Chaos Dwarf Tactics

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The Chaos Dwarfs have a reputation as a powerful army, and with good reason. In addition to many of the admirable traits they share with Dwarf armies, such as high Weapon Skill, Toughness, heavy armor, and excellent war machines they are blessed with cheap Greenskins, fast and heavy cavalry, and sorcery. Unfortunately, that comes at a price - the Dwarf slowness and lack of maneuverability, the Greenskin penchant for animosity, and high point costs for many units.

Adding to these general difficulties are the relative scarcity of Chaos Dwarf models, which often limits the choices available to a general when filling out their force. Some generals get around this by modifying Blood Bowl or models of other races (including Dwarf and Chaos models). Others simply rely on what they have and do the best they can.

Before going any further, check out the Chaos Dwarf Resources for the latest rules for building and playing Chaos Dwarf armies in Warhammer Fantasy 7th Edition. This page only discusses the last canon rules and rulings for Chaos Dwarfs published by Games Workshop, the Ravening Hordes rules, using the 7th edition Orcs & Goblins book for the Greenskin units. For the purposes of these rules, it is assumed that Chaos Dwarfs do not receive an additional 2 dispel dice for being a "Dwarf Army" and Hates Dwarfs is assumed to apply equally to Dwarf and Chaos Dwarf models.

Contents

[edit] Tactics by Unit

The first step for any general is picking their army. Each of the Chaos Dwarf units has particular strengths and advantages, and this list addresses those and how to best utilize or compensate for them.

[edit] Core Units

Every Chaos Dwarf army must have a minimum number of core units. Since Hobgoblins do not count towards this minimum, this means that every Chaos Dwarf army must have at least two units of Chaos Dwarf Warriors.

[edit] Chaos Dwarf Warriors

By themselves, Chaos Dwarf warriors are sturdy, reliable infantry with heavy armour, free shields, and Leadership of 9. Unfortunately, they're also rather expensive at 9 points per model, 11 if you choose to give them Great Axes, 12 if you choose to give them blunderbusses. Given that you must include a minimum number of these units, you'll often see at least ten percent of your points tied up in Chaos Dwarf Warriors.

Besides point cost, Chaos Dwarf Warriors are unfortunately slow, meaning they are likely to get outmaneuvered by fast cavalry, or even faster infantry. The best way to avoid this is to either cover your Chaos Dwarf Warrior units flanks with disposable Greenskins or a solid "anchor" unit unlikely to break, or to string them out in a long line, forcing the enemy to go further out of their way to flank you. On the plus side, Chaos Dwarf Warriors ignore panicking Greenskins: there's nothing to stop you from screening your Chaos Dwarf Troops with a unit of cheap Goblins in order to protect them.

In general with Chaos Dwarf Warriors, there are two schools of thought: either you take the bare minimum you need to get by, or you take as many as you can and field large blocks of these infantry or shooty types. By taking only the minimum, you can spend your points on larger units of more powerful troops like Bull Centaurs, or masses of Greenskins, or even powerful Lords and Heroes.

[edit] Command

Chaos Dwarf Warriors have a sufficiently high toughness that a full command is rarely necessary. However, since you're already sinking so many points into them, you might consider a Standard Bearer at least, and possibly a Champion if you aren't letting a Hero or Lord lead the unit. Standard Bearers in Chaos Dwarf Warrior units can bear one of the Chaos Dwarfs' magic banners.

[edit] Blunderbusses

The blunderbuss is the characteristic ranged weapon of the Chaos Dwarfs, and a favorite for many players. The ability of Chaos Dwarf Warriors armed with blunderbusses to move and shoot in the same turn gives these troops a bit of an advantage in an otherwise less-than-maneuverable army. Keep in mind that the Chaos Dwarf blunderbuss' "fire zone" is twelve inches directly in front of the unit-perfect for taking on massed infantry if you can get them head-on.

Few players field Chaos Dwarf blunderbusses with more than three ranks of four, as three is the magic number that grants the blunderbusses S5 hits when firing. Many generals prefer to field long lines of Dwarf Blunderbusses two ranks deep, the better to protect their flanks, but beware of the possibility of a heavy units charging into such lines, as the lack of ranks will quickly show.

If you're playing with small buildings on the field, be aware of the errata concerning Chaos Dwarf blunderbuss units occupying such structures. Basically, a unit of ten Chaos Dwarf blunderbusses (the smallest allowed) gains the most advantage from a two-story building - few buildings are higher than this outside of siege games.

[edit] Great Axes

Great weapons add to the strength of Chaos Dwarf Warrior attacks, but at the expense of their shields. This works fine for when the troops are up against lightly-armored opponents who can't get through the Chaos Dwarf Warriors' heavy armor, but the "can openers" don't work as well against tough opponents like Dwarfs. In practice, if you do choose to take Chaos Dwarf Warriors armed with Great Axes, send them against low-armored opponents or other units with Great Weapons, where they'll at least be on even keel.

