Never Mind the Gollochs
Part Two : Some of these things are different from the others, some of these things are not the same .
Part the Second of my in-depth and penetrating ramble about the amazing Free Dwarf Army for Mantic's Kings of War.
In the First part I burbled enthusiastically about the origins of the Free Dwarfs , both from a Mantic Rules view point and a Me Tournament and army building Viewpoint, I waxed lyrical about the awesome Badger Maniac Cavalry and its supporting characters and mastiff Regiments.
In this second part I will look at a couple of the more flavoured Free Dwarf troop types and forward some of my ideas for how they can be used on the battlefield as part of your steadfast and doughty Free Dwarf host.
The major difference between the Free Dwarfs and their hidebound, traditional oppressed Brethren is that Headstrong, Def 6+ and Warmachine's are not as prevalent, this , coupled with a few more minor differences is what changes the outlook of the Free Dwarf General towards his forces.
Gone are the heavily armoured ranks of steadfast infantry gamely standing around waiting for the enemy to succumb to the fire of Cannons and organ guns while armoured behemoths advance slowly across the table to crush the shattered remnants (or so Golloch would have you believe)
What you have instead is the exchange of the Headstrong for Pathfinder for the majority of the units that the Free Dwarfs share with the Imperial Lackeys, only Ironclad and a couple of characters retaining the Headstrong. This makes the Free Dwarfs less reliant on grinding the opponent to death and more on manoeuvre and ambush.
Somethings don't change though and the fact that most Free Dwarf infantry can take throwing mastiffs makes them every bit as deadly as their deluded Cousins from back West.
Mastiffs grant the Unit a one off 8 dice missile attack that always hits on a 4+ and is piercing (1) this simple 15 point addition can be useful in so many ways it may warrant its own article in the future.
As mentioned before the ShieldBreakers fielded by the FreeHolds have lost their Headstrong but have gained Pathfinder and Scout. This makes them more expensive over their vanilla Dwarf counterparts for an identical stat line but makes them tactically more flexible. their ability to move up before the first turn and to be able to sit in difficult terrain makes them an ideal unit to control how an enemy deploys, a few troops of ShieldBreakers with throwing mastiffs can be used to advance ahead of the army and disrupt enemy chaff , snipe out any individual characters ( especially low nerve inspiring characters) They can also be used in Troops or Regiments to support Rangers , beefing up the combat power of a Ranger formation with their 3+ melee. As with most of the Free Dwarf infantry they are only Def 4+ so lurking in cover can help protect them from shooting attacks and keeping them inspired is a must. This was helped a lot in the CoK 21 revisions when they were given the Keyword Tracker which allows them to be inspired by Herneas the Hunter and the Ranger Captain , both characters which I will examine later.
Free Dwarf Spear Levy
A troop type unique to the Free Dwarfs , the Spear levy are Sp4, Me 4+, De 4+ nerve 9/11 with Pathfinder and Phalanx, again with the ability to add mastiffs for +15 points. Cheap and cheerful troops that can make themselves useful , especially against a cavalry heavy foe and its surprising how often they are ignored by an opponent only to launch a sneaky mastiff attack to help defeat a light flank probe or they find themselves holding a wood against a regiment of Goblin Fleabags to contest an objective. I use them in larger games as second line troops ( at least until I have painted enough to make them the main component of my Bowland Hold Home Guard Army ;) ) and occasionally to fill chaff slots in tournament army's when I think nasty , Alpha striking Cavalry armies are going to be attending ( Dan King, Jon Faulkes I am looking at you !)
These Guys do really shout "Free Dwarf" though , the whole theme of the Free Dwarfs defending with all the available bodies conjures the image of the peasant Levy as a last ditch and the Pathfinder fits in with a people forced to learn to live outside over the years.
Ok , not much to say about these chaps , identical stat wise to their Imperial cousins the Free Dwarf Ironwatch swap out Headstrong for Pathfinder but otherwise they lose out to Rangers for shooting in the Free Dwarf order of Battle , again large hordes of static shooting troops are a bit redundant in third edition Kings of War and the fact that they do only one job is not a big plus for an army as flexible as the Free Dwarfs. The fact that Free Dwarfs have Ironwatch is just a hangover to appease some of the older , more traditional elements in the Holds and gives the fatter , less stealthy Dwarfs something to do in battle.
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiments
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiments are lovely , cute little bundles of fur that can throw other little bundles of fur ! Thats right , Mastiff Hunting Packs can have Throwing mastiffs. They are also height 1 which means Free Dwarf units can throw their Mastiffs over the top of the Mastiff Hunting Packs with no penalty - joy !
With a Sp of 6 and a Throwing Mastiff range of 12" they have a slightly larger threat radius then the Free Dwarf infantry which makes them more useful for disrupting your opponents plans , their low Height makes them useful as chaff and cover whilst their 9 attacks , 9/11 nerve and Crushing Strength(1) against cavalry are quite nice too , for only 80 points (including throwing puppies) they are almost an auto-include in my Free Dwarf forces. Their ability to still move 5" when carrying tokens also makes them useful in scenarios such as PUSH.
The only war machine in the Free Dwarf arsenal this is the same as its Trad counterpart with the exception of the Free Dwarfs can upgrade one machine to have Shattering! with its ranged attacks and an Aura of Iron Resolve for War Machines only , allowing it to affect a battery of Jarrun Bombards. whilst the Shattering! effect is useful and the bombard can be used in both Direct (Blast it!) and indirect(Lob it!) modes it is an all or nothing inclusion for a Free Dwarf army , one on its own is a waste and two or three is a big points sink , I only use them in really big battles as they don't really fit into my flexible , mobile Free Dwarf lists.
Identical to the Ironclads that follow the usurper Golloch, the Free Dwarf Ironclads are the only Infantry with Def 5+ available to the FreeHolds, they don't have Pathfinder , retaining the headstrong and are available in Troop, Regiment or Horde. Occasionally an Horde will make an appearance for the defence of Bowland but mostly they are fielded in Troops or Regiments to bolster flanks or help defend objectives where a higher Def and the ability to shrug off wavering is a must.
Thanks for reading my ramblings ( and if you haven't read all the way to here then why should I care ;) ) and I hope you are able to join me for the third instalment when I delve into the sneakiest of Free Dwarfs - the Rangers and their mates.