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Dealing with the Dwarf PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 16
Written by Lord Blackadder   
Monday, 28 July 2008

Dwarfs are perhaps one of the hardest Warhammer armies to beat, especially in a pitched battle. With their high leadership, strong armor, and punishing ranged weapons, a strong Dwarf army can stop a Bretonnian player dead in his tracks. Any general who doesn’t at least have a certain measure of apprehension when going into a match against them is incredibly brave or incredibly foolish. So after many, many battles with Dwarfs, (they are perhaps my most frequent opponents) I have compiled a list of strategies on how to deal with each Dwarf unit. They might not always work, but these plans will certainly help get the upper hand on some peskier Dwarven foes. In this two part guide, I will provide some strategies that I have tried and tested in the crucible of battle. The first part will deal with Lords, Magic, Warriors, Thunderers, Iron Breakers, Hammerers, and Miners. The second will be about Dwarven siege machines, gyrocopters, longbeards, and quarrelers.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that all Dwarf generals do think differently. Some will be more overconfident while others will be more cautious. There is no guarantee of what will happen in any game. Half of everything is luck, the other half is fate. 

Dwarf Lords

A Dwarf Lord is a tough combatant, boasting WS 7, a S4, and a T5, not to mention his high leadership. When he is boosted by a great weapon, no average Paladin can take one of these guys, and a Bretonnian Lord stands no better chance in straight out combat. Generally, skilled Dwarf players will throw their lord into the most assault oriented part of his army, where his leadership and power can boost his attacks. A good combination is a unit of KOTR with a Lord at their head. The Lord should be set up like a duelist from the Tactica Bretonnia, in other words he should have the Virtue of Confidence, the Armor of Agilulf, Gauntlet of the Duel, and the Sword of Heroes. The Lord will be expensive, probably about 241 points (with Knight’s Vow and Barded Warhorse). I can almost guarantee you that he will win the duel with a Dwarf Lord. Plus, the attacks of the KOTR’s might be able to break the unit around the Lord, causing him to retreat with his unit.



Magic against Dwarfs is nigh-impossible. That’s common knowledge. Sure, they can’t cast anything but a Runelord or Runesmith can easily dispel most magic you throw at them. Even if you do get a spell or two off, it probably won’t do much to a strong unit of Dwarfs. In the long run, don’t waste your valuable points on expensive magicians that can’t do a thing.  Plus, Bretonnian attack magic isn’t exactly explosively destructive or damaging. If your determined to magic your way through the battle, make sure you have a Damsel or Prophetess with the Sacrament of the Lady. Your gonna need those power dice.



Warriors are the basic Dwarf unit, strong, steady, and incredibly slow. Most Dwarf players facing knights will equip at least one unit with great weapons, sacrificing heavier armor for more punch power. At first, it might seem tempting to shoot at warriors with bowmen, but is doubtful that you will kill many, simply due to the toughness of the average Dwarf. However, the key to defeating the average unit of warriors is mobility. Use the peasant screens (or lures) to draw the Dwarfs in close enough for your knights to execute a crushing charge. Charge forward a unit of peasants, watch them break and run back towards you with Dwarfs in hot pursuit, then strike. If you are afraid of dwarves being hesitant to pursue, simply try and bog them down with masses of peasants, then execute a crushing flank charge to seal the deal. Generally, a unit of KOTR can break a unit of Dwarf warriors in one charge, but if they can’t, don’t panic. You have most likely weakened the unit enough that you can defeat them within the next turn. Be wary of flanking attacks though. A favorite tactic of Dwarf generals is to let you charge, then catch you in a trap of Dwarven muscle. In order to stop this from happening, always keep a unit of Knights in reserve whenever possible, ready to charge in and hit the flank of a flanking Dwarf unit. Peasants, though not the most capable fighters, can also make crucially important flank charges to aid their Knights if they become trapped. Always have a back-up plan against Dwarves. 


What can I say about Thunderers? Their handguns are made for destroying armor and aren’t strong enough to grant a 5+ ward save from the Blessing. They can easily pick off unit after unit of brave knights from a long distance. However, you can use this sense of security that Thunderers feel to your advantage. While a Dwarf player takes aim at your bigger, scarier units like Grail and Questing Knights, sneak up a unit of skirmished longbow-men through woods and other terrain. Once they’re close enough to the Thunderers, unleash a volley of arrows and disrupt the unit. While longbow-men might not be the best archers in the world, enough arrows will kill just about anyone at closer ranges. They will at least cause the Dwarf player to be distracted for a turn or two, allowing you to set up a charge or assault. Make sure you keep your fire-drawing unit just out of range of the Thunderers though. Remember, Pegasus Knights are much more costly and not as effective at hunting knight killing units (they are still men, no matter how awesome they are.) Which would you rather lose in terms of victory points, a couple of worthless bowmen, or an expensive and valuable unit of Pegasus Knights? My only other suggestion would be to try and out-maneuver the Thunderers with a unit of Pegasus Knights. If Thunderers move at all, they cannot shoot and if you hit them with Pegasus Knights on the flank or in the rear, they cannot choose to stand and shoot. This gives you a huge advantage over them. Mobility is key.