[edit] Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins are everything you could ask for in a Greenskin: cheap and adaptable. At 2 points a unit, you could field five full units for the price of a Lammasu. On the other hand, they also have to test for Animosity (p.16, Orcs and Goblins), the bane of all Greenskin armies. It is feasible to give Hobgoblins bows (at +3 points per), but with the point cost you probably won't also want to give them any additional armour. If you're short on Hobgoblin models, consider beefing up the ones you have with light armour (+1) and shields (+1) to make up the points difference.

In practice, the Hobgoblins are the swarm troops of the Chaos Dwarf army. For most of the game, if your dice are lucky, they do what you want and go where you want, presenting large blocks of cheap troops for you to move around the battlefield, either to tie units up or threaten their flanks. Beware of the dreaded Hobgoblin cascade, where one panicking unit of Hobgoblins puts the rest of them to flight; you can generally avoid this by making sure Hobgoblin units aren't too close to one another-and you especially don't want a Hobgoblin unit directly behind another one. Fortunately, Orcs, Goblins, and even Gnoblars ignore panicking Hobgoblins, which means the rest of your army should be safe should a cascade begin.

[edit] Command

For the cost, most Hobgoblin and Hobgoblin Wolfboyz units don't bother with a full command - why pay 30 points for a command on a unit of Hobgoblins that typically costs 80 points or less? A Standard Bearer is most beneficial if you're using your Hobgoblins to simply outnumber your foe - a Musician looks good on the surface, but even a +1 to Rally isn't going to do much with a base Leadership of 6. Invest in a Banner of Slavery instead.

[edit] Hobgoblin Wolf Riders/Wolfboyz

A Hobgoblin mounted on a wolf is fast cavalry, and one of the best weapons in a Chaos Dwarf general's arsenal. By themselves the Hobgoblin Wolf Riders (sometimes called Wolfboyz) aren't going to do much harrying of your enemy, even if armed with bows. No, their real advantage is in protecting the Chaos Dwarf army's flanks and threatening flanks on other units; they can also be used to pick off select targets as they become separated from the enemy's main army, or to draw out Night Goblin Fanatics and other surprises. Whatever you do, try to avoid a situation where your Hobgoblin cavalry is stuck in, or even going up against medium or heavy cavalry-better to run away and circle around to stab 'em in the back another turn!

Given the difficulty of getting ahold of these models, many players resort to using Oglah Khan's Wolfboyz.

[edit] Special Units

Chaos Dwarf generals have an advantage with special units because they can select several units from the Orcs and Goblins unit list. In many cases, the only problem is to decide what to pick and what to paint! For their points value, however, the units unique to the Chaos Dwarf army are often considered a better pick. Still, beggars can't always be choosers.

[edit] Black Orcs

Black Orcs are highly thematically appropriate for any Chaos Dwarf army, and not bad troops - but not great either. Their leadership is second only to your Chaos Dwarf units, and they don't panic if your other Greenskins break. They're good all-around troops, but still pricey at 13 points per model (14 points with shields), and you can only have one unit of them. The Armed to da Teef special rule is very handy, however - they're very adaptable in armament, able to use either Great Weapons, two Choppas, or a Choppa and a Shield (if you spring for it) during any particular combat.

[edit] Command

There's no real reason not to buy a full command for a unit of Black Orcs; a Musician and Standard Bearer are cheaper than you'd pay in a unit of Chaos Dwarfs. The Black Orc Boss is almost equivalent to a cheap Hero in terms of stats, however, and should be considered. A Black Orc Standard Bearer can take a Magic Banner - one of only two special choices in the Chaos Dwarf army that can do so.

[edit] Death Rocket

The Death Rocket is a staple of classic Chaos Dwarf armies. A minor benefit with the Death Rocket is it's possibility of shooting off in a random direction when it hits and Misfires: if you're lucky, you can still hit something! The basic rule with Death Rockets, as with most artillery, is to point it away from your own troops.

[edit] Goblins

Goblins cost a bit more than Hobgoblins and have to be taken in bigger blocks. They Fear Elves, which just isn't good for business. On the other hand, they're cheaper archers than Hobgoblins (4 points for a gobbo with a short bow). If you want to field a large number of Hobgoblin Wolfboyz but still need the extra shooty units, you could do worse than Goblins. Standard animosity applies, of course.

[edit] Command

Goblin Bosses bite, but the gobbo command groups are incredibly cheap (20 points) compared to Hobgoblins (30 points) - and you'll probably need all the bonuses you can get just to keep these boyz in the field.

