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Tutorial Chaos Dwarf Tactica (detailed)

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Chaos Dwarfs have a playable list in 8th edition supported by Forge World. It’s obscure enough that their capabilities aren’t known by most players of mainstream armies. The rules are in the Forge World book Tamurkhan, Throne of Chaos. The book is expensive and the models are expensive, but the Chaos Dwarfs still have a small but very dedicated following. Now you don’t have to be surprised by what you see. I’ve only seen Chaos Dwarfs in action three times, but I do have the Throne of Chaos book and briefly pondered collecting Chaos Dwarfs myself (I got too much sticker shock on the prices though).

    The Basics

    In broad strokes, Chaos Dwarfs are very similar to regular dwarfs back when they had a sixth edition book. They have near identical stat lines, a one inch penalty to fleeing and pursuits, the same ability to always march. Chaos Dwarfs differ slightly from their uncorrupted kinfolk stat-wise in that their basic Core troops and war machine crew have S4 instead of S3.

    Every Chaos Dwarf infantry model except war machine crews gets Blackshard Armor as standard issue. This gives them a base 4+ Armor Save and 5+ Ward Save versus fire. They have a wide variety of special weapons available.

    The Chaos Dwarfs have a lot of non-dwarf units they can call upon. All Chaos Dwarfs have a rule called Contempt that allows them to avoid Panic tests resulting from their non-Chaos Dwarf units or allies being broken or destroyed (Bull Centaurs count as Chaos Dwarfs for panic purposes though since they are basically mutated dwarfs fluff-wise).

    Almost every type of unit except Skirmishers, Scouts, and Ambushers can be found somewhere in the Chaos Dwarf list. If you are playing Chaos Dwarfs, you could find yourself facing almost anything. Chaos Dwarf units tend to be expensive points wise. While their armies can include almost anything, they can’t include everything. Chaos Dwarfs are usually outnumbered by whoever they are playing, even other elite armies. That’s the price you pay for fielding an army with powerful artillery and elite Core and monsters and magic.

    Chaos Dwarfs and Hobgoblins

    The army only has two Core choices Hobgoblin Cutthroats and Chaos Dwarf Infernals, but they have many equipment options for each giving more options than it appears at first glance. Chaos Dwarf Infernals get shields and Blackshard Armor as standard issue. A single Infernal unit in the army can take a magic standard. Chaos Dwarf Infernal Ironsworn are a slightly better version of the Infernal that count as a Special choice, but have no equipment options and have to take their standard package (which is powerful).

    Infernals, hw and shield: These guys cost slightly more than Saurus and have crazy saves. They hit at S4, have Armor Save 3+ plus a Parry Save. A very potent anvil unit.

    Infernals, great weapons: Your basic regular Dwarf player relies on lots of great weapon troops. Chaos Dwarf players can equip their Core with great weapons too. With their high strength and great armor saves, Chaos Dwarf Core Infantry with great weapons are roughly on the same terms as Dwarf Longbeards.

    Blunderbuss Infernals: The Blunderbuss is a unique weapon available to Chaos Dwarfs. S3 armor piercing d3 shots at 12 inch range. The d3 roll is for the entire unit so it means they whole unit has massive variability on shooting round to round. A unit of 20 can only get 20, 40, or 60 shots, nothing in between. The multiple shots are inconsistent but there is no penalty for firing multiple shots.

    The shooting gets stronger the larger the unit is. A unit of ten Chaos Dwarfs or more models ignores penalties for shooting at long range, and they ignore penalties for stand and shoot reactions. A unit of twenty or more Chaos Dwarfs can also re-roll failed to-Wound rolls. Chaos Dwarfs are hard to kill due to their high Toughness and great saves. If a unit is on the borderline of having ten or twenty, it’s still worth directing ranged attacks at them because if you can knock them below the size of unit where they get their bonuses, you’ll take a lot less fire later. The key to mitigating blunderbuss fire is to thin the unit to below the ten and twenty model thresholds and close the distance quick enough to not let them shoot at you twice (if possible)

    Fireglaives, Infernals: Chaos Dwarfs can take Fireglaives instead of any of the above. Fireglaives are basically guns with bayonets. They are the functional equivalent of having a halberd and an 18” hand gun. A half-way point between the awesome ranged power of the blunderbuss and the awesome close combat power of great weapons.

    Chaos Dwarf Infernal Ironsworn: Similar to the basic Infernal, but with WS 5 and no cap on the number of units that can take magic standards. They have only their standard equipment set, but it’s potent. Ensorcelled hand weapons. They count as magic attacks, hit at +1 Strength, and still allow parry saves. Thus Ironsworn are an extra hard hitting anvil unit.

    Hobgoblins: Hobgoblins are the only things on the Chaos Dwarf list that don’t cost a lot of points. Hobgoblins are functionally the equivalent of ordinary goblins with a few minor exceptions. First, their Animosity is less crippling than that of regular goblins. Their animosity is also completely negated by any Chaos Dwarf or Bull Centaur unit being within 6 inches of them. They have a rule called Backstabbers that let them inflict extra hits on a foe they break when they choose not to pursue which is good for the Chaos Dwarfs if they are playing a stay-put strategy.

