Chaos Dwarf Infernal Guard
Your basic Infernal Guard is a Dwarf with S4, Blackshard Armour and a shield, and is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. T4 and a 3+ save is pretty good, but he has low Initiative and lacks real killing power with only a single attack. Additional hand weapons are not an option here; what you do have is a great weapon (S6, Always Striking Last, and a slightly lower save in combat), which suggests that the approach to the Infernal Guard is to invest in a small number of quality attacks and rely on your Breath of Hashut to get those attacks hitting reliably, or to keep them cheap and bunkery and rely on a Castellan to throw out more attacks with his magic weapon.
Or, I guess, you could buy them guns. Two are available. The Fireglaive is an under-ranged handgun with a built-in halberd, and while it edges their point cost up to Chaos Warrior levels, it doesn’t look bad. S5 at I2 is a reasonable compromise in terms of the Guards’ attacks and the gun, while suffering a little from the ‘two short stumpy legs’ mode-of-delivery issue, should still get a few good turns of shooting off during a game. I’m not suggesting a huge block of them, but a unit of twelve or so with fireglaives doesn’t seem like it’d be a complete waste of time.
The Hailshot Blunderbuss, on the other hand, reeks of ‘big unit’ to me. On its own it’s unspectacular; 12″ range, mediocre S, Armour Piercing and Multiple Shots (with no penalties applying); a ‘throw mud at a wall’ piece which, unlike the fireglaive, is not a move-or-fire weapon. It’s in numbers, though, that the blunderbuss would appear to excel. Ten of them firing at once ignore the penalties for firing at long range or declaring a Stand and Shoot reaction, and given that they’ll probably be firing at long range or declaring a Stand and Shoot reaction if they’re firing at all, that’s pretty good. Even moving and shooting becomes an option; you’ll be hitting on 5s with between ten and thirty shots. If twenty of them happen to be firing at once, they also re-roll their To Wound rolls, helping to offset that naff Strength. Now, I instinctively think that guaranteeing the ten-man perk is going to involve fielding a unit of fifteen to twenty; guaranteeing the twenty-man perk a unit of thirty. You’ll be wanting to sustain some losses (and you will, with that crappy range) before you open up for a round of shooting on your turn and a round on theirs if they decide to charge.
You’d think that this was a transparent attempt to sell units of 30 Infernal Guard with blunderbusses, but… Warhammer Forge doesn’t make those. What the shit, guys? Who dropped their brain and decided to just give money to Mantic? No great weapons are visible either, and I can’t fathom why that’s a thing that happens. The Infernal Guard models already have a pose that works for holding things in two hands because fireglaives (or at least, they have a pose which looks slightly gawky holding anything because the same models are wielding sword and board or two-handed firearm), so you’d think that a weapon kit at least might have… oh, I dunno. Maybe it’s deliberate; making the legacy gun for people who still own metal models good as a reward for sticking by the army for all these years.
Anyway, one unit of Infernal Guard can also have a magic standard of up to 50 points, and the obvious contender for my money is the Banner of Swiftness on a unit that wants to reach melee or maybe the Razor Standard to get a bit more mileage out of their limited number of attacks. The cost of the Chaos Dwarf suggests to me that units of about fifteen are probably the best call; big enough to take a few casualties and still have two fighting/shooting ranks, not so big that they become a giant M3 point sink that frankly isn’t sufficiently survivable to warrant the expense. An honourable exception would be granted to hailshot units, who have a solid reason to go bigger – two or three absolutely deadly and fairly accurate rounds of shooting from a Horde of them, with a potential sixty S3 shots, hitting on 4s or 5s, with a re-roll to wound, each and every time. And every single one could fight in melee.
The other reason to go small on your Chaos Dwarf units is that these little fellas exist. Warhammer Forge evidently didn’t feel like trying their luck with making models, perhaps suspecting that nobody would buy that many forty-man units off them.
The Hobgoblin is not a spectacular warrior – a Human who’s been docked a point of S and I – but he is dirt cheap and he does come with throwing knives built in, so even a melee block will be Standing and Shooting if charged. Additional hand weapons and shields appear as cheap options with bows – not shortbows, bows – as slightly pricier. They also like to stab people in the back. If ten of them break an enemy in combat, they get d6 extra attacks per ten Hobgoblins on the enemy before they flee. But how likely is it that Hobgoblins will break the enemy in combat?
Honestly? They’re so cheap that a Horde of forty with additional hand weapons is only a couple of hundred points, and that’s forty S3 attacks. Given their easy access to Hatred that’s not a bad prospect, but I think there are smarter ways to use them. That same unit of forty could have shields and deploy 5×8 – they’d be Steadfast, they’d probably break the enemy’s Steadfast, and they’d rely on pretty much anything else in the army to actually do the business of killing things. Alternatively, there’s the bow option; only another twenty points and that Horde is throwing a lot of S3 shooting downfield.
Alternatively alternatively, there’s the option of disposable deployment drops. The minimum-sized unit is twenty and that’s 100 points with bows or command group, or 120 with both. A few of those seeded through the army are cheap and shitty enough that you probably won’t care if they end up out of place, totally disposable in that they don’t cause Panic tests in anything you care about, and if they have bows they have the option of chucking a few arrows around and seeing if any of them land.
I don’t think they’re going to be worrying any real combat infantry – Beastmen will laugh at them, and even Empire line infantry will strike before them – so my instinct is to use them for Steadfast or total throwaway purposes rather than expecting them to do anything useful. They will behave themselves, as far as Animosity is concerned, if there’s a Chaos Dwarf unit within six inches, so it should be possible to keep them in line and reliable with some smart deployment.
And that’s it for Core; you have an expensive unit without significant volume of attacks unless they’re made hugely expensive (Infernal Guard), and a cheap unit that screams ‘throw us down and let us die’, having lots of attacks but probably not much to achieve with them unless a Lammasu is around to Mindrazor them or something. I feel like it should be important to use both; I think it may be plausible to not actually field Infernal Guard unless you happen to like their gun options.