[edit] Hobgoblin Bolt Thrower

Your cheapest war machine by far, you can take up to two Hobgoblin Bolt Throwers for a special choice - that's up to six bolt throwers for an army under 2,000 points! Other than that, basic artillery tactics apply: set up for your best line of sight, and try to keep it clear. Given that the Hobgoblin crew are likely to break, consider keeping your Lord or Banner of Slavery nearby so that they don't run off at the first flying character dropping out of the sky to take out your artillery.

[edit] Orc Boyz

Orcs are bigger and tougher than Hobgoblins, making them elite troops as far as your core Greenskins are concerned. Their entire point in your army is to get to the enemy and get stuck in as soon as possible-expect casualties on their way there. Basic Greenskin tactics apply, with one caveat: all your Boyz are gonna be on foot-that gives a slight advantage to taking the extra Choppa. Otherwise, these guys are nothing special - but see below.

[edit] Command

Full command for Orc Boyz costs as much as for most Chaos Dwarf units (30 points); you can take it or leave it. If you decide to upgrade your boyz to Big 'Uns, it lets lets them take a Magic Standard of up to 50 points. A prime candidate for the latter is the Banner of Slavery (50 points), which really helps to center your Greenskin lines.

[edit] Big 'Uns

While mostly used to fill out an army that lacks enough models for normal play, pay attention to the Ravening Hordes Errata - you can upgrade one unit of Orc Boyz to Big 'Uns, each of which is basically a Orc Boss with one less attack - good value for the points!

[edit] Orc Arrer Boyz

If you weigh the costs, Orc Arrer Boyz are roughly equivalent to Hobgoblins with bows and light armour - a bit tougher and a little less prone to breaking, but not much. The big problem here is justifying the Special Unit slot. One particular tactic called the Ziggurat (discussed below) uses these Boyz.

[edit] Command

Full command costs the same as for Chaos Dwarf units; you can probably get away without it in this unit.

[edit] Sneaky Gits

The old lap-around rules for Sneaky Gits no longer apply in 7th Edition, but their Poisoned Attacks still make them a valuable addition to the army. Some generals like to leave the Sneaky Gits to protect the war machines and rear of the army as they move forward - the Poisoned Attacks do fairly well against Dwarf miners and the like, but they're still as prone to panic as the next batch of Hobgoblins. Other generals like to keep them on the flanks of their army, to threaten the opponent's flanks - a perfect use for these back-stabbing Greenskins. Sneaky Gits should be fielded in slightly longer ranks that other units, in order to maximize their number of attacks.

[edit] Command

The thing about Sneaky Gits Champions is that they get an extra Poisoned attack; that's practically worth the other 10 points right there, though you'll have to be careful about challenges; and a Standard Bearer can give you a bit of an advantage in close combat resolution. However, it's better to choose one or the other.

[edit] Rare Units

Some of the best Chaos Dwarf units are Rare choices, as are some the mercenary choices, which are dealt with in their own section. The most important idea with Rare choices in your army is to get your points worth and paint some of the best models the Chaos Dwarfs have to offer.

[edit] Bull Centaurs

The Bull Centaurs are the Special Forces of the Chaos Dwarf armies, hard-hitting heavy cavalry that can crush plenty of units. While expensive, a unit of Bull Centaurs are often considered worth the price. Standard heavy cavalry tactics apply - just look out that you don't expose your Bull Centaurs to too much missile fire; few things are worse than losing two or three expensive models before you even come into base contact with the enemy! Most players opt to spring for the heavy armour as well. Keep in mind the Bull Centaurs' Unit Strength as well - you can be "outnumbered" easily when engaged with a unit of Ogres with the same number of models.

Bull Centaurs are perfect to anchor a flank - highly mobile and deadly in melee - or to deal with light and medium cavalry, chariots, etc. A common set-up if for Hobgoblin wolf-riders to draw units out of position for a crushing charge by the Bull Centaurs.

[edit] Command

Command units for Bull Centaurs are more expensive, without much to show for it. Bull Centaur Standard Bearers may bear one of the Chaos Dwarfs' magic banners.

[edit] Earthshaker

The Earthshaker cannon is the Chaos Dwarf's biggest and most expensive war machine. It might not have the range of a trebuchet, but the additional effects on nearby units even in the event of a missed guess on the range can tie up your opposing units' ranged weapons and artillery. Earthshakers are less effective on highly mobile armies (like the Dark Elves) and and those with special rules that allow them additional movement (such as an Orc and Goblins general called Waaagh!)

[edit] Heroes and Lords

In an army with so many Greenskins, heroes can be a big advantage in keeping things together and turning the tide. There is a limit to how many heroes and lords you can take in an army, but generally speaking Chaos Dwarfs have superior Lord and Hero units with high Leadership and decent statlines.

