Dwarf RAQ - Part Three
IC: What about Blitzers then?
GLN: Wow, you really have become enthusiastic about Dwarves!
Dwarf Blitzers aren't like Blitzers on other teams. Generally speaking, Blitzers on other teams are just that: the players you prefer to use for blitzing. There are exceptions, of course, but higher MA, Block skill and decent agility typically makes this a Blitzer's preferred task.
In a Dwarf team, your preferred players for a Blitz action are as follows:
Longbeards: they have Tackle, for knocking down Dodge players.
Troll Slayers: for Frenzied crowdpushes, Dauntless attacks on high ST players, and to take down targetted opponents.
Runners: for when they (being the Dwarves with the highest MA) are the only players who can get to where you want to blitz.
Thus Dwarf Blitzers (undeveloped ones, at least) are in fact your fourth choice for taking actual Blitz actions. Dwarf Blitzers are thus a bit like Catchers on an Elf team: fun and useful for some more elaborate plays, but inessential for any of the basics. A starting Dwarf team can pass up the chance to purchase any Blitzers without too many worries.
Guard is always a popular choice for a first skill on a Blitzer: and certainly their decent MA and AG make it possible to position them effectively to use this. Stand Firm (on a double) strengthens them further in this role, and the usual Mighty Blow can be added as well. A further double can be usefully spent on Dodge.
Incidentally, never assume that there's no point taking even more Tackle on a Dwarf team: a wily opponent will look to keep his Dodgers away from your slow-moving Longbeards wherever possible, so having some on faster players can be handy. In the long run it should be your aim to make Tackle as universal as Block (and Guard) on your team.
Another path for a Dwarf Blitzer is as a player to pursue and pressure the ball-carrier: with Tackle, Strip Ball, and perhaps even Shadowing (with an MA increase, definitely). Stand Firm again helps in this role.
If you choose to develop a passing option on your Dwarf team, Blitzers are your preferred Catchers (but never underestimate the surprise value of a +AG Longbeard!). Catch (and again Dodge) are possibilities on a double for this kind of player. Pro might seem a good option for all-round ball-handling, etc - however (as far as the JavaBB client is concerned, at least), Pro cannot be used when a player is not active, so it is useless for receiving catches or hand-offs (for example).
Any stat increase on a Dwarf Blitzer is the foundation for a quality player indeed.
Finally, a truly stylish Dwarf coach will do his best to get a Leap-ing Dwarf Blitzer on his team. All emergency tactical value aside, let's face facts: the only thing to compare with a flying Dwarf in terms of sheer elegance is a flying Saurus (and possibly a flying Troll).
GLN: You're meant to ask me about Troll Slayers now. Nevermind, I'll tell you anyway.
Troll Slayers don't really have as much variety as other Dwarf positions can. With Frenzy and Dauntless, they are built for hitting, and these abilities should simply be strengthened.
There are two options for a first skill: Guard and Mighty Blow. I find that Dwarf teams can reach a saturation point with Guard - where they just don't need any more - while lacking the hitting power to actually put any opposition players out of the game. Therefore I prefer to pick Mighty Blow first on Troll Slayers. On doubles, Stand Firm is an automatic choice.
When using your Troll Slayers, you may find that a red mist occasionally descends when you approach an opposing Big Guy, and that you just can't resist having a go at it - keep these urges under control! Dauntless is incredibly unreliable (the chance of failing it against just an ST 4 player is the same as that of rolling a 1 on one dice), and combined with Frenzy it will lure you into countless turnovers. The best time to use Dauntless is when you would have a two dice block anyway (and are hoping to get three!). At least - barring desperate circumstances - try and make sure you would have a one dice block if Dauntless fails, and make sure you know what will happen if you are forced to block again due to Frenzy!
Attacking monsters is far from the only use for Troll Slayers, however. They can be more effective when targeted at the most vulnerable (lowest AV) opposition players, and also for crowdpushing wherever possible. Tackle (again, don't reject Tackle just because there's plenty of it on the team already) is of course useful in this role (although it will occasionally prevent you from being able to complete a crowdpush attempt).
As with other Dwarves, Troll Slayers can run out of promising options after (in their case) three normal skill rolls. There is an argument for Break Tackle on a Troll Slayer, but you are really not going to get that much value out of that skill (especially compared to what a Bull Centaur or Saurus gets out of it). Piling On can be powerful, but puts your Troll Slayer exactly where your opponent wants him to be.
If your Troll Slayer is lucky enough to roll an ST increase, do not dare breathe a word along the lines of "Well, it's a shame it came on a player who has Dauntless anyway". Dauntless is always a disaster waiting to happen! An ST 4 Troll Slayer is priceless. +MA is also good for avoiding trouble with forced Frenzied GFIs. +AG on a Troll Slayer is one stat increase that I would almost always turn down in favour of a skill: although I daresay some innovative coaches would find a use for it.
Some Dwarf coaches are so put off by the risks inherent in the Dauntless/Frenzy combination that they aim to remove Troll Slayers from their line-up entirely as their team develops. While this is creditably cautious (caution being an essential trait in a successful dwarven coach), it overlooks the effect the mere presence of Frenzy can have on an opponent: forcing him to modify his preferred line-up and take extra care in positioning at all times. The psychological effects of Frenzy on the opposing coach make it a must: especially on a team which can get it so easily. I recommend taking at least one Troll Slayer on a starting Dwarf team for this reason alone.
Note: as with Longbeards, it can be well worth making the effort to score with a Troll Slayer (especially one that has yet to get Mighty Blow) - sometimes you just can't buy a casualty roll.
IC: Phew! Is that it?
GLN: Pretty much: unless someone demands that I write a sequel.
The last thing I would say: in some ways, Dwarves are to other bashers as Human teams are to Elves. They aim to play the same kind of game (Dwarves as bashers; Humans as Elves), but it seems to take so much more hard work and care to do so effectively. Without question, Humans require an even tougher and more determined coach than Dwarves, but running either race requires the same combination of patience, tolerance and bloody-minded stubbornness.