The strength of a Dispossessed army is the sheer number of buffs your units share with each other. This puts your opponent in a really tough position if you hustle your hammer units forward quickly to put the pressure on early as they are stuck deciding between either trying to deal with the biggest threat to them, or killing off the units in the second line providing all this damned support. Given the durability and resilience of Dispossessed units they will need to commit a pretty hefty amount of resources to popping one of your blocks of bulky boys off the board.
This is both a strength and a weakness to keep in mind: on one hand the fact that your buffs and support abilities are all provided by different units in your army means it’s hard for your opponent to cut down your effectiveness with one kill (as with a Bloodsecrator in a Gore Pilgrims list). However the down side is that each support unit killed really does knock a little of the wind out of your sails and a clever opponent will pop those buff units with extreme prejudice if you don’t offer them more immediate threats to deal with.
Before playing this list you are legally required to listen to the album Ten Long Years, One Long Beard by The Beards because having a beard is the new not having a beard.
The first of your battle traits doesn’t require any work, Stubborn to the End just means that your units are automatically treated as having passed their Battleshock tests 50% of the time regardless of modifiers or effects to their bravery.
Your second trait requires a bit more thinking to get the best out of- Grudgebound lets you choose 1 of 6 different characteristics of enemy units to grant your Dispossessed units “re-roll 1’s to hit” against (for both shooting and combat). Sometimes the decision will be easy: if you’re playing an army with entirely 4+ or better armour saves like Stormcast, you should choose “Shoddy Craftsmanship” to cover the entire army. At other times you need to be strategic in your choice. In the GHB2018 you select your grudge after setup but before the battle begins, so choose the effect based on what you will need to do in the first turn or two. If you know your opponent is likely to swamp you with chaff hordes early then you should choose “Cowardly Hordes,” but if they are likely to push monsters across the board to put the pressure on “Monstrous Cheaters” is the way to go. Remember that with your general’s Command Trait you can change this once per game, so choose one that will help early game and keep in mind what you might need to change it to later.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Artefact: Ancestral Pickaxe
The Dispossessed have access to no better artefact anywhere in the realms. The biggest weakness of the army is lacking the speed to push your opponent out of their rhythm and put pressure on from other areas of the board after deployment. This allows you to do the expected: teleport a unit of 20 Irondrakes for a punishing round of shooting, but you can also use it to teleport a small unit onto an objective or the Ironbreakers into a location where they will provide an immovable wall blocking your opponent. Before choosing a unit to tunnel away with remember to look at how your opponent can screen or block your return: with 16” range, Irondrakes are hard to screen completely from reaching their desired target but still worth thinking about their board presence and how many potential targets you can be threatening.
Command Trait- Grudgebearer
Let’s you change your army wide Grudge once per game in the hero phase as long as the general is still alive. In some games this can be huge as it allows you to keep your army re-rolling 1’s to hit against almost everything they target. Especially useful if a unit of Irondrakes is about to tunnel up at the end of the Movement Phase and target a unit/character/monster that you really need dead.
An alternate option if you don’t need this or never use it is to give the Warden King the Ancestral Pickaxe and the command trait “Siegemaster” as this will remove the cover bonus for enemy units targeted by friendly units wholly within 12” of the general. Can be savage against enemies that like to cover in cover when a unit of 10-20 Irondrakes pops up to wreck their day.
Warden King– Keep him safe if you are going to need to change your Grudge, don’t let his re-rollable save make you too overconfident as his 5 wounds can slip away in a flash. Much more useful debuffing enemy units with his Command Ability (giving all Dispossessed 1+ to wound against it). No slouch in combat, but without buffs from a Runelord and/or Longbeards he doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe with much more than light heroes or medium infantry.
Runelord – The heart and soul of any Dispossessed list. His rune buffs go off on a 2+ and he gets a natural +2 to dispel. Clever opponents will want them out of the picture fast so deploy them carefully (preferably out of sight of enemy units and where they can move to Turn 1), though remember to keep them in range of their Rune Lore abilities and if one has the Ancestral Pickaxe make sure he is within 3” of two-to-three different units to give you options when tunneling away. When choosing which buff to apply to which unit consider what you are going to need in your OPPONENT’s turn, not just your own. While improving a friendly unit’s Rend is always tempting, the 6+ save against damage can be much more useful, especially when so many duardin units already re- roll their armour saves.
Warriors– Your chaff, or as close to it as duardin can get. While they can be great in blocks of 40, they shine as small units to block your opponent, hold objectives and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Passing battleshock on a 1-3, re-rolling their armour saves and ignoring the effects of spells on a 5+ thanks to their banner: they will surprise your opponent with their resilience for such a small “basic” unit. Place a screen of them 2.5” in front of a line of Hammerers or Ironbreakers, let your opponent charge and kill them then pile-in with the damage dealers.
Longbeards– Like Warriors but with a better save and better hit rolls, but don’t be tempted to put them on the front line because as a support unit they’re a force multiplier. The buffs they provide to friendly Dispossessed within 8” are much more vital than a little extra stopping power. Keep them screened, safe and provide your opponent with multiple other threats to deal with so they can’t prioritize targeting your Longbeards. Friendly units re-rolling 1’s to wound in combat (especially with the 1’s to hit from your Grudge, a Runelord buff and even the command ability from the Warden King) gives even a small unit of Warriors into a hefty punch and turns the Hammerers/Ironbreakers into a devastating combat monster.
