Saturday, February 15, 2014

Warhammer Dwarfs: Initial Impressions

So its finally happened.  Games Workshop went and gave the Dwarf army a new book.  It isn't like this was a surprise, many of us knew this was coming.  The company has been releasing new models over the month of February, and while the book wasn't in the initial two weeks of releases it is out now and I have my copy.  I picked the book up last night and so have literally only had it for about 8 hours and thus all of what follows are simply my initial impressions of the book and should be taken as such.  Warning!  I am going to complain a lot.  However I'm also going to type just as much that I am really excited about.  Warning out of the way let's begin!

First I'll cover the book itself.  The hardcover is of course nice just as all the hardcover books have been.  The full color is great and used very well in this book.  I really liked the map in after the timeline section.  The fluff is good although I admit to not having read all of it yet.  The cover is a great piece of art and speaking of such the artwork throughout the book I really enjoyed a lot.  I saw a lot of new and definitely some old, but overall I really enjoyed it.  The book seems well organized and easy to follow with.  A+ for the book itself.

Staring with the complaints I will go over the things that have been changed significantly (for the worse in my op) since the last book and go on.  The Organ Gun retained its original points cost and was upgraded to two artillery dice and a 30" range.  It did however become BS shooting which with the entire Dwarf army barring Hero's is BS 3.  I don't know if you've ever tried BS 3 shooting or not but it isn't good.  The Organ Gun can now also have 50 points of Runes which means you can make it better by giving it a +1 to hit rune.  This will increase it to 145 points and if you also invest in an Engineer character at 70 points you will be hitting on 3's, 4's at range.  So for 195 points you may get some good usefulness out of the gun but at that cost your losing quite a bit extra out of your list.

Quarrelers, Longbeards, Hammerers, Ironbreakers, Slayers, have all seen a points increase of at least 1 point if not more.  This means that out of our eight previous foot choices from the last book more than half have increased in points making the army even more elite and smaller yet still.  A depressing fact is that to arm the Longbeards equally to the Hammerer's still makes them cost the same as a Hammerer which was something I never felt was right.  When I tried to build a list last night I found myself constantly looking for points to trim and was having just a hell of a time doing so to squeeze in all the things I did want to field.

Our dispel ability has been hurt somewhat.  Runesmith/lord's no longer auto generate Dispel Dice but can channel.  The army retains the +2 to all Dispel rolls ability it had from the 8th Ed. BRB.  A Smith can only take 1 scroll now and it is either a Spellbreaker or a Spelleater.  So while you can still take multiple scrolls int he army it will at least now require more than a single character to do so.  The Rune of Balance is still in the game but now only functions on a 4+.  The Anvil of Doom is in my opinion junk now.  It still gives you an extra Dispel and now a Power dice as well, but the abilities have been changed to bound spells which means that your opponent can now stop them.  The abilities themselves are also not as good as the previous edition.  The first is the ability to give units Immune to Psych which is situationally useful at best considering the army consists of only LD 9 and 10 models.  The second is to give a unit +1 AS which again is useful but not so much so that it is worth taking that many points in a single model.  Finally there is a 2D6 S4 magic missile which is clearly the most consistently useful of the bunch but without the old penalty to a units movement or ability to stop flying models considerably weaker in my opinion.  They did reduce the points cost of a Runelord by 20 and the Anvil by 5 so while taking one is 25 points total cheaper I dont' think I'll be running one myself.

Let's get out of the negativity and move on to the good stuff shall we!  I will be interspersing some negativity into my positivity discussion because these are things that have changed both directions in my opinion whereas above was pretty much just negative statements. We're going to start from the characters and progress through the units.  The Armies overall special rules are almost universally great.  We can still March all the time.  We have a 1/3 chance at the beginning of a game to have Hatred of the enemy army.  We get +1S on the charge and +1 Parry Save when charged.  The only armywide rule that we lost was the +1 To Hit with our Handguns which was replaced with an army rule that gives all Dwarf shooting weapons the ability to Stand and Shoot without suffering the -1 penalty.  An extremely poor tradeoff as I have complained above BS 3 shooting is terrible.]

The Runesmiths do have a new ability I didn't discuss above as well as seeing a points drop on both Hero and Lord versions.  They grant the unit they are in Armor Piercing.  So taking these guys does and will improve units that they join.  Imagine a unit of Longbeards or Hammerer's on the charge.  S6 with GW, +1S from charging and Armor Piercing because of a Runesmith in them.  Have a little -5 to your Armor Save.  Talk about a great way to nail heavily armored enemies.  Thanes remained the same cost but got upgraded to LD 10.  Lords remained the same cost and I didn't notice any difference between last and new books.  On the talk of Thane's, Oathstones got a significant upgrade along with their 5 point cost increase.  It now always gives the unit the ability to Parry any direction and can also continue moving with its unit and while it no longer has Magic Resistance you can have multiple stones in a unit so it no longer restricts a unit to a single character in it.  I think if you decide to run Ironbreakers one of these characters will be for certain going into the unit.

Moving along to core units.  Thunderers were dropped 2 points which was the least they could do for taking away the +1 To Hit.  Quarrelers went up 1 point which seems a lot just for the no negative to Stand and Shoot.  Warriors remained the same which is fine and Longbeards went up a point and retained all their old abilities.  Still a bit over costed considering when geared the same the same as a Hammerer model which seems wrong to me.  Into specials we see Hammerers went up 2 points in cost but can now carry a 75 point banner making all but two of our magic banners available to a unit in the book now and not BSB only.  The unit got a new ability where if they contain the Dwarf General (not lord, but just general) then any model in the unit may accept a Challenge.  Ironbreakers went up in points but gained nothing which sucks.  Slayers went up a point and gained Deathblow allowing models in base contact to get a single attack after they are killed which is okay but not great.  Their model size and unit limit were changed to 5+ and 1+ though which opens up the opportunity to buy multiple 5 man units and use them as small packs of redirectors like Giant Rat 'Darts' from the Skaven army.  Miners went down a point and retained their old rules such as Steam Drill and Blasting charges (both of which I feel are still overcostd).  They did however change to use the Ambush rules from the BRB which means a 3+ to come out on any turn after the first which is fine.  Although with the loss of the Anvil's movement spell I'm not sure how often you'll see them anymore in large units.

