Dwarven Holds v1.0 review

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  • Dwarven Holds Review v1.0

    After months of hard work by everyone involved in the project, we finally have a finished Dwarven Holds Army Book. The blood, sweat and tears that has helped forge this has been immense and everyone involved from the Army Book Commitee and Army Support who have crafted, discussed, collated and argued, to the community and playtesters providing feedback, and the Rules Team and Balancing board providing the drive and guidance, can be proud of what they have achieved so far.

    Army Wide Rules + Army Special Rules
    The Hewn out of Mountains rule is elegant in my opinion, representing Dwarven innate resistence to magic it is surprising how often it will have an effect in a game, either by causing the opponent to use 1 extra dice to cast spells or when they fail to cast by that single one. The Ancient Grudge rule is a good bonus for all combat based lists, the Hatred being particularly effective if the begrudged unit is combo charged. Relentless helps infantry march across the board to contest objectives while Sturdy and Shieldwall provide nice bonuses in combat when charging, standing and shooting and receiving a charge to the front. The Holdstone is very nice as it increases a units durability in combat by synergising with Shieldwall, while providing the ability to make supporting attacks to the Flank and Rear can be a nice bonus in that combat. The most important aspect is that other characters or champions within the unit can accept challenges to prolong the use of the Holdstone. Entrench is a nice little protection to War Machines while Yer Comin' with me! and The Bigger They Are all are effective on Seeker characters and units.

    Battle Runes
    These runes provide a unique magic phase to the Dwarven Holds army. There are pros and cons to it, with every Rune being short range and a buff for the target it requires practice to get the most out of the Dwarven magic phase. Gleaming, Reckoning and Resilience can be powerful in the right situation, while Resolve, Metal and Oaths are somewhat more situational in my opinion.

    Runic Items
    A staple of the Dwarven Holds, they can craft their own unique magic items using the Runes. With a max of 3 runes per item, no repeat combinations and no repeat of one of a kind runes in the army there are so many ways to tailor your characters and lists using these Runes.


    All Dwarf characters are tough, resilient and well armoured, they each fill a role within an army list.

    The King is the leader of the Hold and the general of the army with his Ld10. He is tough and can put up a good fight in combat with a good selection of runic items. Buff him with Shieldbearers and he starts to pack an even better punch. However with the Warthrone upgrade he really starts to be very intimidating, he can be runed up to give almost any opponent pause about getting into a fight with him, and the bonuses of Swiftstride and the Ancient Grudges can make him really effective in aggressive combat lists. Unfortunately as a balancing mechanism it does mean no war machines in the special section.
    The Thane is similar to the King in that he is a good leader particularly for smaller forces, with his Clan Leader he can really buff the right Clan Warrior unit. He is great as a BSB and with the reduced hero weapon Runes there are some nice combinations available.
    Daemon Seekers are pure glass cannons, with the right runic combinations and upgrades he can put the fear into most opponent monsters and combat characters. Seeker characters are the only Dwarven characters who can take runed paired weapons. The +1A & +1I combined with Grim Resolve and Monster Seeker give a great base for Runic combinations to build upon. However with only a 6+ ward save for defence, maximising the effectiveness of their attacks and their speed are important as is giving them the opportunity to reach combat with an accompanying Seeker unit.
    Dragon Seekers are similar to Daemonseekers, but at a reduced cost they are so effective for their points it is hard to overlook them in many combat lists.
    Runic Masters are the surest way of having a competitive Magic Phase in the Dwarven army. With enough points he can compete with most other magic phases but it will always suffer due to the Bound Spell effect. These guys with a Rune of Brilliance can provide good magic support to key combat blocks. On their own they are unlikely to affect much more than that but teamed with an Anvil of Power there can be some good synergies once you know how to navigate the Dwarven Magic Phase. They can make good tanking Generals, so can synergise with Kingsguard by not taking up lots of unit space, while being tough enough to give them Bodyguard as long as he is alive. The bonuses they grant both passively and via spells can really tip a combat in the Dwarves favour.
    Runic Smiths are trainee Masters, and as such are not as proficient in casting spells, although the bonuses their spells may add to a unit are nice they are not as likely to cast them as a Runic Master. With their passive buffs and a Rune of Denial it may be the most efficient way of using them is as a Scroll Caddy unless running a magic heavy list.
    Master Engineers are key staples to any army list, especially those with a heavy shooting theme. The bonuses they grant only last for the Dwarven shooting phase but can really synergise with a number of shooting units in the army. Able to take powerful guns and with good armour they can make good use of Talismanic Runes to add character, flavour and unusual combos to lists.
    Engineers are useful in War Machine heavy lists, able to pass on their BS4 while providing decent protection with a good armour and access to Forge Repeater or Wyrm Slayer Rockets, they can cause War Machine hunters problems while guarding the machines.


