If I do take leave of my senses and make Chaos Dwarves (with a V) the Project for 2014-15, one major obstacle immediately rears its head; the Warhammer Forge Chaos Dwarves are cockin’ expensive, and I am not very wealthy. Even with my deep-seated belief that the humble Hobgoblin is the piece that should be fielded in large numbers within that army, the fact is that there are going to be some Chaos Dwarves to be bought at some stage and they don’t really come cheap anywhere.
I’ve been having a flick through the army list and a poke around Garganthar‘s archive on the topic. I’ve also been having a think about what I want to do with this project (play in Corehammer’s 500 point bash; have a WFB army that doesn’t vex me with ten years of accumulated baggage, issues and assumptions) and the limitations that impose (the first 500 points have to be Citadel or Warhammer Forge products or Warhammer World won’t let me in; the army has to be the sort of thing I can realistically paint, so no rushing out and buying 2500 points in one go). I’ve also been framing my ideas about what is and isn’t ‘too expensive’ in the context of WFB.
I’m generally willing to pay £30-odd for a unit of ten to twelve dudes in Warmachine because that unit will constitute a decent-sized chunk of army, around 25% at the game sizes I usually play. The ‘depending on game size’ is much more of a factor with WFB. Those twelve dudes might be around 40% of a 500 point army, but will they amount to a hill of beans in a 2400 point game? At that stage the same twelve dudes might account for under 10% of the available points, and that’s assuming they’re even viable as a twelve-man unit; they might need more bodies in order to make any contribution at all.
Putting it another way, let’s say I bought ten Bane Thralls and the Unit Attachment – £53.02 including Dark Sphere discount. That’s an eleven point unit, which would be 40%-ish my army at 25 points, 33%-or-so of my army at 35 points and 20%-and-a-bit at 50. A unit of Chaos Dwarves from Warhammer Forge, meanwhile, costs… £53.50 for the ten dudes and the command group, which also provides a nice chunky Hero if I don’t use that model as a Champion.
There’s a bit more wiggle room here as those models could be Core (Infernal Guard) or Special (Infernal Ironsworn) and could have an expensive upgrade like Fireglaives. At the absolute least they account for 286 points; an Infernal Castellan with a pistol, plus twelve Infernal Guard with hand weapons, shields and full command. At the absolute most the purchase could potentially constitute 466 points; an Infernal Castellan with all the magic items he can carry, plus either twelve Infernal Guard with Fireglaives or twelve Infernal Ironsworn, either option having full command and a magic standard.
Now, the point is, that is at the least half of my 500 point army for fifty quid. That is, I feel, comparable to the Bane Thralls in a similarly small game of Warmachine. I’m pretty sure one unit of twelve Fireglaives would be worth a stab beyond 500 points, although I question the value of 12 Ironsworn beyond about 1000. Another £37 box would bulk the unit out to 22 plus the Castellan. That’s… £90 for 586 points before the magic standard. 586 points. About a quarter of a 2400 point army.
This is where we start asking questions like “is a unit of 23 Chaos Dwarves the best use of those points?” (I think possibly yes, if they have the Fireglaives, possibly not if they’re Ironsworn who are a bit slow and not that killy) and “can we build an equivalent unit for less?”
Mantic are always an option; £19.99 for twenty footsloggers with great weapons or shields (Infernal Guard or, given the level of fidldy details, maybe Ironsworn), £17.99 for ten with blunderbusses or heavier armour (so that’s Infernal Guard with Hailshot blunderbusses, or definitely-Ironsworn). If I wanted big blocks of Infernal infantry they’re probably the better buy; I’m definitely considering Mantic for Hobgoblins given how cheap their Goblin figures are. Mantic also offer cheap war engines which match their infantry, without the huge Iron Daemon carriages (there’s no Magma Cannon equivalent, but I have a theory about Mantic’s Dwarf flame cannon and a Citadel Chaos Vehicle sprue): but there’s nothing in the range that really looks Fireglaivey…
Thanks to Garganthar I know Scibor make Chaos Dwarf models, under the guise of ‘Moscals’. Russian Dwarves. Really characterful. Mutant snails. Long rifles. Whoa. They come in a slightly annoying configuration – packs of six dudes with separate command – which amounts to £52.83 for fourteen including a command group. That’d be either dudes with long rifles or dudes with hand weapons and shields. It’s a comparable outlay to the Forge World unit; no hero, slightly more dudesmen, but I’m sure I’d be picking up one of those sexy heroes while I was there.
When I discussed this project with Lexington, he mentioned The Russian Alternative as a possibility. These guys are very reminiscent of the old Citadel Chaos Dwarves, all snaggle-teeth and stupid hats (even more so than the Mantic ones), and priced competitively with the spendier end of the Mantic range; £19.52 for 10 with either hand weapon/shield or actual fireglaives, although – rather annoyingly – they don’t include a command group, which lack pushes them up into £35 for 13. Still cheaper than Warhammer Forge though.
The upshot of all this is that there’s nothing obliging me to buy/build/paint more than one small unit of Warhammer Forge Chaos Dwarves, who would probably end up being a small unit of Ironsworn (their all-enclosing armour recommends them as ‘the tough ones’ to me). I do think Fireglaives would be the better choice for a small unit, but the Warhammer Forge Fireglaivers are doing that weird ‘holding your weapon at arms’ length’ thing that happens when a pose has to work for two melee weapons and one gun or crossbow. Trust me, I know that one when I see it; half my Skeletons are in the same gimpy stance.
Any other Chaos Dwarf units can be bought at either a slightly favourable (Scibor, at 14 models rather than 12 for the same price) or significantly cheaper (Mantic and the Russian Alternative) price. Now, the army might end up looking a right old shambles if it had something from each and every one of these different ranges in it, and there’s something about the Chaos Dwarves that suggests a certain uniformity. One could argue that they’d been drawn from different strongholds all over the Empire, but I still think it’d look bitty and unsatisfying.
For visual coherency and budget, Mantic wins hands-down, as you’d expect, and there’s a strong case for just going full-Mantic for everything that fits. The Scibor ones look ace but aren’t really better value than Warhammer Forge (£75 for 20 vs £90 for 23 including a hero). The Russian Alternative are pretty neat and not much more pricey than Mantic, but they don’t have a corresponding war engine range (like Warhammer Forge or Mantic) or a cannon crew to use with scratchbuilds (like Scibor) which kind of locks them out on the visual coherency count.
I guess what it comes down to is what I actually want in the army. If I want 3o or 40 strong blocks of Chaos Dwarf infantry, it pretty much has to be Mantic, despite me finding their models a bit… uninspiring. If I only want the two units – one of 12 Ironsworn (Warhammer Forge) and one of 20 Ironguard with either blunderbusses or fireglaives (Scibor) – that might be justifiable – especially since using Scibor models lets me use the cheaper-than-Warhammer-Forge ‘Bull Taurus’ equivalent, plus Scibor crew on scratchbuilt war engines. I did once have this idea for a Hellcannon made out of spice jars, jam lids, bottle caps and Chaos Marauder shields…
Yeah. Scibor models are a slight saving on Warhammer Forge for 20-man units, they unlock a chance to cut down the budget on the big monster and the war engines… and then I just need to chuck in some Mantic ‘Hob’ Goblins. This could really work.