    Their standard equipment is throwing knives and hand weapons. They have a shield option and can take bows or spears as well. They can fill any role goblins can do, and they can add bulk to an otherwise tiny sized Chaos Dwarf army. I don’t think one is likely to see many hobgoblins take the field. The Chaos Dwarf army is an acquired taste, and people don’t generally want to spend the extra money to collect this army just to field a bunch of goblinoids. They want to play Chaos Dwarfs to play Chaos Dwarfs.

    Hobgoblin Wolf Raiders: These hobgoblins are likely to be selected by more players since they provide very useful mobile troops to an otherwise fairly slow and un-maneuverable army. They count as a Rare slot so they compete with a lot of neat units for their share of points though.

    Standard light cavalry. They have light armor and can choose to take bows or spears. If they take shields, they lose their Fast Cavalry rule. They are subject to Hobgoblin Animosity and have a special Cowardly Despoilers rule. If they charge a foe in the flank or rear they get an additional +1 to CR. If they themselves are on the receiving end of a charge, regardless of which arc, they get -1 penalty to hit their first turn. Thus outflanking them with our own mobile troops is a good idea, but mobile LM troops that are fighting hob goblins are unfortunately not attacking enemy war machines.

    Supporting Monsters

    Bull Centaur Renders: While technically Monstrous Beasts, Centaurs play like heavy cavalry. Hard hitting, multi-wound models with M7. The Movement is especially impressive when you consider that your garden variety dwarfs have M3. At Toughness 5 and a 3+ AS (2+ if shields are purchased), they don’t die easily. They pretty much outclass our Kroxigor in most respects though they only have two attacks. They also have lots of equipment options.

    They can fight hand weapon and shield (and thus get a parry save), spear and shield, great weapons, or two hand weapons depending on which weapon options are chosen. It’s possible to see them with just hand weapons, but at forty points a model, I don’t see why someone wouldn’t pay just a little more to make them much more potent.

    K’daai Fireborn (Special) and K’daai Destroyer (Rare): These monstrous infantry cost the same as Kroxigor with two S5 flaming attacks and many special abilities. They have a 4+ Ward save, 2+ Ward versus Fire. They inflict automatic S4 hits flaming hits on models in base contact (even friendly models who aren’t themselves K’daai or Taurus) They count as demons for Lore of Light purposes. Non-magical attacks are at -1 to wound them. They are Toughness 4. They have to take a Toughness test every turn after the first. If they fail the unit takes d3 wounds. Don’t let players forget to do this. They are also Unbreakable and Unstable.

    K’daai Destroyers are colossal size version with the same basic powers, but with more and stronger attacks. At T6, they can’t be wounded at all by non-magical, non-poisonous attacks of S4 or less.

    Chaos Siege Giant: I’m not going to type out all the rules. These guys are basically regular giants with weapons and armor grafted on them. They hit harder than regular giants and have a 5+ AS in melee and a 3+ AS versus shooting. This means our standard anti-giant strategy of spamming them with poison shooting is less effective than normal. Their equipment also weighs them down and makes them more likely than vanilla giants to fall down. They also get some handy bonuses in siege scenarios.

    EDIT: After years of watching CD players and talking to CD, I do not believe I have ever seen or even heard of someone using a Siege Giant. The allure of the war machines are too great it seems.

    War Machines

    Like their non-tainted brethren, the foundation of Chaos Dwarf power is in their powerful war machines. Chaos Dwarf war machines are crewed by standard chaos dwarfs in heavy armor rather than the Blackshard Armor everyone else gets

    War machines can pay extra to be Hellbound. This gives them +1T, a bonus wound, and makes their attacks count as magical. The downside (besides the extra points cost) is that they take an automatic d3 wounds on any misfires on top of the normal results.

    If the Iron Deaemon War Engine is selected, any other war machine can be upgraded to include a Steam Carriage. That means the war machine counts as defending an obstacle and being in hard cover. Also they can be towed by the Daemon War Engine (though that feature is only rarely used because war machines can’t fire on the same turns they move).

    The Dreadquake Mortar and Hellcannon are Rare, and the rest are Special. The Chaos Dwarfs don’t have an equivalent to the Dwarf Organ Gun, so they need to rely on their normal troops to defend their artillery lines as opposed to using their artillery to defend themselves.

    Iron Deamon War Engine: This free moving train engine is vaguely similar to form and function of an Empire Steam Tank. It has T7 and 7 wounds. 8s if it’s Hellbound. It has a 3+ armor save. The crew provides regular attacks, but only the Engine’s wound profile is used.

    In theory its main weapon is the Steam Cannonade. It shoots S6, d3 wound causing hits at a range of 18.” Like a Razordon, It uses BS to hit with two artillery dice to determine number of shots. Unlike a Razordon, it only misfires when both dice come up as misfire. When that happens, the gun is unusable for the rest of the game and the Engine takes d6 automatic wounds. The real power of the Deamon War Engine is in Close Combat, not shooting. It Thunderstomps and causes Impact hits at a mighty Strength of 8.

    The Cannonade can be swapped for a Skullcracker to become even more of a close combat monster. They lose all shooting, but the Skullcracker boosts the number of impact hits and Thunderstomps to 2d6. It also provides +1 to wound when damaging buildings (in scenarios that allow buildings to be damaged).