[edit] Bull Centaur Hero

Bull Centaur Heroes are even stronger and more skilled than normal Bull Centaurs, and the price you pay for them reflects that. If chosen as the army general, the Bull Centaur Hero has the advantage in that it can move much more quickly around the battlefield than many other generals - for the cost, however, unless you're dealing with a small army that can't field lords, you're probably better off getting a Bull Centaur Lord.

A Bull Centaur Hero can be upgraded to a Battle Standard Bearer, and has the benefit of mobility - keeping the Greenskins together on the front lines, particularly with a Banner of Slavery.

[edit] Bull Centaur Lord

The Bull Centaur Lord is at least as good as any mounted general available, and has the advantage that he never has to fear getting his mount shot out from under him. They still lack the Leadership of Chaos Dwarf Heroes and Lords, however. This is the type of character ideal for generals that like to lead from the front and make lots of challenges, or to keep their Greenskin front line intact.

[edit] Chaos Dwarf Hero

The Chaos Dwarf Hero is nearly unbreakable with a Leadership of 10, and with heavy armour and a shield (for another 6 points) the rock against which other units and champions are likely to break. In a pinch, an army can easily rely on a Chaos Dwarf Hero as the army general, saving more points for troops and war machines.

A Chaos Dwarf Hero can be upgraded to a Battle Standard Bearer, which is good if you want the standard not to move much during the battle. The Chaos Dwarf Hero is tough enough that he won't go down easily.

[edit] Chaos Dwarf Lord

The Chaos Dwarf Lord is a hearty melee fighter with Weapon Skill 7, Strength 4, Toughness 5, three Wounds, four Attacks, and Leadership 10 - add heavy armour and you've got a terrific investment for your points, so long as you remember to keep him from being flanked.

[edit] Great Taurus

A Chaos Dwarf Lord mounted on a Great Taurus is a match for most other mounted Lords...and also a flying target. You can easily sink a lot of points into your Lords buying them mounts and magic weapons; if you decide to go that route, make sure you get your full money's worth out of them. Don't be afraid to take your Great Taurus into combat, or behind enemy lines - that's what Terror-causing monsters are for! On the other hand, a Great Taurus isn't always ideal for your army's general - too big of a target, and too much of an investment in points lost if the enemy gets off a luck shot.

One particular advantage of the Great Taurus is their immunity to fire-based attacks. Dragons, Bright Wizards, Flame Cannon, and Flamers of Tzeentch are all fair game - though you'll want to put the Chaos Dwarf Lord in an Armour of the Furnace so they don't get baked as well. Their fiery breath is also ideal against the Treeman allies of the Wood Elves.

[edit] Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer

Sorcery is one of the hallmarks of the Chaos Dwarf armies, and the Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer heroes can be Level 1 or Level 2. Even if you don't plan on taking the offense in magic during a game, it's a good idea to invest in a Sorcerer and a couple Dispel Scrolls if you think you'll be dealing with enemy magic. Of course, a large force of Chaos Dwarfs with a number of sorcerers can be a very powerful throng indeed.

[edit] Sorcerer Lord

Again, sorcery is one of the hallmarks of the Chaos Dwarfs, and what better way to show that than with a Level 3 or Level 4 sorcerer? The key to Sorcerer Lords is picking the right Lore and the right collection of arcane items...that and not getting shot! While the most expensive unit available to a Chaos Dwarf general, Sorcerer Lords tend to deliver: they're just as tough as Chaos Dwarf Lords and have the same Leadership 10. A Sorcerer Lord makes a very decent general for a Chaos Dwarf army, particularly if they are holding the center together.

[edit] Lammasu

Lammasu add mobility and some much-needed Dispel dice to a Chaos Dwarf army, but like the Great Taurus suffers from being easily targeted. It also isn't quite the combat monster the Great Taurus is, which can make some generals reluctant to thrust the Lammasu - and their very expensive Sorcerer Lord - into combat.

[edit] Hobgoblin Hero

As the cheapest hero available to Chaos Dwarfs, the Hobgoblin Hero's basic job is slave-wrangler: keeping the other Greenskins moving forward smartly. They are especially effective when wolf-mounted, as they are much more formidable most other light cavalry - they literally cut a swath through most Goblin Wolfboyz.

[edit] Special Characters

The current edition of the rules do not include rules for classic Chaos Dwarf characters like Astragoth, Gorduz Backstabber or Zhatan the Black. The character Rykarth the Unbreakable was included for the Nemesis Crown campaign.

