A Kick in the Gollochs! or a refreshing change to the Norm.
Part the First, being a Tale of Furry Fury
Kings of War Dwarfs, tenacious, hardy and determined as the second Ed rulebook says (I don’t know about the first Ed rulebook, I wasn’t born yet) an army of high Def, moderate Nerve infantry with an innovative Cavalry unit and nice selection of War Machines.
The builds consisted of the Fast moving Berserker Brock Cavalry with the Super Tough Elementals backed up by Artillery ( the famous Brocks , Rocks and Glocks build) and , apart from one memorable Berserker Army and the Army of steadfast Dwarfmeister , Rusty Shackleford, this was the fare that was served to me at Tournaments, all that varied was the proportion of each in the Army and just occasionally a couple of Throwing mastiff equipped Def 6 Ironguard would make an appearance.
Not that this was a problem , Dwarfs need to maximise their strengths in a Tournament environment , in a game where movement is a key component of gameplay, Dwarfs needed to be able to project themselves across the table and nothing reaches out and touches people like a cannon or a mass of badger riding loonies with axes.
This was exemplified for me by the winning list at the 2019 Clash of Kings at the twilight of 2nd Edition, 3 Regiments of Brocks , a horde of Dwarf Ironwatch rifles , 3 Organ guns and a Berserker Lord on Brock and a Dwarf Lord with Wings of Honeymaze and erm , a horde of Ogre Shooters.
Then came 3rd Edition, several changes were made to the Dwarf list, the Brock riders lost some nerve, the throwing Mastiff rules were streamlined, and some points values adjusted. This had made minimal changes to the Dwarfs themselves but the overall reduction in effectiveness of Shooting attacks and the rise of the Phalanx rule made big blocks of Infantry take a much more prominent role in the early 3rd Edition games , leading to a lot of Dwarf players trying Multiple Small Unit (MSU) tactics with the surprisingly scary Throwing Mastiffs. High Def and good Nerve infantry backed up by Banechant were now the backbone of the Dwarf battle line.
Then in November 2019 came the 3rd Edition Uncharted Empires and the start of a Love Affair for me , the Free Dwarfs, notwithstanding the list fit my Dwarf collection to a T , the background struck a chord with me and all my efforts for the next Year were devoted to the building and playing of these Doughty Free Folk.
After 14 months of play , both in Real life, as I am fortunate to have a KoW player for a Partner, and online within the Universal Battles community I have decided to put my thoughts and ideas for the better type of Dwarfs on my Blog. I am a passionate follower of the Free Dwarfs and vehemently opposed to the oppression of Golloch the Deceiver, hence to title of the piece.
I am not a purveyor of Statistics; I shall not be able to illustrate with graphs or inform you of the possible chance of victory of each of the Troop types I will list. I will show you a nice picture of them from my collection and share with you my thoughts and opinions on each of them and how I have found them to be in games. Please remember before you ignite the spark of internet conflagration that these are my opinions and not facts.
Tournament players of Kings of War will know about the classic Dwarf Army archtype of the masses of Def 6 infantry, either Earth Elementals or Ironguard, backed up with Organ guns and some hard-hitting Berserker Brock Riders with Lords on Large beasts. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great way to play to the strengths of a Dwarf list, but over the past Year or so since the new Uncharted Empires book came out I have seen Dwarf players try to fit Free Dwarfs into the same mould, lamenting the lack of Ironguard and the lessening of choice in the artillery park that the Free Dwarfs maintain.
I decided right from the start of looking at the Free Dwarf List, eagerly pouring over the book, sometimes the table, sometimes my lap but mostly the book, that I would embark on a different approach (plus I didn’t want to paint masses of infantry straight off) so I was very happy to take my Brock Rider heavy force and rework it to take in the advantages of the new list.
Brock Rider Regiments hit like a train! albeit a rather finicky random train due to their Me of 4+ ,but Thunderous Charge(1) and Vicious(Melee) coupled with their 26 attacks can be a horrible thing to face , however their attacks do need to be carefully planned and co-ordinated as with the slightest hint of a hinder their fangs are pulled. Their reliance on Thunderous Charge (TC) only making them unsuitable in crowded terrain. But all is not lost! They can be helped by Skill and magic coupled with Spam, Spam? I hear you say, Yes Spam. Spam helps the Brock Riders to shine, where a single regiment of brocks struggles against high Def opponents a Regiment and a Troop may do much better – especially if that troop, due to careful planning and forethought, ends up sitting over any obstacles or hindering terrain, thus allowing the Regiment to fight at full effect.