    The Engine’s movement is a little unorthodox. It can move six inches and fire with no penalty, but it can’t charge or march normally. The Engine instead opt to forgo its normal movement to move 2d6+6 inches, but only in a straight line. If a double 1 is rolled on the 2d6, the Engine can’t move at all. Swamps are impassable. Obstacles do not slow the Engine down and are removed from the board if the engine drives over them.

    The random movement is the only way the Engine can enter close combat. It can in theory hit a friendly unit, in which case the friendly units takes impact hits, but no close combat is initiated. If the engine opts for random movement without declaring charge but runs into an enemy unit, close combat is initiated but the War Engine doesn’t get the +1 CR for charging and the enemy unit gets Always Strike First for the first close combat turn to represent the crew on board being confused.

    Deathshrieker Rocket Launcher: Not the scariest CD unit, but fairly cheap. The Launcher has two modes. The first, the player places a marker and then rolls for scatter (a misfire here affects the whole machine). If it hits a target, the large round template is used. If it the marker doesn’t touch anything, the player rolls another scatter and uses the small template if it hits something (a misfire here just means the shot is lost). The rockets hits are all at S3 either way.

    The second mode of fire is designed for slaying large monsters or assassinating characters. It has only one scatter roll and no template, inflicting S8, d6 multiple wounds hits on a single model. The hits of both types of shots are flaming and cause an automatic panic tests to a unit if even a single model is slain.

    Magma Cannon: The Magma cannon fires like a regular cannon, except instead of rolling to bounce, you place the narrow end of the flame template on its initial landing point. The Magma cannon hits inflict S5 hits with d3 wounds at a 24 inch range.

    Dreadquake Mortar: The Dreadquake Mortar functions like a Stone Thrower that inflicts S5 hits armor piercing hits (S10 d6 wounds on the center). Any models hit by the Mortar have to take a dangerous terrain test if they want to do any movement at all their next turn or use a move-or-fire weapon. The Dreadquake Mortar has a slow-to-reload flaw that gives them a chance of losing some shots unless they buy an ogre slave upgrade to handle the heavy ammunition. Most players will take the Ogre because it costs relatively little points and also adds 3 wounds to the machine. Misfires use the black powder chart with a -1 penalty to the roll.

    Hellcannon: EDITED FOR NEW WOC BOOK (technically a monster with handlers, not a war machine)

    Despite the name, the Hellcannon shoots like a stone thrower now (not sure if it always did or not). That’s good news for Stegadons. The hits are at S10 but it’s slightly harder to get the center hole over a Stegadon than it is to line up a cannon shot. The bad news is for everyone else. The non-center hole hits are S5 which means the Hellcannon can do more than just kill large dinosaurs. It can devastate Saurus blocks too. The hits are magical so Higher State of Consciousness will not protect your lone Slann. To make matters worse, a single casualty causes an automatic panic test at -1 Ld to the target (so better than Salamanders)

    Killing the Hellcannon is very difficult for the First children of the Old Ones. 4+ AS, 5+ T6 and it’s got the monsters and handlers quasi save. That’s too thick skinned for Terradons and Chameleon Skinks to handle. We are hard pressed to deal with it even with spells. It has three weaknesses, and two of them are outside of our control. 1) the Hellcannon cannot move and fire in the same turn and it’s base move is a lowly 3 inches so it might as well be a static artillery piece. 2) the misfire chart is quite severe. Weakness 3 is that it is Initiative 1 so it is somewhat vulnerable to magic attacks that use Initiative tests.

    If you are not packing Shadow or Death, my advice is to ignore the Hellcannon and just try to get in close combat with the enemy infnatry ASAP so this monstrosity can’t shoot you (sadly close combat is where the rest of the army wants us to be).

    EDIT: Kroxigor are pretty good at bashing apart Hellcannons, if they survive long enough to get into close combat. The nice thing is most players are so unused to seeing units of Kroxigor they will target your Saurus blocks and dinosaurs first.


    Sorcerer Prophets: Sorcerer Prophets are on the only non-Special Character Lord option on the Chaos Dwarf list. A Dwarf wizard. While they aren’t going to win against a fully kitted Scar Veteran, they fight a good deal better than most wizards making them powerful in Storm of Magic games. They have Blackshard armor like most other Chaos Dwarfs. They have Darkforged weapons as standard issue. Darkforged weapons are weapons with a minor magical power randomly determined before the game. In addition their magic hand weapons, they can choose to take a pistol, Naptha bombs (a flaming short ranged thrown weapon that inflicts d3 wounds and a small chance of wounding the prophet instead), or the Blood of Hashut. A one-use vial that can be thrown during close combat in lieu of normal attacks, that hits on a 2+ and causes d6 hits inflicting wounds based on the armor save of the targets just like a Lore of Metal magic missile.

    They can boost their close combat power by riding a Great Taurus or Bale Taurus. Basically your standard flying monster mount with a fire motif. They inflict flaming attacks and burn units in base contact similar to K’daai. The more powerful Bale Taurus has a breath weapon. Taurus heal wounds when targeted by a Lore of Fire spell.

    Sorcerer Prophets get a look-out sir if within 3 inches of a war machine crew. More importantly, Sorcerer Prophets can allow a war machine within 3 inches to reroll an artillery die or scatter die once per round (but they forfeit making a shooting attack that round if they use that ability). This doesn’t affect their spell casting, so it’s common to see them playing the wizard tossing magic missiles at you during the magic phase then playing the engineer role during the shooting phase.

