I find dwarves to be one of the trickiest teams to play correctly. Strategies that may work for a lot of other races generally will not if you try them with a dwarf team, and alternatively, other teams will probably run into a lot of trouble if they try to play like dwarves. Because of this you need to forget a lot of the things you have used before and concentrate on a few tactics that are unique to this particular race. While a typical caging offense is a pretty standard concept, I find that where most coaches have problems with dwarves is on defense, so that will be the main focus of this article.
First off, I always prefer to kick first. The main reason for this is that you will need your best players on the pitch in order to play good defense, and you might not have them by the time the second half rolls around. Also, remember that I said your “best players.” By that I mean to say that you should not be leaving positionals on the bench on defense. A lot of coaches are tempted not to use their runners when the other team has the ball, but this will leave you trying to stop your man with a dreadfully slow roster.
This leads into skill choices, and again, defense is the key. Stand Firm is your best friend. Any player that can take Stand Firm should do so, period. You absolutely can not have too much of this skill. Don’t be afraid to get these players right in your opponents face either, unlike teams that don’t have AV 9 and Thick Skull, Dwarf coaches should be craving tackle zones. If you can get a Stand Firm player into four or five opponent tackle zones, do so. Don’t worry so much about being hit, absorbing punishment is what you are good at. If an opponent uses up three of his guys to knock you down, and doesn’t even break armor, you have won that exchange. If possible, try to have three or four Stand Firm players right in the face of your opponent’s line, preventing them from being able to follow up and press forward.
If done properly and Nuffle is willing, you should have a situation where the majority of your opponent’s team is locked in a stalemate with your Longbeards and Blitzers in the middle of the pitch. Now you can worry about putting on pressure. Your Troll Slayers are there to hurt people. Give them Mighty Blow and use them to pick off low armored players and surf anybody who gets too close to the sidelines. Remember to spread them out so that both sidelines are properly covered. Hopefully, your Frenzy and Mighty Blow allows you to remove a few opponents, and that combined with the high armor value you have allows you to gain a numbers advantage. If it isn’t working, don’t get impatient. Overcommiting to try and foul or otherwise cause quick casualties is a sure-fire way to give up a score.
The most important part of the plan: your Runners. Skill choices here are very important. Your goal should be to have two Runners that can both either put pressure on the ball, or stand back and play the role of safety. Skills should include, Block, Shadowing, Tackle, Strip ball, and Side Step on doubles. Have one Runner press forward toward the opponent's ball carrier, and the other stay back to prevent anyone from getting behind you. No matter how tempting it is, DO NOT allow that back Runner to be caught out of position. It is better to throw a one die block up front than to move him up for an assist that will take him out of the play on the next turn.
Don’t worry too much about counter scores either. Remember, you aren’t playing Wood Elves. If you end the first half 0-0 and receiving in the second, then you have done an excellent job. Playing good defense with Dwarves allows you to take your time on offense. Alternatively, if you allow an easy touchdown and have to play a faster paced game to catch up, you play right into your opponent’s hands. Your goal every game should be to win 1-0.