Miners are rarely chosen in a Bretonnian game, simply because we lack large amounts of siege weapons. However, if you fear these warriors coming up in the middle of your forces, keep a unit of bowmen and men at arms in reserve. A volley from the bowmen will be able to at least damage the unit, allowing your men at arms to successfully engage them in combat. If the Miners are used as a regular combat unit apply the strategy for dealing with warriors. It should work just as well.

Iron Breakers

Scary little buggers aren’t they? With tough armor and high weapon skill, Iron Breakers are perhaps the strongest Dwarf unit available. They excel at stopping charges and can break just about any cavalry unit in the game. Yet again, in order to defeat these strong opponents I find myself turning to peasants. The Grail Reliquae is the perfect unit to bog down Iron Breakers. I know many generals prefer not to use Grail Reliquaries out of matters of principle, but it is perhaps one of the most valuable Bretonnian units available. With Stubborn, a 4+ armor save, and the Lady’s Blessing, these peasants will fight Iron Breakers to a standstill, allowing your knights to charge past the them unimpeded. You can also use a peasant lure, as detailed above. If you plan on using this tactic however, make sure that Questing Knights are your charging unit. They have the best chance of cutting through the Ironbreakers heavy armor with their great-swords. If lead by a Paladin with the Sword of the Quest, these Questing Knights will shred the Ironbreakers on a charge. Even with the nerfed great-sword rules in the newest addition of Warhammer, keep in mind that Questing Knights will always have a S 5, no matter if they have charged or not. Since Iron Breakers do not have the great weapons that slice through armor, Questing Knights will always be saving at a 3+.  Your definitely at the advantage and even a 4+ armor save is better than the 2+ Iron Breakers are used to.


Hammerers are tough, no doubt about it. When they have a general in their ranks they are stubborn, not to mention immune to terror and fear. But even hammerers are not invincible, and are quite easy to bog down in combat. Again, the Grail Reliquae is an excellent unit to tie up a group of Hammerers in a long drawn out combat. If your Grail Reliquae is already bogged down, make use of Grail Knights and archers. Use your archers to weaken the Hammerers, because their armor is not that strong, and then slam them with GK. They should be enough to at least wipe out the regiment. The Hammerers might not break, but they will certainly be fighting with a serious deficit. Combine this with the Bretonnian Lord model listed above (in the Dwarf Lord section) and you will probably be able to destroy the regiment and lord. A unit of GK without a Lord can also all act as champions, allowing you to hold up the Dwarf Lord in the Hammerers and letting your GK slaughter his bodyguard around him.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 July 2008 )
Discuss (10 posts)
Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 03 2008 17:09
This thread discusses the Content article: Dealing with the Dwarf

I would just like to point out one small mistake. The Sword of the Quest can only be given to a Lord because it is 55 points. Otherwise a very good set of tactics against dwarves. I might also add skillful use of terrain to outmaneuver dwarves can completely take away their superior fire power.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 03 2008 18:06
Incorrect, the Sword of the Quest is 50 points.

Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 03 2008 18:47
It's 50 pts for sure. One of the most expensive items but it does the trick. I'll be talking about the cunning use of terrain in the second part when I discuss artillery.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 03 2008 23:12
Odd, I would have sworn it was 55. I will need to check my army lists!
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 04 2008 09:29
Though I appreciate your effort, and the article is nicely written, I must disagree strongly with much of the advice you give here.

The most obvious problem is that you hugely overestimate the fighting power of our units against the dwarves. Most of the unit matchups you mentioned are hopelessly in favour of the dwarves:

Lord with Sword of Heroes vs. Dwarf Lord. Your s5 will not penetrate the standard 1# Armor Save, let alone with reroll or ward!
We can beat their lord, but we need the Sword of the Quest.

One unit of KotR against a Dwarf Warrior unit. If their unit is at full strength, you will be lucky if you actually win combat on the charge! Winning by enough to break them is not going to happen, and in the 2nd turn you're in trouble. And keeping knights in reserve doesn't help much, your unit will have broken by the time you get to counter.

Archers vs Thunderers and Miners. Even at short range, 10 archers rarely kill more than one dwarf, it's just a waste of points. And moving archers forward is inefficient, they should be shooting the first turns.

Questing Knights get slaughtered by Ironbreakers (who are s4 by the way, so your save is 4#). That is, if the QK don't break first, which they will.

Grail Knights against Hammerers. You will kill a few on the charge, then you'll be worn down in combat. Again, if they don't flee first.
And charging a unit of Hammerers&Dwarf Lord with a GK unit without character in it is like saying: "here, have 350 VP! You want ketchup with it?"