    Sorcerer Prophets can take the Lore of Fire, Metal, Death, or their own unique Lore of Hashut. Fluff-wise, Chaos Dwarfs slowly petrify as they try to channel dark powers. Rules-wise, this means when any Chaos Dwarf wizard rolls a miscast, they partially petrify. In addition to the normal miscast effects, they take an automatic wound. If they survive the miscast, they get +1 Toughness for the rest of the game.

    Lore of Hashut

    The Lore of Hashut lends itself very well to typical Chaos Dwarf styles of play (surprise surprise). It’s kind of an amalgam of Death, Metal, and Fire (also a coincidentally the BRB lores that their wizards can take). The lore attribute is situational (though it can be helped along with the Ash Storm spell). There are no Remains in Play spells.

    Lore Attribute: +D3 to cast direct damage and magic missiles if the target unit has at least one flammable model in it.

    Breath of Hatred (signature spell): Buff bestows Hatred on a friendly unit within 12 inches. An augmented version of the spell targets all friendly units within 12 inches.

    Burning Wrath: Powerful cheap magic missile, limited by a fairly week 8 inch range. It inflicts d6 S6 hits. Can be augmented for 2d6 hits, but they are stuck with an 8 inch range even on the augmented version. 8 inches is enough to handle Chameleon Skinks and Terradons swarming the war machines though.

    Dark Subjugation: Hex spell with a range of 24 inches. Target must pass a Leadership test at -3 or suffer a penalty of -1 to their Ld for the whole game.

    Curse of Hashut: Direct damage spell on a single model with a range of 18 inches inflicting 2d6 hits minus the target’s Toughness score, wounding on a 4+ with no armor save.

    Ash Storm: This is probably the nastiest spell on the list, a hex spell with range of 24 inches and many varied effects. Target gets -1 to hit in close combat and -2 to shooting attacks. May not charge, march or fly. All terrain is treated like difficult terrain (unless it’s already impassable). Target is treated as flammable (and thus vulnerable to the lore attribute). Wizards in affected units can only target their own unit with spells so this can nerf a Slann for a turn.

    Hell Hammer: Direct damage in a 3d6 inch line. Any model hit by the line must pass an Initiative test or take a S6 hit with d3 wounds. Any model suffering a casualty from the spell must make a panic test. The augmented version of this spell has a range of 6d6 inches.

    Flames of Azgorh: Direct damage spell using the small template and rolling a scatter. Models hit by the template take S6 hits with d6 wounds. In addition models hit by the template also have to take a Toughness test at a -2 penalty or be slain outright. An augmented version of this spell uses the large template.

    Drazhoath the Ashen: The only Special Character. Drazhoath is a level four Sorcerer Prophet with the Lore of Hashut. He has a variety of handy, but individually not overwhelming magical items, an especially powerful Bale Taurus, and he adds +1 to CR of friendly units within 12 inches. He has +1 to spellcasting attempts, the bonus raises to +2 if Drazhoath or his mount personally kill a wizard. That’s unlikely to come up very often because most people keep their wizards away from flying nasty fire shrouded monsters. Drazhoath is not subject to pretrification on miscasts like all other wizards in the Chaos Dwarf army.

    Deamonsmiths: Level one and level two version of sorcerer prophets. They can do everything Sorcerer Prophets can do except ride monsters, use the specialty lore of Hashut, or wield the Blood of Hashut. They have ensorcelled hand weapons (+1 Strength) instead of the more powerful and random Darkforged hand weapons.

    Infernal Castellan: An amped up version of a Chaos Dwarf warrior. They are Stubborn and can take 75 points of magic items instead of the usual 50 points heroes get. They are the Chaos Dwarf army’s only option to carry the battle standard with the usual restriction on taking magical items if the standard is magical.

    Hobgoblin Khan: Roughly as mighty as Skink chiefs. They can ride giant wolves. They can only buy 25 points instead of the usual 50 points allotted to heroes. Hobgoblin Khans cannot serve as a general.

    Bull Centaur Taur’ruk: A stronger nastier version of the rank and file Bull Centaurs. These guys can take Blackshard Armor and shields potentially giving them a 1+ save. An army with a Taur’ruk is required to take a unit of Bull Centaur Renders, so most Taur’ruks you see will be leading a unit of Renders as opposed to running solo. Bull Centaur Taur’ruk also cannot serve as a general.

    Magic Items: Unlike the dwarfs they don’t have a list or magic items that supersedes the BRB, merely one that supplements it. Most of them can only be equipped to Chaos Dwarfs (Hobgoblins and Taur'ruk's more or less have to stick with BRB maic wepons)..

    Black Hammer of Hashut (magic weapon): +2 Strength. Flammable targets that are successfully wounded are slain outright. Potent when paired with the spell making things Flammable.

    Dagger of Malice (magic weapon): Bearer gains Hatred

    Dark Mace (magic weapon): Killing blow, once per game can inflict an automatic wound on all models in base contact with wielder (including wielder’s mount if any). Seems like a standard issue weapon for the rare Sorcerer prophet acting as a flying beatstick instead of as artillery support.

    Armor of Bazherak the Cruel (magic armor): 2+ Armor save that cannot be improved. Magic Resistance 2.