[edit] Dogs of War

The Chaos Dwarf army can take Dogs of War units, and many are especially suitable for Chaos Dwarf armies because of their models or backstory. The stats for the current units are given in the Regiments of Renown PDF, the Ogre Kingdoms book, and some miscellaneous publications on the Games Workshop site. The only limitation for Chaos Dwarf armies is that they may not take Dwarf Dogs of War, including Long Drong's Slayer Pirates.

[edit] Oglah Khan's Wolfboyz

These are essentially Hobgoblins mounted on wolves, and have made it into many Chaos Dwarf armies simply because they were Hobgoblins and available when many other Hobgoblin models were not. However, they take up a Rare choice if fielded as-is.

[edit] Ogres

Many of the Ogre units in Ogre Kingdoms are available as Dogs of War units, albeit expensive ones. Given the close relationship between Ogres and Chaos Dwarfs - the former supply slaves and act as mercenaries in exchange for weaponry and armour - many of these units are very appropriate thematically, and the models themselves are powerful enough to justify their inclusion. Plus, of course, they are much more available than other Chaos Dwarf Rare choices.

One advantage to taking a unit of Ironfists is that their standard bearer can use an Ogre Kingdoms magic banner - including the thematically appropriate Rune Maw.

[edit] Leadbelchers

Leadbelchers are ogres wielding great cannons forged for them by the Chaos Dwarfs, and often fight in their armies. With their leadbelcher cannons, bull charge, three wounds apiece, and Cause Fear, the Leadbelchers are effectively the equivalent of light artillery and medium cavalry rolled all in one; not a perfect replacement for Bull Centaurs but an excellent complement to them. Their greatest detriment is the fact they have to re-load (effectively keeping them out of the battle for half your turns) and the fact that they cost two Rare choices. If you're going to spend the points on these models, spring to upgrade one to a Thunderfist and one to a Bellower.

[edit] Rhinox Cavalry

Forge World resin models rarely see gameplay, because of the cost - if you're going to pay that much for a model, it's probably not a combat model - and because they are not Grand Tournament legal. Still, the Rhinox Cavalry rules are available if you want to field some of the most devastating heavy cavalry in the game. The Ghark Ironskin special character is especially appropriate for a Chaos Dwarf army.

[edit] Ruglud's Armoured Orcs

Another group of Greenskin mercenaries, only this time heavily armoured and armed with crossbows! Ruglud's Armoured Orcs are a solid investment for Greenskin-heavy Chaos Dwarf armies, and thematically appropriate as well, considering that Ruglud's history with the Chaos Dwarfs and their propensity for arming Greenskins. Ruglud's bunch are less prone to Animosity and ignore other Greenskin's panic - both definite pluses. If you can't find an Earthshaker, you could do far worse than spending a Rare choice on Ruglud's Armoured Orcs.

[edit] Hellcannons

The Hellcannon was made available for the Storm of Chaos, and while a Chaos Dwarf-manufactured weapon is not on their army list. You must obtain your opponent's permission to play one of these.

If you do get such permission, Hellcannons are an outstandingly dangerous choice, both for you and your opponent. It counts as two Rare choices, but has a greater range than most Chaos Dwarf war machines, is Unbreakable, causes Terror, and often goes into rampages attacking the nearest unit - friend or foe!

Some players simply love the model, and substitute it for an Earthshaker Cannon.

[edit] Army Composition and Strategy

A good general never lets their concern over how "competitive" and their army will be prevent them from buying and painting the models they want - after all, the cool models are part of the Chaos Dwarfs' charm! What you need to think about is what you have, what your opponent will have, and how to use your strengths against their weaknesses. Be realistic, and realize that whatever your plan is won't survive contact with the enemy - but that's okay. The enemy's plan probably won't survive contact with you, either.

Strategy differs from tactics in that it informs your army composition and layout as a whole, rather than the little tricks and details of each individual unit and character. Where solid tactics can defeat a unit of troops on the battlefield, a solid strategy will arrange for the situation to happen so you can use those tactics. As a general, you can construct your army around a certain strategy, or you can adapt a strategy around the models you've collected and painted - or, as most of us do, a little of both!

The following are some of the more common army compositions and their associated strategies for Chaos Dwarf armies.

[edit] Line of Battle

The line of battle is taken from ancient wars, where all the troops (or at least all the foot troops) are drawn up so that their front ranks are in a rough line, and they march forward in pace with each other. This has several advantages, the most obvious of which is that it is very simple and straightforward, a solid tactic for both beginning and experienced generals. While keeping the army moving at the same pace means you are restricted to the speed of your slowest unit in the line, it prevents your faster units from engaging the enemy too early and being flanked and destroyed - or blocking the units coming up behind them from joining in!

