The Gathering of the Clans Part Deux
With the long anticipated and eagerly awaited arrival of the updates for Clash of Kings 24 having finally landed for the subscribers of the Mantic Companion, The Trolls can now start to plan their 2024 season armies in earnest. The free Dwarfs have had several exciting developments that were touched upon in my previous Blogpost as my Reader no doubt remembers, now that the hard facts have been made available for Trollish perusal the selection of players for the coming season has begun.
As I have previously stated the Free Dwarfs of the Raven Clan have moved away from the reliance on massed Brock Riders (I did come up with a really moving fluff piece about how the Dwarfs had to endure the slow freezing of their beloved badgers on the long trek North to reclaim their hold, how the freezing temperatures caused the mighty Brocks to slowly fade away over a period of time , resulting in the Berserkers being forced to watch their faithful mounts suffer , dwindle and perish before their eyes. But I decided that my Reader wasn’t ready for the emotional trauma of this terribly tragic mental image, also it would leave me with a ton of dismounted berserkers to repurpose so I discarded this idea and decided to go with “not many Brock Riders joined the Exodus North” ) The initial starting number for this force is a Regiment and two Troops although this may change with playtesting.
I have found that a regiment and a troop work well together in conjunction with Sveri Egilax, who has also retained a slot in the Army – I can’t really justify a Free Dwarf army without him at the moment – and his combination of inspiring, Nimble and height 4 coupled with his 10 attacks and Aura of Wild charge(1) makes him an absolute powerhouse for a Brock battlegroup and he has proved his worth over many years and he occupies a special place in my heart. The additional Troop in this army is a utility piece, a Troop of brocks makes great chaff and can also be used as a high speed board control or objective grabber – especially now that they gain Pathfinder for free and with the addition of a 10 point Artifact – Skirmishers Boots - they become a Nimble Troop with Fearless 15 nerve , 13 attacks on 4+ and Thunderous Charge(1) in most first charge situations. This troop can also be used as a Chaff piece or support for the new StoneClaw Riders !
Stoneclaw Riders , ever since the Northern Alliance received their Frostclaw Riders and Ronnie mentioned on a Video that they would be available to the Free Dwarfs as well, I have acquired and painted a Regiment and character for use in this Army and now they can take their place in the battle formation. I have used integrated flyers before when I took Aeronaut Allies to the Clash of Kings in 2021 ( coincidentally coming higher that ever before !) and the idea of having a hard hitting back line really appeals, however the StoneClaws look more like they will be useful as a part of the mobile section of the Army. Utilising their big move , Nimble , fly AND Pathfinder to get into useful positions from which to threaten flanks and set up Countercharges for positions. They can also have secondary roles as Chaff clearers ( with their Grenades, these are Range 12” hit on a 4+ with Blast(D3) piercing(1) and Shattering, which could make them very effective against low nerve chaff units or they can even lend their weight to the shooting against a Mastiff targeted unit in order to increase the odds of destruction) and even war machine Hunters ( with a combination of grenades and good melee stats) and I can see them being very good utility pieces for the Raven Clan in the coming Months. They have Melee 3+ and Thunderous Charge (2) which is protected by their Pathfinder ability to enable them to attack targets and get into positions that non Pathfinder flyers cannot. The StoneClaw Champion is a very useful character , he has 5 Attacks at Melee 3+ and Thunderous(2) and Pathfinder and so he can be quite devastating in a flank or rear of a combat and with move 10, Fly and Nimble he has the tools to get there , he also has a Shattering Missile attack and so can help with the initial removal of chaff pieces by lobbing a few grenades here and there and he has, initially at least, supplanted the Famous “Wingy Kingy” in my list , although whether or not WK has a complete season on the bench will remain to be seen.
The main bulk of this test list will be made up of a new departure for me, Ironclads, I have so far resisited taking these guys as they are, in my opinion, the least Free Dwarfish troops in the list , they have nothing at all that makes them different to the Ironclads in the Army of the Fake King Golloch. That being said they now have the Ordered March rule and are cheap as chips, The current list contains a Horde and two Regiments of Ironclads, all kitted out with Mastiffs, although this may change to 4 Regiments or maybe even 2 Hordes depending on what the playtesting of the army shows to work the most efficiently. The other reason I have decided to take these guys is purely aesthetic, I painted two Regiments of Northern Alliance Dwarf clansmen and I liked them sooooo much I decided to make them the basis for, yet another, Free Dwarf Army – the army of the Raven clan – this army under discussion now.
The inclusion of a Free Dwarf Army standard Bearer with his Rally(1) and a lute of insatiable Darkness plus his new Very Inspiring makes the Ironclad battle line a viable prospect, especially with their ability to move 8” and pivot meaning they are a lot more manoeuvrable than they were previously which fits in with the mobile ethos of the Raven Clan.
The Main Battle line will be protected by the ubiquitous Mastiff Hunting Packs with Throwing Mastiff upgrade. I habitually run 2 to 4 of these guys in every Free Dwarf army and the Raven Clan have been blessed with the arrival of enough of the lovely new Mantic 3D printed Mastiffs to equip 5 Regiments complete with Ironclad Handlers. These boys need no introduction as to their utility, they are height 1 so Dogs can be thrown over them, they have 6” move so can quickly get into a good throwing position for their own Doggy Missiles and their Nerve of 11/13 can make them deceptively resilient and many an opponent has underestimated them and at 80 points a unit they are cheap and disposable. Never can the effect of massed Mastiffs be ignored – especially if a few sneaky Fireballs or Grenades can add a couple of points of damage and Shattering to the mix.
Speaking of Fireballs, both of the remaining two units in the list can chuck out a plethora of Shattering fireballs between them, which is ironic as they are both the same Character. The first of these in the Greater Earth Elemental with Craggoth and Kholearm upgrade. The reason for his inclusion in the Army is twofold – with his Def6 and Scout ability he can move up and grab a terrain advantage early on , His self inspiring means he can do this unsupported (mostly) and his Nerve -/19 means he can hang around for a while, although I have no Surge in the Army his charge reach of 6” and square base couple with height 6 make him more than averagely mobile and his Fireball ability (supposed to represent the presence of Banick Kholearm) give him a bit of an opportunity for chaff removal – this can be added to the overall firepower of the mastiffs and StoneClaws to make this army surprisingly shooty.
The Last Unit in the Raven Clan Army is Banick Kholearm, this tough little Character adds a fair bit of punch to a Free Dwarf Army with his selection of Special rules. Although he is a Spellcaster with Fireball(10) and Banechant(2) he has 6 attacks ( all be it on 4+) and Crushing Strength(2) with Brutal, he is also Def 5. He has Scout and Pathfinder, is inspiring and has taken many an opponent by surprise with his abilities. All in all Banick is an outstanding support piece for the Free Dwarf army, which is probably why I have him in there twice!
With all this in mind the overall idea for the Army is of a main battle line of Mastiff Regiments and Ironclads supported by the Free Dwarf Army Standard Bearer and aided by Craggoth and perhaps Banick – perhaps anchoring a flank or occupying an advance piece of terrain. The Brock Riders Battlegroup will be used as the main striking force for threat projection , ably supported by the Stoneclaws and the Stoneclaw Champion and maybe by Banick Scouting up into position and providing Banechant and Fireball support or even tipping the balance of a combat with his Brutal bonus as he has done for me on many occasions. Overall the Army is an evolution of the Free Dwarf armies I have used over the past three Years or so with varying levels of success from Wooden Spoons to top Podium places and all levels in between. So the Free Dwarfs of the Raven Clan have a good pedigree and they should be able to take Free Dwarfery to the Next level !