    Mask of the Furnace (magic armor): 1 point bonus to current Armor save, cause Fear, 4+ Ward save, 2+ Ward save versus flaming attacks.

    Stone Mantle (Talisman): +1 Toughness, -1 Initiative.

    Banner of Slavery (magic standard): Hobgoblin units within 12 inches gain Immunity to Psychology.

    Chalice of Blood and Darkness (arcane item) : This one confuses me, it’s a lot of points for a magic item that seems as likely to hurt the player as help him. Can be used in any magic phase. Roll d3 twice. Once to remove d3 power dice from the appropriate players pool, the other time to remove d3 dispel dice. If both dice roll snake eyes, the bearer takes an automatic wound with no armor save. If both dice roll sixes, the bearer heals a wound.

    Daemon Flask of Ashak (enchanted item): This extremely expensive one-use item is devastating to some armies, a minor inconvenience to Lizardmen. It hits all enemy units within 18 inches. It forces all enemies not Unbreakable or Immune to Psychology to take an immediate Panic test. It also inflicts d6 automatic wounds on war machines, chariots, and buildings (if the scenario lets them be damaged). This is not a bound spell so it cannot be stopped.

    I only played one game with Chaos Dwarfs. I’ve watched a few more.
    The one I played, the Chaos Dwarfs held back in a loose “castle” formation and attempted to whittle down the approaching enemy forces before fighting them in close combat. Basically the same thing I saw in countless battles against regular Dwarfs. It was part of a map campaign, and I had a huge point advantage, so I didn’t learn much. I drew the general conclusion that Chaos Dwarfs are more vulnerable to Chamo Skinks than regular Dwarf artillery is. Because Chaos Dwarfs can’t field the numbers it’s harder for them to block every corner a scout might deploy. The also don’t have an automatic hit generating war machine that kills chamo skinks as efficiently as the Organ Gun.

    The two games I watched were considerably more interesting (the Chaos Dwarfs weren’t out pointed by the other side). He kept his infantry in front of his artillery. He targeted his war machines at the few enemies that could seriously threaten his larger support units and took them out. Then he savaged the enemy lines with an Iron Daemon War Engine and K’daai destroyer. The slower dwarf infantry followed on the heels of the two massive crushing units to back them up once it was clear no mobile units were going to threaten the gun line. It was very good unit synergy.

    I can’t say for certain if what I saw is the normal MO for Chaos Dwarfs or not. The same strategy of using artillery to clear the way for a K’daai Destroyer and War Engine would probably work just as well clearing the way for a unit of Bull Centaurs or K’daai Fireborn. It’s reasonable to conclude that Chaos Dwarfs could form a mostly stationary gun line or castle and stay put and blast advancing troops before engaging their hopefully weakened foes in close combat and destroying them. I could also envision a slow creeping advance of Dwarf infantry as the main thrust backed by shooting. What I can’t envision is a Chaos Dwarf strategy not involving shooting somewhere.

    Chaos Dwarfs have a playable list in 8th edition supported by Forge World. It’s obscure enough that their capabilities aren’t known by most players of mainstream armies. The rules are in the Forge World book Tamurkhan, Throne of Chaos. The book is expensive and the models are expensive, but the Chaos Dwarfs still have a small but very dedicated following. Now you don’t have to be surprised by what you see. I’ve only seen Chaos Dwarfs in action three times, but I do have the Throne of Chaos book and briefly pondered collecting Chaos Dwarfs myself (I got too much sticker shock on the prices though).
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  2. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Re: Chaos Dwarf Tactica

    Now Lets look at LM units through the lens of how they interact with Chaos Dwarves.


    Saurus: Much like fighting regular dwarfs, you can expect Chaos Dwarfs to outfight you in a straight up fight. You should also expect Saurus blocks to take an artillery beating on the way into close combat, so extra ranks are a good idea both for positive CR and as a buffer against shooting based casualties. Chaos Dwarfs are easier to outnumber than regular dwarfs because they are so expensive, but they are harder to outflank because the Chaos Dwarf army has several mobile support units.

    Skink Cohorts: If you want to get in a war of attrition with the Chaos Dwarfs, these are a good option. Skinks die a lot cheaper than Chaos Dwarfs die and Kroxigor can hit hard enough to bypass the high Toughness and low armor saves of typical Chaos Dwarf units. If you plan to fight stuff that nasty with your cohorts, make sure you have lots of extra ranks to maintain Steadfast because you are basically committing yourself to tying the unit down or at best, whittling it down very slowly. Be ready for the unit to take a sustained beating. Like regular Dwarfs, Chaos Dwarfs rarely get multiple attacks. Without a super heavy front rank, the Kroxigor are relatively unlikely to be picked off by targeted attacks. While the Kroxigor can be individually targeted, this will generally cost the enemy a few points of CR which is risky when unstable K'daii are involved.

    Skink Skirmishers: Maybe good for redirecting a mobile unit, but almost everything on the CD list other than hobgoblin units either have an AS of 3+ or a 4+ ward save. Even their large monsters are not very vulnerable to poison shooting.


