The better part of a year ago, I talked about Dwarfs in an effort to help newcomers to the army. With the introduction of 8th edition, a lot of those statements became obsolete, and some were completely overridden. So I thought I’d start to fill this new forum with a new series of posts on the dwarfen throng.
Dwarfs in Eighth Edition
Where Dwarfs were solid in seventh edition, they’ve become just downright mean in eighth. While, on the surface, striking in Initiative order would seem to diminish their close combat effectiveness (and, to be fair, it certainly doesn’t help them), most of the rules have greatly enhanced their strength. Supporting Attacks finally get rid of the Dwarfs’ major close combat weakness, low number of attacks, and Step Up means that you’ll still get to slug your opponent in the face, even though your troops are slow. The new charge rules means Dwarfs actually charging, and the alterations to how war machines work, combined with missile weapons firing in multiple ranks, means the already formidable dwarf ranged power is even greater. To be honest, I cannot think of any rules changes off the top of my head that really hurt the dwarfs, save for perhaps that charging no longer allows you to strike first. But let’s take a closer look at how those rules changes helped the bearded menace.
The first and most obvious change that helped the dwarfs here is charging. Before – Charge Range of 6”. After – Average Charge Range of 10”. Given the fact that you still strike in Initiative order even if you charge means that charging may not be the best option. In fact, given the dwarfs’ ability to take a charge and dish out some hurt, not charging and spending another round whittling down your enemy with missile fire may be the best bet. But if you’re facing an enemy that has a lot of magic or missile weapons, and your units are getting chewed apart, then this increased charge range can be quite a boon.
In the Remaining Moves phase, not a whole lot has changed. Dwarfs still ignore enemy units for determining when they can March. However, their high Leadership greatly increases their chances of being able to Swift Reform before they move, meaning that your slow moving dwarfs can easily turn and advance toward a flanking enemy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help your missile troops much, as nearly every dwarf missile weapon is Move or Fire.
Dwarfs are just as anti-magic as they were in the last edition. While extra Dispel Dice has been replaced by a moderate Dispel bonus (+2), the dwarfs’ ability to max out on Dispel Dice through the use of Runelords/Runesmiths and magic-hating runes is enough to make any wizard cry. You can take this to a pretty big extreme. For example, at the ‘Ardboyz Fantasy tourney, my army gained a bonus four Dispel Dice and also stole a Power Die and turned it into a Dispel Die, essentially giving me six bonus dice. This means that if my opponent rolls box cars for Power Dice, we have an equal amount (11). If he rolls anything else, I have more dice than he does. Another rune combination can bump that moderate +2 to Dispel all the way up to +5. So magic users beware!
Here is the dwarf player’s traditional favorite phase. The changes to shooting in eighth have made it even better. The biggest change is, like fifth edition 40k, True Line of Sight. No longer can your foes hide behind a few sparse trees and be shielded from your wrath! On top of this, your missile troops can fire in two ranks, so you don’t have to pray for hills in your deployment zone, nor do you have to arrange your quarrelers and thunderers in conga lines that stretch your army over most of the table. Finally, war machines got a huge shot in the arm. Sure, stone throwers no longer take away armor saves automatically, but the elimination of Partial Hits means that they can simply chew up units of light infantry. For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of sixth or seventh editions, template weapons used to automatically hit any model whose base was fully covered by the template. Any model partially covered or touched by the template was hit on a 4+, and these hits were referred to as “Partials”. Thankfully, those are gone. And with the ability to add runes to your stone throwers and bump their strength to five, well, let’s just say that I’ve personally killed twenty light infantry models with a single shot, and that’s without line of sight.
Speaking of which, Blind Fire is an amazing ability, especially for dwarfs. You can add an engineer to your stone thrower for fifteen points, giving you a BS of 4 which really helps to reduce those blind fire scatters. Or, if you have a Master Engineer, you can use his BS of 5 and use his ability to re-roll a Misfire, increasing blind fire accuracy and also preventing your machine from killing itself. Cannons in eighth have become ridden monster killers, since they hit both the rider and the mount at S10, and now they do D6 wounds. Throw a Rune of Burning on there to give it Flaming Attacks, and you’ve got a weapon that can destroy any of those pesky Regenerating monsters. The only dwarf war machine that was weakened by the switch to eighth is the Flame Cannon. Since they eliminated the Flame Cannon’s 12” range, you’re only guaranteed a single shot which may find itself sailing clear over the enemy, or landing just short. Now, if it hits, it can horrible mangle a unit, but the thing is iffy at best, a waste of 140 points at worst.
Dwarfs have always been a decent combat army. With high Weapon Skill and Toughness, combined with decent armor saves, dwarfs are very hard to kill. Add to that a decent selection of Strengh 4 units, as well as the option of Great Weapons on many of your infantry models, and you have a very solid fighting force. In seventh edition, though, unless you charged there was a decent chance you would lose models out of the front rank. As nearly all dwarf rank-n’-file have only a single attack, the army didn’t have a lot of hitting power. Now you’re still limited to one attack per model, but with Step Up and Supporting Attacks, your okay units have turned into killing machines. I almost never play a game without my Horde unit of Longbeards with Great Weapons, that can throw out up to thirty WS5 S6 attacks, which equals devastation. So combine the dwarfs’ resistance to death with high WS and a smattering of great weapon choices, not to mention the fact that they always get to make their attacks now, and you have a close combat killing machine.
Alright, I think that’s long enough for one post. I plan on going through the army by army list choices (Characters, Core, Special, Rare), and, hopefully, I will get to general tactics and whatnot after that. So stay tuned!
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