by Babs (Paradigm Central)
I’ve never thought of my Chaos Dwarf teams as the most successful teams I’ve coached – but over my entire 3rd Edition Blood Bowl coaching career – of the three times I’ve coached Chaos Dwarves – I’ve won the league three times. Quite suprising. I think that a primary reason (not the primary – but contributing) is that other players are not used to playing against the Chaos dwarfs and the element of suprise counts for upset win again and again.
Given the amazing (even to me) correlation of Chaos Dwarfs to league win ratio when I’ve been coaching them – I have decided to spill my beans and write the exhaustive tome on how to coach Chaos Dwarfs.
Most of this document is exclusive to chaos dwarf coaching. There is much in the strategy of playing Chaos dwarfs which could be applied to any team – and indeed some of the information within is still applicable to some teams. I will summarise the most important points to general strategy with the team now – so that you can mull them over. Enjoy this mammoth tome :) It mght just fit, rolled up, in your hat – so I recommend keeping it under your hat :)
Summary of general tactics particularly useful to Chaos dwarfs:
- Use cards and wizards to get the ball (lightning bolt template please)
- Have a game strategy – and stick to it
- Target the teams assets and remove them if this is an appropriate strategy
- Use rerolls only on rolls failing which leave you wide open (unless you have as many turns left as rerolls and have done all the critical stuff)
- Make all the important rolls first – and those which are probability friendly
- Move first – it’s free (unless dodging or you need to get someone out of the way first)
- Move your turn marker on – at the beginning of every turn – check!
- Stand Chaos Dwarf Blockers up at the beginning of the turn – they aren’t going anywhere much anyway.
Chaos dwarves are shunned by most coaches because a quick scan down their roster shows that they only have two players available – the Blockers and the Hobgobs. A scan of the stats for these players reveal that the blockers are exactly the same as the longbeards for the dwarves and the hobgobs are equivlent to human linemen without as much armour on!
What kind of team is this? How can a team like this win?
Well, the answer is a little further than the simple statistics – it is the combination of the two types of player which make the chaos dwarves – with a lot of help from one source – Star Players.
I openly admit that the Chaos Dwarf teams really require star players to be ‘up there’ with the best. Without them, the Chaos Dwarf team is shafted more than Chet’s undead – and that isn’t a little bit either. So to get over the ‘only idiots rely on Star Players’ or ‘Star players are cheese’ is a quintessential part of the gaming strategy. That is not to say that Star players are the critical part of the game plan – and that without them all is lost – but the Star Players for the pointy ones do contribute a lot to the team.
Forming the team (part one)
When forming a team, you need to have a strategy. My strategy has been to win from game one. Some people prefer to max out on rerolls to ‘get their money’s worth’ – but I find that there is no real need to begin with four rerolls. The chaos Dwarves are fortunate enough to have 50,000 rerolls as it is – and after a while you will run out of money to spend things on anyway (what with the majority of your team costing ony 40,000 each.)
So I took Hthark from the start. Hthark is arguably the best star player in the deck. He is undoubtedly in the top five. I admire Hthark primarily for his flexibility. Morg’th is the only other star player with the flexibility of Hthark. You need to remember that Hthark has an effective movement of nine and can dodge almost anywhere on 2+. That combined with Block, Strength of 6 and an aromour of 10 (backed up with Thick Skull) makes him the ideal player for the Chas dwarves. The only real downside of Hthark is his AG of only two (he dodges with Break tackle). This makes ball handling with him worth saving a reroll for. Cetainly do it though.
I primarily use Hthark as a response player. In defense, he is fantastic at ripping into any cage which forms, and makes an excellent stop to anyone who has delusions of streaking in for a two turn touchdown. Used as a defensive ‘safety’ you can almost depend on the player going down. So I usually put my Htharks in the widezones to prevent anyone pushing past to score quickly. Near the sidelines. (One square in – not next to – with a helping player next to him as well)
Of course this changes depending on the opponent – with the centaur being nearer the action if the team is the kind which maims first and asks questions later. On offense I use the centaur either as a bodyguard protecting the ballcarrier, the ballcarrier himself (which is useful when outnumbered although the SPP’s are wasted) or as a sweeper to clear anyone out of the way for the oncoming cage or pocket.
Forming the team (part II)
That being said, my opening list almost always looks like this:
6 Chaos Dwarf Blockers
9 Fan factor
The Chaos Dwarf Blockers
I max out on the Chaos dwarf blockers as they are worth their weight in gold. Sure they are slow – that is the nature of them – but they are a very solid front line. Against tough opponents I only place three of them up front as they are likely to be outsmashed – but against the agile teams I place a few more – depending on the position of the game. The 6 blockers give you a front line which is as tough as a dwarf front line – which we all know how tough that is – so don’t be afraid to let them be pounded a fair bit. They can take it. Really thier main responisbilities are to duke it out, take some casualties and tie up those nasty hurting types from getting to the hobgobs.