In ancient times, each army would form up in line of battle and then attack each other directly, the two lines of troops engaging directly until a breach was made in the enemy line, either by the destruction of a unit or a unit panicking. Once a "hole" or "gap" had been made in a line, the unit directly opposing the destroyed or panicked unit could then move to make a flank or rear attack on the other units engaged in the line (unless the opposing general had reserved he could move up to fill the gap), and the combined strength of the units and attacks from unexpected directions would spell the end of one army.

The exact details of army composition vary, but generally the army consists primarily of infantry, with perhaps some infantry to anchor the flanks. War machines and other units that cannot fire and move are kept behind the line. When forming the line, you generally want to match your opponent's units directly opposite. While a unit of Chaos Dwarf Warriors can make short work of a unit of light infantry, it might make better sense to place them against your opponent's medium or heavy infantry - who can make short work of a unit of Hobgoblins. By playing strength to strength, you minimize the chances of holes forming in your own line.

The line has several drawbacks, however. As a classic tactic, it is well known and there are many variations and counters for it. An opponent might, for example, place a terrain feature in the middle of the table, forcing you to either split your line in two to go around it or become bogged down going through it. Cavalry and other fast units can attempt to maneuver around the flanks of your line, where they can cause havoc behind the line with attacks to war machines, lone characters, and rear assaults on units in combat.

On large boards, the line of battle can be impractical because there is too much room for the enemy to maneuver around the flanks. If you are playing on a large board and you don't think your army can stretch, consider changing strategy. Flying units also have the innate advantage in being able to bypass the line of battle very easily, and are a major threat to such armies.

[edit] Oblique Line

The oblique line is a variation of the line of battle which assumes that your opponent is also using a line of battle strategy. Here, when forming up the line instead of having it straight across the board you place it at an angle - the units still face towards the enemy, but one unit (the leftmost or rightmost) is closer to the enemy than others, the next unit in line is a little behind it and to the side, and so on and so forth. The unit closest to the enemy is usually very strong - Bull Centaurs, Ogres, etc - and opposite the last unit on the enemy's line. In play, the line advances normally - but as one side is tilted closer to the enemy, it will engage first. The plan is for the heavy unit you have place on the edge will overwhelm the last unit in the line, thus exposing the next unit in the line to flank and rear assaults - just as it is engaging with the next unit on the oblique line.

Of course, once the opposing general realizes what is happening, he will probably try and stop you. Likewise, danger exists in the oblique line if the heavy unit on the leader edge runs into an "anchor" unit and gets stuck in battle or obliterated. This should hopefully give you some ideas of the kind of variations and tactics available for a line of battle strategy.

[edit] Gunline

A gunline army traditionally invests in large numbers of missile weapons, such as Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses, Hobgoblins with bows, Goblins with bows, Orc Arrer Boys, etc.; arranged in long lines - the proverbial gunline - often with war machines behind the gunline on hills. The basic concept is simple: the enemy will charge at the gunline and be whittled down by concentrated fire before entering close combat, giving your troops the advantage in numbers; the war machines are situated on hills or at key places to fire into the oncoming enemy troops and further deplete their numbers. Unlike the line of battle, the gunline is normally static, except for some maneuvering.

The immediate problem with the gunline is that it is even more vulnerable to flanking, particularly Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses who can only fire directly in front of them. While a long line can mitigate this somewhat, especially if one flank is protected by the edge of the battlefield or some terrain obstacle, smart generals usually position one or more strong or mobile units to "anchor" a gunline at the flanks and head off this tactics.

Units spread out into long ranks tend to be difficult to maneuver, particularly if the enemy is coming at an angle. To mitigate this, consider taking small units - the frontage is practically the same, but the smaller units make it easier to maneuver to meet oncoming threats. For example, a line of thirty Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses might be arranged 15x2 (15 Chaos Dwarfs per rank, two ranks), you could just as easily break them into units of ten Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses each arranged at 5x2 - when assembled side-by-side, the three units cover the same frontage as the larger one, but are far more maneuverable.

Many players are dissatisfied with a gunline army, both because of its passive-aggressive nature and because they are very vulnerable to answering war machines, heavily armoured units (or those with special protections against missile weapons), and flying units.

[edit] Artillery Matches

In extreme cases, the gunline can descend to an artillery match - this is usually only a problem when the Chaos Dwarf general is fighting another army that makes heavy use of war machines, such as Chaos Dwarfs, Dwarfs, or the Empire. In this instance, both armies encamp around their war machines, neither willing to take the initiative and be the first to stumble into their opponent's range, and entire turns can be spend with only minor maneuvering and war machines chucking stones, ballista bolts, and cannonballs at each other, each side waiting for the other to lose patience and accept the casualties that charging the enemy will bring while whittling down the other.

If an artillery match looks likely - say your opponent is playing an army known for its war machines and is setting up hills on his side of the table in a defensive arrangement - consider placing one or more houses, towers or other multistory fortifications in the middle of the table. These can provide a focus for the battle, either to entice the enemy into a nice, juicy target, or to enable you to bring your units into a strong point that can cover your advance.

