Follies of Fools

Welcome to my series of battle reports using my dwarfs in The Digital Throne, a Universal Battle tournament in Canada. We’ll be playing 5 rounds with the same 2300 point list.

Recounting tales for my night-stalkers in Call to Arms 4 has me want to do the same for my much loved, but poorly played dwarfs. I’ve loved dwarves and things dwarven since reading The Hobbit as a child.

I tend to favour an aggressive fast moving play style, so playing dwarfs is not quite my speed (so to speak). I intend to try getting the hang of it though, because I’m stubborn and being forced to use my units together and plan ahead like dwarfs require will hopefully make me better at Kings of War.
Before someone asks: use the same spelling as Mantic for dwarfs in the context of Kings of War, it is their world. Same goes for Tolkien though.

If you like reading background and want to know why I call it the Fool’s Hold you can read about it here.

My list:
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Shieldbreakers Regiment
Rangers Regiment
Rangers Regiment
Sharpshooters Troop
Sharpshooters Troop
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiment
Steel Behemoth
Dwarf Lord on Large Beast
Berserker Lord -Brock -Blade of Slashing
Dwarf Army Standard Bearer
Flame Priest -Inspiring Talisman - Bane Chant -Increase Fireball to (10)

The idea is that there is a solid core with some bite for units on the way in and shieldbreakers and a steel behemoth to hit back, with the lord on beast supporting where needed. The rangers scout to provide the early pressure that the rest of the army struggles. The brocks are there to be a fast wing.
The sharphooters provide damage from a denied flank and waste something’s time to go get them.

I prefer 2000 points (this is not the place to discuss that, please), but 2300 does let me include extra options and so try them at once.
I’ll be keeping an eye on how which units do poorly (or well) while I try to figure out how to play dwarfs!


a hint I learned from watching Ronnie in the mega game is to move once in a while :slight_smile:
looks good, I look forward to hearing how it performed. The double sharpshooters is something I don’t see a lot of

Round 1 vs Robert Shewring
Control vs Order of the Green Lady

Men-at-Arms Retainers Horde -Aegis of the Elohi -Vial of Sacred Water
Order of the Brotherhood Horde -Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding -Vial of Sacred Water
Order of Redemption -Blood of the Old King
Water Elementals Regiment
Water Elementals Regiment
Earth Elementals Regiment
Earth Elementals Regiment
Greater Water Elementa
Devoted -Inspiring Talisman -Surge (7)
Druid -Tome of Darkness -Bane Chant -Surge

This is a fast list that hits hard, with some toughness and surge ability. The cavalry will kill something, I will have to hit it back hard enough to remove the horde. If I can trade a regiment of ironclad for the Order of the Brotherhood that’s a win.


I’ve denied the left where the building and obstacles would make it hard to advance, the Lord on Large Beast’s job is to hold things up. The plan is that between shooting on the way in and a counter punch I can take the deal with the Brotherhood horde early.
The rangers take the pond to start shooting. The brocks as set up to sweep down the right, to not much opposition, but the forsaken will be an issue, they will have to be baited

**Brotherhood Round 1 **

The cavalry in the centre and water elementals move up to charge and the earth elementals move up their side. The forsaken feel that they are projecting enough threat already.

Dwarfs Round 1

The dwarfs open up as much shooting on the knight horde as possible, doing a respectable amount of damage. They have to charge or get shot off before doing so. I could have backed out of charge range, but I wanted get the engagement going, so that I could move to score. In hindsight; I could have backed out of range and tried to kill the cavalry horde from a distance.
The rangers had to choose between more effective shooting or moving back, this will be a common decision for them, so I should think on it.
The brock riders move out of the forsaken’s range and the other regiment moves forward with the mastiff pack as chaff.

Brotherhood Round 2

The cavalry come in. the brotherhood horde routs a regiment of ironclad (after healing from the devoted and sacred water), while the hindered charge from the redemption knights does not shift the stubborn fools.
The water elementals charge to fight in their element.

Dwarfs Round 2

The counter punch wavers the brotherhood horde. The rangers find that fighting water in water is difficult and the mastiffs try to help. in hindsight, the brocks have set up a trap, so I would have been better served by the mastiff pack sneaking off to score. I could also have sent in brock riders to prevent the water elementals flanking the rangers.
The lord on beast leaves his flank exposed to the earth elemental for a hindered charge, not my best moment.

The ironclad brace for impact! This tactic is not about standing forever, a regiment just has to force the cavalry to slow. Then they can pull out their wounded while the counter charge comes in, they will not be an effective unit for the rest of this battle, but their job will be done.

