaëta army would be : Crossbowmen, Clan Warriors, Clan Veterans, Hill Giants, Darach Earth-Servant, Furgrimm, Dungal. Still got 60 pts to spend : artefacts or other heroes. This army is quite polyvalent with two strong melee units.
* An army with the Dragon's Thunder : Clan Warriors, Clan Veterans x2, Dragon's Thunder, Furgrimm, Dungal. No magic and only three units, but the biggest cannon of the game. You can take a lvl 1 Priest instead of one unit - try the "Bound by the Ore" spell then... to paralyze units in front of your Dragon's Thunder ! An Elemental could be useful too.
* A full melee army : Heavy Clan Warriors x2, Hevay Clan Veterans x2, Rador Fire-Servant, Fugrimm, Dungal. No shooters and no special units but so much armour... and all the Fire spells.
* The quickest army : Pony Riders x2, Hill Giants x2, Darach Earth-Servant, Barin. Full speed ahead ! Don't forget to heal the wounded Giants... and cast "Bringing the Earth to Life" on them.
More armies to come later.
IX - Fighting the Dwarves
As the Dwarves are slow and are poweful in melee, try to weaken them by shooting them as long as possible (even skirmishers units will deal some damages, if you play them well). Due to their low initiatives (two-handed weapons, no spears), you will most of time strike first : do not hesitate to support your attacks do be sure to kill some dwarven fighters before they strike back.
Beware when engaging the Dwarves : they have 3 manoeuvers and are very good in counter-attacks. Once again, prepare the fight with ranged attacks and/or spells. Being impetuous will greatly help you to deal damages (and save elements). It's always a good idea to reinforce your melee armour if you can.
The dwarven shooters only fire they weapon in H-order. You can shoot in S-order with bows and kill some of them before they shoot you (especially the Blunderbuss unit which is purely devastating at short range, never engage it save with summonings or very well armoured units) ! Using artilleries is a good idea too as the Dwarves have good armour values (and due to their speed, you will shoot them many times). Beware of their own artillery which is devastating ! In that case, hide in forests or use spells to reduce their sight (Blizzard, Firewall...) or try to engage as soon as possible the artillery (a summoning is good for this task) to prevent it to shoot. If you manage to deal at least 1 point of damage to the artillery, it will fire only once per two Turns.
Behemoths are always useful against Dwarves, but your enemy will use Priests (Earth and Fire), Bats with spike and heroes with magical weapons (Giant's Death...) to destroy your monster. Count the Spell points to avoid the more devastating spells (Fissure...), think your moves and overrun the strongest melee units (Veterans, Guard of the Gate...) as soon as you can.
Due to the tight formation the dwarven army will surely adopt, it's not really easy to infiltrate a hero to hunt donw Priests. If you have a quick cavalry, you can try to flank your opponent and/or try some tricky moves to charge him from the rear. Once again, count the Spell Points.
Allow me to insist : do not rush blindy toward the Dwarves ! Their counter-attacks are devastating (just look at the power of the Bullet-Hailer or of the Veterans) ! Weaken them with shoots / spells, try to outnumber them... Dwarves have a good Morale, so don't expect them to rout after the first casualties (do not hesitate to unbuff or curse them as they cannot protect themselves from magic).
Beware of the Battle Rider which is incredibly resilient and strong. You'll need artillery or magic to hurt it / destroy it. Try to avoid to fight it as long as possible to force the Dwarf player to raise the pressure and risk an explosion.
Discussion on the Demonworld rules. Tips and tactics are welcome!
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