[edit] Sea of Green

The large number of cheap Greenskins available to Chaos Dwarfs enables them to use the sea of green favored by Orcs & Goblins players - essentially, massive units of Greenskins that can overwhelm your opponents with sheer numbers even if they die in droves. The usual idea is for the Greenskins to charge the enemy as soon as possible, wearing them down or causing them to get stuck in Close Combat to allow you to bring war machines, spells, or other units to bear on the target - while a unit of 20 naked Hobgoblins is not generally intimidating, 20 Hobgoblins to the front and both flanks can break even a heavy unit, or at least bog it down for several turns.

While certainly possible due to the cheap cost of Hobgoblins and Goblins, there are some downsides. Greenskins have relatively poor Leadership compared to other Chaos Dwarf units, and when a Greenskin unit panics it can infect other nearby Greenskin units it flees through to panic - a few bad rolls and your army can crumble and flee before your eyes. The only way to really deal with this is to do everything you can to promote your Greenskin's Leadership (vis-a-vis Standard Bearers, the Army Battle Standard Bearer, the Army General, the Banner of Slavery, etc.), spread out your Greenskin units so they don't crowd each other, and make sure some units that ignore Greenskin panic (Black Orcs, for example) are close to the front lines.

By the same token, Greenskins are prone to Animosity which can cause your advance to stall needlessly. In practice this should not be a major issue, but the more Greenskin units you have and the longer the game goes on the higher the chances are that it will happen eventually.

While Greenskins are expendable (and should be treated as such), in many cases they are going to go up against units they have almost no chance of even wounding. This is an acceptable tactic if you have absolutely no way to deal with the opponent's unit, or need time and position to deal with it completely, but don't just throw your Greenskins into a fight you know they can't win without any plan for what to do when they're inevitable slaughtered in a turn or two.

Naturally, the only prerequisite to a sea of green strategy is fielding a large number of Greenskin units! This means a lot of painting and a lot of model-hunting or modding. Some players even pick up Orcs & Goblins as a second army (or vice versa) to get the most out of the units they've painted.

[edit] Tactical Squads

As opposed to the line of battle or the gunline, the tactical squads strategy is centered around the idea of several distinct "elite units." These armies typically feature small units with full commands, all the extra weapons and armour available to buy, and with characters loaded down with magic items; especially focus is given to special and rare choices which contain "elite" units like Black Orcs, Ogres, Sneaky Gits, and Bull Centaurs.

The key to tactical squads are the tactics they use. Having each squad charge directly at the enemy will see them surrounded and outnumbered, even if each individual squad is better equipped and armoured than the opposing units. Rather, tactical squads are specialized for specific tasks and to support one another. A unit of Hobgoblin Wolfriders with bows led by a Hobgoblin Hero can maneuver very quickly and freely around the battlefield, picking off a few units with arrow fire, threatening flanks to prevent units from marching, fleeing from fights they can't win and picking off weak units or single characters separated from their units. When combined with a unit of Bull Centaurs or Ogre Ironfists with magic banners et al., the Wolfriders can lure units out of position to allow the "heavy" unit to engage them - and then the Wolfriders can double back and hit the unit in the flank or rear. In most cases, it is important to establish dominance early on and remain as mobile as possible - getting stuck in a fight that lasts more than a single turn can pin down your small force and then you might be overwhelmed.

Some players dislike this approach because it emphasizes the "Herohammer" elements, with lots of points devoted to a few characters rather than large units of troops. On the other hand, those few elite units are the ones you can spend more time painting!

[edit] Magic

[edit] Tactics by Army

Now that the individual units have been discussed, it's time to talk about tactics for building you entire army around. These are properly strategies - battle plans worked out ahead of time with a specific goal in mind. In practice, few of these work out exactly as planned, but they can provide a good starting place for Chaos Dwarf generals. Always remember to be adaptable in your thinking; if a plan isn't working and doesn't look like it's going to soon, cut your losses and switch tactics.

Many players attempt to use standard Dwarf or Greenskin tactics with their Chaos Dwarf armies, on the logic that they're close enough to either for them to work. This isn't always the case. You should always evaluate such tactics with an eye toward the particular strengths and weaknesses of the units in your Chaos Dwarf armies.

[edit] The Hammer and Anvil of Hashut

In this classic play, you have large blocks of Chaos Dwarf Warrior infantry which engages your opponent's infantry, forming the "Anvil". With their Toughness and heavy armour, the Chaos Dwarfs will usually be able to hold the infantry for a turn or two - long enough for a heavy unit of Bull Centuars or Ogres (the "Hammer") to sweep in on the flank or the rear. The key to this tactic is twofold: prevent yourself from being flanked, either by Hobgoblin Wolfboyz or a Wall of Fire from your sorcerers, and put the bull centaurs in a position to charge the enemy's flank when it becomes exposed - possibly by sacrificing some of your Hobgoblin Wolfboyz as bait.