Brotherhood Round 3

The brotherhood horde rolls 6 for their headstrong and routs the shieldbreakers. the redemtion knights still do not move their opponents. The water elementals overwhelm a regiment of rangers.
The forsaken shuffle around, giving the steel behemoth a flank, while the greater earth elemental does not take it’s flank charge though. The fight the far left starts going to the earth elementals.

It turned out that my opponent thought his greater earth elemental was sp 5. Which raises a question of sportsmanship; generally I don’t want to gain an advantage because my opponent didn’t know something, or something easy to forget slipped their mind (it is one of the things that I like about Kings of War and the community). I often remind my opponent of wild charge or brew of haste when they move too close and always remind my opponent of ensnare when they’re deciding what to charge; for example.
However; I feel that my opponent has to be responsible for knowing their own rules. Easy to forget steps like regeneration are another matter though (who hasn’t forgotten at least once :P), those are rules that actually have to happen; strictly speaking: not doing them is against the rules.

Dwarfs Round 3

The steel behemoth takes a flank charge and brock riders show the rangers how it’s done. These foes are defending their sacred forest though, so the other water elementals and forsaken hold. The ironclad in the woods keep fighting and get a lucky waver on the brotherhood horde.
The units on the left slowly get grounds down.

Brotherhood Round 4

The knight horde rolls another 6 for headstrong, but the ironclad hold! The rest of the left flank does not though. The steel behemoth gets a double on for nerve, it really is not concerned about that fight.

Norgrunn’s axe broke on the big rock! There is also a horde of devoted “environmentalists” coming.
Seems like the time to retreat his flank.

Dwarfs Round 4

The steel behemoth turns while the brotherhood are still jammed up, but still late. The water elementals still hold! The standard bearer moves to try hold up the greater earth elemental.

Brotherhood Round 5

The standard bearer holds while the ironclad leave the field for the steel behemoth to clear.
The left flank gets properly cleared out.

Dwarfs Round 5

The brotherhood horde wavers, again. At least the puddle is finally cleared.
The rangers push on to score where the mastiff pack should be scoring.

The rangers swear under their breaths, fighting water elementals in their element is not a good idea! Let’s not try that again.

Brotherhood Round 6

The redemption knights use their Blood of the Old King to send the standard bearer running, might as well.
The brotherhood horde rolls yet another 6 for headstrong, but fail to impress the steel behemoth.

Dwarfs Round 6

The beserkers stream into the central quadrant to finally scatter the brotherhood knights and add their Unit Strength to the centre sector. This leaves the dwarfs with a narrow draw.
The Order of the Green Lady are more devoted than that though, we roll for and get turn 7.

Brotherhood Round 7

The greater earth elemental and redemption knights destroy a unit of brock riders, retaking the dwarf central sector.
The Men-at-Arms, who really should be blocked up by the beserker lord, hold up the remaining brock riders and nearly rout them!

Dwarfs Round 7

The only hope for a draw is removing a unit to take a sector. The steel behemoth has a tiny sliver of flank to charge and goes for the Men-at-Arms, but rolls low for number of attacks and whiffs. Serves me right for trying dirty tricks. I do despise flank charges like that, but the game is as it is.

That failure takes the Fool’s Hold from a draw to a 4-1 loss.

This game had a few units be frustratingly tenacious. It is tempting to chalk the loss up to that and a unfortunate turn 7 roll, but I didn’t do everything right and figuring out dwarfs is part of the point.
In general, I deployed too much force on the right. I could not bring my brock riders to bear and was forced to attack through water elementals in a pond.
the building and obstacles on the left would make it difficult to attack from there, but the open space on the left would have been a better path of attack.

This game has made it clear that dwarfs can’t rely on one unit to deal damage. We have to bring units together. How to concentrate the force that we do have has to be a major tactical concern when playing dwarfs. Brock riders are not the hammer one expects from them. Me 4+ means that the 26 attacks should give 13 hits, only one more an 18 attack unit with Me 3+, and then only with TC 1. The high -/18 nerve seems good, but with De 4+ only makes their durability on par.
Brock riders are cheaper than hammer cavalry units though and fearless. They do seem more fit to be a supporting unit than something that can carry an attack on their own, bar adding artefacts. My view on artefacts is firmly “boyz before toyz”, but brock riders are worth considering expensive artefacts for; which can bring them up to par (in effectiveness and cost) for a cavalry hammer.

I expected that two units of rangers would be a sufficient amount of pathfinder, but with brock riders playing a supporting role it is worth considering a relevant artefact for one of the brock regiments.
The flame priest almost only used bane chant so the 15 points for fireball (10) would be better spent on Sir Jesse’s Boots. Bane chant is certainly important (see note on dealing damage) and is an alternative way to improve brock riders, as opposed to artefacts, that is more flexible and less likely to go to waste if my opponent deals effectively with the brock riders. It seems that the flame priest will be best used inspiring the rangers and supporting the brocks supporting them.