Hammerers– The combat brothers of Irondrakes. Not quite as durable as Ironbreakers however your army should be providing much more immediate threats to the opponent to stop them targeting the Hammerers until they’ve gotten stuck in. Really useful for clearing units that are resilient-against/have-debuffs-for shooting, but in most games they can be used as a great bully unit: if you opponent commits resources to killing them you don’t mind, but if they choose to ignore them they will be in for a nasty surprise.
Irondrakes– These beardy boys are every Dispossessed player’s snuggle-buddy and every opponent’s worst nightmare, these brutal shooters are arguably the best in all of AoS. Able to move and still double-tap as long as they’re not within 3” of an enemy unit (and have 10 or more models in the unit), they’re you biggest hammer and the most obvious choice to take away with the Ancestral Pickaxe. Keep in mind how terrible they are in combat because they’re useless come the combat phase.
Ironbreakers– Trust the Dispossessed to have one of the most solid anvil units around: a re-rollable 4+ save in combat (if they didn’t run or charge) and ignoring Rend -1, they’re a stubborn ball of ‘nope’ to most things. They also have 2 attacks each in combat and are pretty decent without any buffs, so combo them with the Runelord, Longbeards and Warden King and they will hack their way through most things stupid enough to challenge them to a war of attrition.
Celestant Prime- What do we want? Maneuverability and speed! When do we want it? At the end of any movement phase followed by an unfailable charge! Dwarftimus Prime brings a lot of damage and the ability to drop down and get the job done wherever he needs to. Use him to split your opponent’s attention and be happy to sacrifice him if you need to. His biggest strength is the mental pressure he puts on your opponent as long as he’s in the sky: while he’s up there your opponent has to keep worrying about where he will drop and how they can try to stop you plowing through whatever he decides to wreck up.
The biggest thing this list wants to do is split your opponent’s attention while the core combat heart of the army marches into pain-town.
During deployment the biggest thing to keep in mind (other than the objectives for the mission) is the deployment distance. Remember you are slow. Seriously, say it with me “we are slow.” This means that you will have to start planning for and moving towards taking objectives from the first moment of turn 1. If your opponent is fast and can potentially pin you in your deployment zone then make damn sure that your Irondrakes and Hammerers are well back from the line to avoid being tagged within 3” because you’ll need them to fight your way out.
The other thing to keep in mind in this list is that everything is that your biggest hitters are all bait. All of them. Use them like the pub down the road uses its “free pint with a parma” promotion to draw us in. This is especially true of the Irondrakes, because people have a healthy respect for how devastating they can be in the shooting phase. If the battleplan only has an 18” gap between armies then deploy a unit of them on the very front line, offering your opponent a choice: either go first and potentially kill off a chunky threat turn 1, or let you go first where they will be shooting from the first turn. Likewise with tunneling up, if you’re taking a unit of shooters with you be mindful of placing them where they can bring their fire to bear best, but in a place that will force your opponent to divert units to deal with them. Force your opponent to focus on hamstringing your Irondrakes and they will be in for a bit of a shock when they realise the real strength in the list comes from the cross-buffed combat units more so than the Irondrakes.
Be ready to throw a hospital pass with the Prime if the situation is right. While having him drop down and then flap around swinging his beatstick for the rest of the game would be lovely don’t get too caught up worrying about him “earning his points back.” If he drops down and kills a key enemy unit or clears an objective but is open to being hammered back, it’s not a bad thing if it splits your opponent’s army up in doing so. Just make sure that the only units that can handle the Prime are ones you want doing so and only throw the pass to him if it’s the best option. Don’t be a lazy dwarf and just sacrifice him cause you couldn’t be bothered looking for an alternative.
The last thing I’ll mention is that Dispossessed are a tricky allegiance to use and requires a decent amount of practice, so stick with it you impatient beardling and you’ll be putting your iron shod boot in the arse of most things with a bit of work. You’re slow and deliberate, so you have to start moving early to capture the objectives you need to. You will also need to be a damned magician, pulling threats out of your hat and leaving your opponent struggling to decide which one(s) to deal with each turn. But once you’ve gotten your bristly, bearded buddies under your belt you’ll never want to play any of the lesser races.
Armies you are good against
All of them. You’re a goddam duardin who survived the death of the old world not through fancy pants spells or the intervention of some sooky god, but through goddam grit, determination and a stubborn refusal that anything was wrong. If you can get through that you can kill a bloody witch aelf or some skeleton shitto with a big hat.
Armies you arent good against
None. All armies are bad against you.
Any not listed below.
Places of Arcane Power– terrible scenario for any army lacking spellcasters or formations for extra artefacts as unlike Relocation Orb your normal models can’t score.
Better Part of Valor– much harder than Scorched Earth because of the ramp up in points objectives are worth towards the end of the game. Best bet is to focus on holding yours and spit your tunnellers and Prime forwards to pop one/two of your opponents, then burn yours and press forward.