[Archive] Tactics of the Dawi Zharr



Hello, this is my test for what may become a series of Tactics articles, detailing the various units we have at our disposal. I’m starting with Warriors, because it seems like a logical choice.

Now, first off, what are Chaos Dwarf Warriors?

Basically Dwarf Warriors that get screwed over.

Now, let me explain. For 9pts, we get a Dwarf warrior who comes with HA+Shield, and lacks Relentless. The Dwarf Warriors get their choice of equipment, so the shield isn’t necessary. Relentless is also a useful ability, but I’ll get into that in a bit. For now, however, there is one glaring flaw with the system as it stands: Great Weapons.

Chaos Dwarf Warriors are very tough melee combatants. However, for the cost they have some rather lackluster offensive ability. Some might remedy this by using Great Weapons. Is it effective? Not really.

True, with low I you’ll be going last anyways, and it is a significant strength boost. However, remember that you can’t use your shield. Remember when I said that Dwarf Warriors don’t need to take a shield? We do. In effect, you pay an extra point for the Great Weapons, since you have a shield you can’t use. Some find the flexibility useful, but on the whole using HW+Shield is more effective. Let’s do some math:

First, we have 11 CDWs with Hand Weapon + Shield. Against a WS4 T4 opponent, the 11 CDWs will score 5.5 hits and 1.83 wounds, with no save penalty.

Now, let’s look at 9 CDWs with Great Weapons. They get 4.5 hits and 3 wounds, and inflict -2 on the armor- good against heavily armored, skilled troops. Not too bad, eh? But now let’s factor in the armor on the CDs. Because they have a 5+ save, the GW CDWs are going to take twice as many wounds as the HW+Shield CDWs. They’ll take more wounds, and also take many more points’ worth of damage due to the higher cost. If we were to apply a static ratio of wounds dealt/theoretical wounds taken, we find 1.83 dealt/1 suffered to 3 dealt/2 suffered. While this shows that the HW+Shield troops are better off (not factoring in armor saves), there are other considerations.

Against troops like Empire State Troops, for example, the GW is less of a bonus, while on the other hand the low S of the humans ensures that the HW/S CDWs will take very little damage in return. Also, that armor-ignoring bonus is fairly useless when he’s got low armor to begin with. The high armor on HW+S CDWs is especially crucial because rarely will the CDs be getting the charge- thus it is vital to make sure that as many survive to retaliate as possible.

Let’s take a full example. A group of Empire Militia (frontage of 5) charges a block of each of the two options (also 5 frontage). Against the more armored stunties, they inflict .27 of a wound (this represents roughly a 1 in 4 chance of the CDs taking a wound, for those less mathematically inclined). On the other hand, the less armored CDs take .54 wounds. So, when they strike back, the armored ones have 4.73 attacks, while the GW ones have 4.46 attacks. So they strike back- and the HW Dwarfs inflict 1.57 wounds, whereas the GW Dwarfs inflict 2.45 wounds. Seems great for GWs, doesn’t it? Except, when you look at the raw data, you find that the ratio for wounds dealt/inflicted was better for the HW+S Dwarfs. This means that anything except heavy infantry or monsters is best dealt with by using basic CDWs.

Add to that the fact that the shield gives a bonus against ranged fire.

Add to that the fact that the Great Weapon Dwarfs cost more (in the example they were both the same numbers, which isn’t fair).

Add to that the fact that your opponent is scoring more victory points for each GW Dwarf he kills.

Now, you might say that the GWs are good against big, tough things like Ogres, which is true- however, there’s a big problem: Movement. CDs are the slowest infantry in the game. You are not going to be able to maneuver to be able to charge monsters, and they certainly won’t charge you (unless, of course, he doesn’t know what he’s doing…). In fact, since most large monsters have just about cavalry speed (Move 6 for most), they can pretty much run circles around your poor Warriors without ever giving them a chance to engage. Earthshakers can help slow them down, but with the massive radius you’re most likely hurting yourself as well. Thus, you cannot expect them to ever be able to pick their fights- which makes monster-hunting impossible.

As for unit size, it is recommended you always use at least 20 (I’ll go into Blunderbusses in another article), arranged 5x4. While this is somewhat a fragile formation (1 hit and you lose rank bonus), there are several reasons.

The first is cost- CDs are expensive, so putting all your eggs in one basket isn’t usually a good idea. Having more units is often better than one massive one.

The second borders on contradicting the first- combat resolution. Since you won’t be getting many kills (or, you’ll get more kills but take a crapload of hurt in return), you need to rely on static combat resolution. Multiple Small Unit theory does not apply here, since without a rank bonus you will not be able to win CR against an infantry block. If you want a speedbump unit, go for Hobbos. In order to get this combat resolution, you need full command whenever possible. A Standard increases CR, a Musician breaks ties, and a Champion gives you another attack (not too important) but also unlocks some nasty tricks. I’ll get to that in a moment.

The third and final reason for 20 is that you can be virtually guaranteed to get into combat with a full 20-strong unit- because the CDs have several options for avoiding missile fire. The main two are Earthshakers and Hobbo screens. This isn’t the right place to go into detail about them, but I think you can figure out most of it yourself.

Now, why include a Champion, you ask? Well, there are several reasons. For the cost of another CD, he adds a single attack. Doesn’t seem too great, does it? Think of it this way: Instead of 20 CDs with 5 attacks, you get 19 CDs with 6 attacks. But even after taking five wounds, you still get six attacks. So, in effect, it’s like getting more than just one attack- because it doesn’t disappear after the first casualty you take.

But that’s not the main reason. Oh no. The real reason is much more entertaining. As I said, the CD infantry win by static combat resolution. So, if a unit of Chaos Warriors comes up led by Pimpass Ownage the Killer, you just challenge him. Either Pimpass sits out of the combat, or, more likely, he accepts. He will go apeshit on that poor champion. But even if he inflicts full overkill, with your rank bonuses, Standard, musician, outnumbering, flanking Hobbos, etc. ad. infinitum., you will still win the combat just by hunkering down and watching the champion get slaughtered while the other CDs just say ‘Oooh, sucks to be him’. But hey, you win the combat.

So, there you have it. I’ve gone over the various tactics and options of Chaos Dwarf Warriors. Next up will be the many uses and fun applications of Blunderbusses.

All comments appreciated :cheers


i believe this should be in the tactics section…

but yes HW/shields is better… and free…

and a killy character can do wonders for your combat results…


Aw hell. Forgot about tactics section.

Oh well, it does say ‘anything Chaos Dwarf-related…’.

About Killy Characters- yes, they can help CR, but I still don’t find them terribly powerful compared to other races. But that’s for a different article :wink:


I would honestly like to see more of this. Perhaps it might be best if someone were to compile a huge tactics list with feedback from everyone, unit by unit and warmachine by warmachine.

Honestly, I think it’s a good idea to have one list instead of several things spread out everywhere. Can someone take up that cause to compile such a thing?


About Killy Characters- yes, they can help CR, but I still don't find them terribly powerful compared to other races. But that's for a different article ;)

well no they aren't that great... but they are compared to shield dwarfs...
shield dwarfs dont kill a lot but have tar pit staying power...
a killy character in the front rank can literally double the amount of kills the unit makes... or better...
getting them out of combat quicker... so theres less risk of a flank charge...


that was a terriffic article, really topnotch!:hat off

Would a small unit of GW CDW work as a flanking unit or is it just better to use all HW CDW?


An age old question… Well not really, but I think it can work. I’ve tried it a few times with regular Dwarfs and it’s somewhat effective, essentially you keep the big unit and the small unit together and if the small unit is charged it has to flee, then you can either charge with the big unit or just get right up in their face. Obviously if they charge the large unit, you flank with the small dudes.

Problems with it though… Shooting, it’s pretty easy to decimate a ten man unit with missile fire, magic can do the same but is more random. Also, because of the movement issue you need to keep them close so you can flank right away (longer than at turn is to slow). I think it’s something that is worth trying for sure, just to see if it fits in with your game plan.


Agreed. Smaller units with GW can work, the problem is speed and manuverability, not to mention cost. However, the high str if you can get the flank charge, outweighs this.

Honestly though, I’d personally go for a more manuverable small unit of Sneaky Gits with a Wide Frontage. if you have a 7 wide frontage, that would be 15 poisoned attacks coming in on the flank. VERY devastating should your rolls be with you.


Let me answer the three of you as best I can:

As I said in the article, Chaos Dwarf Warriors win combats via static combat resolution. While it is true that a Great Weapon increases the number of kills, you take more in return (which also puts your rank bonuses/outnumbering at risk). However, flanking is another issue.

Shooting is not an issue. As I said in the article, there are plenty of ways for a CD general to avoid getting shot. Hobgobs come to mind, as do Earthshakers, Wolf Riders, etc. So we don’t need to worry about them getting shot.

However, CDs are slow. Getting that unit in position isn’t easy, and without the human Detachment System, you cannot reliably countercharge until the next turn.

One last problem: Why not use a ten-strong unit with HW+Shield for the same role? They won’t give free CR to your opponent by getting killed, and will survive longer if you fail to break the enemy on the first turn. By staying alive they ensure a massive CR boost from ignoring his ranks and flanking.

For flanking, it’s best to rely on the Hobgobs. They’re a little faster and a good bit easier to kill, but much cheaper.

By the way, since people seemed to like this I plan on doing one for every unit/choice in the army list.


Actually, I’ve decided that I’m going to write them all here. Sometime tonight I’ll have the Blunderbusses done.

Feel free to ask questions or provide feedback, I’d be happy to help, and feedback is always a good thing :slight_smile:


Someone give this Chaos Dwarf 20 Slaves.

Thank you catbarf. By all means go ahead with this project. I would LOVE to see a complete compiled list on Chaos Dwarf Units and tactics.


I love writing stuff like this. I’m pretty terrible at math (just scraping by geometry in high school…) but for some reason calculating effectiveness and ratios comes easily. I just didn’t think anyone thought my stuff was any good :0

Especially those idiots on Warseer who say that math means nothing and experience is more accurate :~


Shooting is not an issue. As I said in the article, there are plenty of ways for a CD general to avoid getting shot. Hobgobs come to mind, as do Earthshakers, Wolf Riders, etc. So we don't need to worry about them getting shot.

However, CDs are slow. Getting that unit in position isn't easy, and without the human Detachment System, you cannot reliably countercharge until the next turn.

It's pretty easy to get them in position I think, you just have to keep the two units right next to each other. You could have problems if one unit is march blocked and the other is not, or something weird happens like a movement reducing spell. Really though if you keep the two together it isn't THAT bad, it's not like playing Wood Elfs of course, but it's manageable I think.

I would worry about shooting in the form of things that by pass LOS. It seems like they have become more and more common. There are quite a few spells and of course Cannons and other stuff that can blow right past the screen and into your dudes. It's not a HUGE deal, but it's something to at least keep in mind. Instead of just assuming your going to safe from shooting, you never know.
One last problem: Why not use a ten-strong unit with HW+Shield for the same role? They won't give free CR to your opponent by getting killed, and will survive longer if you fail to break the enemy on the first turn. By staying alive they ensure a massive CR boost from ignoring his ranks and flanking.

There isn't really any reason not to, the HW+Shield is probably more effective. In the end I use small units of great weapons because I never use them otherwise, it's fun to have something different and that's why I do it.


Of course. And I might make an all-hobgob army- and it would be a blast to play. But that isn’t the effective method, which is what tactics are about. The aim for these articles is to give you the most bang for your buck- but I’m not trying to say ‘THIS UNIT SUCKS!’ and ram it down your throat until you never use it again. True, it might not be very good- but go ahead and use it! It would be a very boring game with just the most effective [cheesy] lists. It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun (and, hopefully, winning in the process).


well there nothing GW warriors can do that a unit of Big 'Uns can’t do better…

at same the price Big 'Uns have twice as many S5 attacks…

and at 1 cheaper they have an equal amount of S5 attacks and have a better armor save in CC…

they are M4 vs. M3… sure theres animosity… but sometimes thats a plus…


Maths is good but experience and fun are better ,nothing is more pleasing than seeing a unit of gw carve up the flank of the enemy.Must say tho i also use big uns which as metro gnome says have animosity to contend with but those extra choppas are mean and lean for the points.

Warriors with hw+sh are the best core choice and are great flanked by blunders and screened by hobbos.

Great stuff this article


Fun is always good, but let me say for a fact that math is more accurate than experience- your experience won’t change the percentages of the dice. What math can’t do is tell you how exactly to play the game- that’s why you need experience. But for calculating effectiveness, it’s great.

I’ll be looking at the various Orcs and Goblins available as well. The general issue is that they take a Special slot. But wait until I write the article before the discussion.

By all means, give me your thoughts, disagreements and ideas on the articles I wrote. I’ll edit them if someone presents a very good point.


New article!


Chaos Dwarf Blunderbusses

So, what is a Blunderbussier? To put it simply, it’s a Chaos Dwarf Warrior with a shotgun. This boomstick is one of the most powerful, reliable, downright scary weapons in the game. However, it has several weaknesses that must be addressed.

First off is the short range. CDs are slow. Therefore getting to within the 12" Ground Zero of the blast is rather difficult. Thus, like many other CD units, it encourages defensive play.

The second issue is the way it fires. In order to hit, you need to be lined up perfectly with your target. However, since you can move and fire this isn’t usually a problem- but it certainly can be, which I’ll get to.

The third problem is a reliance on numbers. To have a minimum unit with the best Strength bonus is 12-strong, will run you 144 points, won’t hit much with each salvo, and will get downright raped in melee. Usually (not always, you’ll see), we don’t want that.

The last problem is cost. At 12pts apiece, you need to be very careful in the way you deploy and use them.

So, first I’ll talk about unit selection. I recommend you do one of two things- either take that unit of twelve and use them for flank support, or go with a unit of 18 arranged 6x3. That gives you the full Strength, plus a wide enough frontage to do some serious damage.

‘But, Ross’, you say, ‘Perhaps we should take 24, so we can have them 8x3 and also be good in melee?’ The answer is no. Not only is that a massive sink of points, but there’s one other issue- friendly fire. The wider your frontage, the harder it is to avoid friendly fire- and you’re not getting much of a bonus by having a huge frontage. So, no more than six- after all, the only enemies that will rank up six wide are Gnoblars or Night Goblins.

So, we have our unit sizes. But how to actually use them? First, we need to go over what to avoid.

Blunderbussiers do not like missile fire. They have lighter armor than their HW+Shield brethren, and they can’t shoot back. Not to mention the units are rather fragile- you’ll lose your strength bonus with one wound.

Thus, you need to protect them. Just like with Warriors, you have the same set of options. I recommend the Earthshaker method, because it completely eliminates the threat from a missile unit- and generally wipes it out pretty quickly too.

Blunderbusses are strange, in that they are a missile unit built directly for killing melee infantry, but can’t fight back against other missile troops. Again, this places more reliance on artillery, but it means they have a very interesting use.

It’s just holding the line. This is the easiest way to use them. If you have an Earthshaker and some Hobbos, you can very easily pull this off- basically, use the Hobbos as a screen and to block fast cavalry, while you wait for some heavy infantry to march up. Then, slam the infantry with the 'Shaker. They take a bunch of casualties, and can only move slowly (aim directly on the enemy unit- your blunderbusses won’t be within the blast most of the time unless they’re very close, in which case he can charge anyway). Now, here’s the really nasty bit. If you’re within eight inches, he can’t march. But with his move halved, he can’t charge. So, this enemy unit is stuck crawling 2" per turn- and, if you don’t get hit by the 'Shaker blast, you can just turn to rear, move an inch and a half, and turn to front again. He’ll be only getting �" closer per turn if he’s Move 4- in other words, he’s screwed. That unit is going to die horribly- 20 shots (if the enemy unit is 20-strong) at S5 are going to, against a T3 enemy, inflict 11.1 kills. Against say, Halberdiers, that’s 55.5 points of damage from one round of shooting- not bad at all, especially when he can’t fight back. That’s more than half the unit dead from one round of shooting- and that isn’t counting the 'Shaker’s kills.
Now, what about command? Take none. You do NOT want the unit getting into combat. Sure, they have heavy armor, but think of it this way- they have the low offensive power of the HW+S Warriors, and the vulnerability of GW Warriors. AND they’re even more expensive than the GW Warriors. This is not good. Thus, even if you have a large unit of them, you want to keep them out of melee where possible. Giving them upgrades that help in melee is equipping them for a situation they shouldn’t be in, and even if it helps them, the upgrades won’t ever make back their points. Better to have command for another unit of HW+S Warriors than for Blunderbussiers, right?

Well, this wraps up the article on Blunderbusses. Next up, Hobgoblins.


10 CDs with great weapons are a superior flank countercharger vs a cav unit. Static res is great for staying when the cav hits, but shields dont matter when you get 5 great weapon attacks to the flank of 1 knight… he isnt gonna get attacks back.

One last problem: Why not use a ten-strong unit with HW+Shield for the same role? They won’t give free CR to your opponent by getting killed, and will survive longer if you fail to break the enemy on the first turn. By staying alive they ensure a massive CR boost from ignoring his ranks and flanking.



Whaaaaaat? Fire into melee… Where are you finding this rule?

… you can fire into melee, so long as none of your troops are in the fire zone. This means that you can inflict a nice, comfortable bunch of kills per turn, and since he’s immune to panic while in melee he won’t run. I’ve wiped out entire units of things like Knights, Chaos Warriors, and other heavy troops by blasting them like this. This is one way to get some significant anti-armor while in melee, since as already proven GW CDWs aren’t terribly useful…