What did well in the list: The sharpshooters did their job and deployed on either side of that building to make it take longer to engage and deal with them, but concentrating their fire would have been more useful.
The multiple regiments of ironclad did well too, having to deal with separate sturdy units definitively achieved the goal of holding up the enemy better than a horde that would have been multi-charged and probably taken off in turn 2 or 3. The amount of throwing mastiffs was also a good spike in damage.

The Fool’s Hold had come out to claim at least a part of the forest, to set up a camp for logging operations. They met a stubborn and devoted resistance, of the kind one would expect from dwarfs defending their hold. The dwarfs could not help but respect that and retreat under vengeful pursuit.
This forest will have to be respected like they expect their mountain to be respected.

On a practical note, they still need the lumber though. At least charcoal has to be made.
There would have to be guarded expeditions from the hold to harvest the fringes of the woods, outside of what the Order of the Green Lady consider their domain, if possible. Much less productive and efficient. At least while the plantations grew, which they now absolutely have to plant and cultivate.


Round 2 vs Jon McCready
Plunder vs Ogres with Basliean allies

Siege Breaker Horde - Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar
Siege Breaker Horde - Mead of Madness
Siege Breaker Horde
Siege Breaker Horde
Siege Breaker Horde
Siege Breaker Horde
Warlock -Inspiring Talisman - Drain Life (5)
Berserker Bully -Blade of Slashing
Berserker Bully

Basliean Men-at-Arms -Veteran Command
High Paladin on Dragon - Aegis Fragment

This looks like a hard list. Faster than me, mostly De 6+ and still hits like ogres. Plus a dragon for extra speed. Lets see how the Fool’s Hold does. I do not want to take this on in a straight fight, so I will have to spread the objectives out and try to fight part of the army while holding off the rest.

Seems like a Basilean noble with money for mercenaries. On the wrong side of Golloch’s Empire.
*See the end of the report for more narrative.

My list again, for convenience
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Ironclad Regiment - Throwing Mastiff
Shieldbreakers Regiment
Rangers Regiment
Rangers Regiment
Sharpshooters Troop
Sharpshooters Troop
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment
Berserker Brock Riders Regiment
Mastiff Hunting Pack Regiment
Steel Behemoth
Dwarf Lord on Large Beast
Berserker Lord -Brock -Blade of Slashing
Dwarf Army Standard Bearer
Flame Priest -Inspiring Talisman - Bane Chant -Increase Fireball to (10)


Note that the loot tokens with blue stars are worth two points, while the yellow star marks bonus points for the tournament score only.

Being aware of where I can apply force, I put most of my offensive units on the left to claim the tokens there. This time having the brock riders attack over open terrain.
Then more good troops to grind in the middle, with my Lord on Beast ready to grab the centre token first turn.
The sharpshooters, ironclad and Brock Lord on the left are to stop those forces from joining the rest of the battle and maybe maybe denying an objective

My opponent has a similar plan, but aiming for the right tokens, with more committed to the centre.

Ogres Turn 1

Ogres get first turn.
The delaying troops on the left are careful. The centre and right objectives are grabbed right away because there is no serious threat projected over them. More on that later.
The main force of ogres step up.

Dwarfs Turn 1

Without enough charges to dent the unit holding the centre objective, dwarfs position to charge and take aim.
Our own delaying troops (on the right) step up and unleash mastiffs at the dragon, because the Men-at-Arms are out of range.
Our offensive troops get in position while the mastiffs grab the loot. Our left unit of rangers find themselves overextended.

Ogres Turn 2

The ironclad in the middle were a little too eager and get charge by two units of siege breakers (one hindered though), which brings them to where they can be dealt with.
The other units move over the loot token, allowing the bully to grab it. This makes the game very difficult if not impossible to win for the dwarfs. More on that mistake later.

The bully on the left gets the wild charge to hold up a unit of brocks, while the mastiff pack is easily scattered.

On the right, the dragon stomps on a troop of sharpshooters and turns to face the right flank. That’s a relief, because dealing with it in the centre would have been a nighmare.

Dwarfs Turn 2

The fight in the middle gets going, with the lead siege breakers dealt with, while the Lord on Beast keeps the other siege breakers busy. This was foolish, because the unit that stopped the slide to conform is destroyed, exposing a flank to the unit in front of Norgrunn.
The remaining sharpshooters begin a duel with the warlock.

On the left, the brock riders do very well, the Berserker bully is dealt with very quickly (with help from bane chant). Despite a poor 1 damage, the siege breakers are wavered! Rangers step up to grab a token as the threats from a turn before are committed.

