Today we’re back looking at the new Cities of Sigmar warbands. Last time we went through the big release which was the new human range. This week we’re looking at the the Dwarves or Duardin as some like to call them. Now Wargames on Toast did recently cover this and I do recommend checking that video out to see his take on things. I do think this warband is particularly relevant right now as we’ve just had the release of Warhammer the Old World, so we’re about to the see the minis for this warband make a come back.
To a certain extend, these short kings have been a little hard done by. When GW ended the old wargame and started the Age of Sigmar, these Dwarf models were rolled in with the Empire and a bunch of Elves into a kind of holding pattern. GW would keep selling the minis and we could keep playing with them as part of the Cities of Sigmar but these Dwarves weren’t really a supported faction.
There are 3 other Dwarf Warbands. The Fyreslayers who have been pretty meh. The Kharadron Overlords who have been fantastic due to their cheap privateers, excellent abilities, and fantastic ranged options. More recently we have the Vulkyn Flameseekers who are a different take on the Fyreslayers and are a great option.
In the story, the dwarves thrived during the Age of Myth. There’s was the Khazalid Empire a massive Duardin nation that stretched across 8 of the realms at it’s height. Typically they built their cities, their Karaks, in mountain ranges and underground. With the crafter god Grungni as their patron they were renowned for their forges and creations.
This all ended in the Age of Chaos, when the Ruinous powers ravaged across the realms. As the cities of the Khazalid Empire fell the survivors sought refugee they could, but their cousin Duardin of the Fyreslayers, dwarves who followed the Warrior god Grimnir, turned them away. Some survivors found refugee in Azyr the realm of heaven which soon closed it’s gates locking it away from the rest of the realms.
Other survivors found sanctuary in the air and grew to become the Kharadron Overlords, although they grew bitter at what they saw as Grungni abandoning them. These days they trust their science and magic more than any god. It’s likely a few dwarf clans managed to survive the age of chaos in one of the realms, but it would have been rough.
Now Sigmar has opened the gates of Azyr again, the descendents of the Khazalid Empire have returned to the realms as the dispossessed. The can be found in most of the great Cities aiding where they can. Remember, the Stormcast were created for Sigmar by Grungni, so the Duardin are still a key part of the realms.
After Grungni completed this great work, he once again disappeared. Those Dwarves who still follow him believe he has been crafting something that will restore the Khazalid Empire once again and rumours his return are abound.
Now of course we have a weird situation where these models are about to get released again. Warhammer the Old World is out and about and we’re expecting a big box packed with Dwarves in the next few months. Yes it’s all square based and Warcry is round based but that’s just a detail, you can play square bases just fine in casual games of Warcry and if you really wanted to get the best of both worlds you could round base and use movement trays for the units. The key part is the models are back, so lets see what we can do with them.
Starting with the plots. As with all Dwarf warbands their curse is 3 move, so they should otherwise be relatively competitive. We can see that’s the case for the Hammerer and maybe the Keeper at the Gate but nothing really notable apart from that when looking at the damage. Similarly when it come to wounds, there’s a trend towards the top but nothing in particular stands out. We also have a relatively tight spread. The cheapest seems to be about 75 and it looks like that goes to 160 if we exclude the Gyrobomber and Gyrocopter. So pretty much everything is in that mid-range area. Not a great start.
There are 3 abilities any fighter in this warband can use.
The first is the reaction Grudgebearers. If a Dwarf is about to die and has an action to trigger this ability then another fighter, and that doesn’t have range limits or have to be dwarf, gets a free action. That’s pretty good. In a game of 4 turns you essentially get 8 actions per fighter. Killing a fighter means they don’t get those actions, but this reaction takes the sting off that a little. Also, if they end up killing a cheap dwarf and you happen to have an expensive ally, you’re trading up the value of that action significantly.
Next we have the double, Grim Last Stand. This reduces damage from hits and crits by 1 that hit your fighters within 3 inches, but only if they haven’t moved. Since it’s only a double, it’s not crazy to stack it with two fighters using the ability which could make it super hard to shift them off an objective.
Then we have the double, Over My Dead Body. This is for objective control and means the dwarf using it counts as an additional two when contesting an objective. The wording is a little clunky but I believe it means the dwarf will count as 3. I suspect that word is clunky because you can use it with a wait action and then use it again to have that dwarf count as 5 bodies for controlling the an objective. As a double it’s not unreasonable to get two of these in a turn which could be key for holding objectives.
All pretty thematic, the Duardin are hard to kill, hold their ground, and hold a grudge. It suggests this is going to be a pretty good warband at holding ground and contesting objectives but maybe not so much getting kills.