    At first glance, our core selections may appear rather limited, however the three selections have versatility among the selections to enable you as a Dwarven Holds player to pick the Core troops to complement both your playstyle and fill in gaps left by other selections in the army.

    Core Clan Warriors can provide large combat blocks with Great Weapons or Spears, that synergise well with Clan Leader combat Thanes, while large ranked units of Warriors with Shields are an excellent tarpit that provides ranks to combats. Taken in smaller units Warriors with Shields and Throwing Weapons or Spears can act as reasonable War Machine guards or chaff blockers.
    Greybeards provide the elite unit for Dwarf Core, able to fulfill multiple roles, whether as a heavy hitting hammer with Great Weapons or as a tough Anvil with Shields. They can also be useful as small units of blockers with S4 Throwing Weapons. With the Seen it all ability they also provide a safety net to nearby units. The addition of a Rune Smith can really enhance this unit, but i feel they become prohibitively expensive if upgraded with all the equipment.
    Clan Marksmen provide the solid core for shooting lists, without Shieldwall they are only average in combat, they can strike at S6 on the charge with Great Weapons but they are not as durable as other core troops and with their price are unlikely to be fielded in large numbers. The choice between Guns and Crossbows offers choice depending on opponents, but the Guild-Crafted Handguns led by a Master Engineers look a very solid, if expensive, option for strong shooting lists.


    This is where the Heart and Soul of a Dwarven Holds army is defined in my opinion. With elite infantry options, heavy support from the War Machines and quick battlefield
    control with the Copters, there is a coruncopia of options for all Dwarven generals to fit their style of play.

    The Deep Watch are the unmovable anvil, with their heavy armour and special Shieldwall they will be able to hold up under alot of pressure, synergised with both Character support and a Holdstone they are a very tough nut to crack. However they may struggle to win combats on their own without Characters or secondary supporting units. With a 50pt magical banner option there is alot of versatility open to their role on the battlefield. I like my medium sized units to be supported by a Thane BSB on Holdstone and a Runic Character.
    The Kingsguard are heavy hitting combat dwarves with 2A S6 (S7 on the charge) they put a serious dent in almost anything they get into combat with. Combined with movement banners, swiftstride bonuses from a King on a Warthrone and the potential for further attacks with the Rune of Retribution they will scare most opponents even without any character support (which makes them tough to move via Bodyguard). It is because of this they will often be the target for enemy shooting and magic, in an attempt to whittle them down. I feel a shield upgrade could well be worth it if fielding them in larger units. A tanky Runic Master general is a good addition to this unit if he is fielded. It may be worth looking at running multiple smaller units, of around 15 as flankers, to fully utilise their 2A and splitting incoming fire at them.
    The Forge Wardens are the elite shooting units, decent in combat with a strong if short range shooting threat. The ability to synergise with Master Engineers and to have multiple Wyrm Slayer Rockets if joined by Engineer characters can be a threat that keeps many opponents at bay. Taken in large numbers they can form the centre of strong shooting lists but also have the versatility to act as good flanking or support units in smaller numbers in more aggressive lists.
    The Seekers are strong choices in all lists due to the versatility available to them. They can hunt monsters and monstrous units on the field, they can hold up opponent units with unbreakable while still dishing out damage via the Yer comin with me rule. They have extra movement availability whether through swiftstride on some charges, vanguard option or skirmish which provides flexibility and protection from shooting. These combat glass cannons can be tailored to suit how you want to run them in your list, just dont expect them to survive. The inability to be a scoring unit is in my opinion a good thing as it counters how flexible they can be elsewhere. The addition of Seeker characters will increase the combat threat of these guys massively.
    Miners are great fun to play with, the ability to ambush can really be a boon in agressive lists as its a way to surround an opponent, and will often throw less experienced players off balance. With an array of equipment options they can be tailored to your personal taste, as well as providing some fun modelling opportunities. My personal favourite is with pistols to gain a stand and shoot as well as 2A S5 on the charge. They are excellent at hunting warmachines and some bunkers as well as providing flank or rear charges to already engaged units. Personally i think smaller units of 10-15 are perfect but larger units will be intimidating to opponents.