    Jungle Swarms: The new Swarms should do well against Chaos Dwarfs. You’ll probably outnumber the Chaos Dwarfs so it’s not too hard to get a Swarm around a flank while your Saurus are charging in. A Swarm is best served providing poisonous attacks to your combat blocks, but there are lots of fairly fast monsters you can use Swarms to stall.

    Chameleon Skinks: Chamo Skinks are great versus Chaos Dwarfs. Chaos Dwarfs have lots of artillery and relatively few things that can hit Chamo Skinks without penalty. The good news is that it’s comparatively harder for a Chaos Dwarf force to shut out scouts (because they generally have small numbers of models). The bad news is, most war machines will probably be on Steam Carriages which will give the war machines more wounds and hard cover versus shooting. If the war machines are hellbound, you probably want to try charging the war machines instead of shooting. If you can cast buff spells at your skinks, even better. Also note while CD lack war machines that are especially good at killing chamo skinks, most artillery lines will have a wizard/engineer or two in them that can throw magic missiles at any approaching skinks and wipe them out so prioritize your dispel dice accordingly.

    Terradons and Ripperdactyls: They can do their usual battlefield control by playing herd on fleeing units, but their main job is hunting war machines. They hit harder than chamo skinks in CC so you can take out Hellbound war machines somewhat easier than Chamo Skinks. Also, since Chaos Dwarf wizards double as engineers, CDs are one of the few opponents likely to leave exposed wizards for your Terradons to go after.

    Terradons make up for their strengths by being more vulnerable to enemy shooting. Watch out for fireglaives and especially blunderbusses or your Terradons will never make into close combat with war machine crews or enemy wizards. Given how much of the Chaos Dwarf list is fire resistant you don’t want to equip fireleeches.

    Rippers can do whatever Terradons can do but they hit harder which will be good for breaking the relatively hardy war machines and wizards. They can also flank enemy infantry pretty well but you probably want to steer your Rippers away from the various support monsters though.

    Temple Guard: Most enemies will try to kill our Slann with every tool at their disposal, and the CD are no different. The Chaos Dwarfs have many units that are very hard for us to take out without a Slann’s magic. Buy as many Temple Guard as you can afford unless you are fielding your Slann solo. Prepare to buff your TG with your favorite Lore. The Chaos Dwarfs will hit your Temple Guard with template based artillery, nasty BS based infantry shooting, and direct damage spells and hexes. Assuming you get your block into close combat, you have to face very powerful elite infantry and stomping monsters. You need as many models as you can afford in your bunker. For the love of the Old Ones, don’t give them the Banner of Eternal Flame since so much of the Chaos Dwarf army has a special Ward saves versus fire.

    Cold One Cavalry: I think Saurus Cavalry work very well versus regular dwarves. I haven’t tried them versus Chaos Dwarfs (yet), but I assume they’d do okay. They are expensive but most of the Chaos Dwarf artillery uses a template, and cavalry are slightly less vulnerable to templates than infantry blocks. The M7 is nice for clearing the table distance as quickly as possible too in case they are castling. You have to contend with the possibility of facing face hard hitting support units though that are mobile enough to mirror your moves.

    Kroxigor: Now that Kroxigor are both cheaper AND better, I’d recommend taking Kroxigor against the fallen Dwarfs. Multiple S7 hits followed by S5 stomps would do a lot of damage to dwarves. Where Kroxigor really shine is when hunting big things. Kroxigor are about the only thing we have that can consistently put wounds on the K’daai destroyer and Iron Daemon without needing magic.

    Stegadons: You are slightly less like to see a cannon then playing versus regular Dwarfs. If someone is willing to spend all the money to play Chaos Dwarfs, they probably were attracted to the exotic Chaos Dwarf list war machines and aren’t going to go for the more vanilla Hellcannon (classified as vanilla because Warriors of Chaos can use it). Hellcannons are still something you need to factor into your calculations, especially for those Chaos Dwarf players who also play WoC. I haven’t seen the matchups, but I’m guessing the two K’daai units and Bull Renders would be able to school a Steggy relatively easily if the Stegadon doesn’t get the charge. If you want your Steggies to fight their counterpart “heavies” on the Chaos Dwarf list, you’ll want sharpened horns.

    Bastilodons: Chaos Dwarfs don’t rely on great weapons to the extant that regular Dwarfs do so the Solar Engine could help once in a while. You also don’t have a mountain of bonus dispel dice against you so you might actually be able to fire the bound spell. The Ark of Sotek shooting will not help you much, so steer clear of it unless you are taking lots of Swarms.


    Salamanders: Salamanders are good at roasting Hobgoblins. If you see Hobgoblins they are likely to be fielded in very large blocks and have low leadership scores. Hobgoblins are the perfect Salamander target.

    Chaos Dwarfs are NOT the perfect target. They have high toughness and a 5+ Ward save specifically against fire. Chaos Dwarfs cost a lot so their blocks will be relatively small so you’ll score fewer hits than usual. Don’t bother shooting at K’daai at all since they have 2+ ward saves versus Fire.

    Salamanders are not useless. A 5+ ward save is not unbeatable, so Salamanders will kill a few Chaos Dwarfs, but a Hobgoblin-less Chaos Dwarf army is one of the rare circumstances when fielding Salamanders would be a sub-par choice. Against Chaos Dwarfs they are far more valuable for the CR since they can add more to your infantry blocks with supporting flank charges than they can with their shooting.

