August 23, 2011

Dwarfs in 8th Edition: Results so far

Just over 12 months ago I posted about how much better Dwarfs would be in 8th Edition (read original post here) After 12 months of gaming under the 8th Edition rule set including one recently completed tournament I have to say I was right Dwarfs are much better, much, much better in fact. So what’s happened so far:

Everyone’s Dead?!?
8th Edition is brutal, incredibly brutal. I've only played a couple of dozen games under 8th rules but in every single one - and in all the ones I have watched - at least one army is completely wiped out and the other nearly so. Whereas you could play a game of 7th and often only have 1-2 units on each side die, in 8th everyone dies. Yes this does mean that my entire army gets wiped out as well, but there are very few instances in which I haven’t done the same to my opponent.

Great Weapons are Gold
The army list I took to Call to Arms/Karak Eight Peaks over the weekend is pretty much my set in stone 2400pt list.

While other Dwarf players filled their list with characters and small units, me I stuck with big blocks of infantry in this case 3 blocks of 30 and one of 20. Why? Because I like close combat, I love throwing dice and because it’s what Dwarfs are supposed to do. But more importantly because it works. Step Up gives me, barring some horrible disaster, 13 attacks every round at S5 or S6 (I field my units 6 wide 5 deep). Against Skaven & Orcs this weekend that was deadly. I would often lose 5-6 guys in each round of combat (T4 being enough to save them most times) while routinely killing twice that number.

Whereas in 7th people loved charging Dwarfs as they could kill our front rank, deny us attacks, and keep doing it round after round till we were dead. In 8th it’s not that simple. Now I found that opponents move away from combat and spend time either trying to set up multiple charges or flanks on my units.

The only exception is when they use the big uber monster or character mount. Then as always Dwarfs are in trouble if the warmachines havent killed the thing first.

The Magic Phase
I was worried about the new spells that came through in 8th, but learned from playing High Elves that magic has not been overpowered. Unlike 7th were it was often used as hammer to bludgeon opponents in 8th IMHO it is more subtle and far more tactical.

For a Dwarf our runic combos also mean it is harder than ever for opponents to use it against us. A Runelord with Master Rune of Balance adds +3 DD to every phase. There are only 3 dice rolls that an opponent can make that will result in him/her getting more PD than a Dwarf has DD. Those rolls are 6/6 = 9 DD for me, 11PD for them; 6/5 = 9 DD for me, 10 PD for them; 5/5 = 8 DD for me and 9 PD for them. In every other instance a Dwarf player running a standard list will have more DD than the enemy has PD.

This weekend at Call to Arms there were only 3 magic phases in which my opponent rolled one of those 3 combos. The only times they were able to score more PD outside of this was through the aid of warp stones and mushrooms. What this meant is every opponent had to risk 6 dice throws to get the IF they needed to avoid my dispelling. End result, in all 5 games I played over the weekend all of my opponents suffered a miscast, some more than one.

Add in 1-2 RO Spellbreaking and a Dwarf General is sitting pretty. But the dreaded 13th spell will still get through on occasions.

Movement & charge rule changes
The rule changes here mean Dwarfs are now a serious threat tactically to any army on the board. The 2D6 charge range means I can even get charges off in Turn 1 with my Rangers, a tactic I used successfully in two games at Karak Eight Peaks. The charge rules also give Dwarfs far more options in terms of how they use their troops and make it extremely difficult for enemy generals to hide vulnerable units. I have noticed a distinct change in how people deploy against Dwarfs now with a greater emphasis on concentration of force, rather than spread out with the intent of enveloping me.

These haven’t changed much but the changes I absolutely love are those to the Cannon and Stone Thrower. No more guess ranges and D6 wounds make the Cannon unbelievably effective - I learnt this weekend that simply placing the initial bounce marker 4" in front of your target pretty much guarantees a hit. Especially when the Rune of Forging is used - which lets face it should be mandatory.

Stone Throwers being able to fire indirect has also been awesome under 8th and the weapon has worked wonders for me

Another nasty trick is that against armies whose infantry are larger than Dwarfs you do not need to station your warmachines out front to shoot them. Not needing to roll on BS to hit they can go behind your shorter infantry and still draw LOS to targets in front over the heads of their own troops. An Organ Gun deployed alongside Dwarf Warriors is useful but vulnerable. Deployed behind where it can still shoot its deadly and nearly untouchable unless the enemy has scouts.

Again these changes force enemy generals to change their game plan against Dwarfs

My 8th Edition Dwarf army list
This is what I took to Call to Arms last weekend. It works and works well, the only change I might make would be to swap the Gyrocopter in for the Stone Thrower but that’s it. This is, as I said earlier, my set in stone list tournament list and I can see myself taking this to every WHFB tournament I attend next year.

w. MR Balance, RO Spellbreaking, RO Resistance, RO Stone, RO Furnace, Shield

w. RO Fire, MR Gromil, RO Resistance, RO Preservation, RO Furnace

Warrior Rangers x30
w. Full Command, GW

Warriors x30
w. Full Command, GW

Quarrellers x16
w. Shields, Musician

Hammerers x30
w. Full Command, RO Battle

Miners x20
w. Full Command

Stone Thrower
w. Engineer, Brace of Pistols, RO Accuracy, RO Penetratingx2

w. Engineer, Brace of Pistols, RO Forging, RO Burning

Organ Gun

TOTAL 2,400 exactly

How the list has changed since 7th
In 7th army list building for Dwarfs was more about denying phases to the enemy and nullifying our inherent weaknesses. Of the four phases - movement, magic, shooting and combat there was only one we could realistically win - shooting. But doing so would leave us vulnerable in the other three. A gunline would work but only until Turn 2 when it would lose in combat. A combat army worked but would have to sacrifice anti-magic and would always be out maneuvured. Strong anti-magic defense was costly meaning your other phases were weak. The only improvements possible to movement - Gyrocopter, Anvil, Miners, Strollaz required you to weaken other phases.

