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 Issue 8 - September 17 2506
Dwarf RAQ*
by pac

Interested Coach: Are Dwarf teams boring?

GLN: No, of course not: that's just cruel stereotyping...

Ouch! - Okay, Mezir says to say that, yes, Dwarves are boring, but that this is not something of which they should be ashamed. Dwarf coaches: take pride in your ability to bore your opponent off the park!

IC: So, what is the point of Dwarves then?

GLN: It could be said that Dwarves are the thinking coach's bashy team. It is well known that Dwarves are slow, and are short on players with decent agility. But the thing is, they aren't that strong either! Their armour is very good, although not actually as good as that of Orcs, overall (if you assume no Goblins), although Thick Skull does make up the difference.

Your standard bashy team can be run in a very simple, direct manner: just use your higher ST players (Mummies, Black Orcs, Chaos Warriors or whatever) to hit the opposition - get them Block as soon as possible, then some damaging skills. There's more to it than that, of course, but this is still the basic minimal-thought-required strategy for many teams.

IC: Most bashy teams aren't boring, though. My Claw/RSC Chaos team is great fun! What's the problem with Dwarves?

GLN: Dwarves are more awkward to handle than the other bashers: one ST 3 Dwarf standing around by himself is not that much use - and while an Orc coach can count on getting his BOBs Block sooner or later, for his Dwarf counterpart there are never any guarantees of getting +ST skill rolls. Near-universal Block will win Dwarves a lot of early games by itself, but it won't be long before all other teams will match this.

This is where the infamous Guard comes in. Many Dwarf coaches will take Guard as the first skill on every player (except the Runners). A TR 150 Dwarf team may well have five or more Guard players, while their opponents are still yet to get all their players Block. The only problem with all this Guard is that it narrows a coach's strategic options down a lot.

IC: Strategy? I thought this was a bashy team?

GLN: ...

Anyway: Guard means Strength - which Dwarves need but lack. But Guard only means extra strength if you keep your players close together: spread out Dwarves are doomed! This means that the main Dwarf offensive strategy is to get the ball into what is not so much a formal cage as a kind of semi-organised ruck. This is where many would say that the boredom starts...

You see, Dwarves simply can't allow the ball to go loose: with all their players forced to pack together, and such poor MA and AG, if it scatters out somewhere, the odds heavily favour the opposition to retrieve it. And if the other team does then score, the chances of Dwarves replying quickly to level the game are remote.

For these reasons, a Dwarf coach has little choice but to bury the ball deep in that ruck, preferably in the hands of a Blodge, Sure Hands, Sidestep Runner who is in no way eager to hand it over to anyone. There it will stay until the opposition has no chance of scoring: either for lack of players in the right position; or lack of players altogether.

IC: I still don't understand why anyone would run a Dwarf team. This sounds like misery.

GLN: I sympathise: it is a somewhat masochistic pastime. It's the kind of thing that not everyone will enjoy: like crossword puzzles, Marmite, or [CENSORED FOR REASONS OF TASTE AND DECENCY].

There is a lot of technical complexity to Dwarf play. Since you are playing such a tight, narrow game, chainpushing, the sequence of your actions and Guard positioning become really important. This is why some Dwarf coaches will sometimes spend a long time thinking, before just moving one player a single square.

Spectate a Dwarf game at the same time as an experienced (and chatty) Dwarf coach: every turn he'll say something like, "No, that Longbeard should have been placed one square to the left for that assist!" You'll probably have no idea what he's talking about: in fact, he's probably spotted an opportunity for setting up a double chainpush to create a crowdpushing opportunity for the Troll Slayer, or more likely something even more arcane. It's another world.

And yet, there is definitely a certain unique appeal to running Dwarves. With few other teams do you have the ability to cause the opposing coach to be completely paralysed with indecision, as the careful positioning of a single Guard Dwarf denies him any dependable two dice blocks: and so you watch as, in desperation, he turns to his Big Guy to save him, and you are able to sit back, and rub your hands together in anticipation of the turnover.

IC: I see. But they are the bashiest team of the lot if you use them right? Right?

GLN: Well, I wouldn't be a true Dwarf coach if I didn't say yes. But it gets more and more difficult to stay ahead at high TR.

Once you get up towards the 200 TR mark, other teams (Orc and Chaos especially) start getting a lot of Guard too - those wannabes! Now, by this time most of your Dwarves should have Mighty Blow - which is great, but doesn't have quite the same amount of impact on the game as Guard.

As TR gets even higher, those other teams will get Mighty Blow too - and even nastier things in the case of Chaos. At this point, your Longbeards may be getting their third skills too: but their remaining normal skill options won't have very much impact at all. At the highest (playable) TRs, Dwarf coaches have to rely on the technical positioning skills they have developed, sheer bloody-mindedness, and the occasional surprise...

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

* Rarely Asked Questions

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