Admittedly – I’m not a pounding type of player. I prefer a ball-oriented game. But this suits the Chaos Dwarves to a tee. Sure they hit hard enough themselves – but I don’t make a habit of going toe to toe with the beefy teams – as they are likely to win at it. So I use my chas dwarves as cannon fodder. I do pound with them – and I take two-dice-you choose at the end of my turns as the pointy hats can take a skull without panicking – and with block they don’t have that huge a chance of going down. I certainly take one die blocks with them on anybody who would dare to approach without block – but get the priorities right – I only make the blocks which help get to the ball and are statistically likely to be favourable.
The other major use on defense is to be the ‘tackle’ player – as they all come with it. I make a point of not allowing any player to get through the defense wihtout having to make dodges of blitz the right players. Of course – I put my toughest players in the key positions. My three lambs should not be contingent on remaining upright to prevent anyone from getting through – so basically a line of defense which has a semi-circle around the three lambs – makig sure no catcher types come around – which all changes if the team is highly unlikely to execute this kind of maneuver. Dodging past player with tackle will reap rerolls – if nothing else. And unless the player is a one turn scorer they’ll pay for it next turn. Nohting better than tying up catcher with Chaos dwarf blockers!
The hobgoblins are the ball carriers. You can get up to twelve of them if you really want to – so specialise. Make at least one a dirty player (if for no reason other than to annoy Chet) and use him – until he is ejected. Make at least two ball handlers. They should have sure hands. Get most of the others block – and turn them into catcher types, general response safety types, extra cannon fodder etcetera. Don’t underestimate the hobgobs as important – they are invaliuable. I find that if an opponent takes all your hobgoblins off the pitch you are in serious trouble. This is beacuase you have no ball handlers left and The Chaos Dwarves need to play a ball centred game if they are to win. You can still pull it off – especially if you still have Hthark on the pitch and rerolls – but it does put you at a severe disadvantage. So protect them with your line of big hat men and bodyguard Hthark. To a limited extent. Don’t mother them and never let them go into the enemy lines for the ball – just be careful not to let them take too many big hits from the enemies ‘guys who hurt’ list.
Overall Strategy – Defense.
Against TD Machine teams
Spread youself out – don’t let the scorers get through your line. If they do – pounce on them. This, however is not first priority. Get the ball. Most speed teams have plenty of catcher types (or blitzer types who can do the same kind of thing but are harder), and removing them is not easy. So remove the threat first. I ususally ‘sic’ my bull centaur on the player closest to the ball. With break tackle and a move of nine the team’s thrower usually let’s out a shriek before being slammed out of the game (fouled out by the hobgoblin in fast pursuit if necessary.) Get the ball yourself. Give it to the Bull Centaur and pound for a while. If this doesn’t go to plan and you can’t reach the ball – take out the closest player to it and tie up the rest in tackle zones (with tackle if possible). That ought to keep them worried for a while. Make sure that anyone who is in your backfield is at least surrounded by two players each. That should leave them the middle of the field – but if worst comes to worst the ball ends up in a cage there – but you’ve taken out their thrower and two of their catchers. (and still have time to eat that cage with your Hthark – and plenty of players downtown to hold it up if it progresses too far.) So focus on the ball.
Against Crunch teams
Again – focus on the ball. The crunch teams will try to form a cage type affair so make sure you get to the ball before it reaches it’s destination. If that can’t happen – then play it tough. Don’t send too many players in – just enough for the cage to have to shed players slowly to keep moving. The best players for this is of course the Pointy hats. Wait for the cage to slowly whittle down (and not too near the endzone) and then strike – send all the players in at once. You will pay for it with hobgobs ending up nursing wounds – but it will get you to the ballcarrier (to blitz with Hthark if he’s around). Speaking of Hthark – don’t set him up toet to toe with their big bad guys – he’s too vital to be simply exchanging pounds – and without mighty blow etc. he’ll likely lose it (if only slightly). Keep him out in the open and blitzing in and out of the perimeter of the cage – picking off the vulnerable ones. I’d use him for the blitz every turn you can – in and out again – one more player on the ground. Then comes the boot.
Do it with hobgobs. A dirty player is handy and maybe even two depending on the league. Even if none are available – take the key players out. Normally that for me is not the towering ST 6 or 7 player but the guy who is most likely to score touchdowns or throw long bombs with ease. Look at their roster to work out who that is. The ST 6 or 7 player is not only harder to get down – but also harder to injure once they are down – so targetting them is not as smart a move.