Hence a 7th Ed Dwarf army list was based on compromise, the inability to dominate a phase effectively without losing the others badly, and the need to be:

Anti-magic - RO Spellbreaking, items that granted MR etc
Anti-fear - RO Courage, Dwarf Lord w. Shield bearers, RO Determination
Anti-shooting - MR Grungi, Shields
Anti-movement - More shooting & smaller units to deflect chargers

My standard army was therefore smaller in terms of unit sizes, had 3-4 characters rather than 2, and took more units. Smaller units of Warriors and Quarrellers were needed to deflect and redirect charges. GW were never used, except on Hammerers, because I expected my front ranks to die and I needed to prevent that to have chance of surviving combat. I also had to cater for the ability of 30pt enemy units to capture table quarters. To combat this I need shooting to take them out. I also expected to be charged by Turn 2.

The basic change in my thinking and army building can be summed up like this:

Johns 7th Ed Dwarfs
focused on negation and avoidance. Negate enemy magic, negate their fast cav and small units, and avoid combat until shooting has done damage and hope that I can eek out a draw, or blood the enemy badly enough to get a slight win. Somehow I managed a couple of 20-0 at the odd tournament but largely a 10-10 draw was seen as a victory for a Dwarf.

Johns 8th Ed Dwarfs
Focused on combat first and combat last. Big blcoks of infantry all with GW whose sole intent is to get into combat as fast as possible. Whereas a 10-10 result was the aim in 7th in 8th I want that 20-0 and the rule changes mean I can get it.

Shooting is there but it’s a side issue and only dominates strategy when facing something like a Hell Pit Abomination. Random movement also means I am more aggressive and more willing to commit to battle, and both more able and more willing to seize the initiative e.g., by charging Rangers in the first turn.

Overall 8th Edition is fantastic absolutely love it!!!!!!!!


Pete Dunn said...

Excellent analysis John

John M said...

Thanks Pete

RedCraig said...

> Excellent analysis John

I never seem to have any luck with Stone Throwers, for all the damage the can do. I've had multiple battles where they've (I took 2) failed to hit anything.

> get charges off in Turn 1 with my Rangers
If you deployed scouts using the scout rule (anywhere more than 12" from enemy) then the scouts can't charge if you go first - not even with an anvil afaik. If you don't go first you can charge in your turn 1 though.

I'm looking forward to reading your battle reports John!

John M said...

Thanks Red :)

Tane said...

G'day John,

I think that you might underestimate the importance of shooting though. I'm not advocating a gunline of course; that way lies boredom and defeat, not a great combination.

But given that we have poor movement and no magic, the only way we can easily shape the battle is by shooting. Well, our anti-magic helps by inhibiting enemy moves and attacks, but generally, shooting is what we need to shape the fight. Shooting remains the only real means we have of quickly shifting combat power from one section of the board to the other.

By shaping, I mean setting the conditions for victory at the critical points. Setting an organ gun on a flank, forcing enemy light units to go around or risk destruction, is shaping. Dropping a S5 rock on a unit of Spearelves, and taking them from 35 to 17, is shaping (they won't be Steadfast when they reach combat). Shooting the Hydra before it combo-charges with that Spears unit is shaping. Other armies might use spells to kill, hex or augment, so that when they reach the critical points in the battle, the odds are on their side. Some use their superior movement as well. We have neither, so shooting is what we use to get those shaping effects.

BS-based shooting is of course rather pants in this addition, so shooting for our Dwarves is really about war machines. I strongly recommend that all Dwarf players read Furgil's army lists and battle reports on Bugman's Brewery, they should be compulsory reading. His characters provide anti-magic and leadership, but the units are only two types; big blocks of GW troops and 4+ war machines.

The war machines force the opponent to move towards the Dwarf lines, as 2 cannnons and a Grudge Thrower will easily gain a win if the enemy sits at the back. Once the enemy is moving, they shape them by weakening key units or destroying combat-enhancers like chariots and monsters. Once they're at the Dwarf lines, they face rock-hard Dwarf infantry in horde formation, who will beat almost any other unit in the game one-on-one (Khorne Marauders, Savage Orc Biguns, Bloodletter excepted).

So to finish my long-winded point, shooting is still key for Dwarves. Use it to force the enemy forward (cannon/Grudge Thrower). Use it to deny parts of the board (organ gun). Use it to strip ranks off critical units (Grudge Thrower). Use it to kill monsters, chariots and other combat enhancers (cannons, maybe Grudge Throwers).

And then smack the enemy with a faceful of axe when they arrive at our lines....

John M said...

I do agree with you Tane but I guess its a matter of play style. I've always preferred big blocks of infantry over warmachines. Although, I will be taking 3 as standard (ST, CN, OG) from now on. But to me warmachines have the inherent danger of being static, costly and not always reliable.

Bahadir Hacio─člu said...

you did an awesome job mate. I'm just wondering why did you prefer xbows instead of rifles?

John Murrie said...

Couple of reasons
1) I have a lot of Quarrellers and only a few Thunderers
2) 30" range vs. 24" meant in 7th I got at least one volley of in Turn 1
3) They're cheaper