As with any static formation, artillery can be a serious problem; use your own to know theirs out first, if possible. Otherwise, move to engage as quickly as you can. Beware shooty units! They'll try to pick off as many models as they can once they're in range.

[edit] The Little Sea of Green

The typical Sea of Green used by the Orcs and Goblins has some deficiencies - mainly, a Chaos Dwarf general can't call a Waaagh! or use Greenskin magic to propel the army forward. Instead, Chaos Dwarfs have to do it the hard way: Greenskin units not prone to animosity, the Banner of Slavery, and a Chaos Dwarf Lord or Sorcerer Lord leading the charge.

In this formation, you field as many Greenskin units as possible, mostly clumped around your general, and move forward. This is a very offensive play, and can either work well or very, very badly. If your Chaos Dwarf Lord is on a Great Taurus, he can keep pace with the Hobgoblins, Goblins, and Orcs without exposing himself too badly, and the Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses can follow 12" behind and handle any attempts to come around your force to the rear. Unfortunately, one or two bad Animosity roles can be the kiss of death for this play...and there's the omnipresent danger of Panic spreading through your Greenskins like wildfire.

[edit] Mingol Zharr

The Chaos Dwarf version of the classic castle tactic, here the army sets up on a small hill or on and between two small hills. The war machines go on the top of the hill, the general in the center, the highly mobile units (Hobgoblin wolf riders, Ogres, and Bull Centaurs) provide solid anchors for the flanks, and a thick line of Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses hold the center. Then you wait and rain fire on the enemy as they approach.

A lot of players see this as a bit of a cheap ploy and "Dwarf thinking," but it's a solid and proven strategy when faced with highly mobile armies like the Dark Elves, or massive hordes like the Skaven or the Orcs and Goblins.

[edit] The Ziggurat

The Ziggurat is a special version of the classic castle defense utilizing the advantages of large numbers of Greenskins, their penchant for panicking, and lots and lots of missile weapons. basically, you arrange your army in a "ziggurat" formation, with each "level" (usually a semicircle to minimize flanking instead of a long line) made up of a particular kind of troop, and the "base" facing the enemy, with the apex pointing toward your side of the table. The "base" is made up of Hobgoblins with bows, as many as you can get. Behind them in the "middle tier" (or tiers, if you want to put the Goblins if front of the Orcs) are Orc Arrer Boyz and Goblins with short bows, again as many as you can get. At the "upper tier" are Chaos Dwarf Warriors armed with blunderbusses, while the "apex" hold your Lords (if any) and war machines.

The basic idea is that the enemy comes straight at you-right into the missile fire of the Hobgoblins. When the Hobgoblins inevitably flee (as they will), the Orcs and Goblins ignore their panic and continue firing. When the Orcs flee, the Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses ignore them and let off volley after volley. All the while, your war machines are dropping shells and rockets on everyone's heads and your sorcerers are casting crippling spells. Ideally, the enemy should exhaust themselves on the ziggurat as your Greenskins rally and come back to help with the mopping up.

That's the plan, anyway. In practice, the Ziggurat is vulnerable to flanking, scouts, miners, artillery, spells you miss the chance to dispel, flying characters and monsters - basically everything that your standard static formation is vulnerable to. Still, if the terrain favors you, and you're facing an army that likes to go straight for the throat, this can be a viable tactic. Pick your position wisely, aim for the artillery first, and roll well.

[edit] Tactics Against Other Armies

These pages are for specific tactics for use against other Warhammer armies.

Chaos Dwarfs vs Brettonians

Chaos Dwarfs vs Beasts of Chaos

Chaos Dwarfs vs Chaos Dwarfs

Chaos Dwarfs vs Daemons of Chaos

Chaos Dwarfs vs Dark Elves

Chaos Dwarfs vs Dogs of War

Chaos Dwarfs vs Dwarfs

Chaos Dwarfs vs The Empire

Chaos Dwarfs vs High Elves

Chaos Dwarfs vs Kislev Allied Contingents

Chaos Dwarfs vs Lizardmen

Chaos Dwarfs vs Ogre Kingdoms

Chaos Dwarfs vs Orcs and Goblins

Chaos Dwarfs vs Skaven

Chaos Dwarfs vs Tomb Kings

Chaos Dwarfs vs Vampire Counts

Chaos Dwarfs vs Warriors of Chaos

Chaos Dwarfs vs Wood Elves

[edit] Related Pages

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