So having a couple of Regiments and a couple of Troops of Brock Riders in an army can pay dividends, a nice side effect of this is that the Troops of Brock Riders can also double as so called Thicc Chaff *. Also having more units at your disposal allows us to threaten a larger area, cut down on an opponent’s options and give them a lot to think about as regards the movement of their units. Having a large horde unable to advance without presenting a flank to a Brock Troop is a useful tactic when you need to slow an opponent down or reduce their avenues of advance , even just a troop of Brock Riders in the Flank will ruin most people’s calm.
Magic – the regiments can be helped by magic in a number of ways, directly by magic items such as Potion of the Caterpillar or the Sir Jesses Boots of Striding which can negate terrain effects, Blessing of the Gods or Brew of Sharpness which improve the hit rate of the unit or Brew of Strength which allows the unit to maintain pressure on high Def opponents in combat subsequent to the charge, that section of combat known to Veterans as “The Grind”. Indirectly Magic support can be given by use of the Bane Chant spell to boost the hitting power (although the Free Dwarf army has limited Bane Chant, Stone Priests, The item Lute of Insatiable Darkness or the new Banick Kholearm character are our only sources) this also can help maintain pressure during the Grind again by increasing the units damage output coupled with their natural viciousness. Supporting units will need to be carefully placed to provide good lines of sight to engaged units. Of course Bane Chanting the Regiment as it charges is optimal as this may result in the target being destroyed outright in the first round of combat.
Some of the things that an army consisting of large numbers of Brock riders can struggle against are large flying monsters, shooting armies, and High Defence Cavalry. We can help the Brocks to manage these by picking some of the nice supporting units from the Free Dwarf Quiver.
Berserker Lords – little powerhouses of goodness for Free Dwarf Brock Riders, stick them on a Brock so they can keep up with the Regiments. They inspire the Brock riders, they have 7 attacks at Crushing Strength (1) and a Nerve of -16 and they have the individual rule, this means they can dash around the battlefield covering a myriad of tasks. They can be armed with the Blade of the Beast Slayer in order to hunt down and ground large flyers or stalk Large Infantry characters such as berserker bullies or Dread Fiends, they can be armed with the Mournful Blade and engage opposing individuals such as the spate of winged assassins that are appearing, their useful number of attacks can also be utilised to clear chaff out of the way or, if the opportunity presents, they can chew through war machines to cut down on shooting. Equipping a Berserker lord with the Wings of Honeymaze can also lead to an individual character that has the potential charge range of 24” as they have Wild Charge D3 and Free Dwarfs have access to a Wild charge(1) Aura, more on that later.
Hunting Mastiff Regiments – these chaps are a cheap way of getting some extra Unit Strength into a Brock Heavy force which can also double as some nice chaff units and helpful token carries for Loot Counter based scenarios which leaves the Brock units free to do what they need to do. The Mastiffs can be upgraded to include Throwing Mastiffs (Big Dogs that throw Little Dogs at their opponents to hurt them? Go Figure) and at 15 points for 8 attacks that ALWAYS hit on a 4+ and have piercing(1) this is a must. Although only 12” range, the 4+ to hit allows the Mastiffs to poke damage onto other chaff even if it is in cover and the piercing helps to put the hits home, this means that the Mastiffs are good at clearing chaff as well as being chaff themselves. I always try to include at least two Regiments in my Free Dwarf Brock armies.
Sveri Egilax – The Head Honcho of all the Free Dwarf Berserkers. Riding on his huge Helbrock he weighs in at a hefty 210 points, but he is worth every point. He is a Height 4, Move 8 Inspiring Large Cavalry Character with 10 Attacks at CS (1), TC (1) and Vicious with nerve -18. Although he is Berserker Standard De4 he is still a beast of a Unit. But one of his extra special characteristics is the Aura of Wild Charge(1)(Berserker only) which enables him to add an extra inch of charge range to any Brock Units within 6” of him , this includes the Berserker Lords so the Brock mounted Lords can charge 17” and the Wings of Honeymaze Lord can charge 20” and add D3+1” for Wild Charge. Whilst it may not sound like a lot, this extra inch of charge when facing most normal Cavalry with a Move of 8 allows the Brock Riders to control the advancing of these units as they can outreach them. Also the fact that Sveri is Nimble and also has a move of 8 allows him to relocate himself and his aura to a new point on the Brock battle line, thus switching the threat to an area your opponent previously may have though himself safe, sneaky Dwarfs ! Notwithstanding all his nice supporting credentials Sveri is also a beast in combat and his Height 4 combined with his Nimble means sometimes this axe wielding maniac can appear in an unprotected flank when least expected, at that point it is often kind to hand your opponent a tissue for the tears.
So this concludes part one of my ramblings about my Free Dwarf experiences over the past Year and the lessons learned, in the next installment I will show where my lists have evolved to and some of the things I have tried in order to make my Free Dwarfs more Un-Golloch-y.