In my experience, the key to beating Dwarves is not in having expensive units or magic items, but in having many units, and focusing them on a small part of his army. A unit like Lord&Hammerers should be kept busy running after peasants or KE, while the knights combo-charge or flank the ones that CAN be broken.

Because of this I do agree with your use of the Reliquae and the PK

Sorry if I seem too critical, like I said I appreciate the effort you put into this article. It's just that you're too optimistic about our chances, point-and-click doesn't work against Dwarves in my experience.

Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 04 2008 18:13
This was my opinion too when I read the article, it is nice but has some serious flaws.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 04 2008 19:56
Don't totally underestimate our abilities either. Just the other day I played a game in which my unit of KOTR broke a Dwarf Regiment wielding great weapons on the charge. Once they got the wound, the Dwarves died pretty quickly because they had low armor saves against the knights' strength. Questing Knights never get totally owned by Ironbreakers. At the very least, they come out equal. One of my greatest victories against Dwarves was the result of a unit of QK literally tearing apart an Ironbreaker regiment with a Dwarf Lord in it. That was however, before they nerfed the greatsword. My bowmen have also succeeded in destroying units of Thunderers. They have less armor and thus die easier under longbows. Mayhaps I am just lucky or my opponents have been unlucky. Thank you for your comments though. I will take some of those into mind in my next game. These are just some things that worked for me in my experience.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 05 2008 14:20
I have played many battles against Dwarves and I must say it's not quite what you said. I record my every battle I played. I have fought about 1000 battles. about 300 of them were fought against dwarves. 1 out of 300 was an offensive army. The battle was fought 3500 points/player. He had two Anvils which he used to pull the units with one of their power, often ancient. So I also must disagree with your statements

The main force of the dwarves are the machines, not the units. Units are taken for protecting the machines. Dwarfs beacuse of their low movement are rather a defensive army. Their machines are desinged to weaken your units and, when you'll get close, engage rests of them in combat with their units. Shooting with the dwarfs if a kind of suicidal idea...

Here are some tips of mine:


Do not try to kill a dwarf lord. It's almost impossible. Only way to get rid of him is to break his unit that was earlier weakened by Trebuchet fire.

Don't bother with Runelord as he'll be sitting in Anvil which is also indestroyable unless misfires or not hidden in woods (the last is what I was facing). You cannot even dispel those effects.

Don't use magic against them at all. Waste of points.

Take Units of 9 and 6. Machines can easily make your 6s ineffective or destroy them but for distracting they are perfect. If they are destroyed then your mane lances remain alive. Engage them as quickly as possible. Use your 6s to kill units like thunderers and crossbowmen. I use 6 KE as they cannot flee because of stand&shoot. Even if you will not break them you'll switch them off from shooting. Then the rests of your 6 can even break. But for the dwarfs will be too late as the deciding blow will just be stroken. Keep your main lances away from as many fire as you can until thunderers and crossbowmen will be slain. If the machines will be on a hill theres nothing you can do.

keep the peagasus knights on edges. There they cannot be target of all shooting. I asure you that every shot that can, will be directed against them. Give them banner of Chalons

Grail knights have the banner of defense. And a paladin with Banner of the lady. Keep them away from thunderers (at best, do not show them at all until on either left or right flank there will be no crossbowmen or thunderers. To achieve this use your PK or 6KE units.

If you handle with firing units. The rest you must manouver and the battle is yours.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 05 2008 15:58
Turtling, which is the tactic you are talking about, is really effective against Bretonnia unfortunately. I agree with the unit set up you have, but most people will probably not be facing a Dwarf army packing TWO Anvils of Doom. That's just freaking scary! As for the war machines in a turtling force, there are ways to get around them, mostly the cunning use of terrain and pegasus knights. I pity you in the fact that all you have hit in your many games is turtling armies of Dwarves. That's not very much fun for anyone except the Dwarf player. I have fought against (and once co-generaled) a lot of Dwarven armies solely devoted to close combat and those are very effective as well. In fact, it was a strategy recommended to a friend of mine who turtled constantly by some more veteran Dwarf players. And you can kill a Dwarf Lord. Have some faith. Admittedley, I have never played a game large than 2,500 points, so my experience in terms larger than that is not very good.
Re:Dealing with the Dwarf Aug 05 2008 18:15
What the anvils were used to is to provide an extra movement phase so that the units can get faster to me. Two Anvils allowed him to strike the power twice a turn. I have faced that army and was victorious, but at great casaulties. I do not underestimate dwarf offense. All I want is to mark that in my country this type of army is extremly rare. Most of 2,5K battles confer Anvil Organ guns, bolt throwers, cannons, 3 - 4 units of infantry and rest points are spent on Thunderers and Quarellers.

It's very unpleasant to play against it but it forced me to find a solution. My balance in V/D/L (especially loses) shows that. Most battles I lost were against this type of Dwarfs. I have found out how to handle with them only 2 months ago...
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