Bolt Throwers went up 10 points which made no sense, Cannons increased 30 which I'm fine with.  Cannon is a cannon after all.  Grudge Thrower remained the same.  Also we see the Gyrocopter move into the Special choices section with a massive points reduction of 60!  The Gyrocopter has seen what is probably the largest change int he book as a whole.  It breaks the rule of army composition by allowing you to field 6 of them independently.  You can for 20 points give a Gyro (up to 1/2 the Gyro's in your army rounded up) Vanguard movement.  They gained a Dive Bomb rule which is once a game moving over a unit cause an Artillery die worth of automatic S3, AP hits to a unit.  These are now our Skirmish unit killers since the Organ Gun suffers from BS shooting now.  They also have their Steam Gun and an optional Multi Shot S5 gun that must roll to hit.  Considering the cost and bomb ability I think you'll be seeing an awful lot of Gyrocopters int eh game.  I've already got two more on their way to me to add to my army.

The Rare seleciton's.  Oh dear has this section seen a shakeup.  The Organ Gun I've already discussed.  The Flame Cannon remained the same cost but was given back it's D3 wounds and 12" extra range which makes it usable again, which excites me actually.  Replacing the Gyrocopter here is the Gyrobomber which is still cheaper than the old Copter at 125 points.  It can drop bombs all game long as it moves over units.  It uses a 5" template which scatters as a stone thrower and then on a 4+ scatters again as a 3" template.  It also comes with the multi shot S5 gun.  I actually do not like this unit.  50% of the time unless your enemy is running a VERY large unit you will be scattering off and hitting nothing.  The gun is a BS 3 shooting which will suffer penalties for multi shot and probably range as it's short is 9" meaning you'll be needing 6's or 5's at best if in short.  Not a fan.  Then we get to the Iron Drakes.  A new shooting unit with a crazy good gun, amazing armor and a ludicrous stat line for 15 points.  A 18" S5 quick to fire weapon which can move and shoot.  They come with an elite WS5 and LD10 as well as better armor then even our characters start with at a 4+ AS, 6+ WS and 2+ WS vs. Flaming.  The thing they suffer from is BS 3 still though and with a short range of 9" you'll be looking again at 5's to hit most of the time.  I don't like them but I can absolutely see them being used, but I don't think you'll see small units of them as to get past the BS 3 hurdle they'll need to have massed shooting.  Finally Rangers were moved to the Rare selection away from the Core.  We can now have multiple units and at 5+ models.  They still have GW and Crossbows so these are almost like Dark Elf shade's now.  I'm kind of excited to use small 5 man units.

The Rune System of our magic items has seen a massive shakeup.  The army now actually has a small selection of prebuilt special items of which I think only 2 of are useful at all.  The Runes retained the same old construction rules of only 3 runes, 1 master rune, no duplicates.  However there is now a stacking system implemented for many of the runes int he book.  This changes runes abilities if you take multiples usually retaining the previous runes ability as well.  So for example if you give a character the Rune of Burning you gain Flaming attacks.  If you have 2 Runes of Burning you get flaming attacks and a S4 Breath Weapon and 3 Runes grants you D3 wounds.  We lost a couple of what used to be stand out runes in this book.  We no longer have the re-rollable armor save.  We lost the ability to make magical Great Weapons and there are an umber of other ones which have gone to the wayside.  That said there are a lot of really cool new abilities here that I think with time and testing will prove to be just as good so I'm very excited about the possibilities the Rune system will provide.

Overall impressions of the book are middling at the moment.  As usual GW has changed what was good last book and made some of the new stuff really good.  They rearranged the selections and while they have increased the points of models at least this means I wont have to buy much in the way of new stuff.  There were a number of rumors that didn't come to fruition such as Generic Lords taking a Throne but that's okay.  I'm excited to get playing but apprehensive about saying the book is either good or bad at the moment.  I think some serious play will be needed before I can make such a judgement call.  I am happy about the book.  I've been waiting a long time and am excited to play my old army again.  Hopefully other Dwarf players are as ready to play and hopefully I'll end up more happy than not after some serious play.

Thanks for reading everyone.


Cpjiardina said...

I would agree with most of what you put up. I am picking my book up today and will re-read this... good post

Minitrol said...

Very good round up. I was naively hoping for options to be able to compete in every phase but it seems that while I am happy with some changes overall this is a deckchair shuffle.

Going to digest for a bit and come back with some more feedback!

Wayne Ensley said...

I agree with some of what you have said, however with the Longbeards, remember that they get ItP. The slayers heroes and lords get a nice boost with the daemon slayer forcing enemies to reroll their successful ward saves and dragon slayers getting multiple wound (d3) vs monsters. The war machines I will not complain about too much. Even the organ gun going to bs3 is not so bad as it has up to 20 shots and is much less likely to explode due to misfire. That is even before.... say a rune of forging!
Your issue with the bomber, though valid is easily fixed with a rune of accuracy. A couple of them flying right over the enemy line could VERY easily tear the heart out of an army. Also seeing that the rune gives +1 to hit with the str5 gun.
Last for now, I can see that if people want to run a gun line army, they will use Grimm Burloksson. The skills there are very versatile.
Over all, I am amped to try the new book out.