The Dwarves are one of the classic fantasy races, and have been at the heart of Blood Bowl since its earliest days. With famous teams such as the Dwarf Giants, the Warhammerers and the Grudgebearers, they have been one of the game’s pre-eminent exponents of violence and explosive innovation. As a meta force they are one of the races the playerbase loves to hate, with their frustrating combination of strong skills and strong armour. In this guide we’re going to delve into the nuances of this seemingly straightforward race to help you get the best out of them.
- Very strong starting skills make them competitive and forgiving to play
- High durability keeps them in games and healthy over league seasons
- Powerful versus teams who rely on Dodge for defense
- Low MA and AG mean you must position very carefully
- Predictable gameplan and poor at adapting to board swings
- Tend to have polarizing matchups versus other teams
The bedrock of the team, Dwarves have claim to perhaps the best linemen in the game. With AV10+ , Thick Skull, and Block, they are a nightmare for opponents to remove, and one of the few players in the game who can confidently base up opponents. Block and Tackle also make them a tremendous offensive threat, able to annihilate Stunties and other Dodgers, and make even 1D blocks with confidence.
Linemen become even better with Guard and Mighty Blow, arguably amongst the best bang for buck players in the game. Stand Firm can also be a strong skill and ramp the frustration up even further for your opponents.
Blitzers are one of your most versatile pieces, with higher MA and AG letting them contribute on both sides of the ball. They will tend to operate beyond or behind your front lines, either clearing space for your advancing cage or forming part of it, ready to respond to any eventualities.
They have many advancement options, but Guard, Mighty Blow, and Tackle are again strong. Blitzers can also get multiple benefits from Dodge as a Secondary.
Frenzy is one of the more powerful and versatile tools in Blood Bowl, and Slayers are one of the more reliable users in Blood Bowl. Their obvious weaknesses are low MA and relatively low AV. The former means you can easily get yourself in trouble with Frenzy blitzes, so bear this in mind and count squares (including follow-ups) carefully. The latter means they are often targeted by opponents, so they cannot simply be thrown into melees.
Per their famous reputation, Slayers of course have Dauntless, and they are well positioned to take advantage of it. In fact it can be a crucial skill given the generally low ST of the team. Just apply the same caution as advised above.
Slayers benefit immensely from Mighty Blow to maximise their hitting power. Tackle turns them into terrifying Dodge-hunters, while Juggernaut can enhance their surf power and help to move pesky Stand Firm opponents around. Stand Firm can also be a strong option for Slayers themselves as a counter-surf defense.
Per their name, Runners have a clear role in the team, and with MA6 and Sure Hands, they are by far your best candidates for it. Adding Block, and in time, Dodge, is a good goal. In longer leagues Stat increases are a realistic goal, as Runners tend to hog SPP from TD’s. MA, ST and AG are all very useful. Dwarven Re-rolls are cheap, but Leader is also an option to get them even cheaper.
If you take two Runners on your roster, one can be built as a dedicated ball-carrier, and one can take on a different role as potential ball-hawk. Wrestle, Tackle, and Strip Ball can all make them into a very useful deep-lying Safety.
One of the most unique pieces in the game, the Deathroller is wildly expensive, likely to leave the game after one drive, but still potentially hugely impactful. With a whopping ST7 and AV11+, backed by Juggernaut, Mighty Blow, and Stand Firm, the roller is a dual threat as a major hitter and an impassable wall.
The Deathroller has a secondary aspect as a devastating fouler. With Dirty Player (+2) it threatens the toughest of opponents and can cause huge damage. Of course, its own cost breaks one of the fundamental risk/reward principles of fouling, but if you enjoy this kind of play (you should) then Sneaky Git will help to keep it in the game. A Bribe is another option, or just make a spiteful exit as a final act before the end of a drive.
Dwarves have access to their own unique stars, from the World’s Edge Superleague, as well as the extremely varied and useful Old World Classic. The Dwarf stars are mainly just ok, giving more of what Dwarves already have. Grombrindal is maybe the most interesting, being a kind of super-lineman who will also provide value every turn to team-mates.(particularly through Mighty Blow). The Old World has some very strong options, with Griff Oberwald, Karla Von Kill, The Mighty Zug, and Cindy Piewhistle all very good value for money, and bringing something to the table that the Dwarf team does not natively have.
Tactics And Playstyle
More than perhaps any other team, Dwarves are a team whose success is based on positional play. With a maximum of only two MA6 players, and four MA5 players, they number amongst the slowest teams in the game. So while Dwarves are very unlikely to lose the war of attrition, they can easily be outmaneuvered and outrun. Equally, while their blocking game is very reliable, isolated Dwarves are not strong, and can be pinned down by stronger opponents, or cheaper, durable ones.