    Copters are the fastest moving units in the Dwarven Holds book and they use this to help provide battlefield control and support. There are 3 different types each of which can only be selected twice. The Attack Copters being able to be fielded as a unit of 2 with skirmish as 1 option is a very strong hunter and diverter. The Bomber is a big threat to enemy chaff while the Flame Copter is very good against large units of weaker trrops but personally im not a big fan due to the inability to march and shoot. I personally like to field 2 single Attack Copters and 1 Bomber but these units are very much dependent on your style of play and role in the army so i recommend giving them all a go.

    The Field Artillery is for many the quintessential Dwarven aspect of the army. Like the Copters able to take 3 with no more than 2 of one type does mean you have to design your list to maximise the effect of your War Machines.
    Cannons are excellent at shooting down Large Targets and tough, heavily armoured single models or small units. Their threat is such that their targets, especially flying ones will often hide out of sight for a turn or two.
    Catapults are more of a hybrid War Machine, able to be effective against both troops and single models.
    Organ Guns are great at shooting troops, clearing small chaff units or heavily armoured troops equally well. Often the potential threat of their damage can cause the opponent to pause or avoid them, this gives you important zonal control.
    It is still possible to field potentially very strong War Machine combinations, but it does require runic upgrades to provide reliability and synergy with Engineer characters for the increased BS. In this case it quickly becomes very expensive to do so. Most opponents will fear War Machines and they will be targeted from the early stages with spells, shooting, ambushing and quick moving units in an attempt to nullify them, so be prepared to counter these. My experiences of War Machines without the upgrades and synergies is that there is a good chance of being underwhelmed by them, one or two poor rolls will mean they are ineffective in the battle, so bear that in mind when designing lists.


    These are jewels of the army, the aspects that really enhance the style of any list. The problem as always is fitting them all into the army.

    The Vengeance Seeker, a whirling dervish of pure trouble for anyone who comes across these guys. With a small frontage these mean seekers can put out a significant amount of damage at I10, while being surprisingly tough to get rid of. They are great at holding up flanks or clearing chaff or just going into most things and putting a big dent in them, at 60pts they are great.
    Rangers are the swiss army knife of the list, they can be kitted out for most roles and with their Scout can be in the right place to do so. In skirmish with Throwing Weapons
    they can act as a screen or chaff hunters, with crossbows they are the surest shot in the book. in ranks with a banner they can claim objectives late in the game. With great weapons they can pack a punch in combat. Judicious use of the Rune of Kinship, can make interesting options with Master Engineers or Thanes joining the Rangers to enhance their skills.
    Hold Guardians are Monstrous Infantry that provide nice options to the Dwarven General. The S6, magical attacks, multiwound D3 is enough to cause most Monstrous Units and Monsters to pause before engaging them. These provide an interesting alternative to war machines in lists with an agressive playstyle. A unit with the benefit of Swiftstride from a Throne and with the benefit from the Rune of Retribution can really hit hard. The upgrades of flaming attacks and fireborn are interesting but are probably only useful in certain match ups (Trolls and Ogres with regeneration beware). Despite all this they do have weaknesses. The relatively low WS and A means they are no guarantee in combat and can struggle against massed ranks of infantry. They may not die quickly but they will find it tough to overcome static combat res in these match ups.
    The Grudge Buster is a chariot with a fly move. It provides a hard hitting unit with a large threat range on the charge. These can be very devastating with their Impact hits and can keep dealing out the damage in subsequent turns with the grinding attacks. Tough to kill with T5 W5 and 3+Armour they will hang around in combat longer than may be expected. Used on the flanks they will clear most opposition and are fast enough to offer support to other combats, potentially tipping them.
    The Grudge Machines represent the more uncommon War Machines of the Dwarven forces.
    The Flame Cannon is a great zone controller, with a short but devastating range it carries such threat that many opponents are fearful of it. The bane of multiwound models it can be match up dependent but is extremely effective against the right targets.
    The Ballista is possibly the weakest entry in the book, the relatively low BS means it can be unreliable in hitting its targets. However it is cheap enough that it can have its uses, against flying units or single models it can make them pause if upgraded.
    Finally there is the Anvil of Power this war machine is so unique its one of a kind. However as it is the only way to choose ranged damage spells in the list it is very powerful. With its relatively long range and durability it is tough to deal with but causes headaches for many opponents, it is a must in any list looking to maximise the use of magic
    for the Dwarves. My personal choice for this is the Runes of Shattering, Storms and Resolve for the damage spells and the range to give a magical move to friendly units.

    In summary the Dwarven Holds book provides lots of character and choice within lists, and it is possible to run a number of viable builds with playstyles from gunlines, combined and aggressive 'push' armies with a great deal of fun and effectiveness.

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