With a battle cry of “why are you plundering us if they can pay you” the dwarf berserkers put the ogres on the back foot.

On the right the Berserker Lord challenges the dragon while the ironclad press on. Again, I do not project threat. If the Ironclad advanced more in turn one, they could have started a fight with the Men-at-Arms for a token on the right now. Instead of useless shooting on the dragon.
They probably couldn’t keep the token, but could have posed a problem.

Ogres Turn 3

The ogres move to secure their loot on the right, taking victory even further from the dwarf’s grasp.
Nevermind that though! Heroics are afoot!

The Berserker Lord takes a beating, but holds against the dragon.
The Lord on Beast holds of the flank attack with a waver! Opening up a flank in kind.
The rangers with a new loot token hold off a siege breaker charge too.

Dwarfs Turn 3

The Rangers and steel behemoth rout another unit of siege breakers.
The dwarfs on the left turn to the centre, while the rangers buy time and the engaged brocks score another waver!

On the right the ironclad keep pressing while the Berserker Lord continues his EPIC FIGHT!

Ogres Turn 4

The ogres do more running away with the loot on the right. The dragon puts down the Berserker Lord.

On the left one unit of rangers routs as the other begins to hold in the middle. The warlock flanks the Lord on Beast, but only gets a waver.

Dwarfs Turn 4

The beserkers on the left win their fight while the other two hordes of siege breakers in the middle are wavered!

The Lord on Beast gets his headstrong roll, but is only just out of range to charge the dragon! The steel behemoth runs over the warlock. Both units press on the maybe try help on the right in turn 7.

The ironclad on the right move up too eagerly, in a hopeless bid to contest some loot.

Ogres Turn 5

The hopeless bid on the right is crushed, the dwarfs realising that the time to retreat has come.
The other ogres are wavered.

Dwarfs Turn 5

The dwarfs win the left flank and approach the right in case of turn 7.

Ogres Turn 6

One more unit of rangers flee as the ogres continue to move their loot further into a corner.

Dwarfs Turn 6

Dwarf secure the slightly less loot they have, while avoiding the remaining ogres in the middle.
Shots go into the unkillable dragon, in a bid for kill points. It has iron resolve and an aegis fragment, so unless it’s incredibly careless (which it would need to be to be taken off in one go), it can take more damage than a horde.

There is no turn 7, so the dwarfs loose 4-3.

As hinted above, the major lesson here is that I need to think harder about projecting threat. Similar to how I learned about concentration of force in the last game.
It would have been a closer game if I got the first turn, but relying on that is not a plan. I needed to have threat projected over the key tokens at deployment, to make grabbing tokens dangerous for my opponent in turn 1, not only in turn 2. I could have had rangers in the pond (scouted into range) and brock riders in the middle. That would have given me a reasonable chance to take the centre token back in turn 1.
With one unit of chaffed brocks and shieldbreakers there already, I could have had slower supporting units on the left, like the steel behemoth.
I did need all the force I put on the left though; I should have lost more units there, but got lucky wavers. Those wavers made me win better on the left, but I was going to take that flank anyway

Both concentration of force and projecting threat are not new concepts to me; all armies need to consider them, but most can do so as a matter of course. Dwarfs have to plan ahead to do so, because they don’t do either as directly.
Which makes dwarfs harder to play. “Buffing” dwarfs to compensate isn’t an option though, because it can be compensated for through thinking ahead, so “buffs” would then make dwarfs too good in the hands of skilled players.
It also means that playing dwarfs is a good way to improve at Kings of War.

A bedraggled ranger burst into the hall with grim news. An army of ogres, prepared to fight dwarfs, was approaching the trade caravan. It seems that the had been hired by That Paladin. The one who arrived a few weeks before with only one regiment of men and demanded tribute for Basilea. Obviously funding his own adventures under the assumption that all dwarfs have piles of gold. He was told that subjects of High-King Golloch don’t fear Basilea and wouldn’t, even if if he wasn’t on the wrong side of Abercarr.

The caravan was mostly samples of ale and salted pork to establish trade, so could be abandoned. Two of the wagons were more important, they held samples of the secretly made black powder, bound for testing by Golloch’s warsmiths. That powder had to be reclaimed, or word would get out that there is a black powder supply and more enemies would come.

The Hold is not ready yet, the halls are still being dug and stone walls are still being built. At the moment the Fool’s Hold, our home, is little more than a fortified camp around a mine.

For that same reason the ogres are a grave threat. The Fool’s Hold cannot stand against siege breakers yet, that army cannot be left to be hired or plunder nearby. The ogres have to be fought and enough damage done to them that they must retreat to recover and will consider these lands threatening.