I’m using Dwarfs in my Abyssal Dwarf army

Amongst my many, many projects, I am building an Abyssal Dwarf army. To great shock I’m sure, it will feature plenty of Dwarfs. I’ve seen a fair few people state their preference for the other toys in the Abyssal Dwarf list over basic dwarfs, such as Obsidian Golems, so I thought I’d write a bit about why I’m going with Dwarfs instead.

My main infantry battle line will look something like this:

  • Blacksouls Horde w/Brew of Strength
  • 2 x Immortal Guard Regiment
  • Slavedriver w/Bane-chant artefact

This costs 580 points. The Blacksouls Horde will stomp up the middle with an Immortal Guard regiment on either side protecting its flanks. The Slavedriver casts bane chant on whichever unit needs it most. I can add extra artefacts to this (the 45 points for 3 lots of throwing mastiffs would be an excellent investment), but this is the core of it.

A similar costing Obsidian Golem group might look like this:

  • 2 x Obsidian Golem Horde
  • Iron-caster w/Surge & Inspiring Talisman

This comes to 560 points. I find that most people when doing comparisons between Golems and basic dwarfs that they forget they need a Surge caster. Without surge, shambling is a straight drawback with no advantage. I usually take around 1 surge caster for every 2-3 shambling units.

I guess the first thing that’s obvious is the smaller number of units and real estate taken up by the Golems. Not only is it just two units and a supporting caster, they don’t take up much room on the tabletop. There’s a lot to be said for covering a lot of ground in the game. It blocks flankers from moving down your flanks as easily and you’re able to effectively threaten a much larger area. Only having two scoring units as opposed to three however is a huge disadvantage.

In terms of direct comparisons, I’m just going to stick mostly to a broad one on one comparison. I’ll be doing a Blacksoul Horde w/Brew of Strength vs an Obsidian Golem Horde.

Defensive Capabilities

Here’s a comparison between Blacksouls and Golems for their defensive capabilities:

  • Attack: A basic attack archetype and basic statlines.
  • Dmg: How much damage that attack will deal to Blacksouls and Golems.
  • Waver roll: After that attack, what dice roll is needed on the Nerve test to waver the Blacksouls (Golems do not waver).
  • Rout roll: After that attack, what dice roll is needed on the Nerve test to Rout either unit.

So, as you’d expect for De5 vs De6, the Blacksouls take more damage. Of course. However, look at their relative nerves. Blacksouls have a nerve of 21/23 while the Golems have just -/17. While the Blacksouls will take more damage, they have a much higher nerve and in every single circumstance any attack that routs the Golems on average will only waver the Blacksouls at best. Even a rear charge from a Dragon will rout the Golems on a 4+, however a 6+ is needed to rout the Blacksoul horde.

The Blacksouls are clear winners versus Golems for their defensive capabilities. While the Golems will take less damage than the Blacksouls, their much lower nerve means that they’re far more likely to rout than Blacksouls.

Offensive Capabilities

Here are the offensive capabilities of the two units:

I mean this is a clear winner to Blacksouls again. With the sole exception of an un-bane chanted unit versus De6, Blacksouls will do more damage on average – and significantly so. When bane chanted, the Blacksouls will deal a whopping 9.7 damage to De5 compared to just 7.0 dealt on average by the Golems.

That sole exception case versus De6? The Blacksouls will do 4.9 compared to 5.3 by the Golems. 0.4 damage difference. If the Blacksouls are Bane chanted? It’s 7.3 for the Blacksouls, 5.3 for the Golems. No contest.

Other bits and bobs

The pure numbers don’t take a lot of things into account, of course. The Golems are speed 5 rather than 4 for example, so they can get first charge off against speed 4 units. The Blacksouls are horde formation, so moving them is tricker and they will be hindered more often. The Blacksouls can’t be surged, so can’t threaten units on their flank or rear effectively. 

I’ve also not included the Immortal Guard comparison since I wanted to write a relatively quick article rather than go into too much detail. They do come out on top of Golems again however (compared to a regiment of golems anyway, but then the Horde is 65 more points!) it’s not as clear cut as the Blacksouls.

For this particular formation, I need units that can protect the flanks of my Blacksoul Horde. The Immortal Guard are perfect for this and more cost effective than a Horde of Golems on either side (a regiment wouldn’t do, since it’s only 40mm deep so wouldn’t completely cover the Blacksouls). 

Overall, having three solid bricks; 1 horde and 2 high nerve regiments is a much tougher nut to crack than the equivalent Golem battlegroup. The melee damage is equal or slightly better than the Golems. It suffers in manoeuvrability and certain matchups where the Golems have slightly better melee output, however this group doesn’t need to be highly manoeuvrable; it needs to be a solid brick pinning the enemy in place and grabbing objectives while my flanking units go to town.

I may be wrong when I put it down on the table, but from where I’m standing the Dwarf battlegroup looks to be much better at that specific role than the Golems.

2 Comments

  1. Like it. Not the biggest fan of a 1:1 comparison as we miss things like speed. On the other hand Blacksouls are what I miss in my army. Problem is that there are no models. I hope Mantic will release new set with them.

    • Absolutely, but I wanted to illustrate that for a specific purpose of being a solid anchor in the centre, Dwarfs are better than Golems 🙂

      For models, just painting Ironclad up appropriately works wonders!

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