    Razordons: I like the new Razordons a lot, but given how tough and well armored most Chaos Dwarf targets are, I don’t think they’d do much against non-Hobgoblins.

    Ancient Stegadons: Against regular dwarfs, I advised taking regular Stegadons because they are cheaper to field than Ancient Steggies and Ancient Steggies don’t have any additional protection versus fire. That point stands here, except the boosted stats of the Ancient Steggy and the potential for a stand and shoot with the giant blowpipes means they would serve as a better counter to War Engines and K’daai destroyers than baby Steggies. I’m not sure if they are the best counter versus the Chaos Dwarf’s largest support units, but they are a counter. The Engine of the Gods should be a good investment on all three fronts it supports.

    Troglodons: Hellcannons laugh at them, but Troglodons can help in a supporting role if you have the right spells on your Slann to cast through them. If you can time your use of the roar at the right point, this MIGHT be a worthwhile anti-Chaos Dwarf choice.


    Slann: Not much to say here. Slann magic is frequently necessary to soften up the nastier enemies to make them killable. Unlike regular dwarfs, you don’t have to deal with especially potent anti-magic powers. Hellbound artillery inflicts magical hits which means a lone Slann can’t count on ethereal to stay safe.

    Lore Selection for Slann

    High Magic should work well. Drain Magic will likely get a lot of use. Apothesis is not likely to heal as fast as you’d like but it’s not bad. Fiery Convocation should probably be dumped quickly given how fire resistant Chaos Dwarfs are (if you bother to cast it at all). Much like regular Dwarfs the best two spells are probably Hand of Glory and Walk Between worlds. The golden spell is Hand of Glory, it’s cheap to cast and Chaos Dwarfs are not used to opponents with better WS then them. The platinum High spell is Walk Between Worlds. Close the distance quickly with the slow moving lines and you control the tempo of the battle.

    Light was my old lore of choice if I expect to be fighting Chaos Dwarfs. I’d probably run with Light whenever I ditch a High Magic spell now. As with regular dwarfs Phas Protection is handy for protecting your army from all the nasty shooting. The other buffs help your various units avoid being outclassed in close combat. Light spells are about the only way we can easily take out K’daai, especially Banishment which weakens their Ward Saves. The Net can be used to try to wound a K’daai or deny an enemy war machine a round of shooting (since they automatically fail all strength tests, page 108). Note, Net will not auto-stopp Hellcannons or the Iron Daemon.

    Life is a good lore. A Life Slann against Chaos Dwarfs suggests that you plan to use a war of attrition. It won’t boost your strength to make it easier to kill the high toughness, high armor save units, but it will make your units very hard to kill making combat slow and grinding for both sides. Hopefully your superior Lizard numbers will win the day in such a fight.

    Shadow is a good lore. Okkam’s Mindrazor lets your troops hit harder (especially important for fighting the War Engines and K’daai destroyers). It’s nice to dock the mighty Strength and toughness cores of the other side. Remember that K’daai are tough to wound by conventional means and they have to take a toughness test every turn after the first or take automatic wounds. This makes the Withering especially useful. Like their regular dwarf brethren, Chaos Dwarfs have Initiative 2 so they are fairly vulnerable to Pit of Shades. It can also get rid of war machines. The CD support units have higher Initiatives than dwarfs though so don’t waste Pit on non-dwarfs. Shadow is a good place to go for swapped spells if you are taking High Magic.

    A Wandering Deliberations Slann should do okay. The Death, Shadow, Beast, and Heavens spells should see heavy use. Searing Doom at least lets you peg the Big Bad Train. The other magic missiles aren’t that useful unless you are facing hobgoblins.

    I can see a case for taking the Lore of Metal. Most Chaos Dwarf units have an Armor Save of 4+ or better, meaning the army as a whole is fairly vulnerable to the direct damage spells. The hexes and buff are nice too. The usefulness of the Lore of Metal is weakened slightly by the fact that most Chaos Dwarf units get a special 5+ Ward save versus flaming attacks and all the spells inflicting flaming hits. Taking Metal means you have to have a non-magical means to take out K’daai. Metal direct damage would probably be the easiest way to take down an Iron Daemon War Engine though, might be worth swapping a High spell for Searing Doom if the big train is causing you problems.

    Heavens is an okay lore, but you probably don’t want to take a Heavens Slann or Tet. Iceshard Blizzard is good to throw on their nasty war machines and BS based infantry shooting. The Heavens direct damage tend to hit hard enough that they can take a toll on the high priced Chaos Dwarf units. Even though parts of the Chaos Dwarf army are mobile, much of it is still slow moving or stationary so Comet of Casandora will take its toll in the blood of tainted dwarfs with a little luck.

    Death is not a great choice against Chaos Dwarfs. Chaos Dwarfs have more high Initiative units than regular dwarfs so Purple Sun is less of a killer than normal. Most of the characters you want to snipe will be in the back so you need to do some work to get in range of them. Most armies will have at least one of their wizards deployed with the artillery to provide engineer support so you can take out their wizards with your war machine hunters and don’t need to use Death magic to snipe them out of large units. You can use Skink priests to extend your casting range, but Chaos Dwarf characters have high Ld, Toughness, and Strength so they are hard to kill via sniping spells.