Overall Strategy – Offense
Against TD machine teams
Make sure that you have the ball. Run with it and protect it. I would only rarely set up a pass play as if it goes wrong the opponents are home and hose. Offense agasint these teams can have no margin of error – as if the ball gets loose – all your players are in the wrong spots to recover (Chaos dwarves being slow and hobgoblins generally not big hitters) Take the going slow and pound to your hearts content. Let them come to you. You have the ball – so use this advantage to injure some of them. Only if the going is tough then score. If possible – let anyone but Hthark score and rack up the SPP’s – but conversely don’t be afraid to score with him. If a Chaos Dwarf Blocker ever ends up with the ball – take the opportunity to rumble up the field and score himself (with friends – of course) – and the SPP’s will be appreciated. As I alluded to – commit all of your player to the offense as you need them to protect the ballcarrier running. You will unlikely stop the enemy if they get the ball anyway – so make sure that they don’t.
Against Crunch teams
A solid cage is not a great idea as the other team will hammer it. Set up a fast running play with Hthark if things are grim (as all he needs is 4+ ball pickup and he’s away). The other option is a two or three turn pass play. Hobgoblins can pass quite well with a reroll – its the catching which undoes me. So I send a small platoon of players in case the ball comes loose. If this attracts the attention – run a bit moe with your continget with the ball. If the ball get’s the attention, then throw the thing and, worst come to worse (other than the fumble) you can pick up the ball next turn for the score. (after the bobbled catch) Scoring by this method once after scoring on defense will win you the game – so don’t try it too often or the other players will think you did it intentionally :)
Chaos Dwarf Blockers:
Normal rolls (in order of favourites):
Dauntless (but this isn’t my kind of game – as discussed in fouling)
Diving Tackle (up to two – great for defense against one turn scorers)
Dodge (great on the line of scrimmage and in general play if needing to for a suprise)
Wish for: ST+1
Wish against: AG+1
Normal rolls (in order of favourites):
one Dirty Player (or maybe two – depending on the league)
Wish for: AG+1
Wish against: too many ‘normal’ rolls
“Who is ZZharg Madeye?”
Zzharg is a starplayer with a 10+ penalyt rating as he has a blunderbuss. Rather than blowing other player’s heads off with it though, he only uses it with the ball – which allows you to rocket a ball to anywhere on the field. It’s not that great a weapon really, although it has it’s uses (can make some interesting plays!_. He is, unfortunately, just as likely to pick the ball up as Hthark (and guess who I’d prefer to have te ball?). He’s really just a chaos dwarf you can have on the team over and above the blockers you can buy (6). That’s the only use I can see for him – and he has a penalty roll after every kickoff and is peaked! So the only time I’d buy him would be if you can only have one Hthark (see below) and can buy up to four star players (Hthark and Grashnak would be the first two).
Coping with Deviances:
‘only one of each Star Player’ + ‘What about Grashnak?’
Buy Grashnak if you can’t have any more Htharks. The benefits of Hthark in a ball oriented team are obvious – but Grashnak is still a powerful asset.
With Grashnak I would tend to use the blitz with the minotaur to use the Horns ‘skill’. I would again refrain from going toe to toe with other big guys (except as a hit & run blitz) as Grashnak does not have block – nor thick skull – making a downed minotaur a liability (and more likely to happen). I’d put Grashnak in the defensive – blitzing anybody who threatened to score rather than on the line of scrimmage – unless the line of scrimmage held no threat and you had the ball.
Allies are undoubtedly more beneficial than a disadvantage – so if you can afford to lose a reroll occasionally because of them – then invest. I recommend a stronger front line (Chaos Warriors and Black Orc Blockers) and get them block early to bring them into line with the rest of your force’s main advantage. Any player with Ball handling skills would be great also – so a DarkElf thrower, Blitzer of lineman if possible (which, IMO, it shouldn’t) would be great. A Skaven thrower coula also be an investment – but a gutter runner I’d think over heavily – ST 2 doesn’t bode well with the Chaos Dwarves. Just before you go and buy allies left right and centre, make sure you have at least 3 rerolls because te Chaos dwarves use them – and to have their few taken away leaves you in grim pickings indeed.
Big Rookie Guys.
The Rookie Bull Centaur is a great player – but with only ST4 and no block makes for slow going with them. I’d recommend it for people who aren’t needing the ST6 of Hthark – where ST 4 isn’t the norm in the league. I played with two Big Rookie Centaurs in my previous team (which also won it’s league) – The Evil Faerytale. I did find that eventually (for the final against the vampire league) I had to sack one and get Hthark. Hthark makes more sense, as many of the skills you consider for the rookie Hthark already has, but it is nice to have players who can use those rumbling touchdowns for progression.