On offense, Dwarves have little option but to run a slow cage. This is a team built to make an 8-turn score while trying to cause as much damage as possible. Generally your whole offense will only move as fast as the slowest players, so patience is the key while you try and create the openings that let you push through. Slayers in particular are fantastic for breaking opponent lines up and moving defensive players out of the way that allow your other players to seal the gap.
When you need to score more quickly, planning is extremely important. You will need to count squares to work out which of your players can get where in the turns you have, and whether you can also screen or cage the ball in this scenario. Rushing with your slower players will be almost essential to keep up with Runners.
On defense, your positioning will really be tested. Dwarves have to strike a careful balance between stifling and bashing their opponents, and guarding the width of the pitch. A good approach is often to play cautiously and hope to get a numbers advantage, at which point you can be more aggressive.
Opponents will often try to draw your numbers to one side of the field or deep into their half so that they can outflank or run behind you, and you will need to be very disciplined in maintaining your lines and position.
As your team develops, positioning of your players with Guard will become one of your key skills as a coach. This is a hugely important skill for Dwarves as it transforms their humble ST into a blocking menace, and when applied correctly can almost paralyse opponents by overwhelming them with assists. The major pitfall to avoid is getting it isolated. Anywhere it can be jammed into a central position flanked by team-mates will give great value. Having at least one piece with Guard in your cage can also prevent a lot of opponent shenanigans.
As we have covered before, Dwarves occupy quite a unique place in the meta. While they are an unequivocally strong team, they tend to have quite polarised matchups where their particular strengths and weaknesses give them heavy advantages or disadvantages against other teams. Their aforementioned mobility issues can also mean they play out a lot of draws. Winning 1-0 or 2-1 are their best case scenarios, and any failed offensive drive puts them in a big problem.
Starting Team Builds
For a strong team straight out of the GW box, the following is a simple and effective build:
- 2 x Runners
- 2 x Blitzers
- 2 x Slayers
- 5 x Linemen
- 2 x Team Re-Rolls
- 3 x Dedicated Fans
This is a good varied roster with strong development potential. Two Re-Rolls is not huge but Dwarves tend not to need them as much as other teams. The sheer expense of the Deathroller, and the inability to roster extra players to account for its inevitable absence, means it is not recommended for starting league play.
For the above build, at least one extra Lineman, another Re-Roll, and an Apothecary would be my first goals. While extra bodies and damage-saving might seem counter-intuitive for such a resilient team, Dwarves, like most bashers, cannot afford to go players down, or their mobility issues become even more prominent.
Saving for the Deathroller can follow if you desire. Dwarves tend to be extremely TV-efficient, so you can merrily smash your way through a league campaign without it. This is a decision you might want to make based on the opposing teams you will be facing.
With cheap Re-Rolls and relatively cheap positionals, Dwarves have quite a lot of flexibility for Tournament builds, including various Star-based builds for those Tourneys that allow them.
For a straightforward build to get started you can simply use the entire contents of the Dwarf box and run 3 Re-Rolls. That is 1090TV/1.09m Gold. As soon as the cash allowed by the tourney rises, the Deathroller becomes a very reasonable addition. Here’s a build at 1.15m Gold:
- 1 x Deathroller
- 2 x Slayer
- 2 x Runner
- 2 x Blitzer
- 5 x Linemen
- 2 x Team Re-Rolls
One popular option for Deathroller builds in Tourneys is to try and find a way to fit a Bribe in. This is highly doable at 1.2m Gold by simply dropping a RR (at which point you should probably take Leader on a Runner).
Stars can be fitted into builds instead of the Deathroller by making more Reroll sacrifices, but take this route at your peril.
Starting with a sprinkling of Guard is always a good option for Dwarves, but contrary to popular belief, you can have too much! Three or four is a good number, supported by some Mighty Blow. Guard is generally split between the Blitzers and the Linemen, with Mighty Blow on a Slayer. Runners can be unskilled, but otherwise Block is strong, and Leader can be useful if you have had to sacrifice Re-Rolls to formulate your build.
Dwarves almost without exception find themselves in Tier 1 at Tournaments. With a wealth of starting skills, and a well-known effective gameplan, they tend correctly not to be given any more boosts. In many tournament packs this tiering often means they are not permitted to take Stars either.
We hope this guide has you pounding your anvils and ready to settle some grudges. If you have any comments, feedback, suggestions or ideas, you can leave them below or email us at email@example.com.