Stop Talking Gollochs !
Welcome to the Third instalment of my dip into the world of Free Dwarfs from Kings of War, in this blogpost I intend to look at the Sneakier Free Dwarfs , the Rangers and what I tend to use as support troops for them.
The Free Dwarf list released Dwarf Rangers from being Irregular which means you can build your Free Dwarf Host around these stalwarts. They are a wee tad expensive but they do serve as a sort of "Swiss Army Knife" role for the Free Dwarfs.
They come in two flavours, Troop and Regiment and at 140 and 185 points respectively they are 50 and 45 points more than their closest match the ShieldBreakers. what they offer above the the ShieldBreakers stat line is an extra 1" movement and the ability to shoot 24" at Ra 4+ and one unit can be upgraded to have Stealthy and Elite(Ranged) with light crossbows for 15 points, all Ranger units can , of course, be equipped with Throwing Mastiffs for added close quarters deadliness.
I have found that the Free Dwarf Rangers work best as part of a combined arms army, a couple of Regiments and a couple of Troops of Rangers is a solid base for an army and provides a lot of firepower that can be pushed into difficult terrain to fight for or hold objectives early on due to their Scout and Pathfinder Rules.
I use Mastiff Regiments to screen the flanks of any Ranger units I want to Scout with , using the 6" mastiff move and the 12" in throwing Mastiff range to help project the threat of damage or to strip away any low Nerve Chaff my opponent may want to use to tie up the Rangers. the Mastiffs Height of 1 is also useful in that any Ranger unit they are screening can shoot over the top of them. They can also threaten the flanks of any units that might want to charge the Rangers. In keeping with the rest of my Free Dwarf projects the Rangers have their own themed Mastiff Regiments with converted Ranger Handlers
Another cracking unit I use to support my Ranger Taskforce is the Greater Earth Elemental with the Craggoth & Kholearm upgrade. This takes a normal Greater Earth Elemental and, for 25 points, grants Spellcaster(00, the Flamesmith Keyword , inspiring(self) and Scout special Rules and the Fireball(10) spell. apart from having the Scout rule to keep up with any Rangers pushing forwards the Self inspiring allows Craggoth to be unsupported (mostly) and the Fireball just adds to the shooting output of the force overall (plus Craggoth can shoot over Rangers and Mastiffs alike to provide really close in support) but just the idea from the back story and the modelling opportunities for this Character make him an auto include in my Free Dwarf Ranger Army ( if you want to see how I converted and painted my version of Craggoth you can find it here https://www.bleufish.uk/post/banick-kholearm-craggoth )
I also tend to run a Stonepriest along with Craggoth , the Stonepriest doesn't need to stay within 6" of Craggoth and so he can lurk around the main body of Rangers and lend his Banechant and/or Martyrs Prayer to buff their attacks but if he stays within 12" of Craggoth he may be able to contribute some sneaky "Fire & Surge" shenanigans. I usually give him the Conjurors Staff which allows him to re-roll one failed spell casting dice a turn as my ability to roll below 4+ on two dice is Legendary.
In Larger Points battles I will also use an Horde of Earth Elementals and sometimes a second Stonepriest. The Free Dwarf Stonepriests ability to Surge a Unit and then immediately cast Banechant on the same unit can be an awesome boost to combat , especially if the Unit can be surged into a flank , sometimes the threat of this alone can help a Free Dwarf Player to shape how a combat develops. This second Stonepriest will usually carry the Tome of Darkness ( 4 extra dice to Surge) to really help push those Elementals out. I have even been using the Diadem of DragonKind on the Elementals to double up on their ability to Shoot & Surge alongside Craggoth.
The Free Dwarf Rangers come with their own Character - the Ranger Captain, he is a De 5, Me 3+, Ra 4+. 3 Att Dude with CS(1) Pathfinder and Scout and inspiring(Tracker Only). Up until the CoK21 rules updates the specific Inspiring limited the usage of the Ranger Captain as he could only inspire Free Dwarf Rangers, but the addition of the Tracker keyword to ShieldBreakers, Spear Levy and Ironwatch units in the Free Dwarf List made the Ranger Captain a much more useful Character. That said I will only use a Ranger Captain it really big battles , preferring to use the Herneas the Hunter instead.
Herneas is a Ranger Captain on steroids , he has Ra 3+ , CS(2) and Stealthy in addition to the Ranger Captains stats , he has nerve 12/14 ( Ranger Captain is 11/13) and a Magic Crossbow, The Skewerer, that is piercing 2 normally, but using his "Aimed Shot" special rule the Skewerer becomes Range 30" and Piercing(3) if Herneas has been given an Halt order. His ability to snipe damage on tough units whilst inspiring the Rangers and being quite hard to hit in return is worth the extra 35 points he costs over a basic Ranger Captain and he is an almost auto-include in any Ranger based Free Dwarf Army I field.
When the new Halpi's Rift supplement came out the Free Dwarfs were happy to find that a new incarnation of Banick Kholearm has appeared , gone is his BattleDrill and he has been separated from Craggoth to become the new Flamepriest Character for the Free Dwarfs.
He is a spellcaster with teeth, 6 attacks at Me 4+ with Crushing Strength(2) and Brutal along with Headstrong, Inspiring and Scout. he comes with BaneChant(2) and Fireball(10), the Fireball also inflicts the Shattering rule on its target ( Target tests nerve at -1)
Banick can give a boost in several ways to the Rangers, he can lend a hand in melee with his Brutal rule lending an auto 1 point of "Damage" to any combat outcome over and above whatever his 6 attacks do , the only minor niggle is the lack of Pathfinder which, considering the rest of the Army is so blessed, might lead to him falling over terrain whilst in combat, but being hindered isn't the end of the world for an individual as he will rarely be fighting on his own. His Fireball can add to chip damage along with all the mastiffs and Craggoth and his Scout allows him to keep up with the other elements of the Free Dwarf Ranger Army. His ability to inspire anybody is also very useful for Non Tracker troops that may find themselves attached to the army.
If points allow I try to include a Free Dwarf Packmaster in the make up of the army. This little Chap is a Mastiff Boosting repeating dog chucker.
He provides inspiring to Mastiffs only , has the necessary Pathfinder and Scout to keep up with the Rangers and 3 att at Me 4+ wit CS(1) means he can lend a hand in combat if needed, he also has an Aura which makes Throwing Mastiff Attacks Vicious, but his Piece de resistance is his ability to launch 6 dice of throwing mastiffs every turn and they are Piercing(1) and Vicious , always hitting on a 4+ ! his ability to snipe characters out of cover and inflict damage on war machines etc is quite an irritant and some enemy generals devote a lot more resource to getting rid of a Packmaster than they ought to. Quite a nice option for the Free Dwarf army.
So , time has run out for my Blogging for now , I have been playing games with the Free Dwarfs in Real Life and so pictures and Battle reports are in the process of compilation. Until then keep you Dice Rolls High and your Dwarfs FREE !