What is it about dwarfs?

There was some discussion on the popularity of armies in the last Counter Charge epidode (523 - The Scrying Gems).
During this it was mentioned that dwarfs are always popular, regardless of how good the army is.

My first reaction was “well obviously! Dwarf players play dwarfs because we like dwarfs”, but then I started to wonder why?
Why do we love dwarfs so much? What is it about them?
What makes them special to you?


I think some of the main races - Dwarves, Elves, Greenskins and Undead will always be popular. Dwarves tend to worse off sometimes as they are low speed & magic, two things that can be important in games.

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I believe the podcast mentioned the fact that a lot of KoW players migrated from WH and thus have those armies already or at least they are familiar with their general concept and playstyle .


Tiny little angry dudes are fun!


For me, it definitely is something beyond the particular game or setting (except, maybe, Middle Earth).
I have loved dwarfs since reading The Hobbit as a boy and have played them in every video game and almost every tabletop game (most notably not in AoS) I could.

There is something fun about dwarfs on the surface; grumbling about things and pretending to record grudges, etc.

At a deeper level;
Dwarfs are straightforward, not gifted much grace and rather stubbornly do things in the way that make sense to them (which I identify with). Despite this (and a diminutive stature) they manage to build “many-pillared halls of stone” and make things so well dragons want it. Which makes strikes a cord with me.

Rather than being so eye-rollingly graceful that they can walk on snow, they have have to stubbornly dig through it; but get there anyway. They embody success through determination and toughing it out.

Their faults are largely a result of taking their values too far (too industrious becomes greedy, too loyal becomes insular, etc) and they are often victims if their own sucess; which I find narratively interesting (in a cautionary tale kind of way), which keeps them noble and sympathetic.


The dwarves have strong characteristics and one knows what to get from them. They favour a defensive playstyle which focusses on outlasting the enemy

For me, this means they are about the last army I’d consider in Kings of War. In war(games) a defensive style usally loses to an offensive one. It’s about the initiative, which dwarves usually lack.

Unless, it would be an army foccussed on brock riders, beserker lords on brocks and dwarf lords on large beasts supported by healers and a flying king. But this wouldn’t be a proper dwarf army, I’d guess.


I like that I can rest my drink on the top of their heads


two main things i think.
first they are a fun loving race who like drinking, fighting, singing songs about gold and glory, axes, and charging at you screaming before hacking you down at the kneecaps. so they connect to a rather visceral part of the human psyche.

plus whether you call them dwarfs or dwarves, they remain largely the same whether you are in middle earth, warhammer, Discworld, or any other fantasy setting. very few settings really embrace the idea of “our dwarves are different” so dwarf fans have a fairly universal fandom that crosses universes much more readily than other factions in fantasy.


I like the aesthetic of dwarfs, a mix of heavy armour, medieval weaponry and steam punk war machines.

In Kings of War, I particularly like the ruthless ambition of King Golloch and the fact that Dwarfs are not evolutionary hasbeens, fighting to hold onto to ancient holds and memories against a rising tide of (insert tunnel dwelling enemy of choice here). Instead they are aggressive, expansionist and as likely to be invading other people’s lands on a tenuous excuse as defending their holds. Dwarfs are kicking ass in Panithor and I think the Imperial Army list reflects this.


In a way I think Dwarves are a fairly marmite faction - they’ll be a lot of people’s first or last choice.

In Kings, I’d consider playing them with the access to elementals and spells. Tempted by a contingent of Rangers to run alongside FoN Earth Elementals.


It’s interesting to think about making dwarf armies themed on different interpretations of dwarfs (dwarves, etc). There are a lot of similarities, as noted above.

But what might, for example, a Dwarf Fortress themed army look like?

The defensive playstyle put me off too, especially in Warhammer; despite my love for them in literature and other games.

I got a few cheap second hand Mantic dwarfs (and ogres) with the intention of using them for demo games and I was wrong (regarding being put off; those demo armies did good work).
They’re what I hoped, not what I feared, especially with rangers and brock riders in KoW.

I regret putting them off.

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Well. I actively hated Dwarfs for a good 23 years before going in completely the opposite direction and becoming a Dwarf fanatic just this year! So this is a really good question! Settle down folks, and let me tell you the tale of how I became a Dwarf player…

To start with, I had always disliked Dwarfs because they never matched the style of play I preferred (ie. Mobility and/or Hordes). They had a reputation for being a boring army (slow & shooty) and I really didn’t like their background (short & stubborn). Having a Night Goblin army in Warhammer Fantasy only cemented my hatred for them - how could I possibly consider playing the mortal enemies of my cunning Nite Gobbo Horde?

But as I got older, my attitudes changed. My “preferred playstyle” got alot broader (ie. literally any playstyle is good by me). Army background also became far less important - the story i created and approach I took to customising my own army was what was important to me.

Then came the catalyst. I won a Mantic Dwarf Army box at a tournament, and I had a vision. The ultimate transportable army, made up of stackable infantry that could easily be stored without bulky toolboxes or fragile trays. The “IKEA Dwarf” army was born.

Actually starting the army was a challenge. It took quite a few tries to settle on a colour scheme that I both liked and was ready to paint. Then I got distracted by another great idea and painted 2500pts of Trident Realms. Whoops. :slight_smile:

But when I properly started building this army a year ago, it progressed surprisingly fast. I enjoyed painting them and the army looked good. And as I progressed I started adding more “high tech” elements to further customise the army - to make it “mine”. It started with 40k Kroot Rifles to convert my Sharpshooters, but rapidly extended to other units as I delved into the Malifaux and Forgefathers range.

So I had an army I was proud of, but what really pushed my down the rabbit hole of Dwarf fanaticism was the background.

You see, Mantic has the best Dwarf background in tabletop gaming. They have all the standard tropes of stubbornness, technology and general dwarfishness. But what really sets them apart is their tendency toward xenophobia and authoritarianism. You see, on the surface you might think of the Dwarfs as a force for good in Panithor, and that might be true for the Free Dwarf folk. But the Imperial Dwarfs are absolutely the Bad Guys. They conquer territory, look down on other races and tolerate no threats to their way of life and importantly, their rightful ruler King Golloch. I genuinely love that added depth Mantic’s given to the Dwarf race, and it’s that subtle subversion of the expected tropes that made me such a huge fan of the race.

TLDR: Mantic Dwarfs subvert the tropes of regular fantasy Dwarfs, which makes them amazing. :wink: