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 Issue 8 - September 17 2506
Dwarf RAQ - Part Two
by pac

IC: Surely there are other ways you can develop Dwarf players, though?

GLN: I'm glad you asked that - we still need some more material here. Which position in particular were you interested in?

IC: How about Longbeards?

GLN: Well you probably know the default Longbeard development: Guard; then Mighty Blow; then scratch your head for a bit. Stand Firm on doubles.

Don't underestimate the Pass Block Longbeard: it may sound like a silly idea, but, when it comes down to it, a 6 is a 6 on interceptions and Longbeards need every square of movement they can scrape together. Diving Tackle on these guys for a double: that'll give those sneaky catchers second thoughts. Dirty Player on a further normal roll: to keep them down once you've tripped them.

One tactical note: when on defence against a team with any pace at all, keep two of these pass-blocking Longbeards back deep in your own half. However well or badly things seem to be going in the centre of the pitch: keep them there! You're a Dwarf, show discipline - if one opposing catcher gets away on a run, you can't count on catching him with a player running back. On offence, these Dwarves can be your designated foulers. One of these deep-lying Longbeards can also be given Kick.

The irritant-class Longbeard takes Sidestep rather than Stand Firm on a double, along with the usual Guard, and Diving Tackle if he can get yet another double. (You can combine this Dwarf with a pass-blocking Dwarf if you like.) This Dwarf uses Sidestep to make himself annoying by moving where he's not wanted; then again by having Guard and being there; then becomes even more annoying by threatening to make a Diving Tackle. Sometimes your opponent will prefer not to block this guy at all: being forced into this situation will annoy him even more - superb!

Not to be overlooked is the 'finisher' Longbeard. You can keep a couple of these guys on the bench to be brought out in the second half if you're in a foul mood or just like to hurt the opposition. Don't bother with Guard as the first skill for these (you'll only use them when the numbers favour you anyway): just get Mighty Blow then Piling On. Good for those occasions when you don't feel like taking the risk of leaving anyone on the other team alive.

The problem with Longbeards is that they tend to run out of useful skill options if they roll nothing but normal skills. You may want to consider retiring Longbeards who fail to roll any doubles or stat increases on their first three skills: since Dwarves have the appealing tendency not to die you should be able to afford this.

There are good arguments for taking stat increases on Longbeards. MA 5 may not seem like that big a jump, but think for a moment about how often you find yourself going for it with a Longbeard. +MA might not be worth having on all your Longbeards, but on one or two it gives you more flexibility. Naturally, only a purist Dwarf coach determined to get the job done with Guard and Dauntless alone would ever turn down a roll of +ST.

+AG is a somewhat trickier decision. To be honest, with only MA 4 it is very hard to make effective use of AG 3. Especially on a new team, +AG will have far less value than another Guard. (This is also true of +MA on a very new team.) However, on a more developed team, another relatively reliable ball-handler and dodger can be handy. Another advantage of an AG 3 Longbeard is that on defence you can leave one or both of your Runners on the bench (thus keeping them safe and raising your team's average on-pitch AV, while still retaining some potential to snatch the ball and counter-attack).

Also, if you take +AG, perhaps you will then get +MA later: and a Longbeard with both +MA and +AG becomes a priceless bonus Blitzer (with built-in Tackle). Dwarves with +MA or +AG can be turned into superior deep-lying pass-blocker Dwarves as their careers progress. A Longbeard with +ST and +AG is usable as an ST 4 ball-carrier at the heart of your cage. And a Longbeard with double +AG... Well, I don't know what he is... Some kind of freak, anyway.

One final note on Longbeards: do make the effort to score touchdowns with them. Waiting around for fortunate casualty rolls or MVP awards is not a reliable way of skilling them and you need one skill on each as soon as you can manage it. Your default method of scoring should be to carry the ball with a Runner until there is no risk of the opponent stealing the ball and scoring himself, then making a hand-off to a Longbeard for him to run it in. AG 2 (with a Re-Roll) to take a hand-off or pick up the ball is a 75% chance - well worth it, especially if you have a turn or two to spare.

IC: Runners?

GLN: The default option for Runners is to make them secure ball-carriers. They already have Sure Hands, so Block should invariably be added to that. A double will often go on Dodge, or else Sidestep if Tackle has become very widespread. After that some Dwarf coaches feel there are so few options left that they put Kick on a Runner rather than on a Longbeard!

The obvious point to make is that Runners do have access to Passing skills as well. If you set aside the disadvantage of not starting with Pass, a Dwarf Runner can in time become just as good a thrower as his Human or Orc counterparts; taking the usual path of Accurate, and Strong Arm on a double.

In most serious Dwarf teams however (unless you are lucky enough to have lots of +MA and +AG Dwarves) a passing game is just an option to be kept in reserve, rather than a default tactic. Trying to keep the ball deep may end in humiliation, while an attempt to run receivers through the opposition line can be closed down even by Orcs or Khemri.

The Dwarf passing option generally involves a move later in a drive, shifting the ball out of the ruck (or even passing from inside the ruck) and throwing downfield (or across to the other side of the pitch) to a previously unsuspected receiver. Many opponents won't even take a Longbeard (even an AG 3 one) seriously as a ball receiver, and may not bother to mark one. More careful opponents will spot your Runner's passing talents, and mark your Dwarves more carefully: but this is fine as it draws another opposition player away from the main action.

Since you will often be throwing from congested positions, Safe Throw is a handy skill for a Runner who does a lot of passing. (Dump-Off probably needn't be considered.) You should almost never attempt to pass against teams such as Elves and Skaven. They may well have plenty of eager pass-blockers; and should anything go wrong (and there are rarely any guarantees in a Dwarf passing game), you can be certain they will punish you for it with a speed of movement you can never dream to match.

Against an opponent who isn't quite so quick, one Runner at full back can be an alternative to two deep Longbeards on defence. Generally, this Runner will only offer token deterrent value against any daring runners, though. However, you could develop one as a safety (with Pass Block, Tackle, and Strip Ball) who, if called into action, could also take advantage of his Sure Hands to make sure he secures the ball after bringing his man down.

Needless to say, all stat increases on a Runner are very welcome indeed. You might prefer to have ST+ on a different player: but an ST4 ball-carrier certainly never does any harm. The advantages of AG and MA increases for this position (even if you only use your Runners for ball-retrieving) should be self-evident.

More Rarely Asked Questions can be found on the next page.

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