Let us assume that I decide not to spend between one and two hundred quid on upgrading, updating and generally upgunning my Vampire Counts. This is seeming more and more likely as I try to assemble a Vampire Counts list without giving myself a cluster headache (how does it handle high armour, what happens if I lose both Mortis Engines on turn one, wouldn’t it work better if I threw all my models down a well and bought Ghouls instead…), so the question that arises is… what might I do instead?
Bearing in mind that I have learned to love the guns, that while not actively avoiding close combat I’m not really into pursuing it as the primary way of removing enemy models, and that eighth edition magic is not something I particularly trust, and bearing in mind above all else that I love real ale, facial hair and complaining, I’m beginning to see the virtues of the Dwarf.
As I mentioned before, I keep up with battle reports now and then, and Dwarves are one of those factions who don’t seem to get much love in them. You can see why; they have a limited selection of troops (it’s basically infantry and war engines), they’re not especially mobile (although Miners, Rangers and the Gyrocopter have a work-around or two, but still, the essence of the Dwarf is that he stays where he’s put, although where he’s put might be ‘right up the enemy’s chuff’), they don’t do magic in an edition that’s generally held to be all about the DOOOM SPELLLLS and, yes, all right, their book is getting on a bit (early seventh edition, as I recall?).
The thing is, many of these things count as strengths in my book. An army of infantry – not only that, short infantry – would be very easy to store and transport, in fact I could probably fit two Dwarves in one slot and that’s very handy for a fellow who lives or dies by public transport. Flat-out saying NO to eighth edition’s ludicrous magic phase – enduring the Irresistible Force and rune-wrangling the rest – appeals. Not only that, but there’s something about the ‘lay down the Oathstone and stand and move ye not’ attitude that’s starting to resonate with me. It’s a point of principle, dammit. Plus I think someone at the local club is selling them. I just don’t know how keen I am on an army of Viking midgets; on the one hand, that sounds cool, on the other hand, I don’t exactly look at the models and go yeeaaaah or anything.
“If only,” I thought to myself the other morning, “if only there were some way to combine the baroque, gothic majesty that I prefer in aesthetics with the stolid, unyielding presence of the Dwarf. If only… if only…”
Oh. Oh, right.
With the mainstream Citadel range growing dearer by the day, the Forge World prices don’t seem like the calculated insult that they were once upon a time. It’s not that they’ve gotten any cheaper, it’s more a sort of ‘might as well since it’ll be stupidly expenseive anyway‘ kind of affair. And, well, I must admit, these little guys… look… kinda cool. The gossip on the forums indicates that they’re either an absolute atrocity or a rather poor choice, with the latter perspective seeming to emerge from battle reports against armies composed mainly of the Forge World pieces. Such armies featured some ‘overcosted’ core infantry and not much in the way of deployment drops; they tended towards the slow and ponderous; their most potent pieces were often led around by the nose on account of being Frenzied and huge.
I had a quick dekko at the Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos book, and blow me down dead if there wasn’t the perfect antidote to many of these problems in the form of the humble Hobgoblin. The background even goes so far as to baldly state that the Chaos Dwarves live or die by slave labour; it seems to me that a Chaos Dwarf army without any grovelling Hobbos in it is, well, sort of doing it wrong. The Hobgoblins provide cheap Steadfast blocks or Hordes (with affordable bows, too!), fast cavalry and disposable Heroes for chaff clearance; the Chaos Dwarves provide the resilience (via hardy infantry and Stubborn characters) and killing power (via war engines and wizards and perhaps some monstrous pieces). It also occurs to me that the Chaos Dwarf with fireglaive or Hobgoblin with bow and shield is exactly what I want in a Core trooper; a shooting presence with some value in combat should the lines get to close.
There’s also the itchy prospect of The Worst Army Ever. See, Chaos Dwarves can apparently be included as a contingent in a Warriors of Chaos army… the Tamurkhan book is full of Nurgle goodness and I did say I’ve never done Papa Pestilence the dues he deserves (especially since I’m always ill or injured and have a naturally cynical turn of mind; I’m the ideal Nurgle cultist, really!)… and while some of my Chaos Dwarves would have to be Citadel miniatures for the Corehammer barney, there’d be nothing to stop me loading up on Avatars of War ‘Totally Not Chaos Warriors’, and that neat ‘Totally Not A Chaos Dwarf’ hero they do as well…