WHFB: Dwarves vs Empire (2012 07 21) – Part Two

Here are some narratives from Anthony & Rich, there now seems to be three postings worth of material as I have found another half dozen photos and my own comments to add in conclusion, for tomorrow…

Dwarves – Anthony

As any dwarf army general knows, it is hard to out manoeuvre your opponent. One way to attempt this is to make good use of both your scouts and miners. It is actually possible to put a significant amount of your infantry into these units. In this battle the infantry was split into roughly in three equal parts:

  • The front block of hammers (32 + General & Runesmith), crossbowmen (20 + Bugman) and thunderers (18 + Runesmith);
  • The flanking scouts of warrior rangers (33 + Lord & Thane) and longbeard rangers (20 + Thane)
  • The flanking support of two units of miners (27 + Thane).

The idea was to choose a flank, place both sets of rangers on it, advance rapidly towards the enemy, and have that flank further supported by the miners. Meanwhile the notional centre of the army was to distract the opposing army (which it succeeded at).

The initial setup went well, and the flanking manoeuvre appeared to be working; a unit of heavy cavalry was successfully lured into a charge of the 35 ranger warriors (which would then have been flanked on the next turn by the supporting longbeards). However, due mainly to some poor dice rolling on the Dwarf side in combination with some lucky dice rolling on the part of the opponent, the steadfast bonus of the warriors was lost by a single model. Therefore the whole of that unit was wiped out…

Not only did the Dwarves lose a substantial unit (for the cost of a single wound on the heavy cavalry), but this cavalry was now free to roam the battlefield at will. The reaction of the Dwarves to this loss compounded the issue, by then changing the plan and bringing the miners on behind the enemy lines. Here, the new counter charge facility (and sharing of strength from units not in combat) provided to the empire supporting units (cohorts?) made what was going to be a difficult, virtually impossible.

If the original plan had be kept, then the remaining unit of rangers, would have combined with the miners to advance on a vulnerable flank, with easy access to war machines and (shoot or fire) missile troops. Therefore, even with the original set back the plan could still have been effective. In a smaller game a similar strategy worked well, and there is no good evidence to say it cannot work at a larger scale. There are certainly several different ways of fielding a dwarf army that can be generally effective (and keeping your opponent guessing about the type of army you will field is always good).

Some good points did come out of the battle from the dwarf side (even though they were annihilated).

  • It is possible to protect a Gyrocopter by hiding it behind the advancing rangers.
  • The flanking manoeuvre almost worked, and with just average luck would probably have held the heavy cavalry)
  • An empire steam tank can feasibly be taken out by a unit of hammerers
  • Taking a small amount of anti-magic can effectively showdown most of the opponents magic phase
    With a little bit of luck (or just getting a fair share at key points)

Lessons learnt:

  • Stick to the plan (there was a good reason for it – and you probably do not have the manoeuvrability to reconfigure a dwarf army).
  • Do not be greedy when the Gyrocopter gets in an amongst move or shoot troops. Several smaller shots are better than one big shot.
  • An empire army is probably going to suffer most from a traditional dwarf heavy artillery (and firing line) attack – to significantly weaken their natural number superiority.


  • The empire army had actually set up in such a way as to block itself in; if it had not been for the miners presenting themselves behind the enemy lines, the main empire infantry blocks would have had a hard time getting into the battle.
  • The empire artillery never misfired (no matter how many artillery dice are rolled – and their were lots); this made there equivalent of the dwarf organ gun look very potent indeed.
  • There is not much you can do tactically (or even strategically) to over come lucky (or unlucky depending on perspective) dice results at critical junctures in the game. Most of the time, such discrepancies even out and do not significantly affect the flow of the battle as a whole.
  • Empire war priests provide the units they are with, with the hatred special rule (in addition to some magic capability).
  • Empire supporting units (cohorts?) can counter charge.
  • Empire supporting units can be steadfast based off its main units ranks, even when this unit is not actually in the combat.
  • Empire (generals?) enable rout tests to be made with the lowest of three dice.
  • A dwarf army can compete in a shooting contest with an empire army. It will lose on the small arms fire (as empire troops are cheaper), but this should be compensated by the effectiveness of the heavy artillery (with suitable runes on them).

Empire – Rich

What went right:

  • All the bits of the army were selected with a planned role, and they all performed it well. I was especially pleased with how the units and characters worked together.
  • I had a good plan for deployment and didn’t let the unusual Dwarf army derail it too much
  • Really good dice rolling, especially when it really mattered – e.g. never rolling a misfire, making all the 4+ saves for my Knights vs the Rangers, hitting one unit of Dwarves with 3 Hellstorm rockets

What went wrong: I didn’t really have a plan to deal with being flanked (because of facing Dwarves) – but I was ultimately allowed to get away with it!

What went wrong for the enemy:

  • A big initial set back
  • Allowing that set back to change his plans. He should have used the miners to increase the threat on my flank, rather than throwing them piecemeal into the centre of my army – albeit the rear of my army.

Other thoughts:

  • It might all be downhill from here!
  • It would have been nice to test the units against a “normal” army to see how it performed
  • I picked the army specifically to fight Dwarves, it wouldn’t cope with a magic using enemy

Rich then commented on Anthony’s write up just before I published this

Awesome write up, much better than mine!
A few notes:

  • It’s detachments not cohorts (though the Roman terminology is apt!)
  • The detachments CAN borrow steadfast but only if the parent is in combat (I think the same combat). Mine was borrowing Stubborn which the unit had due to a magic item.
  • The Hold the Line! rule, rolling 3 dice for Break tests, comes from having an Empire General or Captain in the unit.

Phew….lots of words there from the two of them…more pictures tomorrow and my own conclusions !
And if you thought the above was pretty intense, then the books I’ve had delivered on Friday and Saturday about the RCW are mind meltingly tough by comparison.
Again more tomorrow to make up for the couple of days’ of absent posting.

One Response to WHFB: Dwarves vs Empire (2012 07 21) – Part Two

  1. Pingback: WHFB: Dwarves vs Empire (2012 07 21) – Part Three « The Lost City of Carcosa

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