    Beasts is a subpar lore. I don’t see Herohammer as a viable strategy against an army this elite, so you probably don’t want a Beast Slann. There are two spells you want your Skink Priests to have if you can swing it. Wyssans Wildform is always handy as is Transformation of Kadon can let a wizard fight a K’daai destroyer or War Engine toe-to-toe.

    Fire is subpar against most armies. It’s nigh worthless against Chaos Dwarfs. Most units have a bonus Ward Save versus Fire and Taurus are actually healed by lore of fire spells (not that many lists take a Taurus).

    Old Bloods and Scar Veterans: You are probably better off using superior numbers to help your infantry blocks win the day as opposed to putting in a hard hitting Scar Veteran in a block to add hitting power. A Scar Veteran will either be cut down by elite enemies or bypassed as the unit slaughters your rank and file. An Old blood on a carnosaur can serve as an excellent counter to the War Engine, K’daai Destroyer, Siege Giant, or sorcerer prophet on a Taurus. The hard part is keeping the Carnosaur from being shot to pieces by artillery while you try to point your Carnosaur at the aforementioned nasty units.

    Since Scarnosaurs let us take the big predators without forgoing a Slann, I think you should consider using Scarnosaurs to take down the CD support monsters. For less cost, a Scar Veteran on a Cold One with a Great Weapon can be used as a poor man’s monster hunter, but you probably want to give them at least a few Cold One Cavalry to absorb shooting hits for him and let him survive the trip to his target. Either way a magical item that protects against flaming attacks is a good idea for any Saurus character going monster hunting since the monsters you are likely to be hunting are probably going to be K’daai.

    Skink Priest: Good for a few Heavens or Beasts support spells and as a Cube/Scroll Caddy. Nothing really CD specific here.

    Skink Chief: I’ve kind of soured on Skink chiefs as a viable choice against anyone. If I felt compelled to take a Skink Chief against Chaos Dwarfs, I’ll probably stick one on a Terradon or Ripper and point him at the artillery line or the wizard/engineer in the artillery line. You don't really need to worry about keeping predatory fighters in check because you'll usually want to chase any Chaos Dwarf unit you happen to break, except maybe Hobgoblins.

    Special Characters: Tet might be good if you are Heavens fan. While expensive, a unit of Terradon riders led by Tik’taq’to (I really hate that name….) will devastate the enemy’s high priced artillery. I don’t see the other guys being very viable for non-fluff reasons.

    You may have noticed I keep falling back to K’daai. I haven’t played them personally with LM because the force I played had too few points to field K’daai, but the player at my store tends to favor letting his K’daai destroyer do most of the fighting for him (if I had an unofficial model that bad ass looking, I’d favor it too). That seems to work for him. The LM don’t have a lot of things that can wound the K’daai destroyer (or wound the smaller K’daai on less than a 6). Most of the things we have that can put the hurting on K’daai are artillery magnets. If you can’t use heavy hitters, the only practical way to beat a K’daai unit is to outnumber them and inflict wounds on the unstable unit through CR or else hope they fail their Toughness test.

    Like the K’daai Destroyer, the Iron Daemon War Engine is also nasty and hard to kill. It’s near standard issue on higher point CD army lists because it lets you put your artillery in steam carriages, so the odds of you facing one are very good. Fortunately they are not invincible against low strength attacks so you can nickel and dime a War Engine to death with enough regular units, but the cost in spilt reptilian blood will be high indeed.

    Whether your foe is castling up and making you march across the table to fight him or not, it’s important to knock out the enemy artillery quickly. Make sure your army includes flyers and/or chamo skinks. You need something that can put the hurting on the tougher support units (or at least tar pit them or redirect them). Don’t bother taking flaming attack units in your list unless it’s an all comers list. Do put anti-fire magic items on your MVP characters if you can afford it.

    If you can neutralize the Chaos Dwarf’s heaviest hitters, your superior numbers should win the day. Either beat them with bigger units maintaining steadfast and winning via attrition or hit them with multiple units and beat them with a high volume of attacks from both your front and flanking units.
  3. Old Mossy

    Old Mossy Member

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    Re: Chaos Dwarf Tactica

    Awesome tactica. I am now, however, thoroughly intimidated by the prospect of facing chaos dwarves.
  4. Arli
    Skink Priest

    Arli Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Chaos Dwarf Tactica

    Great posts! I will have to come back to finish them. I would love to play against Chaos Dwarves. If anyone is interested in playing them, you could save money by getting the Abysmal dwarves from Mantic and using them. Probably a lot cheaper than the Forgeworld stuff.
  5. Dog On Todd

    Dog On Todd Member

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    Re: Chaos Dwarf Tactica

    Thanks for doing this Scalenex!

    Kind of an odd choice for a tactica when we are missing tacticas for more mainstream armies, but a good read anyways!

    The only experience I have had with Chaos Dwarves is getting my :jawdrop: handed to me. They are banned in my play group because they are imbalanced.

    Admittedly we play massive campaigns, where surprisingly they shine even more.
  6. SanDiegoSurrealist

    SanDiegoSurrealist New Member

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  7. Arli
    Skink Priest

    Arli Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Chaos Dwarf Tactica

    That was exactly what I was talking about. Pretty soon, you will be able to get some Ogres too (according to the kickstarter for Mantic).
  8. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Just revised this for the new book.

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