I’m going to start with the Ironwarden. At 160 this is the most expensive leader in the faction. That 3.6 average damage is pretty good once you realise it’s at ranged, so he can stand and do 7 damage to a target. Wounds are a bit low for the points so you’re paying a pretty big premium for that 15 range but it’s still solid. We looked at the Fusilier in the Castile hosts last time and this is 40 points more for a significant jump in damage. As a bonus there is a nice but very situational ability, Flesh-melting torrent. We’re going to see a lot of strength and toughness based abilities with this warband and unfortunately it has a limited use. We’re going to be using the ranged weapon as much as we can and that already has a nice chunky 5 strength. For any target with 4 or lower toughness, the ability doesn’t make any difference. So much of the time we’re probably better off holding the Triple for something else. As an aside, this model is from the Dwarf Ironbreaker box which can be built as Irondrakes or Ironbreakers, this guy is the leader of the Irondrakes.
Our second hero is a personal favourite of mine, the Warden King. As I understand it, this was one of the last few releases for the old world and was Belegar Ironhammer the true king of Karak Eight Peaks. So it’s a nice plastic kit that I really love. Profile wise it’s pretty straight forward just some great numbers. He’s chunky with the wounds, damage is just above what you’d like for that point range. Five toughness makes him hard to kill although that 3 move will make it tricky for him to get into position. The ability is a Quad which often means you ignore it, but with that range of 6 inches it could mean giving almost all of your warband a free move which could be big. Honestly, the model is enough for me. If you’re a fan of the dwarfs and haven’t picked up this model I very much recommend it.
Next up we have the Cogsmith. While he does have a gun and the ability does boost it, the melee damage is much better. Moving and attacking is going to be worse than shooting twice though which I always like to see. That said, it does feel like this fighter is a bit too stretched across both weapons. Rather than having a great melee or a great ranged we’ve got an okay version of each. The ability boosts the strength of the ranged attack, but the attack is already strength 4 so again it’s going to be pretty limited.
Then we have Keeper of the Gate who is the leader from the Hammerers I believe. The average damage of 6 is fantastic, we’d expect that on a 150 point fighter although that’s not too surprising as the movement 3 is limiting enough to justify something like a 20% points discount. The ability is a bit of a weird one, it’s a combo between the Rush and Onslaught. Usually you want to Rush when you’re double moving and you want to Onslaught when you’re double attacking. Kingsguard for a double gives the extra option of being useful when you move and attack. It does require a hero is in melee for the extra attack but that can be any of your heroes on the board so it doesn’t have a range limitation. It’s useful, not amazing. Only really a bonus when the 3 inch move wouldn’t get you into combat anyway. Still, a pretty nice profile overall and you still get all the standard dispossessed abilities.
The leader of the Longbeards is the Old Guard. Wounds are good for the points but damage is a little low. Toughness is 5 which is super chonky. The ability is a double Back in My Day. This is a damage boost which is something we’re looking for, but again we’re looking at a strength bonus. As we’ve said, depending on the fighter and the opponent this can be a good damage boost but it can be very situational. In the case of the Old Guard himself it will improve damage by 1.3 against T4 which is slightly better than adding an extra dice with Onslaught.
At the same price point we can get the Runelord. Damage is similar and we lose 1 toughness but gain 4 wounds. The ability is a double Forgefire which is unique to the Runelord. Again we boost the strength, in this case we pick one target and they get a strength bonus until the end of the round. This will obviously be super good if you have a powerful fighter who is going to benefit from it and you will be able to stack bonuses on them. So this might be a good option as an ally for another warband. The runelord is also going to be super useful if you bring a powerful ally into a dispossessed warband. As an aside, this is another nice plastic kit. I didn’t realise until putting this video together but the kit has two different heads and the options between book or hammer and staff or tongs holding a blazing rune.
This is the Ironbeard who is the leader of the Ironbreakers. Surprisingly it’s a ranged fighter with a pistol and cinderblast bomb. Damage is decent but is relatively short range. The ability is a weird one, it gives a duardin fighter with bulwark two free moves but they have to move within 1 inch of this fighter and they cannot move after that. So it’s pretty limited and will probably favour melee units looking to push into melee. Arguably you could run 3 of these guys and have them all work together. The first Ironbeard moves up his 6 inches and then pulls the next Ironbeard to him. That Ironbeard shoots twice then uses a double to pull up the next one who gets to shoot twice. So in theory that chain of Ironbeard shooters have had 6 move actions and 4 shoot actions. Not bad.
