I’ve not been very well of late, my dears. I’ve been in and out of hospital for various bouts of surgery, physiotherapy, psychiatry and panicked emergency ‘should that be that colour and is it meant to ooze?’ enquiries, and I’ve been spending the rest of my time either working or running off to World of Warcraft because, between various difficulties and troubles of the flesh, there hasn’t really been much else I CAN do. In the midst of all this I sort of forgot that I had a blog.
Last year, I was thinking about the Chaos Dwarves and whether or not I wanted to play them. I still do, to be honest, it’s just they’re not really an affordable option – unless I opt for the Mantic range, which is quite tempting if some of the things I’ve been hearing about WFB’s future turn out to be true; at least then I could play another, less doomed game with them…
Anyway, ‘thinking about Chaos Dwarves’ involved ‘writing a point by point review of the list, at some length, to work out what I thought its strengths and weaknesses might be’. Since I’m still a little indisposed in terms of playing any Warmahordes (although, if I’m fit and well by the end of January, there’s a tournament report in the offing), I thought I’d share the review with you and keep the blog ticking over in my absence. There’ll be one post a day until the end of the month and then we’ll see how things shake down from there.
Having dragged these shiny nuggets of insight out of the black earth, I’ve had the slaves arrange them for your viewing pleasure, and will be unleashing my thoughts across a series of ten (you heard) posts.
- Introduction (you’re reading it)
- Lore of Hashut
- Magic Items
- Chaos Contingents
- The Legion Alone
The army has a few widespread special rules that we need to cover first.
Resolute: Chaos Dwarves flee and pursue with slightly less vigour than members of the lesser races. Not, I imagine, a huge deal since it should be fairly easy to toss in another unit without this rule.
Relentless: They may be slow, but nobody stops a Chaos Dwarf from marching if he wants to, no matter how close they are.
Contempt: nobody with Contempt takes Panic tests when a unit without Contempt breaks, flees or is wiped out; however, nobody with Contempt can join a unit without it. Basically, you can send your Hobgoblins and K’daai out to die and your Chaos Dwarves and Bull Centaurs won’t care. There’s a clear division between ‘sacrificial’ and ‘valued’ in the Legion’s rules and background; bear this in mind when selecting, deploying and committing troops.
I’m particularly keen on this rule from a background perspective. Alan Bligh’s write-up is crystal clear on the importance of slaves to the Chaos Dwarves; they’re vital, as labour and food and something to victimise, so much so that they are the primary reason the Legion goes to war at all. The Hobgoblins, most numerous and easily-cowed of their minions, occupy a particular niche…
… the Chaos Dwarfs seldom reduce the Hobgoblins to base toil but rather employ them as slave overseers, lackeys and even as troops, providing utterly disposable reinforcements for their own forces, enabling a larger enemy army to be weakened without cost in Chaos Dwarf lives before they themselves move in for the kill.
Basically, I’ll be giving some very dodgy looks to Legion of Azgorh armies which don’t include any disposable Hobgoblins; I’ve seen a few doing the rounds on battle reports and I honestly think their players are missing a trick. We’ll talk about that more in the actual review, though.
Daemonsmith: Chaos Dwarf wizards are a bit complicated. They’re Immune to Psychology (no tactical fleeing!). They get Look Out, Sir! from being within 3″ of a war engine (and note that this is .5″ farther away than the large blast template can reach, so they should be safe from each other’s cock-ups), and in return allow one war engine within 3″ to re-roll either a Scatter or Artillery die once per turn. Finally, they have an odd interaction with Miscasts. If one Miscasts and survives, he takes a Toughness test or loses a wound, but also gains a point of Toughness as he slowly petrifies from the Sorcerer’s Curse; the terrible pact struck with the Chaos Power Hashut, which allows the Chaos Dwarves to work magic, bind daemons, and generally impose their will on Chaos itself without being altered beyond recognition.
This is a) metal as hell and b) my other favourite bit of background. Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers are tragic villains. They’ve made a terrible sacrifice for the sake of survival, and they have become monsters, as have their people: and yet they remain recognisably dwarven. They still hate goblinoids – they just enslave and torture them instead of killing them on sight. They still mistrust Chaos – they just bind it or forge alliances with it rather than attempting to avoid its gaze altogether.
Steam Carriage: Chaos Dwarf war engines can trade mobility (unless towed along by an Iron Daemon) for resilience, gaining hard cover against shooting and defended obstacle status against melee attacks whilst mounted on a steam carriage for a small extra fee. Although the models are quite a bit heftier than war engines of other races, I still think this should be worth the points; you get an improved position from which to draw lines of sight and a significant amount of help against BS-based shooting and interfering lightweight combat units.
Hellbound: Binding a daemon into your war engines makes them a bit tougher (extra T and W), a bit scarier (cause Fear… for what that’s worth these days), and a bit more magical, at the low low price of scoffing d3 crewmen when they Misfire – which they shouldn’t do that often if a magic-user is standing around to keep them in line.
Hobgoblins are burdened by their own version of Animosity: a one in six chance of taking a Panic test for no real reason other than ‘Hobbos are cowards’, and a one in six chance of the unit doing d3 wounds to itself but gaining +1 to Hit. Animosity can be mitigated by parking a Chaos Dwarf or Bull Centaur unit nearby, but honestly, it’s a toss-up as to whether you’d want to. The Panic tests will be annoying but nobody important’s going to care, and I’d gladly trade three Hobgoblin bodies for +1 to hit on the others’ attacks, especially since it includes ranged ones.
Finally, several pieces have a Blazing Body, which inflicts an automatic S4 Flaming hit on any model outside their own unit type, friend or foe, at the start of each close combat phase. A neat twist is that it also makes the pieces slightly harder to wound. Given that some of the Blazing units are the big scary centrepiece models, this is a good thing; anything that helps Large Targets stay alive and deal with swarms of little guys is A-OK with me!