Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Army Update: Dwarfs

So, one of the first posts I made here, about a year and a half ago, was about getting my Dwarfs ready for a small tournament. Since then, I've done a lot of terrain posts, a few battle reports, had about three posts with no content at all, and used Valten in more photos than he's really worth. So I figured I'd revisit the Dwarfs, since the launch of 8th edition spurred on quite a bit of painting.

The first time the Dwarfs appeared on the site, they looked like this:
Now, that was hardly all I owned at the time (I had a couple thousand points back then, too!), but that was about all that I had done, apart from a Grudge Thrower and a couple of heroes. Here's what the force looks like now:
It's a little harder to get the whole thing in a decent picture now... Time to pull out a few highlights, I think.

The core of any Dwarf army build of mine is the war machines. Depending on the role they're called upon to perform, there's nearly always a combination of weapons and runes to get the job done in an impressively explosive manner.
The War Machines
The Grudge Thrower dates back to the Hobbytown days, before I even had a Dwarf army, and the Cannon from my first post on the Dwarfs is joined by another. Relatively new to the party are the Organ Gun, and the Bolt Thrower. There's some interesting stuff going on with the paint schemes, since there's about a five year window between when the Grudge Thrower was painted, and finishing the Bolt Thrower. The Grudge Thrower is very bright and shiny, going way back to my older painting, though the crew has some detail from my first flirtations with strong use of inks. The Cannons and Bolt Thrower are much more modern in terms of my paint style, with heavy use of washes and a more utilitarian look. The Organ Gun occupies a funny middle ground- while it's painted using the same techniques as the other newer guns, it's painted with the bright, bluish silver tones that I used on my Ironbreakers. More on them later.

Core Units
With the change in the army construction rules in 8th Edition, there is more of a focus on Core units than ever. (Gee, maybe that's why they call them that? I should ask about that...) Points-based requirements mean that a lot of my army lists are fielding more Core than I'm used to, and that means that I had to expand my basic unit selection. Not a lot, mind you, as Dwarfs are still pretty pricey models. The half-finished Warriors from the first post are still the first choice, though now they look a bit better.
Backing them up are two units of Thunderers. Shooting unit choice in the Dwarf book is interesting- everything is Move or Fire, and the Quarrelers trade off a +1 to hit for 6" of extra range. I have never managed to get them to work for me, but they may get a second look now that the rules allow for shooters to fire in two ranks. In the meantime, the Thunderers have quite a few kills to their tally.
The final Core unit is the Longbeards. Modelled with Great Weapons and shields slung over their backs, they are one of the most expensive units in the army, but they repay it in versatility, striking power, and support for nearby units through the Old Grumblers rule. Built before the lovely metal Longbeards were rereleased, they're built from the Warrior kit, with metal facemasks and quite a bit more gold detailing to differentiate them (not to mention their much paler beards).
Special Choices
The Special units are really where the Dwarf army book comes into its own. Containing most of the war machines (with the exception of the Gyrocopter, Organ Gun, and Flame Cannon), it also has several of the most deadly (and coolest looking) Dwarf infantry units. In Ye Olde Days of 7th Edition, it was a careful balancing act to get all the different army roles filled, as there are several very different units in the Special section. Now that army construction is percentage based, with up to half of the total army points spent on Special units, there is much more room to expand and use a variety of different units in concert.
The Ironbreakers are probably my favorite Dwarf unit. While not always the highest performing on the table, the concept of Gromril-armored dwarfs that specialize in clearing infested tunnels is a pretty cool one. Here's hoping that in the next army book, the Dwarfs get something similar to the Vault Wardens from Lord of the Rings. The Ironbreakers were originally going to be painted in P3 Platinum in order to get a very different finish to their Gromril armor. After painting my Grey Knights, however, I ended up changing my mind, and going for the blued, polished steel look. It sets them apart from the rest of the force, without going too far off the mark.
Hammerers just might be the best unit in the Dwarf book. Damn near uncrackable when a Lord is joined to the unit, and brutally powerful in close combat, they know how to get the job done. Funnily enough, though, they're the most recent addition to my army. As older metal models, a full unit is damned expensive. Big ups to the Joes for a superlative birthday gift. They're painted in the same way as the Longbeards- similar colors to the Warriors, with extra gold trim, and a unique beard color for the Champion. I would like to go back and dress up the standard at some point, though- compared to the newer ancestor pole bitz in the plastic kits, it just looks a little dull.
You've already seen these guys, there's not a lot to say other than that no matter how many times they get shot full of arrows crossing the battlefield, they keep finding their way into my army lists. It's hard to say no to that kind of daft enthusiasm.
The Heroes
And finally, the leaders, the shouting gits that get the Dwarfs to run willy-nilly at much taller and angrier opponents (Except the Slayers, there's nobody as angry as they are). The bloke with the white beard and the grouchy look on his face is actually the model that made me want to start the army- released at the same time as the army book in the waning days of 6th Edition, I was unpacking an order at Hobbytown, pulled him out, and thought "Well @*&#, now I'm going to have to start a Dwarf army." There are very, very few models I've ever seen that get across the character of a race as effectively as he does. Joining him are the Lord on Oathstone, a model which I like quite a bit, but haven't been able to quite talk myself into using as my general, the Battle Standard Bearer, the Runesmith, the Skull Pass Dragon Slayer (who also occasionally does time as a Giant Slayer in the Slayer Regiment), and an Engineer. Previously, the Master Engineer was a foolish waste of a character slot, so he was just occasionally a regular Engineer serving with the Bolt Thrower crew. With the low cost of Dwarf Lords and the new rules, I've been tinkering more and more with running my Runesmith as a Runelord instead, and using the freed up points in the Heroes allotment for the Master Engineer. Now that heroes cannot join war machine units, his rules have changed, allowing him to hover in a cluster of war machines, choosing from turn to turn which of the machines he's going to aid. It's always fun to see a model get new use like that.

I really need to spend an afternoon getting static grass on all the new units, I keep putting that off. Next up in the queue is the Anvil of Doom, and I'd like to add another rank or two to the Ironbreakers. A Gyrocopter might be a good idea too, the flying machine and the Flame Cannon are the only Dwarf units I've never actually tried out. With the way the Dwarfs have been doing in 8th Edition so far, I'm seriously considering a unit or two of Warriors with Great Weapons, or using the special rules from the Lord to allow for a second unit of Longbeards. Somehow, no matter how many points get finished up, there always seems to be just a little more to add...

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