That was all the heroes. The most expensive non-hero fighters are the two Gyrocopters starting with the Bomber. Personally I know I’m pretty biased against these guys. So to get some context I went over to the Cryptflayers and pulled up a Crypt Flayer which is a model I quite like. It costs 235 has the same move and toughness and 3 more wounds. It only has a single attack which averages out to 5.33 just a little better than the Gyrobomber. There are of course abilities to factor in but with that perspective this profile doesn’t seem so bad. We don’t get an special abilities, so it just has the standard warband abilities. It’s not a mount or a beast so no negative traits. That probably makes for some weird interactions as it can happily open doors and fly inside buildings as long as the 50mm base will fit inside. It is a shame it doesn’t have some sort of cool special ability, but at least the ranged weapon is a bonus, it’ll mean the Gyrobomber will be able to get some damage in turn one if it wants.
The Gyrocopter is a downscaled version of the same. It’s a little cheaper and a little faster but the damage profiles have taken a bit of a hit. I suspect it’s probably a bit too low on damage to kill much. It does have lots of wounds and is super fast with fly. So it move 24 inches in a turn and use the Over My Dead Body ability to count as 3 fighters for an objective. Or it can pick up a treasure which means it loses fly and gets minus 2 move but that’s still move 10 which should keep it safe.
After the copters we have five fighter profiles which are the rank and file of the warband. All are within the 85 to 75 point range so we’re going to have a lot of similarities.
The first one we have is the Hammerers. These are the most efficient damage per points in the warband so worth taking a look at. All but the movement are great numbers for the points cost. The ability might be useful once in a while but you’ll be taking these guys for their damage.
The Irondrakes are the ranged fighters. Unfortunately the numbers are pretty terrible. The range is 12 which is decent but doing 1.6 average damage for 85 points isn’t great. The Triple can help but the attack still caps out at 2.3 average damage so it’s probably not worth it.
Next we have the Longbeards with GreatAxe. Identical to the Hammerers but the crit does 1 less damage. This is the same ability as the Old Guard. All the things we’ve said about the str boosts still apply and frustratingly this does say others, so you can’t use it to boost the acting fighter and boosts the others as a bonus.
The Longbeards again but this time with Axe and Shield. Five points less losing 1 average damage and gaining a point of toughness. Losing the point of strength might actually make the strength bonuses within the warband just a little bit better.
The Ironbreaker are five points cheaper again. Damage down another point to 2 which is still pretty good for the points but still slow with that 3 move. The ability might be a way to make up for that. Ironbreakers can both use the ability and be a target for the ability. Unfortunately they can’t move after but you could have one double move and then getting dragged for another double move after that. Honestly, the ability isn’t amazing but you will get some use out of it. Mostly this is the cheapest chunky boy you can get in the warband.
So what to we have.
Personally, I don’t think there’s a lot going on with this warband. There are a few heroes like the Warden King, Runelord, and Keeper of the Gate who look good. Not super fancy, but just solid profiles with that short king discount for the 3 movement. The Longbeards are a little too expensive to be called chaff but Grim Last Stand is going to make them hard to kill and Over My Dead Body is going to help them hold objectives. The same can be said for the Ironbreakers who trade some damage for a decent movement ability which might be important.
Choice of Allies is probably going to be key. While the Duardin are holding the ground, having something like the Medusa who can do a ton of damage and delete problems might be good. Calthia of course has her movement ability which could be a good way to shore up the weakness of this warband. Kixi-Taka does similar. I haven’t been able to find any one hero in particular that synergises well with the warband, but they do form a solid base to work from.
I think to a certain extend that this warband is only half formed. Not every kit made it across for the Dwarfs into Age of Sigmar. So we’re missing things like the crossbow and gun lines, the rangers, and the miners. They also lost the slayers into the Fyreslayers faction. There is something wholesome though fielding dwarfs with shields and refusing to die. We should see models getting re-released in the next few months so it might be a good opportunity to pick up some short kings. They obviously excel at objective missions, but that’s been the meta for a long while now so I do think it is something they could excel in. A few carefully placed doubles effectively turns this warband into a swarm list but much harder to kill and with those extra boosts from Over My Dead Body floating to where they’re needed or where your opponent least expects it.
Definitely worth trying out, especially as picking up a character like the Warden King and a box of plastic Ironbreakers is probably going to give you the core you need to enjoy the warband. There are also so nice third party options like Oathmark’s plastic boxes or Highland Miniatures who do some great Dwarf STLs.
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