I picked up Abyssal Dwarfs as my go-to army for major events this year, and done quite well so far, if I say so myself!
Here’s what I ran at Lonewolf 2017 and a recent Black Dragon tournament:
I achieved 9th out of 88 in battle at Lonewolf and 1st out of 14 at the Black Dragon event.
I have just two main battlegroups in this army, infantry and flankers.
The Blacksouls, Immortal Guard, Orcs, Fireteams and Slavedrivers make up my infantry brick. Usually the infantry will deploy in a line, slavedrivers behind and the fireteams left in small gaps between the rest of my units. This is flexible however, and I will change that deployment according to terrain and my opponents army. If my opponent has a fast combat individual for example then I will deploy the fire teams behind my infantry to shield them from charges. Deploying them in between my other units means that the individual will be able to attack them easily and I can’t shield them, but putting them behind my units means I will always suffer the cover penalty in CoK 2017.
I find that I don’t need to worry too much about having my infantry units in a single line. Most of the time my opponent can’t commit enough units to lock all of mine in melee at once – not while fending off my flanking wing. This means that as long as my units hold (and with decent nerve on them all, they usually do), I will be picking up flank charges in the subsequent turn.
The slow speed of the group does unfortunately mean that I will rarely get the first charge off. I counter this by having decent enough nerve to hold off most attacks but always aim to hinder charges. Hinder the charge and my battle line will hold. At Lonewolf, they held all held firm against an entire Ogre army charging, simply because the Ogres were all hindered.
The Ogres were turned into a fine red pulp in response! This battlegroup has fantastic melee output altogether. They don’t have the insane OMG-UNIT-DECIMATING stats of some top units in the game, but 50 CS1 (half of them Bane-chanted to CS2) attacks, backed up by 24 CS1 Me3+ attacks can make a mess of most things. Opponents often underestimated how reliable basic infantry can be at taking out elite units…
If that wasn’t enough, my infantry wing has its secret weapon…
Mutated Throwing Mastiffs
I fucking love mutated throwing mastiffs.
I repeat this a lot but let me repeat it yet again: I fucking love mutated throwing mastiffs.
They’re very much like artillery – some games they’ll do a little bit of damage. Enough to help you win and worth their points but not excessive amounts. Some games they do nothing. Other games? They wipe out units by themselves.
Most importantly: they are a serious threat that your opponent has to take into consideration.
You have an effective range of 16” – move 4” and “shoot” 12” without penalty. This means that usually an opponent will be extremely cautious about advancing within 16” of your units. You can use this to your advantage by continually pushing them back from your advance. If your opponent comes towards you then RELEASE THE HOUNDS. I’ve had several games where my opponents know how powerful my hounds can be and kept backing up from my advancing infantry. They didn’t want to get into throwing dogs range so wanted to wait until they could attack my infantry with a faster unit – except I was keeping their faster units tied up with my fast units. By the time they could get a fast unit free, it was already turn 5 and I was on their half of the board.
On average, will they do horrific amounts of damage? Nope. They can potentially do horrific amounts of damage though, and your opponent must take that into consideration, same as artillery.
They are best employed against low defence targets, especially De3. De5 you’ll rarely do amazing amounts of damage but you might do a point or two, enough to swing things in your favour in the ensuing grind.
My dog’s notable meals have been a horde of Naiad Ensnarers (De3, 2 dogs, 12 damage – plus extra from an artillery hit), a Phoenix (De3, 3 dogs, 16 damage) and most hilariously, a Drakon Horde (De5, 3 dogs, 11 damage).
They’ve actually dealt so much damage to flyers that I’m considering converting a throwing dog catapult or sticking wings on them. Like a swarm of bees.
I fucking love mutated throwing mastiffs.
Every army should have a fast wing and mine’s no different.
My Gargoyles, Halfbreeds, Grotesques, Ba’Su’Su and Dragon all set up on one flank. They move together and they attack together.
Well, Ba’Su’Su will often fly off and do his own thing. He’s great for hunting spellcasters, war engines and weak characters. He can disrupt shooting hordes very reliably, and my opponent needs to send in backup to take him out else Ba’Su’Su can keep that shooting horde locked down for the entire game.
The Halfbreeds and Grotesques make a great pair together. The Brew of Haste enables the Grotesques to have the same threat range as the Halfbreeds, meaning that usually when one is in charge range, so is the other for a combo charge. And that combo charge is very tasty.
The Gargoyles are simply there as chaff. Get up in the enemies face and block charges while my Grotesques and Halfbreeds line up for a combo charge. If my opponent doesn’t have much shooting or fast units then I may hang my Gargoyles back. They’re amazing for grabbing objectives on the last turn and I can count several games (including as Abyssals where I also had Gargoyles) where they won the game for me on the last turn.
The dragon does as dragons do. Threaten flank charges. Takes flanks where if it means not getting curb stomped in the counter-charge. One thing to remember is that the breath attack is almost always an option. In my last game at Lonewolf, my opponent moved a unit of fast cavalry right up in my dragons face, acting as chaff for the heavy unit behind. If I tried to jump over the cav then I’d get charged. Kill the chaff in combat and my opponent will have a clean charge on me next turn. Good tactics.
Except I didn’t take either option. I used the breath attack instead to waver them. My opponent couldn’t do anything next turn – he didn’t have enough movement to open a clear charge path, he couldn’t move his cavalry wing further away because doing so would expose them to a flank charge from the dragon. He couldn’t charge the dragon to knock out Fly because the unit in front was wavered.
Threat projected. Flank locked down. Boom.
I was conflicted about writing weaknesses for this army. I wrote a guide on how to beat my Abyssals army because I was retiring them. Yeah I was teaching people how to play with my Abyssals list, but I didn’t care too much if people learnt how to beat them.
I’m still planning on using this army for a while though. So I was conflicted about writing this section. Then I thought a little bit about what I would theoretically write for this section and you know what? I can’t think of much.
It’s a balanced army. Unlike my Abyssals, it doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited. I’ve got quite a lot of points tied up in non-scoring units, such as Ba’Su’Su, the slavedrivers and weapons teams, but I’ve got an incredible amount of nerve on the board at the same time. I argue that the sheer nerve I’ve got in the infantry groups is more than enough to hold onto objectives.
Fast armies… maybe? I’ve not sweated too much facing fast armies but I guess they could be an issue. Once the gargoyles have been taken out, I’ve not got any chaff to block charges to my cavalry units. But then again I faced a drakon rider army at Lonewolf and near tabled it.
So yeah, even if I wanted to write a big list of weaknesses that can be exploited with this army, I don’t really have any. It’s an all round balanced list.
And also, I fucking love throwing mastiffs.